The bond of sisters is never stronger than when faced with adversity. And never weaker when left to ourselves.
Excerpts from the Candid Sayings of Celestia as recorded by her friends
The border between the unicorn controlled forest and the wilds remained unclear, but Celestia saw she had passed it. Accustomed to a clear floor, telling trail signs, and the subtle influence of magic cultivation, the white mare with the pink mane now ran through a forest filled with underbrush, decayed logs, and hanging vines. Choosing clear paths amidst the uncared growth, she slowed to a smooth gallop. Immediate danger laid out of reach, now she needed to sustain the flight and gain distance. But her thoughts kept turning inward to an anxious question. Where is she? For all the reassurance of the spell's message, her sister's escape remained just that: a spell's message.
Shoving through the clinging branches of a shrub, Celestia found herself in a small clearing. A freshly fallen tree had left a hole in the forest canopy, and grass sprung up eagerly at the chance for light. Ahead, a midnight blue pony stood as if waiting where the grass mounded in a hill.
"Luna!" Celestia called, at once desperate and relieved. Redoubling the gallop, she shoved, heedless, through the clinging branches of a shrub.
Blue eyes came up at the call of the name, and a smile rose on Luna's cheeks. She ran to her sister in an excited canter.
Digging her hooves into the ground to slow, but just barely, Celestia flung herself to Luna and wrapped her neck half around in an equine embrace. "I thought I lost you." The words choked with emotion as tears pooled in her eyes. "I thought I lost you several times over." She clung hard.
Luna returned the embrace, her head resting on Celestia's shoulder. A deep sigh lifted her frame, like one letting go of a long held burden. "I was never lost, big sister. You just didn't know where to find me, yet." A smile remained at the corners of her lips and she closed her eyes.
For a long time, Celestia merely held Luna. Weeks of struggle, of desperation, of hope and despair, of planning and action, all culminated in this embrace. She had her sister. She had Luna leaning against her, safe and sound. And most of all, they were free. Joy welled up from within and forced out blissful tears, content to silently roll down her cheeks.
The spell that had connected them faded, in that time. The will that sustained it dwindled, neither pony pouring energy in now that it served its purpose. But as the spell faded, so did the relief from pain. Celestia's breathing grew shallower with each passing moment as the very act of drawing in breath aggravated the injury on her ribs.
Feeling the shift, Luna let go and took a step back. Her gaze traveled over Celestia, from hoof to head. "You look awful."
"Thanks." She said with a sarcastic sneer.
Exhaling, Luna rolled her eyes. "That's not what I meant. Who did this to you?"
Jaw dropped in shock, blue gaze tinged with a betrayed sting. "But . . . why? He was always so nice to me."
Celestia raised her nose with a thought, then lowered it. "I . . . may. Have thrown a fireball at him first."
"Oh," The younger sister fell into a surprised silence, her question answered. Turning her head, she gazed off into the distant brush toward the unicorns' home, worry evident on her features. "Do we have time to rest?"
"I think so." Worn legs complained from exertion and Celestia winced as she laid down, atop her knees. She spoke quickly, between the shallow breaths. "The Ursa. It tripped. They're scared now. We have time."
"So . . ." Luna lightly and nervously kicked the ground with a forehoof. "What happened to you, while I was gone?"
Celestia shook her head. "You first."
"Alright." The younger mare paused to think, then related her tale starting from the night she was abducted. Few details were spared in her style of pursing loose memories together into cohesion. She told of Silver's polite vigilance, the bubble spell, her frustrations at crossing it and the stroke of luck with the butterfly.
When she reached the stand against Phantom Spell, Celestia raised a brow. First, curiously at Luna's adamant defiance, then both brows in surprise over the ensuing battle, one against seven.
"When I opened my eyes, I was flying on wings."
"Wait! Wings?" Celestia nearly rose to her feet, except pain sent her back down.
A feathered wing, cradled close to Luna's side and unnoticed, stretched out in demonstration, wide and strong and colored a matching blue. Luna gave it a long glance, still caught in admiration for the new limb.
She shrugged her shoulders and folded it back in place. "I don't know. So much magic was being thrown everywhere, and I was just trying to stand my ground. Suddenly, I had wings, and I was in the air on them."
"Wait! No . . ." Celestia's gaze drifted to the ground in thought. "This is good. Very good."
The elder sister glanced up with narrowed eyes beneath her pink mane. "And somepony saw you flying?"
"At least . . . one." Luna searched her memory. "If not more."
Celestia grinned. "Then we have a lot more time. Than I thought." She unfolded a portion of her story, falling breathless when sentences grew too long. With struggle, the meeting hall evaluations eventually came out, including her appeal on the last day. "Those were elders. And not all of them. I tried to tell that I was Earth pony. You know how stubbornness sets in when old. They didn't believe. But when they hear about the wings. Maybe some will believe. Even after the Ursa goes. If Phantom wants to chase us. It'll be hard now. Craft leaders will argue."
Luna pursed her lips. "You sound awful. Maybe we should check you out?"
"If you think it'd do any good." Celestia spoke incredulously, rather than giving the idea support. Healing magic was complex, and raw power or talent meant little. Pouring energy into the simple thought be healed did nothing. Healers spent many seasons trained on how to properly imagine mended injuries, for even a part as simple and innocuous as a bone was a complex arrangement of shape, life, marrow, and connected to many points of muscle, padding, and sinew. The other half of healing consisted of rote memorization. This herb did that, a fever meant this. Neither Luna or Celestia had anything more than passing knowledge.
A glow of midnight's light engulfed Luna's horn, and she bent her head, eyes closed, as magical antennae felt along and inside Celestia's chest.
It tickled. "Ha, ha!" Laughing sent a fresh jolt of agony. "Stop! Stop that!" Celestia slapped away the feelers with a swat of her hoof.
Glow extinguished, Luna shot her sister an annoyed glare. "Do you want help or don't you?"
"Make it feel less oogly."
A sigh left her lips, and Luna closed her eyes again to reach out and feel, changing the sensory magic to be like warm, flowing water.
It was no less oogly to have foreign magic pass inside, but it no longer tickled and Celestia resisted swatting again.
In utmost concentration, Luna twisted her head. "I . . . don't think anything is broken. Or if it is, it's only a small crack. I . . . think it's just a bruise, swollen and sensitive since its fresh." She dropped the spell and opened her eyes, panting heavily. "Rubbing it might reduce some of the pain."
Celestia nodded. Finding the center of the bruise left by Silver Spear's kick, she shaped her will into a warm and gentle caress that massaged the swelling. The tactile sense softened the pain, if not removing it. Knotted muscles uncoiled to the touch and Celestia turned back to find Luna half lying on her side, gasping deep. Legs tucked underneath, she held her head tired and low.
As her sister rose, Celestia saw the haggardness on Luna's face, half covered by dark bangs. Two and two suddenly came together. "That spell you used, when you gave me strength . . ."
She nodded slowly, gaze drifting and unfocused.
"That was your strength, wasn't it? You sent me your magic to use." Enough to trip an Ursa Major and have plenty to spare. That was, after she fought Phantom Spell with six unicorns at his side, and cast a complicated link spell. The desperate situation might have drawn out force of will in abundance, but not made it limitless. The magic examination her sister gave was not free either, and not aided by dire circumstances. It must have used up anything she had left, including the strength to keep composure.
"A spell for pain, too, in case you were hurt." Luna added lethargically before lowering her head.
"Rest, then. We have time." Celestia crawled over alongside, propping Luna up and giving her a warm body to lean against.
A pink glow lit Celestia's horn. Magic gathered latent moisture from the air and extracted what it could from plants. It wasn't much, but enough for a few gulps. Celestia brought the moisture to Luna's lips, cradled in a bowl-shaped leaf, .
Draining the water, Luna let a satisfied sigh escape her lips, some small portion of strength regained. A question now hung in the air, one they both felt coming. "So . . . what now?" A spark of hope lit her words. "Do we go home?"
To see their parents again. A dull, bittersweet ache came with the thought. To be among their own kind, or as close to anything that approximated kind for sisters such as them. That had been the plan that set this whole chain of events in motion. They were going to return home and bring the aid of magic. The dull ache grew as Celestia imagined the faces of Whip Scar and Lightning Kick at a reunion. Yet . . .
Celestia raised a hoof and poked at Luna's wings.
"Hey," The wing and her back fidgeted under the touch. "That feels weird."
"It's like," Luna paused to give it thought. "suddenly having six legs. It's weird to have extra limbs hanging off."
"And you can use them well?"
"I don't know. I don't even know what 'well' is for these things. I fly, I know that."
"But you know only that." Her mother's parting words coalesced in thought. Promise me that you will make good on that gift the stars have given you. That you won't let sentiment be your guide. The dull ache turned into an inner soreness, a plea, a reminder of how much she missed mom and dad, and longed for their company, their presence, their comfort. But I promised. "No, we're not going home."
Luna blinked her surprise. "Then where to?"
"If the Unicorn taught us how to use magic, then we'll get you taught how to fly by the Pegasus pony."
The younger sister met that with a contemplative silence and the distant look she wore more often than not in her observant eyes. A slow nod followed. "How will we find the Pegasi?"
"What do you remember about them from our histories?"
Blue gaze drifted in recall. "There is Ariel, the pegasus that told the heroic chief Virtue Blaze where she flew over water during the Great Drought. Fore Runner, who carried a message of warning to the unicorns of the devouring sprite horde." Luna shook her head. "None of this is of any use. Pegasi had such a minor part to play in our lore. Just nomads and travelers, living more in the air than anything."
"I think I might know just a little more." Celestia peered up at the hole in the forest canopy. The sky looked down from far above, spotted by neither bird or cloud. Leaf and branch shrouded all else."You were just a foal and couldn't speak when a pegasus came to rest with our herd." She glanced down at the young pony. "You'd probably remember it too, if you were just a little older. I stayed up, listening. I forgot most of what happened now, but I do remember one thing. She said she was heading to the mountains, where her kind herded."
"The mountains?" Luna turned abruptly to her sister in realization. "Could it be the White Top Mountains?"
"That's my hope." Celestia bit her lip. The mountain range that sat west of the Sun's rise and east of the Sun's set, was one the symbols that meant home. No matter where the herd stopped to graze, as a foal, Celestia could crest a hill and see the thrust of Earth reaching so far above the forest that the tops turned white. It was also the only mountains she knew of in any travelling distance. "It's all I have to go on. And it seems reasonable enough. Can you walk?"
Luna sent her a skeptical glance from the corner of her eye. "Can you?"
In response, Celestia hoisted herself to her hooves. Luna struggled a second longer, but got her hooves under her with a little assistance of her wings. It struck Celestia as odd to see the new appendages stretch out, flap briefly like a giant bird's, and shift for balance. Her whole life, she'd grown accustomed to Luna's appearance as a pony, horn notwithstanding, and the change was alien.
Stepping forward, Celestia led the way. Luna followed behind, unconsciously falling into the same place she had since she was a filly, on the hunt for turquoise with her sister. Heads and ears remained alert, seamlessly adopting the sweeping gaze of the sentry while Celestia weaved her way through the untamed forest.
Forest navigation was a rare skill which few Unicorns possessed, and even fewer Earth ponies. Whip Scar had been one such to learn it, by necessity and luck on his flight from his human master, and he taught some of the dangers. Unlike a field, where one can see far and walk in straight lines, a forest required a curving, winding path around obstacles. Each turn made a little error off the original path. Over miles, that error compounded, throwing ponies far off course, or in giant circles forever lost in an endless maze untilCelestia banished the thought of bloody end at the end of a fang and continued forward, judging her path by the angle of light that crept through the branches. West of where Sun rises, east of where Sun sets. It would do for finding a mountain range, at least.
Walking was a kind of rest in and of itself to a pony. Celestia and Luna spent a life time on their feet, running and playing when fillies, or walking to and fro for duties as mares. With a light pace, the travel allowed them to recuperate.
Until they encountered their first problem.
Leaves grew thick and broad, trees high and tall, as the nature of the land changed. Greedy in their drinking of light, the trees expanded their branches, thickened the canopy, and let nothing but shadow fall to the forest floor. Celestia's orientation was gone and she froze, unsure.
"What is it?" Following, for Luna, let her mind wander and it did not appear to include thinking about how they navigated.
"I'm lost." Celestia gestured ahead with her neck to where the forest grew even darker. "Or will be, if we keep going."
Halting the unconscious vigil, Luna took a more active glance at her surroundings. " I've been thinking."
The white mare turned around and sat. "About?"
"About this trip to find the pegasi. We shouldn't go."
Taken aback, Celestia blinked. "What? Why?"
"Too much is risky." Luna continued in a neutral tone, a faint sign of worry along her brows. "We're going on an old memory and an assumption, either of which could be wrong. And we're travelling dangerous paths where we have little skill to go. What if the pegasus ponies aren't even at White Cap? Maybe we should go back. If we stop at home first, we could get help."
A mirthless smirk pulled one side of Celestia's lips. "And where, pray tell, is home?"
Luna hesitated, blinking. "Ehh . . ."
"Exactly." Self-satisfaction filled her voice. "I got a little confused in the rush to escape, and I bet you did, too. But I know how to find the mountains. Our choices right now are go to White Cap, or back to the unicorns." A hint of sarcasm filled her words. "I don't know about you, but I'm not so eager to throw my trust back on Phantom Spell, wings or no. So, we're going to the mountains."
"And if the pegasi aren't there?"
"Then, we will simply go back."
"Simply go back?" Dismay evident in the midnight pony. "Simply?"
"Going back to the unicorns is my last choice. I'll take my chances on the extra trip."
"But I could fly!" Luna threw out in a hurry. "From the air, maybe I could"
"That's right!" Celestia jumped to her hooves and excitedly pranced in place. "You can!" She pointed overhead. "Could you fly through the canopy and see White Top?"
Blue wings stretched out wide, but hesitant. "I guess so . . ." Flapping softly, Luna looked straight up into the air, focused and intent. A moment later, her feet lifted off the ground.
For the first time, Celestia realized, she saw the wings in motion. They beat the air in a relaxed manner, giving Luna a characteristic incomparable to any bird. Birds battled the tendency to fall, flapping rapidly or stretching feathers to catch gusts of wind and keep aloft. Luna's wings treated that tendency with a casual disregard, as if obeying gravity was optional, and one they disdainfully chose to ignore. It contrasted the determination on Luna's face, to make the wings do something as simple as carry her up to the trees. Perhaps she really does need to see the pegasi . . .
Staring with that thought, she returned to her senses when Luna stopped at the canopy and looked down expectantly. "Oh, right." Luna's magic was still exhausted. A pink glow of her horn, and Celestia opened a hole in the trees. Though this allowed sunlight to flood in once more, though Luna's direction would be far more accurate than the angle of Sun.
She tarried above the trees, glancing all around and taking in more of the view than what was needed. But she found her mark and raised out a hoof to point. Gingerly, she lowered to a few pony lengths above the ground, careful to keep her arm as straight as a pine. "That way."
"Good," Matching the direction as close as possible, Celestia set off again, winding through the forest. "We'll need to repeat this every hour or so, to stay on course." She said, any argument about the trek as good as over.
A creeping sensation crawled down her spine and settled at the base of her hips. Instinctively, ears shifted for sound and she realized she'd yet heard the footfalls of her sister. Peering over her shoulder, she found Luna still hanging in the air, banking in side to side arcs on her wings as she followed. Celestia turned her head back to the trail at hand, but found her thoughts still back there and her spine still crawled. "Luna? Would you mind coming down for now?"
"Aww," Leaves softly crunched where hooves settled. "Why?"
"It's a bit weird."
"I don't know. It just is." It was one thing to become a unicorn; a foal's fantasy to listen to the stories of ponies that played with the elements of creation and wish to join those ranks. Even with the tempting thought of flight, foals rarely fantasized about pegasi, they being largely uninvolved in the histories passed down to through generations. But Luna was neither unicorn or pegasus now, or even Earth pony. She was something new, different, unheard of, and unseen in any lore. While not bad at the least, Celestia hoped not the change went beyond juvenile fantasy and into something estranged.
And she took for granted that sometime soon, she'd wake up with her own wings.
"I'm still thirsty."
The pink-maned mare halted their progress. "That's right, I forgot. We both could use some water, and some food." Chewing her lip, she glanced to the dark trees, and leaf-covered forest floor, mind working over the problem. Eyes closed, her horn lit with summoned will and she began to shape it under guidance of thought.
"What are you doing?" Luna asked with innocent curiosity.
"Finding water." A hint of annoyance in her tone as she tried to keep the spell active.
"Why are you using that?" Luna glanced off to the side. "Water is that way."
"What?" The horn's glow vanished in an instant, and Celestia jerked her head in the direction of Luna's gaze.
"Can't you see it?"
The elder sister stared long and hard, squinting. "No. Nothing."
"But we'll find water that way."
Celestia shook her head, trying to clear her vision, then turned to Luna. "How do you know?"
The blue mare hesitated. "I'm . . . not sure. It feels like there should be." She gave an inquisitive look to her sister. "Earth pony sense?"
The ancient inheritance and part of the Oldest Story. Celestia could recall by heart every beat in the tale her mother recited.
Long, long ago, before the stars turned their eyes to Earth, before Sun grew jealous of the beauty down below, and before Moon answered the call of her sisters, the Earth was naked. Cold winds swept through barren hills, the sky existed in darkness and chaos, and nothing stirred or lived.
One day, the Wild Magic passed over the Earth and found it wrong that such a place should have nothing but darkness and nakedness. So, the Wild Magic began to play. It touched the Earth and made things grow. Small at first, the Wild Magic played long and danced with joy at what it saw. Things grew bigger, taller, more imaginative as it got carried away in the throes of creation. Eventually, the Wild Magic covered the Earth with the forest we call Everfree, and made all manners of creature to live and play, too, so that the Earth would never be naked again.
Before the Wild Magic left to continue its journey, it made one last creature that it loved more than most. From the Earth itself, it made a mare called Pony, and gave her a companion called Stallion. Because they were made from Earth, they understood it, and the creatures closest to it.
Now, we call ourselves Earth Pony, for we came from Earth. And still, many of us remember our connection to the ground where we walk and live.
Seldom had Celestia given that innate sense thought. Amidst the herd, grass was plentiful, and others always marked rivers or ponds for water, no matter where the Earth Ponies rested. But here, now, what if she did not have that sense? What if it was a story so old, it was mere legend? Then, what was it that Luna saw?
Closing her eyes, she swallowed and emptied her mind. The magic of the unicorn dimmed and constant voice of conscious thought grew quiet, opening the field of her mind to feeling and intuition. When she looked again, she saw nothing new. No magical sight. No empathetic connection to Earth. No ancient heritage awakened.
She just saw what she overlooked before.
The dirt beneath her hooves was dark and soft, giving ample nourishment to the trees and allowing them to grow with their thick branches and wide trunks. The slope of the land channeled rain water though this area, but not so much to cause flooding or turn the soft ground to marsh. Winter would pass by every year, which caused the carpet of dry leaves, but the cold would not be so harsh as to give evergreens an advantage over their sturdy, wider leafed cousins. And somewhere, down the direction where Luna guessed, the rocks had moved and allowed a spring to well up with cold, refreshing water.
All of this she understood without being taught, as natural and instinctual as language. Afraid the epiphany would suddenly vanish, Celestia marched slowly, wordlessly, toward the spring. Luna fell in rank behind, already drifted off in thoughts only she knew. Soon, the sound of water lapping on rock disturbed the air.
Leaping with excitement, Celestia cantered headlong to the spring. Luna broke into a gallop to keep up, and both pranced in, forehooves first, quickly followed by lips slurping clear water.
The spring welled up from between a rocky outcropping and flowed in a gentle, constant stream where it ate away dirt and splashed downhill across smooth stone. Frigid for coming from cold places of the Earth and all the more pleasant for it, Celestia dunked her face in the pool to ease the swell of bruises. The pink mane soaked in the liquid and dripped it down her shoulders, sending her skin to goose bumps. "Brr!" With a shiver, she shook out her mane and sent the water splashing all about. Luna squealed, the cold droplets chilling her side, and it gave her a burst of energy to summon a translucent shield against any more.
Smirking mischievously, Celestia bent low and let her hair soak again.
Luna's eyes widened. "Oh, you better no-"
Celestia flicked her mane.
The blue mare squealed again as a shower of frigid rain tickled her side and sent shivers down her flank. She ran, breaking off into a high-pitched laugh while Celestia gave chase and shook herself out to send more freezing water at her sister.
The mane ran dry and Celestia stopped. Only to find Luna already soaking her tail, a wide, mischievous grin on her face.
"You little" The tail flipping water across her chest cut that statement short with a gasp.
The play sent both mares up and down the spring's banks, tables turned every few minutes. Squeals, laughs, shrieks of surprise broke the otherwise tranquil forest. But the burst of playful energy could not last long before the exhaustion of the day caught up.
"Okay! Okay . . ." Luna was the first to slow, sprawling herself across the ground, wings and legs akimbo. "I give." Her coat sopped wet in places as she heaved for breath.
"I win! Princess of the spring!" Celestia posed triumphantly before collapsing in a sprawl herself, a laugh still on her lips. "My first order as princess is to declare you . . ." She touch a hoof to her chin. "Umm, second princess."
"Second princess?" Luna raised a skeptical eyebrow, smirking.
"Well, of course! Being my sister means you are also princess."
A light wind blew through the undergrowth. Leaves rustled, tree branches swayed, and both ponies shivered with a sudden chill. At once, the sisters scrambled toward each other and clung tight for the warmth.
The white mare stopped shivering to look down at the blue pony she'd wrapped her forelimbs around. "Huh?"
"I'm glad you're back." Luna leaned her head against her big sister's side. "That's all."
"Yeah. Me, too." Closing her eyes, Celestia called forth her will and sent out a spell to dry the water collected from the game.
A stomach growled. Loudly.
Speechless, Celestia glanced down, a wry smile slowly growing.
Luna blushed and averted her gaze. "Sorry. I didn't want to be constantly complaining on this trip."
"I think asking for food is qui" The word food caused an answering rumbled from her own stomach. "Quite okay." Though held with a straight face, the pink of her cheeks started to out due her hair.
A private snicker became Luna's answer.
Rising to her feet, Celestia surveyed her surroundings. Tall trees, non-nutritious leaves surrounded the spring's banks. On second thought, she realized the assessment of the foliage came without traceable reason. Instinct told her they tasted bitter and held little value. Earth pony sense. Once she was aware, the knowledge became easier to draw from. Following those instinctive hunches, she walked a path unseen, based on rainfall, plant competition, and soil. But this was different than finding the spring, the goal less assured. Celestia didn't know where an edible grass or tree grew, just the most likely place they would.
Stomach complaining all the while, time eventually paid off. The white mare stopped and looked up with a smile. The tree above carried branches weighted with ripe, purple figs. A simple telekinetic spell plucked several from their stems and gingerly lowered them to the ground.
Pupils dilated in Luna's eyes until the whites nearly disappeared. Drool dribbled at her lips as the prize came to rest on the floor. She chose one and launched forward, just short of a pounce. The smell of fresh torn fruit wafted through the air as Luna devoured the fig. Standing up straight, words came from a mouth still chewing. "It's really good."
Plucking several more, Celestia finally lowered her neck and popped one into her mouth. Sugary juices exploded in her mouth, squeezed from a fruit with savory texture. Swallowing quickly with intense hunger, her lips picked up another and crunched the skin beneath teeth. Her eyes rolled back in pure overwhelming bliss."Mmm," No food on Earth had ever grown finer than these figs, at this moment.
As the purple fruit disappeared one by one beneath greedy lips and empty bellies, the distraction of hunger dissipated and ambient sounds grew clear.
The tree existed as a hub of activity. Monkeys made mocking, cacophonic noises of play and battle. They swung nimbly from limb to limb, shaking branches and rustling leaves as they chased away rivals, groomed, or gathered their own food. Birds squawked, sang, flew, danced, courted, centering themselves around this ample source of nourishment. Glancing up, Celestia made out a myriad of other, quieter animals. Tree climbing foxes with a taste for figs, chameleons stalking bugs, squirrels and other mammals.
"Hmm?" Juice dribbled down her chin.
"Grab what you can." Celestia forced her voice to remain calm. "We've got to go. Now."
The younger sister moved without questioning, tucking fig after fig beneath her wings, one final fig kept pinched in her teeth. Fruit followed in a trail behind Celestia, scooped by magic as she resisted the impulse to flee in gallop, instead striding briskly, direction unimportant. Luna in tow and wide eyed, looked at all her surroundings in muffled silence.
In only took a moment for curiosity to get the best of her younger sister. Midnight's light engulfed her horn and magic carried the fig from her mouth just long enough for a question. "What was it?"
"Did you see all that activity around the fruit tree?"
Mouth full again, Luna nodded.
"It was so different than everything else we've passed." Celestia gestured with her horn to the expanse of trees overhead. "These support so little, by comparison. So, all of the animals gathered for the tasty and easy food."
Luna drew in a sharp breath as realization dawned.
"And where the prey gathers, so will the predators. It'll be safer if we stay away." A sigh left her lips and she stopped, gently setting down the three or four figs she took with her. "This will be far enough for now. We need to find our orientation again." She turned around to her sister, expectantly.
A fig dropped from her lips. "Oh, right." Luna lifted her wings. A heaping pile of purple fruit tumbled to the ground at each side, more than two or even three ponies could eat in one sitting.
Celestia stared silently.
A single brow raised.
She just shook her head. "Go on." A pink glow danced at the tip of her horn, and a hole opened up in the canopy. "Watch out for tree snakes on your way up. We're still kind of close."
With a brisk nod, Luna concentrated and the wings carried her aloft. Reaching a height above the trees, Luna briefly glanced to all sides. Her eyes fixed on something and she gasped, body going rigid with tension. She scrambled down to the forest floor, limbs moving awkwardly and hurried.
"What? What is it?!"
Blue eyes rose and met Celestia's. They held a look rare for Luna, always so distant and calm, an observer from far away. But now, they sent ice through Celestia's veins. In those seas of liquid cerulean, she saw a child-like, primal terror. Luna's voice cracked as she answered. "The Sun."
Realization blossomed in a physical wave through her body, from nose, to the hairs of her flank. How many hours had past? So much had happened that it was hard to keep track. Neck craned, head shot upwards, and she threw open a hole in the canopy again to look at the sky. Bright afternoon's light faded, darkening slowly to the beginnings of a burning red-yellow.
Fear and adrenaline quivered her lips and she found herself slowly backing away from nothing.
Night was falling on the Everfree forest.
And trapped under leaf and branch, far from home, Luna and Celestia stood awaiting the coming of darkness.