The Lies We Tell to Children

by GaPJaxie

Chapter 1: Prelude

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Once there was a filly named Twilight Sparkle who lived in Canterlot. She was a unicorn, and very gifted in the ways of magic. So great was her talent that when it first expressed itself, her powers ran out of control, and Princess Celestia herself had to intervene. But the Princess bore Twilight no ill will, and on that day, the little filly from Canterlot became Princess Celestia’s faithful student.

That was also the day she earned her cutie mark—a bright star, surrounded by five others. On any other day, Twilight would have been given to obsess about the symbolism and metaphor behind that particular mark, but her worries were washed away in a flood of joy and wonder. It was hours before she had occasion to think about the details of her mark at all, and when she did, she quickly concluded that it was abstract. Stars were sometimes used as a generalized symbol of magic, and so her cutie mark represented her broad interest in the field.

This conclusion was incorrect. At the same time Twilight was considering the matter, Princess Celestia was already preparing for the mentorship of one she knew to be the next bearer of the Element of Magic. The star of the Tree of Harmony had a distinctive shape, one which was now clearly replicated on Twilight. Princess Celestia knew that teaching Twilight well would be important—possibly the most important thing she had done in a very long while. But Celestia was not concerned. She could see Twilight’s destiny after all, written upon her flank.

But this conclusion too was in error, and in exactly the same way. For while Twilight acted in impulsive ignorance and Celestia in patient knowledge, both made the same oversight. They each forgot that symbols can mean multiple things.

If only Twilight and Celestia had qualified their beliefs, they might have avoided this mistake. Twilight was generally interested in magic after all, and she was destined to wield the Element of that same force. It was only their certainty that they had already solved the whole of the puzzle that prevented them from seeing the unused pieces.

But they were certain, and they did not see them, and so neither suspected anything was amiss as Twilight went home that night. A day of joyful celebration had done nothing to dampen her spirits, and she was still full of energy as her parents hustled her upstairs. That she’d eaten two bowls of oat-and-chocolate-chip ice cream and was on a bit of a sugar rush certainly did nothing to help. Eventually though, they got her into bed, told her they were proud of her, kissed her goodnight, and because it was her special day, pretended they couldn’t hear the sounds of her reading under the covers.

They came in about an hour later to find her fast asleep, taking a moment to straighten the blankets and put her book on the nightstand. But by that point, Twilight was somewhere else entirely.

Once, there was a filly named Twilight Sparkle, who lived in Canterlot. She was a unicorn, and very gifted in the ways of magic. So great was her talent that when it first fully expressed itself, she drew the attention of the very heavens, and the Princess of the Night herself bid Twilight appear before her.

The little filly from Canterlot had no recollection of how she came to be in the Silver Palace or why she walked in the hall of one whose seat rules three kingdoms. The royal heraldry of the Moon, the Stars, and the Realm of Dreams hung from the walls in strange and haunting patterns, and there at the end sat the Princess. She was winged and horned, dark and regal, and Twilight bowed before her as her parents had taught.

“Um,” Twilight said. For fear of appearing foolish, she added only, “Hello.”

“Hello, Twilight Sparkle,” said the Princess of Night. “Rise, and be welcome in my home.” From the throne she did descend in a column of smoke, lifting Twilight’s chin from the floor. The touch sent a shock through Twilight, for it was cold and hard upon her skin, and its harsh reality intruded upon her uncertainty. She thus rose quickly, earning a polite nod from the pony before her.

“Um, thank you,” Twilight said, hesitating as she realized she did not know what to call the pony before her. “Are you a princess?”

“Yes,” said the pony. “I am Princess Luna. I have called you here because you are a very talented young filly. You have a great gift, but you must learn to control that gift. I can teach you the magic required to control your powers and to harness them for your own ends.”

It took Twilight a moment to decipher Luna’s words, but when she did, a smile broke out on her face. “Oh! Wow! I can’t believe two princesses came to see me.” Flattery washed away her worry, and her enthusiasm quickly bubbled over. “Princess Celestia said that to me earlier today! She’s going to teach me magic herself. Princess Celestia teaching me magic. Just like when she raises the sun! Can you believe it!?”

“Yes,” Luna said, her face a neutral mask unswayed by the filly’s enthusiasm. “I can believe it. Has she taught you anything yet?”

“Just a little spell to summon light. See?” Scrunching up her face and focusing, she called a little ball of sunlight to her horn. Its yellow rays made the world around her seem pale and unreal, bleaching the color from the palace. But Luna took no notice.

“That is a very good spell,” Luna said. “But there is another version of it.” Luna’s horn glowed, and with the most delicate of touches, she stole Twilight’s spell from her. The enchantment twisted, folded itself inside out, and before Twilight’s eyes, the ball of light became a ball of shadow.

“Whoa!” Twilight exclaimed. “How did you do that!?”

“It is quite easy,” Luna said. “Look closely, and I will show you.”

And so on that night, the little filly from Canterlot became a student of two teachers.

The next morning, Twilight awoke with no recollection of her dreams. Cobwebs hung in her thoughts, and she had a vague feeling that something important had happened. But there was no time for such delays—it was her first full day as Princess Celestia’s student, and she had much to do. She had to prepare; she had to study. Her tutelage had only begun, and she already felt leagues ahead of where she had been yesterday.

She even had an idea for a new spell—a little enchantment to blot out light.

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