Twisted Reflections

by Solana

Chapter 4: A Natural Regression

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A Natural Regression

        Celestia’s ears flicked nervously. There were many ponies who considered her akin to a god, and stifling their interpretation of her nature had been a losing battle. After all, what was a god anyway, except someone or something you could rely on? Throughout the years, Celestia’s power and influence had grown, and there were many who considered her unstoppable. When coupled with her natural agelessness, convincing the world she was anything less than divine was an uphill battle.

        However, it was in places like this that she became all too aware of her own faults and frailties. Were gods supposed to be afraid of the dark? She wandered aimlessly through a dark and tangled wood. Of course she did not fear all darkness, the night belonged to her sister, not to her, but she had come to love it as she did Luna. The absence of light that clung to the trees and winding paths in this place was something primordial and terrifying, outdating even the night.

        A ruined castle? So this forest had not always been in such a state. Surely things had to have been different before, brighter before, for anyone to build such a structure. Such a strange familiar structure...

        Words were etched into stone and metal that danced merrily out of reach of Celestia’s recollections. Every fiber in her body was tense with fear. It cried out with a need to flee, but curiosity was always a weakness that she could never deny.

        Soft rustling sounds echoed through the halls, leading her deeper into the castle.

        The shadows were thick here. They pinched at pulled at Celestia’s coat and feathers. Her ears lowered and her hooves fidgeted nervously in place. ‘I need to see what’s down there, I need to know what happened.’ she thought desperately. With a dramatic flap of her wings, she barreled down the corridor at full speed. Loose feathers danced in her wake and their lustrous white light was vanquished and consumed by the trailing shadows.

        She founds herself in a large courtroom, but the thrones were removed, and in their place stood two gaping black holes. They were frightening to her, and oozed a kind of metaphorical hunger one can only find it dreams, or nightmares.

        ‘So, that is what this is... This is just a nightmare. Luna will be here to fetch me soon.’ Celestia nodded her head and wore a serene smile. Just thinking of her sister elevated her spirits. She was disturbed by the way her wings continued to shed precious white feathers, however.

        It’s not your fault, Celestia

Everything is your fault, Celestia...

Celestia yelped in surprise as booming sounds and soft whispers echoed up from the holes at the back of the room.

        This is where Luna gave into Despair, not you

This is where you gave into despair

Celestia closed her eyes and took a step back, one of her hooves lifted into the air. She was terrified, and her body was taking measures of its own in case she needed to flee, which it assured her, was very much the best idea right now.

        ‘No, you do not run from nightmares... Luna taught you that, remember? If you run, they are only going to give chase, and you cannot outrun a nightmare.’ She struggled to take a step forward. ‘Stay strong Celestia. Think of your subjects, think of Luna, think of...’ Someone very important was missing, and Celestia’s panic began to overwhelm her in the presence of that empty part of her. Biting her lip, she struggled to focus on the harmony that had once been a part of her, the harmony that was the lifeblood of Equestria, and separated it from the endless chaos beyond.

        This is where harmony died

This is where harmony died

        The Everfree Forest, that is what this place had become. For all of her power, her age, and her wisdom, nothing could ever heal the rift between Equestria and the Everfree Forest. Just as nothing could ever heal the rift between Luna and herself. Truly, this is where harmony had died. She no longer held any claim to it.

        Celestia cried out as her coat became a lifeless gray. Clumps of fur began to slip out and tumble to the floor, and her wings became a skeletal mess. She struggled to maintain her composure, her identity, but everything was being ripped from her. Who she was, and what she was no longer seemed relevant. It was that period of shock after being engulfed by icy water stretched out over a long period of time.

        A malevolent chatter echoed through the cold, and Celestia found she had been counting on it gloating at her. What unsettled her was the small detail that this voice did not inspire any memories in her. It was not whom she had expected. Even that awareness was stripped from her as she struggled in the cold, but amidst that sensation was a faint warmth, the image of two sisters curled up on a carpet laughing at each other.

        ‘At least I’m not entirely alone, as long as I think of her. It is perhaps more than I deserve.’

        The rest of Celestia’s dreams were quite inconsequential, except for one. In this dream she walked on two legs, and struggled to serve a man seated at one of her tables. It was terrifying, though she did not know why. The only thing she’d remember about the individual was his strangely familiar chittering voice.

        It’s time to go back to work, Sophia

you’re failing in your responsibilities, Sophia. What would your parents think?


Lucy awoke with a start. She was so close that time! Dreams had become so distant and immaterial to her ever since... Wait, since when? When were dreams ever anything more than dreams to her? She shivered and looked down at her smooth white skin. She must have changed back in the middle of the night. Celest— Sophia, must have let her sleep in. She wrapped a nearby discarded blanket around herself and looked around. She spotted that familiar bottle of medicine and took another dose. Sophia may have scared her with how gung-ho she was about things, but yesterday really had been... well, ‘magic’. The tide of bright indigo fur began to claim her limbs, the old human skin danced in the air like motes of light, like fireflies. Luna sighed and buried her face into the blanket. She never wanted what had happened yesterday to end, and as long as they still had their medicine it didn’t have to.

        The changes had finished. She swore it was taking less and less time, but decided not to question her happy fortune. She gave a mighty yawn and stretched her way out from under the blanket, then she trotted over to the kitchen where Celestia would no doubt be waiting for her, impatient for food as always. The appetite of an alicorn was something to be feared! Luna giggled softly, but her mirth died in her throat when she looked into the kitchen.

        Sophia was sitting at the table. Her hands fidgeted with her blonde hair. She was tying it back, and otherwise dressed for work. Luna’s heart sank, it felt like the day before had been just a dream. This wasn’t her sister. What had happened? Luna’s eyes widened when she got a good luck at Sophia’s. They, at least, were still the most unearthly shade of pink.

        “Um... Tia, you didn’t take your medicine.” Luna levitated the bottle over sheepishly and placed it on the table between them.

        Sophia jumped, it was as though she hadn’t even been aware of Luna’s presence until that very moment. “I can’t take any of that today, Lucy! I’ve got to go to work! Some of us still have to.” She bent down and ran a hand through Luna’s mane. Luna wanted to resist the odd sensation of disgust, but she could help it. She flinched when her sister’s hand touched her.

        “But... but what about yesterday!? We were happy! Weren’t we going to see that girl? You said everything would be fine!”

        “Lucy, I was on drugs when I said all of that. You’re on drugs right now! You’re not thinking rationally. You’re not thinking responsibly, and now yet again I have to take over for the both of us.” Sophia stared at her sister coldly, her pink eyes seemed to lose a bit of their luster.

        Luna felt the laughter in her heart start to flicker and die. The world was becoming familiar in a disconcerting way. ‘Taking over, for the both of us...’ Luna shivered as she contemplated that distant memory of isolation and loneliness that ever taunted her from the back of her mind.

        “If you want to contribute, you can get dressed and be ready for your class by the time it’s time for me to go. I’m sure your professor will understand your absence yesterday, given the circumstances.”

        Luna’s mouth dropped open and practically struck the table. “Tia! But... But I’m a pony!”

        Sophia narrowed her eyes. “If something is interfering with your duties, perhaps you should remove the obstruction?”

        “You’re asking me to... After yesterday? I thought you understood!?”

        Sophia rose from her seat and slammed it back under the table. “I took the time to understand your point of view, but have you considered trying to see things from mine? You are selfish Lucy, utterly selfish!”

        Luna narrowed her eyes and trotted over to Sophia, she stopped a foot away and jabbed at her pelvis with a hoof. “You are ‘not’ my sister! Take your medicine and give her back! I want my sister back!”

        Sophia smacked Luna’s hoof away and scowled at her. “Forget it, I’m leaving now. You can spend the rest of the day locked up here accomplishing nothing for all I care.”

        Luna shivered at the idea of being locked up.

        ‘She’s right, I ‘am’ selfish... No! I need to stop her, this isn’t right! She knew that last night. She told me so! I just need to have faith in her, and in myself. But what are you going to do, Luna, refuse to lower the moon?’

Sophia stormed toward the door and opened it. She yelped when a deep blue aura engulfed it and slammed it shut before she could put so much as one foot past its threshold. She turned around and stared at the pony responsible.

Luna stood at the entrance to the kitchen, her face was more defiant and fierce than Sophia could ever remember. “You’re right Celestia. I ‘do’ have responsibilities, and apparently they include making sure my sister takes her medicine, because she’s too much of a fussy foal to do it herself!”

        “Lucy, I swear if you don’t let me open this door right now, I will ‘never’ forgive you!”

        “No!” Luna galloped over and wrapped her hooves around her sister’s legs. “Tia, snap out of it! I know you’re in there! I saw it! Remember last night? Remember what you said?”

        “Ugh... Get off of me you damned freak!” Sophia kicked her leg out and knocked Luna to her haunches. She looked around desperately before grabbing a book off of a nearby shelf, and spun around to slam it right into her sister’s horn.

        Luna could not remember ever feeling something as physically painful as that. They both had abusive caretakers in the past, but getting hit with a belt just didn’t compare. It was like the impact shook its way down her horn and into her soul. She could feel some deep metaphysical part of herself crumble, and she had to consider the possibility that her horn wasn’t the only thing injured in that attack. What was it her sister had called her? A freak? She buried her face under her hooves and cried. She didn’t even hear her sister leave.

        When she finally composed herself she was alone. The only company surrounding her was a small pile of blue feathers and clumps of fur on either side of her.

        ‘Well, that dose didn’t last long.’ Luna thought bitterly before popping another capsule into her mouth.


        Sophia was quite early to arrive at her bus stop. This was a small blessing as it allowed her the time to straighten out her outfit. She fumed as she straightened out wrinkles in her slacks and dress shirt as best she could. She even found a few blue hairs and a stray feather that dissolved in the breeze as soon as she brushed them away.

        ‘How could I have said that to her? Oh sun, I am making the same mistakes all over again. My precious Luna...’ Sophia shook her head frantically. ‘No! Her name is Lucy! We’re not repeating anything! I can’t afford to let go of my humanity, I have responsibilities. I’m not like her!’

Sophia lowered herself onto the bench and lifted her hands to rub at her temples. She stopped herself when she got a good look at her hands. A feeling of intense revulsion took root in her gut and she shoved both of them under her legs where she wouldn’t have to look at them.

        More than anything she wanted to dash back into that building and go back to being with her sister, but how could she show her face after what she had just done? She didn’t deserve the kind of happiness that had been there just a night prior. She rose from the bench and turned back toward her home, but hesitated. More than anything she wanted a sign of what to do, and the bus rounding the corner made her mind up for her. She would go to work, someone had to keep a roof over her stubborn sister’s head.

        ‘And what exactly am I being, then, if not stubborn?’

        The bus ride was uneventful as always. On occasion she caught a few people staring at her with thoughtful expressions, but nothing troubling ever came of it. She did her best to keep her eyes out of sight.

        Her manager had more than a few choice words waiting for her when she finally arrived. He wanted to know where she had been the day before, why her phone line had been disconnected mid-call. These were some pretty serious questions Sophia didn’t have a real answer for, and lying had never been her strong suit. She did the only thing she could think of, she blamed Luna.

        “I’m sorry sir, my sister was acting up again. I-”

        “Your sister isn’t my problem, you are.” The tall gaunt man practically stabbed her throat with a pointed finger. “No more excuses, if I have anymore trouble from you you’re gone. You think there’s not plenty of potential servers out there? We’re in the middle of a recession sweetheart. The only thing keeping me from firing you is the bullshit hassle of actually having to do my job, but I’ll do it if you make me, so help me God!”

        Sophia blinked in surprise. At the very least the man was honest, even if he seemed needlessly violent.

        “Well? Get the fuck out there.” Throughout the entire conversation he never once raised his voice. His tone sped up and contained a malice that gave Sophia the impression that he was finding it very difficult to articulate just how much he hated her. She took a step back before turning to leave, and even that intimidated her. She was terrified that in his anger he’d finally lash out at her as soon as an opportunity presented itself.

        Her day wasn’t improving anytime soon. A few of the customers sneered at her once they got a good look at her eyes. Some gave knowing smirks, and one even had the audacity to refer to her as horse girl the entire time she was assigned to that table. None of them tipped her. After all, she was probably just going to spend it on drugs anyway, right? Sophia frequently found herself taking bathroom breaks so she could rinse out her eyes and hide the tears. She stared into those eyes for her entire rest break before slamming her fist into the mirror, but all she accomplished was bruising her wrist and knuckles.


        Luna paced through the house quietly, albeit with the occasional high pitched yell or curse.

        “How could I have let her leave like that?!” She kicked the wall with a rear hoof and narrowly avoided putting a hole in it. With an undignified grunt of anger she slumped over on the floor and stared at the bottle of medicine she’d been carrying around with her.

        An echo of the laughter they had shared the night before drifted up from her memories, and Luna’s expression slipped into a smile. ‘There’s still time, I can still help her. I just need to prove that I’ll always be there for her. I need to show her my devotion!’

        Luna fidgeted and felt a surge of warmth radiate from her back. She turned her head to take a look, half expecting to see more feathers had fallen out, heralding the need for another dose. That would be bad, because the bottle was already running out of pills. What she saw instead shocked her. Her wings were ever so slightly larger, the plumage had to be fuller as well. Not only were they not degrading, they seemed healthier than they had ever been. Her coat had always been a cool indigo that matched her mane and tail quite nicely, but at the tips of her feathers she could see that brighter colour being replaced with a dark royal blue. The overall effect was quite stunning, and Luna felt a surge of pride and purpose.

She trotted towards her dresser and dragged out the bottom drawer. It was filled entirely with odd knick-knacks and assorted junk she’d never bothered to throw away over the years. Among these relics was a digital camera she had gotten from one of their nicer foster parents. The family had identified Luna’s ‘artistic talents’ early on and sought to encourage it. Preferably while spending as little money as possible. The thought was commendable, but she never could bring herself to care about it. The real treasure right now was the pouch and looped drawstring it came with.

Luna lifted the pouch into the air and tugged it open with a sharp pull of magic. The pill bottle floated gracefully into the satchel and another sharp tug sealed it enough to keep it from tumbling out. She bowed her head and moved forward until the loop fell over her neck like a chain. She paused in front of a mirror to admire her work. ‘This is just so much more convenient and intuitive than working with hands.’

Another flash of magic opened her window to the outside world. Luna flared her wings out and gulped. Getting out of the house was always the hardest part. Right now she wished more than anything for a balcony several stories up. She distinctly remembered the first time she tried to fly outside. She had clipped her wings on the walls surrounding her window and tumbled to the grass outside. Happily it had been night time and no one was awake to see her.

Luna steeled herself with a huff and flared out her wings aggressively. She closed her eyes and tried to call on that odd intuitive magic that made flight possible. Considering her size and weight—which were well within acceptable averages despite her appetite, thank you very much—it would take more than wingpower to get her airborn. 

Honestly, Luna wouldn’t have had it any other way. She had spent a lot of time in swimming pools in the past, and this was in many ways similar. It’s easy to forget that the air surrounds you and has substance in day to day life. This was not so when she was flying. She could feel the pull and tug of nascent breezes, the gentle rocking of the air moving to accommodate her, and if she were to soar high enough she could feel herself practically float at the top just before it became thin. She still remembered the first time she flew into conspicuously low hanging cloud, and was met with much more resistance than she had anticipated.

Luna spread her hooves apart and took a deep breath. Taking off was—in her opinion—very similar to trying to float at the top of a body of water. With a loud sigh she exhaled and leapt into the air. She struggled briefly to obtain a kind of equilibrium before diving out of the window. Gaining altitude did a great deal to put her mind at ease, and she spared a gracious thought for how different flying was for her compared to every other winged creature she had seen. Finding where her big sister was would be a bit difficult considering she’d never journeyed there except at the street level, but she was confident that her direction sense and general understanding of where Sophia worked would get the job done. The new magical feeling pulsing in her chest and wings wouldn’t hurt either, she thought. Simply put: Luna believed she would reach her sister’s side because that is where she needed to be.

In short order she found the general area where her sister’s restaurant would be, but she soon gave up on trying to find it by air. Besides, Luna was discovering that she took a special pleasure in the amazed expressions of people passing by. Even the vulgar insults and curses were like water sliding off of her pristine coat. She held her head high like she was some kind of nobility, and snickered softly whenever children pointed and looked upon her in wonder. ‘Yes, revel before me little dreamers, for I AM LUNA!'

Luna blinked her eyes open after realizing where her over the top inner monologue had gotten her. One of her hooves was thrust triumphantly into the air and she looked around in embarrassment, but no one was there to look at her. Ironically enough she realized, that very hoof was pointed at the sign of the restaurant where her sister worked. With a flap of her wings she sailed over the street, ignored the traffic, and landed uninterrupted on the other side. Everything seemed to be going just fine so far, now all she had to do was step inside.

The host leered at her as soon as the door started to open. He was a short man, Luna thought. His thin face was framed by brown bangs. ‘They must not feed him enough.’ She spared the man a frown of sympathy.

 “Excuse me er... whatever you are, but you’re not allowed in here.” His body language went rigid, and heralded the onset of the fight or flight response.

“This is egregious! We wish to see our sister Celestia! We demand that we be seated at once!” Luna stomped a hoof against the floor for effect.

The host flinched and took a step back. “Look, I don’t care if you want to see my goddamn manager. You’re not allowed in here you stupid druggie!”

“There is nothing illegal about our presence! Stand aside!”

The man smiled at her evilly and stepped forward until even he was towering over her. Without a word he lifted his arm and pointed at a sign taped to the glass.

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service

Luna stared at the warning with her mouth hanging open. She had been utterly defeated. No, she would never live down this failure. She looked down at her hooves. ‘This arrogant young man does have a point. Where are my shoes anyway?’

Before she could finish her thought, and the man could finish throwing her out, a commotion echoed into the foyer. Luna could hear a man’s insufferable and antagonistic voice echo out of the dining room.

“That’s right, pick it all up pony girl! You like being on all fours, right?!”

Luna narrowed her eyes and dashed around the host’s legs, who attempted to halt her with a feeble cry. The dining room was full of people staring. Most were shocked and appalled, a few were smirking, and one old couple looked sad and sympathetic. Sophia was glaring at a large fat man with a very red face. A tray of food lay on the floor, and Sophia slowly bent over to pick it up.

The patron from hell let out a lecherous laugh. “I’ve got some other needs you can address while you’re down there. You need the money right? Of course you do.”

Sophia was back on her feet in the blink of an eye. Her face was contorted with rage and frustration that Luna had previously thought was only reserved for her when she was being particularly unruly. She balled up her fist, reached way back, and asserted herself against the man’s nose.

His laughter died immediately. Sophia clenched her fist in pain, and stared at the man’s face in fascination. A thin stream of blood trickled its way down from his nose.

“Oh you little bitch!” He fumbled around gracelessly before seizing a thick glass filled with beer and hurling it at Sophia’s face.

“Cease thy hostilities at once!” Luna cried out before leaping in front of her sister and shielding her with a wing. The large glass was suspended in the air by her magic. Most of the liquid had gone wild and splashed into a young man seated behind them, who was now staring daggers at the large man with the bloody nose.

“You will not harm my sister!” She announced with haughty disdain.

“Luna... what are you doing here?!” Sophia hissed while cradling her hand.

Luna turned her head and smiled, allowing her eyes to close and fully emphasize her smugness. “I am helping!” A soft rustle of air caused her some alarm, and her eyes shot open as a steak knife sailed past her ear and struck the ground beneath her wing.

        “Actually, I think you’re making things worse.” Sophia raised her uninjured hand to her face.

        “Oh she definitely did that, but you really didn’t need the help.” A low menacing voice sounded from behind them. Luna and Sophia yelped as the manager grabbed both of them by the back of their necks, seizing them by pressure points they didn’t even know they had. He dragged them over to doors while rambling off a litany of hatred before flinging them at the exit. The sisters tumbled absent grace into the street, and landed in a comical pile on the sidewalk. He poked his red face out after them. “You better get moving, because I’m calling the fucking police!”

        Sophia and Luna hopped to their feet and made a break for it, although Luna did have to slow down to allow her sister to keep up. They put a few blocks between themselves and the restaurant before rounding a corner and leaning against an alley wall.

        “Luna, you big idiot! What were you doing all the way down here?!” Sophia was loud, but she sounded sad more than angry.

        “I came to help you! I wanted to apologize for how we left things this morning...” Luna raised a hoof to her barrel and looked down.

        “You’re apologizing to me? To ME?!” Sophia paced back and forth, her face covered by a nervous hand. “I just... And then you... I don’t... What do you have to say for yourself back there?!”

        Luna stared at her for several beats, a look of puzzlement on her face. She raised her hoof to her chin and mused out loud: “Truly thy ex-manager is a Vulcan...” It was spoken so softly that Sophia had barely heard her.

        Sophia’s mouth dropped open, she didn’t seem to know how to answer that. She collapsed against the wall and slid down before she started to laugh hysterically, and before long Luna joined her. Just two crazy sisters—one of whom was a magic horse—laughing in the middle of an alley.

        “Oh Luna, I am so sorry about this morning. I don’t know what got into me. I just... and the nightmares, and I was so frightened!” Sofia wrapped her arms around Luna and pulled her close. She appeared oblivious to how uncomfortable Luna looked being hugged by her ‘human’ sister.

        “You don’t need to apologize Tia, it was my responsibility!” She smiled and rested a hoof against her sister’s shoulder. “I understand how important your duties are to you, but it’s important for both of us to remember that the responsibility that takes precedence over all others is the one we have to each other!” She lowered her gaze and tugged the medicine bottle out of her pouch. “And to ourselves...”

        Sophia gulped and took the bottle into her hands. She opened it and frowned at the contents. “Luna... There is barely any left.”

        “We’ll get some more soon, Tia. Take it, right now you need this.” Luna’s smile widened and she nodded, urging her sibling on.

        Celestia paused in consideration, then downed a capsule.

Next Chapter: Give Until it Hurts Estimated time remaining: 38 Minutes

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