The last solstice
Chapter 2: The hermit of Ivory Tower
Nocturnal Mirage sits at the диван, мягкий уголок in the same room; he spent two hours yesterday. He arrived a little earlier and now struggles to stay awake. The cozy warmness is somnolent, the cobalt stallion yawns for some length. Suddenly, the door of the office throws open with a loud bang. This time, it’s not the secretary, but Captain Shining Armor himself. Mirage shakes his head, stands up and salutes instinctively.
“Ah, Mirage, you’re here already. Good.” Shining salutes back.” Come inside, and prepare for briefing.”
Mirage obeys and takes the same сиденье, место, сиденья as yesterday. But, he cannot remain in that pose for long, because the other door of the office opens and Princess Luna walks inside with slow, placid steps. The alicorn towers over the earth пони and pierces her navy blue eyes into Mirage’s. The stallion gazes back. Luna’s steely features become soft.
“Mirage, allow me to introduce Ты to Princess Luna.” Shining says.
“Charmed.” The Moon Goddess extends her hoof.
“The pleasure is mine, your Highness!” Mirage Ответы and bows down.
“The Princess will brief Ты on your assignment. If Ты have any Вопросы afterwards, you’ll find me here.” the white unicorn informs and leaves the premise before Mirage could react.
The dark blue пони blinks in utter confusion. He finds it odd that the Princess herself came here to inform him.
“Forgive me if I sound a bit harsh, but I do not have time for the regular courtesies. I’ll cut right to the case.” Luna begins after a few секунды of silence. Mirage nods as a sign of agreement.
“We are in desperate need of somepony who’s reliable, gets the job done and keeps his mouth sealed. Shining Armor says Ты are the one and based on my first impressions, I tend to believe him. Now come with me, I’ll Показать Ты to your post.”
Mirage stays quiet, and follows the Lunar Princess, who leads him through the maze of corridors and takes him up on eternal winding staircases. After a while, Luna stops in front of a door. Mirage huffs heavily from the extortion.
“We have arrived.” the alicorn declares. It seems she did not even break a sweat, her regal, graceful appearance have not changed a bit.
“This is the Ivory Tower, the highest tower of Canterlot Castle.” Luna explains.
Mirage suddenly starts to feel the reason of his presence. He gazes at the large, domed two-winged door.
“Behind this door, there’s a suite… Where… my sister lives.” the lunar goddess continues.
“I know what you’re thinking, Nocturnal Mirage. Perhaps Ты already figured out your assignment?”
“I have a hunch…” the cobalt stallion sighs resignedly.
“Yes. I assign Ты to be the personal guard of my sister, the Solar Princess: Celestia.”
“Understood.” Mirage agrees. Nothing is seen of his reluctance from the outside.
“I am here because of two reasons. One: this is an unofficial assignment. Nopony can know anything about the details of your work. If Ты reveal anything, even the tiniest, most irrelevant detail you’ll experience here, it will be automatically considered as high treason. This is very important! Do Ты understand?” Luna Вопросы coldly.
“Yes.” the earth пони replies, while a thick, sinister облако of concern slowly settles on his mind.
“Good. Now, for the most important part: my sister’s… err... current state is not beatific, to say the least. She hasn’t come out of her suite for almost ten years now.”
“May I ask why?”
“That is not important. All Ты need to know, that my sister’s inside there and somepony has to attend to her needs.” the alicorn of the Night Ответы firmly.
Mirage glances at the door, then back at Luna. Perplexity and angst are written all over his features.
“You are mistaken. In fact, it’s almost zero chance, that you’ll ever see her. Celestia never comes out.”
“I… do not understand…” the stallion begins.
“You do not understand why Ты have to be here then.” Luna interrupts.
“Somepony has to be here with her. Whenever my sister needs something, she leaves an envelope at the door. Your job is to get what she requires, place her Еда in front of the door everyday and not to ask questions.” The Lunar Princess explains with sorrowful undertones in her voice.
“You’ll be working in weekly shifts. During your shift, Ты are not allowed to leave the Castle, I’m afraid… but you’ll be provided with anything Ты desire. There are only two suites up here. The other is yours, while you’re attending to the Princess. You’ll be spending most of your time here. Do Ты have any questions?”
“Yes, your Highness. How am I supposed to protect the Princess, if there’s a massive door standing in my way?” Mirage inquires with a little cynicism coloring his deep voice.
“Listen.” Luna says on a warmer tone. ”You don’t seem to understand… My sister does not care about anything anymore… and it’s been like that for almost a decade.Technically she’s still the prime mare of the country, yet all the duties rely on my shoulders."
"The temple of her mind collapsed after what she’s been through. You’ll probably hear her shouting and rampaging in there sometimes. If Ты do, DO NOT address her! Stay as far away from the door as possible. However, most of the time, she’s very kind. And quiet. She’ll probably send Ты a welcoming envelope. Ты can stay in contact with her the same way. Just leave your letter by her door… I believe that’s all. Any questions?”
“No, your Highness. I’ll manage.” Mirage replies.
“Excellent. If Ты need anything, use the speaking tube in your suite and the staff will get it for you… I wish Ты good luck, Nocturnal Mirage! ” Luna smiles warmly and teleports away with a cyan flash.
As soon as the alicorn of the Night vanishes, deadly calmness settles down in the Tower. Mirage idles on the same spot for several minutes, digesting the information he’s been flooded with. Great I’ve become a full time nanny…
he thinks. Then the royal blue stallion slowly walks to the door. He still cannot believe it… The Princess of the Sun… is behind this door! Nopony has seen her for a decade…
Mirage moves closer… His muzzle is only an inch away from the wooden door. The earth пони perks up the ear. There’s no sound, but… he somehow knows
, that Celestia is doing the same thing on the other side. She's got to be!
“What has happened to you, Princess?” Mirage whispers barely audibly as the spark of sympathy overcome the flame of reluctance for a brief moment.
The stallion turns to stone, not moving an inch for minutes. There’s no sign of life from the inside, just deadly quietness. Mirage takes a step back, but spots something: an envelope just slid out under the door.