The Living is Easy
Written by The Descendant
She steps out into the grey time before her sun rises.
She feels the distant rays call for her. The cloudless sky restrains nothing from her, heeds her call, and the warmth of the new day reaches out to her from where the sun sits beyond the mountains awaiting her clarion call.
Before her stands the assembled citizenry of the city, the residents of Ponyville staring up to her in anticipation of the coming of the start of the summer, her gift to them.
She takes a deep breath as they bow, letting them greet her the only way they know how. She looks to them, sees in them the repeating themes of life that her sun and this act have brought to her dominion for millennia after millennia.
She stands there as they rise, as they look to her in awe, and she smiles gently over them.
She looks to the faces of the ponies before her. She sees the eagerness residing in them and knows why they have come.
They had been robbed, of course, of a proper Summer Sun Celebration the year before. The return of Nightmare Moon had occurred, just as she had ever known it would, and all had progressed as she had planned. Twilight had risen to her purpose, this first one, and the Elements had once more played their timeless role, blessing another generation with their strength.
That was now past, as all things in her long life had passed. Now her sister stands nearby, looking up happily as she prepares to give the gift once more.
Now Ponyville once again greets her as she stands ready, as she lifts her face to where the sun awaits. She absorbs its power, her rightful power, and prepares herself to lift it high above her lands. She readies herself to become once more the focus of its strength, her strength their strength.
As she does her smile continues a knowing smile. She knows many things, has seen many things, and knows of many things yet to come. Her numerous millennia repeat the harmonies of life in her mind over and over. It is though she is the conductor of a great orchestra, the great wellspring of life leaping out beneath her century after century in repeated refrains
and now she prepares once again to lift the baton.
As she looks out to them she sees Twilight, Spike, and their friends standing before her. They are but one island of familiarity in a sea of faces she has known since before their births. She focuses though on the small assembly around her favored student, her designate, who looks up to her with expectation.
In her mind she sees what the gift will once again bring. Through the corridors of time that she has long tread she recalls what this gift has brought her ponies, her Equestrians her foals.
As she waits for the world to fall into place, the hidden sun feeding her strength, she closes her eyes. There she lets a vision envelop her. In that moment a prophecy of the summer to come shares her consciousness.
Within the vision she sees how soon the bright warmth of the days will draw her ponies from their beds. Inside the prophecy she sees the shafts of light falling over them as the birds lift their morning chorus.
Even Twilight, her dear student, accustomed as she was to late nights of study by candlelight will soon find the call of summer irresistible. Soon, she envisions, Twilight will abandon the confines of the library for the porch overhead. She sees her there on the porch. The soft summer winds are rolling around her, making the pages of whatever mildewed volume she brings with her out from the dusty shelves toss and rise on the gently rolling breezes. The book seems almost alive, reacting as it is exposed to her sun for the first time in generations.
She watches as her soft morning sun falls around her student. She watches happily as a smile crosses Twilight's face as the unicorn sees the light streaming through a drink she'd brought from within the library, as it becomes a rainbow that dances across the porch. She watches as Twilight's eyes follow the rainbow that arcs toward the railings beyond. There they settle on the familiar form of a little dragon.
There, as she watches, he lifts the kite and runs a few hesitant steps across the porch. She sees him cross back and forth in front of Twilight, even jumping at times, making little noises of effort. She listens as a smiling Twilight speaks encouraging words, imploring him not to give up.
She sees in the vision that among the still air will come some small gentle breeze, and the kite will be caught up in it. She watches it lift from the porch as Spike's expression goes wide in excitement. As he lets out the string she sees the kite flit into the sky beyond the library. She watches this in her prophetic vision, sees how happy he will be as it rides farther up into the sky. She sees how Twilight will stand and stretch as the early summer morning slides into the late. She watches as her favored student and designate crosses on light hooves to where the little dragon stands calling to her.
She watches as Twilight lowers her head, nuzzling the little dragon as he guides the frail form of the kite through the air. Soon it reaches high into the sky, and he lowers himself to sit among her forelegs. Together they sit and watch as the kite flies higher into the azure skies. She looks on as the vision expands in her mind, as it draws out to where she can see the full green leaves of their tree bouncing on the tiny breezes that lift the kite.
So much relies on them, so much of what has happened and that which is yet to unfold. As she looks on she knows their lives will be hard, full of pain and loss
but that they have each other, and for this summer at least the living is easy, and she is very happy for it.
Time moves forward as the sun fills her, the vision moving on as the sun readies itself for her call.
She sees Spike once more. This time there is no breeze. Instead he clings to the top of the railing that surrounds the porch, his clawed feet swinging beneath him in cadence with a song he is humming. His ice cream slowly melts in his cone as he looks towards something in the distance with a serene look and a slight blush across his face.
She follows the dragon's gaze to the street below, through the canopy to where ponies flit from shade to shade as they come up to the market. There the vision settles on the source of Spike's happy befuddlement.
The summer sun falls around the unicorn, yet the hat of Rarity's own design shields her, the straw and light fabric consuming the heat. As she looks upon Rarity she feels the joy that the summer she is now gathering to herself brings to the unicorn.
She flies through Rarity's eyes to the interior of the shop. There she sees what the unicorn had been planning. Here she sees Rarity hard at work, her hats coming alive in a fit of creative magic as the windows stand open and the curtains bounce on the slight breezes.
The cat, Opalescence, lays there splaying about indecently as the fan washes over her. She looks on as the white fur bounces around as the cat dozes in the fan's wash, its steady stream pulling the heat away as the cat lazily naps in the noonday heat of the coming summer.
Her vision flies back outside to the noonday sun of the summer she is soon to usher into her realm, to a day not long in coming. Rarity, the ribbons of the summer hat falling around and behind her, finds her way out of the city and up into the hills beyond. The unicorn goes on happily, levitating a picnic basket and something wrapped in paper with her magic, the objects rocking back and forth in the purple light. She watches as another joins the dignified form. She looks on as they spread the blanket beneath the sheltered shade of the vast tree.
She watches as Rarity presents the paper-wrapped form to Fluttershy. She can only smile to herself in guilty pleasure as she learns beforehoof of the gift. The vision focuses on them as the bearer of the Element of Generosity presents a hat, one not yet even finished in the reality where she is rallying the sun.
The pegasus, her heart leaping, replies to the gift as the grasses sway beneath them. She leans into the hug her friend offers, rubbing her head alongside that of the unicorn from forelock to shoulder and back. She looks on as Fluttershy places the new hat upon her head, smiling at its creator, the unicorn smiling back.
They sit there, the two, so different yet by motions set into place millennia before they were born the unicorn and the pegasus can share that bond. Together they can rest in the magic of friendship as the ocean of grass beneath the tree shimmers in the summer sun she is soon to set into its height. For them life will be hard and filled with doubt and fear. Yet, in this summer she is now crafting the living is easy for a few perfect weeks and her happiness grows at the thought.
The vision swings again. It shifts once more to a new scene, and as she waits for the sun to tell her of the crucial juncture she is treated to another vision of the summer to come.
From the ocean of grass she speeds forward down into seas of corn and wheat. Three small forms are running across the barley, leaving trails behind them that are soon dissolved into the shimmering shoots.
She watches as Sweetie Belle, Applebloom, and Scootaloo run through the summer heat as only foals can, expending that perfect energy of the young when they are free of worry, when their days are simply packed with the small games and ceaseless potential of each summer day.
She watches as they dive from the golden carpet of the wheat into the vast green stalks of the corn. Above them the tassels tower over the little figures as they dart about among the burgeoning cobs that look soon to be ready to be picked. They call to each other in their happy tones, making their lovely little plans. Her heart swells as she watches them burst out of the corn and into the grassy knoll alongside the creek.
There the little foals find the blackberries, purple and full, the fruit shimmering when a stray stream of light falls on them through the brambles. They eat their fill, the life the sun provides passing from plant to pony, and she feels it strengthen them.
Among her ponies it is the youngest that bring her the most joy. As the vision shows her the joyous adventures of the three she feels their happiness. As they soon quiet she watches as the summer heat silences their enthusiasm. In little motions it grabs out their seemingly endless energy, and soon they find a shaded spot. Slowly they lie back in the shade of the vast old elm beside the creek and as the early afternoon begins the sun submits to let the shade cover them as they slide off into their naps. Soon the only sound is of the bees that buzz nearby and the creek that trickles along.
She walks forward in the vision, as unseen and unfelt as a phantom, and kisses each on the forehead. For these the living is easy in this summer she is forging. This is just as it should be for all foals; all the young in her realm if she could so make it.
The vision shifts once more, but not far, neither in time nor distance. As she continues to await the ancient trigger of the sun she is instead treated to a vision of those who work the nearby farm. She looks on to see another bearer of an Element and friend of her designate, Applejack, as she fills a bowl with water.
She watches as Granny Smith leans back on the porch, listening as her granddaughter fills the bowl. She looks to the older pony, feels her relishing the light, letting it fill her. She watches as Granny Smith's expression mellows, as the heat of her sun drives the tiny aches and pains from her, warms her to her bones.
Soon, she knows, the old pony is to make the long trip down the stairs down into the Well of Souls where there is no pain. Until then though she rests her face against that of Granny Smith, taking the pain away in this future yet to be. She remembers when this pony was born, remembers watching her grow, seeing her world unfold. She rejoices in this, her pony, as she rejoices in all of their lives, She remembers the millions, perhaps billions, of them that have been born into her domain, and have passed out of it. She thinks on those now living, and those yet to live all that have felt or will feel the warmth of her sun.
Soon Applejack appears, and after a long look to the older mare she turns to the younger pony, learning of her fates.
The vision follows the earth pony as she trots out the front door. She follows as Applejack makes her way to where the dog, Winona, lays in the shade of the porch. The dog barely lifts her head as she gives a few wags of appreciation to Applejack as the cool water is lowered. She watches as Applejack speaks comforting words, sees the dog take a few laps of the water, then lower itself back into the shade. She sees Winona lay herself out across the earth, letting the coolness hiding there seep up into her body.
She watches as Applejack trots out across the dusty road between the house and the barn. She watches as the earth pony places ice from her saddlebags into tall glass cylinders and as she adds to each of them from bottles nearby.
As great wet beads of condensation form on the cylinders holding the teas, juices, lemonades and other drinks Applejack is already at the triangle, the hammer in her mouth, reaching up above her.
She whips the hammer around, and the chiming of the triangle calls out over the farm. It hangs heavy in the hot, humid air of the early afternoon. The sound lingers in that time when the heat of the day is simply too oppressive for the work they had set for themselves.
The condensation of the glass cylinders has not yet reached the picnic tables when the stallions are already upon them.
They leave the carts behind and grasp for the metal cups. They fill them with the sweet and refreshing liquids over and over. As they do so she watches as the heaviness of their work leaves them, as they slide down to the grass beneath the shade of the trees. She listens as they speak the mutually agreed upon pretext that there's no more useful work to be done, that it's simply too hot.
She giggles to herself at the excuse. The farmponies can sit and watch as the wavy lines rise across the horizon. They will simply watch as the world goes silent as creatures shelter from her sun. There are, she understands, legitimate reasons to be still and quiet. The vision shows her their afternoon naps that restore their strength.
She turns her head, watches as Applejack teases her big brother. She watches as the filly fishes ice cubes from the lemonade cylinder, as she stealthily crosses to where he sits.
She bites her lower lip to stifle the giggles as she watches Applejack approach her brother. She knows of course that no one can see her in this future yet to reveal itself; here inside the vision of a summer she has yet to grant them. But as Applejack prepares her assault some part of her feels the anticipation that darts across the faces of the stallions nearby, as she unseen joins their secret.
At once Applejack is on him, dragging the ice cubes along his flank and across his shoulders. She can not help but giggle at Big Mac's surprise as his sister draws the ice over his chest as he wheels over in surprise, as Big Macintosh begins to laugh at the delicious agony.
As the coolness of the ice draws out his exhaustion the other colts look upon Big Mac with happy little jealous smiles, both at their want and wish to feel such release from the heat and to bask in the affections that Applejack reserves for her family.
She watches as the ice disappears and Applejack, laughing, departs the scene. She follows the earth pony down the dusty path as the stallions behind say little, regaining their strength.
She follows along in the prophetic haze as Applejack comes upon the carts. There the first harvest of summer surrounds the earnest earth pony. She looks on as Applejack makes her way from cart to cart. She sees happiness on Applejack's face as the filly looks over what the farm has made from the life her sun gives it.
She looks on as Applejack casts her gaze over the stacks of strawberries in their baskets, the wide wicker strips revealing the slick red surface of the fruit at their edges. She looks on as the earth pony ponders the long cobs of corn, as she gently holds down one with her hoof, lifting the great green husk away with her teeth to reveal row after row of perfect yellow kernels.
Cucumbers, beets, rhubarb, herbs of all varieties from basil to rosemary, these cram the carts, filling them to overflowing. Apricots, soft and aromatic, sit ready to be sold as she sees Applejack's look them over with contentment.
But, most of all, there are apples. The namesake fruit of this land, this farm, this family the very one which has given them their marks sits before them in abundance. The early apples overrun the bushel baskets, and she is so happy for Applejack as she lifts a few, looking over the sheen of their red, yellow, and green surfaces.
She passes Applejack, letting her wings fall across the earth pony as she does. She giggles as she does, knowing that in this reality that is soon to come to pass that it will be felt. She knows that Applejack will experience her sovereign's touch as a cooling breeze, a welcome respite from the heat that her sun that has provided to bring about the life that shines forth as this bounty.
She knows then that the living is easy for the Apple family, if just for this summer, and she is happy for it.
Soon the vision shifts again. She now finds herself standing on a hilltop as dark clouds are ushered in. As she watches her beloved pegasi begin to place the clouds, prepare to unleash the summer rains.
She unfolds her vast white wings and lifts herself into the promised sky that the prophetic vision reveals to her. In a few powerful strokes she is high above her domain and the magic that makes up its very foundations pour into her, answering her heed even in this future not yet come to pass. On her immense wings she flies up through the clouds, breaking through them without moving them. As she does the reality not yet fulfilled drifts down around her, and there she sees another of the bearers of one of the Elements.
Rainbow Dash flits among the clouds, weaving through the black layers. As she watches the pegasus she sees the wisps of vapor respond to the magic of the flying pony.
She watches as Dash and her kind position the clouds, as they unleash the power of a summer storm. She sees the knowing smirk of the pegasus growing as the storm ramps up to its uttermost potential.
She sweeps along after the pegasus as Dash darts higher through the clouds. She falls in unseen and unsensed by the pegasus as she climbs higher, feeling the power of the storm as Dash feels it, will feel it in this summer not yet born. She too feels the sensation of the strength that draws Dash deeper into the towering thunderhead.
As Dash bursts through the clouds she follows, seeing the sense of exhilaration that comes over the pegasus. She watches as Dash throws her hooves over her head and cartwheels through her sunlight as it waits patiently above the black.
With that the pegasi unleash the thunderclaps, and they roll out over the countryside surrounding Ponyville and up the valley beyond, even Canterlot and the forests beyond echoing with them.
The lightning flashes beneath them and the pegasus looks down into the tempest as her unseen companion watches her expression. It is one of satisfaction in a job well done.
She looks past Dash to her domain below. She peers through the clouds, down to the darkened summerscape below. She looks to a land ready for the rain. The large wet drops fall onto plants, both wild and crop, which combine it with the energy her sun has given them to become life itself.
She watches as it falls across the land, is drawn down into it, or down into the streams and winding brooks. The land is once more reborn. The rivers fill, the lakes rise, the mill wheels turn, the wells fill and her ponies, each one of them her foal, are safe once more.
She watches as foals shiver at the sound of the thunder, as each thunderclap drives them deeper under their bed sheets. She watches as they gallop down hallways into the awaiting embrace and reassurances of their parents.
She watches as her little ponies dart about in the rain, as some lift their faces to it, knowing as they do that there are worse things than getting wet in a summer shower. Few things feel as good, she knows, as letting the rain wash over yourself following a day spent in her sun.
She looks back to Rainbow Dash and smiles to see that the pegasus had already pulled up a cloud. Dash was already prostrate upon it, relaxing in the rays of her sun as the world below received its ration of rain.
For Dash, she sees, the living is easy in this foreshadow of the summer, and she is happy for her.
"Sister?" comes a voice, the one that is most dear to her in the living world, and she snaps out of the vision.
She looks out over the crowd once more, senses their anticipation growing.
"Soon," she speaks as she looks into Luna's face, her younger sibling returning her smile.
She reaches for her sun once more, tests to see how close it was to being ready for the act. "Soon, very soon," she repeats as the sun replies within her.
The vision returns to her as she thinks upon her sister, of how this summer will be different for her, how she hopes it will be so much better.
A candle that burns the brightest burns the quickest. These few nights following the solstice, the shortest of summer, burn the brightest indeed. It was indeed in these nights were Luna was most adored.
Soon, she knows, her sister's domain will be at its shortest. Yet, that time is also its most populous.
Soon, the vision shows her, foals will be running out into the night in pursuit of fireflies. The insects will flash across the summer night, illuminating it in streaks as the foals call out. She watches as they hold the tiny insects in their hooves and place them into the vacant jars. In her vision she watches as they sit and watch with adoration until finally their sense of justice makes them lift the caps off, sending the lightning bugs wheeling high into Luna's night sky.
Her sister looks on as the insects, flashing their mating dance, flit across silent fields and down into groves where ponies sit in love of her night. In these blissful summer nights the heat does not reach them, and ponies that had slumbered when the sun was at its height find this time to spend a happily unanticipated reserve of their strength.
Foals, their bedtimes no longer applying, gather to Luna. They rejoice in her night, beg her to tell of its secrets. Her heart soars as she looks to Luna, knows that these summer nights she is soon to release will be her sister's first happy ones in over a millennia. Not even the last year, her first back, would match it.
Another pony stands nearby and as the summer night draws on she shows her prowess. Summer nights are as great a time for a party as any other, and as Pinkie Pie gathers the smaller alicorn up she shows her the delights presented in her honor. Cakes with names like "Cherry Custard" and "Lemon Lime Slice" stand at the ready. "Key Lime Pie", "Strawberry Shortcake", and "Icebox Applesauce Cake" are brought forth by Pinkie Pie, and presented to Luna. These treats, reserved only for this season, are Pinkie's offering. With this act the pink filly reminds Luna that the ponies, their ponies, are forever forgiving.
As the colored lanterns bob and flicker overhead she watches in the vision as ponies move by fairy light into the gathering. As they rejoice in this summer she has brought them they also enjoy the night of her sister. She watches as they show how they can live in Luna in this time when it is most open to them, when they can most relish her blessed night.
Soon the foals gather to Pinkie, and above a fire they make smores. The marshmallow sticks to hooves and the melting chocolate smears faces. As she walks unseen among this celebration that has not yet been held she looks over all the good things that the lanterns illuminate. She laughs as she finds herself trying to grab up some strawberry shortcake.
She will talk to Luna, she decides; tell her to enjoy this time. She'll tell her to have a smore. Let this gift of her summer wash over her get marshmallow on her hooves. This is what summer is for.
No, wait, this is to be a surprise. This party she has planned for her sister is to be a happy secret.
Soon there is a crack overhead, and the sky erupts into shards of colors. The foals jump around excitedly, slowly calming as their parents approach out of the grove of lanterns and gather them to their selves. Soon the entirety of the gathering, the Royal Houses and their scion, the royalty of the earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns, sit around Luna, cherishing her night. The fireworks cascade overhead in rolling sheets of color that reflect in their faces. In Luna they are one people, and Luna loves them all, just as she does.
These ponies, the royalty, her "Nieces" and "Nephews", those who call her "Auntie", and her sister as well, to them she gives this gift gives them summer.
All too soon the fireworks end, and as they stare at Luna's broad moon above foals fall asleep and need to be carried off to bed. The royalty excuse themselves, bowing to the alicorn. She watches sadly as even the seemingly unending well of energy that is Pinkie Pie moves slowly to clear the tables of Sugarcube Corner's contribution to the party. As the pink earth pony goes by she smiles down to Pinkie. She has seen that the energetic filly has done, or will do in time, her best to make the night special.
Soon the earth pony bows and departs and she sees her sister left alone once more. Alone, here on these summer hills that stand between Ponyville and Canterlot, and her heart goes out to her.
Slowly she walks over to where Luna lay, her heart dropping as she sees the alicorn sitting there in lonesome repose. She looks down upon her sister and sighs.
The party was supposed to have everything seemed to have gone so well. Blueblood had even behaved himself, amazingly.
She'd been planning it since early spring. Will it really end this way? Did Luna have to be
She startles as Luna looks up to her. She does not look past her to something on the horizon, or beyond her to the sky above, but instead the smaller alicorn looks directly up into her eyes.
"Thank you," she says, "for this when it happens. And, yes, I'll be sure to have some smores."
She smiles as her sister draws her down into an embrace. They rub their forelocks together, rub against each other down to the shoulders and back in long slow motions, the sisters sharing a welcome hold.
So, Luna had joined her in the vision. It was within her powers and right, she knew, and though the surprise had gone out of the plan she senses her sister's joy in this event the one she had been planning, the one that had not yet come to pass.
They raised their heads and looked across the quiet fields that sat awaiting the summer sun once more. They listen together as the insects sing their songs out into the summer night. They look up together to Luna's moon and as it reflects the sun's light, hidden as it was on the other side of this world, it was a reflection of their love for one another. Together, for the first time in over a millennia, the living will be easy between them, and they will live in each other as they were always supposed to.
She sees these things and many more. She sees all that the summer will bring across her domain. She sees ponies playing in rivers and lakes. She sees the happy pictures drawn on sidewalks with chalk in her cities, hears the call of bands playing in gardens, feels the masses moving through festivals and fairs
As the visions of this summer swirl around her and her sister she truly hopes that the living will be easy for them all, that the gift will be enough.
At once something pulls deep within her, an ancient call. She looks to Luna
and both emerge back onto the dais before the assembled ponies of Ponyville. She looks out to her ponies, knows that they could neither see nor guess at the contents of the visions she had just seen. She knows that the things that had flashed through her conscious in the space of moments were unseen by those below.
That is, of course, the point of a gift.
This moment, when summer begins, is her gift to them. The joys they will experience, the soft subtle feelings, the earnest desires, the new experiences all the things that make summer worth waiting for flow through her as the sun calls for her once more and she raises her wings.
At once the crowd of ponies before her goes quiet and wide mouthed, looking up to their sovereign in awe of her growing grace.
"Sister," she whispers, "I rise."
This though is much more than a simple dawning, and she feels the extra strength the solstice gives her as the sun aches to reach its apex.
As Luna looks on she raises herself, heeding the call of the sun, her sun. As her ponies look upon her she gives her wings a last great beat and she erupts into the sky. As she hovers before the stanchion, the vast representation of her own mark, her transfiguration begins.
In a moment of incomprehensible clarity her consciousness expands, and she erupts into light. In that space above her beautiful domain her mind flies in an imperceptible instant out into the vast tracts between the world upon which Equestria and the rest of the creation found there rests and the sun that fuels it. At once she finds the sun, and it calls to her, and their power is combined.
The sun erupts across the mountains, its power once more revealed, her domain once more awash in its life-giving radiance.
In that perfect moment she becomes once more The Invictus, The Living Analemma, the guide, the pilot, the conductor of the sun, and it is hers and she is it.
Together they find the juncture between its radiance and the needs of the world below and the demands of the solar system beyond and inside an instant her consciousness flies back across traces of the cosmos.
As the ponies cheer she awakens once more in her body, and the blessed rays of the sun, her sun, fall upon them once more. Summer, blessed summer, has indeed actually and undeniably finally come.
She smiles out over them, feeling their joy at the act. She basks in their exuberance as much as she does in the rays of the sun now falling around her.
To her it feels once more as though she were a mother, a proper mother with foals of her own, as impossible as that now is. They are all her foals, her Equestrians, her little ponies. As they celebrate the arrival of summer she feels as a mother would upon a seeing a foal's excitement at receiving a gift, upon opening a present.
In her heart the crowd of Equestrians that stands before her magnifies it. She feels the multitudes that inhabit the lands where her sovereignty is held magnify it. That in turn is multiplied by her long years in their service and her smile can only barely contain her joy.
As Celestia Invictus lowers herself to the dais she thinks of those who taught her this power, this gift she gives back to her ponies. She thanks her mother and father with a small whisper of prayer for the purpose they gave her in an act of love, and for doing the same for Luna. She looks out over her ponies once more to find Twilight and Spike. Her soft eyes meet theirs and she is so thankful that she is life that she is the sun, that she gets to spend her long, long, long life living for her ponies
and the living is easy.