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Forbidden Knowledge · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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They sat in Princess Celestia’s office. Twilight and Princess Luna were seated in a pair of the low and very comfortable rattan chairs Celestia favored over the overstuffed office upholstery most ponies used these days, as was Celestia herself on her side of her huge oaken desk.

Twilight smiled as her eyes scanned the crowded bookcases that hid almost all the available wall-space. Along with various tomes of all colors and sizes, the shelves were littered with various little gifts and works Twilight had given the princess over the years of her apprenticeship. It had been a while since she’d been in this office, and warmed her heart to see how Celestia had keep these things close in this, her most private domain.

A small statue of her mentor she had made out of macaroni glowed purple as it levitated from its place on a bookshelf to float a few inches in front of her muzzle. “Celestia, I can’t believe you’ve kept so much of the silly sentimental junk I’ve given you over the years! You don't need all this stuff cluttering up your office,” –she blew, expelling a small cloud of particles from the sculpture– “and collecting dust! You should have house-cleaning get rid of it and make space for more important things.”

From behind her massive, and no-less cluttered desk, Celestia tilted her head. “Some of us like to surround ourselves with memories, others with telescopes. I believe there were five of them just in your office on my last visit, Twilight.” A single alabaster eyebrow rose. “I suppose they are all equally important to you!” She smiled sweetly as Twilight blushed, her ears drooping.

Twilight levitated the statue back to its original dust-free spot.

Luna shifted in her chair.

“Ahem, ladies,” she said drily, “we have more serious things to discuss.”

Celestia’s smile faltered. “Yes, indeed sister. Our thanks for bringing us back to the subject at hoof.”

Twilight’s ears rose back up. “Yes, I thank you for inviting me, but your invitation didn’t mention what this meeting was about. Spike and I were both surprised to get a dragon-mail letter so soon after our return from Flurry Heart’s Crystalling.”

The two elder princesses shared a glance. When the normally rock-steady Celestia flicked an ear, Twilight knew something was amiss. Twilight felt a cold lump develop in her stomach.

“This is about my niece, isn’t it?” asked Twilight in a low voice.

“Indeed,” whispered Luna.

“Twilight,” said Celestia tentatively, “We may not have been entirely truthful when we discovered that Flurry Heart was born an Alicorn.”

Twilight’s jaw dropped. “What do you mean by entirely truthful?”

“She means,” interjected Luna hastily, “that when we said that the birth of an Alicorn is something that Equestria had never seen, that there is more we could have said, but would not due to the circumstances and the number of ears present.”

Celestia’s face glowed in embarrassment. She could not quite look Twilight in the eye. “Please accept my apologies, Twilight. I truly was stunned at this turn of events, but–” her gaze finally met Twilight’s “–what I knew I did not have the heart to say in front of Cadence and Shining.”

Twilight swallowed. The chill in her stomach rose through her body in a sickly wave. “I... I don’t know how to react to this. Of course I’m shocked, but” – she looked away, focusing on the little statue of Celestia sitting on its shelf – “I don’t know if I’m more upset that you kept something important from me, or more afraid that I’m going to wish you still hadn’t told me after I find out what it is.”

Celestia’s horn lit as a drawer in her desk slid open. From it, a large volume drifted out. Normally, seeing the image displayed on its cover would have thrilled her. This time, she couldn’t help but feel dread at seeing Starswirl the Bearded’s cutie mark.

Luna fixed her gaze on Twilight. “What we tell you today cannot be shared beyond this room, Twilight Sparkle, and most especially not with your brother and sister-in-law. Do you so swear?”

Twilight turned to see Celestia nod, her expression gentler than her sister’s, but still very serious indeed. “You may chose to refuse and leave now, if you feel this request would place too great a burden on you, or endanger your relationships to your brother and his wife.”

Twilight swallowed. There would be no coming back from this decision. She shook her head. “I’m honored that the two of you would trust me with something that could have such grave consequences, and I cannot in good conscience choose to ignore something that might have important consequences on Flurry Heart or her parents.” She took a deep breath. “I so swear.” The words caused the hackles at the back of neck to raise, a most unsettling feeling.

Celestia’s expression seemed to grow sadder, even as she smiled. “Very well then, my faithful student.” She glanced down at the book on her desk. It opened and the pages turned under the guidance of Celestia’s magic. She nodded and her horn stopped glowing. Almost as if they were again gathered in her office for a scholarly lesson, Celestia began to read.

“And so it came to pass that the Dragon Lord Magma ceded his scepter to his successor Flare, and being old exceeding knew his days were numbered, and thus did hie himself to the far north, whence he had been hatched before the dawn of Equestria itself.

“With my student Clover I endeavoured to visit the elder drake and gather for posterity his story and such wisdom as he would wish to survive his end. With the grace of their Equine Majesties, we mounted an expedition, and five weeks later entered Magma’s last abode, a cave deep within the uncharted reaches of the Crystal Mountains.

“Laden with gifts to curry the old wurm’s favour, we entered his home to find its halls empty, its hearth cold, and its hoard gone but for trinkets of value only to Magma himself.

“Assuming that we had arrived after the dragon’s passing, we left the caves despondent. But upon emerging from the depths our hearts were uplifted by the sight of the sky, and so Clover and I did resolve to do a survey of the environs, that our unfortunate expedition might thereby gain some profit in the knowledge thus gathered.

“Upon the fifth day of our trek, we came to a bend in a great river, and there in the wash of ice and snow discovered the very drake for whom we had wandered so far from Equestria’s gentle plains. He lay athwart the stream, his hide scored by many grievously rents from which both blood and ichor seeped, turning the icy banks downstream an angry red as far as the eye could see. Only his head and neck emerged from the stream, the latter festooned icicles of deep carmine.

“We approached this calamitous scene warily, lest the agents of the dragon’s demise be still in the proximity. Magma’s eye was open and immobile, so at first we we thought him dead. However, as I knelt close to measure his fangs, the eye turned in its orb towards my trembling self.

Ha! whispered the dragon. Tell me, pony, what price shall you pay for my teeth? And to what great purpose will the fangs of the fearsome Magma soon be put? Perhaps a necklace for a most favored niece? Ha!

“I stood and with my faithful Clover bowed low to the ailing behemoth. Your majesty, I said, to meet and converse with you was the purpose of our quest. We seek not your teeth, but rather your words, and your wisdom should we have proven worthy of both!

And who sends me such good company with which to share my final breaths?

“Celestia and Luna, I replied, the reigning princesses of Equestria, who send their kindest regards.

“Ha. The dragon hissed. Those two have grown in wisdom since the defeat of the creature Discord, and the realm of ponykind waxes in their benevolent light. Who amongst the elder inhabitants of this earth could have foreseen that not one but both of these ponies would escape the curse of the Alicorn for so long?

“Good dragon, I exclaimed, what is this curse upon the Alicorn of which you speak?

“The drake was silent for a number of breaths, so that I again thought he had expired, when he spoke his final words.

All Alicorns go mad, said the dragon his breath now fast and short. This is the price they pay for power. For power corrupts. First it confuses their judgment. Then it clouds their minds. Finally it corrupts their hearts. Those who ascend to become Alicorn are both blessed and cursed. Still, better to ascend than to be born an Alicorn, as was that blight upon the world, Discord. If ever another Alicorn is born amongst ponykind, fear it. Kill it. For it is an abomination that will bring the end of all.

“Having said these fearsome words, the drake’s fires were extinguished. With a last puff of smoke, his breath was forever stilled.”

Princess Celestia closed the book.

The silence in the room stretched for several long minutes.

It was Twilight who first dared to speak.

“Is it true? Is what Lord Magma said true?”

Celestia nodded. “Yes, are far as we know, my faithful student.”

“But what about the elements of harmony? We saved Luna with them already! We can use them again, right?”

Luna hid her face in her hooves. Celestia nodded hesitantly. “This is why I invested them in your friends, Twilight.”

“Then why elevate me? And Cadence?”

Again the sisters looked at each other.

“Because Luna and I... we... cannot be sure that we will not also be subject to the curse. For the longest time, we didn’t dare consider creating a new Alicorn. Your success using the elements to cure Luna changed that. You and Cadence are our replacements, Twilight, should the unthinkable happen.”

“But we could use the elements to undo the curse’s effects on you and Luna, since they worked before!”

Celestia shook her head. “Even so, there are no guarantees that they will function in such a capacity again.

“You mean you don’t know if they could save me, or Cadence or... Flurry Heart?”

Again, Celestia shook her head. “No, Twilight, we do not. However, Flurry Heart poses a... special problem.”

Twilight stood up so fast her chair fell over behind her. “Is what the dragon said about Discord true? That he was born an Alicorn?”

“We believe so,” said Luna from beside her. Twilight turned to face her.

“Believe? So you don’t know it for a fact, I mean, it could just be the ravings of a dying dragon lord!”

“We don’t know it for a fact, Twilight,” said Celestia, “and even Discord himself admits to remembering nothing from his early years. But there’s no denying his power, which is consistent with that hypothesis. As is –” she glanced away “– his utter destructive insanity during those years.” She looked back up, her expression earnest.

“But there is one hope, Twilight. There is one thing that seems to be able to break the curse: true, heartfelt, friendship.” She smiled. “I’ll tell you a secret. YOU were my plan for keeping Cadence safe from the curse, and it worked beyond my expectations. Your friendship with the Spike and the element bearers is how I hope to keep you safe. Friendship even seems to be working with Discord!”

With her magic Twilight righted her chair, and slowly sat back down, deep in thought. “And what about my niece?” she asked.

Luna put a hoof on Twilight’s withers. “That is why we decided to bring you into our confidence, Twilight. We need you to be a true friend to Flurry Heart, as you are to me, my sister, and Cadence. We now have five living Alicorn sharing the world, something that is entirely unprecedented. My sister and I think that you, Twilight, are the pony that makes this possible.”

Twilight gaped at the other Alicorns. “Me, but I still have tons to learn about friendship! I still screw up all the time –”

“– and that’s why we know you can do it!” interrupted Celestia. “The only question now is if you’re willing to continue sharing this burden with us. Cadence and Shining must never know about this. It could ruin their chances for a happy, normal family life, which is something we simply cannot countenance.”

“And the same applies in the broader sense,” said Luna. “Should knowledge of the Alicorn curse ever be leaked to the general public it could undermine the very foundations of Equestrian society.”

“So Twilight,” asked Celestia, looking very serious. “Do you agree?”

Twilight let out a long breath, then looked up, her eyes hard. “On one condition.”

Luna raised an eyebrow.

“What condition is that?”

“That if I choose to do so, I can tell Cadence and Shining about the curse. I agree to not telling them now. Let them be a happy little family, they deserve that much! But they also deserve the truth, and I will tell them the moment I believe they are better off knowing.” She leaned forward in her chair. “Are we agreed?”

Luna and Celestia looked at each other and nodded. Luna looked relevied while Celestia was smiling broadly.

“We are agreed, my faithful student,” said the elder princess.

Twilight leaned back in her chair. “Good. Great. So my next assignment is being the best aunt, ever!”

Celestia nodded.

Twilight considered. “You two aren’t off the hook for this assignment either.” She pushed her chair back out of the way. “Okay, fellow aunties. It’s time you learned the Ladybug song and dance!”

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#1 · 2
· · >>ZaidValRoa
This is not a story, so much as a cute thing that happened.

I mean, sure Twilight pretends the situation has dire gravitas and import while the royal sisters glance nervously at each other and inch backwards but really the whole thing is status quo from start to finish.
#2 ·
While it drops some interesting alicorn lore and backstory but as it stands, it feels as if it were part of a larger narrative, an addendum, or a prologue to what could be a great story.

However... Author, if you're reading this, don't let us discourage you from writing a sequel where Discord and Insane Flurry Heart have waky adventures throughout Equestria.
#3 ·
A title like this, and Flurry Heart - I was expecting something entirely different.

Now I kind of want to explore writing that idea, given we have our little Mule.

At any rate, this needs some cleaning up grammatically/spelling-wise, for sure. Then, perhaps, expanding upon - this seems a good serial story with this being chapter one, although this 'curse' seems...a touch contrived. Why does it happen, beyond narrative convenience? Is Celestia feeling the effects of it? One assumes Luna is not given she already fell and was rejuvenated.
#4 ·
Idk about this one. The forbidden knowledge of this story I could roll with (despite how contrived it is), and how Celestia and Luna gave it dramatic weight was done well enough, but then the story kinda feels like it got the rug pulled out from underneath it with Twilight's ending bit. Like this story tried to be serious, but then couldn't think of a decent way to wrap up and so Twilight went full aunt mode to put the period on the end. It was cute, but out of touch with the rest of the story.
#5 ·
Also, I have to say, dat random, subtle Twiluna at the beginning. Unecessary? Most definitely for the frame of this story. Unwanted? Its one of the few ships I'm okay with. I like that color pairing, dark blue and purple.
#6 · 2
Alicorns are cursed - friendship is the key.

Where to start? This story did not do much for me - but keep in mind that my opinion is just that, and should be taken with a grain of salt (give or take a good half a cup). It felt like a small excerpt from a larger narrative sandwiched within an otherwise ordinary scene, and left more questions than it answered.

Why does the curse - in both its forms - exist?
Why has Celestia never fallen to it?
Why is Luna still endangered by it, haven been cured?
Considering that Celestia of all people nurtures Twilight's learning of friendship, why does she need to be taught anything?
Why is friendship a cure to the curse?
Like, seriously. Alicorn social meetups would solve all the world's problems.
And, furthermore, why has Celestia never mentioned this before?

The curse never poses a threat in this story, author; you spend a large amount of time introducing a contrived obstacle, only to retroactively solve it. The status quo does not change, nor do characters develop, save for sudden mood swings that, with respect to Celestia and Luna, feel quite out of character. You had another 6000 words to flesh out your idea; in the future, try to make the most of the space.

Tier: Needs Work.
#7 ·
Filly-Twilight made a macaroni-Celestia? I love this already.
Hmm. It's ponies talking. In doing so, the dramatic conflict is both introduced and resolved.
I want to point out that, far and away, my favorite part of this was the reading from Starswirl's journal. The language there is... "exquisite" is the word that comes to mind for me. If that been the story, this could've easily been one of my favorite entries.
It wouldn't even disrupt what you're going for here: Starswirl and Clover seek out Magma, the Dragon Lord. Magma warns them that Alicorns are doomed to go insane, just as Discord did. The implications alone are enough for the reader, given that we know what happens to Luna. It would be enough to give us a sense of dread for Flurry Heart's future. I concede, though, that incorporating the importance of friendship would be a bit more challenging.
You demonstrated an enviable proficiency with the written word, even outside of that portion. I'm glad to have read this.
#8 ·
Thanks for the comments, everyone! I will publish this on FIMfiction at some point, greatly improved by you r suggestions (I hope!).