narrator: there was something about this time of year that always made lyra feel nostalgic. and, since she was back in canterlot for hearth's warming eve for the first time since she'd moved away, that was especially true this year. lyra: home or not, this is the center of the conspiracy, so i can't afford to be careless. narrator: the streets were covered in snow, the ribbons and garland hung from every building, the lights shone in all the trees. she'd always heard that canterlot was the best place for the winter season, and she had to admit that ponyville's celebrations had always felt a bit lacking compared to home. bon bon: scootaloo! get back here! you already got your tongue stuck to one candy cane, we don't need to go through this again! how did we get stuck fillysitting? lyra: hey, girls! want to know where to get the best gingerbread in canterlot? narrator: suddenly all three fillies were right in front of her. applebloom: did you just say the best gingerbread? lyra: i used to go to this bakery every hearth's warming eve when i was your age. it is, hands down, the best you will ever have. bon bon: upset growl
lyra: well, it is. no offense, bon-bon, you're a great cook, but i've always found your gingerbread is seriously lacking. scootaloo: hurry up! we want to see! lyra: well, we don't have much time until the play starts, but it's right on the way to the castle. we can stop in for a few minutes. narrator: with a look of satisfaction, she started down the street with the crusaders following behind, wide grins on their faces. bon-bon gaped at her, and ran to catch up. bon bon: how do you do that? lyra: what can i say? i'm good with kids. bon bon: you practically act like you still are one. lyra: it's right here. narrator: she inhaled the smells of baked goods emanating from the building. peppermint, chocolate, and, of course, that gingerbread.
lyra: doughnut joe's usually just sells donuts, but they step it up around this time of year. i've missed this. narrator: they entered the bakery, with the fillies chattering excitedly. bon-bon was scanning the shelves of baked goods behind the counter, and attempting to peek through the window into the kitchen. lyra: how's it going, joe? narrator: it hadn't escaped her notice that he had a human name, though he didn't know it was anything special. some ponies were lucky enough to have real names like that. lyra: five gingerbread cookies, please. oh, and a hot chocolate. doughnut joe: heartstrings? haven't seen you in ages. that'll be ten bits. narrator: lyra produced the coins from the pocket of her coat. there were just so many benefits to human clothing. she'd started wearing clothes every day now. doughnut joe: thank you. happy hearth's warming. lyra: merry christmas!
narrator: he stared at her, one eyebrow raised in confusion. narrator: they took the cookies and lyra's hot chocolate and sat down. the cutie mark crusaders all sat around a table, while bon-bon and lyra took some nearby seats at the window. bon bon: i'm almost afraid to ask, but... why do you keep saying that to everypony? narrator: she glanced over at the crusaders, but they were satisfied with their cookies and weren't paying any attention. lyra: it's the dreams again. bon bon: groan lyra: i was human again in this one. i really like those ones... but anyway, i was in one of their towns. it was decorated just like this, for hearth's warming eve, but i kept hearing humans saying 'merry christmas.' bon bon: where did you even get that word from, though? lyra: when i woke up, i wasn't sure exactly what it meant. i looked it up in my books, and sure enough, something called christmas was mentioned a few times. i think it's a human holiday. i didn't remember reading about it before, though.
bon bon: you must have. you just forgot about it, or... something. i've never heard of anypony taking their dreams so seriously. lyra: there wasn't much information. as far as i could tell, christmas is some celebration that takes place in winter, but as much as i looked i never could find the true meaning of christmas. it's too bad. i'd really like to know what it is. bon bon: this isn't like what you were saying about... whatever that harvest festival last october was called... is it? lyra: who knows? maybe we've been celebrating a human holiday all month and didn't even realize it. bon bon: i suppose you may have a point about the gingerbread... lyra: it's the molasses. you always use too much of it. bon bon: we're going to be late for the play. we should get going. lyra: come on, girls. we're headed to the castle now. scootaloo: yes! i can't wait! rainbow dash is going to be awesome in this play!
sweetie bell: aren't you forgetting somepony? my big sister's playing princess platinum. she's the best! narrator: they headed outside into the street, joining a number of other ponies all heading to the castle. lyra stared up at the gold-capped towers looming over their heads. maybe it was a mistake coming to the play this year. staying hidden in the crowd would be a good idea. bon bon: i've never been to the hearth's warming eve pageant in canterlot before. and we even know the stars. i'm so excited. lyra: i can definitely understand why the princess would want twilight in the pageant. she's a great actress. she's especially good at playing clueless. bon bon: are you still convinced she's a spy? you need to let it go. lyra: how do you know she's not? it's not like she'd tell us if she was. narrator: this had been going on for a month now. bon-bon had hoped that lyra wasn't harassing twilight too much, but it wasn't like she could keep an eye on her roommate when there were literally thousands of cookies to be made this season. narrator: the castle seemed to grow even taller now as they crossed the bridge into the entrance, and lyra stared up at it apprehensively. they were coming into the entrance hall now. lyra: this was where the gala would be held, too...
bon bon: perhaps you'd like to take your coat off and stay a while? lyra: fine.... narrator: she knew it shouldn't be so much of a problem, but she would actually feel awkward being out in public and not wearing clothes. narrator: there was a coat room nearby, so she left it there among all the scarves and hats. not many ponies realized the value of a full coat to keep yourself warm. or the usefulness of a hood to hide yourself from unwanted eyes, for that matter. narrator: the play would be on a huge stage that had been set up in the throne room. ponies filled the audience from wall to wall. dim moonlight faintly illuminated the stained glass -- on one side, twilight and her friends bearing the elements of harmony. on the other side, discord, the spirit of chaos. it had been just a few months since he'd broken free, but now he'd been sealed away again and things were calm... relatively speaking. narrator: lyra kept her head down as they entered the hall. their ticket stubs floated in front of her. bon bon: can i see those? lyra: mhmmmm bon bon: now, where are we... these are... we're in the front row?
lyra: great, just great... bon-bon, can you look around for me? is the princess here? bon bon: if you want to see her -- lyra: i can't make myself too suspicious! you need to look for me. where is she? what's she doing? narrator: bon-bon sighed and glanced around. the entire hall was packed with ponies of every race and color, but there didn't seem to be any special audience box. princess celestia, if she had been there, would have been easy to spot. bon bon: she's not even here lyra: really? that's strange. bon bon: lyra, you're paranoid. it's a wonder i was even able to convince you to come to canterlot. lyra: they would have noticed if i turned down the offer to watch the fillies. the secret is to act natural. narrator: they reached their places. the crusaders had the very front row -- reserved for family of the stars, obviously. bon-bon was behind them, and lyra was stuck across the aisle.
bon bon: oh, lyra... are you okay being over there by yourself? lyra: it's fine. it's pretty packed, anyway. narrator: the lights dimmed and the curtains opened. a hush fell over the audience. spike was on stage, apparently playing the part of the narrator this year. lyra was mostly interested in his costume. baby dragons were bipedal, and his outfit, although small, was extremely similar to something a human had worn. the style actually seemed to match an illustration lyra had seen in one of her books. spike: once upon a time, long before the peaceful rule of celestia, and before ponies discovered our beautiful land of equestria, ponies did not know harmony. it was a strange and dark time. a time when ponies were torn apart - by hatred. narrator: the lines were familiar to the point where lyra hardly even heard them anymore. not everybody was so used to the play, though. over in front of bon-bon, the cutie mark crusaders had just recoiled in shock at that revelation. narrator: although the events of the pageant got to be routine over the years, lyra still remembered the interest she'd once had in the play. unicorns and pegasi as enemies? that had been hard for her to understand as a filly. her own parents got along just fine. and now she was sharing her rent with an earth pony. narrator: when she'd been really young, though, her own identity had always confused her. pegasi, like her mother, had their weather control and flight. unicorns had magic. for a long time lyra had neither. she didn't even have any talent with food, so she couldn't just call herself an earth pony with a useless horn either. but then she'd picked up the lyre, magic had become second nature to her, and she had moved past that entire awkward phase. narrator: they were on to the part where the leaders showed up for the first time. lyra had zoned out and practically missed the first scene of the play. now rainbow dash, pinkie pie, and rarity had taken the stage. lyra heard scootaloo give a quiet squeal of excitement. narrator: rainbow dash's natural hotheadedness made her a perfect commander hurricane. and rarity was just as extravagant as always, but now she had a tiara to match. all three of them were adding something to the normally predictable pageant. it was hard to see them as the characters rather than their own selves, but at least it was something new.
narrator: sure enough, the influences of human culture were even in the hearth's warming eve play if you knew what to look for. narrator: lyra's attention was fixed on the stage for the remainder of the play. of course... even something as simple as this couldn't be overlooked. lyra: what was really going on in this story? applebloom: hurry up! let's go! narrator: apple bloom led her friends towards the entrance to the backstage area. bon bon: girls, please, slow down! lyra was about to follow, but stopped. narrator: there was a guard posted in front of the door, his rigid face staring straight ahead. bon bon: family and friends of the cast. narrator: rainbow dash stepped out, still dressed in her costume as commander hurricane. she noticed them immediately, and nodded towards scootaloo.
rainbow dash: oh, hey, squirt. it's fine, they're with us. scootaloo: this is... so cool! narrator: she was nearly about to faint and fall over backwards, but lyra stepped up and gently nudged her back onto her hooves. narrator: with a nervous glance at the guard, who hadn't reacted to her at all, lyra followed the others to the backstage dressing room. sweetie belle and apple bloom immediately ran to their sisters, while scootaloo just tagged along behind rainbow dash. across the room was twilight sparkle. narrator: lyra tried not to acknowledge her. she looked through the props and costumes, and a few pieces of flat scenery that had also been stored back here. narrator: twilight looked over and saw bon-bon talking to fluttershy. she joined them. lyra: just about everything seems familiar from my books. everybody thought that this play was all about three different races settling their differences and coming together, but what about the race that walked on two legs and had the hands necessary to use some of these props? they'd certainly gotten the short end of the deal... twilight: hello, lyra. how did you like the play? lyra: oh, it was... excellent! you did great. actually, i was wondering if i could see a copy of the script.
twilight: sure. we've got tons of them lying around. but it's really not very different from the plays they put on all over equestria. just about everypony knows this story. lyra: of course. it's just that... well, equestrian history's always interested me. especially things about ponies. twilight: i see... lyra: i'd better get going now. don't want to miss the train twilight: don't worry about that, you've still got - another two hours... narrator: bon-bon left the backstage area and found lyra waiting outside. she was wearing the parka with the hood up again, glancing around nervously, and didn't seem to notice bon-bon approach. twilight: bon-bon, i noticed lyra's been acting a bit strangely lately. i mean, more than usual, i guess. is everything okay? bon bon: what did she do now? twilight: nothing, really. i can't explain it. is this something to do with her parents? when i came over, she just seemed really nervous about them. that's when this all started.
bon bon: it's ridiculous, really. she thinks you're a government agent sent to spy on her. twilight: i thought everypony had gotten over that after i first moved to ponyville. i'm not a spy. why would i even be spying on her? bon bon: it's this obsession with humans. she thinks that the princess is hiding some kind of secret about them. don't ask me to explain it. there's no logic to it. twilight: the princess wouldn't hide something like that. all she wants is a report on them. and as far as i've been able to tell, humans aren't even real. but i do need to get a complete report, and there just hasn't been enough information to fill even a single page. i hate to ask, but... what if lyra helped me? bon bon: oh. well, i do try to avoid bringing up anything about humans. once she gets in one of her moods, it's hard to reason with her. quite frankly, it can be... horrifying, sometimes. twilight: maybe i could show her what i've been able to come up with. i contacted a few libraries in manehattan and trottingham, and they sent me a couple books that they were able to dig up. but there's still been no concrete evidence that humans exist. bon bon: exactly. now if you could just get lyra to understand that... twilight: i'll do what i can. if nothing else, i do find these stories a fascinating part of equestria's culture and folklore. bon bon: there you are, lyra.
lyra: bon-bon? oh, it's just you. i really don't want to stay here any longer than we have to. it's dangerous. bon bon: for the last time, lyra... i just spoke to twilight. she says that princess celestia isn't hiding anything from you. lyra: of course she'd say that! but that's oddly specific. lyra: wait a sec. don't tell me you actually asked her. bon bon: well... lyra: did you mention me? bon bon: of course, but only because you've been so unreasonable lately. lyra: bon-bon, you just blew my cover! i need to get out of here - now. narrator: lyra broke into a gallop and disappeared into the packed streets of canterlot.
bon bon: sigh narrator: they'd probably meet back up at the train station. if not, then... lyra would probably make it back to ponyville eventually, right? narrator: the sky had turned to orange as the sun set. bon-bon scanned the crowd of ponies at the station, looking for the familiar mint-green mane, but didn't see it. no, lyra wouldn't have just run off like that. then she remembered - of course, lyra would still be wearing her coat. she saw a pony with a hood up, and headed over. lyra: i can't believe you'd tell twilight what i know. bon bon: you're being completely impossible. all twilight wants from you is help with her project. lyra: yeah, a research project. the perfect cover. bon bon: for the last time, there's no conspiracy! narrator: everypony at the station turned their heads to stare at her. she hung her head down, avoiding their eyes. bon bon: anyway, twilight said she wanted your help, but if you're just going to keep acting like this...
lyra: wait... that's it. bon bon: what now? lyra: i'll have to be careful about how much i reveal, but the only way i'm going to find out what princess celestia wants is by talking to twilight. i have to get on the inside! bon bon: that's not what i meant. twilight's been doing some research on her own, and she doesn't even think that humans are - lyra: i have to act carefully. she already suspects me, but this may be the only way forward. and the gala! the princess will be there. how could i have forgotten that? lyra: you're a genius, bon-bon! i'm getting so close now, i can just tell! but first, there's something else i need to look at... narrator: most of the ponies on the train were quiet. a few, bon-bon included, had fallen asleep after the long day. but lyra was wide awake, her horn glowing to let her read the copy of the script she'd be given. lyra: [enter chancellor puddinghead] pinkie pie: since the other tribes have refused to make peace, i have decided that the earth ponies will go it alone!
applejack: the other tribes didn't come around? i thought we could get to them if we agreed to work together. pinkie pie: with the food gone, they just wouldn't come to a reasonable solution! lyra: so pinkie pie had forgotten her lines and starting making stuff up on her own. i don't need a script to see that. the chimney scene had been brilliant, though; i gotta admit itthat. narrator: she skipped back a few pages to the scene before that one where the tribe leaders had been at the meeting. spike: the earth ponies were freezing. the home of the pegasi fared no better. the pegasi were hungry. and the unicorns were freezing and hungry. even the unicorns' magic was powerless against the storm. narrator: she scribbled a note in the margin. lyra: windigos -- do these appear in any other books? lyra: weather was usually caused by pegasi. if windigos had caused this storm, due to the ponies' lack of cooperation according to the play, then what had happened to them since then? if all it took were arguments to start blizzards, then our house would have frozen over a long time ago. narrator: lyra stared at the lines of script. there had to be something here. a missed detail, some inconsistency, a word out of place...
narrator: she flipped over to the end. spike: the three leaders agreed to share the beautiful land, and live in harmony ever afterwards. andtogether, they named their new land... mane 6: equestria! lyra: commander hurricane, chancellor puddinghead, and princess platinum raisethe flag of equestria together. lyra: according to this play, equestria had been founded by those three leaders. a pegasus, an earth pony, and a unicorn. so where was princess celestia? not only had she been absent from the audience, she'd never shown up in the play itself. not even a mention of either princess. lyra: no, that wasn't quite right. narrator: lyra underlined the phrase "flag of equestria" twice. it had been the modern flag of equestria, with celestia's image on it. narrator: and there had been another thing. lyra flipped back to the first few pages. lyra: yes, here it is.
spike: once upon a time, long before the peaceful rule ofcelestia, and before ponies discovered our beautifulland of equestria, ponies did not know harmony. itwas a strange and dark time. a time when ponies weretorn apart - by hatred. narrator: lyra stared at it. everything was quiet except for the low rumble of the train along the tracks. this was it. "long before the peaceful rule of celestia." she circled it. lyra: that line is everything! lyra: just about every prop in the entire performance looked like something out of one of my books about humans. not even that, but then how did luna know about humans? i can only assume from our brief conversation, luna had some very close knowledge of them. bon bon: are you still looking through that old play? lyra: it's all lies... nothing about this makes sense. the entire story is made up! bon bon: not this again. lyra: this could be just the beginning. who knows how much of equestria's history has been fabricated? this could go even deeper than i realized! bon bon: it's just a silly holiday play. they put these pageants on every year. don't tell me you've never seen one.
lyra: nobody ever questions it because this story is so ingrained in our heads. it's just an ego trip for ponies. we're covering up the real origins of our world and claiming that we created everything ourselves. why is celestia insisting on this? bon bon: not everything has to do with humans, lyra. they never even mention them in the play. lyra: exactly. conductor: next stop, ponyville. next stop, ponyville. lyra: i need to cross-reference this with other accounts of pony history. if i'm right, then there should be contradictions everywhere. and the perfect place to start is twilight's library.My Little Pony Coloring Sheets Rainbow Dash