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a puzzling door

by pumpkinfire

Both alicons slumped into a pile in front of the door. Its complex mechanisms and solid build halting their progress for another day.

I t had been almost a full moon since Starswirl brought them to the door with the lush garden beyond and challenged them to open it with the promise of great things if they could. They have both been banging their heads against it for what felt like forever and had not solved any part of the the puzzle gate.

“Dear sister, perhaps if we both blast it on each end and move our beams into a focus?” the midnight blue alicron suggested half heartedly.

“I don’t think force is the answer Luna” the older alicorn answered with a sigh “this is a puzzle and we must use our wits to solve it. Though to be honest I have studied and studied the lock and it seems not to follow any rule of lock making I have found in any book. It almost seems like…. Well, it was made to be something else.” she looked up to the grand clocktower and sighed again defeatedly. “It is dinner time sister, perhaps some food and rest will help us think”

Luna slammed her hoofs on the ground in frustration. “This accursed gate vex me so! Once we pass it and I gain the new power promised I shall return to it and blast it to bits!” she rose and looked away a bit sheepishly to the shame of losing her temper.

Celestia joined her sister and much to Luna's surprise, nodded. “If we ever get it open I will join you”

As they walked back to the castle, Celestia stopped and looked back at the gate “what do you think is behind it, that he put such a difficult challenge to even enter it?” Tia asked thoughtfully.

“I hope its more magic, or maybe a treasure or even our cutie marks!” the other mare excitedly offered.

The cream mare laughed, “I don’t think cutie marks are a prize to be won little sister, but it would be nice. I feel a bit old to not have mine by now”

“I bet you get a bunch of dumb books” Luna teased

They finished that walk to the castle sharing ideas of what the prize might be.

The sisters enjoyed dinner and tried their best to relax after the umpteenth failure. Both of them knew true relaxation was impossible with the gate haunting them. Celestia laid on pillows looking over some book on clockwork magics, going over the diagrams and complex ideals with growing annoyance . Luna paced around practicing with her long slender blade upheld with magic, clearly a barely contained bundle of frustrated nerves.

Luna finally broke the building tension by letting out a frustrated cry and plunged the blade deep into the side of the wooden bookcase. “Why won't he just teach us instead of making us play this silly foals game!”

Celestia looked to the blade now stuck in her book case and shot her sister an nasty look. “Did you really need to do that?” she signed deeply once more, worried it might be becoming a bad habit. “You know Starswirl, he never teaches anything directly. Its all puzzles and enigmas with him. its only a matter of time before we solve this and can rub his snoot in it”

The thought did bring a smile to Luna's face, or it would of if she was not trying to pull the very stuck sword out of the wood of the shelf “he’ll just smile that know smile but we’ll know we beat his dumb game!”

The other mare nodded in agreement. “And with my brains and your power, we have this. Nothing can stand against us when we are united.” Celestia let out a tired yawn “I think I’ll turn in for the night and look at it again with fresh eyes in the morning.” she shut her book and walked to the door “good night dear sister”

Luna finally pulled the sword free, cheering triumphantly. “Hazah! Sleep well sister! I will be going to bed in a few hours, myself, I might go for a walk. You know me, always the night owl”

Celestia waved one last time and retired to her room.

The sudden shaking and cries of her name woke her with a start. She shot up in bed and looked at Luna, whose dark coat made her almost invisible in the dark room.

“Tia, Tia, Tia, Tia!” Luna repeated over and over, having at this point all but climbed into the bed.

Her sister looked worried at her “is it the timberwolves again? Or the vines?” her horn glowed filling the room with a soft light so they could both see.

“no , no, no. I had a thought! Remember how you said it was a matter of time? And how its not a lock? You were right! Its not a lock!” Luna bounced up and down excitedly.

Her sister yawned “I..I don’t follow? Lunie, what time is it? Why aren't you asleep?”

The blue mares smile threatened to escaper her muzzle “its not a lock...its a clock!”

Her sister's eyes went wide as what the excited mare had been saying finally clicked. “Its..its a clock...its a clock!” She hugged the blue mare close. she bounded out of bed and down the stairs, her sister close on her back hooves.

They reached it within seconds of each other and almost both tripped once they hit the door.

Celestia looked at the mechanisms with a new understanding. She knew each part by heart from failing to open it so long and cursed herself for failing to see how it all went together. “Sister? What time is it?”

Luna looked to the grand clocktower “about five in the morning. What time do you think it needs to be?”

The white mare hummed thoughtfully and then let out an excited squee of victory. “Look here!” she pointed both her hoofs, one to a sun and one to a moon. “The marker will stop there soon! It needs to be between night and day. The twilight hour! So about another twenty or so minutes.”

Luna jumped up and down with excitement. “And once its their, all we have to do is press them right! You have been saying for weeks you were sure the sun and moon were buttons. Should we wake Starswirl?”

Both mares jumped as someone cleared their throat behind them. “Oh he is already awake, my little ponies. Two mares can’t go running through a castle giggling and shouting without waking up at least half of it. Though I can see why you were so excited. You finally figured it out, did you?”

Both of them turned to their teacher and nodded excitedly.

“Now I must warn you two that what lies beyond this door is no mere prize or trinket. Once you pass through it, all things will change for the both of you. You two will see things and learn things not even I know. This gate is the threshold between your lives as young mares playing at leadership and becoming the princess I know you will be. I would be more than understanding if you both wanted to leave it shut. To hold off taking on such a change.” he looked to his wards sternly and his eyes spoke to a soft sadness hidden somewhere inside.

Both sisters looked to each other and back to their teacher. Both quietly thinking over his words. They turned back to each other and both started to speak but stopped and just nodded to each other with an understanding that ran deeper.

Celistia stepped up to the unicorn “we are ready Starswirl”

All three walked up to the door and both sisters took their place, Luna at the moon and TIa at the sun. Starswirl gave the signal and they both pushed the buttons in at the same time. A roar of cogs and clockwork erupted from the door as it slid dramatically open revealing a lush hedge maze garden overgrown and full of life.

Luna and Celestia both walked into it, and turned to their teacher to lead them. He shook his head, “I cannot join you in this. This garden is for you two, and you two alone. I shall stay here and wait until you return”

All three embraced for a long hug and goodbyes. Once they had gathered their courage, Both sisters turned to face the maze, hoof in hoof, together.