Twilight and the Spartan Stallion
Part 14: The Cape-Scarf
Spartan Shield the statue was up to his whithers in earth and rubble, being oh-so-carefully excavated by Daring Do and her assistant True Facts. When they’d discovered that the statue was not only life-sized but intact, she had thrown a party for every pony at the excavation sight. This would be the archeological find of the decade! There was music, dancing and much revelry, spotlights left on Spartan Shield during the night so that they could enjoy his handsome good looks and cocked spear arm late into the night. Statues that had metal spears or other implements were almost always missing them. 99% of the time, they would’ve been taken out of the statue and melted down for other things like weapons, in times of war or poverty. The fact that the war pony was still clutching his spear and shield made him ten times more valuable, it was incredible! The six or eight ton piece of carved magnificence had everypony partying.
Daring Do and True Facts had shared a quiet, rather scandalous night in her tent that evening after the party. They were a little wine-touched, but they were already a couple so it felt right anyway. (What? Uncovering a priceless life-sized statue that would no doubt make their careers was inspiring stuff! Of course there was excited tension to work off!) Laying on her belly in a delightful musky sweat Daring looked over at True Facts, who was resting on his side. “You know, if we get our names in the history books for doing this, we might actually be funded for some of the other projects we wanted to do.”
“Oh yeah?” said True Facts in a post-coitus purr, eyes lidded lovingly.
The mare chuckled at him. “Yeah!” Daring said, rubbing his withers animatedly. “We get this stallion out of the ground, along with all the weapons and armor bits we’ve been finding? The grand display it’ll make in the Canterlot museum will last for years and years. Everypony will know our names.” She smiled.
“It’s all about the glory, huh?” True Facts chuckled at his lover.
“True. Facts.” Daring reached over and rather scandalously traced the green check mark on his flank. He laughed a little, sidling over to press against her lovingly. She slung an arm around him, hooking her hoof around his neck. “We could go to Zafrica and look for hidden temples. Or Prance to excavate their old battle sites. Or even--!” she trailed down a list of equally fascinating places that needed star archeologists like they were going to be. True Facts smiled and nodded along with each one.
“Sounds like you’ve got our whole career together already planned out.” True Facts chuckled, turning to lay on his belly. She smiled, blushing a little while she nodded. “I think it sounds great.” He smiled broadly. This was a triumph for both of them, but especially for Daring. She was the more adventurous sort anyway. He may have been her scribe, note-taker and fellow archeologist, but was perfectly content to follow her anywhere. He loved her very much.
12 Years Later…
“And this is you, here?” Spartan Shield leaned over the book with interest, pointing to the picture. He’d finally gotten around to asking Twilight Sparkle about what had happened to Nightmare Moon. Twilight’s response was to pull out a foal’s picture book. Apparently the story was such common knowledge that they taught it in schools and had children’s books of it.
The picture on the page was like a mosaic, one of Nightmare Moon being blasted by the six Elements of Harmony. “That’s right.” said Twilight a little sheepishly. Spartan didn’t seem entirely convinced that the mare had conquered the incarnation of Night Time Eternal. He leaned over the picture, looking at the other ponies depicted.
“Ah?!” he said, spotting Pinkie Pie in the picture. “The harlequin!” he pointed. Twilight chuckled a little, nodding. “And the farmer… the athlete… the seamstress… the druid… and you there.” He mumbled through each one. “You and your friends did what armies could not?” he whispered, tracing his hoof over the picture of Twilight. She blushed a little, as though he were stroking her in real life.
“That’s not all.” She went on, turning the page a few times to the next picture. Upon it was a depiction of the weakened Princess Luna, with blue hair and a mortal pony’s size. She was embracing a much larger, shining version of Princess Celestia. “When the Elements of Harmony took away her dark powers, they shifted her back to good.” She smiled at him. “They cast Nightmare Moon out forever.”
“And this was the good that was left in her?” he frowned down at the picture of the embracing Royal Sisters. Her Shining Immortal Majesty even had a tear going down her cheek, hugging the mortal-sized pony. “This was not the creature I saw at that dinner.” He said, poking the picture a few times. “I saw the Princess of the Night, the shape she took before the Nightmare.” He made to pull out one of his ancient coins, but then remembered he didn’t have them anymore. Luna did. He scowled a little, cursing her for robbing him of his monies.
Seeing his look, Twilight quickly continued. “Er-well, I think it was a bit like being reborn. Or being freed of a burden.” She said, gesturing. “Luna shed the darkness, and was left in a weakened state after getting hit with the Elements. Over time, she slowly gained her powers back so she could look normal again.”
“Hm.” Spartan Shield said, leaning mistrustfully over the picture. Twilight turned the page again, showing him the caption and picture of Princess Luna when she’d regained her starry mane and alicorn stature. “I’m not sure I like it, Twilight Sparkle.” He said, inflating his chest with a loud sigh. “She turned against country and citizen for her own ambitions--”
“And was sealed in the moon for a thousand years for her crimes.” said Twilight gently. Over time, the purple mare had learned to keep her tone pleasant with him. Anger or frustration only made the warrior’s pride raise a shield against reason. Maybe it was her lack of masculine contact on the day-to-day, but she’d learned that the male ego needed to be coddled now and then. If it got him to learn, so be it.
“Twas only weeks ago to me.” He murmured, slowly closing the book. Twilight could see the troubled expression in his eyes. “Surely I have right to be angry with her? Every other pony that ever hated her is either dead and gone, or has received reperations.”
“What would you want her to give you?” Twilight frowned at him.
Spartan only shrugged a bit. “It’s hard to even wonder what the deaths of all your comrades is worth.” He looked at her. “What would you ask of the pony that slaughtered all your friends, mage? Bits, perhaps? Silk? His weight in gold?” The unicorn knew that Spartan had every right to bear an enormous grudge against the Princess of the night. She really did. But, she was trying her best to help him see past it.
“You two are a lot alike, when you think about it.” Twilight mumbled quietly, stroking the book’s cover. She regretted her words almost instantly.
Spartan Shield’s mouth went agape, and an icy silence descended on the library. She looked over at him when she saw that he’d gone still. She had not just said that. She had NOT just said that! The anger rose in his eyes, and his chest inflated as a great and furious bellow rose up in his chest. “How DARE y-!”
Her hoof quickly came up to cover his mouth. “Hear me out, Spartan. Please?” she gave her softest, most feminine eyes. One of his eyes twitched a little, and he quivered at her with bristling anger. “She’s a thousand years out of her element, socially. She doesn’t understand everything that is going on around her.” Twilight laid the book down on the table, stepping closer to balm his seething anger. Screwing up her courage, she leaned into the furious stallion, chest to chest and resting her head on his muscled withers. “Awkward…” she whispered a little breathily. She felt him relaxing just a little. “Angry… powerful…” she lifted and lowered her muzzle a few times through his mane. He shuddered quietly, his outrage slowly deflating. His great head lowered to press its chin against her mane. They shared a quiet moment, and he considered just nuzzling with her for a bit. Their study books would not get up and trot away after all.
“Tiz more to me than just killing things that oppose me, mage…” he said quietly, enjoying the quiet scent of lavender that was touching his nose. Twilight smiled quietly, though they could not see each other’s faces. The silence of the library blanketed them, promising not to breathe a word of their quiet flirting. “I am… upright.” He whispered. “Forward with what I want…” he trailed off, cupping the side of her face with his massive hoof. She kind of liked that. Just a little bit. He knew what he wanted and went for it, in all things. It was a good quality to have… yeah… mhh…
“Thick-headed… passionate…” she whispered, shivering a little as she leaned up and into him. Their lips barely grazed each other, the quiet and heady anticipation of the kiss hanging in the air between them. Twilight was reminded of the Ode to a Grecian Urn, just that little set of moments… right before… yes-sss…
The library door came open quite suddenly and they jumped apart, looking awkwardly at the visitors. It was Rarity and the Cutie Mark Crusaders! “H’oh my!” Rarity said with a rather devilish smile. “Are we interrupting anything, Twilight?”
The purple mare blushed furiously, shaking her head. “H-hey Rarity.” Twilight said, gulping a little and trying to hide the heat on her face.
“Heya Twilight! Hey Spartan!” the Crusaders said in one giggly voice, scampering past them to the children’s section in the stacks.
“The healthy foal and her friends, hello.” Said Spartan idly, lifting a hoof in greeting for a moment. “And the seamstress as well.” He bobbed his head with a small smile.
“I thought I would stop by and deliver Spartan Shield’s new cape-scarf!” Rarity smiled back, igniting her horn to open her saddlebag and levitating a blue box with ribbon on it. “It’s no charge dear, after what you did to help the Crusaders there.” She nodded towards the three fillies who were already fighting over the newest Daring Do novella.
Spartan Shield stiffened. Fear not the blue box. The oracle had foretold of a blue box. Taking it gingerly from where it levitated, he slowly opened it. A rather normal new cape-scarf tumbled out into his hooves. He let out a held breath, and immediately started working it around himself. “Thank you.” He smiled more genuinely, setting the box on the table so he could admire his new garment.
“It looks good!” Twilight put in, grinning.
“It’s just a little something-something, you did come and ask for it specifically!” Rarity said with a haughty chuckle. “It’s not often I’m requested for something other than a dress, you know. It was a good change of pace.” Spartan Shield nodded at her thankfully. Wearing it with his wrappings and chest plate made him feel safer. Twilight had managed to help him retire his helm and remaining leg plates, as well as his spear and shield. They all lay in her closet upstairs. While the stallion still insisted on covering up much of his chest, neck, and midriff—even Rarity had to admit there was a normal stallion slowly emerging from his shell, if he was wearing less and less. Eventually he might have the confidence to walk about in just his fur like the rest of them. The pale unicorn wondered if perhaps the poor thing was sensitive and self-conscious of his looks under all that muscle and studly, gruff exterior. Oh-hoh my, such thoughts! Unsuited for a lady!
“I like it.” He nodded to Rarity, throwing one leg of it over his shoulder so it wouldn’t drag the floor.
“Well then my work here is done. Sorry I can’t stay long, I’m chaperoning a little backyard campout for the fillies today.” Rarity nodded towards the trio. “Come along, you three! We’ve a few more stops to make before we stop at Lickity Split’s!” she called. At the mention of the ice cream parlor, the Crusaders stampeded along, talking and laughing together. It seemed that one of them getting their cutie mark had, at the end of the day, not driven them apart—thank goodness. Rarity stopped halfway out the door, completely unable to help herself. She looked over her shoulder at Twilight, mouthing the words ‘as you were.’ The purple mare’s face went scarlet. Then Rarity and the three foals were gone, the pale unicorn chuckling scandalously as she went.
Spartan felt much better with his cape-scarf back on, and had already picked up the next book in their stack with interest. He was right back to it. “So, after the Elements of Harmony struck down Nightmare Moon the second time it shattered her from existence and left what was good of Princess Luna behind.” He recited.
“Y-yes.” said Twilight a little breathily, going back to her lesson. Spartan Shield had to admit, there was far more to the purple solar mage than met the eye. She’d bested timberwolves. She’d bested HIM—though he’d been distracted at the time, his ego said—and she’d also had a hoof in the destruction of Nightmare Moon? He wasn’t sure he believed it at first, but, seeing one history book and after another, and plenty of foal-friendly versions with pictures—he knew they couldn’t all be wrong. Twilight Sparkle and her strange gaggle of friends had laid low a GODDESS in the prophetic hour of her return, at the height of her powers. Impressive!
The Next Day…
It was late afternoon as Spartan Shield wandered around Ponyville, seemingly at random. The market was busy, the shops were all open, and many residents were milling around doing their daily routines. The hot summer day wasn’t too cruel, so he felt no urges to shed his breast plate or scarf-cape. He was tailed for a bit by a pair of guards, but when they saw he was calmly window-shopping and not brawling in the streets they let him alone. Which was probably best for them, Spartan thought with his male ego. Now that he knew how they fought he could probably down one or two of them. That would teach them for flinging perfectly good pies at ponies.
The oracle’s prophecy also weighed heavy on his mind. Some of the phrases were obvious and needed little thought. Other parts of it seemed very vague and unassuming. The horrible thing about prophecies is that understanding them made them void. Any pony, even in this strange new era, probably knew that to know the future was to change it entirely. That was why oracles spoke in riddles. If you figured out one or two chunks of your prophecy before it happened, you could change the course of your life for the better. Now, Spartan just needed to figure out what the druid Fluttershy had meant in her fume-induced visions.
Violence begets violence. Well, yes of course it did. If you punch a pony in the snout, he’s going to get angry and hit you back. There was no questioning such a thing.
A weeping mare loves. He didn’t know any weepy mares here in Ponyville. Twilight Sparkle was too powerful for such things, he could not imagine her crying. Perhaps he was supposed to be on the lookout for such a thing, and help said crying mare? That would probably endear him to at least one or two ponies. And considering he was known in Ponyville only for his street brawl with Big Macintosh, any slight upturn in his reputation couldn’t hurt. Hmm.
Fear not a blue box. That was a tough one. He’d already received one blue box today, but that had been nothing of life-changing consequence. How did one fear a box, much less be warned against said fearing? He didn’t know. That was one of the more mysterious phrases. He peered about as he walked by shops. Why, there were blue boxes everywhere! On street signs, in display windows, on the backs of ponies that carried them. Blue was a common color. Why could it not have been gold, or blood-red? Something a little more rare and easy to spot?
Plant a tree with love. That part Spartan Shield also had no idea about. Was that the druid herself speaking to him in her prophecy? 'I have told you your future, now go make yourself useful and plant a tree, because I'm a druid and I like trees?' Well, he could go do that, sure, but it was a meaningless task. He was nopony’s servant or nursery keeper. He was a soldier. Snorting and rolling his eyes, he stopped and peered in at a series of cakes in the window of Sugar Cube Corner. Pinkie Pie, who was behind the counter inside, waved at him energetically. Startled, he quickly moved away before she decided to come outside and plague him with her madness and defiance of the laws of physics.
Honor the Gods. Well that one was plain enough at least. He would probably be expected to apologize to Nightmare M… Princess Luna, at some point. He felt no sorrow for having bloodied her nose, but he had a feeling Twilight Sparkle and others would plague him for it if he did not at least make a show of making amends. This peaceful era apparently held no patience for grudges. Peacefulness and harmony was practically required. Bleh…
Honor your love. His love of what? He loved good wine, good food, and good company like any other red-blooded stallion. There had to be more to it than that. Would he be honoring his love FOR something? Or honoring his love, as in the idea of love? Was love so literal? The subject escaped the soldier rather fluidly, so he moved on and shook his head. Coming to a small park bench after having gone over a bending bridge, he settled there to think. Across the way was a school where prancing foals were having physical activity outside.
Forsake thy anger. Anger of what? He was a prideful stallion, sure, but that came with being an elite warrior in an era that apparently no longer needed him. Was he to be discarded in all his glorious talent? He scowled resentfully. He’d cast his anger and frustration aside when he figured out his future and had a plan for his life. Until then, he could be as angry as he bucking pleased thank you very much.
Embrace in the night. Embrace who? When? Why? His head began to hurt a little. It wasn’t referring to the nighttime Princess, was it? He was hardly ready to forgive her pompus face, much less embrace her. Perhaps the disgraceful Lunar Stallion that shared his last name? THAT was a completely different set of problems, given that he’d sired no foals and had no wife to speak of. If he had, they would be a thousand years dead. His very existence puzzled him. The thought depressed him a bit. There would be no 'proper' Equestrian mares for him to think about for a bit.
Why, Twilight Sparkle was the only mare that seemed to fit the bill of mares he knew. The seamstress was talented, but haughty and gossipy. The farmer was… well, a farmer, beneath him. The harlequin desperately needed to be exorcized of whatever demons inhabited her. The athlete looked upon him with hungry eyes and open wings, which he did not find comforting. The oracle was not for a stallion to be touching-- ever. Twilight was, among all of them, at least approachable and available. "Hmm." he considered. She was impressive, yes, but he wasn’t sure she was the sort to do any ‘nighttime embracing’ with, if one knew what one meant. Besides, he could not rob her of her powers to slake his own feral lusting. He'd promised her that the day they'd met, when he'd mistaken her for an alleyway tail-lifter. He respected her too much for that. When a solar mage lay with her lover or husband, her extraordinary powers were gone forever and she would be expected to live the rest of her life in a peaceful matron’s existence. Not that she would lose her magic entirely, just her ability to soak up extra mana from the sun. He could not bring himself to think of doing such a thing to Twilight Sparkle. It was shameful. (That, and he imagined her Shining Immortal Majesty would brutalize him for deflowering her protégé. Her horn was quite long, after all.)
Sighing and rolling his eyes at all his foolish philosophizing, he finally saw what was in front of him again. “Children! Time to come in!” There was a group-sized moaning when the recess of school ended. Spartan eyed the purple mare herding the foals inside. He liked that such robust physical activity was still a part of schooling, but he was a little surprised that there appeared to be no wrestling, no spear-throwing, no combat training. Apparently the peaceful era forgave foals for their lack of agoge by letting them frolic with proper supervision. Hmm.
He hadn’t yet put much thought into his community service yet, either. He shifted on the bench a little, crossing the yard of the park and standing on the sidewalk. Surely this was where the healthy foal, Applebloom, and her friends went for their education. If he were to raise twenty-five hundred bits for the schoolhouse, surely that would pay his debt for bloodying the Princess’ nose? He chuckled darkly at the imagine of her mewling face, shaking his head with a wry smile. Trying to focus, he looked around. What would a school need? Well surely excellent physical activity equipment. He peered over at the playground they’d been frolicking on minutes ago. Swings. Sea-saws. Slides. Things to climb and stand on. Narrow pathways to practice balance on. He liked it, but it could have been so much more. He could make it so much more, he decided. He would gather up the bits demanded of him, then present them to the school so that they might build a better playground. Nodding to make it official, he turned on his hoof and started into town again. Now all he had to do was figure out how to acquire twenty-five hundred bits. Hmm.
End of Part 14