This is the third time, if you're keeping track.
I mean that I'm remaking this, the first being the result of a friend's idiocy, this time....well...I feel I could have done better.
Apologies to those of you that read the first and are now on anxious to see what happens, but I re-read it a tad, and felt I really could improve.
So I shall.
And now, I'll stop rambling too.
For the third time, Chapter one.
I writhed in my sheets, wrapping them around myself in a failure bound attempt to get an extra moment of two or precious shuteye, as Celestia's resplendent sun had already rose and begun it's assault, permeating the room, and my vision with it's radiant glow, making it very difficult for me to catch the sleep I so desired.
Sitting up, I looked at the offender through the window opposite my bed. The luminous orb of light, suspended in the air far above the highest of Equestria's spires by Celestia's magic, spreading life to everypony, and giving me one hay of a headache. My horn emitted a bright red glow, grasping the curtains and drawing them, denying the sun it's victory over me.
"And that's that." I breathed, smiling at the prospect of the extra rest as I lay back my head on my warm pillow, even the barracks in which I resided were, for once, completely void of lingering slackers, talking about the day to day gossip to avoid doing some extra work. This was going to be the most relaxing little nap I'd had in wee-
"Get that flank out of bed, momma's boy!" A gruff, taunting, and right now, a very annoying voice yelled out to me, riling me from my not-quite slumber....Actually I suppose that's kind of inaccurate, it's very annoying the rest of the time too. "We have that assembly today, remember, lazybones?"
I lamented the loss of my rest, sitting up once more to see my 'squad-mate' Steelhoof lumbering around the barracks with a thud in every step like the almost super-ponily sized dull grey oaf he was. "Rise and shine!" He shouted, opening the curtains I closed and shining a bright ray of sunshine directly into my eyes. Oh, now that's just playing dirty.
"Hey...could you open that window?" I asked, pointing to the window he had just revealed with the curtains. "I just need a little fresh air."
"Sure." He unlatched the window, allowing a cool, fresh breeze to sweep through the room, reinvigorating me as I took a nice, deep breath, filling my lungs, but that wasn't the reason I wanted it open. My horn lit up, sending a scorching bolt of red lightning soaring out of the window, nearly singing Steelhoof's already jet black mane as it shot by.
"ARE YOU CRAZY?!" He screamed, his face stretching in shock, no pun intended. "YOU COULD HAVE KILLED ME YOU LUNATIC!"
"Oh please, that wasn't so bad. Besides, if I wanted to kill you why would I have asked you to open the window then shot straight out of it, as opposed to, you know. Killing you." I pointed out the multiple flaws in his logic as I magically closed the curtains once more, taking amusement at the fact he flinched at my horn glowing to perform the small task of keeping the sun out of my eyes.
"But what if you missed and hit me?!" He bellowed, stomping his hoof for emphasis. I do love it when he tries to take control of a situation.
"Then it would have been as proud a day as when I got my cutie mark." I remember that day clearly, the day I discovered my talent for lightning mastery, and I, rather unsurprisingly, donned a perpetual red lightning bolt on my flank. I was wrong, this would have been a tad cooler. I lay my head on my soft pillow, it's brief exposure to the sun warming it as I turned my back to him, happy to ignore the problem until it went away. Or more likely, got bored and left.
"Hey, get up!" He lingered near the window for a few seconds, before tiptoeing stealthily over to my resting place. Or at least trying to, he wasn't the lightest of ponies, in fact, he was probably the heaviest.
"I know where you are. You can hardly flutter like a pegas-Oohf!" That was the sound of the pony behind me, who despite being known for his size, was actually a MUCH larger nuisance, jabbing me in the back. It wasn't so much the pain that annoyed me, that was fine, it was the weight he put behind it that sent me over the edge of the bed that tipped the scales heavily in favour of seething rage.
"What's is WRONG with you?!" I said, infuriated with his methods as I leaped atop my bed, my horn crackling with lightning in my anger. I quickly noted I was actually closer to eye level to him now than I was standing normally, this was a testament to his size, mine being just over the average mare, his dwarfing the average colt, this was also completely beside the point and was distracting me from a rather enjoyable fit of rage. Back to regularly scheduled programming. "Tell me, what's so important? Or the next one WILL be coming for you!"
"Calm down!" He yelped, back peddling away into his own bed. "I already told you! We have an assembly, something about Luna returning!" He regained his composure, which didn't take long, or make much of a difference.
I calmed myself down, following his advice for once, flopping down onto my bed once more and stretching out. "I told Arteus to come here and get us." His lack of good judgment surprised me, even after our far too long partnership.
"You entrusted Arteus with that?" I propped myself up on one hoof, sighing and shooting him a disappointed look.
"What's wrong with that? She's fast, faster than you." He smirked, quick to bring up that her speed outmatched mine, which was undeniable. He was, however, unwilling to bring up something else.
"That's true, but she has the incredible ability to get lost in a palace that she has lived in for over 50 years." I smirked, out-smirking his smirk, and wiping it off of his now smirkless face. I realized that I shouldn't really be smirking, though, such a large event shouldn't be missed, and to be honest, with Arteus in charge of giving us a fair warning, we had probably missed it by about a week.
"I trust her, I bet she'll be he-" It's my turn to interrupt you now.
"Yeah yeah, belief, trust, friendship sure is magic! Just wake me up in a tad, y'know, when she gets here, we realize we're late and get to do laps around Canterlot." Laying my head down, I could hear him lay his flank on his own bed grumpily, unaware that he made his own bed when he entrusted a serious task to a nitwit, I was just telling him he had to lie in it....Sitting works too, though.
".......Do you really thi-"
"Yes." I replied, knowing the rest of his sentence would just be asking me if we would be made to run laps around Canterlot, as if that would be the worst of our problems if we missed this.
"But I ca-"
"I know, I won't help you." I cut him short once more, knowing what he would say would be to the tune of his inability to run for concerted stretches of time or distance.
"How do y-"
"Because you're very, very predictable." That one's fairly obvious.
I turned to look at him fold his fore-hooves in frustration, blowing wisps of his unkempt hair out of his eyes in annoyance. I smiled, happy with that being the last thing I saw before I drifted off. "....Hey....Hey! You're not going to sleep, are you?" He asked the obvious, quite obviously leaping up behind me. I could tell because of the tremors, collapsing spires and screams of terrified ponies in the distance.
"Not with you're incessant shouting. Be a good boy and quiet down, will you?" I waved a hoof in the air, motioning towards the door, as I once more pulled by blankets over me. I know, seems irresponsible to sleep whilst I'm supposed to be attending an assembly. But I was no good awake, we couldn't go without Arteus, and they couldn't go without me! So I had a choice, wait for her asleep, or wait for her awake, whilst Steelhoof sleeps, and he'd like that, so that was well and truly out of the question.
".....Don't make me pour this over you!" I turned around to see him grab a glass of water, and hold it....ahem....'threateningly' over my head. I blinked a few times in amusement, before bringing up some good memories.
"What happened last time?" I was, of course, referring to the last time he threw water over me whilst I was sleeping. It shocked me enough to send a rogue bolt of lightning out of my horn, and then that shocked him, well, literally. Frankly, I was surprised he'd try to pull that again.
"Yeah....but you're awake now! You won't be as surprised, all it will do is make you....more awake!" His logic was uncharacteristically stalwart. But that didn't matter, because he didn't know that.
I lit my horn up, grinning as a few warning sparks flew off of it as his face switched from one of uneasy confidence to one of fright, he put the water down and retreated back to his bed. "Message received then?" I winked, grabbing the glass of water and gulping it down. "Just in case, you're not the smartest pony, after all."
"Fine...." He once again humphed, turning his head away childishly. "Have it your way, momma's boy." There he goes with that 'momma's boy' stuff, again. He was referencing the fact that everypony else in the Spear was hand-picked, by Princess Celestia herself for their potential, plucked from their homes, with their parents' consent of course. But not me, I had lived in this palace for my entire life. The first fifteen years of which Celestia had been something of a mother figure to me, after that point, I was old enough to join the Spear, which I did, after passing entry of course, they don't let just anypony in. And so, the last 160 years of my life I have spent proudly serving the Spear of Celestia. But not the fact that I earned my place, nor the fact that I was the best the Spear had to offer (in my opinion at least, (but that opinion was backed up by a spotless sparring record)), could put a halt to the accusations that Princess Celestia had a degree of favouritism towards me. Therefore, 'momma's boy'.
"Yeah yeah, seriously, turn the volume down. Why Celestia let you in I'll never know." I got a headache thinking of the day he was allowed into the Spear, I didn't have a problem with him back then, hay, I even thought he could be useful. But if I knew Celestia was just going to put me on a squad with the foal in a feigned attempt to make me more 'social', I'd have rigged the entrance exams off the bat.
I honestly don't know how the Spear remains a secret with him around, you see, the Spear was meant to be a cold group. Nopony is allowed to talk about it, ever. It has to stay that way, if the citizens of Equestria knew of our existence, then they would know WHY we exist, then they would get paranoid, and that effects the whole 'Utopian paradise' thing, don't ask me, I'm no politic.
We're around to keep the peace that would be effected if anypony was alerted to our existence, we fight in the shadows, as it were, to keep Equestria safe from all kinds of things that your usual, easily spooked royal guards (glorified servants) would be batted aside by. Things like Manticore, Hydras, and on a good day, dragons. And I had fought all of them alone, well, mostly, up until the Princess saddled me up with a squad, a squad consisting of Steelhoof and Arteus.
I may be getting slightly off track here, my point being, with blabbermouths like Steelhoof around, who were likely content to share the existence of a secret government squad of ponies who deal with beasts that would gladly squash any other line of defense Equestria had over a glass of punch and an apple. I was very surprised we remained in our shroud of secrecy. And the sentence that followed didn't instill much faith.
"Because I passed the entrance exam. She had no choice!" He said victoriously, smiling obliviously. Oblivious, apparently, to the fact that she was the ruler of Equestria. Sometimes I think his cutie mark, a hammer, was not representative of his physical presence, but what he was equivalent to in terms of intelligence.
"Erm....Well, she COULD have just denied you, and then wiped your memory so you didn't blab about it. Wait a minute....Maybe she already has wiped your memory, maybe there's a family out there, short one moron." What I said caused a worried look to shoot across his face. Oh, how I amuse myself.
"....Look, just shut up, okay?!" Getting a little riled there, ol' Steely ol' pal?
"I can't, it's actually a medical condition. When around morons I literally have to provoke them, it's a burden I carry for us all."
"What are you yammering on about!?"
"See? Can't help it....wait....can you hear that?..."
"I'll never be able to tell you if you don't be quiet! Now shh!" I put my hoof to my pursed lips, silently instructing him to shut the hay up. He immaturely mimed my whining as I listened, as the screeching got louder, it quickly became audible.
"We have to go we have to go we have to go we have to go!" The voice remained at a constant piercing volume, even as it's source, a blue and white blur came to a precise halt next to me. "We don't have long! We have to go!"
A sense of urgency shot through me. "How long do we have?"
"Not long, 150, 149, 148." My colleague rattled off nonsensical numbers that meant absolutely nothing. Superbly helpful.
"What?!" Me and Steelhoof said in tandem. I quickly assured myself this would be the ONLY TIME THIS WAS HAPPENING EVER.
"140....Oh, seconds! Duh!" Arteus blew a raspberry, not quite grasping the situation.
"Don't just stand there! Move!" I hopped off the bed, landing on all fours and sprinting out the door. Arteus taking her place alongside me as Steelhoof's face became indistinguishable from a red-berry as he puffed and panted to keep up.
"Why didn't you tell us sooner, you dolt?!" Arteus looked at me quizzically, still blissfully unaware.
"Yeah....you...could...huh....hfff...have....told...us...ah...sooner....can we....stop?" Despite the situation, I had to smirk at one of Steelhoof's many weaknesses. The inability to run for more than five meters without requiring a medical team.
"I got distracted!" She meant to say lost.
"By WHAT?!" I yelled at the top of my lungs as we rounded a corner, Steelhoof's hooves skittering as he struggled to maintain footing and stop himself from colliding with a servant.
"Shut up!" I silenced Steelhoof as he frowned angrily at me. At least I think it was a frown, he may have just been fainting. "I'll ask the questions, you try not to pass out! Now Arteus, what distracted you?!"
"Servants pestering me!" Like she can complain about anypony being a pest. "Only 70 seconds left! I'll meet you guys there!" Wait, what?
"Stay with us!" I yelled out as she zipped off into the distance, down the wrong hallway. "Get back here this instant!"
"Do your.... parlor....trick!....You can....hff....catch....her!" He was referring to my ability to harness my lightning magic, creating an aura of red lightning around myself, allowing myself to accelerate to speeds that leave most pegasi coughing up dirt. Not Arteus though, I did have the advantage of being able to reach my top speed near instantly, but she was faster than I was, and by now she had either reached her top speed, or close enough to put her out of range.....That, and I didn't want to scuff the floor, that's just bad manners.
"I thought I told you to stop talking. Focus on consciousness, lets go!" I turned to face ahead of me, focusing on hauling my sorry flank to the throne room as soon as possible. Which I knew was easy, it was Steel I was worried about.
We galloped through the pristine, white hallways for the remaining...however many seconds we had. I wasn't keeping track, unlike the pony stopwatch. Steelhoof sliding and bumping into more than one wall, but we made it. We turned the final corner, eyeing up intricately designed throne room doors. Focused on our goal, until...
"Hey guys!" A petite white pony bolted around the far corner, looking ready to meet us at the throne room doors. "I got a little lost, but It's cool, I found my way here!"
"Yes, I can see that." I skid to a halt, Steelhoof skidding right past me and Arteus hovering above me. "Steel, quit horsing around."
"Catch your breath and try to look presentable, for the love of Celestia." I mockingly licked my hoof and patted his mane down, as he grimaced, pulling away. "And Arteus, get down from there, will you?" I tugged her down to the other side of me, relentlessly parenting the two, as was sadly necessary. "How many times have I told you about that? For having something strikingly similar to the wonderbolts insignia, you sure do learn slowly." She sighed as I joked, hey, I need to relieve stress somehow, before we all turned in unison to the door.
"3...2....1..." Arteus muttered under her breath, unknowingly adding a thick layer of tension to the already tense atmosphere, as I nudged open the door and we crept in, hoping to Celestia herself that we would go unnoticed.
No such luck.
"Crimsonlight, how nice of you to join us." Celestia remarked with a mirthful smirk, turning the eye not covered by her kaleidoscopic, somehow constantly flowing mane towards me.
"Hehe, yeah. Sorry about that..." I turned my head in embarrassment from the Princess.....es...sorry, Princesses.
"Not a problem, Crimsonlight. We wouldn't begin without one of our finest." Celestia beamed, though everypony else in the room didn't share her sunny disposition. Scowling at the word 'finest', though I took stance against the worlds 'one of'. At least I wasn't immature about it though.
It was then, when I began to make my way through the room, that I saw somepony I hadn't before. Princess Luna.
I felt somewhat silly for not noticing her before, but she was a completely foreign object, this was the first time, in my life at least, I had seen her, and I had been rather distracted with the unease of the current situation. All of that, and she wasn't exactly going out of her way to do....well, anything. She was slumped back in her chair, seeming to be trying her best to avoid detection, she looked uneasy, shy, scared, even? I couldn't blame her, after the Nightmare Moon incident, there was bound to be some tension in the air. I remember thinking we would be dispatched to deal with her, I wasn't looking forward to dealing with a crazed alicorn, and was more than a little relieved to hear six fillies from somewhere-I've-never-heard-of-land had dealt with it for me. Which is odd, for me, I usually relish a good fight....But that day, I breathed a sigh of relief at the avoidance of one....well, that one, and the one I breathed for Equestria being saved. That was rather big.
I walked up, front and center, with Steelhoof and Arteus, and listened, as Princess Celestia stepped forward and began to speak.
"Now that we're all here, we can begin." Thanks for that. "As all of you know, my sister, Luna, is back. And with that, Equestria becomes a diarchy. We now have two rulers as opposed to one. So, to reflect that, we are splitting the Spear." An orchestra of various gasps was heard throughout the crowd, drama queens. "I understand, this is a big fundamental change, but it is a necessary one. It is to allow me and my sister to have an equally accessible group of ponies, but mostly, to get the message across that Equestria now has two rulers, as oppose to one. Sister, would you like to take it from here?"
She did not.
Princess Luna shied away from her big sister...I say big, her age remained the same despite her possession, her physical size was altered however. I don't know how tall she was before the Nightmare first took control, that was long before my time, but now, she was around the size of an average mare, ever so slightly shorter than me. Luna looked up to her sister with reluctant eyes, only to get back her sister's kind, motherly stare, asking without words to get up. Princess Celestia never told anypony to do anything, something I, to this day, have no idea how she did, being the ruler of Equestria and all one would think that every now and then she would tell somepony, but I had never seen that be the case. Whether it was out of love, loyalty, respect, admiration, or just because disobeying the pony who could manhandle the sun seemed like a rather bad idea, they always did as asked.
And apparently, Princess Luna was no different in that respect.
She let out a heavy sigh, knowing that her sister wasn't going to back down from her attempts at re-introducing her to the world of speaking. Standing up, she even looked somewhat shaky on her hooves, but, after a brief moment of silence, she began to speak.
"....T...Tomorrow you will decide who you wish to join....The Spear of Celestia...or the Blades of Luna...You are to come here at the same time you did today, and form a line, in front of me, or my sister, to symbolize your choice...If you are already in a squad, you may choose to reform that squad, if all of your squad members agree upon it, and make the same choice..." .....What?....This was the first time I'd seen her, yet Princess Luna had already told me that I could leave my squad? ....Best...Princess....Ever.... "That is all...." Princess Luna retreated back to her throne, her sister taking her place, but my head was already in the clouds, daydreaming about what I could do without a squad...Well, the same stuff as now, but with less headaches, death threats, and more sleep.
"Thank you all for coming, you are all dismissed." Princess Celestia smiled as everypony began herding out of the room. Too busy fantasizing about being alone once more to care to look, I raised a right fore-hoof, grabbing Arteus' tail and pulling her to the ground with psychic precision. I would have been inwardly sorrowful about how much I could judge these two's actions with scary accuracy, but I was too busy thinking about all the extra sleep.
"Hey, we're leaving!" She argued, fluttering her wings for take off once more.
"Leaving, but we're still in he-"
"Crimsonlight?....Could I see you for a moment?" Princess Luna whispered out as I turned around, confused. I began cantering towards her, Steelhoof and Arteus absently following as usual. "Just Crimsonlight, please." She added, causing the two to turn and leave to wait outside the throne room door. What did I say about her being the best Princess?
"Yes, Princess?" I walked up to her throne and knelt down.
"You are rather well mannered, aren't you?" Princess Luna smirked, had the Princesses been discussing me?. "You need not kneel, or address me as Princess. Between me and you I have always hated such formalities." I raised an eyebrow, was this the same Princess that had just been stuttering through a sentence awkwardly?
"Okay Prin....Luna..." I smiled awkwardly, it would be awkward to address her without any mention of status, but she was my Princess, so if she wanted me to dis-acknowledge her as Princess, I had no choice.
"Well done." Her reply came with a hint of humorous sarcasm. I understand that after 1000 years of isolation preferring a one on one conversation to a room full of ponies would be natural, but she seemed a lot more comfortable than expected with me. "I just wanted to say that I, personally, look forward to your decision especially." The Princess unknowingly gave my ego a gluttonous feeding, even more-so when I thought that this may be the beginning of both of the Princesses trying to win my favour. Perhaps I would get a cart of my favourite food from Celestia herself later? ....Unlikely, but a colt can dream.
"That is all, for now. You are free to return to your friends." Luna smiled, snickering under her breath as she said the word 'friends'. Almost as if she knew of my disdain towards them, this all but confirmed the royal sisters had been discussing me in particular. It seems Luna had taken an interest in me on a personal level, why remained to be seen.
"Goodbye, Princesses." I bowed as I left, Princess Celestia nodding her head in return whilst Luna waved a disarming hoof at my ignorance of her previous order. Hey, you have to make a stand somewhere.
I pushed open the throne room doors, finding a few groups of ponies lingering outside in groups, talking about events transpired, Arteus and Steelhoof were among them, Arteus being the first of the two to see me, immediately rushing forward ambushing me with questions.
"What did the Princess want?!" Arteus probed nosily, buzzing directly into my face and robbing me of my personal space in the process. We had been over this before.
"What business is it of yours? It was personal between me and Luna." I put a hoof on her forehead, pushing her away, sending her floating away harmlessly...like a balloon...
Steelhoof walked over, overhearing Arteus' interrogation. "Luna? Not Princess Luna?....Just....Luna?" Leaning forward, he smiled, feeling he may be onto something. Arteus landed on his back, as she often did, and, like the annoying parrot she looked like and was destined to be, began to squawk.
"Hey, he's right!" She pointed an accusatory hoof my way, leaning over Steelhoof's head. "What's up with that?!"
I brushed her hoof aside, beginning to walk away. Nowhere in particular, just anywhere without them. "Nothing. Nothing is 'up with that'."
"Yeah, right!" Steelhoof leaped in my way, Arteus fluttering off of him in front of me.
"Crimson and Luna sitting in a tree!" She sang melodically, fluttering in the air whimsically.
I said nothing, only forming a single sharp crack of lightning with my horn, the pair flinching at the mere sound, much to my amusement. "Take that as a warning, no more of that special form of idiocy." And with that, I left, heading towards the cafeteria, planning to get myself some food, and leave them to eachother's antics. It's what they deserve.
It was a mostly uneventful day after that point, usual stuff. Eat, train, ponies refusing to spar against me, eat, sleep. It wasn't until the next day that things began to get....interesting....
I sat in the barracks, alone once more, staring into the mirror next to my bed, lackadaisically brushing the same spot of my mane I had been for the last ten minutes or so, just enjoying the warm sun's rays and cool, fresh breeze that were flooding in through the open windows. See? Sometimes me and the sun could get along.
I knew, sadly, that this must come to an end. And it did so not with a whimper, but with a bang. The bang of Steelhoof crashing through the barracks' doors. They had handles, and I don't think anypony enjoyed fixing them monthly, but that didn't stop him. Not much could.
"Rise and....shi-....Aw horse-apples." He stopped in his tracks, looking very disappointed, seeing as how he had lost his chance to abuse me, due to my uncharacteristic early rising.
"Sorry, have I let you down?" I joked softly, beginning to brush the rest of my mane, realizing it was about time to leave. That, or I had set Equestria's most effective alarm clock a little too early.
"You could have let us wake you up. No fun in waking yourself up." Arteus landed next to me, trying to grab my brush to use it on her own messy mane. It was after levitating it away from her prying hooves that I noticed just how messy her mane was, giving it a few quick brushes to make it presentable, even though I was somewhat inwardly disgusted at the fact I sometimes filled the role of her mother, I didn't want her going in front of the Princesses looking like a wreck, though. I have a reputation, after all.
"Have you two finished your beauty session?" Steelhoof put his arms around the two of us, leaning in as his scraggly mess of a mane draped my shoulder.
"Hopefully not, I love having my hair brushed." The agile pony took to the skies, clambering for the brush my magic was holding, only to fall short once more when I yanked it away again, please with our appearances, except Steelhoof, of course...But mostly just not wanted her to use my brush too much.
"There's nothing wrong with not wanting to look like the love child of a rotten apple and a trash can, Steelhoof." Even Arteus chuckled at that one, and she usually took his side, then again I did brush her mane, oh how I spoil these two. "Matter of fact, you could do with a tune up, on the house." A devious grin washed across my face as the magically propelled brush rocketed forward, becoming entrapped in the tangled mess atop his head after the first few strokes.
"Ahahaha! Your hair's tougher than you are!" Arteus blurted out, flying and landing next to me as I suppressed my own chuckling...for about two seconds, before I burst out laughing at him too.
"Looks like your hooves aren't the only thing made of steel, so's the wool on your head. Hey, that should be your new name, Steelwool!" I couldn't help but laugh loudly in his face, even more-so after realizing that me and him had switched places, as I now stood by Arteus mocking him. The only difference is that I was doing a decent job.
"Just shut up and get this thing out, you pipsqueaks!" Darn, he insulted me, now I have to get it out. I'm honour bound to help a pony who calls me derogatory names.
"Admit that water is good for you." Walking up to him, I poked at the hairbrush. Yep, stuck pretty tight. That would take a pony who could channel some form of force that was commonly used for solving such problems...possibly through a horn?
"Yes fine, water's great, now wave your magic wand and fix this!" I could barely hear him above Arteus' laughing fit in the background, but the message got across pretty clear.
"And soap..." Just because it got across clear doesn't mean I cared.
"I love soap! I eat the stuff! for breakfast!" He proclaimed to the world, tugging helplessly at the hairbrush. "Now get this out!"
"Oh, fine." Reaching forward, I grabbed the hairbrush tightly in my right hoof, pretending to measure it up, giving it a few soft tugs and letting my horn light up as he breathed a relieved sigh....Before yanking that sucker out with a clump of hair.
"YAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAH!" No, that wasn't Steelhoof screaming in agony, that was Arteus laughing.
"GYAAAAAAAAAAAA!" That was, though.
He rolled around on the floor, clutching his head as I surveyed my handiwork, very nice, 10/10. Tucking the hairbrush, and the messy clump in the drawers, I began to canter lazily towards the door.
"Steelhoof, could you PLEASE stop fooling around? We have to go to a very important assembly with the Princesses of Equestria." I suppressed much laughter saying that little gem, needless to say, it was well worth it.
"WHY?!" He squealed from the floor, glaring angrily and cutting his eyes at me. This, mares and gentlecolts, was one angry pony.
"That was the best thing ever! You're not such a bad leader after all, Crimson." Arteus landed on my back, leaning on my head. Hold up on the bonding there, it didn't take a detective to see where this was going.
"Whoa there Arteus, I, unlike Steelhoof." I pointed to the angry sack of hate on the ground. "Am not a bed. Besides, we really are wasting time. Go help the sorry sack up, we're leaving." I quickly shifted from fun and games....at the expense of Steelhoof, to business....at the expense of Steelhoof....Steelhoof apparently shifted from revenge, to revenge.
"I WILL get you back for this." He wiped the tears that had run down his face from his cheeks, looking not too please with it all.
"Suuuure you will. Just hurry up will you?" I began to rap my hoof off the marble floors impatiently, as Steelhoof ran beside me still glowering at me. "There's not even a bald spot, now you have even LESS hair to wash, you know, should you ever pick up personal hygiene." Walking through the corridors, my relentless mocking continued, much to Steelhoof's obvious dismay.
"Oooooh, this is priceless." Arteus cooed, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes.
"You're supposed to be on my side!" Steelhoof began to buck Arteus off, which only seemed to amuse her more as she flew off of him, correcting herself in the air and gently floating between the two of us.
"I'm on the winning side." That may just be the smartest thing she had ever said....Well, at least I thought so, until I realized that she had, until this point, considered Steelhoof the 'winning side'. Never mind.
No more words were said on our short walk, mainly because Steelhoof refused to talk, instead conveying emotion through a series of huffs and grunts, and I had decided to relent in my ceaseless quest to enrage him. For the moment.
Upon arriving at our destination, I took a moment to appreciate being able to actually walk up to the throne room doors as opposed to the usual last minute dash I normally found myself doi-
"ARTEUS!" So much for that sentiment, I jumped into the air, grabbing wildly at her tail, trying desperately to stop her from flying rudely through the double doors. The last time she did that I made myself wait outside for five minutes so it didn't look like I arrived with her. "Stay. On. The. Ground."
"I thought we were pals now!" She pouted, jabbing my shoulder, I had to feel for the kid. If she hadn't been a pest to me for the last 50 years I may have done something warm and friendly....Like pat her head...Or something...
"Think what you will, but you can't burst through the throne room doors like a bad musical." Turning to look at the throne room doors, I took a deep breath, feeling a nervous buzz course through me. The Spear was being broken into two, I knew this had no direct effect on me, I would do what I had done my entire life, but still. The Spear was my life, and had been a part of Equestria, whether it knew it or not, for a lot longer than I had been a part of it, and now it was being split.
Feeling somewhat privileged to witness something only the handful of us in the Spear would ever witness, I pushed open the throne room doors, to a.....prom?....
Well, that's what it looked like, the typical prom scene, mares on one side, colts on the other. Except this time, it was Princesses on one side, and ponies scared to make a choice huddled in their masses at the opposite side.....This was sad...
"This is.....pathetic...." When Steelhoof, of all ponies calls you pathetic, you know you're in some serious trouble.
Surveying the room, I felt a knot form in my throat because of what I was about to say. "You're right......Sadly....Look at them...They're like fillies on the first day of school, none of them want to make the first move in case they look stupid....And in doing so....They all...look....stupid..."
"Oh, Crimsonlight, Good morning!" Princess Celestia noticed me in the crowd, waving a hoof and greeting me warmly. "Perhaps you could kick-start proceedings?" Call it a suggestion, an order, but from the awkward smile she gave me, it seemed like begging. Then again who knows how long they'd been standing here in uncomfortable silence.
I could say that I gave it long, hard thought, and that I had trouble choosing. But I didn't, I stood there for a few seconds, looked at Luna, and made my choice. I had nothing against Princess Celestia, she was the perfect ruler, and had been, for the first 15 years of my life, an amazing mother figure to me, but Luna needed it. I felt a connection, maybe it was because we were both somewhat isolated in a world of friendship? Given, I'm isolated by choice, she is because she went loco and tried to kill the sun, but there's a degree of camaraderie, right?
Besides, she granted me the honour of addressing her by name and name alone, that was a sign of goodwill if I ever saw one. Albeit a sign of goodwill that was going to be awkward to get used to. And having 'founding member of the Blades of Luna' couldn't hurt to have on my resume.
I cantered to the front of the room, taking my place before Luna. She perked up somewhat, looking over to her sister with a toothy grin, looking like she had won a prize, was I a prize, to a Princess? I could do nothing to impede a grin of my own crossing my face at this tantalizing thought. "Thank you." She knelt down and whispered into my ear.
"No problem." I knelt down formally myself, bowing my head to her, seeing if she would once again dismiss such formalities. Testing the waters.
"Crimsonlight, what did I say about formalities?" Luna motioned for me to rise, smirking. She really wasn't very much like her sister. Dismissing my formalities, telling me to not use title. I wouldn't be surprised if I walked in on her chugging a keg of cider upside down.
"Apologies, force of habit." The pitter patter of hooves of all sizes could be heard all around as I stood up, everypony making their choice now that I had made the lead. And now, right behind me, Arteus and Steelhoof, of course. But that didn't matter, all three of us would have to agree upon reformation of our group, and I definitely wouldn't be doing that. The mere though of being alone again had a smirk run across my face as I turned to face Luna.
"What are you smiling about?" Instinctively turning around upon hearing a mare's voice, I felt somewhat foalish when I realized that it was not Arteus. Then I felt happy that it wasn't Arteus....It was a confusing predicament.
"Just thinking about the future." All the conversation I would miss out on. All the extra sleep. Hay, I even looked forward to all the dragons I would get to fight on my own, I did love a good dragon fight.
"Anything specific? Something good at the cafeteria today? Or something a little more vague?" Luna stepped down from her throne, addressing me more personally, another unusual thing for a Princess to do during an assembly. This one was full of surprises.
"Well...all members of a squad must agree for it to be reformed...right?" Luna nodded in response. "Well, I don't think the other two will like the result."
"Not too happy with your squad?" Luna gave a quick glance to the two behind me, who as I overhead were debating upon the tactical advantages of taping Arteus to Steelhoof's back. From the confused look on her face, Luna heard it too. "Oh...Yeah.......Is the large one missing some hair?" Her confused stare turned into a smile and she laughed under her breath, looks like I may be destined to be a barber after all.
I quickly debated with myself whether it was wise to tell a Princess I had been abusing my squad mates, no matter how funny it would be. "Yeah....Long story...You'll have to ask me some other time....Anyway...I just think I'd work better off without a squad...Well, without this one, at least."
"Well...Nopony's perfect..Even though some are....different distances from perfection..." Luna japed, looking at the pair behind me. Mocking my squad-mates openly? Seems I made the right choice.
"Give them a break, they started the race to perfection hogtied and blindfolded." Luna giggled at my retort, exhaling a deep sigh of what may have been relief. It must have been hard to find somepony to just...talk to...after what happened...There was her sister, of course, but finding somepony that wasn't family had to have been nice. Especially since Princess Celestia was understandably busy, her prolonged absence collapsing something, or causing outrage somewhere.
"Well, as true, or funny as that is, you should still give them a chance, Crimson. There's good in everypony." Probably true, but in these two the good was covered by layers of stupidity, laziness and annoyance....Oh, and stupidity.
"I...I guess that's right..." I found myself conceding a point, now that didn't happen every day. "I just...Prefer to work alone...Personal-"
"Personal reasons?" Luna stepped in, finishing my sentence off..."I know about your personal reasons...and it wasn't your fault...You can't shut out friendship for your whole life because of one event that you wrongly blame yourself for,..." She presented a good argument...A better one, even, than her sister presented to justify the event that she was referring to. I resisted verbalizing my confusion that she knew about said event, and just chalked it up to the aforementioned personal interest.
"I suppose...I know I'm probably being a little bit childish.."
"You're not." The Princesses reassurance was something I would gratefully accept.
"Thank you..It's just a large personal hurdle, I suppose. I'm very bound to my work, it was just a large blow." Talking about what happened to this length in such a public area was a first for me, yet I was doing it comfortably with Luna. Sadly, though, this didn't mean I was willing to accept friendship back into my life so quickly, despite the....uhm....progress I was making.
"Oh, trust me, I've had my share of personal hurdles." Luna said, smiling softly. Was that a reference to her entrapment in the moon? She must have been in turn unexpectedly comfortable with talking to me, jokingly referencing a thousand year prison sentence. "I get where you're coming from, not used to letting anypony down, very dutiful. But please, don't count friendship out as a liability based on one experience. Don't make me make that an order."
I smiled in return, laying back on my haunches. "I believe you...And...There is truth to what you're saying...I suppose that now that I'm without these two, I'll have more opportunities to socialize." Not that I was even sure I was going to take them, but it's nice to pretend. Plus I didn't want to say to the Princesses face 'Hey, we've made some nice progress, but it's all for naught. I'm still an habitual recluse, got it, kiddo?'.
"Well...Who knows when you'll need the ability to socialize? Could be never, could be later today!" Luna fluttered back up to her chair with a smile, as her sister stood up, looking ready to speak. "Now listen, the one you have to kneel to is about to speak, got it, kiddo?" I stood up, ready to listen to Princes- Did she just read my mind...? Wait, could alicorns read minds?...Wouldn't my natural unicorn magic offer me protection against that..?....Was she reading my mind now?...Uhm, nothing bad, nothing bad. No impure thoughts, no feeding Steelhoof to a dragon here Princess! Not today!.....Your mane looks...nice?
Thankfully, Celestia's short speech managed to distract me from my temporary panic attack. "I would like to thank everypony who came for making your choices sensibly and swiftly." I wasn't aware that 'sensibly and swiftly' entailed hiding in the corner until somepony smarter than you made the first move....I hope Luna didn't catch that... "You are all free to go about your days as usual, thank you." And with a nod of her head and a bow returned, Celestia leaned in to discuss the events with her sister, and I left, to discuss the finer points of Equestrian cuisine with an uninterested lunch-mare.
At least I thought I was.... "Hey, Crimson! Where're you going?!" That oh so familiar voice called out, I didn't even bother to break my stride in the slightest.
"Cafeteria." I quickened my pace, hoping that the exertion of a brisk walk would leave him a lifeless lump.
"Oh no, not today!" He mirthfully said, bounding up next to me. He's been doing cardio, again. "I need to repay you for this little baby!"
He rubbed the small, near-bald spot on top of his head, I chuckled in turn. "What's so funny? Hey, you better get used to us, do you know where we're headed?"
"No, where?" I rolled my eyes, stopping in my tracks. Opting to let him get it all out of his system.
"We're going to get the squad reformed!" Arteus chimed in, sounding too self sure for her own good.
"Yeah, you're stuck with us. Not even switching to the Blades could save you!" Steelhoof's voice carried the same taunting tone Arteus' did. I'm not sure whether that's what did it, or whether it was their amazing, and consistent stupidity finally bringing me there. But I had, apparently, reached boiling point.
"Do you idiots listen to NOTHING the Princess says?!" I quickly spun around, half screaming, taking the duo off balance in their surprise. "You can't reinstate the group by majority! All members have to agree to it! I, sadly, am a member, so if I have a problem with it, it's not happening!" Ponies turned around to look at my fit of rage as Arteus and Steelhoof continued to shrink away from it. "And there is NO way in Equestria that I'm agreeing to drag your lazy, sorry carcasses through another however many years of this! I'd rather chop off my horn and fist fight the Princess! Now, do yourself a favour, go train and eat healthily because I'm not here to hold your hoof anymore, you pair of lazy, unmotivated morons!"
I stood there, snarling freely with my brow furrowed, still completely encased in my own ire, in ignorance of the crowd that had now encircled us. I had had a few outbursts in the past, it was unavoidable, I had no pleasure of release upon my friends as others did, but they had been more private, or disguised in a particularly energetic training session. This was a full on temper tantrum in front of everypony...and I mean every....pony...
And then I heard it...the quiet, mousy voice of a messenger pony penetrate the silence. "Um....Princess Luna has a...message...for you..." I turned to see the sun-blasted yellow pony holding a parchment, hovering awkwardly in the air a meter or so away from me. She extended her hoof shakily.
"I'm not going to hit you." I barked out angrily, eyes fixated on her as I snatched the parchment from her trembling hoof. I know, not the most caring approach, and if I wasn't currently angry enough to backhoof an Ursa major, I like to think I may have been gentler in my approach. But there was no time for heartfelt apologies, as the messenger had scurried off, but moreover, I had a letter from a Princess!
And it read....
I request an urgent audience with you 15 minutes time.
Yours sincerely, Princess Luna.
Short and sweet, two traits that had endeared Luna to me in the first place.
I rose my head from the parchment, zapping it out of in the air, as was customary to do with them, being that we were secret and all, destroying any formal letters to or from us was mandatory. All that poor, poor paper. Hearing the crescendo of hooves nearly tripping over themselves as an angry pony decimated a thin slip of paper with a bolt lightning around me was amusing though. None more than, you guessed it, the troublesome two themselves, Steelhoof and Arteus.
I trotted past them, planning on getting a muffin out of my drawer back beside my bed before making my way to Luna's quarters. "W...What was that?" Arteus said timidly, her eyes barely rising up from behind Steelhoof's head.
"I'm not in your squad anymore, and would thank you mind your own business." Despite the great satisfaction that gave me, my expression was still tightly locked into a scowl as I glided through the crowd of ponies like a knife through hot butter, them giving me my space. I would have to get angry and fire lightning more often.
The canter to my room was uninteresting without anypony bothering me, and that was fine. I used the time to wind down and return to my usual mindset, going into see the Princess grunting and glaring seemed like a bad idea.
I embraced the drawer with my magic, pulling it open and reaching a hoof inside, brushing around for the muffin, finding it at the far back and pulling it out. My stomach rumbled at the mere sight of the snack before me, I even marveled at it in my hoof for a second. I opened my mouth wide, ready to chomp down and alleviate myself of my starvation. But when I bit down, my greatest fears were confirmed.
"I think I chipped a tooth." I waggled a couple of my teeth around, no battle scars. Scarily though, there weren't any on the rock disguised as a muffin. "You're a hard little thing, aren't you?" I asked the muffin, lifting it out of my hoof with magic as I walked out of the door. "How long have you been in there?" The muffin stood it's ground, not giving an inch...."Don't feel like talking, eh? Ah, good riddance with you." I flung the opposing baked goods in the trash can, and ponies think I'm insane. Where do they get that?
I strolled through the halls, now completely alone, having ditched the muffin. And I got to thinking....That messenger pony didn't come from the throne room.
That didn't seem much at first, but the thought lingered, and festered, like a parasprite, or a muffin in a drawer. If the pony didn't come from the throne room, then that means Luna couldn't have sent her after I officially made my choice on the Blades of Luna, as upon the messenger's arrival Luna was still in the throne room. The messenger was told where to be and when.
So that eliminates business. As they wouldn't send me to a Princess on business without knowing which Princess I would be taking said business from. So what WAS this? A social call? A personal favour?....A date?
Psh....A date...Yeah right....She's just a Princess who took an interest in me....on a....seemingly...personal...level...Who probably feels lonely to a degree...Who....
Mother of Celestia, Luna was going to ask me out on a date.
Was there code? Did I have to wear a special Princess dating attire, like a tie, or a hat? I didn't have either of those! Was the messenger pony supposed to give me one? Blasted messenger ponies.
I was surely being silly, wasn't I? The chances were just astronomical that she would ask me out on a date, she had just got back from the moon, after all, she no doubt had a lot on her plate......The last thing she wants is an emotionally distant at the best of times, often angry, and if not that, then just plain hostile and sarcastic pony meandering around her all day.
Boy, I sure had oodles of self esteem.
As I walked through the halls, my mind continued it's constant battle with itself. Even as I neared Luna's chambers, the annoying part of my brain wouldn't relent, constantly harassing the calm (or at least trying to be) part of my brain with possible hearts and hooves day letters, and would be teary eyed sonnets.
It really didn't help that the logical side of my brain remembered something that turned it into an irrational pile of mud too.
Luna might be able to read my mind.
Well, this is quite the predicament I find myself in. My thoughts were already running amok, conspiring against me, but now that they have even more reason not to, they're going to re-double their efforts! Splendid.
If it wasn't for the unnatural state of calm I find myself in due to my venting session a while ago, I dare say I would be taking this whole thing a a fair bit worse. Well, we'd see just how I fared, as I had arrived at Luna's quarters, and whilst I showed no interior signs of being nervous, my mind was at loggerheads with itself. I berated myself internally, even I knew this to be silly, and even with logic slowly making a foothold in my mind, there was always a nagging part that said that Luna did want to date me, and that was very...off putting. I'd had one friend in my life, that didn't go swimmingly, dating a Princess was out of my league.
I raised a reluctant hoof to the door to Luna's chambers, giving it several firm knocks.....No answer...I suppose I was early.....I had time to compose myself....As much as I was deeply disturbed by this thought, I had to whitewash my mind in fear of it being...Less than appropriate.
I had to pull a Steelhoof.
..............Luna eats worm foo-Well hay, ridding my mind of all thought was a no go....This was harder than he made it look...He was a natural....I'm not sure he could be proud of that, but he was. I suppose I would have to reply on good old fashioned self control. And I would have to put it to good use, as I turned my head to see a certain Princess cantering down the hallway towards me, paperwork levitating behind her.
"Crimsonlight, hello! Little early, weren't you?" She called approaching me, her horn illuminating and forming a key, which clicked into the magic lock to her quarters. Very nifty, those magical locks, only available to the unicorn's specific magical key, each unicorn having a different magical signature, that made them near impossible to replicate, especially when they are a Princesses magical lock.
"Fashionably so." I walked into her room....It was a tad different to her sisters, they reflected their roles, I suppose. Her sisters bright, vibrant whites and yellow marble and decor. Whereas Luna's was contrary the the rest of the palace, dark blue and indigo marble, stepping into it was like stepping into a different room, from an entirely different palace. It made me think, before Luna was gone, was the palace split down the middle in those opposing styles? Would they be again? I was thankful for these distractions, who knows where my stupid, counter productive mind could take me without them. "Or perhaps you were late?"
"Crimsonlight. I'm a Princess, I set the time." Luna laughed, expertly filing all the paperwork away, dimming her horn. And to be fair, she control the moon.
"Set it a little later next time, the wait almost killed me." I joked right back, donning my verbal boxing gloves, ready to go a couple rounds with a Princess.
"Oh-ho, sarcasm? Some say that's the lowest form of humour." Luna retorted, flinging the door to her quarters closed and locking it. Another things about those doors, sometimes the Princesses themselves enchant them with a spell that makes them resistant to the magic of anypony less powerful than the enchanter...And well...Yeah, it's unfair, right?
"Whoever these ponies are must be doing it pretty wrong." Luna and I smirked as I noticed a parchment on her bedside table with the initials CL on it. "That for me?" I nodded towards it.
"Oh? Yes. Kind of silly, you ask me."
"Parchment? Yeah, I know, how dare ponies learn to read or write." Luna apparently brought out the best in me. Or the worst, it depends how you rate the old adage she had previously said.
"Heh, remember what I said about sarcasm?" That adage. "It is for you, read it at your own pleasure."
The Princess of the moon levitated it over to me, I took a hold of it, scanning it quickly, then rolling it open. Just words, in normal Equestrian handwriting, bit too fancy if you ask me, but still, pretty normal. "What's so silly about this?"
"Well, back when I was...ahem...last here...we didn't have to write everything down. Apart from the most private messages, we could just relay them from one to another by voice. Or by the voice of a messenger...It's a minor detail, I know...But it's a bit more...trustworthy of a system." I couldn't argue with that, it was more trustworthy of a system, and I liked it more. Why should she have to hand me a letter when we were in the same room?
I tossed the letter aside, into the trash can, my lips upturning into a small smile. "So, this message?"
Luna grinned broadly, taking a step towards me. "You sure you're ready? No doubt this will surprise you."
"Not much can." Unless she really was going to ask me out on a date.
"Hah...We'll see...." Moment of truth..... "You're going to Ponyville." What?