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?
Well, that was a fairly long first chapter.
For anyone that previously read The Crimson Dawn, you'll know that I actually cut this off sooner than I cut that off.
This was partly because I didn't want to breach a five digit word count, as I didn't in the original, but mostly because I felt that was a good place to cut it off, and was a good point to continue from.
Speaking of word counts, it occurs to me that this story is rather long (this chapter in particular), the reason for this is, simply put, I love reading fan fictions, and I hate it when they finish.
So this way, I can give like-minded people more to read before the dredging wait to the next chapter!
Yes, all two of you interested in my story have more of it to read!
Anyway, I'm enjoying re-writing this immensely, and will be trying to write them as soon as possible!
So, chapter 2, go!
"Yeah, that much of a surprise?"
"Well...Yeah." I replied, still wide-eyed at the mission. I had fought beasts around Ponyville before, the Everfree forest bordered some of it, but...just going there?....Why? "And I'm not fighting anything there?"
"Hopefully not." Luna really wasn't giving me much to work with, and judging by the slight upturn at the corners of her lips, she was enjoying it.
"Hopefully?" My mind tried to make sense of why I was going as I cantered out of the double doors onto Luna's balcony. Killing beasts was kind of my, no, OUR thing....If she wasn't divulging the details, there obviously wasn't much of a threat...So if this was merely scout duty, why not send a royal guard? The doors can hold themselves open, they're mostly magic.
"Yes, hopefully....Hopefully NOT.....So don't go looking for trouble." She stepped onto the sun-beaten balcony beside me, and simply stood, and stared, stared at the centerpiece of the glorious view. My destination, sitting between enormous giants of stone, winding pathways either striking through them or circling around to eventually converge upon it, Ponyville.
The strong gusts of wind at the mountainside altitude blew my mane, causing my hair to flicker across my face. Narrowing my eyes, finding myself no closer to having a clue, I gave in, accepting my defeat and going straight for the elephant in the room. "...Why am I going to Ponyville?"
"I knew you wouldn't get it." Luna chirped happily, rub it in, Princess, rub it in. "You're going to Ponyville to....Defend the elements of harmony!"
I returned to my state of confusion, and to quote my earlier self.
"What?" Back to square one. "....Why? From what?" I took the direct approach this time. Avoid the embarrassment.
"Classified." Luna winked, smiling coyly. Mocking my hatred for denial of information. Of course it would be classified, I was guarding the elements of harmony, that's nothing big, right? "Heh, sorry. It's out of my hooves..."
This rose a level of alert in me. If it was out of a Princesses hooves, then it was big. BIG big. Why was I really guarding them? "You're a Princess. Not even the moon is out of your hooves."
"Ha, I suppose. Alas, this is a whole different subject than the moon." And the worry only rose from there.
"And you're sure this is classified?"
"I'm sure." I had to be completely sure, there's numerous pieces of classified information I've got through my wits, guile and charm in the past.....Okay, so I just pestered or threatened messengers, same outcome.
"Like....Top level classified?" I smirked, letting Luna know I was okay with it. I was never too bad with change, but this was an understandable thing to irk somepony. Being sent away, for who knows how long, for who knows why. It's a toughie.
"Like top level classified." Luna smirked right back, as we both took a couple seconds to stare at Ponyville...I had heard it was the most idyllic, friendly paradise in all of Equestria.....Which was, itself, an idyllic friendly paradise.....A perfect little haven surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges, in just the right spot to bathe in the warm glow of Celestia's dazzling sun...It sounded relaxing...Life in the slow lane...I was never one for that....I guess I would see.
"So, Luna...When do I leave?" We turned in unison as Luna swung close the doors to her balcony with but a thought, her beautiful star laden curtains fluttering from the breeze.
"About...five minutes." I saw a flicker of a smile again, if I wasn't mistaken...And I wasn't....She was enjoying this.
"Five minutes, eh? It's nice that you gave me adequate time to get used to the fact that I was going through a complete change environment. As opposed to just shoving me on a carriage and wishing me well. Oh, wait." Luna didn't take kindly to this, or she did, and her joking was a sign of those most mysterious of things, friendship and acceptance....Basically, she made fun of me.
"Nag nag, like a filly." The Princess berated me playfully, magically grasping the door to her quarters and flinging them wide open. "What has my sister been teaching you?"
"Just the basics, but after this I expect she'll be teaching us not to talk to you." I rebuked, I'm like a sponge, except after a certain amount of just soaking up the insults, I fire them back. "Ever." Hard.
Luna reeled back in disgust. "Crimsonlight, I am your Princess and will not be spoken to as such. I resent the idea that my own beloved sister would teach somepony not to speak to me. What do you have to say for yourself?!" .......Well...It seems I've misjudged the situation a bit.
I struggled to go through in my mind what to do, was she one of those ponies that could dish it that couldn't take it? Normally I loved them, because they couldn't take what I dished, but I would have to change my game plan for a Princess. "Um...I'm very sorry...Prin-"
"AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. You're too easy, Crimsonlight." What?...The different emotions of relief and shock collided as my confusion only heightened...So...she was messing with me...right?
"I....I.....Touche..." I heaved a heavy sigh of relief, happy I wasn't being banished, but not happy about....well, that. "Goodbye." I smiled at Luna, actually rather sad to leave, Luna was interesting to say the least. Hey, maybe Ponyville would be too? Or maybe it would be a near fatal saccharine overdose of friendship.
"Ha, goodbye Crimsonlight. Have fun." Luna laughed, waving a hoof and re-entering her room, shutting and locking it behind her. Off to do some Princess work...Or just think of new ways to scare the wits out of me, I couldn't be sure.
The walk to the carriage yard was long and boring, as long, boring walks usually were. In fact, I somewhat looked forward to the company of the royal guards, to make fun of them. It was very rare that my urge to annoy outweighed by hatred of being annoyed. This was a fun day.
I arrived at the carriage yard, spying a pair of guards waiting patiently by an empty carriage.
One of them turned his head to look at me, a white pega-....Oh why am I bothering, the armour they wear has magical properties to change their appearance. Just another thing to make them all wonderfully boring. "Hey, hurry up! We don't have all day!"
Scratch that patiently part.
"I'm sorry, doorstops." My greeting to them was about as polite as theirs to me. "Was I keeping you? I was just talking to a Princess."
"Yeah yeah, whatever. Just don't be late next time." The same guard continued, his partner taking the wise choice of silence.
I hopped into the back of the carriage as walked their way to the front, latching themselves up, prepared for takeoff. "Well, Luna told me about five minutes ago to be here in five minutes. But if you want to tell her she's most likely open to suggestion about how she should do her job. As the ruler of Equestria. Where you live." Neither of them had an answer for this, they rarely got past the dreaded two sentence mark. And those wh-
"CRIMSON!" Oh come on...
"Who is this?" The guard's said, almost in unison.
"Just wait a second, okay?" I shushed them, somewhat eager to see what Steelhoof wanted, oddly enough.
"No, we're lea-"
"WAIT." I flared my horn, whipping a lightning bolt into the clouds as a warning shot. I'll get told what to do by Princesses, but never the royal guards. "You. What?" I turned back to Steelhoof, leaning over the back of the carriage.
"We just wanted to apologize." Arteus had been hovering above, apparently, as she descended down next to him, surprising me with the sincerity of her words. "After your.....Erm..."
"Fit of rage."
"That." I was helpful. "We realized we had been.....Kind of lazy..." Understatement of the year. "We want to say...." The petite pegasus choked, obviously unwilling to take the next step, finally giving Steelhoof a sharp nudge.
"Sorry." He blurted out, jerking his head up, immediately looking away and lowering his head again, clearly uncomfortable.
"Yeah...I'm sorry too..." Arteus looked down too, scratching at the ground with her hoof....I liked these two. I don't know who they were, but I did know they weren't Steelhoof and Arteus, at least not the two I knew. And that was all I asked.
"Thank you...Your admittance of fau-"
"Can you hurry it up?" He had really bad timing.
"WE ARE HAVING A MOMENT" I screamed in rage as he shied away, all bark, no bite, these royal guards. "......Anyway...Your admittance of fault actually means something....And I admit the fault that I can sometimes be more than a little harsh and over-demanding..." ...Well, all thing considered...I think that went well...I know these types of emotional moments don't involve screaming at a royal guard, but he wouldn't shut his mouth.
"Heh.....Glad you understand..." Arteus gratefully said, sounding like she didn't think I would accept their apology in the first place. The two raised their heads, as Steelhoof seemed taken aback, only just fully noticing the carriage I had been sitting in.
"Hey, where are you going?" Even though we were now...not friends...but not arch nemeses, anymore, I still made note of the slowness of his mind...Hey, I'm not picky. I have a natural dislike for most things.
"Ponyville?" He parroted back at me, this was almost beginning to look familiar.
"Ponyville." This...was uncanny....
"Why? Dragons? Manticore?" Pfft, I wish I was fighting a dragon.
"The elements of harmony." I revealed my actual mission objective, however much I wished it was something else. Nevertheless, this seemed to startle Arteus, as she buzzed her wings and fluttered just before me.
"What? Have they turned evil? Good luck, you'll need it! They took down Discord!" I remember Discord....He was annoying. He turned my bed into a hammock. It was fine at first, but it wouldn't stop bouncing me up and down.
"Don't worry, defending. Not fighting them. No, I don't know what I'm defending them from, fun, huh?" I rolled my eyes, running through my mind once more why I was going to protect the elements but not being told from what...Or, I tried to, before my two restless chauffeurs made their presence known and began rocking the carriage hectically.
"Can we get going? We have a schedule, you know!" The previously silent one broke his vow, stomping his hooves in urgency...Right...I was interrupting their lingering and gossip times. How very urgent.
I turned back to Steelhoof and Arteus, perching my head up on my hoof lackadaisically. "Unfortunately, I do too...So I'll be bidding you two farewell."
"Goodbye Crimson." Steelhoof nodded formally, hey, maybe there was hope after all.
"Yeah, goodbye Crimson. Have fun at Ponyville." How could I not? It was a completely peaceful place full of next to no conflict, that sounds like great fun.
"Goodbye." I flopped back in the carriage, planning to get some sleep on the way, otherwise it would be a very boring trip, and this pair of particular guards had already proven themselves boring. "Okay, you couple of whiny nuisances, LIFTOFF!"
I closed my eyes, getting comfortable on the cushions Celestia had so kindly put in the back of every carriage as I heard the two mumble to themselves, the wind already beginning to roll over me pleasantly as we ascended above the clouds, where the sun's unfiltered glory shined down upon me, it made it pretty easy to ignore them. I shut my eyes, knowing it would only be a matter of time before I drifted off....Only a matter of time...
I woke up some time later, the sound of my two minders laughing hysterically stirring me. I ignored them for a moment, slowly rising and surveying my surroundings. We had dipped below the clouds at some point, soaring in the twain of the thick blanket of clouds and a picturesque canopy of leaves below. The sun, now blocked mostly by the clouds, was still casting it's warming light on my carriage which whistles gently through the skies. Pegasi could be seen soaring above Ponyville, performing various tasks, pushing and pulling clouds to and fro to ensure the sustainable of crops or plants.
"Oh, you're awake then? About time." Nameless grunt #1 spoke up angrily as we began to lower for out final descent. You know, to avoid crashing speedily into some pegasi. That was frowned upon.
I gave myself a quick sarcastic once over. "Yeah, looks like it. Wow, nothing gets past you!"
"You think he'd be a bit more appreciative." Nameless grunt #2 spoke up, using a pretty big word for a royal guard, well done. "I mean, we dragged his lazy flank through the skies for the entire journey, and all he does is complain? We should have ditched him in that lake a while back." Him and his comrade shared a hearty laugh over this, I can't say I partook.
"Haha! Can you imagine the way his whines of pain as he hit the surface? Like a filly crying for milk! WAAAAH!" They both began to scream at eachother, mocking me with every insulting shriek. Little did they know I had already begun formulating my plan of vengeance.
"Yeah, right. Like either of you would drop me in a lake." They instantly turned, furrowing their brows to my challenge of their threats.
"Oh yeah? I'd ditch you right now!" #2 barked out in retaliation...You know, I'm getting tired of numbering them.....
"I doubt it." I replied to Stupidhoof. "You'd probably wimp out and catch me." I continued to rhythmically press Stupidhoof's buttons, successfully, judging by the next thing he said.
"I'll drop you right now and won't bother to look back!" That's right, act irrationally due to your anger. Just like I want you too. "I'll unlatch myself. I'll do it!" He hovered his hoof 'threateningly' over the latch connecting him to the carriage, before his buddy, Flankwing stepped in to fill the role of the voice of reason.
"Don't do anything you'll regret, okay buddy?" He spoke softly, slowly moving his hoof from the latch. "We'll get in trouble with the Princess, just ignore him, he's stupid anyway." Must we resort to name calling?
"I...I guess you're right...Yeah, why should I listen to him, right?" He laughed, thinking he had overcome my mind games. Overcome? No, played into more like.
"....Wow....Just when I thought you couldn't get more pathetic you had to get your somepony to think for you. That's sad." Stupidhoof burst into rage, reaching back and instantly unlatching himself as Flankwing looked in on dismay. The thing about the Princesses carriages is that they're under the same spell as the door to Luna's quarters. Nopony can unlatch them unless they are of equal or greater power then the Princesses. But, being the thoughtful ruler she is, Princess Celestia made it so upon the unlatching of one harness, the carriage loses that enchantment, as that was presumed to be an emergency. Little did she know that years later a bored unicorn on an important mission would use this feature to torment his captors.
Basically, what all of this meant. Was goodbye.
My horn glowed red, unlatching the second harness. "Noooo, what have you done you dolt!" Flankwing shouted to no avail as I waved a mischievous hoof, beginning my plummet.
The pair began to argue back and forth as I sparked up my horn and took control of the carriage, gliding it harmlessly through the thick green canopy. I couldn't hear what they said, but it definitely didn't seem nice, and judging by the fact they didn't dive through the canopy after me they had decided upon the 'go home and grovel to the Princesses' option. That one was never fun.
I leveled the carriage, floating into a clearing, still grinning like a foal imagining the dimwits arguing over who should get the blame. I landed the carriage with no trouble, hopping out and surveying the immediate area, remembering the direction of Ponyville. "Well, looks like I have a nice walk ahead of me. Bye Carriage." I lit my horn once more, picking up the carriage and placing it into a nearby bush. It wouldn't be a very good game of hide and seek unless I hid it after all, now would it?
I looked around myself once more, taking a big lung full of fresh air. This place was nothing short of beauteous, the tall trees glimmered with dripping coats of amber sap, which in turn reflected what little of the suns rays made it through the gorgeous green leaves onto one another, forming a magnificent shimmering effect. The tall grass, wet and glistening with dew blew peacefully back and forth in the tranquil breeze that swept through this luscious promised land, that same tranquil breeze rolled teasingly over my entire body, reinvigorating me in it's cradle.
Yep...This was perfect..
I turned around, a smile across my face, and began to slowly trot to my destination....And I mean slowly....If Luna wasn't going to indulge my curiosity then this couldn't be that bad....right?...A nice, calming walk couldn't hurt. And with the recent apologetic faces of Steelhoof and Arteus coupled with the worried faces of Stupidhoof and Flankwing playing freshly in my mind. I couldn't really get much more soothed than this.
I walked straight ahead, into the midst of the forest, ignoring the nearby dirt path that no doubt lead to Ponyville, more than happy to cut straight through the beautiful forest as I marveled at the sights around me, bathing in the soft gusts of wind still caressing my body. I wasn't used to such beauty, I had been out of Canterlot plenty of times before, but never to this capacity. I was much more likely in some dark cave dripping with cold water, or some vast empty and painfully dull canyon. In fact, I was more likely to have burnt down a place such as this in my past expeditions than appreciate it, and after seeing this up close, that just didn't seem right.
My casual walk, even though I was uncharacteristically quiet, seemed to disturb the local wildlife. , congregating merrily around my hooves or flocking around me. Seeming to be completely fine with not only revealing themselves to an unknown pony in their homes, but even going out of their way to garner that unknown pony's attention...
The little critters, inadvertently, told me a lot about the citizens of Ponyville.
If they were so quick to group up around me, and in some cases, much to my annoyance, perch atop, then that meant the only ponies they had seen in the past had been caring, maybe even having something to offer them in response of their loving demeanour. The only nearby settlement of ponies was, of course, Ponyville. That led me to believe that the Ponyvillians not only frequented this splendid little haven, but were very kind towards, maybe even fostered some of it's inhabitants.
This was all well and good, and I expected nothing less than near-constant blissful joy from a village of ponies who got to live near this wondrous scenery, free from many of life's worries.....But I'd be darned if the constant assault of furry critters wasn't getting on my nerves.
So it was much to my relief, after a lengthy minute or so of begrudgingly being their climbing frame, that the critters adorning me dispersed. Oddly all shooting off in the same direction. Which was very odd for woodland animals, they showed no signs of fear or contempt towards me, they simply all jumped off of me, mobilized from around me and....left...
This piqued my interests, and unearthed an urge to investigate...But should I?....I was on a mission.....Then again, it was a mission in which I had already performed grand theft carriage. What could it hurt?
I trundled on-wards, following a path through the thick bushes my furry friends formerly funneled through.....It hurt to just think that...Quickly becoming aware that it was not what they saw, or heard, but something they smelt. A warm, delightful aroma wafted up my nostrils, the animals that were enclosing me must have smelt it as strongly as I was smelling it now, even from that distance. Curse them and their spiffy sniffers.......I hate accidental tongue twisters.
The tantalizing aroma became more intense as the sound of happy squeaks and chirps became more audible as I pushed through the last of the thick layer of leaves and branches, revealing a small clearing where all of the creatures had formed around a new pony. One bearing treats.
"Oh! Sorry, I...uh....I didn't see you coming...." The diminutive yellow pony shied away from me, hiding behind a combination of her shining pink hair and her woodland friends....So I was right about the Ponies of Ponyville being kind towards the animals....Well, that or she's a crazy forest pony.
"Uhm....It's fine..." What was she sorry for, again? "I just followed where they went...Guess that led me here.....to you.." The pony chose not to reply, instead to cower away with a small, barely audible whimper, leaving a fairly long and fairly awkward pause, in which I was forced to rely on my limited social skills.
"So....What's your name?" Yep, smooth as ever.
"My name is...Flutters-" I blinked in confusion as I couldn't even make out the rest of what the quiet pegasus was making. I did notice her cutie mark though, three butterflies. It would seem she was a good deal more comfortable with the animals.
"Sorry, I didn't quite get that...What's your name?" I pressed again, fearing that I would break her paper thin resolve. That's a great start to a mission, grand theft carriage, wandering aimlessly into the woods and causing a pony to cry...or being attacked by a pony who suckered me in with the scared little mare shtick....Need to keep my guard up.
"My name's Flutters...." Again, her timid nature got the best of her, receding back again. Flutters? What could even follow that? Flutterswoop? Flutterswish? Flutterscared?......That was it, that was most definitely it.
Sometimes, for better or worse, more likely worse, you just have to ditch the soft approach. For better or worse, probably worse. "Okay, seriously. I'm not going to bite. You're not a dragon, are you?" She swiftly shook her head defensively. "Good, that's good. I'm Crimsonlight. I'm headed to Ponyville. Now please, speak up. Just because I'm not taking the gentlest approach doesn't mean I'm going to zap you with a bolt of lightning." I chuckled, attempting to lighten the situation by assuring her that I definitely wasn't going to murder her.
"You can....zap me?...." Oh for the love of....Should have seen that coming...
"I said I wouldn't!" I raised my voice slightly, resulting in her looking like she was about to shatter. Okay, soften the tone, be a good pony. I slowly walked forward, ready to reassure her with whatever...problems she was having.
"I promise I won't. Now please...what's your name?...I'm Crimsonlight. It's nice to meet you." I smiled softly, extending a hoof. Hoping she would respond to this approach.
She smiled back, seeming to get a tad more comfortable when I stopped talking about electrocuting her. Reasonable. "I'm Fluttershy..." FlutterSHY? Darn it. "It's nice to meet you too." The timorous one gently shook my hoof, still very cautious about the situation, but settling into it, which actually made me feel better. Her timid nature and my socially awkward nature meant we were both uncomfortable in the current situation. So, I guess we were both learning!
Another uncomfortable silence.
This time, thankfully, broken thanks to an unexpected source.
A cute, brown flying squirrel scampered up to me, reaching out to give me one of the animal treats Fluttershy had in her satchel. "Oh! I think she likes you!" The yellow pegasus smiled, stepping forward, as did the gift-bearing bundle of joy.
Whilst I wasn't too keen on eating animal food, I didn't want to turn it down, especially since my present company seemed to be something of an animal enthusiast. And that's putting it mildly. "Heh....Thanks....Squirrel...." Lighting up my horn, I grasped the treat, bringing it up into the air. She held onto it tight, being dragged into the air with it, seeming amazed at her sudden development of flight for a few seconds of awe before losing his grip and falling the meager distance down to earth with a squeak.
"Awww, are you okay little friend?" Fluttershy knelt down, patting her on the head, handing over another treat. "While you may want to share you need to eat some too, okay?" She chirped happily, nibbling on the treat, looking at me, instructing me silently to follow suit.
"You know, I really must be heading to Pon-" My excuses were met with a swift kick to the leg from the overly demanding squirrel. "Fine fine, I'll eat it. No need to be like that" I bolstered my resolution with a plan. The plan was, the quicker it goes down, the less of it I can taste. That makes complete sense, no way it would fail.
It didn't work that way.
I immediately coughed it up, frantically spitting out any remnants of the rancid treat and wiping my tongue down with my hooves as everypony....and woodland animal nearby erupted into a cacophony of laughter at my misfortune. Crimsonlight, Blade of Luna, sassed by a squirrel.
"Fluttershy?! Why didn't you tell me?" I choked out through breaths as I furiously scraped the awful taste off of my tongue, which I feared may never be the same.
A hoof rose to her mouth as she giggled at the debacle. "Haha, I'm sorry Crimsonlight, I didn't know. They're only for the animals." She said, with a hint of her own sass. Could we all just stop sassing me?
"Well, just in case you were wondering. They taste bad." Tempting as it was to lick the grass, I fought off temptation. Though it did look very green....Probably taste-No. No licking the grass.
"So....uhm...You said you were headed to Ponyville?" Fluttershy asked as I returned to normality. Never taking candy from a strange animal again.
"Yeah, so? You live there, I presume?" Stepping forward, the same brown squirrel hopped up on my back. Apparently taking a personal like towards the pony she tried to poison. I give this 20 minutes, or until she tries to poison me again.
"Yes, I was just going to my friend Twilight's house after seeing my friends." She lifted the sack up, giving it a couple quick shakes, confirming it's emptiness. "You could come with me, my friend Twilight is very smart. She could help you find your way in town. But...you know....only if you wanted to..." She spoke up, backing away and becoming noticeably more introverted after the proposition. I suppose she became drained after making any form of social advance, retreating back into her shell, so to speak, possibly for fear of being turned down?
My lazy psycho-analysis aside, this was a fairly generous offer. If her friend Twilight was, as she claimed, very smart, she would no doubt be able to help me find the elements of harmony in what I understood was a small, tightly knit town. And if worse comes to worse, then I lose nothing and the walk becomes slightly less lonely as I have somepony to talk to....I was unknown whether she would actually talk, but the point is valid.
"Sure, Fluttershy. I'd be happy to." She faintly smiled, seeming happy to have company for the trip. I scanned the area, as my as of yet nameless squirrel friend, much to my vexation clambered atop my head, acting as an unneeded lookout. Noting the bushes I entered the small clearing from, I remembered the way I was heading and began that way. "So, this is the fastest way. Right?" I figured a little help from the professional, who actually lived in Ponyville couldn't hurt.
Fluttershy knelt down to the animals, adopting a loving, motherly tone...More so than usual. "Okay, little friends. I have to go now, I'll see you again soon. Okay?" The myriad of critters said their goodbyes in a symphony of squeaks and quickly departed. All expect for a white bunny, who stayed by her side the entire time, and, of course, my new best friend.
"Yes...That's the way to Ponyville. But my friend's house is on the outskirts of town. She has a lot of books, she could help you find your way" Books? This would be useful. The elements have kind of shaken things up, no doubt there would be abundant information on them in their home town. "We can take a faster way, if that's okay with you."
"It's fine, lead on." Flapping her wings cautiously, the unstable mare lifted herself cautiously into the air as her bunny friend abandoned ship. Fluttershy looked like an awfully uncomfortable flier for a pegasus, her wings weren't flapping with the vehemence I had seen from most pegasi. She ascended past the treeline, looking back and forth for a few seconds, eventually settling on a direction and landing with the careful grace of a ballerina.
"Okay...Uhm, follow me.." Smiling awkwardly, still apparently quite uncomfortable, Fluttershy walked ahead, carefully trading through the bushes as I followed behind. I pondered whether I should have more of a sense of urgency in me or not. I had wasted a tremendous amount of time on a mission I wasn't completely sure the importance of.....Whatever...My cover story is that the two guards crashed and Fluttershy was being attacked...By this squirrel.
The timid mare shifted her gaze to my furry flank ornament. "So...have you thought of a name for her yet?" The delightful little scamp took part by tapping her feet impatiently on my back.
"Haven't paid it any thought. I'm not the best at naming though, so I guess i'm kind of sparing her from whatever horrible title I could ever dream up." The squirrel in question seemingly wanted to be named, as she sprung from my back to the the top of my head, viciously pounding the top of my head with tiny balled paws....As viciously as a squirrel can.
"I think she wants a name." Fluttershy, ambassador of the obvious, to the rescue once more. Honestly, all pounding on my head was going to achieve was losing the already very unlikely riding privileges for my bushy tailed nemesis.
"If you don't stop hitting me on the head we're going to test just how well squirrels can fly." My empty threats seemed to be rather counter-productive, as she used wisps of my mane to rappel down my face and proceed to give me a squeaky lecture. I knew I should have taken squirrel back at Coltergarden.
Fluttershy took it upon herself to defuse the situation, staring intently at the antagonistic little thing, trying to decode the perfect name. "Angel, do you have any ideas boy?" The white bunny, now known as Angel who was lounging on her back shrugged his shoulders in indifference. Now that's my type of pet. "Okay....How about...Alice?" She didn't care for this name, turning her nose up at it. "Oh...What about Jasmine?" This name got the same dismissive treatment from the increasingly picky squirrel. Fluttershy looked flustered, her nature leaving her feeling put in the hot seat, it seems this squirrel had dominion over both of us.
"Oh, okay...Erm...How...How about-"
"Felicity." I said, as less of a suggestion and more of a statement. Not 'Your name could be Felicity.', but 'Your name is Felicity, deal with it.' I'm a very caring pet owner.
"Felicity? ....That name's pretty...." Fluttershy mused, bringing a hoof to her chin. "How about it girl? Do you like Felicity?"
I'm not sure whether the following happened because 'Felicity' had developed something of a spontaneous, innate bond with me that I was of yet not savvy to, or because the name Felicity was just an amazing name, which it was. But Felicity, in a fine showing of acrobatics, dove off of my back, grabbing a surprised Fluttershy's long, pink hair, swinging to one side with it, before, using the laws of momentum, which I didn't even know squirrels understood, swinging all the way back, leaping off and gliding onto my head.
"That was....impressive...You like Felicity, then?" My answer came in the form of a gentle stroke on the top of the head....Wait, who was the pet again?
"I guess she does..." She snickered, taking note of my pet's excellent acrobatic skills. I've got to say, if she keeps doing that, I might actually come to terms with being her bed.. "So....What do you do for a living? You only told me you were going to Ponyville, you never mentioned why."
I was ready to rear up on my front hooves, chest swelling with pride, mouth carelessly spurting out things I would come to regret, but I managed to reign in my own big headed urge to brag and saved the Princesses a whole lot of hassle. Ponyville's a small town and all, but the odds of THIS pony being an element of harmony? She could barely even speak.
I ran through my mind for possible excuses, most of them were nonsensical, as my mind evidently felt like betraying me. Fashion designer? Me? Yeah, right. I'm nowhere near dramatic enough. Artist? Eh, same reason as the fashion designer. Travelling quill salesman? That's just silly, but where are my wares? What kind of travelling quill salesman goes to Ponyville and doesn't take his quills? Bodyguard? ....That may work...I could spice it up, make it more specific and believable. I'm a special branch of bodyguard, that deals with threats that nopony else ca-.....Wait, I know where I'm going with this....Bodyguard it is.
"Well, I'm a bodyguard. But I'm just going there for a vacation....I heard it was...uh....nice this time of year." I was unsure whether this was convincing, in spite of the face that my lies were usually very convincing, but I doubt it had to be. She would probably just accept it as truth because of how polite she was.
"Oh it is, it's full of nice ponies, and the woods around it! Well, you already know about that. Oh, and the food is delicious! And, and..." Her train of thought came to an abrupt halt, becoming suddenly aware of her unprecedented bout of talking, quickly shifting to her usual bashful self, and shifting the subject along with her. "So....you're a bodyguard? To what? Fashion designers? My friend Rarity is a fashion designer. Maybe you could guard her...if you stay?....."
And then she started pressing. "Erm....Maybe....I don't know, I have pretty good business in Canterlot...." I'm always good with the initial lies, it's when they start pressing that I sometimes run into problems.
"Rarity's been there! Maybe you guarded her whilst she was there?" Wait...Rarity? Rarity Belle? Yeah, she made a pretty large impact, from what I understand. Kind of rocketed to Canterlot's upper class. Not that that's what I preoccupy myself with, pointless gossip. But living in the palace....you overhear a lot of things...For example, Fancy Pants' top hat? Store brought, not tailor made. What now?
"Yeah, I think I have heard of her actually...Never met her though..." I struggled, wracking my brain to ditch the subject. I expected one white lie and home free, not to have to think up a novel on the spot. I was pretty desperate, so it was fortunate that I saw something rather unusual to inquire about.
"Hold on...What is that? Is it a tree or a house?" As odd as that question was, it wasn't complete gibberish. There was a tree in sight, well, we appeared to be walking towards it. But it wasn't a tree, it was a house......Oh Celestia no, I was wrong. Fluttershy, if that's even her name, IS a crazy forest pony and this is where the crazy forest ponies live. Horn at the ready, Crimson. You've trained for this.
"A tree house, it's where Twilight lives." Oh...That's...reasonable...Either way...It seemed to calm my inner anxiety and stop the nervous twitching of my eyes.
As we approached, more than one question came to mind. I just decided to go straight for the elephant in the room. "A tree house?....But that's where little fillies hang out. Why does a 'very smart pony' live in a tree house?...Are we in Ponyville?"
"Uhm....Yes?...." Even the ever painfully polite Fluttershy had to raise an eyebrow to that silly question. Still, you can't blame me. I mean, seriously. A tree house?
"....Okay....Fair enough..." I sighed in relief as Fluttershy knocked daintily on the door. The pitter patter of hoofsteps could be heard on the other side and the faint lavender illumination of a unicorn's magic at work could be seen under the door. All that said, whoever lived here had one hay of a sense of hearing to hear a Flutterknock.
A hurried voice called out from the other side, as the scrambling, erratic footsteps drew closer. "Coming, Fluttersh- Put that down!" Was she fillysitting? The same lavender I saw flaring up under the doorway encased the door, flinging it open, revealing a smiling, purple unicorn.
"Fluttershy, hello! I see you brought a friend! I'm Twilight Sparkle! It's nice to meet you! What's your name?" She extended a hoof of friendship, which I momentarily ignored. Not out of rudeness, but I had noticed something.
It may have been the bookshelves. It may have been the books placed in them. But I recognized this place as a library, THE library. The Ponyville library. The same Ponyville library the princess's understudy was staying at, the same Princess's understudy that was the element of magic.
Nice to meet you too, Twilight Sparkle.
"My name is Crimsonlight, it's nice to meet yo-" As I was introducing myself, I was interrupted, and a little bit of sense was made. The hectic nature of her footsteps, the slight worry in her voice, her order to 'put that down!'.
She WAS fillysitting.
A very uniquely haired, cyan pegasus floated into shot behind Twilight, noticing me and looking a tad confused. "Fluttershy, who's your friend?"
"As I was saying I'm Cri-"
"And who's the pony below her!" The mystery mare, along with Fluttershy and Twilight laughed at my expense. Come on, it wasn't even that funny. Have it your way.
I glanced quickly at my blank hoof, smiling deviously. "I'll give you five...Yeah, five's a good number. Five seconds to take that back." Her brow furrowed in annoyance and confusion, as she looked as though she was trying to figure out my angle. Whatever she thought my angle was, she didn't like it.
"What? Take it back? Who are you?" Her question was greeted with a pretty obvious answer.
"Okay, seriously, the jig is up. Who are you?" She pressed, becoming visibly more perturbed, trying to bargain with me now. An admirable effort, but we were already locked on course.
I scratched my chin, feigning thought to give her false hope before rolling my eyes and giving her yet another predictable answer. "Hmmmm....3."
"Crimsonlight?" Fluttershy whispered from beside me. "Did you...Did you lie to me?" She looked betrayed, and rightly so, whilst I hadn't lied I hadn't been entirely truthful. And I was teasing her friend with that fact. It even almost threw me to see her like that, a look of disbelief in her eyes, disbelief that a stranger would lie so willingly. I didn't like to lie to ponies, not when it wasn't for my own amusement, much less when it was such a fragile innocent as Fluttershy. But it was fine, 3 seconds left, and counting!
Still, I hadn't completely lied to her...I was a bodyguard in a sense. "Erm...It's sketchy, don't worry. Only 3 seconds to go!" I smiled reassuringly, or at least as close as I could to reassuringly, to put her mind at ease. The nameless pegasus? Not so at ease.
"I've had just about enough of your games. Just who are you?" She landed next to Twilight, narrowing her eyes in frustration. This one was pretty quick to jump to anger, we were obviously destined to become fast friends.
"Surely you can wait for another..." I chanced a fast peek at my bare hoof, only quick though, I dare not think what would happen should I take my eyes off this one for more than a split second. "2 Seconds."
Twilight, who had been graciously silent about a complete stranger showing up on her doorstep and provoking her friend decided to speak up. "Okay, that's enough." The element of magic begun sternly. "Crimsonlight, who are you? You've lied to one of my friends, now you're here messing with another? Is there a reason behind you coming here? Were you sent by somepony for some special reason?" If only you knew, and you will!
"Fair enough....1." I giggled, immature, I know, but I couldn't help that one. "...But first...You're the element of magic, Twilight...You two?..."
"Why does that matter?" Twilight asked, confused as to why their status as elements would come into this.
"It just is...Are all three of you elements of harmony?" I asked again, despite her quiet nature, I wasn't even okay with telling Fluttershy should she turn out not to be an element, much less this loud mouthed pegasus.
"Yes." She responded sharply, obviously very curious to see the method behind the madness at this point.
I felt relieved that they were elements, if all of that buildup went down the drain because one of them wasn't an element, I would have felt, and looked quite silly. "Okay...Don't tell ANYPONY else, okay? I'm only telling you all this because you're the elements of harmony, nopony else but us and the Princesses have known this before...Okay?" Twilight leaned forward even more, looking insatiably curious, on tenterhooks about what I was about to tell her. She vigorously nodded my head as I took a deep breath.
"I'm here to guard you." Just kidding.
"Th....That's it?....Nothing....That's it?" She looked incredibly deflated, yeah, as if I was going to give away the existence of an order thousands of years old without the Princesses consent. That's just silly.
"Yeah...That's pretty much it." She lowered her head in defeat. Take that! Unassuming innocent! Fluttershy just seemed relieved, I guess to find out I wasn't really lying after all. The blue hothead? Not being so graceful.
Her face morphed into one of slight annoyance at my presence, to great annoyance...still at my presence. "Why I oughta!" She crouched down, quickly pouncing forth at me, flapping her wings a couple times for extra speed, dead set on the goal of tackling me to the ground. Not quite what I had in mind.
My horn glowed red, lightning shot back and forth across the surface of my body, Felicity jumped from my back, madly scrambling into the house in shock as I activated my lightning aura. Zipping forward past Twilight, I came to a precise halt in the middle of Twilight's library, my would be aggressor came to a tumbling crash next to Fluttershy.
She quickly picked herself up, angry at the notion of being outdone. "How did you do that?!" She screamed in outrage, her ire reaching new levels. Though I doubt she would be pouncing at me again anytime soon.
"It's a neat trick, right?" I smiled mischievously, serving to gall her even more. The pegasi pair walked inside, Twilight magically shutting the door behind them. The element of magic then began to walk towards me, no doubt unimpressed by my little act.
"Hi! My name is Twilight Sparkle, nice to meet you, Crimsonlight!" She smiled cheerily, extending her hoof. Well, that was unexpected.
"Haven't...Haven't we done this?" I grabbed her hoof, shaking it, quickly glancing to the pair behind her. They were just as confused as I am. Lovely.
"Yes. But that didn't go too well, so I'm doing it again. But this time, I will say I don't appreciate you provoking my friend, Rainbow Dash. Even if her joke was rude, it was just that. A joke. So I think you owe her an apology." Well well, Miss Sparkle. I can see why the Princess chose you, the tone, the choice of words, no time wasted, to the point, the way you said them, motherly and authoritative, all not just reminiscent of the Princess, downright mirroring her. Fair enough, I see your point, I'm colt enough to swallow my pride.
She had also granted me the ability to put a name to a face that was almost perpetually scowling at me. "Okay...Rainbow Dash...I apologize." The once aggravated face immediately bobbed out a teasing tongue, ready to rub my face in it.
"Rainbow, be gracious." Rainbow's tongue retreated back past her lips as Twilight turned her tone in her direction, I liked it even better when I wasn't the one getting the tongue lashing! "Now that we're past that...I have some questions." She showed her curious side once more, being the Princesses protege she no doubt had a ravenous lust for knowledge. Which was fine, I admired it, even, and I was happy to oblige. As long as she didn't ask about what I thought she was about to ask about.
"What are you guarding us from?" That.
I sighed deeply, that question that had been on my mind too. "I have no idea. Luna gave me the orders, I say orders. Blind direction."
"...Oh...Okay then....That's odd." Couldn't agree more, Miss Sparkle. "One more....What was that....Thing you did? When you dodged Rainbow?"
"Oh, you mean when he cheated?!" The blue mare spat out pettily, cheated at what? Life? I had bent reality itself at my whimsy just to dodge a tackle from a stranger? Sure, why not?
I scoffed at that notion, if only. "It's a unique ability." I didn't know if anypony else could pull it off, and I hadn't went out and shook the hooves of everypony in Equestria quite yet, but I hadn't seen any other unicorns do anything even close to it, so why not take the chance to graciously toot my own horn?
"It allows me to accelerate to great speeds, and shields me from a degree of harm. It works like a cushion, I can still get cut just the same, but any kinetic impacts are lessened." I spared no detail, mainly because she had actually gotten a quill and notepad. I might be in a book!
"Very...very interesting....So....the lightning you cover yourself in and leave trailing behind you, is it?..."
"Purely residual. No harm to the touch." She happily writ up a few more lines and stowed her notepad somewhere safe. Not even one page on her notepad?....Oh well, every book starts small...
She looked back at me, seeming to study me. I was interesting, I know, but lets keep it strictly business. "Okay...Well, I've got some stuff to do! Can I trust you all to get along now?" Her question was met with a sharp not from Fluttershy and a pair of lazy, barely compliant ones from me and Rainbow Dash. Perish the thought we have things in common. "Okay...Well...I'll see you all later. Call if you need me!"
And with Twilight's departure, came the departure of all conversation. Leaving the air in the room tense. The silence hung for a brief few seconds, before I decided to pony up and speak the first words.
I turned my eyes to the pony who I'd met in the forest, and in the running for my longest friend to date. "So, Fluttershy....Sorry for lying, I didn't know if you were an element oh harmony....We're cool, right?" I walked towards the pair, Angel hopping off of Fluttershy's back, scurrying away, probably in search of my missing squirrel, Felicity.
"Yeah....We're cool." She smiled back at me, keeping it short and sweet. I doubt I would have such luck with the other one.
"And how about us...We friends?" Obviously I didn't really want a yes, anything more than an indifferent nod would be too much.
"I guess." Yeah, too much , but it'll do. "But...one thing..." Oh boy, what gem did she have for me now?
"I don't think I even want to know." I rolled my eyes, Rainbow falling once more into a pout. "Fine, fine...What is it?"
"You're not faster than me." That's it? No conditions, no anger, just a statement. An incorrect statement, but a statement. Okay, that could have gone a lot worse.
Judging from seeing her speed earlier, though, it would have been close. I had a distinct advantage in that environment of reaching top spear near immediately, but over a prolonged race...Tough to call, she's no Arteus, but she's definitely got some speed. But still, telling her that would give her confidence, confidence she could rub my face in, so there was only one answer.
"What do you mean 'nope'?!" She jumped onto all four hooves, looking ready to prove herself by tearing around Twilight's library. "I'll race you right now, let's go!" Why did I have to jinx it?
"I'm kind of on duty. Guarding YOU." This wasn't enough for her, she flapped her wings, taking herself into the air. Curse my talent.
She didn't look ready to back down. Ever. "Come on, you scared?" ....Calling my guts into this? You have my attention.
"Dragons don't scare me, why would you?" I stepped up to the mark, coming inches from her face, Fluttershy cowering away. Twilight might be getting called. "Y'know what? I will race you." She reared back to hoof pump, sheathe that hoof, my friend. "Not now...I'm still on duty. Some day, I'll prove that I'm faster than you. Just be ready."
I extended my hoof to her, hoping she would shake it if for no other reason to end this nonsense. "....Deal." We locked eyes, Rainbow grabbing my hoof....Wait, did we just develop a competitive respect for one another? Darn it! This better not be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Rainbow smiled at me in what may have been respect, and oddly enough, I began to settle into this environment. Kind of. And in theme with the rest of the day, just as some footing was found, a wild card was thrown in! Three quick knocks came to Twilight's front door.
"Oh, who could that be?" Fluttershy delicately flapped her wings, floating over to the doorway, grabbing the handle and welcoming a friend inside. "Oh, hello Applejack!"
"Hey there, Fluttershy!" The orange mare spoke up with a strong accent, Mareissippian if I'm not incorrect. She was an earth pony, not surprising, most ponies with direct ties to that part of Equestria are earth ponies, as most of that part of Equestria are earth ponies. Either way, she turned her attention to me, the foreign object in the room. "Oh, sorry, ah didn't see ya there! Who're you?"
"Crimsonlight, it's a pleasure." I nodded my head, a scarce 24 hours and I went from bowing to Princesses to a pony that still had some dirt on her hooves. It's a funny world.
"He's here to guard us!" She yelled out, knowing full well the fright I would get as she disclosed information to a pony that, for all I knew, could be as far a cry from an element of harmony as I am. Good move, kid.
"Guard us? What's there to guard us from here?" I feared that wouldn't be the last time I heard that, or some other iteration of those words.
I sighed, wanting to bury my face in my hooves. Rainbow Dash, the Steelhoof of Ponyville. I suppose that's kind of harsh, I didn't even have a headache, if she were Steelhoof, I'd be on my way to a nosebleed. "I really don't know, but you are an element of harmony, right?"
She looked at me like I had a screw loose, I could sympathize. A lot of information, no real context. Curse you Luna. "Yeah.....Why?"
"Then she's right, I am here to guard you." She pondered this for a moment. Ponder all you like, my dear, you'll get no closer to a granule of truth than me. Either way, I decided to distract myself with a little game. Guess the element.
"So, Twilight is the element of magic, right?" Applejack looked up at me, nodding. That leaves loyalty, kindness, generosity, laughter and honesty. Lets see if I'm still as good as ever. "Okay....Fluttershy, you're obviously kindness. Rainbow, I have no idea what you would be, there isn't an element of annoyance." Applejack giggled at my mockery, common ground! "And Applejack, you're.....Honesty!"
"Twi' tell you?" I shook my head, Celestia didn't raise no cheater. "Then how'd ya know?" Good question, and totally not one I'm only answering for a reason to show off.
"Well, Fluttershy, you're role as kindness is obvious, the way you treat the animals gave that much away." Fluttershy smiled, bobbing her head silently, remaining completely in character. It was a split between generosity and kindness for her, but it wasn't really what she gave the animals, it's was how she treated them. Kindly. "And Applejack, you're a farmpony, your accent is that of a region of farmponies. I'm also going to go out on a limb and say you work on an apple farm?"
"How'd ya figure that one out?" Applejack sardonically replied, tapping her cutie mark. Three apples.
"Blind guessing. Anyway, being a farmpony, you're raised hardworking, and honest. Honesty." Deductive reasoning, how I love thee.
"That was...impressive! Where'd you learn all that?" Applejack took her hat off for a second, letting her hair escape and flicking it about the place. If I'd noticed it sooner, the neatly tied ponytail would have been a giveaway too. Neatly tied to keep it out of her eyes whilst she worked.
"Yeah? Bet ya can't guess me!" Rainbow folded her hooves challenging me to decode her as I did the rest. And she was right, I couldn't definitively figure her out. But I could guess.
"Loyalty." She obviously wasn't generosity, and laughter is a little bit of a stretch. Given, she wasn't loyal to me, but I'm not her bestest best buddy. So it's plausible.
"How'd you know?!" The immediate gratification I got from her sudden outburst was enough to tell me I was right. But a good detective pries.
"So....Applejack....She's loyalty, right?" Applejack, who was laughing along with Rainbow, who seemed to actually be taking this in good jest, that's nice to see, nodded, affirming what I already knew. Three for three so far. How hard could a perfect score be?
"Don't worry Rainbow, Pinkie will be here soon. You can probably play a prank on him with her!" There was another one like her? Celestia help me. Sure as the potted plant was shaking aggressively back and forth behind me I'd need assistance with another Rainbow Dash.....Wait....What?
I turned around slowly, wondering why on earth a potted plant could be shaking at this time of day. I wondered, could this have some correlation to the danger that caused me to be sent here in the first place? The pot came to a standstill, stopping it's entrancing dance abruptly, as if it never started moving of it's own volition....Strange...Everypony stared, waiting for an answer to it's odd behavior. And we got one.
"Hey everypony! Did somepony say my name?" An ecstatically smiling pink pony rocketed out of the pot, which showed no signs of damage, despite not being close to large enough to contain her. She landed next to her entryway, not a spec of dirt in her fluffy mane, or anywhere on her body, still smiling enthusiastically, not caring about all the laws she had just broken. I, too, chose to for the most part ignore the laws she had just broken, not because of blissful ignorance. Just because I like my sanity.
And before I could open my mouth, she was putting me through the wringer. "Ooh, who are you? I'm Pinkie Pie! Where do you come from? Why are you here? How are you?" I shrank away as the pink peril barraged me with question after question. All the while, my mind, despite my specific instructions not to for it's own sake, still scratching blindly at any valid explanations at how long she had been in, or just how she had gotten into that darn pot. Was it a trick pot?
A much welcomed Southern accent made itself clear, speaking over Pinkie's incessant ramblings to become my savior. "Now now, Pinkie. I'm sure y'all will get the chance to ask all the questions ya want later. But now, I think you're scarin' him."
She was definitely scaring me.
"Scaring me? No, it's fine." I feared the brave face I was falsely wearing would betray me, but it seemed to hold. "My name is Crimsonlight. I come from Canterlot and I'm here to you, and the other elements of harmony from an unknown threat. And I'm fine, thank you."
Her unfiltered stream of words stopped momentarily, she tilted her head, processing what I had just told her. Yeah, like she was the one that needed time to process the situation. It's definitely NOT a trick pot. "Oh...Okay!"
Rainbow Dash floated over, which was even slightly relieving. More ponies near me equals less time talking to the scary pink one specifically. "So...How did you know SHE was an element?"
"Oh come on, the way she is, everything about her screams unfettered joy. She's laughter." Pinkie, of course, laughed at this blithely. Hopping on the spot a few times elatedly at my acknowledgement of her cheery aura. Turning back to the pot.
"Thanks! Hey, do you want a cupcake?" And just as my mind was forcibly forgetting the pot incident, she reached back in there, producing a completely spotless, dirt free tray of cupca-....Sorry, not cupcakes. Burnt messes, one of which had part of a spoon protruding from it. Okay, that's it. Goodbye sanity. I need some air.
I gulped, the mere thought of eating those....those things nearly causing my throat to lacerate itself to save me the trouble of having to shove those things down it. "No...No thanks Pinkie. Actually, I think I'm going to go outside, grab some air. Okay?"
"Okay." She nonchalantly said, throwing one of her cupcakes into the air, it falling back down into her mouth as she swallowed it whole. Wait, shouldn't she be spitting up blood right abou-You know what, never mind. I'm going outside.
I lit my horn, swinging the door open, not at all hesitant to step outside and regain my composure. Not that I thought that it would last long with the vibrantly coloured wizard in there. I shut the door quickly, turning my head to the town. It was a quaint little place, even the market, which I could vaguely see from my post lacked the hustle and bustle of even Canterlot's quieter sections. The sun, of course, ever vigilant in it's perch high above the land, though judging by the slight darkening of the sky it looked as though it would be relieved of it's duties in a few hours time by Luna's equally luminescent orb.
Just how long did those two morons take to chaperon me?
The day had been a long one apparently, but until now I never quite realized HOW long. Oh well, all the more energy to guard these ponies with. Not that I'd need it, this place looked about as dangerous as a declawed kitten. Not a dragon for mi-My teeth immediately clenched down on my tongue in shock. No sooner had I thought it than I had jinxed it. A dragon.
Given, he wasn't very old. And he seemed to be chauffeuring an elegant looking pony around the market stalls. Hurriedly carrying luggage back and forth, darting around to keep up with her voracious appetite for the trinkets the stalls offered. The pony he was escorting, or should I say chasing, was obviously very fashionable. Not a strand of hair misplaced on her refined visage, it wouldn't shock me were it to be revealed the poor little guy was carrying a ton in accessories in those bags. Look at me, sympathizing with a dragon, oh how small town life has changed me.
She scanned each stall for a few seconds before moving on, more willing to merrily peruse the stalls as opposed to actually spending her hard earned money. And judging by her appearance and cutie mark, three diamonds, she likely earned her money in the business of fashion. Wait, didn't Fluttershy say her friend, Rarity was a fashion designer? And the dragon, why would she have a dragon? The Princess's protege, Twilight Sparkle has a dragon, though. She's a friend of at least two elements, then. Could she be the final element? The element of generosity? It would be fitting, being a fashion designer, and one that made quite the impact in Canterlot, she probably has a lot to give.
Whilst caught up in my train of thought, I hadn't noticed that she, and the dragon, had walked up to me. "Oh, hello! Are you a friend of Twilight's? I don't believe we've met before! My name is Rarity, and you are...?" She politely said, extending a hoof.
"No, we haven't, but I have heard of you. Rarity Belle." Her face lit up, her polite, delicate smile turning into a rapturous grin spanning her face as she grabbed my hoof from the ground, shaking it violently.
"That is I! Rarity Belle! Ponyville's resident fashionista! May I ask how you heard my name? Or...what you want of me?" She stood on edge, overjoyed at the prospect of a complete stranger seeking her out based on her fame and skills, and possibly offering her a very lucrative deal. No such luck, I'm afraid.
"I come from Canterlot, word gets around pretty quickly over there." She squeaked happily at her level of fame, I took this window to pull my hoof from her vice like grip. "I'm not her on fashion business, though. I'm here to guard you." Risky, I know, I didn't even know if she WAS an element, but it very much seemed so, and I was tired of asking that question.
The mirth washed from her face, replaced by confusion. "Guard...me?....Why?"
"Well, not you specifically. I'm here to guard all of the elements of harmo-"
"Well, we're fine! Whatever comes this way, I can guard Rarity from!" The baby dragon dropped his bags, showing himself to be just as green at the gills as he was purple, lashing out in envy due to the small talk I had with the pony he clearly coveted. "You can go back to Canterlot, big shot!" Maybe I should run down my kill count of his ilk.
"Spike, please. If he is here to guard us then there must be something wrong. Pray tell, what IS wrong?" She immediately silenced Spike, who dropped to the ground grabbing a gem out of one of the bags, wolfing it down and pouting. I'd seen pouting enough today to know that he didn't like me.
At least when she said 'us' I knew Rarity was indeed an element. Five for five. "I don't know. That's the proble-"
Then, Rarity showcased fashion ponies legitimate talent....Other than fashion. Completely ignoring sounds, par those out of their own mouth. "Oh my, I simply must tell the girls!" She squealed in urgency, flinging the door open and leaping inside dramatically, more enthralled with having the latest gossip with...You know, the potential threat to her safety.
I turned around, sighing. I wasn't ready to face Pinkie again. I hung my head low, ready for the friendship, when I felt a sharp tug to my tail from a clawed hand.
"Look, pal. I don't know your angle, but you stay away from Rarity, okay?! I was here first!" The angry little dragon fumed, nearly foaming at the mouth, leaving me standing there as he picked up his bags, and hobbled off inside. It's rare that I'm completely confused, but today seemed to be a day of firsts...and seconds...and Celestia knows how much more.
I magicked the door open as quietly as possible, hoping Rarity extravagant attitude would make her the focal point of their attention long enough for me to hide under a table. I should have learned by now.
"Hey Crimsonlight!" Pinkie beamed at me, shoving her tray of volcano baked goods into my face.
"Want a cupcake?!"
Celestia help me.