Dusk was setting in as two seemingly normal stallions were entering a seedy almost rundown watering hole in the middle of nowhere. Each coming from a different direction, but it was very clear that both came there with only one thing in mind. Meeting each other for whatever reason they might be having. The place almost was nearly empty except for a few gruff looking ponies. All of them looking like they had more than their share of run-ins with the guards of the surrounding villages. But none were to surprise about the arrival of these strangers. Even the bartender did not look surprised. For he knew, many a 'noble' came to the Sun`s Plot for only one reason. Business even more seedy then his own tavern.Business that should never see the light of day.
Taking seats in a shadow filled corner the stallions acknowledged each other’s existence for the first time with a simple smirk in the direction of the other. One golden yellow Pegasus, with a white mane, facing a deep purple unicorn with a light blue mane. Silence reigned for a moment only to be broken to order a bottle of brandy with two glasses.
A few glasses were being drunk without any word being spoken. But their body language spoke more words then all the books in the Canterlot royal library had combined. The third glass was being poured by the Unicorn as he spoke softly, not wanting to draw attention to the coming conversation. “It has been to long my old friend. But as you can guess I have not called you here for pleasantries.”
The Pegasus cocked an eyebrow at the words and simply shrugged. “Of course not, we both have full agenda's. So in that light I would like to ask you to cut to the chase.”
The smirk turned into a full-fledged grin as the deep purple stallion started speaking. He spoke about how he had found a set of ancient texts containing codes of conduct for the court. Many about mannerisms and very old fashioned dress codes for certain more bloody events. He knew these trivial matters bored his companion out of his skull, Pegasi never were known for their patience or sense for dramatics.
The Unicorn had spoken for a full 10 minutes when he dropped the last topic, something to do with how to react when your daughter is placed in the royal harem or something like that. The winged stallion could almost feel his mind slipping into sleep with every passing second. Eyelids almost closed completely when the voice across from the table stopped and simply stated “And that brings us to the last piece of parchment I found. A contract of sorts, one of which I’m sure that can benefit us both.”
A contract? What is so damned important about a scrap of paper that he had to be dragged to a filthy place like this? He signed and created those flimsy things by the hundreds every month. The yellow Pegasus almost snapped had the Unicorn not produced said document itself with the words “Read it, and I am sure you can understand that it might solve the problem of usefulness from certain family members of ours.”
The parchment was old, older then the city of Canterlot itself if the spelling and dating seal were any indication. The ink was almost completely run, deteriorated by the sands of time and neglect. But it still could be read. It contained a lot of meaningless formalities and clauses, but the core was understandable even for one untrained in the speech of law.
By royal decree of the desks of both sun and moon,
By rights of word and by claims of old we, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna decree the following to be true and right.
Through careful consideration of claim and mutual understanding made by the lord of house........... And house............. we concur and accept the terms negotiated as lawful and just.
We acknowledge the right of marriage between …..... And …....... as was made by arrangement
to be completed on the day after the first new moon of the gentle warmth period.
The parchment had there under two places where the names of the so-called House Lords should be placed and right underneath those were two almost decayed wax-seals bearing the royal emblems of the sun and the moon.
The Unicorn now grinned maliciously knowing full well his friend thought exactly what he thought.
They had discussed the matter time and time again. He himself was childless, but that did not matter to him. He was the heir of an ancient noble house. One directly descended from the Platinum line. Albeit there were many of those, but not many were still doing as well as his. His sister had married a commoner and had giving birth to a colt and filly. But they had cut ties with him, called him all kinds of names and accused him of throwing away the families-fortune.
True, he had some setbacks early on in life. But now he was booming, his gamble in crossbows, cannons and airships had paid off. Especially since those ordeals with Nightmare Moon, Discord and those pesky emotion leeches which were called Changelings. Anypony with a little money wanted to prepare for another event like those. He had more wealth than ever before.
But that did not help a single bit; his youngest niece had become a disgrace to the family name. Her brother had made name in the guard. But she, such a promising mare she had been. Smarter then all of the court combined, and a real gift for magic last time he had heard of her. She was destined for greatness as he saw. Destined to be one of the greatest minds in the court. Under his hoof of course. But no, she had forsaken her lineage and goddess given gifts, and for what? A shoddy library in some backwater earth pony town. If word would come out, he would be the laughingstock of the entire upper class!
His winged companion was not better off. He, a conglomerate of great importance. He was the owner of some of the largest weather factories of Cloudsdale. A strong example of a son. A member of the Wonderbolts, their vice-captain no less. But no businesspony that was sure, way too casual and careless. But still someone to be proud off. His youngest daughter however, if he could get away with disowning her he would have done so ages ago. The damned filly could not even look someone in the eye, let alone run his weather-empire. Ooh no, she would shy away from confrontation, for she might actually hurt somepony’s feelings. He still thanked everything he thought to be holy that she had moved to some hillbilly village years ago. Something to do with being closer to her Cutie Mark or something. He didn't remember the details nor did he care for it.
So with a large grinning smirk he looked at the Pegasus in front of him “And before you ask, yes I have checked; the seals are official. It is the real deal.”
A toothy grin told the Unicorn everything he needed to know. They were on the same level. True, it was unorthodox but a bit of open mindedness had never hurt anypony. Sure they would get strange looks, but at least those deadbeats would be useful. Money for one, a title for the other. Perfect for all parties involved. Well not all parties, but at least the ones that mattered would get what they wanted.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
A few days later both stallions walked out the palace. Shaking on their legs and pale as a ghost, but smiling none the less. It had worked, the arrangement had been fully authorized and not even those dandy princesses could do anything about it. Their little contract had made sure of that. But still what transpired in the throne room had shaken them quite a bit.
Approaching the thrones with both regal alicorns had been some of the most nerve wrecking things both of them had done in years. The Unicorn thought it to be even worse than confronting his sister about what he had done. Damn that mare had a powerful voice; his ears were still ringing from all that shouting. But that had been nothing compared to what his nephew had in store for him. They still trained those guards way to well, that and the still visible hoof prints on his flanks were all he was he said to say about it when the Pegasus asked how it went on his part.
The pegasus had no trouble at all. His son was away for some show tour, so he could not stand guard over his little sister. And his wife had been all too thrilled with the prospect of becoming a lady. She already was daydreaming about the next tea-time with her little posh friends. Telling them that she in the very near future would become Lady Glimmershine. Like it was with him, to her getting rid of that little winged bit of shame was just an added bonus.
The entire ordeal had gone just as planned; the royal mares had no chance of objection. They were bound by that ancient piece of parchment. They had to give their approval. Even without consent of both ponies involved. But what happened at the last minute would be something to haunt their nightmares for ages to come.
Celestia, her ever friendly smile had faded as the alabaster Alicorn approached them. Her sister looked straight at them as well, a gaze that would turn a Cockatrice to stone. But that was not their primary concern. The princess in front of them was. Her voice, cold enough to freeze over a volcano her gaze so fierce that if Discord would have been subjected to it he would have immersed himself in quick drying cement in order to escape it.
“Listen to me, and listen well. I do not approve of this at all, but my hooves are bound by the law. But mark my words, if you involve yourselves more then you already did in these mares lives. I swear by the sun itself. There will be no place for you to hide, no place to run to at all. I will end you in ways not even the most twisted mind I had the displeasure of meeting throughout the millennia would be able to come up with. Only to find a way to revive you and do it all over again. Am I making myself clear?” The regal mare looked at the stallions in front of her, just nodding. “Good, now leave. You're mere presence is making me sick.”
Still shaking, they nodded to each other. Confirming that yes, they just had been threatened by Princess Celestia. And to say until next time we meet, since they both had letters to write.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
That evening sobbing could be heard from two places in the small village of Ponyville. Inside the library a lavender unicorn was crying her heart out comforted by the shoulder of a small dragon. Who could do nothing as the young mare collapsed in a pile of misery? Muttering about her life and dreams being snatched away, about being torn away from the friends she had made only about two years ago.
At the edge of the village in a small cottage near the forest, a butterscotch yellow Pegasus was in a similar state. Softly crying into her pillow as a white rabbit gently patted her back, as if to say that everything would be alright. But she knew it would never be alright. She would never get the chance to express her feelings to the one she had harbored feelings for ever since that fateful day had they met. She knew she would now never know if the feelings she had treasured all that time had been mutual.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
It had been a few hours after both he and Cadence had arrived at his parents’ house. He had been given some time off from duty to assist his sister in this troubled time. He had expected to see her a bit glum, after al it was not every day you were told your uncle singed an inescapable contract that forced you to marry a complete stranger.
It was not unheard of in the upper circles, a arranged marriage. Many of those stuck up nobles made deals amongst themselves. In their eyes it was to keep the nobles noble, and the riffraff out of their circles. But this contract, it was something else entirely. Normally a direct family member such as a mother or brother could intervene and stop the arrangement. And if that failed a plead to the princesses would do the trick. In his early career as a guard he had seen both happen countless of times. But even the highest authority, the princesses themselves, could not stop this from happening.
All of this was the cause of one stallion, who was now grinning like a madman as he was sipping on some wine in front of the fireplace. The gods themselves knew how much the captain restrained himself from simple smacking that grin of his uncle's face. Only his wife and the sight of his sister were stopping him.
Twilight, his little Twily. He had been so happy to see her joyful face during his wedding. A mare filled with life. He could not have dreamed of a better thing for her. She had friends who cared for her, no matter how awkward or bookish she was. Her life was definitely be on the high road to the best it could be. But now, one selfish act had taken that away.
She had not moved an inch from her spot in that corner. He had seen her look in his direction as he came in. Eyes that were once vibrant and full of expression were now dull and missing their usual spark. At the few intervals she actually had opened they had just stared into oblivion.
And all the time, not even once had her voice been heard. All that could be seen was a broken mare, one that had given up on everything and just accepted her fate.
Spike had been more helpful, he had explained how Twilight had been searching for days and nights in large dusty law tomes. Almost not even eating and more than once had collapsed on the floor due sheer exhaustion. But not even her usually so sharp mind had been able to find a loophole. On the seventh day, the day she would meet her husband to be, the baby dragon had found her in her bedroom. Tears that had been flowing richly since receiving the letter had stopped, the frantic glow her eyes always had when trying to solve a difficult problem was gone. She had just sat there staring out the window with her head down. Not even responding to anything, not even the scent of her favorite breakfast or the pleas of her number 1 assistant.
It had broken his little heart to see the mare, which had raised him from hatching, in this state. There had been no more energy left in her to fight, not a ounce of willpower to force some movement into her body. Her mind and soul seemed to have been completely shattered, not even the foul corruptive magics of Discord had been able to affect her this much.
Time had passed slowly for the Sparkles, the glum atmosphere made sure that the waiting was excruciating. Their 'honorable' guests had been late for almost two hours by now. But Bright Shine had not removed his gleeful smirk. The contract could not be broken, not even by one of the signing parties; doing so would mean that all possessions of the breaking party would go to the other. Including his life and his family’s lives. So there was no way either side would break it. But he did begin to worry a bit; surely the flight from Ponyville would not take this long? It was only an hour or so by train. As his mind started wondering about possibilities the doorbell rang.
Bright Shine simply walked over to the door and opened it, expecting to see his friend. But he only saw two ponies. A bright blue stallion with a dark blue mane and a winged lightning bolt as a Cutie Mark standing protectively in front of a smaller butterscotch yellow mare, whose face was hidden by a long flowing pink mane. He was about to say something when the Pegasus stallion spoke” Lord Bright Shine I presume?”
The unicorn just nodded, wondering what exactly was going on.
Meanwhile in the dead silence of the living room 4 of the 5 ponies and the single dragon present peaked their ears trying to listen to the conversation following the question. Only to be surprised by a noise eerily resembling the crunching sound of a hoof being forcefully introduced to a jaw and a loud thud.
Sighing the two remaining stallions stood up and walked towards the door to see what was going on.
Two jaws dropped when the scene in front of them became obvious. Their brother-in-law / uncle lay on the floor unconscious and a Pegasus with flared wings staring with intense anger at them. At least that was until Shining armor spoke with a calm voice that showed a bit of mirth. “Lieutenant Soarin’, care to explain why exactly you decided to knock out my uncle?”
The Pegasus visually relaxed, but still remained in front of the other. Shrugging his shoulders “He had it coming” was the only reply.
The captain simply looked at the other for a moment before simply smiling. “I guess he did, now help me get that damned idiot to the living room. Even though he deserves it, we can’t just let him lying there.”
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Minutes later the group was sitting in the living room, all with a generously filled glass of wine. All except for the yellow mare who had been sitting beside Twilight attempting to somehow get a response as she nudged the lavender mare and spoke in a soft and gentle voice. As if she was coaxing a young animal to come out of an unsafe place.
There hung a uncomfortable silence in the room once again, except for the soft whispers coming from the corner. At least until Soarin' spoke up again. “I think I owe you an explanation to why our parents are not here for this joyous event.” He had almost spat out those last few words. With a foul look towards the still unconscious stallion he continued. “Let’s just say he is the lucky one, we were late because I first had to drop my mother and father of at the Ponyville hospital.“
It had been early morning as the Wonderbolt had met up with his parents in order to 'collect' his younger sister. He had been absolutely furious when they told him. How could they be so callous to their own daughter like that? How could they just treat her like some object to be used and then discarded when it outlived its usefulness. He had taken the day off, purely to make sure they did not make this mess any worse than it already was.
Finding her had been easy, when they arrived at her cottage she had been laying on her couch still sniffling. Rather than simply comforting her their father had proceeded by dragging her outside by the tail. Grumbling all the way towards their carriage. But right after pushing the poor thing he had scolded them on their treatment. He had a whole lot more to say when he could see 5 shapes coming out of the forest.
5 of the largest Timberwolves he had ever seen were drawing towards them. Well they lived in the Everfree so a sighting of them was rare but not completely unheard off. But what did strike him as odd were two things.
1) Timberwolves would almost never come towards civilization. They lived way to deep in the forest. And they avoided direct contact with Ponies unless their nests were being threatened.
2) The leading wolf seemed to have a white tuff of fur on its head, a tuff roughly looking like a small bunny.
As the wolves rushed closer it became obvious the tuff of fur was in fact a small bunny. One with a clear vision in mind, a vision which could be guessed by the fact it pointed one of its paws towards the Pegasi.
The next thing he remembered was being spoken to by one of the hospitals nurses. Speaking to him, about his luck that he had come off with just a few scratches. As well that his parents were stable, although they had sustained severe injuries and lost a lot of blood.
It did not matter much, they were stable and would heal. Served them right, but he knew he had to get his sister to this house in Canterlot. Because of if he did not do that, certain dire consequences were attached. Consequences he would rather not think about.
“And that is why our folks are not here with us. From what the nurse told me its somewhat of a unwritten law that you should never make my sister cry. But being the timid little thing she is, it occasionally happens. The nurse told me they were still patching up a griffin who was assaulted by a couple of Manticores. Poor thing would most likely spend the rest of her life in rehab for what I’ve been told.”
((Authors notes: I am currently searching for a editor or a pre-reader for this chapter and future ones. Interested, just pm me and we will work it out))
Fluttershy`s heart seemed to go berserk as she approached the rather large mansion. Here she would meet her future husband, the one she was forced to spend the rest of her life with. She hoped he would be nice and nice to her animal friends as well.
A revelation hit her, what if he didn’t like animals? What if he forced her to move to this large city? Never to see her little friends ever again! A single teardrop formed at the thought, only to be prevented from falling by the gentle hoof of her brother.
The blue stallion looked at her, a reassuring look in his eyes. A look that said it all, all that would ever be needed to be said. Those piercing blue eyes told her he would be there for her. That he would always remain there to help her in anyway he could. Though he could not do anything at all about the situation.
Lost in thought she had not noticed that the door was opening. The sound of a breaking jaw snapped her out her own little trance. A rarely seen glimmer of rage sparkled in her brothers eyes. On the floor in front of him lay a purple unicorn. Something about this stallion seemed familiar. Perhaps it was the build, or perhaps it was the color.
Mind racing to place this awkward feeling of knowing this stallion but not quite being able to place him. Fluttershy never saw or heard the door towards the living room open. A soft but stern voice spoke. Her two bright blue eyes looked up from the unconscious form in the hall way. There they met the visage of a pure white stallion. One she knew to be Twilight’s older brother; Shining Armor.
Was this Twilight’s parental house? Was that stallion her father? No, no that wasn’t it, for what she knew of her friends father his coat was bluish.
“Lieutenant Soarin’, care to explain why exactly you decided to knock out my uncle?”
Uncle? That explains why he seemed familiar; she must have seen him during the wedding.
The next few moments went by in a blur of mixed emotions. In the living room there had been no other stallions then Shining Armor, this Bright Shine figure, Twilight’s father and Soarin'. But for what she had figured from her father and the letter she was given to somepony of her own age. Not an old fart like that Lord Bright Shine.
Still looking for her husband to be, she saw one of the most heartbreaking views she had ever seen. There in the furthest corner lay a familiar lavender Unicorn. Her head was resting on the forelegs and she appeared to be simply staring out the window in front of her.
Fluttershy simply stared for a moment at her usually so lifelike friend, only to see that nearly all life had left the mare. Unresponsive to the world outside, not even reacting when the shy Pegasus called out to her. Without a second thought, Fluttershy had walked over and placed herself on a pillow next to Twilight. Gently nudging the Unicorn and whispering kind words, all in an attempt to aid her heartbroken friend.
About half an hour Twilight’s mother had explained the situation her brother had forced both families in. During the entire speech the elder mare had not let her vision dwindle from either Twilight or Fluttershy. After explaining the how her brother had come across the contract during his work as researcher in the royal archives she sighed. “And that is when this crazy plan started taking form. A marriage between my little Twilight and Miss Fluttershy. And for what he told us, your father seemed very eager to assist with his part. Shine always had a way with convincing others for his tricks. On behalf of my family I would like to apologize for this whole mess.” Her voice had been sincere, but the sad undertone told that she was even sorrier for not discovering this travesty before it could have come to pass.
Fluttershy looked at the still motionless mare next to her. She and Twilight? At least she knew her new mate. But still she couldn't say that she was very comfortable with the idea. Especially since it would mean disclosing her greatest secret with said mate. A secret she had sworn never to reveal again after that fiasco during flight school. The secret that her barn door was defective. At least that was what she had been told when she confessed to her very first crush and what had started the years of torment until Rainbow had come into her life.
A tear fell at the thought of her oldest friend, that poor mare had always been harassed. Because of her tomboyish behavior and unique mane it was easily to amuse that she had been a fillyfooler. How would she react to this news? With a small very quiet sniffle she asked herself ‘what would all of their friends say? Would they be accepted? Would Twilight accept her once she knew?’
In her heart a small voice told her everything would be alright, but experience told her something different. And drawing from that painful memory the voice in her mind grew ever louder. Creating an all too clear vision of her future.
Tears slowly fell at the thought of losing the few friends she had because of something out of her control. But they mainly fell because she would have to face living with a pony who was disgusted by her, and the treatment she would receive because of it.
But still she could not help it but let her eyes wander across the body of the mare she was to marry. Well, all in all Twilight was decent looking; some might even say she was pretty. But not in any way like her crush Flitter. But honestly who could match that lovely light blue mane combined with those cute and innocent magenta eyes. A well trained body with just that teensy bit of fat on the haunches that made her plot so hypnotizing. Just thinking about the sight made a small blush appear.
The mare next to her on the other hand, she was a bit on the chubby side, mainly due to the fact she did not get enough exercise due to all that reading. But unlike, with a certain pink cakeaholic it filled out in the right places. Giving the Unicorn rather nice curves. And up close it was pretty obvious Twilight knew how to take care of her body, her coat and mane were soft and lush but it showed that days of distress had caused some serious neglect in the form of knots and up springing hair.
Her mind wandered to hopeful future days, a cold winter evening with a nice cup of hot coco and a cozy fire cuddled up close with each other, snug under a warm blanket. She almost lost herself completely in a thought which had dispelled the earlier doom scenarios. Thinking about the scenario in her head she felt a slight sparkle of hope however unreal it seemed.
Although the mare next to her was not an athlete like preferred, she seemed to be gifted with a body seemingly made for cuddling. Almost on instinct Fluttershy huddled closer until with a gasping *EEP* she noticed the soft touch was not the pillow, she had laid down on, being extra fluffy and fuzzy but she had snuggled up against Twilight Sparkle.
The squeaking sound coming from the Pegasus mare was enough to snap the rest of the room’s occupants out their conversation. Several sets of eyes looked towards the corner where the two mares were. The attention elected a second squeak from Fluttershy as she attempted to hide her face behind her mane and facing away from the eyes directed at her.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Slowly but surely Twilight moved her head at hearing a very odd sound, like combining the sound of several singing birds into one muffled mess. All sped up into a single bursts. That sound and the strangest sensation she had ever felt filled her mind, drowning out the thoughts other than how she had failed in finding a way to counter this disaster. The best way to describe it was that it felt as if Lotus or Aloe were massaging her sides but then rather vibrating their hooves instead of rubbing. A nice warm fuzzy object shivering against her, to her it felt weird but the more she concentrated on it the nicer it felt. A soft sigh escaped her muzzle as the gentle but swift vibrations rubbed the stress out of her stressed out muscles.
Still she knew her fiancé would be there somewhere. No matter how nice the ministrations felt the lavender mare knew she would have to face the music at some point, for that was the entire reason she was in her parents’ house after all. 'Might as well get up and to it and meet the one who is going to ruin my life'.
Slowly but surely she willed her eyes to open so she could see her fate. With her luck as of late she would most likely be shipped off to be a trophy to some crony of Blueblood, or worse with her current streak of bad luck it would be that high strung wannabe prince himself.
Slowly her vision came to first in the form of a few colorful blobs. Still almost absentmindedly she stared across the room. A soft smile appeared as she saw a few blobs resembling her family. But also a strange blue one, was this, the stallion she was sold to? What would he be like? He seemed familiar but not of any court ordeal she had been to.
Almost completely lost in thought again she felt something warm and fuzzy gently nudging her left front shoulder.
Confused she turned her head and attempted to focus her eyes. The moment the world got a bit into focus she was looking straight into a pair of bright blue eyes slightly hidden by strands of pink mane. Eyes overflowing with worry and for some reason a pinch of sadness.
Slowly her narrowed vision, captured by these bright blue orbs, enlarged itself. Revealing the somewhat smiling face of one her friends. 'How nice, Fluttershy is here to help me through this difficult time. That is nice of her; I should thank her for that once I meet.....'
The thought stream stopped suddenly as all kinds of alarm bells started going off inside her mind at the same time. Something was not right here, something was definitely not right. And it wasn’t this whole arranged marriage stuff. Why was Fluttershy here? Besides Spike, she had not told a single soul about what would happen today.
Could Spike have told her? No, if that was the case all her friends would have been present. A lazy glance across the room told her that this was not the case. No, Shy was alone here. Well for as far as alone one can be in a room filled with anxious ponies. Another mystery was the presence of Soarin'.
Soarin'..... Small gears started grinding in the Unicorns head, those small gears in turn started driving larger gears until the beautiful and usually well-oiled machine that was her brain went into normal mode once again. The Wonderbolt was only about 6 years older than her, from what Rainbow had told her he was single. And not to mention wealthy enough to be interesting to her uncle.
But that just didn't make sense. He could get anypony he wanted, mare or stallion. Why pay a heap of bits for her? She was just a bookish nerd. Nothing to gawk over, nothing to be desired. When she was still in Canterlot she had learned this the hard way. There was only one interest in a purple freak like her, as her ex-coltfriend had so adequately put it, when a pony thought it would get them in better with the princess. Either that or they expected her to be easy bragging rights.
So why, why would a world renowned athlete want to be associated with her? No that was not it, it could not be. He would have shown more interest when she had looked at him. But then why was he here? Was he per chance a friend of her husband to be? Family perhaps?
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
During the tale and the silence that occurred after, Bright Shine had woken. Asides from a jaw-ache, the first thing he had planned for after this little meeting was to go to the hospital to get it checked out. Because he knew something was wrong if one couldn't move it without massive jolts of pain.
But relieving his pain could wait; he needed to give his niece and her new partner their first and only gift from him. He never understood why his business partner had insisted on getting a horn-ring and wing-ring from the more expensive category. It was not like they were worth it or something. And besides, his niece would most likely only wear it for the week after the ceremony just like the useless bit of trash she is.
But as the lord of the Sparkle House and the highest noble of the two merging houses it was his job to provide with the rings. Igniting his horn with a simple levitation spell he wrote a few words on a bit of parchment and included two small black boxes in the spell. Only to forcefully throw the boxes and the scrap of parchment at the mares in the corner.
As the boxes had hit Fluttershy on her side the parchment fell on Twilight’s nose.
Good luck with the rest of your lives together, at least you could have thanked me for making sure a few pieces of wasted horn and feathers would have somepony to come home to.
Your 'happiest day' is set on the day of the first full moon of spring. So you`ve got about six months to prepare.
With that said/written he looked at the mottled group of shocked ponies in the room, saluted and stumbled towards the door. He had a doctor to see and a bar tab to fill to the max in celebration to a plan well executed.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Twilight looked in awed horror and realization between the scrap of parchment, the mare next to her and the now opened boxes. Each had a single silver ring inside. Both had sacred symbols engraved on them. Both had the Gebo but were one held Kenaz the other held Berkana.
Those words, did he mean that she and Fluttershy were supposed to marry? As in two mares being together in such a way without being part of a herd? It was not unheard off, but it was generally frowned upon. Even herds were uncommon, an obsolete concept now there were enough stallions around for every mare.
A prolonged glance at her winged friend said enough, it was true. They were given to each other. Before her mind could break down once again she felt something soft against her. Two yellow hooved legs had enclosed her in a hug, a gesture she returned. Wrapping her friend and apparently soon to be wife in a hug of her own.
No words were being spoken, they were not needed. No tears had fallen even though they would face an uncertain future. There was only acceptance. Acceptance of that fate at least had been kind enough to give them a friend.
I am talking about Norse runes when I spoke of the symbols on the rings.
Gebo stands for gift. Its meaning includes; relationship, love, marriage and partnership.
It brings luck and overall strength to a relationship.
Kenaz stands for the torch. Its meaning includes; wisdom, problem solving and insight.
It assists with mental tasks like study and creating inspiration for creativity and conquering fears.
Berkana stands for the birch. Its meaning includes: health, growth and new beginnings.
It assists with healing and making a new start in life.
On other note; hope this chapter won’t disappoint you guys. And same as always, if you find errors I`ll try and edit them out right away.
The atmosphere in the room transformed from stressful and awkward silence to simple relief and outrage as the note was being discussed. There had been relief as Bright Shine had left the building.
The major cause of stress had removed itself before it would have been removed by force.
It had been known that the stallion had little regard for his family, unless they could be used to gain further prestige or bits. But the harsh words spoken about the mares, he and his friend had so callously used in their exploit had struck deep in the ponies present. The disgruntled silence bore a distinct muttering of target practice accident.
After a while at least a bit of conversation had begun. But unfortunately it was all shallow and meaningless. The pointless chitter chatter had lasted until the late hours of the evening, well into the night. It was at that point, and several empty bottles of wine, that Twilight Velvet opted to let their guests stay over. The available guest beds had been divided quickly. But fate had struck again for the two mares.
Due three other ponies also in need of sleeping arrangements they had to share Twilight's old room. But not the bed, all present had agreed long before Twilight had snapped out of her mind freeze that they would have two beds. They had been placed at opposite sides of the small room. The mares had withdrawn to it shortly after the beds had been divided.
With a sheepish grin and a wave of the front leg Twilight simply stated “Well um, welcome to my humble room I guess.” before she let her friend in. The room itself had been small and decorated for a foal. But contrary to normal foal rooms it wasn’t clustered with plushies, dolls and toys. No it appeared to be very humbly designed with only two beds, a small writing desk and a few shelves filled with books. It was clear that nopony had done anything but cleaning her for a long time.
Fluttershy knew from what Twilight had once told them that as Celestia's protégé, she had her own room in the royal library. But she had never guessed that she had started living there at such a young age if the room and the book titles she had seen were any indication. There had been books that she had seen Sweetie Belle reading when she was starting to learn levitation a few years ago.
Stray thoughts came to the Pegasus’ mind. She could not help but wonder, was the young age the cause that her friend had withdrawn herself from the world or had it just been something that enabled it to simply flourish? Shaking her head to clear these thoughts she flapped her wings to glide towards the seemingly out of place second bed. Only to climb under the sheets and rest her eyes. Within a few moments a light snoring came from her side of the room.
Twilight looked around her old room. She had not slept in there in ages. Not much since 'the incident' at least. After it she had come over for the weekends. A single tear fell at the memory that flashed in her mind, a memory she never wanted to remember again.
With a shake of the head she attempted to clear her mind a bit, she needed to get some sleep. Something she hadn't had in days. Reluctantly she stepped in her old bed.
It took a while to get comfy, it being a bit on small size. Her head still buzzing with the fact that she and one of her best friends were supposed to marry. How would they bring this news to their other friends? How would they react? For a few moments scenario’s rushed before her eyes. But then her ears caught a soft, soothing noise. The gentle breaths of her roommate, slow and steady. The longer Twilight listened to it, the more her confused mind came to peace. Until finally she to fell asleep.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
It had been early in the morning as the sun had started shining in its fullest upon Twilight. Slowly stirring and with eyes still closed the lavender mare dropped out of the bed. With a grunt and sigh she started to scramble back on her hooves. With a shuffle closer to that of a zombie then a normal pony she managed to wander downstairs and towards the wonderful scent of freshly baked pancakes and coffee.
Her vision still a blur from the half shut eyes she could identify a pony shaped blur of yellow and pink almost dancing around the stove working on an ever increasing stack of pancakes. A soft voice came from the blur in an almost too friendly tone for that time of the morning. “Ooh, good morning Twilight. I`m sorry if I was too loud and woke you up.” The blur stopped its dance and stated pawing at the ground a bit as if waiting for a reply. “Well um, I made breakfast. I do hope it was alright for me to do, do you think I made enough for everypony?”
Twilight stared blankly at the soft-spoken blurry shape. In her head she had the perfect reply, kind and friendly. Just as she was spoken to. I don't think my parents will mind, and we can always make more right? But first some coffee. But unfortunately it came out sounding something like a few grunts and mumbles ending with a sound very close to “coffee”. As if on auto-pilot a large mug became encased with a purple-like red glow and floated to the coffeepot to get it filled.
Without waiting for it to cool down the murky, bitter and still scolding hot brew found its way down Twilight's throat. The entire scene left Fluttershy a bit surprised a few blinks later, while the mug went over for a refill, she still could not believe what she saw.
A friendly voice sounded from the door as the second mug started to drain itself in the lavender mare. “Ahh, you've met morning Twilight. You'll learn like we did it is best not to address her before her first cup of coffee.”
With those words Twilight Velvet entered the kitchen to look around for a moment. Noticing not only the coffee but a mountain of steaming pancakes the older mare could not help but smile.
“Sweetie, you are a guest. You did not have to get up early to make breakfast for all of us.”
The young pegasus paws for a moment at the floor while hiding her face behind her mane from the gaze of the elder Twilight.
“Well um, I’m usually up early. And I just wanted to be of use, sorry for causing trouble for you.”
“Don't worry about it dear, I sure as one am grateful that I did not have to make breakfast today” The older mare looked at the heap of breakfast on the counter, sure she was glad not to have to do all the work that morning but the sheer amount was ridiculous. A single thought entered the mare`s head. 'Well at least Twily won`t be going hungry if this is how she usually cooks.'
Aside from a few small gasps at the amount of food prepared breakfast had gone by smoothly. Cleaning up afterwards had been a bit of a hassle. The kitchen was just not built to accommodate so many ponies at the same time. And it was not before long that goodbyes were being said.
Promises of checking in and attempts to keep further meddling out were made as the two mares departed to the train station on their own. Spike had elected to stay with Twilight's parents for a while; he claimed it was to study the few books on dragon culture in the royal library. Twilight on the other hoof knew it was also to be heavily pampered upon by her parents like they usually do when they stop by. For some odd reason her mother could never stop doting on the little guy.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Throughout the previous evening and the entire trip a single thought occupied their minds, but neither had spoken a single word about it. That was until they were almost back in Ponyville when Twilight spoke up “Fluttershy? I don't mean to intrude, but I think it is time we should really discuss this.” A simple nod was all the reaction received, but it was all that was needed to show that her friend agreed. “Personally I think it would be best to play it safe. Although she is one of our best friends, Rarity is the queen of gossip in Ponyville. Sooner or later she will find out by means of her clients from Canterlot. I don't wish to hurt them by forcing them to learn from an outside source. We should tell them, and sooner rather than later.”
Although slightly muffled by her mane Fluttershy`s voice was still crystal clear. “Ooh yes, that would be most unpleasant if they found out from somepony else. But do you think they will accept us? I mean, not implying that there is an, us besides the contract. Well of course there is a us as friends but not as *Eep*” The last part had been dwindling in volume only to completely disappear as a blue eye peeked from under the mane and noticed the strange look on Twilight's face.
For a moment a thought crossed Twilight's mind, how would they react? Surely they would have to phrase things better then how Fluttershy had just done. Definitely not speaking of a us, but rather of the choice they never got.
“We will be fine I think. It’s not like we choose this right? But how about this, why don't you go home for tonight and think about this. I’ll come by tomorrow evening for dinner and we will discuss strategy. How does that sound?”
The yellow Pegasus meekly nodded her condensing reply. And not a moment too soon as the quaint little town known as Ponyville had come in sight signaling the end of their journey back home and the beginning of a whole new one.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
The day had gone by without a hitch, for the moment nopony suspected anything. Twilight was thankful for the fact that the little village was cut off from much of the mainstream gossip of the capital. Although one could travel in between within a mere three hours it always was quiet around here. Fluttershy was happy about it, but she knew it could also be over in mere moments.
The moment her parents would wake up from their magically induced coma. But worries would have to wait, first there was something far scarier and perhaps even outright dangerous; Twilight's cooking.
And that last terror was only a few taps on a door away. With a sigh she knocked, it would be best to get it over with as soon as possible. After a few dainty knocks she could hear the clip-clop of hooves coming towards her as well as the reddish yet strangely purple hued glow of her friend’s magic enveloped the door. But instead of her mate-to-be a large plume of black smoke greeted her as it sought freedom in the open air. And from the smoke Twilight appeared, her fur coat scorched in several places and strangely enough a small flame, no larger than that of a match, was dancing on top of her head.
Although it could have been very dangerous, a small puff of smoke exited Twilight's mouth as she coughed. The mere sight of it was enough to draw a small giggle from the yellow Pegasus as she blew the small flame out. She knew she needed to be concerned, but the sight of it all had been just too funny. “Are you alright?”
Her friend stared at her with a ashamed blush on the face.
“Nothing a bit of burn-ointment will not cure I guess. So um, Fluttershy? How do you feel about going out for dinner tonight? Because I doubt that I could get the kitchen operational again anytime soon.”
“Ooh I know a nice little place, Rarity and me always go there for lunch after our spa-dates. We could go there, if you want to that is.”
Twilight clopped her front hooves together in a bit of excitement. “Good then let me freshen up a bit and we can get going.” With those words said she rushed back inside and up the stairs towards the living area of the tree. Leaving a bit of a bewildered Fluttershy behind in the doorway.
A few moments later Twilight reappeared in the still smoke filled room of the library in a flash of reddish purple light. Now completely clean and burn-free and carrying a saddlebag with a few scrolls peeking from them. “So shall we go then? I hope it will not be busy for we have a lot of discussing to do.”
The cafe had not been far from the library, but that was not a real surprise seeing its central location at the market square. Both mares walked in foreboding silence. Well at least until they reached their destination. The exterior of it was plain and simple, but the smells coming out of it were enough to make their mouths water. Upon entering Twilight could see why Rarity would come here with Shy after the spa. It was in all words a simple and humble place. A few tables and a small bar, but most of all not crowded. It did not take long before a dark green earth pony mare dressed in what seemed to be a waiters dress approached them.
“Aah Miss Fluttershy how nice to see you again. Miss Rarity is already seated, if you wish I can ask whether she would have you and your date joining her this lovely evening?”
Both mares looked at each other with both shock and blush and then back at the hostess. It took a few moments before Fluttershy`s voice came through the hiding spot of her mane. Her voice soft, trembling “S-s-s-she's not my date. We are just good friends. But you can ask Rarity if you want to.”
Twilight looked at her friend, and then at the leaving hostess. Did it really look like they were on a date? A date like a romantic date? Between two mares no less? That would be unheard of, at least she had never heard of it. Sure there were rumors about a couple of others floating about town. But they were just reeeeaaalllly good friends right? This would certainly speed up the concept of telling their friends, beyond what she had originally planned. She had planned to propose to Fluttershy to tell all their friends during a sleepover sometime next week. She had even made a few charts on it, based around a study that showed telling strange or bad news was always better to be done in groups.
But with a near silent sigh she knew it had to be done this way now. As much as she loved her friends, Rarity would not stop bothering them about why they were dining together. And of course, the hopeless romantic she was would obviously come to all the wrong conclusions. Fluttershy was right to accept this request. She took a deep breath to calm herself. No need for another episode, no need for to freak-out again. Ooh look, the hostess was trotting back now.
“Miss Rarity has accepted your request. Please follow me and I will show you to your seats.”
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
I could not believe my eyes when I saw two of my dearest friends walking through that door. I had simply wanted to indulge myself in fine cuisine and perhaps a bottle of wine. A month, a whole month with Sweetie Belle alongside various clients. They had all wanted a custom made piece. Her wish of breaking through in Canterlot had come true thanks to the royal wedding. But like all wishes, they all come at a price. In this case a long period of stress.
But this was even better, two of her friends together in a restaurant. Without the others, she was dying to know why they would come here like that. She had excellent view of the door from her usual seat. Their appearance here was unusual to say the least. Both Fluttershy as Twilight were known not to leave their home in the evening often. And what was with them standing so close to each other with a cute little shocked blush. Gracing Plate was just being her normal self, asking them about their seats nothing more, nothing less. But that reaction, could it be? Could they really be here on a date with each other? Ooh the scandal that would be, two mares secretly in love and exploring their feelings with each other.
Still dreaming about what was seen Rarity had not seen Gracing Plate approaching her table until she was nudged by the hostess. A few whispers and nods later the pearl-white Unicorn was alone again. But not for long, as agreed her friends were walking towards her table. 'Now Rarity, remain calm and don't give away too early that you know. You can pry it from Fluttershy in a few days anyway during her monthly preening. She's always eager to divert attention from that. And who knows, you might learn some juicy tidbits today.'
“Well hello darlings, what brings the two of you to this establishment tonight?” Ooh there it is, the blush is growing even wider. There is definitely something more, then just two friends having dinner, going on here. “But please, sit down I was just about to order myself. “
A few moments later the three of us had given our orders. Unsurprisingly both Fluttershy as Twilight had gone for a rather unrefined dish of a simple flower salad with a bit of jasmine and yogurt based dressing. Really now, didn't they know that a dressing like that goes straight to the flanks? Ugh, they are so lucky that they can just eat what they want without gaining a pound. As for drinks, a bottle of wine for Twilight and me, and a carafe of soda water for Fluttershy.
They had not answered my question, but that is not surprising. Although I love them to death, they are not the most sociable of ponies. Fluttershy's crippling shyness and fear of others causes her to pretty much never speak her mind unless needed. And Twilight, well Twilight you can count on her to redefine the meaning of social inapt-ability. The poor dear could never pick up a clue on these matters. So perhaps it was time for a more direct approach.
“I do apologize for intruding on your date, but I could not help myself when I saw how cute you two looked together.” With a look of mock insult I winked at them. “But I am hurt you never once told me of your little crush Fluttershy, so how did this come to happen?”
I never would have told them, but me and our other three friends all had a little wager going on about them. One had a pot of forty bits, with various time periods on when Fluttershy would finally be comfortable enough to come out to us. The dear had always tried to hide it and was rather good at it, but we all knew she caught a few glances at our haunches when she thought we weren't looking. We didn't mind of course, but we all hoped that one day she would tell us. That or find herself a nice mare to be with. Celestia knows how much the poor thing deserves and needs that. It looked like Pinky was winning that one. As for Twilight, I was going to win this one. A nice sum of fifty bits will be coming my way, splitting the pot with Applejack. A small friendly wager between friends about her preference nothing harmful you know. We had both said that our lavender friend's barn door at least swung both ways. Unlike Pinkie's preposterous idea of her being pansexual, I mean the nerve of that girl just making up words like that.
Lost in thought I had not noticed the awkward silence stemming from the mares in front of me. Well silence, a small squeak combined with a profane blush from Fluttershy. I knew better then to pry anything from her in this state. The years I have known her had taught me that much. With no other source I turned to my scholarly friend. “Come one now darling; don't leave a lady in the dark like this. How did this come to be?”
The reaction I expected was a profane blush with a cuddle for comfort, but what I got shocked me more than anything I had ever expected. I was at home in the upper-class of our world, but even I was not aware this was still being practiced.
“There is no easy way to say this but to just throw it out there. Fluttershy and I wanted to discuss a way to tell all of you that we are to marry each other come spring. An arranged marriage as it is called I believe.”
I believe my reputation would never recover if any of my clientele would see my reaction to her answer. Well not just the answer but also the callous tone she said it in, there was no joy or remorse in it. It had been nothing but one of the many scientific statements she made in the past. I lost all grace and elegance as I preformed the vilest things I had ever done in my life. Spraying my lavender friend with the sip of wine I just attempted to drink right before asking in a unladylike raised voice “YOU ARE IN A WHAT?”
The 'incident is nothing serious, it will be explained later on.
Pansexuality does actually exist, but many confuse it with bisexuality due to the possibility of being attracted to a member of the same gender. The rough explanation would be: not being limited by common concepts such as gender. In short; not really caring what your partner will be as long as you care for (for lack of better term) “it”.
No matter how small an establishment is, when you start shouting it will draw attention from anything in it to. Rarity soon found out the hard way as she could feel the burning stares of the other patrons. Normally an absolute embarrassment, but that was the least of her concern. Her main concern lay with her friends right now.
Taking a long drink from her wine to collect her thoughts the pristine white Unicorn looked at the two mares in front of her. One had hidden her face in distress and shame while the other had a sheepish grin in an attempt to hide her own insecurity about it all. Her voice was filled with barely contained venom and fury as she spoke “How did this happen, I thought it was out of practice and impossible between members of the same gender.”
Twilight sighted as she explained the ordeal, how her uncle had been 'volunteering' in the castle-archives and found an ancient document that would allow him to sell the hoof on one of the members of his family into marriage to anything sentient and had found a willing counterpart in Fluttershy's father who desired nothing more than a noble title for access to the royal court instead of having to wait weeks for a normal court appeal. And ending with the meeting they had last night.
Rarity could do nothing more than shake her head in disgust at the motives of the stallions in question. As the avatar of generosity the sheer amount of greed sickened her beyond words. “I am sorry to hear that you cannot reverse this travesty. I cannot say for sure, but I think the others will stand by you in this just as I will.” She thought for a while before speaking up again “You wanted to discuss the best way to bring the bad news. Well now, let us speak while we eat.”
The next few hours had been filled with ideas and the thoughts on it. They had ranged from the simple but impersonal things such as sending a letter or an invitation to the wedding, which were dismissed due the fact it might hurt Pinkie's feelings if she could not organize the reception, to having them all gather at the library for the announcement.
In the end it was chosen that each of the three present would invite one of the remaining friends to a sleepover in four days. They had chosen that date due it would be Saturday and everypony should be available for it. Fluttershy being the only one able to fly would speak with Rainbow Dash, while Rarity would speak with Pinkie Pie and Twilight would go to Applejack. The last two had been chosen by random chance as Twilight had promised a few weeks ago to help out at the farm with cleaning an old barn which had been invested with rather nasty fungi. It could have not been more ideal for Twilight. Her white friend however fared not so well, having drawn the short straw so to speak she had to invite the last of their friends. A task not easily achieved as it was often a task alone to let the pink mare stand still and listen for longer than five seconds. Let alone inviting her to a rendezvous not of her own designs.
They had remained for a little while longer, simply catching up on the most recent events in their lives other than the obvious. Fluttershy surprised her companions by taking a glass of wine herself. Albeit filling it only to halfway. But it was not before long that the bill had been paid by Twilight. Something what had always surprised her friends. For all they knew Twilight lived of a stipend but she always seemed to be able to do what she wanted. Even going out for lunch every day. Either her royal stipend was really royal in amount as well or there was more to this mare then what was expected.
As they said their goodbyes all of them went in a different direction. Rarity had proclaimed she needed to go to a client before going to bed to discuss how a dress had been fitting and thus could not walk with Twilight until the marketplace. But the truth was, she had something to discuss with a certain doctor in the hospital concerning a couple of the healer’s newest patients. Calling in a favor owed for sacrificing her last bit of a very fine silk to make special bandages for a rather unfortunate burn victim. Of course she would never stand in between a doctor and his duty of healing, but she sure as Tartarus would do her best to make sure the recovery would be as slow and agonizing as possible. That would teach those brutes to mess with a mare's love life.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
The days until the sleepover had drawn by slowly, both mares had their worries. Despite what Rarity had said they both worried about what their remaining friends would say besides the fact they themselves were not completely at ease with the thought of their situation.
Twilight had opted to have it at the library, not only did it have more room than Fluttershy's cottage there were also less animals around that could be disturbed. But with every passing minute she was beginning to regret it. Without Spike keeping the place clean had proven a task unlike any other. How the little guy did it was beyond her, but she had almost spent the last two days attempting to clean it. But she finally managed it with minutes to spare even. As agreed both Fluttershy as Rarity would be there about half an hour earlier than the others.
As clockwork her friends had been arriving in their usual order, of course the order was a bit out of line by having two of them come earlier than the others. But Pinkie had like always showed up first. Although she seemed a bit down at the fact that she was not the first completely this time. After her came Applejack and of course a few strokes before being the agreed time Rainbow Dash had shown up.
During most of the evening Fluttershy and Twilight had been trading glances with each other. So far everything had been going well. But as the unavoidable came the tension between the both of them started to rise. Very soon they would run out of games to play and topics to discuss. Walking towards each other they looked towards the other for a final time before Twilight cleared her throat.
Just before this they had silently agreed to let Twilight do the talking. It had been an agreement made with a few nods and common sense. They both knew the pegasus would simply fall shut and fail to utter even a single word let alone a complete sentence.
At the sound of Twilight’s obvious attempt to get attention seemed to be working as four sets of eyes turned to their reaction. Taking a deep breath the bookish pony steadied herself and began. “Well as you all might have wondered why I invited you over for this sleepover. Some days ago Fluttershy and I were called to the house of my parents.” At this point Twilight chose to ignore the blatant confused stares they were receiving. “At this meeting we both learned of a plan thought up and executed by my uncle and her parents. I know most of you dislike the long detailed stories and certainly when they revolve around politics and the likes so let me cut directly to the chase. They had come in possession of an ancient contract. A contract they could use to literary force two ponies to marry. In other words, Fluttershy and I are to wed coming spring. And nothing, not even the princesses can nullify the contract.”
The silence hanging in the room was deadly. But it did not last long; both mares were drawn in a bone crushing hug by a pink blur while two others were simply spouting venomous aspects about the situation. But none of those present had spoken a bad word about the mares involved themselves, only voicing concern and compassion for them. When Pinkie finally released both mares she just looked at them, both standing nearly flank to flank due the massive grip the earth pony seemed to possess. Her sad pout slowly turned into a small smile which turned into her trademark grin as she stared a bit longer. Before speaking up, almost completely out of the blue.
“You know, I do not know if it’s just me but I think the organizers of this had a good eye for detail. You two DO look kinda cute together.”
The statement, no matter that they all knew who it came from, caused a massive groan from most of the ponies present, all besides Fluttershy who hid her face blushing like a madman and Pinkie herself who looked around with a 'what did I say' expression on her face.
After Pinkie’s rather strange ice-breaker the conversation about the situation had been flowing more naturally. Although there had still been cries of outrage it had been geared more towards attempting to make plans for the coming spring. Planning only interrupted a bright white flash blinding all ponies present. When their eyesight returned they could see they were no longer alone and almost instantly dropped into a bow. For before them, stood the solar princess, but something was clearly wrong.
Her face, normally adorned with a gentle smile had a saddened expression. Nopony could even ask about her presence as she looked around the library's main chamber and sighed.
“Are all of you acquainted with the situation at hoof with Twilight and Fluttershy?” As the alabaster alicorn looked around she could see the nodding of confirmation. “Then let me start with an apology towards you two; Fluttershy, Twilight I hope that one day you can forgive my sister and me. We truly thought all of these repulsive documents had been destroyed eons ago. We had spent the better part of the week in the archives turning it upside down. Rest assured the few we had managed to find are gone now. What happened to you will never happen again.”
For the first time in her life Twilight saw her mentor in a state resembling remorse or grief. She knew she had to forgive her, or she would never be able to live with herself again. It had been a mistake, an honest mistake. But one thing gnawed on her mind. A single question. With uncertainty in her voice she voiced it out loud. “Why princess? Why did you ever draft such a thing in the first place?”
The question, just and soft in its setting but spoken unintentionally harsh voice made Celestia cringe even more. Shining Armor had told her how both mares had been looked upon by the ones who forced this fate on them. A simple outlook which she could have stopped not just once, but three times. First, by not giving in to the wishes of the nobles all those eons ago. Second, by not allowing the media and those bothersome nobles to know the full truth about the lavender filly living in the library. And last but not least asking the avatars to take an oath of secrets, which bound all who know about the true identity of the avatars to never be able to reveal the information. At the time she had done so to protect the six mares from the relentless media.
Her student and her friend deserved an answer even if it was flawed; with a heavy heart Celestia looked up and let her eyes glance over the mares in front of her. “It was during our first years of reign. Our parents had been killed by Discord not more than a year before; the gruesomeness of our war against him still lay heavy on the heart. Two little fillies, barely 10 and 13 years old thrust into the world of diplomacy and war. We were still so naive; we were tricked by our vizier who had been bribed by the higher nobles. A century later Luna and me were nothing more than puppets for the nobles. Until, we both rebelled against them, and their corrupt ways. But the damage had already been done. We had signed many of laws and contracts. It took nearly three full centuries to destroy every trace of the corruption these items had caused, so Equestria could become the land it is today. Unfortunately it seems we were not thorough enough.”
The regal mare looked up as she felt a warm embrace combined with the sound of gently flapping wings. A soft well-mannered voice spoke to her before she could see who it was. “Although I am sure you know the grief it caused, I forgive you. And I am sure Twilight agrees with me, you could not have known this single piece had escaped your eyes. As much as I hate to admit, my father did teach me one thing. Anything what thinks on its own is prone to make mistakes. It is not your fault that the small mistakes and oversights of those with power tend to have larger impacts.”
In the corner of her eye she could see the lavender face nodding, albeit still worried and slightly disheveled by the information just been given. A smile, however brittle came back to Celestia's face.
And as the gentle hooves of the avatar of kindness released her she looked around the small group once more.
“Thank you, it means a lot to an old mare like myself. But I am not here sourly to ask for forgiveness.” Within a second her horn sparked and eleven scrolls appeared in front of the mares, three for Fluttershy and Twilight and two for the others.
“These scrolls contain information for all of you. The one with the red seal is basically an I-OWE-YOU. If you bring this to the treasury, they are obliged to pay for your own wedding and it will allow you to use the ballroom and gardens of the castle for the event whenever that should occur. This includes the one of Fluttershy and Twilight. Let’s just say the budget it grants you is similar to the one of Shining Armor and Cadence.”
This tidbit of information alone had caused a few moments of awed shock. They had seen the extravagance of the wedding first hoof and however it had been organized one could not say it had been a cheap event. “It is the least I can do. I know each of you has been rewarded for your services in the past. But still, both Luna as well as myself had planned to give you this the moment one of you got married. We had just hoped the circumstances would have been different.”
The princess waited for a few moments to let it all sink in a bit more. Although her facade was one of serious business she was smiling inwardly. She had achieved the impossible; even Pinkie Pie was at loss for words on this subject. A feat she was a bit proud of achieving. But her time was short; an ambassador of the Tauren tribal covenant was due to arrive in a hour. And it was custom by internationally accepted terms for the hosting nation's rulers to be present at the ambassador’s arrival.
“The second scroll is an invitation, or rather an announcement so to speak. Shining Armor has spoken to me on how both Twilight and Fluttershy had been looked upon. Something which has struck me personally. The time has come for the avatars of harmony to be known to the world. I am hoping I can welcome the six of you at the press-conference. Your scroll contains the details of what I am planning to say and where and when it shall be held.”
All what was heard after hearing the announcement was a soft *eep* followed by the distinct sound of a fainting pony.
Special thanks to TwilightWaffle for putting up with my horrid grammar long enough to smooth out the rough edges.
The entire room looked at Fluttershy, who stood still firm on all four of her hooves. Albeit the delicate thing was shaking like a leaf caused by the mere thought of being susceptible to a lot of attention from so many unknown ponies, let alone that of the media, once again it had not been her who had collapsed.
Not even thinking about the implications Twilight simply drew the shaking Pegasus in a soft embrace in an attempt to calm her down a bit. She had seen what fame had done to the poor thing during her brief career as a model. But that would be nothing compared to the storm about to be unleashed due the fact of them having sort of saved Equestria a few times already.
No, it had not been Fluttershy who had fainted. A certain dramatic fashionista's brain had short circuited itself thinking about what it could mean for her and her own dreams if she would gain the recognition of the elite for saving the country more than once. Without much questioning to the exact reason almost all present except for Spike and the princess had their previously worried expression replaced with a sigh or eye roll, for they had long learned to ignore the theatrics of the generous mare.
“Well then my little ponies, I am afraid I cannot spare any longer. I had already let a few of the media know about my plans of introducing you to the public. Let’s just say the state castle is in right now would put even Discord’s madness to shame and I have left poor Luna alone in it for far too long. I am hoping to see you all in three weeks.” With those words spoken and a few heartfelt goodbyes the princess lighted her horn and disappeared in a similar flash of light as she arrived in leaving a silent library behind.
The five girls and the young dragon turned out to have a difficult time waking up the catatonic unicorn. But once they had, it had already been late in the evening. Celestia's little visit and the small uproar caused by the news had taken a lot of the time they had planned for games and general relaxation. So without much time passing they had retreated to their beds. Still softly discussing the news with each other until sleep finally claimed them.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
The days after the announcement had not been very silent. It had been all over the news, every even slightly self-respecting media source had been gushing over with rumors. The more respective papers and journalists had only spoken about the heroics achieved and speculated about the reasons why the six heroes had been left shrouded in shadows darker then a moonless night. But none the less they spoke about it in nearly every edition, always with small updates and some claimed to have received hints from the princesses themselves concerning the identity of the group dubbed after the ancient relics they wield, the Elements.
But of course for every respectful article there were at least four made of pure speculation and smut. It was these media which were having the time of their lifetime as their profit nearly tripled due the wild speculations they published. There had been some pretty wild rumors going on thanks to these magazines and information fueled by gossip from the castle.
Now with the great unveiling only mere hours away the six mares had joined up with the select group who had known the truth since the beginning. Nervous as they were the laughter still rung loud in the room. But all had come to an end, there had been a reason they had all gathered an hour before the ballroom would be opened for the select media hoofpicked by the princesses to be ears of the common pony for the unveiling combined with a large number of nobles, rich influential and other important (whether true or self-imposed) ponies who just wanted to be sure they would be in the picture of being present at this historical event.
A white hoof clad in golden shoes raised itself in the air and the chatter and laughter slowly died out. With a soft but stern voice the Solar Princess spoke to the group of about sixteen present in the small chamber.
“Now I welcome all of you and thank you all for making the time for this little meeting even though the main event will not happen for at least two to three more hours. Sergeant Juggernaut, will you do the honors?”
A large earth pony easily the size of Big Macintosh stepped in front of the group. His body almost completely obscured by armor. With a slow motion the stallion produced a scrap of paper from a small pouch and held it before the eye-slits. A deep voice rumbled from within it, sounding almost supernatural by the echo created due the closed helmet.
THE ELEMENTS; RUSE, HOAX OR REALITY?
By Written Lie
The Elements of Harmony, of course; who has not learned of these mythical artifacts during their foalhood. Now we are informed that these supposed magical relics actually do exist and have been used several times in the past few years to 'save' us from harm. They are rumored to not only have been used in actual battles against mythical entities as Nightmare Moon and Discord, but also have been wielded by the same six ponies each time.
I say; that's a load of horseapples. Seriously, six ordinary ponies going up against beings closer to gods than anything else on this world asides from Celestia herself. And we are all to, just fall for this obvious deceit?
Ask any foal whether the mare in the moon exists or not. They would all be able to tell you in a single heartbeat that this Nightmare Moon is nothing more of a fairytale with the underlying moral of being grateful for what you have. And that is not even beginning to speak about this so-called Discord. The perfect example of the imagination of a few hillbillies gone wild caused to many generations of interbreeding.
All evidence points to this being an elaborate scheme by our government to have us believe this Luna-pony is actually this long lost princess and Celestia's younger sister so we would accept this failed clone of our beloved princess when she passes away in a few months.
The article went on for a few more lines spouting increasingly ridiculous sounding nonsense with every sentence read. When the sergeant was done Celestia addressed the group once again, this time with obvious mirth in her eyes. “With the discovery of this article I dare say that chancellor High Rule has won our little game, wouldn't you agree?”
The smug look on a rather scrawny looking Unicorn and the nodding of those present told enough about the thoughts.
After revealing that she would introduce the Avatars to the public, Celestia had been shocked to say the least about the large amount of rumors running about. Ranging from them being a specially selected black-ops team trained in combat magic by the princess herself, to them being a band of courageous nobles led by Blueblood. The article speaking about the latter had her sending a letter to those who knew the truth, saying she was putting a pot together with 1 bit entry to be won by the one who brought the most ridiculous story with them today. “But now I believe it is time for us to mingle with those present. Remember, although the oath spell has been lifted this morning you are not to reveal information.”
It was after this that Luna stepped forward and turned her gaze to the six friends all looking either exited, anxious or downright terrified about the revelation to come. “Due the fact that not many received a royal invite to this here gathering thou might be questioned by those who believe themselves to be above thou and thine friends. Due this we, as in 'Tia and.” The dark alicorn paused a moment it could be seen she was straining to not fall into her archaic speech “Myself will provide you with a cover story. So please listen to us as we explain for it will only be said once. Remember that these are made to avoid suspicion, whether thou likes it or not thou are supposed to heed to them until said time of thine personal revealing.”
“Twilight Sparkle, Fluttershy due to being sibling to Shining Armor and the accursed contract thou are invited as a minor noble and fiancé. This would keep many noble from asking pesky questions, but alas we cannot assume the same from the leeches recent times call journalists.”
With those words spoken an official invitation floated towards them almost dramatically slow, in a flowing silver script there could be read Gr. Mgs. Twilight Sparkle and mate; Fluttershy which in turn earned the gentle Pegasus an apologetic look from both Luna as well as Twilight.
“Applejack, due the well-known status of thine clan thou are invited as the official representative of the Apple Clan and offshoots included but not limited to the likes as the Oranges and Carrots.” Her invitation had been written the same silver script Apple Clan, chosen matriarch-representative: Applejack.
Luna stepped back as Celestia levitated her set of invitations to the remaining three. But unlike her sister she made far less of a show of handing them out. All of them had been written in an elegant gold script.
“Rainbow Dash, all members of the Wonderbolts. Whether active, reserves or trainee such as yourself have been invited. On entry report to your captain so she can mark you as present. Don't worry, she has official orders to let all of you do your own thing. Rarity, as the one who made the dresses of all the avatars it would be an insult to their magnificence if you yourself could not be present.”
The regal mare sighed at the giddiness of the last of the Avatars, Laughter or otherwise known as Pinkie Pie, she had been the hardest to create a believable cover story. That was until Cadence had the brilliant idea of faking a lottery to allow the Avatars parents to be present as well. It had been a small adjustment to let the cakes win three invites besides having her birth family win their own. “Pinkie Pie, you and the Cakes have won the right to be present for both the unveiling as well as the after party by means of a lottery. This lottery of course is a ruse made by Luna and myself to allow your families to be present as well. But now with the invitations dispensed it is about time for you to leave. It might draw still unwanted attention if the six of you were to be seen entering at the same time as us.”
The six mares simply nodded and left with their own personal goodbyes to those staying behind.
They had just reached the door when they were called out by the head of staff “Remember, when a waiter wearing a broche with a gem in the shape of your own element comes up to you with the words that they have a message for you that you follow him or her. They will bring you to the backstage dressing room where your dresses will be ready combined with a small crew to powder you up as it’s called.”
The loud sigh from two of them elicited a heartfelt laugh in the room. Previously when they had made the arrangement they had voiced their objections quite harshly, but futile nonetheless.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Many of the invited had already been present, being noble, journalist or simple commoner lucky enough to having won entrance by the 'lottery'. The six avatars looked at each other after clearing the heavily guarded gateway, nodded with determination and went five different ways as was agreed. They were to stay with their families until they were retrieved for the unveiling. But the order of Celestia still rang clear in their minds. Not even their own parents were to know. Both princesses would put up a small light show right before they were to enter one by one. It was to make sure it was believed that none of those who knew could even say a single word. Making it easier for the media-backlash to be diverted from the mares and towards the chancellor and princesses.
Fluttershy had elicited to stay with Twilight, seeing they had a shared invite and not even her own kindness could cause her to face her parents. Who were only released from the hospital a few days prior to the event. Due some odd reason the medical file had been misplaced and without details the doctors just simply could not treat them as effective as they normally would be able to.
Time had passed very slowly; both mares had expressed a strong dislike of the ponies present. They had made a small niche for themselves in one of the corners. Away from the hassle of the large crowd. And still they had been found by a few journalists asking questions about their presence and jobs. Most of those had left them alone after telling them. Only one had driven Fluttershy into a corner by harassing her about her short career in fashion. That one had been kindly reminded by Twilight that his presence was not appreciated. The snide remark about who she thought herself to be was snipped short by Shining Armor arriving with some refreshments for the mares.
But the journalists in general were not the worst. The so called 'nobles' were much worse. Often plain rude and offensive. But still Twilight could not tell how or why, but she felt a bit of a sting when a young stallion had approached them and blatantly asked Fluttershy if she wouldn't like to ditch the nerd and come with him, for a 'private party' at his place. The unicorn had been called many forms of nerd before, but she couldn't quite tell why this time it had actually hurt her a bit.
But although occasionally interrupted both mares had been talking to each other. Only to realize that even they had been friends for a few years they still had many hidden depths to them. Things normally never discussed or simply assumed to be just another quirk or trait had proven to be so much more. When the waiters had come for them they had both agreed to meet up a few days later at Fluttershy's cottage to continue the talk. After all, Twilight reasoned, if they were to spend the rest of their lives in one house it would serve both to not have any further surprises.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
A lot of fuss later the six of them were in their dresses and were in a complete and total make-over.
But Rarity had passed all expectations with the clothing. Each of them dressed in a design which would not look unfitting on either of the Alicorns. From the simple yet elegant design of Fluttershy's dress to the extravagant swirls and ribbons of Rarity's and everything in between. Truly capturing their essence at their best.
For this occasion they had all received their Elemental vessels. Not because they were expected to use it, but to show it was really them. Celestia had once unveiled the necklaces and tiara. Many found that day that only those selected by the elements residing within them could even touch them. Both Celestia and Luna were former avatars and thus were able to handle them briefly. Applejack was the last to put hers on and not a moment too soon. The moment the gold had hit her neck Celestia's calm but authoritative voice rang out.
“Many rumors have been started since my sister and I made the decision to dispel the oath of binding secrets that slumbers upon those who know the Avatars true identity. They would have remained in the shadows until the day they passed from us, where they would have gotten a hero's burial in the crystal tombs beneath the castle. “The regal mare shook her head and briefly looked at lord Bright Shine before continuing. “But recent events have forced our hooves. Be smitten by greed, two stallions sought to use two of the avatars for their own personal gain. An action that could have driven a wedge between them all and leave our fair nation, neigh our very world in danger. So here we are, and let it be known that from this point on all who meddle in the lives of these six ponies will have Tartarus to pay.”
What followed was an impressive but utterly useless light show, a powerful illusion cast by the Diarchs of day and night. With their fancy display done they looked back at the crowd who were now gaping in awe. Luna retreated knowing her place was behind the scene's letting her sister do the public thing. At least for now, until her own public image had been restored a bit more.
“First up is a mare many will no doubt know off if they are interested in stunt flying. The youngest of the six avatars being a mere eighteen as of last month, and already a Wonderbolt trainee. By far the youngest I have ever heard off. And if her display at the Best Young Flier competition last year was any indication she will push herself beyond the Sonic Rainboom and into a legend of her own.”
The princess let the crowd murmur a bit but looking at the faces of both Spitfire as Dash's fellow trainee Lightning Dust to see a look of bewilderment. But also a sort of smirking grin from Soarin' who was standing beside the two. She guessed neither had truly known that Rainbow Dash had only been seventeen during her time at the academy, her magic and by extension her ability to fly not even fully matured like had been with the twenty-three year old Lightning, the only other to have made the cut to becoming an official trainee in the last six years.
“But her future squad mates do not need to worry about her starting a solo-career. If anything she is loyal to a fault towards those she comes to care about. Please welcome the avatar of Loyalty; Rainbow Dash.”
On cue the young speedster flew gently from behind the curtains. Her dress clearly mimicking the old battle-armor the Pegasi wore in the founding times when going to war. But the somber clothes had been replaced by the colors of her mane and tail. Swirling in a pattern that made it seem to be moving. The look made her seem ready to take on anything, but at the same time those who saw it could not be helped but to be almost mesmerized into calmness by the swirling colors. A slow courteous nod, made with one of the biggest egocentrical grins this side of reality, she moved next to Luna. Chest puffed out proudly, but still managing to refrain from blowing her own horn.
Celestia let the journalists make a few pictures and allowed the talking to cool down for a few minutes before clearing her throat. “Now for the second avatar. To all who need cheering up or perhaps just a smile or laugh she is the mare to go to. To those who earn their bits planning big fancy gatherings she is known far and wide as 'the pink menace'. But many in the various party-circuits across the land will most likely have heard of her or enjoyed one of her many parties themselves. And if not known for festivities many will know her baking’s and take it from this old mare. You have not lived until you tried one of her creations. And I know many of you have been placing orders at the little bakery for your own gatherings she works at simply due to that fact.”
With that last comment she had looked at a small group of blushing nobles. They had scorned Pinkie for what she had tried to pull at the gala, but at the same time were regulars at Sugarcube Corner due the soul fact of that no baker in Canterlot could create better baked goods , well perhaps save for the ones at the castle but that was to remain a mystery. The Princess didn't want a baking war going on in her kitchens even if the outcome was her having as much cake as she could eat for weeks.
“So remember next time you want a good time at a party, or just a simple baked treat to just ask her. Better prepare while you can, for here comes the avatar of Laughter; Pinkamena Dianne Pie aka Pinkie Pie.”
Celestia was glad she had asked all Avatars to remain silent until all were announced. But of course one could not contain the Pink. Rather than saying anything she had come out rolling out an ominous looking cannon, a somewhat much larger edition then her normal one. With a grin so large it was threatening to rip her cheeks the mare simply pulled on the fuse. A large explosion followed by a large cloud of black smoke filled the spot the mare had been standing. When it cleared here azure and white lollipop themed dress had been stained with sooth. But right in the middle of the room, in the exact place nopony had been standing two large tables were now standing. Both filled to the brim with all manner of baked goods. The plates even had little signs telling what they were holding. The party pony simply skipped towards Celestia to whisper something before turning to her spot besides Rainbow muttering something about using too much frosting while mixing the charge.
Resisting the urge to facehoof Celestia continued with her speech. “Lady Pie wants you to know that all treats are complimentary of Sugarcube Corner, so have as much or little as you want. But to go on with introductions. This mare needs to introduction, as many present will no doubt have either heard of her or are currently wearing one of her designs. But besides a designer of elegance and beauty she is also well known in the charity circles. Instead of sneering and looking down she strives to aid the lesser for tuned. Whether it is a simple compliment or small gift, all come from the heart. So please welcome the avatar of Generosity: Rarity.”
A breath of awe came as Rarity walked out from the curtains. A long stylish dress not unfitting for one of the princesses topped with a few pieces of obviously luxurious jewellery all accenting the diamond-necklace that is the Element of Generosity. Mutterings had risen quite easily, not bad ones mind you. But it had come more from certain nobles who were now willing to bang their heads at a wall, not being able to believe that they led one of the avatars fall through their clutches by snubbing her. A certain blonde stallion in particular felt the need for a serious hard drink after the announcement had been made. The marshmallow white unicorn seemed to drink in all the attention making her shine even brighter. But not until a golden clad hoof gently nudged her to remind Rarity that the spotlight was not hers alone and that they had a few more to announce.
Behind the curtains both Applejack as Twilight were having serious troubles comforting a very anxious Fluttershy. The pegasus had been shaking in fear. Not even wanting to face the large crowd, and even more so because of the reaction her parents might have when they learned that she was not only an national hero but also very closely connected to the two most important ponies alive. By some sort of odd instinct the mare had not sought a hiding place but had curled up in a ball at the closed point of comfort, in this case the only pony around facing a similar situation; Twilight.
There had been no other choice for the mare but to kneel down and slowly try and comfort the terrified Pegasus. There had been no effect at all, at least not until she had mimicked what Fluttershy had done when they first had gotten to know their fate. Just lying beside her and allowing her companion to know that she was there for her. But both know they could not stay like that for long. They both knew they would have to step outside soon enough. For Applejack had stepped out towards the others at the calling of her name.
Meanwhile at the front of the stage, many of those present had been allowed a small respite to visit the tables set up by Pinkie's cannon blast. Happily munching on some snack they had looked at the princesses to continue.
“Hardworking, dependable and honest. Those are the traits any could use to describe the next Avatar. Born and raised on a rather well known orchard it is only natural that these ideals are held in high standards. But besides a farmer she is also an athlete, having competed in some of the hardest rodeo's our fair country knows. So it can be fair to say that as a mare she knows how to have fun, but those around here who have done business with her will know and most likely found out the hard way that she drives a hard bargain.”
The last remark caused more than a few of the attendee's to flinch. Of course it had been widely known that although friendly and hospitable the Apple Clan were savvy and brutal when it came to price negotiations. And it didn't help when the one that was usually sent as a representative was somewhat a living lie-detector.
“Please welcome the avatar of Honesty: Applejack”
Her appearance had been swift and short, not one to showboat or do some crazy antic Applejack had just moved to the front of the stage bowed slightly and walked back towards the three waiting mares.
An almost unnoticed glare towards a group of two wounded pegasi came from Celestia, followed by a small smirk disguised as a smile. What she was about to say would shake the very foundations of their little world.
“All creatures big and small know her, either by name, scent or appearance. No matter who or what you are, one can always find aid at her meadow or cottage whether it be a meal, shelter for the night or medical care. But her skill with animals is not the only thing she is known for. Her natural grace and innocent beauty has landed her a career in fashion as one of its most wanted models. But due personal reasons she decided to end it. Her demeanor and trademark is her shy, gentle and kind posture. Please I ask all to gently and calmly welcome the avatar of Kindness: Fluttershy”
The butterscotch mare's entrance had been sudden as she had been almost forcefully pushed from behind the curtains. Her eyes hidden behind her mane and attempting to make herself as small as possible she scuffled towards Celestia. A few almost inaudible whimpers came from her as the journalists' cameras were flashing. Giving the terrified mare a few flashbacks to a year ago when they had almost hunted her down like mad ponies. The princess felt pity for the pegasus, her shyness was crippling in normal life. But there was no understanding what being forced in the center of attention was doing to Fluttershy. But luckily her moment of solitary spotlight had been over, and she could go to her friends and hide amongst them.
A quick glance to the mare's parents gave her enough amusement to sit through a hundred council sittings. The sheer flabbergasted look on their faces had been priceless. The realization that their 'worthless' daughter was a national hero and in the good graces of both princesses had almost shattered their minds and their faces were showing every little bit of it.
“The last of the avatars is a mare especially close to my heart, having watched her growing from a curious little filly to the mare she is today. Many nobles have wondered about her throughout the years. Some have even asked me, what the lavender foal was doing reading in the corner as I was holding court. By request of her parents I never revealed the full truth. Although I think some have suspected something later on when I started teaching her more advanced spells.”
The entire room had been gasping at this implication. The princess had taken on an apprentice?
There was a mare out there strong and gifted enough to be hoof taught by the solar goddess herself, the last recorded royal apprentice had Crystal Sphere, the unicorn responsible for the crystal-infusion spells now used to power houses with modern comforts as lights and toasters. And that had been nearly seven hundred years ago. Celestia hoped Twilight would forgive her for what she was about to do next. But she had no choice; these secrets should be revealed all at once and not separate. There was no alternative.
“From the moment I laid eyes on her I knew she was special. Just how much I could not imagine in my wildest dreams. Besides giving me my sister back, and stopping Discord and the changeling invasion, she has given our society much more. Her work, under the name of Dawn Glitter, has both revolutionized the way magic is being taught to foals and baffled the magi of the arcanum with her theories and studies in ley-energy. My personal protégé and the avatar of Magic: Twilight Sparkle.”
I do not believe I EVER had to rewrite something this often. I think I lost count on the amount of times I scrapped the whole thing because it just seemed off.
Ponies have 3 coming of age stages:
15: the right to own a house and have a job
18: The right to work full time and also vote on governmental issues and it is the legal drinking age
21: Magic maturity: At this age the internal magic of the pony has reached its peak and will not grow any further. At this age they reach the top of their ability, until then it will only continue to grow.
Earth ponies get their strength and endurance enhanced every year until this time as well as developing a better link to the object of their talent, whether they know what it is or not.
Pegasi will often gain enhancements in flight and weather manipulation. Although history has proven them to be able to gain Earth Pony traits as well if that is their talent.
Unicorns will be able to sustain their magical charge for longer and longer and thus using stronger spells.
And I think from the intro's you can tell who my least favorite is =
Aswell a thanks to TwilightWaffle for helping me getting rid of most of my own horrible grammar.
The moment Twilight stepped from behind the curtain the entire room fell silent. No gasps of awe, no murmur of recognition. Just surprised silence. The little filly and later on shut-in bookworm many of them had seen but dismissed as a nopony or servants daughter or even flat out ridiculed in the past was now standing in front of them not only as a national hero but turned out to be Celestia's apprentice and a well published scientist.
The silence was broken by Celestia. “There will be time for you to ask questions to these mares in a few minutes. But first let us complete this gathering. Luna and myself have not called you here for a mere introduction. Girls, if you could come forth and stand in front of my sister and myself.”
Curious glances became visible on the faces of the six avatars but without hesitation they fell in a single line in front of the princesses.
“In olden times, those who served without question and were willing to give their all to defend those who could not where given titles, land and fame and recognition beyond comprehension. But all thou have gotten was a cold stare at most. Two even paid with thine hearts freedom through our mistake to keep you in secrecy.”
“But no longer shall the shadows of legend shroud you. For in this age, an age in which many ancient foe rose up only to be forced back by your heart, courage and strength we re-instate the ways forgotten by time. Kneel now, young ones.”
Absolute silence reigned as the six kneeled in front of the diarchs. Everypony present looked in anticipation of what followed. Two ethereal blades shimmered into existence. One as dark as the night with the hilt coated with small twinkling lights, its twin was pure white and seemed to radiate light.
Both blades touched the front of the head of each of the six mares at exactly the same time each while the sisters spoke likewise the exact same words at the exact same time.
“Touched by day and night, blessed by harmony herself you have risen to defend our very way of life. You have kneeled in front of your rulers, but now rise as peers. Rise as knight guardians of Equestria.”
A faint glow came from within the elements, as if they were reacting to both the touch of the ethereal blades. From within their glow six glyphs started to take form. Not a second later the glyph had taken root around their necks in the shape of a simple medallion on a golden chain. Celestia smiled as she saw them.
“Remember these signets well my little ponies for these are now your personal seals, a badge of status and office so to speak.” In a softer whisper she added “I will give Twilight a small notice on what they are used for, she will be able to tell you more later on.”
“With recognition given and status restored, we Celestia and Luna of Equestria also grant you land to which you may call your own.
Honest Applejack, for years your family have worked on your acres to supply our nation with produce. From now and until the end of years, it shall be yours fully.
Generous Rarity, in your designs one can often find various precious metals and stones derived from the mountain region near your home. Till now, you had paid an exploration sum to search there. No longer shall that be needed for this region and all within it now falls under your property.
Merry Pinkie Pie, for one who is keen on the moods of others I doubt any stretch of land will suit. On that notice, the crown shall sponsor a theme-park to be constructed on the fields between Canterlot and Ponyville. One that you may call your own. Expect the leader of it’s architects to visit one of these days.
Loyal Rainbow Dash, for a true pegasus as yourself land holds no meaning only the sky and freedom matters. Because of that we choose not to grant you land but instead we absolve you from all flight and cloud home restrictions safe for military regions and sport grounds.
Kind Fluttershy, Flora and Fauna brighten in your vicinity and care. Your meadow is a peaceful oasis for all. We hope your influence will be able to extent itself to all what lives in the area of Ponyville, Therefor we grant to you the area known as the Whitetail Woods.
And lastly wise Twilight Sparkle, knowledge and the unraveling of secrets is what your heart seeks. And no library could ever sate your mind. The land we grant is a mystery on its own, for we grant you the ancient castle-site and its surrounding lands and all mysteries within; the Everfree Forrest as well as all of the possessions remaining within its many ancient ruins.
Lands and obsolesce usually come with a tithe. But not these, they will be in your possession until the day your final breath is drawn as is the title granted to you. These and all their rights are yours and yours alone, contrary to normal gifts bestowed by the crown they will not be passed into the clan fold and will pass when you yourself do. May they serve you as well as you have served your nation”
A moment of silence was the prelude to a massive roaring, the media were shouting all kinds of questions, many of the nobles were outraged by the granting of free lands and titles to mere commoners and those neither noble nor media were simply cheering for both the princesses as the six now recognized heroes.
This time it was Luna who scraped her throat, indicating that they were not finished with the ceremony. How she had been able to overpower the cascading noise in the rather acoustically made room had been beyond the comprehension of many. Celestia shoot her sister an approving glance as the noise started to die.
“And now, please enjoy the remaining few hours of this festivity. You can ask the Avatars your questions however please keep in mind that they are under no obligation to answer you.”
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
The barrage of questions the mane six had been expecting was even worse than they ever imagined. The journalists and reporters had almost literary asked them about everything and then they kept on asking about more random stuff concerning their personalities and lives. That was until one question came which silenced all others.
“Newsflash, Canterlot gazelle. Princess Luna claimed something about having to pay with hearts freedom. What did she mean with that?”
Applejack stepped forward to answer the question “Ah'm sorry, but that question...” It was then that Twilight and Fluttershy glanced at each other and with a simple nod from the Pegasus Twilight placed her hoof on Applejacks shoulder indicating that it was alright. That she would answer because the truth would come out anyway.
“What Applejack means to say is that the story behind it is rather personal. But know that we will not say the full story. We will not reveal names other than the two of us involved. For even though they attempted to ruin our lives with greed it is not for us to go down to their level.”
Twilight felt something rubbing up against her side right before something soft, fluffy and warm was draped over her back. A quick glance told her that a very nervous and scared Fluttershy had joined her in front of the others and even went as far as draping a wing over her. Giving her own silent support and indication of her role in all of this.
“Several weeks ago, two stallions close to Fluttershy and myself used an ancient relic in an attempt to further their own goals. A document so old that it stems from the very beginning of our Princesses' rule. The short of it is that the both of us are to marry each other come spring. Should we fail to comply the consequences are dire.”
Twilight swallowed a bit and continued her little speech. “But before you ask anything else, this is all we are going to say about it.
And with that, the real trouble with the press came, a storm of questions were unleashed. Leading so far that the guard were forced to step in and draw a protective circle around the six Avatars. Luckily most caught the hint, all but a single stallion withdrew from the scene.
The stallion bore a familiar face to both Twilight as Fluttershy, there stumbling drunk off his hooves was Bright Shine. His face scrunched into a scowl he swaggered towards the group, stopping right in front of his niece. Only to raise his hoof and slap Twilight hard, slamming her to the side with a strength usually reserved for Earth Ponies.
“You Bish, al thihs time you coulda spoken to the prinsjesh on our beni, beh, damsh it. To our housjname. I whash right to sjell your blashted hoof to that pehashy. Your worhlesh.”
Just before Bright Shine could strike again he could feel the tip of a rather sharp spear to his throat, one with a very angry Guardspony on the other end.
From the other side Shining Armor and a small detachment of guard walked in. The captain of the royal guard had a large smile plastered on his muzzle, something he was very clearly trying to suppress. “Lord Shine, you are hereby under arrest for the unprovoked strike on a lady of the court. Please come peacefully and regain at least a bit of your dignity.”
Turned out, he did not come peacefully. He had been dragged to a nice damp dungeon under full scrutiny of the press while shouting and screaming like a little foal, albeit a very very drunk little foal. And the parasites known as journalists were eating it up like nothing else ever had mattered.
Twilight could not help but to give a little smirk, while the mare that had been right at her side had simply stood there shell-shocked.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
It had taken a long time for the five remaining mares to snap Fluttershy out of her trance. But to no avail, the rather rude mannerism of Bright Shine combined with pestering from the so called higher nobility, they of course wanted to enlist these 'heroes' into their own small groups of followers, had certainly done a number on the events of the evening for both Twilight as well as Fluttershy and therefor they had retreated to the room they had been given. But with the large amount of nobles requesting shelter as well they had been forced to share a room, luckily though Celestia had been kind enough to make sure they had two rather spacious single beds instead of a single double.
Now within the silent seclusion of their chambers snug under their blankets their troubles had started to fade away a bit. Resulting in the normal chatter one could find during a sleepover between friends.
“So ‘Shy, did you see that stallion trying to flirt with Applejack? I mean, come on. I doubt he`s done a single honest day of work in his entire life. You think he`ll take her up on the offer to come down to the orchards?”
“Ooh yes, he was not a very nice pony.“
Their bantering went on for about half an hour. Although to be honest it had been more Twilight talking and Fluttershy listening and nodding a bit. That was until the subject of their own love-lives came up. A topic they both had dodged around off for different reasons.
“So Twilight, how about you? Have you had any crushes or coltfriends if you don't mind me asking?”
The lavender mare looked up at the semi hidden form of Fluttershy with a bit of a smile and a large blush. “Well before coming to Ponyville I thought it would be pointless. But since you girls opened my eyes a bit you could say there had been one or two ponies who have caught my eyes.”
Fluttershy was puzzled by that statement; Twilight had not mentioned a gender. Could it be that she too was 'defective'? But that would be impossible; it had been made very clear to her during flight school that she had been a unique case.
“But I never acted towards it; I mean at least at that point my uncle had been right. Who would want to be with somepony like myself? Who in their right mind would like to be with a nerdy know-it-all shut-in who fails at basic social acts?” Had the room not been dark Fluttershy would have seen the crestfallen look on her fiancés face. But the voice she had spoken of told the pegasus that the words she had heard were not her own, but rather those what she had heard often enough to make sure that the mare believed they were true. This was once more a small reminder just how insecure she was. Throughout the years she had shown time and time again that although she had great power and potential there had something completely off about her self-image. At times she seemed to drive to excel, but most times it looked as if someone had took her confidence and self-worth only to simply shatter it. Leaving behind a brilliant mind, but one unable to accept that fact or function properly in anything social. Something Fluttershy herself could relate to, having been subjected to something similar herself. She could only hope that one day Twilight would open up to her or any of their friends. But right now, showing the mare she was not alone anymore and providing at least a bit of comfort was more important.
The soft clopping of hooves were not registered by Twilight's ears. Her thoughts had been with the voices of many of her classmates and former so called 'friends'. They had all started to treat her like a freak after one to many straight A on a difficult test and especially after she lost control of her powers once more during an exercise meant to measure the depth of the Unicorns lay-energy reserves. Afterwards they had dropped her like a stone, just being content on hammering on every flaw they could detect. In the end she had chosen to simply withdraw completely from the remainder of the world. Slowly but surely a fragile shell started to form around her soul. A shield to rebuke the hurtful comments. At first it worked, she was no longer really bothered by them when she started to appear less in public or ignoring their harsh words and gestures.
But it worked too well, even though she no longer felt their remarks hit. They still had power, and with that her shield backfired. Instead of allowing her to vent her feelings about them they too were locked within. Slowly festering and knawing upon the depths of her being. Until all that remained were the echoes of those very words she sought to keep out.
Echoes she could now hear clearly, but then from seemingly nowhere she felt a soft warmness press against her when a soft voice simply lulled them away “Shh, it will be ok. All will be alright. And you are not unlikable.” A soft kiss just below the horn was felt and followed by an almost inaudible squeak “And even though you are no Flitter, I can say for sure then most stallions would be jealous of me for having a mare like you.”
Fluttershy's last words never registered fully in Twilight's brain. All the lavender mare could think of was the comforting warmth of her fiancé / friend. A warm embrace which seemed to drive all worries and doubts away. A single thought filled her mind as she slowly fell asleep. 'Now I know why animals love being around her. Fluttershy does not equal free food and easy shelter to them, no far from it. She equals comfort and safety.'
The night slipped by peacefully. After Twilight had finally stopped her soft sobbing and had went to a somewhat peaceful sleep Fluttershy had not lasted long as well and in that sleep an old problem for the pegasus had started to surface.
When Twilight had woken up she had found herself pressed deeply into the other mares chest, while there were two hooves around her chest clutching tightly as if she had been the favorite plushy of a small foal. As well as receiving an occasional nuzzle.
At first she had been shocked to wake up like this, but after a few passing minutes, she almost had one of her near legendary freak-outs when she caught herself sighing in content. Content not only with being in a cozy bed, but more about being there and subjugated to the tender loving affection of the other sleeping mare.
Moments of blissful peace passed as Twilight mused upon her situation and conflicting emotional state.
Her rational part had been picking apart the situation, trying to explain to her mind why the other mare needed to be woken right away. But despite all the effort this side was taking, a small voice in her heart was slowly winning ground. Whispering soft words combined with memories from times.
She had been flashing back to when they had first met, how the pegasus had gracefully floated in front of her birds before the scene had been rudely disrupted. Her trip ended at the night she had woken from her mental breakdown with the butterscotch mare besides her.
But strangely enough, the focus of the memories had no focus at all. They all seemed to be focusing on the small private moments they had shared. An awkward silence here; a hug or a bit of support there.
The more she thought about it the same strange but rather warm feeling she had felt the previous night started to show its face again. Last night she had thought it had been Shy's almost natural maternal aura emitting strongly. But now she was not so sure about it. Sure, it had felt like it would as if her own mother or even Celestia had been comforting her. But this was different, it felt so very right but at the same time it scared her beyond believe because she simply could not understand it.
Her musings and subsequently her self-loathing about that last thought had been cut short by the stirring of the fuzzy object clinging onto her. Softly the stirring became a bit more rational movement until a massive and surprisingly loud yawn signaled that Fluttershy had finally woken up.
Twilight looked up from the safety of their shared blanked and Fluttershy's chest. Only to look into two shocked blue orbs. Moving with a speed not unworthy of Rainbow the yellowish pegasus had detached herself from her 'plushy' and had rushed under the impossibly small place underneath the second bed.
A rather heavy blush appeared on the scholarly mare's face at her friend’s peculiar method of hiding. The head and part of the front shoulders had been sticking under the bed. But the tail end had been stuck high in the air. Almost giving off a full view to the mare it was facing had it not been for the long tail flowing in a long obscuring arch.
The soft quivering brought forth an almost hypnotic movement urging Twilight to come closer. Her brain had almost completely shut down until she had her hoof a mere inch or so from that teasingly flowing pink tail. She had almost brushed it away to reveal the grand prize it guarded when her senses snapped back.
Her already rather potent blush increased tenfold once realization struck. Her hoof still in place near Fluttershy's tail trailed further and gently rubbed the back of the scared mare. Her mind had pushed the past events into a small cabinet in her mind to deal with later. For now she had a Fluttershy to calm down.
It had taken nearly half an hour for Twilight to be able to coax the mare out from her hiding place. But now she had a terrified and sobbing mare on her hooves. It took a bit of concentration and a very keen hearing but she was finally making process into calming the poor thing down. For after a while a squeaking mumbling could be heard. It was only because she sat right beside the other mare that she was able to understand it.
“I am so sorry Twilight, after last night I should have just gone to bed. But I was so tired, I couldn’t even get up. And I guess you understand now why I never sleep close to others. I never meant to make things awkward.”
The down casted look increased to heartbreaking levels as the pegasus continued. “It’s alright to hate me now; it’s ok to hate a freak like me.” A small teardrop fell from the timid mares' muzzle. A single drop, spilling into the small pool which already had formed. A second drop never had the chance to fall into the collective of others for a lavender leg had draped itself over Fluttershy's shoulders and dragged her close to the body of the owner.
Twilight had acted on instinct, but she was wishing very hard for a pony like Applejack or Rarity to be there. Those two always seemed to know what to say and how to cheer somepony up. Well maybe not as good as Pinkie, but there was little doubt that the antics of that mare would do little at this point. She took a deep breath and decided to at least try and lift her companions spirit.
“Fluttershy, please don't think like that. You are a strong and wonderful mare. I know for a fact that many would agree with me. Believe me when I say that you are not a freak.”
A teary blue eye peeked from underneath pink mane. With a shaking voice Fluttershy spoke “Who ever heard of a pegasus who's afraid of heights? Who has ever heard of a pegasus who cannot fly more than a simple hoover or glide.”
And in an even softer voice she whispered “And what other than a freak can you call a mare who only likes other mares. “
Although it had been spoken so silent it was just above a whisper, but to Twilight it had might has just as well been shouted. It had explained a lot, Fluttershy's nervous attitude when speaking about a crush or even love in general, her being somewhat ok with being shipped off with another mare and her almost over the top reaction to waking up snuggled up with her.
But what had surprised her more than anything had been the fact that it had appeared that Fluttershy had no clue on what she was and although it had been rare to be fully that way it was not completely unheard off. Not very accepted but still it happened enough to be well documented as a biological phenomenon due the rather off-balance ratio between genders.
Delicately Twilight brought Fluttershy's down casted head up with her hoof so that they may speak more normally. The tear soaked eyes looking into her own nearly broke her heart, but armed with knowledge a small albeit concerned smile came to Twilights face as she spoke “Fluttershy, please listen to me. You are not a freak you silly filly. It is called being homosexual, or in more commonly known terms; being a lesbian or fillyfooler.” The confused look on the yellow mare's face spurred the other to continue with her explanation.
“And it is nothing to be ashamed of; who ever said that it was not normal was wrong. Now wipe away those tears, and show me that smile.”
Her last word was emphasised with a gentle nuzzle to the other’s cheek. Twilight herself had no idea as to why she had chosen to take that particular action but it somehow felt right to her. Right to be this close to Fluttershy and be able to comfort the reserved mare in a time like this.
That the notion could be taken in a different light in that situation had not even occurred to the scholar. But unfortunately for her, Fluttershy had picked up on that alternate reasoning quite clearly.
As the nuzzling ceased and both looked at each other again, Fluttershy had been in almost a complete shock by Twilight's gesture. To the unicorn it had been meant as a friendly comfort, but the butterscotch mare had some very mixed feelings about it thanks to the previous conversation. A rather heavy blush appeared as she thought about the dual nature of the rather intimate moment.
A blush not completely unnoticed by Twilight, to whom it had begun to dawn as well and had started to blush as well.
At that point of realization, both nearly into the big mac spectrum of red and looking straight in each other’s eyes, a pristine white unicorn entered their guestroom and nearly fainted at the sight of what she thought had happened.
During previous visits in the castle it had not been uncommon for the six friends to wander into each others rooms, although there had been some arrangements and agreements made in terms of signals after Rainbow walked in on Pinkie and a guard during a 'special party' after they had that hearth's warming eve pageant. It ended well, for the lucky stallion at least, but they had felt the need for some clear signs after that.
Signs both Twilight as Fluttershy never put up because they knew they had no need for them.
“Well, well, well darlings did I interrupt anything? Please by all means do excuse me and I will leave you little lovebirds to your well euhm private time.” With a sly wink and a smirk Rarity turned around and started to leave.
Leaving an incoherent Twilight stammering a ramble of excuses sounding a hell of a lot similar to “It isn’t what it looked like” and “Nothing happened I swear”. And a very flustered Fluttershy who had merely squeaked out a “EEP” Before curling up in a ball and quivering.
Casting a last peeking look to see if anything juicy had started to happen Rarity saw what her comment had brought forth. A two thoughts went through her head, ’either I was very right about this or I could not have been more wrong.'
Turning towards the other mares once more she gained even more doubt. Her pristine attention to detail and addiction to smut-novels kicked in at the same time, both perfectly blending together. Something was not right in this situation; the both of them behaved way too oddly. Normally Twilight would be in complete panic mode, but this time she sounded like a broken record, repeating the same thing over and over again. Yet at the same time, Rarity saw how the mare's eyes constantly flickered towards the ball-shaped Pegasus.
As for Fluttershy herself, her panic mode seemed similar to almost every other. But she had known the mare for years, and they had been the best of friends for years. During those years she learned the small but very important details in those panic attacks. When fearful she freezes or hides, but when completely embarrassed and fearful she curls up. When she does she always seems to face the one closest to her heart. Usually it had been Rarity herself or Applejack, whose family had taken care of the mare when she had fallen from Cloudsdale.
But now she had collapsed almost directly beside Twilight. These signs, they meant something. If anything all those novels told her the very same thing. The both of them had done something, or she had just ruined a perfect moment leading to a passionate confession of love.
She slowly walked over to the two others and gently nudged them with her hoof in hopes to shake them out of their stupor.
“So, the girls and I were wondering whether the two of you were up yet. So if you two would be very kind and join me. For I am afraid that if we do not come to breakfast soon our dear Pinkie might just start eating the table. You know how she gets when she's hungry.”
That last comment seemed to snap at least Twilight out of most of her stupor and had elected a small smirk. And with combined effort they had managed to coax Fluttershy out of hers. At least well enough for the three of them to make it downstairs well enough for breakfast.