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A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Fanfic
As per usual… this is a fanfiction. I don’t own the characters, or the setting, or anything like that.
A lot can change in a millennium. One millennium is a thousand years, or over fifty thousand weeks-- practically an eternity. Thousands of ponies can be born. Thousands more can die. Nations have risen and fallen in this quantifiable span of time that is somehow also forever.
One thing that certainly hadn’t changed is the growing feeling of stage fright. Teal eyes peered searchingly out of the midnight blue face, gleaming like two shining sapphires suspended in the heavens. Princess Luna sighed and made another minor adjustment to her tiara. "I… I don't know about this-- ow!"
Though moved with near infinite care, the floating mane brush had snagged on a tangled bit in Princess Luna's billowing, star-flecked mane. The nervous attendant who'd been moving the brush winced and stood stock-still. A shiver ran down the unlucky mare's spine as the royal alicorn turned slowly, raising an inquiring eyebrow. After an uncomfortable moment of silence, the servant managed to stammer out an apology. "S-s-sorry Your Majesty…"
Princess Luna sighed. The little green and yellow unicorn had been her attendant for the past six months and was still terrified in the presence of the former Nightmare Moon. The goddess tried to think of something soothing to say to-- what was her name again? Luna had never had her sister's talent for remembering everypony's name without great effort… Was it Lemon Lime? Key Lime Pie? Uh… Oh! Yes, of course. "Lemon Zest…"
"Y-yes Princess Luna?" Oh Celestia, the princess was going to punish her. Lemon Zest's concentration failed and the mane brush clattered to the tile floor of the dressing room as she felt her throat tighten.
Reaching down casually with her magic, Princess Luna lifted the brush up to eye level and offered it back to her attendant. "Please, Lemon Zest. You've worked for me for what, the past six months? You don't need to be frightened of me."
"Of… course, Princess Luna." Taking the brush very very carefully, Lemon Zest went back to work. As before, she worked in silence. The quiet was almost oppressive, but the princess was hardly going to force one of her servants to have a conversation against her will. When the job was completed, Lemon Zest simply nodded and quickly fled the room, obviously feeling herself lucky to have survived without a reprimand or banishment.
Luna sighed and massaged her suddenly aching head with one exquisitely polished hoof. There was no doubt about it; her servants had done their best. But they were all still frightened out of their socks when around her. …Did ponies of this age even wear socks? Egh. She sighed again, staring at herself in the mirror. What did they have to be frightened of? Yes, she'd had her… incidents… but she was better now! Really!
Of course, that was what was tonight was all about. Luna set her jaw in determination and stared fiercely at her reflection in the mirror. She could do this. Just an easy trip down to the dining hall to attend the banquet that Celestia had planned for her. No need to be so nervous about it, right?
Okay yes, the formal dinner was on the very night that the mortal ponies had chosen to commemorate their darker ruler's time of madness… But no, Luna couldn't think about that now. That was the whole point of the banquet, she was sure-- to distract the lunar princess from the fact that thousands of ponies were training their foals to scream at the very sight of her.
The royal alicorn nodded resolutely-- or what she hoped was resolutely-- to her reflection and turned to leave. "All right. I'm ready. Guards? Take me to the banquet… my guests await."
Saluting, one of the two armored pegasus guards turned to open the door. Light glittered off the golden armor as he moved. Princess Luna moved to go through-- but stopped a few steps from the portal and rushed back to the mirror. Wait! Had she checked her teeth for alfalfa? Aaah she wasn't ready!
Luna couldn't help but laugh at herself as she scrutinized her teeth closely in the mirror and found herself checking her breath. Heh… how silly. An entire holiday devoted to 'Nightmare Moon' frightening the life out of ponies across Equestria, and yet she was the one who was scared. She halted her impromptu dental exam when one of the guards coughed.
"Anxious, Your Highness?" rumbled the guard on the left with a soft, basso voice. Let's see… which one was he? Was it Vengeance, or Wrath?
"Ahahaha… haha… N-no! Not at all. Pray tell what gave thee-- er you-- that idea, Vengeance?" Luna laughed neurotically, a peal of nervous laughter that quickly trailed off into awkward silence. She winced. It had taken months of practice to speak normally to common ponies, and still she slipped up like that when distracted.
At least Luna hadn't slipped into the magical bullhorn that was the Royal Canterlot Voice. That just meant she was going to have to keep her wits about her even more… Her subjects might not be as understanding as the castle staff and royal guard contingent. The last thing she and her sister needed were-- no! Bad Luna, you're thinking of the worst possible scenario again...
Vengeance ignored the warning looks he was getting from his counterpart, Wrath, and forged ahead. "Begging your pardon, Princess. You just seem a little on the, um… jumpy side tonight?"
"Forsooth, We-- ahem. I mean, yes, I suppose I am a little," Luna admitted, hanging her head a bit. She waited for a response, but none was forthcoming-- Wrath had taken the opportunity to deliver a sharp yet unobtrusive kick to the forelock of the overly chatty Vengeance.
The sudden return to one-sided conversation did nothing for Luna's nerves. Both nature and one of nature's goddesses abhor a vacuum. She rushed to fill it with more anxious words. "It's just that, this will be my first official public appearance, and… it has to go well. It has to! I don't want the ponies of Equestria shivering in fear all the time at the mere mention of my… of Nightmare Moon."
"I'm sure it will be fine, Your Highness. You’re ready now?" Wrath asked curtly, using his official 'talking to important ponies' tone.
"Of- of course." Princess Luna nodded.
Wrath kept his relieved sigh entirely mental as he turned and opened the door, going out and clearing the hallway. Princess Luna watched her guard move quietly and professionally about his duties. After a moment her eyes flicked up to a wayward drifting lock of dark, nebulous corona that wreathed her head. "M-my mane! Does it look all right?"
Vengeance rolled his eyes as the princess rushed back to her mirror to re-check her mane. Yeah, Wrath, things were going to go swimmingly with Princess Luna nearly beside herself with worry. With his interfering partner out of the room waiting for their royal charge to follow, the dark-coated pegasus pony moved quietly to the princess' side. "Um, Your Highness?"
It took a moment for Princess Luna to even realize he'd spoken as she stared neurotically at her reflection in the mirror, hunting for imagined imperfections. She looked at herself as a whole for a moment and sighed. She was acting like a basket case. "Y-yes, Wra-- er, Vengeance? I… I really seem that nervous?"
And how. Vengeance nodded, trying to keep the emphatic agreement toned down to a deferential level. "With respect, Your Highness, you do."
That wasn't good. Princess Luna took a deep breath and sighed deeply, trying to let the tension drain away. It didn't work. "All right. I need to do something to calm down…"
Wrath cleared his throat. He'd wondered what was taking so long, and a quick glance back in the door had only confirmed his suspicions. This farce was going to end, now. "Your Majesty? It's time to go."
Princess Luna searched her reflection in the mirror, her mouth was set in a thin, resolute line. She nodded once and then turned to go. "Of course, Wrath. I know what I need to do now."
Finally. Wrath moved smartly back out into the hallway, checking to make sure that the princess was close behind. Oh, thank Celestia. Finally they could get this show on the road. The relieved guard pony started to trot briskly in the direction of the banquet hall and the no doubt impatiently waiting guests. He paused when he noticed that Princess Luna wasn't following. "…Princess?"
Princess Luna shook her head. "No, Wrath. Not yet. Come with me; we're going to make a detour…"
Vengeance and Wrath exchanged a glance over the Princess' winged back. The latter managed to give Vengeance a quick glare promising that words would be exchanged about this later on. His inconveniently solicitous counterpart simply shrugged, waving one gray-feathered wing dismissively as they trotted three abreast down the corridor. Where was Princess Luna taking them?
The trio was soon out of the regularly travelled areas of the castle and deep into its dusty, poorly lit recesses. Wherever Princess Luna's determination was taking her, it wasn't close by. If watches had been part of the approved royal guard uniform, Wrath would have been glancing at his nervously. The princess had gone from fashionably late to well and truly late several minutes ago and yet she showed no signs of ending her search for… whatever it was.
Even Vengeance seemed a bit apprehensive about what he'd helped unleash. When the Princess paused for a moment to get her bearings at a torch-lit intersection, the guard cleared his throat and broached the subject. "Um, Princess Luna? Er… Princess? Your Highness?"
Princess Luna didn't answer. She seemed to be muttering under her breath as she took a right turn and stopped in front of a large, spider web-coated door. "There! We're here."
"…Where's 'here?'" asked Wrath with a concerned glance back up the shadow-darkened corridor. That was not a question anypony in the royal guard should have had to ask, but with all the twists and turns the royal alicorn had taken, neither pegasus could quite figure out where they were in relation to the more commonly frequented parts of the castle.
Grinning, Princess Luna ignited her horn's energies and pushed at the heavy iron-bound door. It swung inward with a slight hiss of stale air. How long had it remained closed? Without waiting for her guards to clear the area ahead of her, Luna brushed aside the clinging cobwebs and stepped inside. So it was here. She'd read about it, but even then she hadn't been quite sure…
Vengeance found himself shooting apologetic glances at Wrath as they hurried to follow the unnervingly confident princess into this new and unknown part of the castle. He leaned close to whisper in his counterpart's ear. "Seriously, Wrath, where are we? You're sure you don't know?"
"I was hoping you did! I hope you're happy, you brain-dead mule; you're the one who gave her this idea," Wrath hissed, trying to keep his angry voice low to avoid bothering the lunar princess.
Nodding with satisfaction, Princess Luna surveyed the buried treasure her careful research and impetuous decision had unearthed. The first dust-coated bottle clinked as she slid it carefully out of the age-smoothed wooden rack. Ruby red fluid moved sluggishly in the dark green bottle as Luna turned it over, blowing off the label.
Vengeance ground his teeth together. Brain-dead mule, eh? "Oh that's rich, Wrath. We're supposed to protect the princess! That doesn't mean just diving in front of any crossbow bolts heading her way!"
"What in the nine hells of the Moon are you talking about now?" Wrath snarled. Of all the nights for Vengeance to start getting ideas above his station…
"You were just going to let her go out there in front of all those ponies. You saw the state she was in. The poor filly was terrified! I thought maybe we could, oh I don't know, help her calm down before she had a nervous breakdown in front of everypony!" Vengeance flared his wings a bit for emphasis, his voice rising slightly.
"Hmm… Chateau au S…something" Luna trailed off as the words faded into illegibility. Age had blotted out the full name of the vintage, but it was clearly a fine red wine-- most likely some of the finest in the kingdom. Could it really be that Tia had forgotten this place? It seemed so. But no matter… now the treasure was hers! This was almost as good as finding a particularly ancient book in the palace library!
The princess giggled happily. Here, in the quiet, dusty room with only her small entourage of guards, Luna felt right at home. No pony-filled banquet hall or horrible, almost insulting Nightmare Night to consider…
"Well the next time you--" Wrath broke off mid-accusation as the unexpected pop of an opening bottle caught his attention. He looked up and saw Princess Luna smiling almost dreamily at an open bottle. Bottle..?
Up until now both guards had been to busy arguing to do a proper examination of the dimly illuminated, vault-ceilinged chamber. They checked it now, working by the blue, ethereal light of Princess Luna's horn. A quick survey now revealed it to be chock full of bottles, barrels, casks, flasks, kegs, and all manner of beverage container large and small.
"Sweet Celestia, it's full of booze," Vengeance murmured softly.
Oblivious to the consternation of her guards, Princess Luna concentrated, focussing on the dusty cork held aloft by her magic. With a flash, it disappeared and a delicate wine glass appeared in its place. Ah, good. She hadn't lost her touch with transformation magic.
Princess Luna looked up to see both pegasus guards staring around the room incredulously. Oh. She'd almost forgotten. "Er… Wrath? Vengeance? Welcome to my sister’s-- to Our wine cellar."
Without further ado, Princess Luna tipped the bottle carefully. The wine glass seemed to sing musically as the deep red wine poured into it. It smelled heavenly. A glass of this, and perhaps Luna would feel ready to face the eyes of her subjects… Those eyes. All those eyes… Maybe two glasses would be better.
"She brought us all the way down here to get a drink?! Why didn't she just order it up to her room?" Wrath groaned, half under his breath. He grunted as Vengeance jabbed him in the side with a quick flick of his wing.
"Shut it, Wrath. Look how much more at ease she is now! She's not even slipping into Ye Olde Equestrian." Of course. A bit of liquid courage before the big event. Vengeance felt himself relax a bit. This was… normal, right?
Wrath shot a scathing glance at his partner. That had sounded an awful lot like mockery of Her Royal Highness. "That's not even a language. You just made that up."
Clicking his tongue disapprovingly, Vengeance rolled his eyes. "Way to show your lack of education, Wrath. Of course it existed, what do you think they-- whups, she's drinking it. We'll be out of here soon."
Luna raised the glass and put it to her lips. The taste was fruity and complex, and left a pleasant, warm sensation that slid down the alicorn's throat all the way to her belly.
Ah… that was very nice. Luna breathed out, sighing happily. But something was missing. She glanced at the guards. Of course. What's a drink if you can't share it with somepony? Two more glasses appeared, solidifying out of the copious dust in the air. "Care for a drink, gentlecolts?"
That wasn't good. A pregnant pause stretched out as both guards looked at each other. The royal guard regulations gave the guard ponies a lot of leeway on many things-- letting princesses wander off into giant rooms full of alcohol when they really, really should be entertaining the cream of Canterlot society for instance-- but there were some things on which they were abundantly clear. Being drunk on duty could have only one result.
Struggling to find a graceful excuse, Wrath broke the silence first. "Uh… Well, you see, Your Highness, I'm afraid we can't..."
"We're on duty," Vengeance explained.
The moon princess' lip stuck out in an adorable pout. She seemed to sag in on herself a bit. "Oh… I… I suppose that makes sense…"
Vengeance rubbed the bridge of his muzzle with one iron-shod hoof. Oh Celestia, she was going to cry. He was going to make the co-ruler of Equestria cry if he didn't do this. Well. Only one thing to do. "Well… Your Majesty, I guess a little won't hurt…"
Just as Wrath looked ready to live up to his name, Vengeance hastened to add, "…But then we should probably get you back to the banquet, right?"
At the mention of the banquet, Princess Luna quickly tossed back another glass. She refilled her own glass and filled the two others, brightening a bit as she floated the drinks towards the pegasus guards. "Well all right… Please, enjoy it. It's quite good."
Wrath took a careful sip, quickly followed by Vengeance. The princess was right. It was quite good. A pleasant, warming sensation spread through his body. Before Wrath realized it, he had emptied his glass… the first glass of what would soon be many.
A lot of things can change in an hour. One hour is sixty minutes, or over three thousand seconds-- practically an eternity. Ponies can be born, or die. Nations can rise or fall in that short span that is somehow also forever.
One thing that had certainly changed in the past hour was how many hard edges the world had. It seemed to have lost a lot of them—or perhaps that was just the blurring that alcohol seemed to be giving everything. The straight-laced Wrath weaved drunkenly back and forth as he brought back another bottle, laying it down with an audible clink at the floor by his two drinking buddies' hooves-- his two drinking buddies who were in fact Vengeance and a newcomer. What was her name again? L… Lunar? Luna! Yeah, that was right. Princess Luna.
Vengeance was, for at least the third time, telling Princess Luna the story of how the three of them had found the wine cellar. Normally the swaying pegasus would have annoyed Wrath with his repetitions, but that was all right-- thanks to Vengeance's current level of intoxication, it was like hearing entirely separate tales. Each time the story gained and lost various details in the retelling. "Sho, Princess, you've got to unner- understand. We were terr… terr… scared out of our witsh! I mean here we are wi… with Princess Buckin' Luna, on Nightmare Night, wannerin through the crypts under Canterlot…"
"Hah! Speakest thou to Us about… 'Nightmare' Night?!" Princess Luna waved one hoof in imperious dismissal and took another swig from a bottle. Bizarrely, instead of slurring as she grew more and more sloshed, the lunar princess simply shed at least a month of careful study in modern Equestrian. She took another drink and, regarding the empty bottle with annoyance, tossed it away and grabbed another.
Well, Vengeance reflected dully, perhaps Luna wasn't shedding a month exactly… otherwise she would have gone into negative months at least half an hour previously. Was it possible to have negative months? For some reason the idea was immensely funny to him. He broke started giggling. "Ss-ssorry pr… pr… Luna…"
Luna took a swig from her new bottle. It was more properly a jug-- a large, brown affair with large crossed black lines 'X X X' across the side. She wasn't even sure what something like that was doing in a wine cellar-- at least, she wouldn't have been sure if she'd been sober enough to consider it in the first place. As it was, the princess was feeling far too good to worry about where her alcohol was coming from, let alone what it was. It burned going down, but it burned going down in a good way. That was what mattered.
Wrath uncrossed his eyes. He had obviously been concentrating on something. "I've been… been thinking, Yer Mag… Magicity… Yer nervous 'cos everypony's scared of you, right?"
Nodding slowly, Luna wiped away a tear. She took another swig from the jug. Alcohol fumes were practically visible on her breath as she sighed. "Even as thou speakest, the ponies of Equestria teach their colts and fillies to scream and fly from Our very likeness! 'Tis the gravest of injustices!"
Vengeance scowled. What a cr… cr… what was the word? Clock? That didn't seem right. "Thatsh terrible, Wrath! Whatsh..should we do?"
"I shay-- Here'sh what I say… She should go down there an… an tell 'em!" Wrath stamped emphatically, shattering a bottle underhoof. He didn't notice.
Princess Luna looked intrigued-- or tried to. She was having trouble focussing on the talking gray blur in front of her. "What sayest thou, Wrath?"
"Tell thoshe poniesh how nice you… you really are, Prinshesh!" Wrath exclaimed triumphantly. Having said his piece, he sat down with a thump and yawned hugely. Why was he so tired? His front hooves began to slide across the rough stone blocks as his body lowered itself to the floor.
Vengeance clapped his front hooves together, nodding enthusiastically. "Yeah! Princess Luna is aweshome! Everypony should know!"
A smile spread across the dark alicorn's face, quickly widening into a happy, if slightly lopsided, grin. Hah! Perhaps she could! She stood up unsteadily and took a step forward, nearly falling flat on her face as she tripped over… something. It was a discarded wine bottle. She glared blearily at it as her mind continued working.
Perhaps… perhaps a goodwill visit, of sorts. This could be just what Luna needed! To the Moon with some silly old banquet that her sister had planned for her. It was probably over now, anyway. And even if it wasn't, well… Now she had other plans.
Vengeance blinked dully. Oooch, he could tell he was going to feel this in the morning. Maybe he should… wait. Princess Luna was staring at him with a strange, calculating look on his face. Fighting a wave of dizziness, he tried to stand up straight.
Luna examined the two dark gray pegasus guards. Whatever Celestia was paying these two, it wasn't enough. They were brilliant! But how best to compensate them for their sage advice… Hmm… "Guards! Attend thy princess' words!"
Groaning as Vengeance kicked him awake, Wrath got slowly to his hooves. "Wuzzat? Jus… just lyin down for a minute… Oh!"
The second guard--what was his name again? Wrap?-- leaped to attention. Luna grinned. Such eager ponies. She would have to reward them well. "From this day forth, thou art Our personal guards! Attend thy princess!"
"Yesh Yer Highnesh!" the two guards chorused. A second later both were gaping down at themselves in surprise as midnight blue energy coursed over their bodies. Golden armor and blue-feathered plumes changed and twisted, turning dark and jagged. Both pegasus stallions groaned as the tingling sensations brushed across their wings, making the male ponies' heads swim with the sudden mind-fogging pleasure.
In an instant, the bizarre sensations were gone. Wrath stared at Vengeance. Vengeance stared right back. The two of them saw each other as if in a funhouse mirror. Wrath nudged his counterpart… at least, he thought it was his counterpart. It still looked a lot like Vengeance, but now the purple-maned pegasus was sporting bat wings instead of the usual gray feathered limbs. "…Whoah. Vengeance, izzat you?"
"Y-yeah…" Vengeance returned the astonished stare with evil-looking amber cat eyes as he took in his friend's new panoply. In place of burnished golden plate and feathered plumes, Wrath wore armor so deeply blued as to be almost matte, adorned with a ferocious black-purple fan that matched his new wings.
Princess Luna looked down at her personal guards with a pleased, serene smile. She started forward-- and nearly tripped over another bottle. This would never do. She had such things to do, but for some strange reason she could hardly walk straight! Concentrating on the effect she wanted, she cast another spell. Energy crackled across her lithe form and was gone. The alicorn took an experimental step, and felt the spell's energy guiding her feet and keeping her upright. "There! Guards! Your princess is ready!"
"R-ready, Yer Highness?" Shocked slightly out of his drunkenness, Vengeance tried to concentrate on the Princess' words. She was saying something… important.
"We ride… for Ponyville! To the bat-chariot, faithful steeds!" With that, Princess Luna galloped out the door.
Still struggling to throw off the effects of their revelry, Vengeance and Wrath stumbled after the royal alicorn. Wrath stumbled and bumped into the wall, but kept going. There was going to be trouble over this. He was sure of it.
…A lot of things can change in a day. One day is twenty-four hours, or over fourteen hundred minutes-- practically an eternity. Ponies can be born, or die. Nations can rise or fall in that short span that is somehow also forever.
One thing that certainly doesn't change in a day is the existence of hangovers. Wrath groaned as he tried to move the brush across the stone floor without allowing the hissing sound of its scrubbing to rasp away at his one remaining nerve. He was in agony. The world had been swimming before his watery eyes since he woke up four hours previous-- and the only compensation was that he wasn't alone in his misery.
"Psst," somepony hissed.
Wrath glanced up, his feline pupils still drawn into narrow slits by the brilliant light of the parade ground. Yep, there was Vengeance, his bat-wings seeming to wilt, drooping down the sides of his body as he scrubbed away at the stone floor not a stone's throw from Wrath. The other pony was looking meaningfully in his direction. Wrath tried to ignore him and went back to cleaning.
Vengeance wasn't going to give up that easily. "Wrath! Psst!"
"What do you want?" Wrath snarled.
One dark gray hoof pointed. Vengeance grinned nervously. Surely Wrath wasn't that mad about all this, was he? "Er, Wrath? You missed a spot."
"…I hate you, Vengeance. I hate you so much."
First off, I stole the names of Luna's guards from Ask Whirly and the Night Guards. It's a pretty good Ask Tumblr. You should read it.
Secondly GOOD FREAKING GOD how the heck can, "Luna gets drunk; shows up at ponyville" take this long to write? What is wrong with me? I could actually have kept going with the punitive detail at the end there, but I had a momentary reassertion of sanity and chopped it where I did.