Eclipse, we let you have today to relax, but you need to get out there, not hide in the castle all day! Celestia's words echoed in Eclipse's mind as he stood behind the door, listening to the murmurs outside. So, I made arrangements for you. A meet-and-greet party, of sorts... Eclipse groaned inwardly for what must have been the thousandth time. "This can't end well... I tried to tell her, but this just can't end well." He took a deep breath and gripped the handle to the door. Luna and I have to attend a follow-up meeting to the one from this morning, so you'll be on your own... Luna had joined her sister, once again double-teaming him so that he couldn't squirm away. And you'll have to look your best! That means mane trimmed, showered, brushed, claws neatly clipped, and a suit. A wonderful seamstress named "Rarity" is coming from Ponyville to take your measurements and create a suit for you.
Without taking any more time to talk himself out of it, Eclipse opened the door and stepped into the Canterlot Ballroom. Everything became silent for a moment as all of the ponies in the room turned to look at him. Most of them seemed to be the Canterlot elite, with flamboyant dresses and suits. Eclipse froze, feeling a lot like he had when he was up on stage during his introduction. For a few awkward seconds, everything was silent. Then, all of the ponies returned to their conversations, except for the ones closest to him, who began to introduce themselves and shake his hand.
"I say, you do look and awful lot like that dreadful 'Discord' fellow! I suppose that it's a good thing that you're not him, ay?" One stallion noted with a pretentious-sounding laugh.
"Oh, yes!" The mare next to him agreed as Eclipse shook her hoof. "I must say, though, the resemblance is quite uncanny! Are all draconequui so similar, are are you two somehow related?"
"Well... Discord was my brother..." Eclipse muttered, preparing himself for the worst possible reaction.
"Really? Darling, that's simply scandalous! I had heard rumors of such, but I dared not believe them!" She laughed. "So you're the brother of Discord, and the last of your race? I have a feeling that you'll be simply smashing at this year's Galloping Gala! You are planning on attending, correct?"
"Oh, and you MUST come to the art gallery! I have a feeling that you're chaotic viewpoint would be precisely what our abstract theme would need at our art show!" Another pony pleaded.
"Well, I'm honored, but I'm really not very much into the arts, or parties..." Eclipse mumbled.
"Oh, and you must come to the Wonderbolts Derby sometime!" A pegasus in a blue uniform insisted, flying up to eye-level. "I'm sure that the team would love to meet you! And with your powers, you can probably conjure up some great new obstacles for us to train with!"
"Well, maybe... If cotton candy is an obstacle..." Eclipse was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed as invitations began to flood in. The attention of everypony was starting to finally shift to him, now that he had opened his mouth. "I- I'm sorry, but I don't really have many plans on leaving the castle much..."
This was met with a loud chorus of whines, and even more invitations. The crowd began pressing towards him as every pony tried to speak to him at once, and Eclipse began to retreat backward, one step at a time. Nearby, a cotton candy cloud began raining into the punch bowl.
"Come to my art show!"
"We MUST have lunch sometime!"
"Oh, I'd love for you to come and visit our fashion show!"
"And don't forget our garden party next Thursday!"
Eclipse was really beginning to freak out now, and the tiled floor below became beautiful shades of pink and magenta, then changed to soap.
"Everypony, Please! You're scaring him!" A voice called out above the rest, and everything became silent as they all turned around at the apparently familiar voice. All together, the ponies bowed down and made way, and Eclipse saw the pony who had managed to calm things down in just a few seconds trying to skate on the soapy floor.
It only took a moment for Eclipse to see that this pony was an alicorn. She was a bright pink, but the tips of her wings darkened to a beautiful violet. Her mane was a beautiful mix of cream, pink and violet, and her flowing dress was accented with gold trim. Behind her, a large, white colt in a red suit coat and wearing a violet coat-of-arms across his chest fumbled behind her, trying to keep his balance.
When she finally reached him, she dropped into as close to a curtsy as possible on the soapy floor. "Eclipse! It's truly a pleasure!"
Eclipse shook his head and snapped his fingers, changing the floor back to normal. "Please, don't bow to me! Princess Cadence, I presume?" He gave a deep bow. "You're the royalty here!"
"Yes, but the honor is ours!" Shining Armor smiled and joined his wife, giving a bow of his own. "To meet the last draconequus..."
"Please, you don't have to consider that any kind of reason to give me special treatment..." Eclipse tried to chuckle to hide the sting. "It's not exactly a privilege..."
"Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-" Cadence started to apologize, but Eclipse shook his head and waved it off.
"Of course not! I can understand why most ponies think that, it's because I'm a rare find..." He tried to think of an example that wouldn't sound pretentious or self-centered. "Like a fossil."
"It's because you're one-of-a kind! Like an original painting!" Cadence smiled. By now, all of the other ponies had gone back to their own business. "I must admit, when Shining Armor told me that there was a draconequus staying at the castle, I could hardly believe him! Then, Aunt Celestia wrote to me and told me a bit about you, and I became convinced!" She laughed and shook his claw.
Eclipse thought for a moment. "Wait... If you're Celestia's niece, does that make you Luna's daughter?"
"Well, it's funny that you should ask that. You see..."
Eclipse, Cadence, and Shining Armor stayed together for the majority of the night, calmly chatting between introductions. Cadence insisted that ponies keep their attention off of her and on Eclipse, but still had to shake a lot of hooves, herself.
"You're a lucky guy, Shining Armor." Eclipse whispered with a smile while Cadence was occupied. "You found a great mare."
"Thanks, Eclipse." The comment didn't surprise the captain of the guard, he had received compliments like it very often. "Do you plan on looking for anyone special?"
"Nah, I'm the last draconequus, remember? No ladies of my species to be found..." He laughed a little. "I think I'm just going to figure out what I enjoy doing around here, and keep on doing it until I get sick of it."
"You mean, you're not going to even try?" Shining Armor looked up at him with more than a bit of surprise. "Would they have to be another draconequus? I mean... There are examples throughout history of inter-species-"
"No, I just like being alone..." Eclipse cut him short. "Keeps things simple. Besides, the life of an eternal bachelor? That's something to look forward to! Nothing but fun, twenty-four-seven!!"
"Being in love isn't that bad, either..." Shining Armor smiled, seeing what Eclipse was doing: giving himself excuses not to try. "But you can do whatever makes you happy, I guess."
"What did I miss?" Cadence asked as she walked back again, looking no worse for the wear after receiving so much attention.
"Nothing!" Eclipse rolled his eyes backwards, trying to avoid making eye contact. He had seen that Cadence's cutie mark had SOMETHING to do with love, and if she was anything like her aunts, she would try to play "Cupid"
"Eclipse and I were just talking about guy things..." Shining Armor winked at Eclipse, understanding why Eclipse didn't want to tell her. "Cadence, we should probably be heading home, it's getting late."
"But we're having such a great time!" Cadence looked around, and most of the visiting ponies had left to go home.
"Oh, don't worry, your highness. I'm sure that we could meet again, sometime!" Eclipse smiled and bowed. "I must agree with Shining Armor, though. It's getting late, and well past my bed time..." He pulled an alarm clock out of his pocket to check the time, but it began to violently ring and exploded loudly. Eclipse shrugged off the event as if it was normal. "Until next time, Princess Mi Amore Cadenza!"
"Wait, Eclipse!" Cadence managed to squeeze out the words between her laughter at his clockwork antics. "Would you be willing to come spend some time with us... Thursday night?"
Eclipse thought for a moment. "Well, let me check my schedule..." He reached into his pocket again, pulling out a tiny schedule book. As he opened it, a few moths flew out and dust blew up into his face in a soft plume. "Yes..." He coughed. "I'm definitely free!"
"Wonderful! Don't eat, we'll have dinner at our house. Shining Armor will come and get you after he finishes his work." Cadence smiled. "It's really been nice meeting you, Eclipse! I'm looking forward to seeing you again!"
"As am I!" Eclipse nodded and snapped his fingers, teleporting out of the Ballroom and back into his own bedroom. He quickly pulled off the suit and hung it up, then immediately jumped into bed. "You know..." He muttered. "Celestia and Luna were right. Now that I have some friends, I'm not feeling as scared anymore..."
"I told you so!" Luna's voice came from the moon sitting in the corner of his room. "You just needed to learn to adapt a bit! Change your perspective!"
"Luna! Were you eavesdropping on me?" Eclipse walked over to the moon and activated the video feed, where he could see Luna with her back to him, practicing playing Space Invaders on the small console in her room.
"No! You left your end on!" The game paused, and she turned around. "I just happened to hear y- AAUGH! What HAPPENED to you?"
Eclipse laughed, knowing exactly what Luna was seeing. "What happened? You scared me clean out of my skin! Revenge is sweet..." He chuckled and snapped his fingers, his skin reappearing on his body. "But... You were right. I had fun... Thanks to your niece! She saved me from a veritable flood of ponies..."
"Oh, you met Cadence! Wonderful!" Luna laughed. "I'm glad that she could help you out!"
"Yes... By the way, you alicorns have one twisted family tree..." Eclipse laughed. "Cadence took about ten minutes explaining how she's both your niece and Celestia's..."
Luna rolled her eyes. "You should go to sleep, Eclipse. You had a big night tonight..." She turned back to her game, un-pausing the aliens.
"That's a hoot coming from you..." Eclipse mumbled, turning off the communication and going back to his bed. Soon, he fell asleep, still smiling as he remembered everything that had transpired through the night. A bit overwhelming at times, but great!
Everything was dark. Eclipse was hovering, but without flapping his wings or using any type of magic. He looked around, trying to see if he could find anyone. "Hello?"
"Clips... I've missed you..." The voice was impossibly loud, filling the entire void and shaking the air. "What have you been doing? You stopped visiting."
Eclipse froze. "D-Dizzy! I.. I haven't been up to much! Just the usual... You know! Timber Wolves, Ursas, Zap Apples... Mortal peril and all! I'm sorry I haven't been around to visit, but things have been tougher than usual lately..."
"Really? Because if my stony ears heard correctly, you got caught by that silly filly, Celestia!" Discord appeared out of the mist, arms folded in a tense look of disappointment. "Now, I can feel that you're sleeping much closer by than usual."
"Oh! Celestia was there?" Eclipse tried to look surprised, avoiding looking into his brother's red eyes. "Gee! I guess it's a good thing I had to stay at home..."
"Don't lie to me, Eclipse!" Discord grabbed Eclipse's shoulders and threw him against a wall, staring straight into his eyes. "I heard everything! You're getting goody-goody with those ponies!" His red eyes seemed to bore holes straight through Eclipse's heart. Eclipse didn't even reply, almost falling into a trance of fear. "They're no good, Clips!" Discord let his brother go, and they both slowly floated down into the abyss below. "They can't be trusted! You're going to end up like I did if you try going it alone..." His tone softened to one that Eclipse could almost recognize from the days before the two of them had split apart.
"Dizzy... They're not that bad..." Eclipse whispered in a feeble attempt to convince his brother of the legitimacy of his new friends
"Not that bad? Eclipse, they're killers! They froze me in stone!" Discord was yelling again... "You need to get away, Clips! Help me get out of here, and together, we can-"
"No!" It was Eclipse's turn to yell, now. Discord had pushed him beyond trying to remain calm. "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times! I'm not helping you conquer Equestria! I don't care what you say, I'm not doing it!"
A deck of playing cards appeared in Discord's hand. He threw them up into the air, and they separated into a ring that surrounded them, silently circling. "Then you run. You had better run, Eclipse. They're going to get you, eventually..." His hand shot out without even looking, plucking two cards from the ring. He held up the first: the ever-familiar draconequus joker. "This... Is you! Easy to show off, good for a laugh, but never serving a true purpose in the deck. Eventually, the joker just gets shoved to the side... Thrown away!" Discord's voice had dropped to a growl. "The other card... Is the truth." He grabbed Eclipse's arm and slapped the card into his palm, face down. Eclipse began to shake out of fear, and nearly dropped the card as he turned it up.
It was the queen of... hearts. The heart insignia, however, was shattered. The illustration, on the other hand, was completely clear. Celestia and Luna shared the same throne, and were both dressed in the attire of the typical queen of hearts illustration. Each one had their own scepter, and they were both pointing at the source of their uproarious laughter: the draconequus jester, Eclipse.
"You're their pet, Eclipse-o..."
Tears quickly welled up in Eclipse's eyes. "This... It's not the truth... It can't be."
Discord moved forward, gripping his brother in a hug. "Listen carefully, bro. Not only are you their pet, but once you've outlived the number of tricks that you can do to keep them entertained..." He turned the card over, revealing a new picture on the back. It was the joker again, but this time with a wide gap between the neck and the head. "They'll eradicate the 'threat' of the draconequus race once and for all..."
"They wouldn't..." Eclipse's words were more for himself, his recently built trust in his friends taking a dramatic turn downhill. "They've been helping me make friends..."
"Oh, so that when they frame you, the public execution won't seem so out of place?" Discord drew his finger across his neck, and his head disattached from his body. "I don't have to be a mind reader to see what's going to happen, Clips... And I don't want it to!" As the two brothers floated in the air, pieces of Eclipse's heart fell into the abyss below. The darkness around them began to creep in again. "Eclipse, I don't have much time! You have to get me out... or run. Run away by yourself! Please, Eclipse! Let me help..." The darkness finally became blinding, leaving Eclipse completely and utterly alone on a moonless night.
[ Author's note: Okay, everyone! I'm bearing down on 20 chapters and 2,000 chapter views, not to mention, I've almost smashed the 3,000 words per chapter barrier! To celebrate these three momentous occasions (momentous for me, anyway...) I'm having a special event of my own!
Chapter 20 is going to be a one-shot GAG chapter! Submit ideas of what you think would be a hilarious situation for our "intrepid heroes" via PM, and I'll read them and pick a favorite! Credit for the idea will go to the submitter, and the idea will be completely contained in one chapter! After that, we'll return to our regularly scheduled chaos.
Thanks for the support, I WANT to hear from you all! -Pennington Inkwell ]