After the car was clear of the doorway Luna was led into the throne room by her sister, the doors closing with a thunderous slam behind them. I waited calmly for all of ten seconds before I heard something.
“WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING ALL NIGHT,” boomed Celestia’s voice. The volume of her voice, and the fact that I wasn’t listening at the door, told me she was far more angry than she looked.
“And so this guy’s Zack,” said one of the dusky pegasi to a couple of the guards who were out here.
“He’s not dangerous is he,” asked one.
“No he isn’t Sheer; he’s been surprisingly well behaved so far.”
“BUT THAT ISN’T THE POINT,” rang Celestia’s voice again.
I sighed and walked over to the talking soldiers. “Do they normally fight?”
“Well, if they do then they’re a lot quieter about it,” replied a beige pony on the fringe of the group. “Sorry, my name is Aureus.”
“This is all very strange to me Aureus, is there anything you can tell me to help things along?”
“Well I’m afraid that you arrival may have worn on Princess Celestia’s last vestige of patience this morning.”
“It’s her nephew, Prince Blueblood. He has requested an appointment with her highness and well…”
“He’s an insufferable brat,” I suggested.
Aureus smiled. “Yes, I think that’s a polite way to put it. Princess Celestia hasn’t been willing to talk to Prince Blueblood for years. Not since he became, as you put it, an insufferable brat.”
“Well, perhaps I can help her in that department.”
“Oh, and just what do you think you could do?”
“What any criminal of my quality can do. The kind of thing I do best.”
“You expect Princess Celestia to ask for a criminal’s assistance?”
“I expect her to see that even a criminal can help her run a nation. I’ll need some tools for the job and, if you have a plan, I’ll need a few supplies more specific materials.” This sounds like good practice, I thought. Now, I have a rule about women. Actually, I have a few. The important one is to, regardless of the circumstance, always be polite and gentlemanly. After all, to quote Congreve, ‘Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.’
“I UNDERSTAND,” shrieked Celestia, “BUT HE’S A CRIMINAL!”
I sighed as I heard the lack of confidence screaming on the other side of the doors. “I’d rather take house arrest over prison if at all possible Aureus; I have to prove it to her don’t I?”
“I’m afraid so.”
I went back over to the car and fished through the glove box, hoping for a notepad and something to write with, no such luck. “I’m willing to do a little cloak and dagger to evade prison, but I need to write important things down so we’re all clear about what I’d like to get and what I can’t get.”
“So what’s ‘cloak and dagger’ Mr. Criminal,” asked a soldier. He was a white unicorn with a blue mane.
“It’s more secretive, like espionage, but you weren’t here earlier,” I replied, my mind ripe with curiosity. “I’d rather be called Zack if you don’t mind.” Though you may end up interrogating me, I thought. In that case, I’ll need to suggest ‘Mr. Raes’ instead.
“No I wasn’t, but I could hear the argument during my patrol.”
“So, correct me if I’m wrong but, now you want to know why nobody’s throwing me in prison?”
“Yes, if you are a criminal why are you just standing around in the palace?”
“I DON’T CARE,” roared Luna’s voice from past the doors.
“That seems to be where the argument is at right now,” I replied nervously.
“Well,” Aureus interjected, “I will have to risk going inside. I’ll need to announce Prince Blueblood soon.”
“Wait,” said unicorn with the blue mane, “does Princess Celestia know he’s on his way?”
“Yes she does, but she has no way to avoid him.”
“This fight,” I suggested. “We can all look busy by moving my car out of the way and someone can tell him to reschedule or something.”
“Just hear me out, I know my way around a situation. I fall into a different category of criminal than say a pickpocket or a,” I shivered at the thought of it, “killer. Okay, I have stolen from time to time but that’s not important. What is important is that I know how to talk my way around an issue. I specialize in white-collar crime. You know forgery, fraud, cons, that sort of thing. With the right supplies, I can forge just about any legal document.” I’ll just avoid the persuasion boasting for now, I reminded myself.
“That could work for a long term solution,” replied Aureus. “We need to get Prince Blueblood out of Princess Celestia’s mane for a while and you could help us with that.”
“What exactly would I be doing?”
“We can send Prince Blueblood to the academy and serve his time as a soldier, just like every noble stallion has to.”
“Then I’ll need handwriting samples, the proper inks, proper papers, formatting peculiarities, and examples of acceptance papers.”
“You’ll also need to learn our written language,” said Princess Celestia as the doors opened. She seemed far more composed than when I had fist seen her, but I suppose that what I saw was just as Aureus said, the last vestige of her patience.
“Yes, I suppose so your highness. Do you need anything else that will require my expertise?”
She gave me an impish grin. “I’ll tell you if something arises; Shining Armor?”
The unicorn with the blue mane stepped forward. “Yes Princess Celestia?”
“Show him to a guest quarters for the time being.” She turned to look directly at me, “I’ll make sure you receive all the tools you require Mr. Raes. As well as a tailor if you need one.”
“Thank you very much,” I replied as Princess Luna ducked out and Aureus slipped in, “I won’t disappoint you.”
“Better not,” Shining Armor whispered to me.
“We’ll help you with the car,” said one of the black armored pegasi.
Getting the car around the castle was hard and we eventually chose to slip it into an, according to Shining Armor, rarely used corridor. I made a mental note to find a better place for it later.
“I think I agree with Captain Shining Armor,” said one of my guides. “For your own safety, you better not disappoint Princess Celestia.”
“Well, she rules half of the day right? I would hope I don’t displease her at the very least.” She seems like a tough employer, I silently added. I couldn’t deny that doing something like this would cement myself into a nice, albeit niche, position. Still, the ruler of the daylight hours sounded far too impressive to go forgotten in my mind.
Then there was Princess Luna. If I understood it right, then she ruled the other half of the day. Perhaps I was a curiosity to Luna and based on her alarm, Luna brought me here. I can’t exactly lean on her either, she could send me back and I fear for those prospects.
Eventually the only one left with me was Shining Armor, our resident Night Guards had elected to sleep. “I know you don’t approve of me,” I chanced.
“You’re right, I don’t approve,” he replied coldly, “you’re a criminal and then you show up here and expect us to just accept that?”
“I can’t prove I can help amend this ‘snobby prince’ issue without help. I’ll need the tools and materials Shining Armor.”
I had to quickly stop as he creaked open a door. “This will be your room for the time being.”
“Well then, thank you for showing me the way.” He didn’t even acknowledge my thanks as he trotted of. With a sigh, I walked into the dark room.
After fumbling around for a while, I found the window curtains and let the sun illuminate the room. “Work cut out for me,” I said dryly to the dusty, cobweb encrusted room. A gorgeous view of New York or a relaxing tropical beach it wasn’t, but this was where I picked up the last few shards of my former life. I was ready to mold them into my new life, one where I probably should watch what my hands grab.
Celestia continued to try to tune out Blueblood all morning, meeting with mixed results and a desperate urge to nap. You can do this, she reminded herself. Once he is called to the academy, you’ll be free of him until you have to inspect the new soldiers. Princess Celestia’s mind continued to drift along with thoughts of sending Blueblood to almost certain doom that she hardly even noticed that he had stopped talking.
“Is something wrong Princess,” asked Aureus as he looked up to her nervously.
Celestia cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, it’s our guest Aureus. I was wondering if he’s not being shown around too much.”
“There is a guest in the castle,” asked Blueblood, “I’ve not heard of anypony travelling to Canterlot to see you au… I’m sorry, Princess Celestia.”
Celestia smiled, her first genuine smile since Blueblood entered her sight. At least you remember I’m in charge nephew, she silently reprimanded. “We have a guest who has traveled a very long way to help me handle a few problems around Canterlot.”
“Well, would you mind introducing me to him?”
“I’m afraid I can’t, he would rather keep to himself while he gets acquainted with his new living arrangements.”
“Then could you please just-”
“It doesn’t matter how many times you ask or plead, I will not give an order to destroy a small town just because your night was ruined. It’s been a long time since then and you need to show everypony that you can rise above one unfortunate event.”
“I won’t hear another word about it. You are a prince, Blueblood. I expect you to act as a pillar for all of ponykind to follow if you wish to keep being called one.” Please take the hint and leave!
“Consider it dropped,” said Blueblood with a sigh. “I’ll let you get back to more important affairs Princess.” As he withdrew from Celestia’s sight everypony present felt more relieved.