// Story: A Knight's Tale
// Chapter: Chapter 3
// Author: lionel23
Twilight poured the knight a cup of tea as he sat down on a pillow opposite the table; his eyes were constantly scanning and studying the room they were in – all strange and quite different than he was used to seeing. Angel Song sat to his immediate left while Applejack and Spike sat to his right, leaving Twilight sitting directly across from her newly inducted guest.
"If I may, could you tell us where it is that you come from?" Twilight Sparkle asked of her guest formally.
"Thou may, milady, for I see no reason not to answer thy questions for the hospitality thou hath shown me. I hail from the Kingdom of Canterbury; it lies far, far along the borders of Equestria."
"Canterbury? Can't say I've ever heard of such a place," Applejack piped in, tipping her hat to one side as she looked at the knight.
"I wouldn't be surprised if thou has. Not many of my fellow ponies have occasion to leave Canterbury. We're far too isolated and removed from the rest of Equestria to make many trips to the heartland, and more often than not it is only in the direst of circumstances."
"I assume it is because of one of those circumstances that brings you out here then, Sir Knight Light?" Angel Song immediately cut in as she set her cup of tea down after a polite sip.
Knight Light was in the middle of bending forward to sip at the tea cup on the table but froze at the unicorn's sudden and abrupt question.
"Wh-whatever makes thou think that?" Knight Light asked nervously, his face still hovering close to the tea cup.
"Well, judging by your shifty reaction from earlier and how dodgy you've been, it would seem that whatever 'mission' you're on, it must be quite secretive for you to be so mum about the whole affair, am I not right?" Angel Song poised the analysis back at the knightly pony.
"Quite observant, art thou?" Knight Light pursed his lips and nursed his drink, taking only a small sip as he kept his silence.
Twilight looked uneasily between her two guests as Angel Song's glare continued to bore down on the nervous knight, who seemed to shrink and recoil in reaction. At this rate, she may not get much more information out of her knightly guest if the grilling continued, so Twilight Sparkle let out a nervous laugh to liven up the mood.
"Please Angel Song, he must be very tired from his trip. I'm sure there will be another time for questions, won't there be, Sir Knight Light?"
Noting the window of opportunity afforded him, Sir Knight Light pounced with military precision on the opening.
"Ah, but of course, Lady Twilight Sparkle," Knight Light sat upright, nary casting a glance over at the suspecting unicorn to his side, "Tell me, is it usual for thy villagers to interrogate all strangers that just wander by?"
"Oh no! Of course not," Twilight tried to deflect the answer, least she make Ponyville seem like a hub of skepticism and stereotypical gossip, though in all honesty that wasn't too far removed from the truth, "but you see Angel Song here isn't from Ponyville."
"Oh is that so?" Knight Light turned his eyes towards Angel Song without really cocking his head to fully acknowledge her, "Where is it that thou art from then?"
"Indeed it is," Angel Song said in a matter-of-factly tone, bringing up her hoof in a prideful fashion to rest against her chest, "I am from Canterlot, for I serve her royal highness herself,"
Knight Light nearly spit out his tea… well, in fact he did with the unfortunate victim of the spray being none other than 'Sir' Spike who now stood there, drenched in disgust; however, nopony seemed to pay him any mind as the exchange between the two guests continued.
"Thou art from Canterlot?!"
Angel Song, who had the upper hand in the interrogation, blinked and nodded in surprise, speechless and a bit flushed by his sudden and intent attention he was now giving her, which threw her off-guard. This sudden shift became even more pronounced as he bent his face close to hers since they were seated so closely to one another.
"Tis most wonderful news, most wonderful news indeed,"
"Come again?" Applejack titled her signature cowboy hat forward, just as lost and utterly confused as Twilight and Angel Song were.
"Let me reintroduce myself then, if what thou say art true. I am no mere knight but a prince. I am Prince Knight Light of Castle Canterbury, and I am very glad to make thy acquaintance, Lady Angel Song,"
Angel Song began to blush as all eyes were focused on the two of them, and it got even worse when her mind slowly began to assimilate the newfound information presented before her.
A… prince?! He's a prince pony? An actual princely pony?!
She was supposed to be the one in control of the situation here. She has always been the master of diplomacy and speechcraft, having always used her gift of words to control and steer maters of royal importance in the best interest of her Princess she served. After all, it was her duty to protect and look out for Princess Luna, but that strange feeling again returned to tug at her in her chest. Whatever it was, it was beginning to drive her mad as she still had yet to identify what that feeling was.
"Oh?" was the only response that popped into Angel's head as all further thoughts just came up a blank inside her head.
"Lady Angel Song, I must meet with the Princess as soon as possible. For it is most imperative that I seek council with her at once!"
Twilight was the only one that was fully aware of the situation transpiring between her two guests. While Applejack was dumbfounded and busy watching the exchange, Twilight had been quietly observing each of their expressions and was picking up on the fact that Angel Song was quite flustered and speechless before the Prince, though why she couldn't quite place her hoof on it. Pinkie Pie, on the other hand…. Well, she was just enjoying a cookie, totally oblivious to the conversation at hoof.
"The Princess?" Twilight interjected in a timely manner on Angel's behalf, "Why is it that you must see the Princess?"
"I guess tis time for the truth to come out then? Very well," Knight Light stood on all fours, walking towards the nearest window as she spoke from over his shoulder, "Thou see, all is not well in the state of Canterbury."
The others remained silent, waiting for him to go on once he had composed himself, which he did so in no short order.
"In the Realm, there art two great and powerful pony kingdoms. Canterbury is hence where I am from; proud home of the Knight Order of Canterbury Castle. The other kingdom is great and strong, though a bit barbaric by my pony's standards. That place is known as the Domain of Trotterdam.
Thou see, Trotterdam is the ancestral home of the warponies, and they are currently led by the Warlord Deiter Coltrane. Throughout our long and sordid history, both Canterbury and Trotterdam have guarded the borders of Equestria from all manners of danger: from ghosties and ghoulies to long-legged beasties, to things that go bump in the night."
"But something happened to change that dynamic, I take it?" Twilight deduced.
"Thou art quite right, Lady Twilight Sparkle. Usually, one of the two kingdoms will be the predominant one in charge of the Realm and remain so… that is, until there is some sort of change in the balance of power. Trotterdam did so by procuring for itself a rather… unique pony."
"Unique? Unique in what way?" Applejack asked.
"They now possess a unicorn that is both great and powerful. Thou see, from our part of Equestria it is very, very uncommon to find anypony other than Earth ponies. To highlight, within Castle Canterbury only my very own Captain of the Guard is a unicorn. So, when a unicorn happened to join the ranks of the warponies, there was a crisis of states.
By tradition, we have always held a tournament in which each side would nominate a champion for their kingdom. The champion who is crowned the winner of said event would end up representing the predominant authority for the Realm. We Knights of Canterbury won said event."
"If that is true," Applejack interrupted briskly, "I don't quite reckon what the problem is then. Y'all won didn' ya?"
"Trotterdam's unicorn did not think so, and accused us of cheating, saying that such obviously weak ponies could not have possibly won the tournament fairly. Needless to say, there was quite a… scene, and before we knew it, Trotterdam had declared an open feud against Canterbury. They vowed to take control of the crown by force, and shortly thereafter Castle Canterbury came under siege."
"Oh my," Twilight's eyes narrowed at what this could mean for the rest of Equestria, it was like the situation with Cerberus happening all over again if left unchecked.
"My thoughts exactly. The only option available to my ponies was to go and seek out an equally great and powerful unicorn to contest Trotterdam. I broke through their lines with but a handful of knights and eventually… well, the rest is history at that point and why I stand before thou now. Needless to say, my company has been hounded and doggedly pursued by our foes ever since our departure."
"There are others?" Applejack raised a brow at that.
"There… were," Knight Light faltered, obviously to Twilight it was a sore point that they need not get into right now.
"So because you're on the run, you've been doing your best to not entangle innocent bystanders on your journey?" Twilight reflected.
"Thou hath a sharp eye, Lady Twilight Sparkle. Indeed, I and my company of knights have kept off the roads as much as possible, to conceal our presence; however, before we could reach this here village – Ponyville if I recall the name correctly – we were overtaken by our pursuers and were left with no choice but to split up. Those who did escape should hopefully be finding their way here now as we speak.
But that still doesn't change the fact that I must make it to Canterlot and petition the Princess to intervene on behalf of Canterbury, or I am afraid all hope will be lost."
Silence hung in the room as the gravity of the situation sank into everypony there… well, all except Pinkie Pie who was busy quaffing two more cookies simultaneously in her mouth. Twilight was about to open her mouth and lecture her for not reading the moment when a sudden noise broke the silence abruptly.
Knight Light and Angel Song looked around cautiously for the source of the strange and unusual noise, but its owner knew exactly what – or rather, who – it was.
"Owlowiscious?" Twilight called out to her pet.
Owlowiscious, Twilight Sparkle's nighttime assistant and faithful pet, flew in from the nearest window and landed on her back.
"A friend of yours?" Prince Knight Light asked curious, pushing up on the edge of his helmet with his hoof to get a better look at the bird.
"You can say that," Twilight looked to her pet owl, noticing he was slightly agitated, "Owlowiscious, is something the matter?"
Who, who! Hooted the nocturnal bird as it fluttered over to land near a window on the far side of the room. Applejack cantered over to the window, tilting her hat the opposite way to get a close look outside.
"Twilight, its Rarity and Fluttershy and… oh Nellie! They have company!"
* * *
"Boys, boys; no need to crowd around me so much! There's plenty of me to go around." Rarity giggled like a schoolgirl filly with fancy new ribbons as she found herself surrounded by Canterbury knights.
At the rear of the group was Fluttershy with the lone pegasus knight, and they both walked in total silence with bashful looks to the ground as they followed in the wake of their friends.
"Fair Rarity, I cannot begin to thank you enough," Captain Silver Lancer said at the head of the group of knights that hovered around the fashionista.
"Oh! It was nothing, nothing at all! What else would somepony in my position do but offer a helping hoof to such gallant and noble steeds?" Rarity smiled while relishing and basking in the glow of the knight's attention.
"But I insist, milady. If it weren't for you, us knights would be at a complete lost," Silver Lancer politely retorted, though each and every knight unconsciously puffed up their chests from Rarity's compliments.
"Well, if you must insist… I'm not going to stop you," Rarity's mind was racing with the possibilities of what she could do with oh-so-many handsome pony knights. But as fate would have it, things always had a different way of turning out for the high society pony.
"Rarity? Just what in the hay are y'all doing?" Applejack stepped out from Twilight's house.
Like clowns filing out of a clown car, Applejack was soon followed by Spike, Pinkie Pie, Twilight, and finally two more ponies she didn't recognize – one of them clad in similar garb as the knights accompanying her.
"What's this? You have one too?" Rarity sounded flummoxed at seeing 'her' collection of knights incomplete – or the mere notion she was the last to 'catch on'.
"Beg pardon?" Applejack made a face at the fashion pony.
"I think she is referring to him," Angel Song looked at Rarity with deadpan eyes as the Prince walked up alongside her.
"My fellow knights, I am so glad to see thou safe and in good order, and also in such fine company with the lady before us I see," Prince Knight Light grinned at Rarity while passing off the compliment.
"Milord!" the knights stopped and bowed in unison to their Prince, with Rarity making an inquisitive face at what was happening.
Fluttershy and the pegasus knight merely stopped in place and looked on, though the knight shifted a little uneasily in his place.
"Twilight, just what is going on here? It's almost like we've stepped before royalty here," Rarity complained to her purple pony friend.
"I think it would be best if we take this inside, don't you agree Twilight?" Angel Song spoke softly to Twilight Sparkle.
"Of course. Rarity, Fluttershy, would you both mind coming inside for a moment?"
The group followed Twilight inside, with Twilight's original party resuming their places while Rarity and most of the knights taking a comfortable spot by the staircase leading up the Twilight's bedroom. Fluttershy and the Pegasus knight took to sitting with their backs against Twilight's bed as they looked down at all those gathered while Silver Lancer took a spot at the table besides Twilight.
"Now would someone please start explaining what is going on here?" Rarity demanded, her patience wearing thin at being left out of whatever was transpiring here.
Prince Knight Light nodded to the Captain to proceed, and he began to fill in the pieces that both Rarity and Fluttershy had missed moments before when they had the Prince explain the whole situation earlier.
"But however did you come to find them all, especially so quickly?" Spike asked, as curiosity had gotten the best of him after everypony was filled in to what was going on.
"Well, I just so happened to be at the Spa, getting my 'usual' done when one after another each of these handsome pony knights just walked in. They seemed lost and confused and I just couldn't let things stand as it was."
"Uh-huh," Twilight nodded categorically, "And you Fluttershy?"
"Well, yes Twilight… I was, um… going to go feed the animals behind my house when I… uh, ran into, um… Sir Butterscotch, was it?" Fluttershy demurely asked the pegasus beside her.
"Y-y-yes it is, milady," he mumbled his words as he nodded meekly.
Twilight couldn't help but think that if he weren't a colt, that there seriously could have been two Fluttershy's sitting before her. Oh gosh, how awkward that would be if that were true!
"Thank you, Mr. Butterscotch… um, where was I? Oh yes, right! So I went out back and I found him already feeing my little animal friends. So I watched him and he was kindly cracking the nuts for the squirrels exactly like how I would… and singing with the birds after they had their midafternoon meal…"
Both pegasus ponies seemed to blush at their common, shared interests came to light.
"I did not know our very own Butterscotch sang," Captain Silver Lancer chuckled, "When we return to Canterlot, I really must hear this voice. But please, do continue your tale."
"Afterwards, Miss Fluttershy came out of hiding and introduced herself… and we ended up talking and talking… and I guess I sort of let slip I was looking for my friends…" Butterscotch admitted remorsefully.
"Sir Butterscotch!" Captain Silver Lancer looked perturbed that the secret of their quest had been revealed too early, but a quick wave of Prince Knight Light's hoof silenced the Captain and resolved the matter.
"It's all right, Captain. Go on, Sir Butterscotch," prompted the Prince.
Thankful, the pegasus knight took a deep sigh of relief and felt Fluttershy's hoof squeezing his in reassurance. No one down below could see from their viewpoint, but deep down he was very glad she was there right beside him.
"Miss Fluttershy recommended we go find Miss Rarity, and by that point she had already collected everypony but you, milord." Butterscotch wrapped up his explanation and took a deep breath. Finally, he was done having to speak!
"Which returns us to the present, milord," Captain Silver Lancer looked over at the Prince.
"And a very princely dilemma," Angel Song said solemnly.
"Milord, you told them you were a Prince?!" Silver Lancer caught the hint in Angel Song's words and stared askance at the Prince.
"P-P-PRINCE?!" Rarity squealed and trotted eagerly in place, much to the semi-disappointment to the knights gathered around her.
"I… let it slip?" he smiled apologetically, though Twilight and Angel caught a glimmer of mischievousness in his eyes, "But that's all water under the bridge now. We still need to decide our next course of action from here on out."
Rarity's brain had different plans in mind. This was her chance to meet a REAL Prince, not a phony lout like that Prince Blueblood whom she had met at the Grand Galloping Gala. Twilight Sparkle merely rolled her eyes, having correctly predicted Rarity's reaction to the news, though she made deathly sure that Rarity did not catch her rolling her eyes.
"You all just arrived in Ponyville, can't you stay a little while longer?" Rarity's voice had the hint of hurt as she approached the table from her corner spot in the room.
"I would love to say we could, Lady Rarity," Silver Lancer turned his glance towards the unicorn and nodded sadly, "But I can't help but feel that we'd be imposing on Lady Twilight—"
"Nonsense, of course she doesn't mind at all!" Rarity spoke louder than usual, drawing a stern look from the librarian. But Rarity merely pretended she had not seen her expression at all.
Captain Silver Lancer looked once over to Twilight Sparkle before looking towards the Prince seated at the end of the table.
"We are very much in your debt then, Lady Twilight, and your kindness and generosity Lady Rarity. But there still is the matter of our… pursuers. We must make it to Canterlot as soon as possible. The longer we dally here, the greater our chance of being caught. And if we are found here, I'm afraid it would create quite a scene, and one that I would be remiss if we let occur."
"Do you think they'd actually start a fight right here in the heart of Ponyville? They must realize that they and this village are both under the jurisdiction of the Princess?" Angel Song stated in a calm, composed manner.
Twilight could detect a hint of alarm in her voice though and while gazing over at the Prince she caught his downturned eyes and knew the answer to Angel Song's question before he even spoke.
"I'm afraid that wouldn't matter to them, Lady Angel Song," Prince Knight Light answered gravely, "The warlord would not hesitate to tear down all of Ponyville in his mad obsession to find us knights; building by building, pony by pony if he must. Truth be told, even if we weren't here, nopony would truly be safe until we have all been apprehended."
The Prince bent down and slowly nibbled on an unfinished cookie from earlier. Spike walked around with a platter of extra cookies for their newest additions, all of whom greatly accepted with much praise to the dragon for his hospitality. Twilight couldn't help but crack a smile at Spike's true motive for being such a good host: either it was because he truly was the most generous, kindest baby dragon there could be… or if it were the fact that each and every knight regarded him as 'Sir Spike' when thanking him.
"That's just hooey, I'd like to see them try," Applejack slammed her hoof down on Twilight's table.
"You do not know him as well as we do, milady," Captain Silver Lancer spoke in turn, "Just us breaking through the siege around Castle Canterbury, he singlehoofedly took on and injured more than a dozen of our knights – alone."
"A dozen?" Twilight said with genuine surprise.
"Indeed, we had to commit quite a few squads of knights just so we could break through. That is what Sir Butterscotch told me when we sent him back to get a report from the main force," Prince Knight said gravely, "Coltrane is someone not to be trifled with."
"Oh dear…!" Fluttershy squeaked from above, but this time it was Butterscotch who patted her reassuringly.
"And that is why," Prince Knight Light looked gravely over at Twilight Sparkle, "we cannot tarry much longer. I can only imagine the damage he will cause if he gets here to Ponyville before we—"
"WHERE ARE THEY?!" boomed a loud, commanding voice from outside, which was soon followed by other loud noises.
A loud crash startled all the ponies in Twilight's home, with Fluttershy and Butterscotch ducking under Twilight's bed in fear.
"Just what in Equestria is all that racket?" Applejack was both curious and slightly annoyed at the loud ruckus.
Everypony gathered at the window to see the source of the commotion, except Fluttershy and Sir Butterscotch who stayed safely tucked beneath the bed in the upper loft, quivering like scaredy cats.
A very upset Cherry Berry was looking down in astonishment at the wreckage that used to be her cherry cart that she used to hawk her wares, or had at any rate. Now, all that was left were broken planks, nails, and squashed fruits strewn all over the town square. Shielding her was a very determined and defiant Rainbow Dash, while beyond her was…
"It's him!" Captain Silver Lancer narrowed his eyes to a group of ponies arrayed against Rainbow Dash.
Six beefy and scary-looking warponies, dressed head to hoof in battle armor flanked who apparently must have been their leader. An imposing and tall stallion compared to his fellows, he wore a unique curled, twin-horned bridled helmet with the mark of an axe slicing into a fat cupcake on his flank.
"Just what do you think you had to go and do that for?" demanded an angry rainbow-colored pegasus to the head of the warponies.
"Did what? Are you accusing me of something? Surely it isn't my fault that she got in our way," the apparent alpha male of the group snorted.
"Uh oh, this looks like trouble, Twi," Applejack noted with great concern.
Rainbow Dash wasn't known for being the coolest head of all the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, and Twilight knew that only if cooler heads prevailed would that there would be a difference between a crisis averted or a full blown disaster! Twilight Sparkle glanced over and began to study the covered faces of each of the Canterbury pony knights one-by-one before finishing up with an assessment of the Prince himself.
It was more than apparent to her that these stallions were in no shape currently to confront so many of their aggressors; least of all they were outnumbered. The Prince seemed tired and exhausted from the constant harassment that has dogged him since fleeing his home, so any plan involving them was surely to fail. But what to do now?
Think Twilight, think! She told herself and tapped her hoof against her forehead.
If things got bad, regardless of whatever plan Twilight put forth, she had a feeling that the knights would be forced to come out of hiding to protect the citizens of Ponyville. That was a lose-lose situation to her. What she needed was to buy them time… but how? All she was good for was lecturing…
That's when it clicked inside her skull.
Lecturing! I can lecture them! She smiled proudly and gave herself an imaginary pat on the back, though once she realized it she hoped no one had noticed her eccentric behavior. She always had a problem with that and always became self-conscious about that after the fact.
"I see you have a plan, Twilight?" Angel Song was looking intently at her, though her eyes carried only a serious, steely resolve and belied nothing of catching Twilight in her 'moment'.
"This is a job for us to resolve!" Twilight raised a hoof defiantly, trying to seem impressive and proud of herself, though Prince Knight Light looked at her skeptically.
"I cannot allow thou, Lady Twilight Sparkle. This is clearly our problem, and by coming here we have inadvertently involved thee."
"You may be right, Prince Knight Light," Twilight interrupted politely, "but you have a very important mission that you must see through, am I not correct?"
"That may be true but—"
"And," Angel Song followed up, almost as if she had rehearsed her entry into the conversation and was reading Twilight's mind, "Those ponies out there have committed an offense in Ponyville. Thus I think it would be right to assume that the residents of Ponyville have the right to take matters into their own hands, am I not also correct, Twilight Sparkle?"
"Exactly," Twilight beamed brightly and did her best to give the best a confident, determined smile towards the Prince.
"Yes, but—" the Prince tried to speak but found himself interrupted once again, much to his chagrin.
"You also forget, my Prince," Angel Song raised her voice as she held her hoof up and silenced the objections of the princely pony, "Not only is Twilight Sparkle a pupil of Princess Celestia, but I am also here as a representative of Princess Luna. Together we have more than enough authority to make them back down if need be, unless they really want to pick a fight with Equestria's Royalty. As pigheaded as you make this warlord out to be, I'm sure that even the most dimwitted of ponies must know the limits of rejecting the ultimate authority?"
The knights in the room looked at each other before closing their eyes and nodding in agreement. Everypony except the Prince, who looked incredulous as he scanned the faces in the room.
"Democracy works against me again, I see," he muttered bitterly to himself and threw his hooves up in the air in frustration.
Prince Knight Light then plopped himself down on the floor, sitting up with his fore legs folded over his chest.
"Do as thou wishes, but know this. If it looks like that thee may come to blows with the warlord and his entourage, me and my knights WILL come to thy aid, regardless if thou likes it or not. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
Twilight nodded in understanding. It was a reasonable request to acquiesce to despite all the 'conditions' and restrictions she just put down on a pony prince who was chaffing at being unable to stay true to his core values of being both chivalrous and upstanding.
"Let's go girls," Twilight said as she cantered to the door of her home, "We got ourselves a warpony to put in his place!"