Daring Do: the Legend of the Algae Photis
by Wanderer D
Chapter 11: The Backup
"You stand accused of foalnapping," Queen Novo said, looking down at her guests. "A most heinous charge under any circumstance, but made even worse by the identity of the victim: my niece, Silverstream."
"Your majesty, you understand that it is basically impossible for us to have done this?" Twilight asked.
"Nevertheless," Queen Novo replied, eyes narrowing, "my niece is missing and an alicorn was reported leaving the area. It is quite the coincidence that you would suddenly arrive the next day. When I last met with Princess Celestia and the terms of non-interference were drawn, she simply teleported all the way back to Canterlot after our discussion was over." She raised her head and looked down at the ponies and griffon. "Are you telling me you couldn't do the same from Klugetown?"
"To what end?" Twilight asked. "I came here for help and information, not to make new enemies. Can you tell me at least what the known circumstances were?"
Queen Novo sighed. "One night ago, Silverstream was abducted from her room. Your accuser saw an alicorn flying down to the beach at the north east end of the island, and followed them, until, upon landing with her prisoner, the alicorn teleported away. When the guard arrived, they found hoofmarks belonging to a pony."
"That is very circumstantial evidence," Twilight said, frowning.
"And yet, coming from one of my most loyal subjects, and family no less, I have no reason to doubt them."
"Your Majesty," Daring Do spoke up, "you know me, you can't believe that I'd allow something like that to happen."
Novo sighed. "I don't want to, Daring Do, but you are a pony, and your home is not Mount Aris."
Daring felt her anger rising. "Are you really accusing me of this?"
"The griff that accused you is also a member of the royal family," Novo reminded her, "and I don't know if you were directly involved, or simply just happen to be an unsuspecting ally to the princess."
Daring was about to speak again when Twilight lifted her hoof, giving her a look. It took her a moment to understand, but it was obvious that unless the accuser rescinded their claim, nothing was going to be achieved. Sometimes, she really hated the monarchy.
"I understand this is frustrating," Novo said, "and it puts on the line the word of one of my very own family members, but until we have our trial, I must ask you to remain in the palace as my guests."
"Twilight…" Alejandra growled.
"We will be happy to," Twilight said. "But we are not your prisoners."
Queen Novo gave Twilight a searching look before she nodded. "But of course. You are welcome to stay as guests in the palace, but until the issue is resolved, you are not allowed to leave."
Tala watched in silence from the shadows as Twilight and the others were escorted out of the room. She was about to fly after them, when another hippogriff stepped in.
"Why are they remaining free?" the hippogriff asked. "They should be in prison, answering for their crimes!"
Queen Novo did not look pleased. "Need I remind you, Sky Beak, that Princess Twilight Sparkle has the title of Princess right to go along with her name? She might be the newest alicorn, but she is royalty, and potentially starting an international incident with Equestria and the Crystal Empire, however remote, is not a great idea?" She snorted. "We are lucky indeed that Princess Twilight chose to take this with enough grace."
"She challenged you in front of the whole court!"
"Please. Anygriff with two brain cells knows that the charges against her wouldn't hold upon closer inspection. You gave me your word on what you saw, Sky Beak. I'm risking international relationships for family, at a time when we can ill afford to make more enemies. Princess Twilight is nothing like we had been led to believe, and she is accompanied by formidable allies."
"If you mean Daring Do—"
"I do mean Daring Do," Novo interrupted. "But not just her, even if she should be enough to give you pause. That mare is a friend to our people."
Sky Beak looked away.
"Did you not notice her body guard's garb? She was no normal griffon. Not with that armor. Not with that material. I don't even recognize it. Twilight came ready for battle, not with us, but ready for it nevertheless. It's by her understanding and grace that we don't have something worse in our claws."
"Is her power that great?" Sky Beak whispered, "that you would fear her at the risk of your niece?"
"Don't presume to tell me what I would or wouldn't risk for family, brother!" Novo snapped. "I am your Queen, first and foremost. My people, my whole people have to take precedence over my own family! Only a fool of a ruler allows their personal matters and interests to interfere with their only duty!"
"I'm sorry, my queen…"
"You are family, and I love you. And Silverstream is a ray of happiness in the life of anygriff fortunate enough to meet her. I love her dearly, brother, and I am worried for her. I'm doing what I can, but you have to help me," Novo said, her voice taking a pleading tone. "Please. You know it makes no sense for Twilight Sparkle to have done something like this. Daring Do would not be a willing participant in such an act. Captain Celaeno, for all her pirate ventures has always been a friend to our people in spirit and action. The griffons being part of her entourage can mean many things, and none good for us if we are not careful. Laying such accusations on the princess was a gamble, and I am just glad she chose to play along… Celestia wouldn't have. Luna might have. Brother, we can't risk—"
"It was a pony!" Sky Beak shouted, closing his eyes. "I'm not lying. It was a pony! The guard confirmed it. I just want my daughter back."
Novo took a deep breath. "Twilight and her companions will remain our guests in the palace for now. They are not prisoners, but will not be allowed outside the palace. I had prepared a banquet to receive them… We will continue the search, however." She bit her lip. "Sky Beak. Please consider what actions you want to take. I will take your word every time over that of a foreign dignitary, but this is very suspicious."
Sky Beak looked away. "I know. I'm sorry Novo but I would not say what I have without reason."
Queen Novo sighed. "If we must play this game, so be it. I will announce the princess as a guest, and the banquet will take place. Maybe then we can reveal who or what is behind all of this."
Sky Beak cringed, but nodded, leaving the queen alone in the room.
Tala was already flying from shadow to shadow, heading back to the Arpia.
So, your grandpa saw us here? I didn't see any other ponies besides Twilight and Daring Do! Even the crew of Daring's boat was mostly creatures from down South, so what was he doing all the way here? Daring said that only merchants came all the way here from Equestria, is that what he was doing? Let me tell you, your grandpa is one tough pony if that's the case, Klugetown was, well, not nasty, but really not inviting. Like, at all.
The trip has been mostly awesome, though. We kicked flank on the way down the river, just like in a Daring Do adventure! I guess Ahuitzotl decided to follow us and tried to surprise us, but we caught on to their plan and turned the table around on them!
There is that whole thing with the Storm King, but we really haven't
Look, I know you know more than the others, and I'm sure that it sucks keeping stuff from them… so, I'll be honest. We met one of the Storm King's generals on the way here. Twilight outsmarted her, but Tala and Galahad don't think our luck is going to hold steady too long. I get the feeling that Twilight is winging this, and they know it. I know she's tough but… we all know she's not really up there with Sunset or even Shining Armor.
I want to help her, but she treats me like I'm about to do something stupid all the time! She left me behind when she went to meet the Queen of the
Hipo… Hip.Sorry, I had to dig one of my Daring Do novels to write it. Hippogriffs. Anyway, she left me behind! Can you believe it? Me! Rainbow Dash!
That's like… the stuff they do to sidekicks! I'm not going to throw a tantrum but it's just. I don't even know what to say. I came here not just for adventure, but to keep an eye on her, you know? Get back that old Twilight in some way or another. I know she's not ever going to be the same, but she doesn't have to be… it's just, this personality doesn't fit her. There's something wrong with the way she's looking at things. I mean, she's not doing stupid stuff, but I dunno, I just get that feeling, you know?
Like she's faking it.
And it's really hard to say how. I wish I had a chance to talk more to Shining or Spitfire. I'm sure they'd probably help me understand what this feeling is? Hey, maybe you could ask them for me? It's like… okay, I already said that she's faking it. Just, think of it like this: She seems to know what she's doing, right? And when she talks about it, it makes sense, right? But it's all over the place. Sometimes she's ready to jump in. Sometimes she's cold. Sometimes she's like Celestia's little clone. I don't know. It's weird okay? It's just that whenever she talks, I hear somepony else in my head, if that makes sense? Like it's somepony else talking, not her.
Ugh. This is giving me a headache.
Anyway, I hear Celaeno calling me. Uh. Celaeno is like, this really cool Pirate Captain. She's like, the best pirate I've ever seen. Not that I have seen a lot, but she's like… almost as awesome as I am. Like, I could really just go pirating or adventuring with her and not care about stuff for a while, you know?
Anyway. I think I'm writing too much.
Give my love to the girls, just don't tell them I wrote.Okay, that was stupid. Just. If they ask, let them know things are good so far, but don't worry them. Like you said, they don't really know what the world out here is like.
Rainbow Dash put down the quill and left the diary open, flapping her wings gently for a few seconds to dry the ink. When it didn't look that wet—she didn't want ink stains—she carefully closed it and put it inside her saddle bag. This diary was like her own adventure book, and she wasn't going to let anything happen to it.
"Alright, already!" She shouted back over her shoulder, trotting out the door and closing it behind her. "What's going on?!" She shouted as she made her way down the Arpia, her mind briefly wondering at how quickly she had become comfortable within the airship, before her attention was drawn to the open door to Celaeno's cabin, where Galahad and the others waited.
She immediately noticed Tala fluttering around the room only to land on Celaeno's desk. "Twilight's mission was successful, we know where to start," the breezie said.
Rainbow Dash blinked, her mind processing the information. "Mission? Wait what mission?"
Tala nodded. "By confronting Queen Novo, she has the court and the guard's attention on herself, Alejandra and Daring Do. We can now take action."
Rainbow Dash's eyes widened in comprehension. "Oh… so she wanted us to stay here and… oooh." She chuckled, rubbing the back of her head. "Hehe. Now I feel silly."
"Captain Celaeno and her crew will remain on the ship or at the dock's bars for the most part, further taking attention away from us," Tala said, "we now know who accused Twilight, and where he supposedly saw us kidnapping Silverstream. Capper has offered to explore the city—"
The Abysinnian shrugged at Rainbow's curious look, but then smiled and gave her a thumbs-up.
"...while we investigate the area where Sky Beak supposedly saw a pony and the guards confirmed the footprints." The breezie started pacing on top of the table. "It'll be her job now to investigate within the court and figure out if anything can be learned from them."
"It is fairly obvious that the pony general that works for the Storm King might be involved, given her alliance with Ahuitzotl," Galahad spoke up, "Tempest Shadow is probably behind the whole thing, but until we figure out where they took their prisoner, there's not much we can do."
"There's something else to this," Capper said, crossing his arms and frowning. "Why go through all of this just to stop Twilight? Tempest Shadow is not the type to give up a chance to blow us out of the sky, there has to be an ulterior motive." He looked around. "It's a classic thief tactic, create an obvious distraction to keep everycreature from noticing your true objective. But what could it be?"
Rainbow Dash smirked, feeling a lot better now that she understood why Twilight had left her behind. "If anyone can figure it out, it's it's our nerd princess. Let's do our part first… I can't believe this was all part of Twilight's plan."
Tala shrugged. "She did spend a lot of time with the Commander."
End Chapter 11