Blueblood felt like his head was spinning. Somehow he found himself standing in front of his bathroom mirror. His reflection’s eyes looked tired, their coat unkempt and mane looked like it would fit better on a farm pony or something. This was going to take some time to fix.
He tried to think how he got here, why he was standing before his mirror right now. He could not, but other things danced to the front of his mind. He remembered that he might have drunk too much after receiving Luna’s letter. The nerve of that mare, dictating such terms to him, it was unacceptable. Though the more he thought about it, the less he was quite sure why he was so shortsighted as to provoke two Alicorns. It was almost like his brain was operating with some blind spots so he would get himself in trouble.
"Prince Blueblood, I am honoured to finally make your acquaintance." A mare's enchanting voice that spoke with both power and nobility.
Blueblood looked up, even in this state he kept his poise and grace. He did not panic or rush. They were addressing him correctly, and their tone bore no malice, so any danger would likely not be imminent.
In the mirror, he saw another pony. She was beautiful, caring. Elegance most could never achieve no matter the fortunes the spent of enhancement spells and private lessons. Her perfectly manicured appearance only highlighted Blueblood’s own current plight. Her coat was the finest platinum white, and her sapphire blue mane was in a flowing style that even he could tell, took many hours to maintain.
The tasteful jewellery only accentuated her beauty and spoke of the quality of pony that somepony in his position had no need to be ashamed of being in their presence. None of that explained why she was here, in his bathroom, right this moment.
He was about to snap out a harsh comment, and then he thought better of it. She was here past all of his guards, past all of the security spells. She was either very powerful or invited. Given that he could not even remember what he was doing before he found himself here now, he held his tongue. Better to remain silent than be proved a fool.
He met her eyes in the mirror, keeping a level composure. His gaze requesting answers. With a slight change of his expression, he knew that request could become a demand, but there was no need to be that rude, yet.
“I am Platinum Check,” The mare in the mirror stated. She seemed to be studying him, waiting for him to make a choice.
He wanted to know more, but he almost knew he could not appear weak or uninformed. Such things would only damage his position with this mare, whatever the truth of their position was. “Good morning, Platinum Check. Might I ask why you have sought me out before I have made myself ready to face the day? Is something urgent at hoof?”
“Urgent? Yes. But not in the manner you might be thinking. I am Princess Platinum’s servant. I check and validate a pony’s birthright. If they are validated, then I help them.” She said with grace and even tone.
Blueblood let just a hint of his classic noble disdain creep into his voice. “Do you take me for a fool? You are no Alicorn, how can you be standing here and claim such and expect me to believe you served Princess Platinum?”
“I sacrificed my body and magic long ago. My mind is here. My body is long decomposed.” She said with that same evenness to her voice.
He glanced back, about to comment. The mare was not there, the rest of the room only had its opulence to share the space with him. He blinked a few times and shook his head. Am I losing my mind? he thought, turning his gaze back to the mirror. He really should do something about his appearance.
“No, it was taken from you, years ago, by Celestia,” she stated, her voice genuinely remorseful.
He froze, there was that voice again. Looking up, he caught the perfectly maintained white coat, the regal horn, and radiant silver eyes.
Those eyes captivated him, something about them held his own. Her regret at her words was either true, or she was one of the best at the game of lies and manipulation that nobles often practised. “Might I ask you to explain that?” He asked. He had many questions he would need answers to before he would trust the word of what might be a delusion. Perhaps this is one of Aunty Luna’s dream manipulations, give as a punishment or a prank for my ill-considered words that had lead to me taking an unexpected bath in a fountain.
“Of course, and you are wise to not trust me right away, though this is no dream. Celestia sealed away your power when you were just a little foal. She had no need of your power as it was likely a threat to her. If you achieved your birthright, then you would be the Alicorn, not her slave, Twilight.”
In the mirror, his reflection altered, showing what could have been, The tall, royal stallion before him.
The dream was appealing, it was one he had before, many times. The one time it had been revealed to his Aunty Celestia, he could not help but feel she was laughing at him.
“You only now remember that because I have removed the block on that memory. Celestia put it there to keep you from discovering what should have been your destiny.”
For an instant, he was a little foal again standing in a darkened room before a large mirror. He looked in awe at the reflection of the tall male Alicorn before him. He knew this mirror predicted the future, that it meant he was special, that he was going to rule. A feeling of joy filled him. He would get to make the world a better place under his rule and keep his aunty company. She must be so lonely.
Celestia sighed. “You are not what I seek… such a waste.”
The white mare lit her horn. Blueblood screamed as ants crawled in his mind devouring it.
Pain shot through Blueblood as he stumbled back from the now-shuttered mirror. In its broken shards, he could still see the terrified foal looking up at the looming Celestia. He fought to calm the undignified shaking breaths, he was a noble, he was a Prince. He was better than this.
One by one, the prices of the mirrors lifted themselves back into place. Platinum now stood before him as if the mirror was just a doorway or a window.
“Do you see now? Do you understand what that white mare has stolen from you?” Platinum Check inquired, voice filled with disdain and anger at the actions that had been taken against him.
Blueblood carefully got to his hooves, standing tall and composed. Despite the vision, his mind was clear. With clear diction and a controlled but respectful tone, he answered. “I only see what could be a cheap parlour trick. If I am to believe this, I will need more than a simple illusion or mental image spell.”
The little fact he knew of such spells and even how to cast them gave him pause, he couldn't remember ever having been taught them. That was just another fact that deepened the mystery.
Her voice was without reproach, “I don’t expect you to. I would consider you a fool if you did. I would teach you how to see these things for yourself, but you already know. You can find the seals that she put there. Feel her signature for yourself. Don’t remove the seal on your magic though. She will know, and she will kill you if you do.”
Blueblood wanted to scoff. He had never been able to enter the meditative state that let him see his wellspring, He just never managed to get the trick. Or at least that what he thought was true, slowly the little insight he had been missing just floated there in his mind as if he always had known it.
Closing his eyes, he let his senses turn inwards. Before him, his wellspring sat there, small and pathetic looking. It was the reason he was forced to use his hooves for anything heavy. Just the sight of it angered him. How could somepony with his distinguished bloodline be so weak?
He could feel the meditation failing. Taking a calming breath and mentally refocusing himself, he waited until the vision before him stabilized. Platinum had said to look for Celestia’s Signature, that should be simple, he was exposed to it almost every day.
Slowly he became aware of a burning mass beside him. Looking that way, he was almost blinded. A huge bright core of magic was wrapped in golden chains. Each time his eyes tried to focus on one of the rune encrusted sections, he kept forgetting what he was doing for a few seconds.
Not only was most of his power sealed away, the seal had been enspelled so that even if he did find it, he would forget it. The question was, why was he remembering now?
“Because I’m keeping the memories from being locked away.” The mare said, the strain of concentration evident in her voice.
He turned from the larger portion of his power and the chains of solar magic. He was not even trying to work out how he could so easily identify the aspect of the magic binding his power. There was one test he needed to do. One thing that could be done here that the voice could not fake.
He walked up to what he thought was his wellspring. Carefully he lowered his horn to it. Connecting to your own wellspring like this was not normally done as it could waste a lot of power, but it was the only test he could think of.
His attention was pulled back to the real world, his horn aching. A moderate-sized orb of magic was slowly disintegrating, its wild and unstable glow casting the room in an alien light. Without that mediation trick and his action, there was no way he would be able to hold this much magic on his horn,
He spent at least half a minute just thinking of the implications, over three-quarters of his magic evaporating off in the time he was just thinking. This was a reason this method was almost never used. The first quarter of the magic held in this way would be lost in the first few seconds. It was only truly useful for an all or nothing brute force attack and such things had too much collateral, he remembered Celestia teaching him, in a lesson he thought he never had.
Quickly he pulled what magic he could back into his horn, forcing it back into his wellspring. He could not really afford to waste any. He just hoped he had the thaums left needed to imprint the political paperwork he had to do today.
So at least the fact that Celestia sealed my magic is true. He thought to himself in an unfamiliar analytical manor.
“You can find the seals on your memories as well. I can remove them, but I think you will learn more if you do it yourself.” Platinum Check advised.
“Sir, your carriage is here,” called in the voice of one of his servants.
He had to attend a meeting with some of the nobles and Celestia today, and if he did not leave soon, he would be late.
Yet again he wished his magic was strong enough just to cast one of the grooming spells to be able to get this done in a flash. There was no time to assemble the appropriate ponies to groom and make himself presentable. He would have to rush, and that would leave him looking anything but his best.
Magic that was not his started to groom him, his mane and tail laying into place and his coat now perfectly brushed.
The carriage ride to the Palace had been eye-opening. There were so many little details about the world outside and the ponies that he did not normally see. Was he just blind before? Was he too distracted by other things?
Platinum stayed mostly silent, letting him keep his own counsel, but he could still feel her there. It was as if she was nearby looking over his shoulder, always ready to comment or offer insight.
The one thing she did say on the trip stuck with him though. “If you want proof of my claims, just stick around Celestia long enough. I will protect you from her mind magic, but you will still see it.”
With that lovely and completely reassuring statement, he left the carriage. The imposing and perfectly maintained presence of the palace was before him.
The pegasus guards parted for him as always, he could see a look of contempt on their faces even as they did so. Nothing seemed different than normal, so did they always look at him like that?
Yes, Celestia had made you blind to certain things. It led to you making critical mistakes. The mare in his head added to his thoughts
Once well past the guards, he answered, “It is almost like she wants me to be a laughing stock.”
It fits her plans. You don’t need to speak out loud. I can hear your thoughts. If you direct something to me, I will answer. she lightly admonished.
You do know mind magic like this is illegal? Blueblood commented just to see her response.
Of course it is, Celestia is the only one allowed to use it. It keeps her little ponies under her control. Don’t take my word for it. Look for yourself when you see her in court. See how often she casually uses it to view memories for her own amusement. Platinum replied. Her disgust was evident.
The next set of guards, both unicorns, respectfully bowed their heads and opened the door for him. Blueblood automatically nodded back and didn't even have to break stride.
He had almost been raised in the Palace, navigating its complex halls and passageways was a simple task for him. If what you say is true, how does she get away with it? Surely the archmages would call her to account for abuse of magic?
They have the same blinders that you had until I took them off of you. They can’t see it because she won’t let them see it. Platinum nearly hissed.
He paused, considering his answer. His horn began to itch, that was somewhat of an odd sensation. A few strides more and he could feel a pressure, as if something of great magical weight was moving towards him. He could not remember feeling anything like this before.
A book came around the corner first held in a magenta aura. It was shortly followed by a lavender Alicorn that was reading said book. She flicked her eyes from the pages only once noting his presence and then disregarding it as if he was as far beneath her consideration as an insect.
With what you have done in the past, apologize, you need her on your side. She has a very strong dislike for Celestia. Make it believable. Platinum quickly said. Her voice carried the weight of conviction that left no room to argue with.
With each hoof fall drawing her closer, he could feel the magical pressure increase. She was restraining her power, and yet it was somewhat uncomfortable to be within ten body lengths of her. If she touched horns with him, he could only imagine the pain he would feel.
Why do we need her?
She has been freed from Celestia’s mental manipulations. She can help you, and she isn’t the tool she once was. I see the anger in her towards Celestia, and if you are going to go against an Alicorn, you need an Alicorn on your side. Platinum said.
A thousand objections came to mind about needing the commoner princess or how dare an unworthy be elevated to such heights. Most of his complaints just seemed silly or even foalish to him now. An Alicorn is an Alicorn, it didn't matter their parents. Twilight had got the best scores in magic possible from his Aunt’s school and then ascended. She had likely more power than all the rest of the nobles put together. She was a walking force of nature, and he could feel it.
Blueblood just stared at Twilight. How had he been so shortsighted as to risk alienating an Alicorn? She was going to be around a lot longer than he was, so she could ruin any legacy he might leave with just a few words.
She drew ever closer and was about to pass him. Her scent was heavy with the smells of a smaller town and other ponies. That and her lack of clothes or Royal Regalia would have got anypony else kicked out of the castle, and yet it did seem to suit her more. She was not the distant and towering imposing ruler doing nothing but sit on her throne. She was a mare of action that had saved the world multiple times.
That was just another piece of evidence showing how stupid he had been. Just the fact she had saved the world should have bought her more than a small amount of consideration from himself and the other nobles.
He was almost out of time. Just as she was about to pass him, he spoke. “I am sorry, Princess. I offer my apologies for my conduct. It was most unbecoming of my position.” Blueblood bowed respectfully.
Twilight was still for a moment before elegantly turning her body directly to face him. This was no small town mare, this was not a bookish librarian. Standing before him wearing a regal stare was a Princess. “Your position as Celestia’s nephew may have shielded you from consequence.” Twilight smiled. “Nevertheless, thank you, I accept your apology.” She began walking away “I am afraid I have business to attend to. Until next we meet, Prince Blueblood.”
Well done. It may have been political for now, but that is the first step. Your comment about hybrids got you what you deserved, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Platinum stated.
But hybrids are unnatural. If they were not, why would Their own magic try to kill them? He asked out of interest and not blind tribalism. To him, they seemed to only be a curse of pain and suffering to their families. A stillborn or crippled foal was not something anypony deserved to give birth to.
Hybrids are closer to being Alicorns than other ponies. The one that you and the other nobles kept trying to get out of RGIS? She is actually a functional hybrid and proof that it can work. Whatever is guiding pony development seems to have finally got it right with her. That the rest haven’t been able to work doesn’t mean they are an abomination, just a symptom of growing pains for the species. I wouldn’t be surprised if the doctors had something to do with them not surviving as well. She said with growing disgust.
So are you saying something is trying and failing to make more Alicorns, and all that pain and suffering caused by the hybrids are merely uncared for consequences?
Yes. And the fact that it has taken so many hybrids failing to accomplish one success would point to the idea that they are being hindered by something. It isn’t as important right now, but I would bet if you stuck around the hospitals long enough that you would see doctors miss-treating hybrid foals. I don’t have anything besides my experiences to draw on, but if you’re actually interested in helping them, maybe check the hospitals and see what happens when a doctor treats a hybrid. It’s up to you.
Given how seriously the noble families took their bloodlines, such a thing made sense. It would be a mark of shame to have a hybrid in such a pure-blood family. There should be no blood from the other tribes in them, at least a far as their genealogy said. If a hybrid was born, they would probably be quietly made to disappear.
There would be no hospitals, only a quiet visit in the night and the ‘problem’ would be solved. There was a good chance that most the hybrids up for adoptions were simply discarded, possibly even from the noble families. That would make sense why the sort of spells that could identify lineages was completely outlawed.
Blueblood started trotting towards his destination, he had been standing still for too long, and he would be lucky to not be late now.
The meeting room was beautiful. It was something that Blueblood always used to take for granted. It was almost as if he was seeing it for the first time.
In a sense, you are. First time without her blinders on your mind. Platinum added to his thoughts.
He just managed to get to his seat in time to hear the distinct sound of the guards announcing his Auntie’s presence. Blueblood was still conflicted, something had been done to him, and it did seem as if it was Celestia’s magic that did it, but he could not be sure.
Celestia moved into the room, her magic was warm and soothing, but almost smothering. It felt like happily drowning in a comfortable bed, if such a thing were possible. In body, she was the perfect pony, coat white, her mane billowing in an invisible wind. Everything about her seemed perfect. From the world’s most attractive horn on her head to wings that clearly were beautiful, so even a unicorn like himself could see their appeal.
If it was not for the ever-present motherly smile on her face, she would be considered more desirable than Cadance. How could a mare looking like her, do anything as bad as Platinum was suggesting?
The preamble and all the introductions for court took far longer than probably quite necessary. This was only a quick meeting and not a full session. Blueblood could remember more than one occasion where more than four hours were wasted picking what sandwiches to have at the next meeting or other pointless issues.
He could feel Platinum’s attention snap to the window for a moment.
Mid word Celestia's horn flashed. A barrier of golden light snapped into existence all along one wall, covering the windows.
Celestia was on her hooves, and the room was suffused with her magic. Some of the arrays floating in the air made sense, but it was hard to think with the pain in his horn and the magical pressure forcing him to the ground.
The Solar Princess coldly walked over to the window, ignoring the panic of the other nobles. Could they not see that it looked like the Princess was under attack? What were they thinking? Trying to get in her way and slow down her response?
Blueblood caught a glance of the cold impassive looking on Celestia’s face. She looked like she might trample anypony who did not get out of her way. Fortunately, her horn removed those in her path without harm. To Blueblood’s horn, it almost seemed that the magic was disappointed at having to be so restrained.
After a few seconds, Celestia's magic began to fade. The force holding him to the ground lost its grip on him. Blueblood couldn't help but move closer and have a look.
Outside near the noble district, there was a portion of a building floating in the air, surrounded by a magenta aura. That was Twilight’s magic.
“Why was my former student compelled to take such actions?” Celestia turned her eyes to the room. That was not the gaze of the loving maternal mare he was used to ruling the country. This was far harsher, it made him feel like a foal before it.
The noble’s voices rose up in a clamour, wanting to know what was going on, demanding answers. Some even denouncing her talking to them in such a way.
“Silence.” Celestia did not raise her voice, but they all obeyed. One by one, she cast her gaze on each of them.
As her eyes met Blueblood’s, he felt her, a presence reaching into his mind. His perception shifted, he could see Platinum holding a beautiful gem, looking into it as Celestia browsed through a collection of his memories.
Apparently finding nothing of concern, Celestia’s eyes shifted to the next noble. The mental presence faded, much to his relief.
This went on for three more nobles before her gaze became a burning glare, settling on Last Word. “Why did you feel the need to do that? Are you trying to earn my sister’s ire?” She made a thoughtful hum. “I will deal with you later.” In another flash of golden light, Celestia’s victim was gone.
Celestia walked over to her throne. “Now everypony, please retake your seats.”
“Princess…” The crowd started again calling out.
There was another flash of magic, and all of them were back in their seats, passive.
Blueblood could feel Celestia’s magic wrap over each of the ponies in the room at once. Mentally, he saw into that gem Platinum was holding. The memories of the last ten minutes evaporated, and new images started to form. An image of things that did not happen to Last Word excusing himself and leaving the room under his own power and not being teleported away by Celestia.
Celestia’s expression became perfectly serene again. Slowly the nobles began talking, each playing their part, following what Blueblood was sure was a fake memory.
He had just seen the Princess use forbidden magic. The minimum sentence she should suffer would be exiled, and she used it just to win an argument?
The rest of the meeting was a blur. He knew he let down some of his allies by forgetting to mention points or not befriending them in the way he should have all the time, but he was just too stunned by what had happened.
When it came time to leave, he was truly glad for it.
It was all Blueblood could do not to gallop to his estate, taking one step after the other in the same regal stride he had been taught to use since birth. It only worked because it was now second nature, due to long years of habit.
After he could no longer feel Celestia’s presence, Platinums voice was in his head again. That actually happened faster than I thought it would. All that power and she uses it for something as trite as keeping up her perfect image. Imagine what else she has done with that. Who’s memories can be trusted?
He wanted to gulp, this was feeling more and more like a bad dream. I would rather that you were lying to me and none of this was true… He responded. With what he had felt and seen, he could not truly doubt her claims.
I’m actually sorry that it isn’t a lie. I truly wish that your Aunt was who you thought she was. It is my job, my very reason for being, to look after the descendants of Princess Platinum. Even if it wasn’t, I would want to be here for you. I promise, I will protect you. I will be here for you. Platinum said with clear sorrow and determination.
He felt hooves wrap around him. It took him a moment to recognize it, he was being hugged. The warmth of the contact felt nice, comforting. He hadn’t felt this in ages. He was even being affectionately nuzzled.
He paused, checking that nopony was around. Seeing he was alone, he returned the embrace with the invisible mare. His eyes focused on the reflection in a golden ornament, he could just make out Platinum’s form hugging him.
His ears twitched, hearing distance hoofsteps. He startled, breaking the contact. In a brief panic, he started trotting back home instead of waiting for his carriage. It was not a long trip, he could be there in minutes. It made him wonder why he bothered with the carriage in the first place.
I’m so sorry that she stole everything from you. She said, nearly heartbroken herself.
What do we do? Who can we tell? If she is using mind magic like that, anyone we tell will be at risk.
Twilight is free of her. She has mind magic wards, I could feel them. I think she might be the only one that is safe to talk to. Platinum surmised.
Blueblood wanted to facehoof. Memories of a previous gala coming to mind. He was being such a plothole towards the white mare that was her friend.
I think it might take some work before she will be even willing to listen to me.
I suggest apologizing to Rarity then. That would be a good start. If you can win her over, then it will go a long way in convincing Princess Twilight to give you her trust. You really hurt that mare when all she wanted to do was be treated like a Lady. If you actually do win her over, she might even give you another chance. If you want it, that is. Platinum said, sounding hopeful.
The guards outside his estate were surprised to see him trotting up without his carriage. But reacted quickly to open the gates and then the following doors. All his guards were unicorns, that was a glaring hole in his security. Why had he done that?
Instilled tribalism from Celestia possibly. Platinum interjected.
He paused his mental conversation for a moment to address one of his guards. “Please send a runner to the castle and let the carriage team know that I am home safe and will not have need of them for the rest of the day,” Blueblood said in an official-sounding voice.
The guard seemed shocked but bowed and obeyed. Blueblood moved on. But she claims to be against it and even wrote the laws that punish it. Blueblood weakly protested. At this point, he would not be surprised if Celestia had just invented Nightmare Moon to just manipulate the ponies or perhaps as a test for her precious faithful student.
Walking into his home and past the bowing servants, he made his way to his study.
Yet she still hasn’t fixed the issue in her own Solarguard. It’s great for public image but in areas where security actually matters? The one hybrid that was in her Solarguard eventually left for Luna’s Nightguard. She was in RGIS as a paper-pusher and data analyst if your memories are accurate. Platinum countered.
Blueblood closed the door behind him as he made his way to his desk. Two bits of paper being laid out ready for him to write upon.
Yet look at what happened as soon as she was under Luna. She qualified to become her fourth chosen. Celestia wasted her talents. Luna isn’t, and if what I think I saw out the window is accurate, that hybrid is now Twilight’s personal guard. I don’t know for sure but that all points to Celestia not wanting hybrids around. I think they might be a threat to her somehow. We would need to do research, though to be sure. Maybe the Royal Archives? Platinum questioned.
Blueblood laid two more blank bits of paper onto the desktop. It seemed someponies would be getting letters they would never expect to receive, especially from him.