“So why do they need their own library anyway?”
The two mares walked down a very steep circular staircase with a magical cylinder of light in the center. The walls, ceiling, steps and floors were old, creaky wood; a clear indication of the incredible age of the steps. Two flights down, they had come across an old, ransacked desk next to a broken wooden door leading into the library. Twilight had only been in here twice before, both under escort by the Princess herself.
“This isn’t a normal library, Rainbow. Every text in here contains knowledge that is either forbidden or classified. Some of it impossibly old and very, very dangerous. Only a scant few ponies have ever been allowed in here. It’s a great honor!”
The reports had been right. As they stepped into the long, wide corridor into the mountain, it was plain to see the books nearest the door were rifled through or missing. Somepony was looking for something. Hooves and boots clopped on stone floors as the surrounding environment became gray stone lit by enchanted torches. Four columns of bookcases stretched dozens of rows deep.
“Yeah, the Grand Mage thing. Care to explain this again? Because I’m having a bit of trouble comprehending everything you just told me. Alicorn, seriously?”
Twilight stopped and sat down, the cold of the stone floor muted by her armor. “I had trouble believing it myself. I stood on a cloud without a cloud-walking spell, Rainbow. I never knew that could be so…”
“Oh,” Rainbow said, looking dejected.
“Don’t take it personally, Rainbow. This has just been all very trying for me. Well, sort of. Oh, this is just so frustrating!” It was fortunate hooves couldn’t grip hair too well, or she might’ve pulled some of her mane out. Instead, she just pressed them against her head in a vain attempt to use pressure to ease the headache. Rainbow’s gentle hoof on her back did a much better job.
“Hey now, it’ll be fine. If the Princess says it’ll be ok, I have faith in her.”
Twilight sighed. “I know, it’s just… this whole ‘alicorn’ thing is completely screwing with my emotions. Things that should shock or terrify me are just making me feel more resolute. The next moment, some little thing goes wrong and I panic. It’s like I’m feeling things more than ever, but some of what I should be feeling is over-ridden by a different feeling. And now I’m saying ‘feeling’ too much and it’s making me angry!”
“Relax! I’m here now, so things can only get more awesome. And I’ll be here as long as you need me.”
Twilight shook her head. “Rainbow, I can’t possibly pull you away from the Wonderbolts. Don’t worry, I’ll talk with the Princess and—”
“No, honestly, don’t worry about that. I’m here for you.”
“But you loved—”
“Being a Wonderbolt. Best job ever. Wonderbolts’ Captain? Worst job ever. I’d rather pluck out my feathers and take Rarity’s job.”
Twilight stared at Rainbow with her mouth hanging open. “Worst job ever? But you wanted that job! It was your dream to make Captain! The best flier in Equestria, remember?”
“Yeah, I remember. And do you know what being Captain means? It means I went from being a flier to being a manager. I barely used my wings at all. I did nothing but listen to whining about flight time, fill out mountains of paperwork, attend meetings, it was… ugh. No, that wasn’t my dream. My dream was to be the best, and I made it. Now, you need the best, and that’s me, so I’m here.”
“Rainbow… are you really sure? This has already gotten very dangerous. I mean, lethally dangerous. Neither of us might survive this, and I don’t know if I could forgive myself if something happened to you.”
Rainbow sighed exasperatedly and facehooved. “Look. See these?” Rainbow spread out her wings to their fullest, and small bits of smoke and rainbow lightning crackled between the feathers.
“… Yes?” Twilight tilted her head for a moment and caught herself again, un-tilting it.
“Ever really think about what these mean to pegasi? The whole meaning? Why we tend to be aggressive and live in the moment? Fluttershy not included?”
Twilight looked Rainbow up and down with her eyes very quickly while her mind drew a blank. “You can control air currents?”
Rainbow shook her head.
“You can survive big falls by magically bracing yourself? Shape and disperse clouds?”
Rainbow raised an eyebrow and began to look impatient.
“Yoooouuuuu can dispense and project lightning by manipulating micro-air currents and static electricity around your primary feathers and dynamically create thick but short-lived clouds using magically enhanced contrails thanks to advanced military training?” Twilight said, sheepishly shrinking herself down.
“Ugh.” Rainbow facehooved again. “Alicorns are immortal. Pegasi…”
“Oh…” The stark reality was staring her right in the face the entire time. Pegasi had fast metabolisms and generally died sooner than unicorns or earth ponies, even when they weren’t killed by flying accidents. A unicorn mare might live to be a hundred sixty, or more if they were exceptionally powerful, while a pegasus stallion would be lucky to see ninety.
“Look, Twi. I’m not going to live very long, that’s just what happens to pegasi like me. The daredevils. If I don’t go out in a blaze of glory, I’ll either die from a mid-air cramp in my seventies, or wither away on a cloud somewhere. I realized this as a filly and nearly lost it. Then one of the instructors took me aside and told me that it doesn’t matter if your life is going to be short, as long as you make it that much brighter. So that’s what I’ve done, and that’s why no matter what’s ahead, I’m ready for it.”
“Rainbow… Thank you.” Twilight gripped Rainbow in a hug the pegasus clearly wasn’t ready for as she stiffened up.
“Don’t mention it. Seriously, I don’t want ponies finding out I’m all philosophical. It’d ruin my reputation.”
Rainbow tried to push her away, but Twilight just held on tighter. “Rainbow, I need you to promise me something.”
“Uuuhhhh you aren’t about to ask me out or something are you? ‘Cause you’re great and all, but—”
That got Twilight to give up the hug. “What? No! No, I meant…” she sighed. “Look, Wonderbolts have military training, right?”
Rainbow nodded. “Full boot camp, then Bolts combat training, then show training. Why do you think I can keep my cool after being told my friend is an alicorn? I mean, that’s kinda freaky!” she said, chuckling. “Anyway, only the few that get through it all actually make into the division. Most don’t get through the first week of the Bolts combat camp.” A not very subtle hint of ego was in her voice.
“So you’re trained to stay calm when you fight, right? And you’ve been trained to know when to use lethal force and when not to?”
Twilight looked down at the ground as her mane fell over her shoulder in a sag. “Rainbow, I nearly killed that pony earlier.”
Rainbow nodded again in a smile, patting her on the shoulder. “I know! That looked like a serious beating, and against a general! I’m impressed!”
“No!” Twilight put Rainbow’s hoof down with her magic instinctively. “Rainbow, I mean after that! I was going to execute him with enough magic to destroy half the gardens! I didn’t even know I could summon or control that much power, and I couldn’t stop myself! If Shining hadn’t been there to talk sense into me, you'd have followed a mushroom cloud instead of a flash of magic!”
Rainbow eyes got wide but she said nothing as Twilight put both her front hooves on Rainbow’s shoulders. “I need you to promise me to keep me under control, no matter how bad things get. If I’m about to do something like that again, you have to stop me. No matter what.”
Moments passed as Rainbow looked into her eyes, and Twilight’s mind raged with all kinds of possible negative outcomes. Rainbow running, yelling at her, not wanting to be friends. It was absolutely insane to expect that of Loyalty herself, but Twilight’s high-strung and distressed mind couldn’t help it.
It was Twilight’s turn to stiffen on instinct as Rainbow took her into a hug, and she heard the words “You can count on me. Always.”
Twilight relaxed and shared the hug, shedding a few tears. When they finally broke it, no thank yous were even needed as they recovered, stood up, and starting walking again towards the back of the library. “Come on, let’s go find these books. I need to get back to Luna’s room anyway, Spike and Applejack were hiding up there when the coup started.”
Rainbow took a sharp breath in realization. “That’s right! I get to rub it in AJ’s face that me and Fluttershy were right!”
“Rainbow… you thought that too? That Celestia had a destiny for me?”
“Yup! She always knew the Princess had some big plan for ya. Wouldn’t make sense otherwise, really. Whoa, I think we’re here.”
Just as the Princess had said, there were three books laying on a wood podium. Bright torch light illuminated the small alcove, and above the podium hung three paintings: one of each of the former Grand Mages.
Twilight quickly levitated the books over to her and split them open, randomly and quickly switching between them as she read.
“Anything interesting, oh Grand Mage of Equestria?”
“Rainbow, these are the personal memoirs of the Grand Mages! Uncensored! All their travels and missions… There’s even spells here! Spells they wrote!”
“So this is what she meant by ‘training.’”
“I guess so.” She pulled all three into a bundle with her magic. “Alright, mission accomplished. Let’s get to Luna’s chambers. AJ and Spike should still be there, safe and sound.”
“Whoa. This place is—”
“Spooky, yeah, I know.” Twilight rather unceremoniously dropped the books on the bed and brightened the surrounding candles with magic.
“Applejack! Spike! Are you guys okay?”
Twilight’s yells up at the ceiling were met with no response. “This doesn’t make sense, I told them to… oh, I told them to wait if they wanted to.”
“Uh, Twi? Where and why are you yelling?” Rainbow looked very confused.
“Oh, sorry, the ceiling is an illusion. It’s really a cloud. I put a cloudwalking spell on them and teleported them up there,” Twilight explained.
“Oh. So they’re still stuck up there.”
“Nah, we got out.”
Twilight exhaled in relief. “Oh, thank goodne—”
Twilight’s mind had its transmission skip a gear as she realized the voice came from behind her and turned around to see a bruised and slightly burned Applejack next to a nervous-looking Spike and a third figure behind them.
“Soarin? What are you doing here?” Rainbow asked as the three beings walked into the room.
“Well, Spitfire and I were just coming in to save the day when we spotted these two falling from an exploding airship. Seems they blew it up from the inside. Without an escape path.” Twilight noted that Soarin, apparently, had a prideful streak much like Rainbow Dash.
“Uhh heh heh. Yeah, Soarin kind of saved our hides,” Spike said. “Still, it was awesome, there was this huge battle at the dockyard, and Applejack and I rode a bad guy onto this huge blimp and then—”
“Wait, wait, wait… let’s start at the beginning.” Twilight didn’t want to hear something like this. It meant the battle on the grounds was even larger than she thought. “In fact, much as I want to crawl back into that bed, I think we all need to get caught up on everything first. Let’s get to the War Room. The books can come later.” Twilight really never liked saying that phrase, but felt that in this case it was the truth. She teleported the books up to the study for safekeeping and led her ‘team’ out the door.
Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Spike, Soarin, and the ever-fearless Rainbow Dash moved through the portal into the War Room, where it almost looked as if an actual war was taking place. Papers and ponies were everywhere, as was the incessant noise. In the center of it, a prince with an obviously strained voice was barking orders in the Royal Canterlot fashion. Once he saw the group, he motioned for them to follow him rather than yell more.
After moving down the corridors to the opposite side of the floor, he opened a door at the rear and held it for them with magic as they filed in. The noise didn’t stop until the door slammed shut.
The room was large and connected to the rest of the war room by a several-meter long hallway. Facing the doorway was a desk with Shining’s name on a placard, and behind that was a huge map table with a giant map of all of Equestria on the wall behind it. The large map had most of the major population centers labelled with different colors and some numbers next to each city name.
“Oh, it’s a disaster out there, Twily. But thank you for saving Cadence. She’s eventually going to be mad at me for not rushing to her rescue right away, but the truth is we were all caught off guard with this,” he finally said once he could talk normally.
“She’ll come around, I’m sure. She handled herself pretty well, considering.” Twilight’s calm voice was almost a lie. She too was relieved to hear Cadence had managed to escape harm, but somehow she knew the winged unicorn would make it.
“Intelligentsia has finally pieced together what’s happened in general but we’re left running damage control and specific reports are still coming in. We’re going to lose territory to the griffons over this, I just know it. At least Canterlot is safe for now.”
Twilight nodded in agreement. “It certainly is chaotic out there. How did this even happen? I mean, what kind of general attacks his own leaders?”
Shining looked around the room for a moment and sighed. “Look, I’ll be happy to explain, but first know that everything you’re about to hear is absolutely top secret. Nothing leaves this room, and I mean that, Applejack.”
The entire room’s eyes turned to the suddenly very self-conscious mare. “What?” she said. “I can keep a secret, dangit!”
“Alright, but Celestia might want to put a charm on you just in case. Fair warning.”
Applejack folded her forelegs and grumbled.
“Okay, here it is. Right now, the government—Celestia’s government—is about five years from total collapse.”
For the next few small moments, the entire room stood in stunned silence.
“It started with Nightmare Moon, when Celestia disappeared. Discord made things worse, and after the changelings, we started having towns on the border between the griffons and Equestria actively consider defecting to griffon control. They’re worried Celestia can’t protect them, that she’s too weak.”
“That’s crazy!” Applejack interjected.
“They’re half right.” Twilight interjected right back. “Celestia can’t protect them, but that’s because she’s too strong. I was there when Towers confronted her. Everything around her was on fire, and she wasn’t even using any magic. If she fights, absolutely everything anywhere even near her burns. Plants, ponies, friends, enemies; everything.” She turned back to Shining. “But why lead a coup over it?”
Shining sighed. “Because she’s weak. Or at least looks weak. Ponies look for strong leadership, and if it’s lacking, those that think themselves strong will try to fill what they see as a power vacuum, usually to benefit only themselves. That’s what happened here. We’ve already identified three nobles that helped bankroll Towers, and they’re on the run but we really, really doubt they’re the true leaders. Stuff like this happens, the ones in control look for fall stallions. Other groups we’re already aware of have similar goals, and we’ve been keeping them suppressed for ages. Towers, or rather, whoever was giving him orders, was the first to get this far without us noticing.”
“Nobility. It makes sense; anypony trying something this huge would have to have an awful lot of money to piss away,” Soarin said.
“It gets worse. If Towers was in on it, they had vast access to our military secrets. Some of his men had magic armaments that we’re still not ready to roll out.”
“Oh!” Rainbow interrupted. “That reminds me! On the way here, I got jumped by a couple pegasi with weird armor. It glowed blue and gave them a lot of speed. Heh, not that it did them any good.”
“You too?” Soarin asked. “Spitfire and I both got jumped like that. Looks like they underestimated the Wonderbolts.”
Shining chuckled a bit. “I’m glad they did. Wonderbolts are among the most dangerous regular combatants we have, outside of Luna. We can’t afford to lose any, especially after losing the Bellerophon.”
“Bellerophon?” Spike asked.
“That big ship you two blew up. Good job on that, by the way. You too, Applejack. I would’ve liked to take it back, but better rubble than being used against us.”
“That thing was a monster,” Soarin said. “I hit it with my wings again and again and just made it glow more. What the hell was shielding it?”
“A shield generator designed to mimic the barrier I use for Canterlot. The whole thing was meant to be a show of force against the gryphons, and be able to transport Celestia around. We’re guessing they wanted to capture the dock intact, otherwise they would’ve vaporized it well before you two got there to warn them.” Noise penetrated into the room for a moment as the door opened and closed. “Fifty million bits down the bucking drain.”
“Maybe not.” Intelligentsia nearly pranced into the room. “We just got a report in from Spitfire. The Bellerophon is still in its dock. Its engines aren’t even done yet. Guess what that means!”
The eyes on Twilight and Shining Armor went wide for a moment.
Shining went first. “Towers must have stolen the plans! They didn’t steal the ship, they copied it! Must’ve been a hell of a rush job, and cost them a huge amount of money. They’d have had to have built a dock and the ship, all while handing out enough bribes to keep it quiet. It also means that this is deeper than we thought, with more money behind it.”
Twilight continued. “A large portion of which is now a giant flaming wreck, though, right? That kind of effort is also hard to hide; they might have screwed up. We can use materials purchases and money transfers to track that! And we still have the real ship!”
Intelligentsia grinned. “You’re a natural at this. I already got ponies on the tracking. Finally, some good news, right? But it gets better. Seems this whole thing was a rush job; they weren’t supposed to try this for months. Towers only attacked because he knew our Twilight here was ascending. He’s left us more than a few clues, and, more good news, he survived, albeit barely.”
Twilight exhaled a massive a sigh of relief.
“Yup, he’s going to be in intensive care for a while, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a statue shortly after that, but he made it.”
“Wait.” Rainbow interrupted. “That statue thing. That’s a joke… right?”
“Of course, Rainbow! The Princess would never do that, well, except for Discord. Right, Shiny?” Twilight looked at her brother who just put on a nervous face.
“Shining. Shining Armor. That IS just a rumor, right?”
Nervous looks were being worn by half the ponies in the room, with shock from most of the rest. Twilight just had a very large twinge of irritation. “Shining Armor, answer me!”
Shining took a dry swallow. “Sorry, Twily. Some of those statues are…”
The rest of the words didn’t need to be said.
“I think I’m gonna be sick.”
“Whoa,” Spike added. “Frozen forever as a statue…”
“I had a feeling, but, I have to say I’m still surprised. I trust the Princesses, though.” Soarin’s words seemed to be the final authority as the others nodded silently.
Shining continued, “It’s only used in extreme cases; believe me, it isn’t something done without careful consideration. I don’t even think it’s been done in a few generations. She normally even gets the Inner Council’s permission first, though that would be complicated in this case.”
Twilight shook her head. “Doesn’t make it any easier. I wonder if she’s going to expect me to learn that spell.”
“Twilight…” Shining approached his sister. “I know dozens of attack spells. Any one of which could kill outright. Is that really any better?”
“… no, no it isn’t. But it does put things in perspective, I suppose.”
A long uncomfortable silence of contemplations was finally interrupted by Intelligentsia. “Well, the other piece of good news is that it’s probable our Grand Mage here just sent more than a few of these other groups scrambling. We don’t know if the whole secret’s been blown yet, but the way she beat one of the most powerful generals we have so easily means that more than a few will think twice about trying this again, even if it was probably luck. It’ll likely put a few of the weaker groups on the run directly, but we need to be very careful if any of them think we’re vulnerable now.”
“Yeah, let’s keep the pressure up. We can’t just let this stand. The press is going to eat us alive at this rate, and we can’t afford to lose many more cities,” Shining said.
“Lose cities?” Twilight and Rainbow said in perfect synchronization.
“Well, not lose them in combat. I mean in support. Look at the map on the wall.”
The group moved over to the giant map adorning the wall.
“This map shows how much support we have in various towns and cities,” Shining explained. “Manehatten, Fillydelphia, and most of the other large ones in the core of the country are in green. So’s Ponyville. We’ve got big support there. Yellow is borderline, where we’re near 50/50 supportive and unsupportive. Red has active unrest, regardless of support rating. Thank goodness that’s been extremely rare, at least, up until today.”
“And black?” Twilight asked. There was an unsettling amount of black on the edges of the maps, with the largest cluster near the Gryphon Kingdom’s borders.
Shining’s voice cracked a little as the door opened for a moment again. “Black means that they’ve effectively cut ties, officially or not.”
“I had no idea it was that bad,” Twilight said.
“It seems unreal. How can they just do this?” Rainbow was clearly very angry at this. Fitting for Loyalty, really, Twilight thought as she closed her eyes.
“‘Leaders only have the power their followers give them. Without a flock, a shepherd is merely a wanderer.’” Twilight’s words were spoken with a spot-on impression of the Princess herself, although she didn’t realize she was doing it. “Celestia told me that when I was a filly.”
She also didn’t realize the real Princess was the one that had just entered the room, followed by a very windswept-looking Spitfire.
“True words, my student. Words that now guide what’s happening here, as beings in the shadows work to undermine everything we have, so that they may possess some tiny piece of the grand cosmos for a flicker of time.”
Twilight’s eyes shot open and she saw that the rest of the room was already bowing. She tried to bow too but her spine felt utterly paralyzed.
“You may all rise. Applejack, Spike, I understand you two destroyed the fake Bellerophon from the inside. I’d like for you to talk with Intelligentsia about what you saw. It may help unravel some of our mysteries.”
“You got it.” Spike seemed to be taking the whole thing better than any of them. Applejack just nodded.
“Twilight, until we get new quarters for you I want you to stay in Luna’s.”
“Are demons going to eat her in her sleep?” Rainbow asked. Twilight gave her a slight punch to the shoulder for even saying something like that.
Celestia turned to her left towards the golden Wonderbolt. “Spitfire?”
She stood up at attention at the mention of her name.
“I’ve pulled Rainbow away from her duties to protect Twilight. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to resume your old post.”
“On one condition: I get Soarin back as my next in command.”
“Awww, I was happy being retired.” Soarin hadn’t gotten a chance to protest before Celestia’s response; nor did he get much chance to dodge Rainbow’s hoof and mean glare as the wind got knocked out of him. “I mean,” he wheezed. “Once more into the blue for Princess and country.”
“Shining, Cadence wants to talk to you when you get a chance.”
Shining rolled his eyes nearly back into his head. “Here we go, I’m doomed.”
“I’m sure she’s just worried about you.” Celestia had a warm smile when saying that. For an entity representing the sun, she was a superb liar; Twilight genuinely couldn’t tell if her brother was about to get in very hot water or not.
“Oh, and Twilight?”
She stood up as straight as she could, anticipating the important actions she’d need her for. As Grand Mage, it could be a task to deal with anything.
“Try not to worry about what you’ve seen in this room too much just yet. I’ll need your help with these matters soon enough, but for now, I need you to read those books, ok?”
Ah, book reading. Although it was a comforting idea, it was nonetheless tremendously embarrassing to get caught disobeying orders; especially orders to read books.
She lowered her head appropriately before responding. “Yes, Princess. I’m sorry I disobeyed your orders. I’m—”
“Going to stop worrying and get to reading. I’m not mad, Twilight. Wanting to know what’s going on is natural and taking the initiative to find out is the sign of a good leader. I’ll make sure Shining sends messengers with updates…” A warm smile crossed her face before continuing. “Provided Cadence lets him live.”
Shining sighed. “Knew it.”
Celestia raised her voice just a bit to address everypony at once. “I’m sorry for giving orders and running, but things are still tense and I’m needed elsewhere. Thank you all for what you’ve done today, especially you Twilight. I’m sure I’ll have more to ask of you all soon.”
As Celestia walked out of the room, the friends exchanged glances and began to file out as well. Intelligentsia had Spike and Applejack follow her after a small goodbye to Twilight, while Spitfire and Soarin even started to argue as they walked out.
Shining was left to his work at his desk (even though half of that work was now likely classifiable as “avoiding winged unicorn wrath”) as Twilight and Rainbow exited out into the busy war room as well.
“Hey.” Rainbow nudged Twilight a bit in the shoulder. “I don’t suppose Luna’s room has anything interesting for me to read on those shelves. You know, stuff not filled with dark secrets and horrors.”
“Hmmm. Well, I know she has noir crime novels.”
“No-are what now?”
“Noir. You know, trenchcoats, detectives, gritty murders, shady backroom backstabbings, that kind of thing.”
Rainbow blinked slowly. “Actually that does sound kinda cool. Are we going to get to do anything like that in this gig?”
Twilight laughed a little at that. For all that had happened, and for all she’d been thinking about the distant future, she’d thought remarkably little about what a Grand Mage’s job would actually be like. For some weird reason, she actually got a little excited at the prospect. She’d already gotten to see a lot of Equestria in her adventures with her friends, and now she might well see all the rest of it and even beyond. “From what little I’ve seen so far, Rainbow, I’d say we’re going to have to be ready for anything.”
Last autumn in Canterlot…
“Oh, what a day!” Rarity said to herself. “Seventeen new dress designs, all critically important works, completely ruined!”
Despite her frustration and need to vent, she couldn’t blame the intern too much; the additions she put on some of them would likely have made little sense to anypony but herself. Still, she had made it clear to him and everypony she’d hired: her exquisite designs were to be executed to the most exacting detail with no exceptions. Consistency was important in a business, she’d say, although there were other reasons as well.
She pulled a decorative scarf off with her magic as she approached the brand-new penthouse, revealing a broach with a deep purple gem securing her cloak, cursing herself for choosing a light blue scarf on such a gloomy day. She’d read the weather plans and completely ignored them when choosing her clothes, a dark sweater and beret. It even clashed with the rest of her clothes; she just grabbed it when she felt the chill in the fall mountain air. It was an amateur mistake, which is something she simply could not afford in this line of work.
Without thought, she opened the door to her penthouse and quickly ducked inside. It wasn’t as big a place as she could afford now, but then it didn’t need to be. She’d even considered downgrading, since she spent almost all of her time either at work or travelling. Such was the life of one of the world’s top fashionistas.
Still, it was a nice enough place. The entrance was particularly stunning. After a short hallway, there were a couple of steps going down on the right into a lowered living room. It had giant floor-to-ceiling windows looking out, away from Canterlot and towards the little town where she got her start. In the center of the windows was a nice, magically-regulated fireplace that was always on and had no smoke emissions in order to comply with Canterlot ordinances. There was even a well-stocked bar filled with her favorite wines and liquors, especially her high-end bottles of gin.
She tossed the scarf down on the floor and stopped in her tracks when she heard a sealing spell being cast on the door behind her. Turning to her right, towards the windows, she saw a pony in a black suit resting on the couch by the windows and a sword on the table.
She had just walked into her penthouse without needing to unlock it. Stupid, stupid amateur mistake.
Read the thrilling conclusion in Designing Intrigue, the new Rites of Ascension Side Story from CvBrony!