Luna sat upon the royal throne of Canterlot Castle, royally bored. She wasn’t used to this, being on the throne at eleven fifty-three in the morning… it was unnatural. Still, not like she had a choice in the matter, it was this or anarchy. Celestia wasn’t in Canterlot at the moment, heck, she wasn’t even in Equestria.
The Changelings had, oddly, called the Sun Goddess to the badlands to work out a truce. The Changeling Collective and the Kingdom of Equestria had technically been at war since Queen Chrysalis attacked the capital what seemed like forever ago. Celestia, always the goody-horseshoes peacemaker, had accepted their offer and travelled to the Changeling lands to broker peace. It would certainly be a monumental pole-vault of peace if Celestia could pull it off.
Personally, Luna wanted to kick that Changeling Queen where the sun doesn’t shine. She had attacked Equestria and deserved to be reprimanded severely. Luna smiled to herself as she began to remember the good old days, when her Lunar Soldiers rained death upon Equestria’s enemies with glee and no remorse while her sister’s Solar Guard were an impassable wall that protected the innocents of Equestria with valor and immovability. Luna smiled to herself, lost in memory. Yes, what a beautiful, excessively violent, blood filled time…
“Uh, M’lady? M’lady, are you ok?”
Luna snapped back to reality and looked to her right. Sitting on his haunches beside the throne was a very tall, slender pegasus stallion (almost equal to Luna in height). For a moment, Luna shivered, seeing his bright turquoise eyes with darker turquoise replacing the whites of his eyeballs. It reminded Luna a lot of Nightmare Moon, but it wasn’t really her fault the armor chose those eyes for her captain. The Moon Princess turned to the stallion. “Hm? I’m sorry, what is it Fading? I was thinking of something… must have lost track of time.”
The stallion’s body was completely still as he saluted her, his armored boot hitting his bat-winged Captain’s helm. “Nothing M’lady, you just seemed out of it. I wanted to make sure everything was ok.”
“Oh, yes, yes Fading, I’m fine… Just thinking…”
“Of?” The stallion inquired.
“Nothing you need to concern yourself with my dearest captain.” Luna smiled and patted the stallion on the head, creating clanging sounds as her royal metal boot met his equally metal helmet. The stallion grouched, feeling like a well trained puppy, but nodded and silently went back to looking at the main double door entrance.
As if waiting for the stallion to turn towards it, the double doors of the throne room suddenly became encased in a cornflower blue aura. Opening up wide, the barriers parted in order to allow Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, Cadence, to walk through. The pink Alicorn strode causally through the royal throne room, upsetting some of the guards inside. Alicorn Princesses weren’t supposed to walk causally; they always required a royal swagger that was much less arrogant as it was respectful to those watching. This was nothing new though; Cadence's lack of traditional royal ways had always unnerved the guards. An untraditional royal was an unpredictable royal, and an unpredictable royal was a royal that was hard to effectively guard.
Princess Cadence reached the throne and bowed respectfully, smiling as she did. “Hello Princess Luna, how are you faring today?”
Luna looked at Cadence with what could be described as mild disgust. “Cadence,” She said coldly. “Cut it out, please, I’ve not the patience for it.”
Cadence held back falling over laughing, though her giggling was not so easily contained. The mare rose from her bow and smiled at her relative. “Sorry, Auntie Luna, I was just trying to annoy you during Aunt Celestia’s absence. Trying to keep things as normal as possible for you whilst your sister talks to those disgusting bug breaths.”
Luna cocked an eyebrow, ignoring the fact her niece had admitted to trying to annoy her. “Was that a spot of racism I heard Cadence?” Her tone reeked of disapproval.
“Can you blame me?” Cadence asked sourly. “I don’t exactly have fond memories of those hard shells during my imprisonment. In fact, I’m pretty sure they wanted to eat me…”
“First off, Changelings don’t eat other beings unless provoked very excessively. Secondly, racism is a terrible habit to hold onto. It helps nopony, and sickens the mind of those who wield it. Take care not to let negative feelings of the past retard the way for a future of coexistence.” Luna looked down upon her niece with the same sage-like look that Celestia usually wore.
Cadence grumbled to herself. “Yes Aunt Luna.”
The Princess of the Night smiled at her relative, stepping down from her throne and facing Cadence. “How about you and I get something to eat? I know I’m quite hungry.”
Cadence looked off to the side. “I don’t know Aunt Luna, I don’t really feel…” A rumbling sound came from the pink Alicorn’s stomach, prompting her cheeks to fade to a dark red. “Well, it wouldn’t hurt… But don’t you have to stay here and keep up with noonday court?”
Luna chuckled. “Nonsense. I am a Princess of Equestria! I do as I please, most of the time. Besides, what good are guards if they can’t cover for you? Fading!”
The Lunar Captain appeared next to the two Alicorns almost instantly, already saluting. “Yes M’lady?”
“Cover for me would you?”
“Do I have to do paperwork?”
“Very well Princess, I will stand at the throne until you return!” Fading nodded his head and used his wings to jump onto the throne in one big leap. The stallion nestled himself in nicely and stood proper, waiting to be relieved from duty.
Luna turned back to Cadence. “Shall we?” She asked, motioning to the door with a hoof.
Cadence nodded happily and the two left the throne room, some guards trailing behind.
“So, any word from Sir Shining Armor?”
“Not yet, but I’m sure everything’s fine though. My Shining’s not only good at being a guard captain but he has a knack for government… to a limited extent.”
Cadence sipped some tea after finishing talking, smiling lightly at the herbal taste flowing into her mouth. Luna did the same (she wasn’t really one for tea but she could bear it for some social interaction). The two were in one of the many relaxation rooms that the castle held. It took a little to persuade their guards to wait outside in the hallway instead of staring them down in the room. The two immortal Alicorns didn’t want their guards eavesdropping.
“Well, not like there’s much to worry about, the Crystal Empire is a very stable region with Sombra long gone.” Luna remarked as she took a bite of some biscuit.
Cadence laughed. “Yeah, without the darkness of Sombra the Crystal Ponies have really become lively and joyful. It’s a really comforting sight to see.”
“Speaking of Sombra and life, what was with the whole, you know, blowing him up thing? A little extreme won’t you agree?” Luna took a napkin and wiped off some crumbs.
Cadence looked nervously at her aunt. “What?! Well, that wasn’t really my fault was it? I mean… I didn’t know he’d explode from the Crystal Heart's power! It was kinda unexpected…”
“Hmm… yeah, I suppose. I kind of want to know what Fate was thinking when it did that… not really all that family friendly for a stone called the Crystal Heart that's supposed to be about love and whatnot…” Luna kept a sagely demeanor but was secretly praising Creation the heart wasn’t around to be used on her. The Nighttime Princess didn’t think she could take coming back after a thousand years only to be blown up… that would suck.
Cadence poured herself another cup of tea and took a sip. “So…” She started, placing the cup down. “Changing the subject… is there any pony you have your eye on? I think that if anypony deserves a special somepony it be you Aunt Luna.” The Alicorn of Love smiled, squeeing in the process (she did love gossip).
“Me? Oh heavens no Cadence.” Luna said, smirking and waving a hoof at her niece. “I haven’t been with anypony in over… well, a long time. And even then, I’ve never… well, it’s not important!” Luna shook her head and placed her front legs on the table, resting her chin in her hooves. “How are you and Shining doing in your relationship? Thinking of foals yet?”
Cadence laughed, Luna’s attempts to avert answering her questions obvious. “Oh no you don’t! Come on! Give me some gossip Aunt Luna! What have you never done, hm? Should I start guessing?”
Luna stood up in shock. “NO! … I mean… It’s just… if anypony deserves a special somepony it’s my sister and your aunt, Celestia.”
Cadence’s eyes widened. “Really? Why do you say that?”
Luna repositioned herself on her soft cushion. “Celestia has done much for this country, many of her deeds go unnoticed by the general populace. Maker, there are some things she’s done that only she knows about. I’ve seen her work herself to near exhaustion. Once, she didn’t eat for a whole seven weeks while she wrote a speech for a peacekeeping conference in the North. She deserves the happiness a lover can bring, much more than I do.” Luna bobbed her head up and down, as if agreeing with the words she had just spoken like they had been from another mouth.
Cadence pondered her aunt’s words for a second. “Huh, I guess you’re right. Hmmm… if only there was somepony the Princess was interested in? I mean there’s that one mare in accounting, but everypony knows she wouldn’t have the nerve to go through with that one.” Cadence thought about possible matches for her aunt, literally pairing her with every being she could think of. Cadence’s head slumped in defeat after a minute or two. “Ugh, I can’t think of anypony…”
Luna chuckled. “Do not let it trouble you Cadence. If there is a pony that catches my sister’s eye she will not hesitate to try and court her, as long as it’s not that mare from accounting, she definitely doesn’t have the courage to pursue that unrequited love.”
Cadence looked up at the ceiling, it was a nice royal white with some golden frilly outlines that sprouted out from the corners to the hanging chandelier in the center of the room’s roof. “Yeah… I guess I should know that love comes naturally right? Still… if Aunt Celestia found a special somepony I’d give all the support I can give.”
Luna sipped her ‘tea’ (she had replaced it with coffee when Cadence wasn’t looking, Maker she loved coffee). “That’s all we can really do when love takes hold of a pony. Luckily, when my sister picks a lover, she always picks those of unparalleled character and…”
The door to the room burst open, some Lunar Stallions rushing in. The two saluted and the earth pony of the two stepped forward. Luna recognized the male as Fleet Hoof, one of her sergeants. “Hello guards, what brings you here?” The Night Princess asked causally, as she always did with her personal guard.
“Ma’am, Princess Celestia has returned from her diplomacy mission from the Changeling Collective.” Fleet Hoof saluted again.
Luna brightened up at the news. The dark Alicorn hopped up from her cushion. She threw her hooves up in jubilation. “Yes! Now I won’t have to watch over noonday court!” There was an awkward silence as the only ponies present stared at Luna, her fore legs in the air and her face carrying a joyous smile. The Princess’s eyes shifted back and forth comically from Cadence’s and the Lunar Stallion’s confused faces, her smiling not dropping. Luna finally let down her legs and coughed, chuckling nervously a bit. “And of course I’m so glad that my sister has returned, unharmed… yeah.”
“Well, let’s go see her!” Cadence pronounced, eager to see her elder aunt.
Luna nodded and turned to her guards. “Return to the barracks and tell the guards I will be along shortly to watch afternoon training.”
The two Lunar Stallions nodded and saluted, leaving the two Alicorns. After they left, Luna and Cadence made their way to the throne room.
Lunar Captain Fading Moonlight was cleaning off the royal throne, smiling nervously as Celestia looked at him, her expression one more of surprise than annoyance. Cleaning off the last of his presence from the throne, the captain bowed, saluted, and headed for the door without a word. Before he reached the double doors they opened with magic, revealing Luna and Cadence.
“Hello again Fading.” Luna remarked upon seeing her captain. The Captain, however, ignored her and walked right past them, a worried look on his muzzle. Luna cocked her head back and watched her captain leave. “Fading? Where are you going?”
“Just moving to avoid the S-storm M’lady.” The Captain called back, making sure to watch his language in the presence of royalty.
Cadence and Luna looked at each with cocked eyebrows. The pair turned to Celestia, who seemed to be talking to a column in the throne room. The confused Alicorns took cautious steps towards their relative. Luna was unsure of what was going on but Cadence couldn’t shake a growing twist in her stomach. She hadn’t felt a twist like this since…
“Sister? Tia, are you ok?” Luna started, stepping close to the white Alicorn.
Celestia turned quickly and smiled at her fellow Alicorns. Luna took a step back in shock; she couldn’t remember Celestia ever as looking as happy she did right now, at least in recent history. Celestia went up to Luna and nuzzled her. “Of course sister, in fact I’m feeling better than I have in a very long time.”
Cadence cocked an eyebrow. “Really? I suppose the diplomacy with the Changelings went well?”
Celestia deflated a little. “No, not really. It went as much as I expected really, but it wasn’t all for nothing.”
“Really?” Luna asked. “What was good about this mission then, if it failed?”
Celestia looked behind her at the column she had been talking to. “Let’s just say I found a ‘special’ friend during my time in the Collective's territories.” The Sun Goddess went over to the column, leaning her head in and conversing with it apparently. “It’s alright... There’s nothing to worry about… They’d find out eventually… Please? For me?”
With that, a figure walked out from the column. She was just as tall as Celestia and had black fur… wait… that wasn’t fur. And her greenish hair didn’t look normal. Not only that but her wings were glass-like and insectoid. Her horn was crooked and black. Eww… she had fangs!
Cadence took several steps back in horror as she felt those green, slit eyes staring back at her. “Queen Chrysalis!”