Celestia rubbed the back of her bandaged neck, wincing at the pain this simple action brought about. She heard one of the doctors ask her something, she wasn’t sure what. Regardless, she moved a part of her body and this seemed to please the slender stallion observing her. The ageless solar mare was, for the first time in many years, utterly confused about what was going on. She knew the words she wanted to ask, but her mouth didn’t. The oral body part could not get the words out, no matter how hard she tried.
Steady Beat looked at his solar leader intently, looking for any signs of extensive damage. The doctor could see the mare was trying to say something, but she seemed unable to make the words. “Please Princess.” He pleaded. “Do not stress yourself too much, you’re not in the best of conditions. Just try to relax while we look over you and ensure nothing is wrong.” The Princess seemed to stop her attempts at last, and Steady Beat continued.
“Is she ok?”
The doctor turned to see Chrysalis approaching, a worried look in her eye. Taking one last glance at Celestia and scanning her with yet another vitals spell, Steady Beat smiled. “Yes, she’ll be fine. A little banged up, but fine. Her voice should return before you get back to the castle.”
Chrysalis let out a relieved sigh. “Good, that’s a relief.” Her face suddenly got very serious as she readied her next statement. “Now we have to figure out what happened.”
“Indeed.” Fancy Pants replied as he walked up to the Changeling from another room. The noble stopped in front of the Princess, doctor, and Changeling and sighed. “I’ve already asked all the guards if they saw something, but…”
“Nothing?” Celestia breathed out, finding her voice.
“Princess, don’t speak.” Steady Beat pleaded.
“This matter… acquires my involvement as well… doctor.” It was easy to hear the strain in Celestia’s voice and she needed to take in large breaths (which she tried gracefully to hide) just to get part of a sentence out. Still, the doctor knew arguing would get him nowhere.
Fancy Pants took this as his moment to continue. “Right, well… I questioned all the guards, err… well, Captain Valor’s Shield did but I listened in. None of them reported anything out of the ordinary. They checked the entire upper manor and found nothing. I’m having the mercenaries I hired comb the warehouses.”
Chrysalis snorted. “Is it so wise to have ponies with such shaky loyalty search for anything out of the ordinary?”
Fancy Pants chuckled. “Oh my dear, there is nothing to worry about. Mercenaries are quite loyal to their paychecks, and I am paying them a great deal and I am sure they…”
“Fancy Pants, sir!”
The noble turned to see several guards approaching him, with a rather beat up Capricorn following them. One of the guards stopped and saluted. “We found him in a pile of boxes we were combing through. Seems like he was attacked and…”
“I can speak for myself, pony.” Steadied Precision growled.
Fancy Pants, Celestia, and Chrysalis turned their attention to the Capricorn. Celestia coughed and brought in a lot of air. “Well?” She asked simply.
“I was attacked by an intruder. They tried getting in through the lower warehouse entrance and I confronted them. As you can probably guess by my state of being as well as the disaster that occurred here that it didn’t end in my favor.”
“So who was it?” Fancy Pants asked. “Who attacked you? Whoever it was most certainly is the one responsible for this.”
Steadied Precision snorted. “You don’t pay me enough for the who, only the what.” The Capricorn was unaffected by the look given to him by not only Fancy Pants but Chrysalis as well. “Doesn’t really matter… whoever did it also gave my mind a detail wipe, I’ve no clue. Very clever I'll admit. Good to know, actually. I'd hate to find out I was beaten by a simpleton.”
“Damn…” Chrysalis cursed. “Now what do we do?”
“Have you tried checking the crime scene?” Precision asked, actually rather eager to find out who beat him (he'd like to congratulate them and swap tactics).
Royal Guard Captain Valor’s Shield returned from the other room and answered the question. “We already did. The supports of the rafters and ceiling were singed away with magic. Usually we could get a good reading about who did it, magic tracking and what not, but after being stopped by Lady Chrysalis and then shrunk by Discord the magic markings on the rubble is about as hard to locate as it is easy to give Princess Luna brain freeze.” The Earth pony sighed. “We aren’t getting any information from this crime scene.”
“Then there’s nothing to do but catch one’s breath and wait for the next time.” Steadied Precision remarked.
“Next time?” Chrysalis asked. “What do you mean?”
Precision flexed, trying to relieve some leftover soreness. “Crap like this rarely happens once if it fails the first time. I’d keep my guard if I were you.” With that, the Capricorn bowed respectfully to the higher standing ponies in front of him and left to receive proper medical attention.
Celestia watched the Capricorn leave, and then turned to Steady Beat. “I am well enough to return to the castle with no further hindrance?” The mare no longer sounded strained.
“Well,” Steady Beat started. “You seem to have your voice back already, so yeah, you’re free to return to the castle though I would suggest taking it easy while everything sets back into place.” Celestia nodded to the doctor and the stallion returned it, using this as his goodbye. The stallion then looked down to his clipboard notes to review them.
“I suppose we should get back to the castle now so you can rest.” Chrysalis said once the stallion had finished. She turned to Celestia and helped the solar mare up, the Changeling letting her lover lean against her own carapace. This is when Fancy Pants went to Chrysalis and bowed.
“Miss Chrysalis, I am well aware of the intentions of Celestia bringing you to my party. After all that has happened, I am pleased to be the one to tell you that your actions today will not go unnoticed. Every noble at this party owes you their lives and I, nor they, shall forget it.”
“And what am I, chopped suey?” Discord questioned, the Draconequus was off to the side playing strip poker with one of the maids (rather one sided considering).
Fancy Pants ignored him. “I thank you for your actions. I truly believe you are certainly one step closer to the goal you strive for.” Fancy Pants bowed and took off to the manor’s second floor (he wanted to check on Fleur).
Chrysalis turned, smiling, towards Celestia, only to see the solar goddess giving her own glad smirk. “Come on,” Celestia stated. “Let’s go home.” Chrysalis nodded and helped the Solar along out of the manor, trailed by several guards of course.
Doctor Steady Beat watched them leave until he noticed Discord standing next to him. “Yes?” He asked, repositioning his attention.
“I honestly thought your name had to do with music for the longest time.” The Draconequus answered.
Steady Beat chuckled. “Yeah, me too… It wasn’t until I was fifteen that I realized the beat in my name meant heartbeat. I tried to be a pop star for the longest time.”
Discord chuckled and shook his head. “If it makes you feel any better I never had a problem with knowing my destiny.”
Steady Beat rolled his eyes. “Yeah, that makes me feels sooooo much better.”
“It’s ok Chrysalis, I’m ok.”
Chrysalis bit her lower lip as the two strolled down one of the Castle’s extravagant hallways towards the throne room. “You’re sure Celli? You can walk just fine? No need for help? The doctor told you to take it easy.”
Celestia chuckled and brushed Chrysalis off. “I’m fine, it barely even hurts and your help doesn’t change anything.”
The Changeling Queen sighed. “Alright, alright, I’ll stop. But if you feel even the least bit…”
“Chrissie…” Celestia scowled, her famous frown of depressing disapproval showing.
Celestia rolled her eyes playfully. “You’re too much sometimes.” The royal mare yawned. “Here we are.” The two mares stopped in front of the throne room door. “I hope Cadence hasn’t been too bored watching over the castle while we’ve been away.”
“I bet she’s crumbling to pieces with boredom.” Chrysalis joked. Using their magic the two leaders opened the large fancy doors of the throne room.
What met the two mares when they opened the door was not what they had expected, to say the least. Inside the throne room there had been a large work desk set up, and it was currently packed with stacked papers. Behind the overloaded desk sat none other than Prince Blueblood, working feverishly on some particular piece of paper. The Prince looked very enthralled with his work, what’s more is how the Prince looked physically. His mane was a mess and coat did not have its usual shine. His eyes had a seriousness that no living creature had ever seen on the prince as they darted precisely and with purpose over the form he was working on. It looked like Prince Blueblood had been working all night long on actual work (a sentence that no one had ever believed they would utter).
Chrysalis and Celestia looked at each other with confused looks. The two returned their gaze to Blueblood and began walking towards the Prince. “Ummm… Nephew?” Celestia asked.
“Relocate those funds to repairing the infrastructure of the southern areas… Raise taxes on imports by point seven percent to pay for any complications…” The Princes was muttering to himself, oblivious to the rest of the world.
“Nephew?” Celestia asked again, getting closer. “Nephew? Nephew. Prince Blueblood!”
“What, what?!” The Prince started, broken from his trance. “What’s happening? Is everything ok?”
“I wanted to ask you that nephew.” Celestia said, placing a reassuring hoof on the Prince’s shoulder. “What are you doing here? Where’s Cadence?”
Blueblood looked up at Celestia, his eyes a little frantic. Excessive caffeine consumption… Celestia guessed. “Oh… uh,” Blueblood shook his head, regaining his senses. “She, uh… she wasn’t feeling good tonight so she asked me to fill in for her.”
“She asked you?” Chrysalis asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“Uh… yeah.” Blueblood remarked blandly. The two mares could tell he wasn’t all there, most of his mind looked to still be mulling over numbers. “Yes, she asked me… Gave me responsibilities… Oh, wait… Responsibilities… Still gotta finish this finance report for Southern Equestria…” His head shot right back down to the desk and he grabbed a quill with his magic.
Celestia gave her nephew with a shocked expression. Blueblood had never done had an honest day’s work in his entire life. But here he was, not just working but trying to run the kingdom. Looking over his shoulder, Celestia gaped as she saw that he had completed over three days of the sun goddess’s work. “Nephew, please stop.” Celestia asked plainly.
“What?!” Blueblood exclaimed. “I-I can’t! I’ve got… responsibilities now! I’ve got to get them done!” The Prince was about to return to his work but Celestia put a hoof on his shoulder.
“Nephew, I understand. But if you overexert yourself then you won’t be able to complete your responsibilities. How about you get some sleep and tomorrow I’ll give you some paperwork that’s backed up? How’s that sound?”
Blueblood contemplated his Aunt’s offer for a moment. Eventually, the words clicked. “Yes… yes, that makes sense. Ok, Auntie Celestia, I’ll go to bed now. I can continue tomorrow.” The stallion got up and staggered away, out of the throne room. He mumbled to himself the whole way to his own bedroom.
Chrysalis waited until he was gone to turn to Celestia. “So… that was weird.”
“Indeed.” Celestia remarked. “Still, it is well know that having important duties can drastically change a pony. That does not make it any stranger to see Blueblood working, however.”
“How about Cadence? She never said anything about feeling under the weather.”
“Probably didn’t want us to worry about her while we were at the party.” Celestia guessed.
Chrysalis turned to look at the door. “Should I go and check on her? See if she’s ok or needs anything?”
“No,” Celestia replied. “If she needed anything she would have called for it. It’s probably best if we let her sleep off whatever aliment pains her.” The Solar mare flexed slightly, groaning. “Besides… I want to get a shower.” She started for the door.
“Mind if I join you?” Chrysalis asked in a sultry manner.
Celestia laughed. “I’d have it no other way. Just, nothing rough, I don’t feel like breaking anything else tonight.”
“I’ll be as gentle as you want.” Chrysalis responded with a seductive wink. The two mares laughed, gave each other a kiss, and then exited the throne room together.
Cadence was lying in her bed, staring at the ceiling. Fiddling with her hooves, the Alicorn of love was not the least bit happy. Shape Shift, balled up at the end of her bed like a dog, raised his head from its resting position and cocked his head and took out his board.
IT’LL BE OK CADENCE.
“We failed.” Cadence remarked darkly. “We failed miserably and now Chrysalis will be hailed as some kind of hero.” The pink mare punched one of the bed’s super-awesome-crazy-comfortable pillows.
Shape Shift looked away, not enjoying his mistress being so angry and depressed. The Changeling thought for the best thing to say next. He thought of something a moment later and began scribbling. He finished and showed his board to Cadence: THERE’S ALWAYS NEXT TIME.
Cadence read the board carefully and nodded slightly. “Yes…” She said, her face contorting into a glare of hatred. Her cornflower blue magic sparked, neither creature noticed the tiny sparks of black, green, and purple magic that had infected Cadence’s own.
“There’s always next time…”