Hopes and Follies

by Phaoray

Actor's Introductions

Celestia slowly opened her eyes from her nap at the sound of someone landing on her balcony. She yawned and let out a small smile as her sister opened the glass doors and walked in. “Luna, I’m happy to see you back and well. I took care of what I could in the Night Court and cancelled the rest. Well, after preventing the guards from trying to put the palace on lockdown due to your rather dramatic exit. Where did you go? Twilight and the palace guards were quite panicked at your sudden departure…as was I.”

        Luna trotted over to the bed and gave her sister an apologetic nuzzle, resting their heads against each other for a moment before she pulled back. “We are sorry, dear Sister, but much has gone amiss for us this day. Our ancient domicile was broken into and an artifact of worrying power stolen from it.”

“Oh? Did you see who or what stole it?” Celestia raised her head as her expression turned to one of concern. ”Twilight and her friends will need all the information they can to track the artifact down.”

Luna gave Celestia a curious look “We haven’t even told you what was stolen yet Tia, why are you so quick to think that the elements should be the one's to handle its recovery?”

Celestia gave Luna a deadpan expression, her eyes up in a ‘are you serious?’ look. “Lulu, these last few years an old enemy we sealed away, or an ancient evil artifact we thought long lost seems to surface every few months. In each of these events it has been Twilight and her friends who safely defeated them, or recovered said artifact. Why would I think of sending anypony else?”

Luna snorted at her sister “You know Tia, you could instead, help us to try and recover the artifact without getting Twilight involved. It doesn’t have to always be your former student and her friends that take these risks.”

Celestia smiled back and winked “I agree Lulu, and we will take care of some of these issues on our own, just as soon as Twilight learns to say ‘no’ to me. As an Alicorn, she needs to become strong enough to refuse something even you or I ask of her.”

        Luna grumbled a bit and laid down in Celestia’s bed, opening her sore wings and giving them a good stretch “Well we would appreciate if you helped her with that. Leaving Twilight in charge while we solved problems like this would get her prepared for the future. It would be quite wonderful if both of us could finally take that vacation to Los Pegasus.”

        Celestia tried to suppress a shudder at memories of previous vacations with Luna in the distant past and gave her a nod. She thought back to the embarrassment of Luna’s drunken antics, the over the top jokes Luna would play on her, the noises at night from the bedroom they shared that drove Celestia to start discreetly having a second room prepared for her to flee to. Hopefully booked at the other end of the inns they stayed at.

        Vacation with you? Fat chance Luna. Your actions were hard enough to hide when the media was nothing more than town criers. I can’t imagine the cost involved to keep you out of the papers now, not to mention having the photo’s burned before they got published. She’s always so regal and serious in public appearances and about her duties. However, she was the element of laughter, and by the stars it shows when she’s on vacation.

“So…” Celestia continued, changing the subject quickly. ”By the way you are talking and acting, am I to assume this artifact isn’t of immediate danger?”

“hmm?” Luna mouthed, lifting her head back up from where it was resting on the bed. “Oh, not really. The trigger won’t be of use for another week at least from its consumption. Though we would love to find and skin the pony whom dared to steal from us this very second, waking up Twilight now to retrieve it would be both rude and fruitless. That pony is somewhere in the Everfree forest, and until they emerge it will be next to impossible to find them.” Luna grinned at Celestia.

“So you’re on board with sending Twilight out to find it?” Celestia grinned back at Luna’s nod.

“Since this is part of your plan to train Twilight in her new role we will go along with it."

"Thank you Lulu. I don't wish to continue with her lessons after telling Twilight that she is my equal. But, she even refuses servants, let along guards!" Celestia let a hoof wildly gesture in the air in exasperation. "She understands what I feel is most important for a ruler, but not the...politics of it yet."

"Luna nodded along in agreement, having noticed the emptiness of Twilight's castle despite her having it for several months already. "Though what will you do if she starts to resent you for sending her and her friends out on these dangerous missions instead of her learning to refuse them?”

“Oh Lulu, that’s why she is graded on so many of her missions. And there is no shortage of stained glass windows in the palace I can have replaced. Especially if you continue to go through them.”

Luna chuckled at this statement “Despite your coat color Tia, you’re pure evil.”

Celestia tsked at Luna “Twilight has never failed to learn a lesson I’ve placed before her. I am positive she’ll learn this one before she becomes truly upset with me. And if not, I will have others help nudge her in that direction as always.Twilight is too much like a daughter to me to hurt her intentionally like that.”

Celestia yawned and wrapped a wing lovingly around her sister. “Now, care to tell me what this ‘trigger’ you were speaking of is? It’s been a long time since I thought of all those cute little experiments you used to do."

Luna blushed and squeaked out a protest. "Cute? Dear sister, we were working to unravel the mysteries of magic and the world itself! Why would you say-" Luna's eyes turned to slits as she peered at her sister in annoyance. "You are referring to our days in the kitchen, aren't you?"

"You were the most beautiful little kitchen ghost!" Celestia gushed. "While I thought it was rude of the staff to call you a calamity, they did have my sympathies for all the white prints they had to clean up."

With a groan, Luna hid her head. "Let it go Sister. We learned long ago that the kitchen was not our place for experiments, and switched to a laboratory just as soon as Starswirl trusted us enough."

Celestia giggled at that. "So, what cute little items did you keep in your personal rooms? I admit to never wishing to go down there after you left...”

Luna cleared her throat and actually seemed to blush a little, piquing Celestia’s curiosity.

“Well, the-the thing is Sister, the Alicorn Trigger…”


Trixie did her best to keep her moans quiet, but the pain combined with her exhaustion prevented it. Blearily, she looked to the distant lights of Ponyville, thinking they were almost mocking her. Somehow, she had made it this far, despite the pain that had slowly encased her entire body over the last couple of hours. But now, her body refused her every command. If she hadn’t been lost in the forest for so long, she was positive she would have made it before this sudden explosion of agony began ravaging her insides. Trixie could feel the orb in her stomach, pulsing in time with her heart.

Trixie laid there for what felt like hours, trying her best to go unconscious so she wouldn’t have to bear the torture wracking her body. Despite the pounding in her head, Trixie vaguely noticed the sky start to brighten from a deep, dark blue to a pinkish purple as the two sisters brought night to day. All of a sudden, Trixie heard the sound of cheering and hoof stomping surrounding her.

“Ah now there’s the winning team in all her glory!”

Trixie made out a very disjointed vision of Discord’s face several inches away from her own. A huge grin was visible, as well as a blue foam hand with something written on it Trixie couldn’t see very well.

“So, tell your adoring audience how it went! Did you meet up with Luna? Was she mad that you stole her little marble? I bet she was mad, wasn’t she? What was your favorite play of this season?” Discord held a microphone up to Trixie’s lips, looking expectantly at her.


“Hmm…fascinating. Riveting even! Let’s get to the in-depth interview later so you can hit the showers. No offense, but you look a little too….dead-ish right now to be shown in public.”

Trixie groaned again as she felt her body lift up from the ground and could merely twitch her legs a little as Discord levitated her body behind him as he walked off.

“Feeling like you’re burning up a little huh? It’s okay, no pain no gain after all! It’s just weakness leaving the body! It’s the sensation of victory!”

Trixie could do nothing but groan and listen to Discord as he continued to ramble off stupid motivational quotes to her, despite how much she focused on mentally telling him to shut up. She vaguely noticed that they were not in fact headed into Ponyville. Instead, they seemed to still be in Ponyville’s outskirts and headed to a distant cottage.

“Okay.” Discord stated as he stopped in front of the cottage’s door moments later. Looking to Trixie, he brought up a feather duster and proceeded to dust her off. Afterwards he straightened her hat and cape before giving her a once over. “Meh, it’ll have to do. Just let me do all of the talking, all right?” Trixie groaned again and tried to glare at him. “Good, glad we’re on the same page. By the way, you’re going to be feeling some strange magic surges in the next few days. Direct one of them at Fluttershy, and you’re going to be wishing Luna found you instead of me, got it?” Discord didn’t bother to wait for an acknowledgment as he turned around and snapped his fingers, causing him to suddenly be dressed in a pink nurse’s outfit with a blonde wig on his head. Discord proceeded to knock on the door several times in a random pattern, then stop, then start knocking again. He kept this up until the door opened a few inches to reveal the face of a yellow Pegasus with an eye-patch and a tired look on her face. Surprisingly to Trixie, the Pegasus’s face didn’t change at all as she stared at Nurse Discord.

“Oh…g-good morning Discord. I wasn’t expecting you to come home till later this week. Umm…would you like to come in?”  

        Discord’s quickly snapped his costume away as his face went from mischievous to serious. He grabbed Fluttershy’s chin in his paw and directed her gaze up to his face.

        “Fluttershy, what happened to your eye?”

Fluttershy looked a bit surprised at this statement, bringing her hoof up to the eye-patch as if just remembering it was there. She then smiled a little shyly up at Discord. “O-oh, this? W-well you see, those raven’s were awfully hungry. A-and since I couldn’t let them have yours…well…”

        As Discord’s face started to freeze up in a horrified expression rivaling the one he was first placed to stone in, Fluttershy let out a little snort and giggle. She then flipped the eye-patch up, revealing that her eye was in fact not in the gullet of some bird.


        Discord’s face remained locked in the same expression for several more seconds. Cracks began to appear all across his body until he shattered, leaving a large pile of brown and grey shards where he once stood. Fluttershy looked down at the pile and proceeded to give it a few prods with her hoof.

        “U-um…was…was that too mean?”

        Less than a second later, Fluttershy gave a surprised squeak as Discord picked her up from behind and proceeded to give her a noogie as he laughed.

        “My dear Fluttershy, you actually pranked me! ME! The very essence of chaotic actions!  Do you know what this means!?” Discord held Fluttershy at arms length and grinned at her as she caught her breath.

        “Th-that you’re a b-bad influence?” Trixie managed to mutter out despite the pain.

Discord looked over to the Unicorn floating in the air several feet away “Oh, you can finally do more than moan now? Good for you. But no! Well, yes, but no!” Discord stretched out one paw to the sky and moved it to indicate a large area “It means that it’s time for me and sweet little Flutters here to take a road trip! The places we’ll go, the pranks we’ll pull, the things we’ll turn ponies into!” Discord put Fluttershy down and snapped his fingers, causing a large open suitcase to appear in the air next to him. Nearby animals started to float over to the suitcase from inside the cottage and the fields around it. Most were quite alarmed as they were placed into the suitcase and disappeared from view, particularly a large brown bear.

“D-Discord? W-what’s Trixie doing here?” Fluttershy approached the floating Unicorn. Seeing Trixie’s face wincing in pain, her expression quickly changed from slightly scared to concerned.

Discord stopped packing the animals and looked over at the two ponies “Oh. Right. I still have THAT little detail to take care of. Sorry everyone, looks like the trip will have to wait for another day.” The suitcase turned in the air and deposited the distressed animals in a large pile on the ground. Many of the animals were too dizzy from the rough treatment to run off immediately, though one particular white rabbit hopped up to Discord and gave him a solid kick before walking back into the cottage.

“Discord, what’s wrong with Trixie? Did something happen? Bring her inside this minute!” Fluttershy ran into the cottage to retrieve her medical bag.

“…and now Pegasi are bossing me around. Yep, I was right. Everything with wings in Equestria is after me in some way.” Discord continued to grumble as he walked into Fluttershy’s house, Trixie floating in behind him.

        “Pr-I mean; Celestia, Luna, you said you needed to see me?” Twilight said shortly after taken her seat.

Twilight, Celestia, and Luna were all sitting in one of the conference rooms. Guards were stationed by the closed doors to assure their privacy, making it clear they were not to be bothered.

        “Twilight,” Celestia started “We apologize for having to cut your meetings with the ambassadors short…” Twilight snorted at this, making it clear how little she was actually bothered by this interruption.  “But it has come to our attention that somepony broke in and stole an artifact from our ancient home. We need you and the element bearers to track whoever has it and bring them to the palace.”

        A curious expression came over Twilight’s face at Celestia’s phrasing of her mission. “You didn’t mention anything about bringing back the artifact, just who was responsible for stealing it. And why did they take it?”  

        Princess Luna spoke up “To answer the first part, it is because the artifact is most assuredly in the gut of whichever pony was foolish enough to steal from us. Once you corner the unfortunate soul who dared steal the Alicorn Trigger and bring them here, we will…remove the artifact from their miserable body.”

        Twilight’s fur stood on end at Luna’s words, getting a sense of foreboding from the Princess’s tone.

        “Luna, you’re being as…particular, with your choice of words as Celestia. What exactly are you planning on doing to this pony once we bring them back here?”

        “Well, if they are lucky, and we choose to be in a forgiving mood, we will only take a few weeks to extract the Trigger from their body. After that, we would not mind a new hoofstool in our bedroom.”

        “Luna!” Celestia scolded, turning to Twilight with a soothing smile. “Don’t listen to Luna, Twilight. The artifact stolen is very personal to her, so she is quite upset over its loss. She won’t really kill the pony in question over this. However, as they consumed the Trigger, it will take Luna quite some time to remove it from their body, and it will most likely be a painful experience for them.”

        Twilight eyed the scowling Luna a little warily, but relaxed at her old mentors’ calming tone. “All right, could you tell me what we’ll be up against? You called it the ‘Alicorn Trigger’, does that mean it’ll be similar to the Alicorn Amulet incident?”

Celestia shook her head and turned back to Luna questioningly. Receiving a nod from her sister, Celestia turned back to Twilight.

“Please understand Twilight, to fully explain the trigger, we will have to impart to you some information that cannot be made public. We have yet to share this information with even Cadence. If this was spread, it would cause an untold amount of chaos among ponies and quite likely put the element bearers at risk.”

Twilight’s ears lowered at the thought of her friends being injured from her own actions and nodded to Celestia. “I promise, if this secret is so dangerous, that I will not tell anypony.”

“Very well.” Luna stood up and started to pace the room as she spoke. “Understand that, as far as we are aware, there are in fact only three ways one may become an Alicorn. The first is through birth like us and our sister. Despite past attempts by others, the birth of an Alicorn can only occur between Alicorns. Due to the lack of males, this option is currently closed. The second is...well...problematic” Luna stopped her pacing and looked over to Twilight.

“Magic is….fickle in some ways, we suppose. The three tribes were unexpectedly blessed with a unique chance that no other species has. Very, very rarely, a pony may be born with a unique brand of magic wrapped around their soul. A chance at a unique destiny. Think of it like a seed if you will. When cared for correctly, the seed will grow, causing the magic to tightly entwine itself with that ponies soul and natural energies. This will cause said pony, with help, to become an Alicorn.” Luna paused slightly and smirked as Twilight’s eyes widened in recognition of how she ascended.

“If looked for, an Alicorn can sense this seed in a pony, but it is literally like looking for a piece of hay in a needle stack. Only once have we seen more than one pony with the possibility of ascension within every century.”

Celestia cut in. “The seed, if never grown, is still of use to the wielder. It gives them an edge other ponies do not have, the ability to dig down when desperate and find the power they need to deal with many situations others couldn’t. A Pegasus being able to outfly an athletic friend despite being a poor flyer themselves, an earth pony growing a fruit or vegetable dozens of times larger than they should be capable of, and a Unicorn capable of hatching a dragon’s egg that was never meant to hatch in the first place, are all past examples of this.“

Celestia patiently waited for Twilight to come out of her paralyzed state. After a moment she began to grown concerned, and lightly tapped Twilight with her hoof, causing the pole-axed mare to let out a strangled squawk as she fell out of her seat. Celestia spent the next few minutes coaxing Twilight to breath and return to her seat, only speaking again once she was sure Twilight was no longer in danger of fainting.

        “Hopefully now you understand why this is kept hidden. Ponies would start coming to the castle in droves with the hopes of being told they held such potential all day, others would think we were lying to them, and still others would hunt down those known to have these seeds and try to remove them.”

        “So you mean, my friends, they all could be….?”

Celestia nodded, though her eyes held a soft sadness to them “They could Twilight, but Luna and I have no plans to carry out the ritual on them. Becoming an Alicorn is as much of a blessing as it is a curse. Could you see Rarity watching Sweetie Belle age and die before her eyes? What of Applejack and Apple Bloom? Not to mention the upheaval that is still going on at your own recent coronation. To add five more Alicorns to that list would panic the country to no end. You alone were trained and taught to one day join my sister and I, Twilight. I’m sorry, I know it hurts, but that is how it must stay.”

        Twilight nodded dumbly to Celestia, too overwhelmed with this new information to make any argument with her decision for the moment. “S-so, you only mentioned the first two ways to become an Alicorn, I take it this trigger is the third way?”

After giving Twilight's face a once-over to make sure she should continue, Luna nodded. “The Alicorn Trigger; we experimented with the tree of harmony for a long time before coming up with it. Unfortunately, the experiment proved too dangerous for the tree, and only one was ever completed. We kept it a secret from our sister...” Luna blushed a little and looked to the floor. “It-it is capable of making a pony without the seed into an Alicorn. We kept it in case we or our sister found a special somepony to spend an eternity with. We wished it to be a surprise in case our sister found somepony first.”

Celestia stood up and nuzzled her sister lovingly, hugging her with a wing. “I thank you for your intentions, sister, but as of now I am more than happy for the next few centuries just having you returned to me. And now with Cadence and Twilight joining us, so long as we support one another I think we will have no cause to feel alone again.”

Twilight silently mulled over what she learned as the two sisters had a tender moment together. She spoke up only when she saw them break apart. “So, the Alicorn trigger allows somepony to go beyond their normal limits when pressed, and to become an Alicorn if they have the ritual. Is that right?”

Luna nodded, focusing on Twilight as she sat down next to Celestia, touching by the barest of margins. “That is for the most part correct. The Trigger we designed is capable of a bit more than the normal seeds however. After a week of excruciating pain as the trigger bonds itself with the users magic and soul, the user gains a small boost of all three tribes magics. To run along clouds and survive long falls with little injury like a Pegasus; a touch of the stamina, strength, and hardiness earth ponies are blessed with; and finally, the capability to use stronger spells and store more magic in their body. Admittedly, the third is of little use if the user is not a unicorn. We are, however, very positive that we sensed traces of a unicorn’s magic in our old rooms.”

 Luna continued. “Even if the trigger becomes bound to them, we know how to unbind it. It’ll be painful for them, but better than the alternative Celestia will most likely forbid us from doing.  We have little fear of them having, or even being capable of the ascension ritual. The powers needed to perform it are beyond even the strongest unicorn. As of this age, the only ones we know capable of such a ritual are Alicorns, Discord, and, with enough love, perhaps Chrysalis. Of these, Chrysalis is the only enemy Equestria still has, but it is still very suspect to think her capable of this, considering her recent defeat and desire to not share power. This pony most likely doesn’t truly know what they stole, and is merely using it to boost their own magic as opposed to seeking Alicornhood.”

A slow clapping was heard echoing in the room. The three Alicorns tilted their heads to look all over the room warily before spotting a miniature Discord resting on a duck float in Twilight's cup of tea.

        “Congratulations! I thought it was going to take you two the next few weeks to explain the situation to little Twilight there. And what an interesting little device you lost Luna! Tell me, are you sad that someone ‘swallowed’ your precious seed?” Discord waggled his eyebrows at Luna as he emphasized the word.

Luna pointed a hoof at Discord and glared angrily at Celestia “See? This is EXACTLY why we were opposed to the seed explanation! The first time a weak minded pervert hears it, and already we are being accused of activities befitting a harlot!”

Celestia ignored Luna’s outburst and focused on the little Draconequus. “Discord, why are you here? This conversation does not involve you.”

“Oh poor misinformed Celly, this conversation involves me far more than you realize.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow at Discord, her friendly tone dropping a few levels. “Oh? And how are you involved in this mess then?”

Discord looked up in shock at Celestia “Involved? Why what would make you say such a thing Celestia? Aren’t we friends after all? I merely meant I have a way to help you recover Luna’s lost marble.”

Celestia looked taken aback a little at Discord’s words. “I am sorry if I sounded like I was accusing you Discord. If you have a way to help it would be very appreciated.”

Discord waved a paw at her “Already forgotten my dear cake craving comrade. And I will happily aid Twilight in this adventure of hers. Buuuuuuut! There’ll be a catch.”

Twilight rolled her eyes at him. “Of course there would be. What is it this time? Another maze? A rhyming puzzle?”

Discord shook his head at Twilight. “No no, nothing as difficult or unoriginal as that. All I require is for you to take on this task on your own. You and yourself, sans friends, viva la alono.”

Twilight looked at him with both confusion and anger on her face. “What!? Why would I agree to that?”

        Discord grinned up at Twilight, taking a sip of the tepid tea he was lounging in “ Poor little Twilight, you ARE an Alicorn now, yes?” Looking a bit quizzically, Twilight nodded to him. “And yet, all of your achievements beyond simple tests would have been failures if you were on your own. From what Luna said, this pony isn’t becoming an Alicorn anytime soon, if they even know they can become one. So what easier task to start off with on your own than getting back this artifact? The compass I give you will lead right to them so this task is fairly straight forward.”

        Celestia looked at Twilight’s crestfallen features and nuzzled her gently. “It’s okay Twilight, you don’t have to accept his help if you don’t wish to. Simply discuss what is happening with your friends and head out from Ponyville when you can.”

        “Tut-tut Celestia, you really need to stop coddling her like this. Twilight?” Twilight lifted her eyes to gaze into Discord’s far tinier ones. “Yes, you are the-" Discord gave a gagging sound "princess of friendship. However, don't you think you need to learn to at least be able to do the smallest of tasks on your own?" Discord's voice became much louder as he peered at Twilight, frowning. "You. Are. Immortal. Barring a few unlikely incidents, you are going to outlive your friends. What good are you going to be to anyone if you haven’t learned to function on your own by that point, hmm?”

        Twilight’s pupils contracted at Discord’s last words, causing her eyes to look like two large glistening mirrors as she turned her head towards Celestia. Twilight stared at Celestia for almost a minute, clear to everyone that she was waiting for her mentor to say something comforting, or to deny Discord’s claim. As time passed, a few tears started their trek down Twilight's face as Celestia stared at her with a sorrowed expression, causing Twilight to realize the truth in Discords words. Half blind, Twilight stumbled to her legs and headed for one of the doors as she mumbled a few words to Discord in a very subdued tone. “No…you’re right. Just...get me the compass when you can and I...I’ll head out…e-excuse me...I need to get ready…”

Celestia quickly got up to follow Twilight out the door, glaring at Discord as she made her exit. “That was too far Discord. She’s too young to have worry about such things.  Do not bother appearing before me again until you’ve apologized to her.”

        Discord looked over to Luna as she got up and headed for a different door. “Should I assume you aren’t happy with me either right now?”

        “Do not get us wrong Discord. We believe you are right in what you said to Twilight. But it does not mean we think you any less of a dick for saying it.”