“You realize this is going to suck, right?”
Twilight Sparkle nodded, keeping close to her brother as they made their way through an open-air market in Canterlot’s wealthy upper level. “Yeah. Yeah I do.” She took in a breath and sighed, taking in the scene on the market street. The white marble avenues and open sky overhead spoke of a peace she’d not known in ages, but they were drowned out by the stares of the ponies around her. Everywhere she looked, it seemed there was another pony pretending they hadn’t just been caught. “Ugh. We’re sticking out like a sore hoof. ‘Why is Twilight Sparkle being followed by a Night Guard? Is she in league with Nightmare Moon?’”
Obsidian chuckled, sounding like a subwoofer at one of Vinyl’s performances.
It’s going to take a while to get used to that new voice of yours, Brother.
“Don’t forget you’re wearing a torc with a giant gem in the center. Even the Duchesses don’t wear something so similar to the Princesses’ regalia.”
She glanced around at the ponies looking at them and grumbled. Dangit. I think he’s right… There are more staring at me. Oh well. It’ll all be announced tonight, and ponies probably just assume the rumors about me being given the title of Grand Mage are true.
They rounded a corner and headed down a series of ramps, each level seeming slightly less ostentation and more within a sensible upper-class budget.
“Do you know what happened to the nurse who—?”
“Not here, Twily. Not secure,” he reminded her.
“Right. Right, sorry. It’s just, I can’t believe I—”
“Not secure. But I completely understand. I’m sorry you had to do that. I think it was the right thing, though. I wouldn’t wish that poison on my worst enemy.” Obsidian’s brow furrowed while his vertical pupils narrowed. “Probably.”
They stopped well before the bottom, turning off at an indoor area with a large number of condos. Though the decor had none of the gold trim and marble of the Rue d’Argent or the fanciest parts of the city, the area was adorned in warm colors and antique touches. There was even a familiar, slightly musty smell that filled her heart with memories: this was home, with all it entailed, good and bad.
“I am really not looking forward to this,” Obsidian mumbled, his head low.
Twilight snorted, deftly avoiding a carelessly placed cord. “What are you complaining about? You’re her favorite!”
“Me!? News flash, Twily, you’re the one Mom brags about!”
“Brags?” Twilight punched him in the shoulder, resulting in a clang as the shallow hit scraped against his armor. She rounded on her brother, and placed a forehoof against his chestplate. “Shiny, she doesn’t brag about me! You’re the son who became prince! I’m the one who can’t do anything right!”
He shook his head and draped an armored leg over her in a light hug. “Hey. You know that’s not true. She talks about you all the time. Element of Harmony, savior of Equestria? She can’t shut up about you.”
Twilights grimaced. “Oh, please. Remember your birthday? When she got you a variety case of ales? Later, when we went out to eat, I ordered a single glass of wine. One. What I always order and never go beyond. Do you remember what she called me?”
Obsidian’s stare went as vacant as one could get when having vertical pupils, obviously struggling to call up the memory.
Twilight leaned in near his ear. “An alcoholic! Me! Fluttershy drinks more than me!”
“Okay! Yeah, I remember now…” He held up his hooves in defeat. “But her standards for you are higher than they are for me, Twily.”
“Her standards are impossible!” She stomped a hoof. “Watch! We’re going to go around that corner, go inside, and after hearing all I have to say she still won’t be happy!”
Obsidian threw his forelegs around her. “And I’ll be on your side.”
Twilight froze then went all but limp. “I’m sorry, Shining. I shouldn’t have yelled at you. It’s not your fault.”
“Hey, I understand.” He gave her a light elbow. “She’s my mother too, after all.”
Twilight sighed. “Sorry. I’m just so… Come on, let’s get this over with.”
Obsidian nodded, before leading the way. Doors, hallway radiators, and lamps passed by as Twilight felt a warm, nostalgic rush go up her spine. The walls, though plain, were decorated by master artisans, and it showed. After one last turn they arrived at the very same set of numbers she’d seen time and again: condo 643.
“Here, let me get that.”
She raised her eyebrow as a key floated past her and into the lock. “You still have a key!?”
Obsidian blinked. “Um, yeah. Why?”
“They made me give up my key when I left for Ponyville!”
Obsidian blinked then put away the key. “Okay, so we knock, then.”
Twilight lifted a hoof, but her brother was faster, and the door shook like it was about to break from its hinges.
There was a scramble of hoofsteps behind the door, followed by a few locks clicking and clacking.
Did they install additional locks?
It swung open, and a unicorn mare with a striped white and purple mane poked her head out. “Twilight!”
“Hi, Mom,” the younger Twilight said, ducking her head down.
“Come in, come in! Celestia’s messenger said you’d be stopping by, and… Oh, my!”
The two siblings gracefully made their way into the condo. Twilight always felt it was a lot more cozy than most of the “showy” places in the city, making the most of a relatively small place. Warm, deep red walls and old, plush couches on deep carpet added to the ambiance.
Never taking her eyes off of Obsidian, Twilight Velvet’s hoof knocked the door closed. “Well, when I heard you were coming, I didn’t expect this! Not only do you look like a star athlete, but this stallion you brought with you…”
Twilight Sparkle’s ears went back against her head. “Um, yeah, it’s a bit of a long story.”
Obsidian turned around and lit his horn, swathing the door and walls in his magic. As the walls were covered the subtle dings and noises of the outside radiators faded away. As he finished, the only trace of magic left was a slight shimmer over the door. Twilight shuddered at seeing his dark violet magic; the changed color a reminder of his new “self.”
Her mother pulled a glass of wine over with her magic and took a sip. “So, when were you going to tell us you had a boyfriend?”
Twilight’s heart leapt into her throat. “Boyfriend!?”
“Lucid, dear!” Her mother yelled out. “Come in here and meet your potential future son-in-law!”
“Vhat!?” came a distant reply.
“Wait, no, you, you don’t understand!”
“Heh heh heh.”
Twilight felt the blood drain from her face. Even through the glamour spell, she could tell he had that look, and even though his voice had changed, she knew that laugh. It had been permanently burned into her mind as a filly and would forever be the bane of her existence.
“Well, what can I say?” He reached out with a foreleg and pulled her close. “She’s quite a catch.”
“Damnit, Mother!” She squirmed and pushed her way out of his grasp. “This is your son!”
The elder Twilight nearly dropped her wine. “Son!?”
“Yes!” the younger mare stomped both forehooves on the ground.
“You…” A tear started in her eye. “You married already!?”
“We thought it best to just go through with it and tell everypony later,” Obsidian chuckled.
The wine spilled on the floor. “You… Twilight, what were you thinking!?”
“That somepony was supposed to be on my side.” She growled.
Hoofsteps muffled on carpet sounded from around the corner as Lucid Dream, Twilight’s father, strode into the room. “Vat was this about a future son-in-laaaaa—?” His words ended the second he laid eyes on Obsidian, and a couple short seconds later, his rear fell straight to the ground. “Celestia im Himmel…”
Velvet cleared her throat. “Dear, meet your new son-in-law.”
“He’s not my husband, damnit!” Twilight grabbed onto Obsidian’s forelegs and pulled, yanking him down and causing him to hit his head on the carpet. She glared white-hot daggers through his stunned feline pupils. “Either you tell them the truth or I’m going to go tell Cadence what you’re doing, and I swear to Celestia, I will use the biggest, saddest puppy dog eyes Canterlot has ever seen!”
Obsidian looked at his parents for a brief second. “You wouldn’t.”
Her own voice dropped a register even through the hiss. “Try. Me.”
He looked over again then wilted in defeat. “Okay, okay, you got me.”
Twilight backed away to let him stand then punched him in the shoulder, her hoof clanking against the armor.
Velvet started using some magic to clean the wine stain while pouring some more in the glass.“Twilight, dear, what’s going on?”
Lucid rubbed his head. “I am confused too. You are not married?”
Obsidian sighed and took off his helmet, shaking his mane around enough to cause some bits of purple fire to fling into the air. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to actually be able to set anything alight. “No, we’re not. I was just being silly. Mom, Dad, it’s me. Shining Armor.”
The wine fell again.
Twilight had been lying on the couch for well over an hour. It was astonishingly rare to see her parents and Shining, or rather, Obsidian, have a legitimate argument, but despite his unfair teasing during their arrival, she had no interest in participating.
“I understand you didn’t want to just be a kept stallion, but the Night Guard!? Really?”
Oh, Mom. We both know what you really mean. Twilight yawned.
“Come on, Mom. It’s more than that. I can’t just let it end like it did. You and I both know that this ‘trial’ was a changeling hunt, and—”
“And so, what, you’re going to go out for revenge on the Council!?” Velvet grabbed him with her forelegs and shook him. “Are you nuts!?”
“She does have a schmal point zere, son.”
Careful, brother, they aren’t meant to know this. Twilight chuckled at herself. Not meant to know? A few short months ago, that would’ve been me, too.
Obsidian stepped out of his mother’s grip. “No, it’s a… Well, I can’t tell you that exactly. But this isn’t some game or some way to save face. I—”
“Of course it wasn’t a way to save face!” Velvet interrupted. “You’ve completely changed it!”
Obsidian shook his head. “Now you’re just being absurd. I’m still me.”
“Ze Nacht Garde isn’t known for being, shall ve say, kindly.”
“That’s putting it mildly!” Velvet downed an entire glass of wine in a single go. “I’m going to be the laughing stock of the garden club!”
And there we are. It’s all about your reputation, isn’t it, Mom? Twilight quipped and stretched out, staring at her hooves. You’re not going to be able to delay forever, filly. Get in that conversation and tell them.
Twilight rolled her eyes. As if that’s something one could call “conversation.” Even Charlemane was more polite.
She buried her face in the couch cushion. Twilight had always been quiet and reserved. While she steered clear of trouble, however, her brother did not. Fighting was his forte, but always with the purpose of defending something. Well intentioned or not, he frequently got punished for it. He even took responsibility for a few of her mistakes, innocent though they were. Such a history made this kind of scene all too common.
“Mom, Dad, I have news, too.” Words left her mouth, but they didn’t feel like her own. Her mind was numb as if she were outside in the dark looking into the warm room through a window. The fact that nopony was responding only reinforced this.
“I’m an alicorn.” She turned her head and glanced at the privacy seal on the wall. “I’m an alicorn,” she whispered.
This would be a lot easier if I had the wings or ethereal mane already. You guys hearing me back there? Her magic sight flickered to life for an instant, allowing her to see her leylines. They sat unchanged and without even the slightest hint of a single feather.
“I’m an alicorn.” Twilight curled up and tucked her tail next to her. She took it in her hooves and stroked it, an old habit returning from its grave. There wasn't as much room as there would have been in a condo in a city with more land to use, but Twilight actually preferred it this way. It was cozy and intimate, which normally made her feel more included. This, however, was not always a good thing, particularly in the midst of a heated argument. The yelling just became that much louder.
She pondered what she would do in this situation if she had already ascended; maybe if she’d just sprouted wings one day while sleeping in her treehome. Such a thought was preposterous, though. Had it happened like that, this conversation would have been very different.
In the past she would slink off to her room and curl up in her blanket with a book—after all, it almost never involved her directly. This time, however, was different. She needed to break through this. The Royal Canterlot Voice would have been perfect, but she hadn’t looked up that magic yet.
“I’m an alicorn.” The third time hadn’t been the charm, and this fourth attempt wasn’t looking so good either. Twilight clearly wasn’t having any success relying on sayings or calm assertiveness. Nopony was listening to her, so she’d have to find a creative way of making herself the center of attention.
Center of attention. I suppose I’d best get used to it at some point. I mean, I suppose I already am in some ways. But more so. As in, never leaving the spotlight. Ever. She grumbled and sighed then sat back up. Spotlight…
The idea was simple and intuitive—if a bit rude. Still, it was unlikely she was going to break through this argument without being at least a little rude. She just didn’t want to yell over them all, as it would only lead to more yelling, and that was not what she wanted right now. Hence, Plan Rudeness was a go.
She closed her eyes, reached out with her magic, and plunged the entire room into darkness.
“Vat ze…? Twilight?”
She opened her eyes, finding only the light of her horn and Obsidian’s dim, flaming mane providing any illumination. Yet, it was just enough to see what she needed to see. She finally had her parents’ attention. Their eyes were on her.
<<What are you doing, my night light? This isn’t like you.>>
A tiny smile creased her lips. It had been a long time since she’d heard her father call her by that nickname. She’d stay up so late reading (despite his best efforts) that when he got up to use the bathroom, he said that he could find his way from the light of her horn; hence, she was his “night light.”
Along with her father’s horn light, the tingle on her own horn told her that he was trying to wrest control of the light switches. She just shook her head then spoke in the same Germane dialect her father had taught her. <<I’m sorry, father, but this is important. I need you three to stop yelling at each other and listen to what I have to say.>>
“I hate it when they speak in Germane.” Velvet facehooved. “Could you two please use a language the rest of us can understand?”
The subtle glow of Obsidian’s mane moved closer to Velvet. <<Mother, you should pay attention. Twilight has something important to tell us.>>
Velvet rubbed her head. “And Roan, really Shining?”
“It’s the language my wife speaks, Mother.”
Velvet switched into her own special language. <<Why don’t you ever practice that Prench I taught you? You had such a wonderful accent.>>
“Enough!” It wasn’t technically the Royal Canterlot Voice, but she still shook the room with it. When they were finally focused on her again, she turned on some of the lights. “I really need you two to listen to me. This is important. Starting tonight, I’m going to be taking a new position. Their Highnesses Princess Celestia and Princess Luna have seen fit to bestow upon me the title of Grand Mage.”
“Twilight, everypony already knows that!” Velvet protested. “I’m glad for you, really, but you shouldn’t just interrupt us.”
Twilight shook her head. “The implications of being Grand Mage are much greater than you know. It means that—”
“Wait a second, Twily!” Obsidian interrupted, reaching into a small compartment in his armor. “Princess Luna wanted me to do something before we told them this part. Here.” A pair of stone slabs floated out of his pocket, cradled in the stallion's magic. From what Twilight could see they both featured several inlaid gems, which pulsed in various hues of orange and green. As Obsidian placed them on the ground they rang with a light hum before sliding in front of their parents. “I need you to each put a hoof on these.”
“Shiny, what are those?” Twilight asked, examining one more closely while her mother put her hoof on it.
“They’re insurance—of a sort. You two ready?”
Their parents looked at each other. “I think so,” Lucid said weakly. “But you didn’t answer Twilight’s question. Vat are these?”
Obsidian held up a hoof and charged his horn. “Just, hold still. You’re going to see some small clouds form around your hooves. They’re completely harmless.”
Their parents nodded, and the gems in the stones began to glow. A fog formed around them that slowly crept up the two ponies’ legs. Eventually this mist became a ring of green fog that gathered around their fetlocks.
What is he doing? I don’t recognize this spell. Twilight squinted, trying to call on her magic sight, but to no avail.
Obsidian cleared his throat. “Twilight Velvet, Lucid Dream… The information you are about to hear is considered top secret. Do you swear to reveal this information only to those already privy to it?”
Their parents looked at each other once more and nodded.
The High Cardinal stood up straight. “I need you to speak your response.”
“We do,” they both said, and the mist glowed and solidified on their fetlocks, leaving a thin green band that slowly faded from sight.
“What was that, Shiny?” Twilight gave him a bit of a poke.
Obsidian took the slabs back and packed them into his armor. “That was a trigger spell. It’s a little like a geas.”
“Geas!?” the other three ponies yelled.
Twilight grabbed him with her hooves. “Shiny, those have been illegal since, since, well, forever!”
Somehow, a pony in Night Guard armor could look flustered. “Hey, wait, no, I used the wrong word. It’s not mind control. There’s no forcing you to do anything. All it does is send Princess Luna a signal if you break the promise. Which, by the way, would make you guilty of at least a Class-B felony, so I suggest you not repeat this to anypony. And yes, that means your noble friends, mother.”
“You were thinking it.” Obsidian turned to his sister. “Twilight? It’s all yours.”
Twilight relaxed a little. “Twilight Velvet” was infamous for being one of the single biggest gossips in Canterlot. She made Rarity look like somepony who had taken a vow of silence. Now, though, she would have a degree of protection.
“Thanks, Shining. I appreciate it. Mom, Dad, being promoted to Grand Mage is a wonderful honor for me, but there is much more to the position than is known to the public. It’s not just being favored by the Princesses or excelling at spellcasting. It’s much, much more.”
She got up and began to pace using a particular path in the room that she used to trot back and forth as a filly while talking about what she had learned in her studies. “The day before the attack on the castle, I completed a new type of spell: one that simply isn’t possible for unicorns to cast. When Princess Celestia found out, she moved me back into the castle and told me—” The words died in her mouth as she choked on her tongue. Come on, filly, just like we practiced.
She swallowed, the back of her throat feeling like sandpaper. “She told me that… that I had just started to become like her. An alicorn.”
Silence. She couldn’t quite tell if this was better or worse than the arguing.
Her speech almost ended, she stopped pacing and closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, she saw two dumbfounded and confused ponies staring at her. She could sympathize fairly easily with that; after all, it was happening to her. Worse, she could see the problems in the conundrum of how to respond to a speech from a daughter that was essentially “Hey! I’m a pseudo-divine entity of crazy power now! Isn’t that neat?”
Her forelegs shook as she forced the rest of the words out of her mouth. “I know this wasn’t what you were expecting today, but it’s the truth. She… Princess Celestia said I’d be a true alicorn in ten years. I’ve already started to exhibit some pegasus magic. In time, I’ll be getting wings, too. I know it’s confusing, even overwhelming, but… but…”
She clenched her eyes shut, angling her head down so that just in case she betrayed herself, she’d only see her hooves.
Their eventual response was one that she hadn’t predicted in the slightest. Her father stepped up to her first, and embraced her in a giant hug. Her mother came next, and then Obsidian embraced them all. She was in the center of one of the best group hugs in history.
So why couldn’t she feel any comfort?
She pushed herself out of the hug as gently as she could. “Ex, excuse me, I— I— I need to get to the bathroom!” Crying already, she ducked and pushed herself out of the group and ran.
“Did we do something wrong?”
Obsidian shook his head. “I don’t think so, Mom. This has all been extremely difficult for her lately. She’s already had to do some things before she was ready, and it’s probably just taking its toll. Let’s give her some time. Better to work through it now while she’s with family.”
Lucid looked off in the direction of the bathroom. “Ya, I suppose… But, my daughter? An alicorn? Shining, ponies don’t just change tribes. Zis doesn’t seem possible.”
Velvet gave him a glare. “I swear, Shining, Princess or not, if she’s stringing my daughter along in a lie for some hair-brained political—“
“Three months ago, mother—“ Shining said, his voice all but roaring “—She used pegasus magic for the first time. Literally leapt three stories from the floor of Celestia’s private dining room clear to the ceiling. All from the wind she could summon. And that’s just the beginning. She might not have the wings yet, but she absolutely has the magic. Magic she didn’t have a year ago. This. Is. Real.”
Velvet’s face twisted into a half sneer. “The Obliege family is going to shun me from everything. They’ve been spouting nonsense about ‘breeding’ the next alicorn for centuries. I swear I’m going to get swarmed with jealous backstabbers because of this.”
Obsidian shook his head. “It doesn’t work like that. It’s not a question of genetics. It’s a question of wellspring depth. Twilight… Twilight is so far beyond everypony else… She makes a normal unicorn look like a puddle next to an ocean. Me? The Generals? Honestly, I think if you put us all together, then and only then would we be in the same league. Twilight is the first pony in ages to be powerful enough to start the change.”
“Doesn’t matter to the families.” Velvet mumbled, lifting her glass, ready to fill it again. As the liquid neared the spout, she stopped, and put the bottle down with a sigh.
“Dear, really.” Lucid draped a foreleg over her shoulders. “We should be happy for her! This is a dream come true for Twilight!” Lucid looked off towards the bathroom, lifting a worrisome hoof to his chest. “At least, I think it is…”
Twilight slammed the door behind her and locked it in a panic . She scrambled to the mirror, rearing up to place her forehooves on the sink to get a better view of the mare looking back at her. Her mane was frazzled and long, and her bangs were hanging over her eyes. The split ends she so frequently battled had made a triumphant return. She turned on the hot water, filled a bowl made of her magic, and splashed it on her face.
“What’s wrong with me?”
“Dad, you remember how you got involved with that Council panel on euthanasia for the terminally ill?”
Lucid nodded. “Ya, zat I do. Years ago. Bit of a waste of time, ya? I’m a somnologist. I knew ven they started talking about near-death experiences and dreams they veren’t being serious.”
Obsidian gritted his teeth a bit. “Well, we had a pony in custody, but somepony slipped angel extract into his IV.”
The doctor’s blue coat went nearly white.
He continued, “Twilight was the only other pony there. He started to, well… Twilight pushed a few grams of morphine into him just before the worst came.”
“A few… grams!?” His haunches hit the floor with a thud. “Celestia have mercy…”
Obsidian sighed. “It was a mercy. Preliminary toxicology suggests he had twice that amount of angel extract in him, all directly injected by IV. He must have been in absolute, unrivaled agony the entire time he was talking to her. You should be proud of her, Dad.”
Lucid’s lip trembled. “I am, absolutely. I vould have done ze same thing, but… it’s just a shock… My poor little filly…”
“Hmph.” Velvet sneered. “From what my friends have told me, I bet it’s that old coot, Towers. Serves him right for trying to hurt my daughter.”
Obsidian kept his face as still as granite. I am going to have words with General Blueblood. Either the Guard or the Council is still leaking like a sieve.
Twilight was fighting tears in her bloodshot eyes, even though she wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to. She opened her mouth and checked it along with her ears and nose. She stuck out her tongue and looked at it’s color, and even ran a telekinetic field into her throat to see if anything was amiss. They were just motions, really—things she did when she thought she was sick or there was something wrong with her. She wasn’t even really running comparisons or anything, just doing what came naturally.
What came naturally. Ha! What an awkward phrase that was to her now. Her definition of “natural” was being violently changed as of late.
It should have been something intimate and precious: a feeling of closeness and inclusion only a family could make. She’d felt it before. Even as a filly with no friends or inclination to make them, she loved her parents and brother dearly and would always be overjoyed when they were all together and happy. But that wasn’t the emotion she felt just then.
She gathered up a large ball of water and splashed it on her head…
“And that’s the long and short of it. Twilight’s going to be the Princess’s right hoof for a while. I pray Luna’s prepared her enough.”
“I’m not sure I vant our daughter to be doing this, son. Ve already have one child in the military. Und she’s already had to kill a pony? This is Twilight! My Night Light! She isn’t the type to be able to deal with this!”
Obsidian stood up to match his father’s aggressive stance. It was almost silly to do, since a part of him agreed, but he had to push back a little on this for Twily’s sake. Fortunately, he towered over his father.
“Believe me, Dad, I’m aware of this. All of it. Every. Little. Detail! If I wasn’t, I’d be fighting it tooth, horn, and hoof. But—” he paused and drew a slow breath “—I trust that the Princesses know what they’re doing even if it sounds a little extreme. They had to ascend too, after all.”
“Wait!” Velvet yelled, jumping in between the stallions. “You’re telling me that Princess Celestia and Princess Luna—”
He nodded. “Were both once unicorns. That, by the way, is also top secret. Keep it to yourselves. The tribalists will have a field day if that gets out.”
A wave of water washed over her face, soaking her head thoroughly as she coughed from some of the water going down into her lungs. As she turned and looked to the closet for a towel, her hoof slipped on the wet tile underneath, sending her to the floor. Both her torc and her head hit with a clunk. With a groan, she pushed herself up in the midst of her own mess. Slowly, and with a slight limp, she walked the three steps over to the radiator and flopped back down next to it.
As a filly, it had been a favorite spot of hers. Whenever the condo had gotten too drafty, she’d grab a book and find a hot radiator to lie next to or even lean on if it wasn’t hot enough to burn her. Wearily, she lay down next to it.
She put her ear next to it to confirm that it was on and leaned directly on it. Still nothing. Rubbing against the metal, she started to scratch her shoulder, but froze as still as a statue instead. Her coat was different. It was softer and thicker. Much less like a unicorn’s coat and more like a pegasus or an—
Earth ponies and unicorns normally had coarse coats of hair. It could be made softer with the right shampoos, but even then, no amount of product could get them to be as soft, thick, and comfortable as a that of a weatherproof pegasus coat. It was closer to fur than hair, enough that it let them survive extreme temperatures even when wet, and she had just put her wet coat against a hot radiator and felt not one iota of heat.
In a panic, she rushed to the toilet and started dry heaving over and over. She wanted to throw up so badly, to do something that would give her some kind of release, but her body wasn’t complying. All it did was make her stomach hurt worse when she stopped and lay back down on the wet floor.
“Look, I’m not entirely happy with the situation, either. Every bone in my body wants me to follow her everywhere while she’s in danger, but it’s been made patently clear to me I can’t do that. You want to know the real reason I took this job? It’s so I could keep my ear to the ground and maybe help her out behind the scenes. I promise, I’ll always have her back.”
“And what is it, exactly, that Luna is going to have you do to protect her?” Velvet demanded.
Obsidian narrowed his eyes at her. “Whatever my Sovereign needs of me shall be done.”
There. Her mane was at least presentable again. She hated using her mother’s scratchy brush, but it somehow felt wrong to wear a regal torc and let her mane get bad enough to invite fussing from Rarity.
She sat down and purposefully hit her head on the wall, leaving a small hole from her horn. A mere hug was causing her to panic more than Discord ever could, and it wasn’t just a lack of warmth. She did feel warmth, but it wasn’t the same feeling she was used to. She didn’t feel, “It would all be okay,” from the hug.
She felt, “You need to protect them.”
It terrified her.
“I suppose we could have taken this news better.”
“No, Dad, believe me, this went about as well as could be expected. This is not the kind of thing you expect a daughter to come home and announce. Honestly, this isn’t the kind of thing you ever expect to hear from anypony.”
“True,” his mother said. “It’s not like she’d said she was getting married after all.”
Crap, Obsidian thought. This is going to get really ugly in a few seconds.
“Velvet, dear, you did not just say that.”
He knew his parents extremely well. His mother was about to sit up a little on that tiny, black couch, put her hoof to her chest, and feign innocence.
“What? I didn’t mean anything by it.”
Then, his father was going to point a hoof at her and give a comment that makes his mother drop the act.
“Our daughter is becoming an alicorn, Velvet! I can’t believe you’d think to pressure her into a relationship right now. Stallions and foals are going to be the furthest thing from her mind!”
Sometimes it was awful to be right.
“Well, then I need to remind her! Or don’t you want grandfoals of your own? Being an alicorn doesn’t mean she can’t give us them!”
“Actually, it does.” The very instant the words left his mouth, he regretted it. Now, he had two distressed and concerned parents staring at him instead of each other. His father wasn’t that bad, but his mother… “Alicorns can’t have children,” he said, wincing.
“Who made that stupid rule!? I am going right to Celestia, and I’m going to tell her that just because she hasn’t had anything in between her flanks in a thousand years doesn’t mean that she can tell my daughter—”
The bathroom door swung open. “It’s not a rule, Mom.”
Obsidian’s neck turned so fast it would’ve snapped had he done it any quicker. Oh thank Luna, Twilight’s finally back!
His relief was short lived as he started mentally kicking himself for thinking like that. She was plainly still worried and nervous as she slowly made her way back into the room to rejoin the conversation.
“Mother, it’s not a rule. It’s a biological fact.”
Twilight Velvet’s eye was twitching. “You mean I have to rely on him for grandfoals now!? It’s been over a decade! He’s probably never even touched her!”
“I have sex with Cadence all the ti— I cannot believe I just said that to my parents.”
“Darling, we’ve been over this.” Lucid rubbed his wife’s shoulders. “Ze Princess is a winged unicorn. Zey always have a hard time with pregnancy. It’s natural, ya?”
She knocked his forelegs away. “No it’s not! None of this is natural! What am I supposed to do now!? All of my friends are talking about their grandfoals! When they ask where mine are, am I going to just say, ‘Oh, my daughter is a barren alicorn, and my daughter in law a half-barren love goddess?’ This is insanity! There’s no way I’ll get into the nobility at this rate! Who’s going to sign an elevation petition when my family can’t even make grandfoals!? Let alone form a whole house!”
Twilight growled, her bangs hanging in front of her eyes.
Obsidian winced. Oh Tartarus. Mother, why did you have to—?
Twilight all but stomped up to Velvet. “I always suspected, but there it is, isn’t it? That’s really all we are to you. Some means of making your way into the nobility. Newsflash, Mother dear, nobility only applies to family lines going down. Descendants, not parents or ancestors. We’re not your bucking meal ticket!”
“Twily…” Obsidian whispered. “Hey, come on, she didn’t—”
“She damn well meant it! She meant every word. The only way she can become a Countess is if she gets a bunch of Dukes to sign the petition, and she wants to use our titles to justify it! That’s been her plan all this time!” His sister snap-turned to the door like a soldier in a formation, phasing through and dissolving the ephemeral privacy shield. “I’m not going to listen to another word of this. I’m leaving. Don’t bother following. Oh, and Mom?”
Obsidian recoiled as Twilight turned back towards them, her glare at their mother making the meager indignation the nobility normally exuded look welcoming.
“As Grand Mage, I’m going to make damn certain you never get an elevation petition. Ever.”
The door swung closed and slammed with enough force to crack the frame.