I staggered within the alleyways of Canterlot, unsure if I should leave the secluded darkness or brace myself once more to the open light. Dare I leave myself exposed to whoever attempted to peer at my mind? I jumped in shock to a pony whose hood was ragged and weathered. He whispered something from his four-toothed mouth and glared at me. I smiled to him and released an uneasy chuckle as I asked him . "What was that?"
His eyes widened as he stared to mine. "Such radiance doesn't belong among filth... ye' could outshine thee stars yet ye' sulks amidst the dirt and dank." As he rose up to me his robe flopped down revealing his ali, blood red irises and half scarred skin. "Is it true what thee say? Is one forced to follow what thee know, and never grow?" He hissed in bemusement as he drew closer to me and tapped his horn to mine.
It felt like only a second of time. Yet as I looked up, Celestia's sister's light is all that shined in the sky. I darted out of the alleyways and followed the path I took as best as I remembered. With a sigh of relief I trotted through the docks and marketplace which were void of the crowds and cheerful life I had witnessed just moments ago. Something the Alley-pony said, or did had removed all sense of purpose within me. Had he stolen my courage, maybe my bravery? I couldn't tell.
"Are you alright?" I heard a honeyed voice ask me. I felt a rush of comfort, like the smell of rain on an arid summer day. The vigor from her voice alone had drawn that alley-pony's poison away. Within my view were the hooves to a porcelain frame I could never forget. My kid long friend had grown quite tall during our missed years. Her neck craned closer and she repeated in the same soothing chords.
"I-I'll be alright." I spoke plainly. My voice was shaken by her beauty alone. I forced my eyes to my surroundings yet they ebbed back to her regal form, or her Breezie-flossed mane. I had also gathered that I, had been transported again to the Royal Gardens and that her expression lacked the usual confident smile that she wore like a mask. It seemed my random appearance in her gardens was enough to wrinkle her brows in concern, but as I watched her face scour my own. I could tell it was not merely concern but the inability to identify me. Had the years been too long, had she forgotten the ali horned Prince of Parnce?
Her mask slid back into place and she bowed and greeted me. "My apologies for inspecting you so, you've come such a long way from Parnce. I'll redirect you to the throne room." I nodded with a sheepish smile, as I held in my laughter.
We made it halfway through the Royal Gardens until she started up another conversation. "What business do you have in Canterlot?"
Her eyes glazed to mine, as she honed into my voice's tone. She stopped and turned her head. "My apologies I did not receive word of your arrival." She bowed her head with blushing cheeks. A sign of true embarrassment.
"Do not worry yourself Princess. He isn't mad at your declines, merely curious of their nature."
"Declines? This is news to me as well. I have not witnessed a single letter from Parnce. What does King Par need?!"
"King Par? ..." I felt my throat grow dry. "Dear Princess... What is the last letter you remember from Parnce?"
"I was a filly at the time... " Her eyes widened in realization. "Has the prince sent you here unannounced... No, please don't tell me. My apologies can not even begin to correct this matter." Her mask cracked, her air of confidence was choked out by the smoke of terror. Her smile became forced and uncanny. Her eyes darted away. Was she thinking about what else she had missed throughout the years?
"Tis' not my concern how your Counselor of Foreign Relations is doing their job. My Prince will find his way to your ear Princess Celestia." I knew that keeping my charade as a royal delegate wasn't worth the pleasantries that poor Celestia was trying to keep up, but I needed to work that in slowly 'else the wrath of the sun would most likely boil me. "Much has changed Princess Celestia, but I ask only for a hearing to rewrite the Equestrian Laws and Government section." I added.
Beads of sweat were building on her forehead. "S-sir." She gasped, looking to me painfully for mercy. Did she believe that the Prince de Parnce planned to abolish these laws due to her counselor's inadequacy? Surely anything could've been brewing in her fever. Inside I felt a sickening joy from her distress as I wished my years had been so lax as hers, but I was a balanced creature. I withdrew my feelings of revenge as I witnessed her shellshock, just as I had at the Harbormaster's requests.
"Celestia, please calm yourself." I hushed to her. "I would never in all my anger slight our father's work. I know the gravity of their hard work, and the many omens my father foresaw to lead our countries here. Yet my father died before he could witness his first trial with the Equestrian law partnered with our own." I hugged her tightly, and I felt her body shake from her doubt.
"Norm..." She cried happily. She gave a playful jab at my shoulder. "It is good to see you, but what is with the uncanny secrecy?"
"It started out innocently enough, Princess. I just couldn't help myself when you didn't recognize me at first." I chuckled to her.
"It was your horn that threw me off! I don't remember it being blue as children." She rebutted. "Though I was wondering whether you would send another ali-horn as a delegate, or come yourself."
"No delegate, nor adviser can speak my words better than my own tongue Celestia."
We both smiled, as we stared once more at each other. I could feel her doubt being expelled just as she had taken mine and we stood there admiring each others maturity, and lack thereof.