Shining Armor stood silently in the corner of the hospital room, watching a group of doctors tend to his wife. With anxious gaze and an eager smile, he waited with anticipation for the arrival of their child.
“You’re doing great, your majesty,” ensured the only mare doctor present in the room, as she kept a close eye on the cardiac monitor left of the bed. “Just keep pushing and try to relax your other muscles.”
The pink alicorn let as out loud moan of has her stomach contracted. She clenched her teeth as she willed herself to endure. Not a moment later, her stomach contracted again, forcing her to let out another cry of agony.The cardiac monitor started to beep louder, as Cadance’s heart rate spiked.
“It's coming,” she wailed. Tears poured out of her eyes as she scrunched up her face.
More doctors rushed into the room, all of them gathering behind around the princess and unintentionally blocking Shining’s view. Not wanting to miss this important moment in their lives, the prince moved to see if he could catch a glimpse of the baby. To his delight, his eyes were just in time to see a head poking out.
Moment’s later, when most of the doctors had cleared, Shining Armor found himself leaning beside the the bed as he affectionately nuzzled his wife Cadence. At the same time, his hoof gently stroked the sleeping new born child nestled between her forelegs and wrapped snugly in a blue piece of cloth.
“Congratulations, son!” a familiar voice called out to him. “You're going to be a great father.”
Shining turned around to see not only his father Night Light,but both Twilight - Sparkle and Velvet - standing there at the very end of the room. He had been so lost in state of wonder and serenity that he failed to notice them come in.
“How long have you all been here?” Shining Armor asked with a wide smile.
“For most of the morning,” Twilight Velvet said in playful sarcasm,“sitting in those hallway chairs. The doctors only just let us in. Sorry if we interrupted you.”
Twilight Sparkle turned towards Night light and smirked. “Right, Dad,” she said in a light hearted but accusing tone..
“Please,” Night Light pleaded with a smile on his face, “don’t banish me, your Highness! Forgive my insolence.”
Cadence let out a small chuckle. “It’s great to see the three of you here. Thank you all for staying with us these past few days.”
“You’re welcome, step sis.” Twilight Sparkle said with a warm smile. “So, judging from the blanket they doctors gave you, I’m guessing it’s a colt?”
“They do that so ponies don’t mix the genders up.” Cadence answered. “Blue for the boys, pink for the girls. I for one think it’s kind of silly, but it’s not worth complaining over.”
Twilight Velvet stepped forward, and looked up at her son. “Have you two decided on a name?” she asked.
“We think we have one we both agree on.” Shining Armor replied. “After several days of debating, me and Cadence finally came up with a name. We would like to wait till the baby wakes up before we announce it, though, if that’s fine with you guys.”
“The name can wait,” beamed Night Light with an eager gleam in his eyes. “What I’m curious to know is if Equestria finally has its first alicorn Prince. With how big the royal family is getting, it’s high time we got some male representation in the government.”
Cadance giggled. “I’m really sorry to disappoint you Night, but it seems like our child is a pegasus.”
Night Light’s jaw dropped, emphasizing his surprise immensely.
“How the hoof did that happen?” he asked. “The lad should at least be a unicorn.”
Shining chuckled. “Well, this was just as much of a surprise to us as well. Originally we thought he would be an alicorn because that’s how Cadence was born, but it turns out we were wrong.”
“Because even if it’s through genetics,” Twilight dictated, as if answering the final question to a test, “doesn’t alicornhood still require to be earned?”
Twilight Sparkles’ brother smiled. “Well, it’s complicated. In order for a pony with alicorn ancestry to become one themselves, they need to be both strong in magic, and find a purpose that is greater than themselves.”
Shining pointed a hoof at Twilight and continued. “Take yourself for instance. While me and you weren’t born with the gene, you were naturally strong in magic, and through your success and devotion to your friends, you became the princess of friendship.”
“You know,” Twilight said, “Sometimes I feel like I didn’t earn the title properly.”
“That’s a lie and you know it, Twily! I mean, you certainly deserve those wings a lot more than I deserve to be called a prince. All I did was to earn my title was fall in love.”
“Cut it out, you two.” Night Light interrupted. “You've both earned everything fair and square. No more second guessing your selves. With that said, can somebody explain how Cadence born an alicorn?” Night asked as he scratched his head in confusion.
Candece nodded. “To be honest,” she said with a hint of uncertainty “I’m really not sure myself. Perhaps I was just born into this world knowing I wanted to spread and create love in the world. But in the end it really doesn’t matter, because in the the end he is still our child, and I know he’ll do amazing things!”
“Very true, dear.” Velvet said, nodding. “Horns or wings, what matters most is that two of you raise him to be the best he can be.”
The newly made grandmother levitated a small tissue towards herself an wiped away a stream of tears that had been trickling down her face. “We are so proud of all you two,” she said, weeping with joy, “especially you, Shining dear. My baby boy. Both you and Twilight have given us so many reasons to be proud of you. And now you’ve given us a grandfoal. Your father and I couldn’t have asked for anything better!”
Shining Armor blushed a bit and smiled sheepishly. “Not in front of Cadence, Mom!” he said.“It’s embarrassing.”
“Oh, get over it son.” Night Light chuckled. “I’m not sure you realized how big a responsibility this is. Raising a child is a lot more difficult than running the guard or being the co-ruler of an Empire. You may think I’m exaggerating, but I can assure you I’m not. Kids are a handful, especially when the little guy learns to fly.”
Shining Armor rolled his eyes. “Oh man,” he moaned lightly, but with a smile, “Thanks for making me wish I had a pair of wings, Dad.”
His eyes wandered to the smirking Twilight, who gave her large wings a sassy flap.
“Sis,” Shining laughed as he pointed an accusing hoof, “you better not be starting something!”
“I’m just teasing you, BBBFF.” Twilight chuckled. “What can I say? Rainbow Dash has been a bad influence on me. Plus, you always look so adorable when your chops are busted.”
“Well unfortunately for you dear sister,” Shining Armor said triumphantly, “I’m too proud to give you the satisfaction of busting my chops.”
“But I already did.” Twilight giggled.
The Sparkle family continued to converse with each other quietly for quite sometime until the sapphire-coloured newborn finally awoke. His curious eyes shifted from pony to pony, before looking up at his mother.
“Hello sweetie!” Cadence chirped, using her magic to bring her son closer to her face. “I hope you enjoyed your nap.”
The little sapphire colt stretched his hoof and place it on his mother's, his expression one of curiosity and wonder. He flapped his small wings, as the blanket wrapping him became slightly undone.
“He knows who you are!” Shining Armor whispered excitedly.
“Of course he does.” The pink alicorn giggled. “He recognizes my voice. I bet he recognizes yours too.”
Gently, she levitated the newborn and passed him to Shining Armor, who cradled the colt in own magical aura. Bringing him closer to his face, a sense of fatherly pride overcame his being. Both father and son looked into each other eyes, and marveled at one another.
Right away, Shining could see that the child took a lot after his mother, but he also saw a little bit of himself. He had dark purple his mane, but also had highlights of different shades, just like Shining Armor and Twilight Sparkle. He figured his blue coat he had inherited from him, but his wings had tips of purple on the end of his wings, he most definitely got from Cadence. He even had a unique set of purple hooves that looked similar to Shining’s own blue ones. Overall, he was the perfect visage of both him and Cadence.
“Sweet Celestia, he’s adorable,” the stallion muttered softly. Even as his eyes started to water, Shining couldn’t bring himself to look away from his newborn foal. “I don’t think we could have asked for a more perfect child. I can already tell this he’s going to do great things.”
“Have the two of you thought of a name?” Asked Twilight Sparkle.
Cadance turned her head over to Shining Armor. “We both came up with a few names, but none we could agree upon. Shining was set on Bravery Sword if it was a boy, or Gleaming Shield if it was a girl. I personally thought he should be named either Crystal or Crystal Heart.”
“But those are all girly names,” moaned Shining.
“Honey!” she sternly crossed her forelegs and glared at him. “We went over this. I believe Crystal to be an general neutral name. Plus, I think it’s important that we give our son a name that reflects the Empire.”
“So you want to name him Crystal.” Shining Armor sighed.. “Not very creative. There has to be something else we could call him.”
“Would your rather we call him Diamond or Sapphire?” Cadence said sarcastically.
Shining sighed, as he realized that arguing was futile. “When you put it that way, I guess Crystal would be fine name.” He was silent for a moment before he brought his head back up. “But I want you to meet me halfway and name him Crystal Sword.”
“Oooh!” Twilight Velvet said. “That sounds like good name.”
Cadance tapped her hoof on her chin as she considered her husband's suggestion.
“Hm.” she thought for a moment. “That actually does sound like a good name. Especially if he ever takes after you and joins the Royal Guard. I can see it now! Crystal Sword! Prince of the Crystal Empire and Defender of Equestria!”
“Gosh,” Shining Armor said as he said as he let out a chuckle. “Wouldn’t that be something!”
12 Years Later
A loud clanking sound vibrated through the isolated stadium as two swords clashed with each other. One blade was held afloat by unicorn magic, the other in the mouth of a young pegasus colt. As the the two blades continued to exchange blows, the pegasus glared at the armored unicorn, who stood watching with his horn aglow.
“You had enough yet Crystal?” Shining called out to his son. “You don’t want to strain yourself like last time.”
Unable to speak while armed, Crystal Sword answered his by striking his father's blade with a furious force.
Shining Armor shook his head and tisked. “I don’t know where you get your stubbornness from. Me or your mother? One of these days you will learn…” Crystal’s eyes widened as he saw the hilt of his father's blade pull back for another strike. With cat-like reflexes, he tilted his sword just barely in time to parry his father's surprise attack.
“...That sometimes its better to fold then to keep the battle going!” Shining Armor finished.
Crystal grunted and glared at his father.
You say that now, Dad. He thought to himself. But I know one of these days I am going to disarm you. I’m the one with a blade for a cutie mark. No way in Tardius i’m letting you best me forever.”
As if reading his mind, Shining increased the speed of his attacks with quick succession, keeping Crystal on the defensive side.
“I know what you might be thinking,” Shining said with cocksure gleam in his eye, “and it’s going to take more than talent to defeat me. Why do you think pegasi with talents for speed continue to practice and compete with each other? Having a cutie mark doesn’t make you the best. The sooner you learn this the better.”
As soon as his father had finished speaking, Shining Armor’s sword came in fast and true at such a force that Crystal lost the grip of his own. The blade spun in the air for a bit before impaling the grassy field of the stadium.
Worn out, Crystal Sword opened his mouth and started to pant loudly. He stretched his wings and spread them wide, finally free of the burden of keeping them at his side.
“Father of Celestia, Dad,” the young prince huffed, “you really know how to keep the pressure on.”
“It will all pay off in the long run kido!” Shining Armor walked over and patted his son on the back. “I can already see improvement from last time. Won’t be long before you actually do best me.”
“I hope you’re not just saying that.” the pegasus replied.
“I’m being completely honest.” Shining assured him. “You have my utmost confidence. We’ll pick back up where we left off in a few days. Go fly back home and get some rest. You’ve got school in the morning.”
“Oh gee,” he replied sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “Thanks for reminding me!”
“You might be a prince of this kingdom, but if you don’t pass pre-algebra your mother's gonna have a fit.”
“Like any of that’s going to matter once I become Captain!” the young colt protested.
“The advanced stuff, probably not,” the elder prince joked. “But everything from knowing how many soldiers that are in your garrison, to managing weapons and supplies. And Celestia forbid there’s ever a war, knowing the enemy's numbers.”
The pegasus shrugged. “If you say so, Dad.” With a quick flap of his wings he was airborne. However, before he was fifteen feet of the grown, he stopped in midair and looked down at his father. He steadily lowered until he flew a little bit closer to his father.
“Is something wrong Crystal?” Shining Armor asked.
The pegasus looked nervously at the ground and scratched at his neck. “I was looking at some the photos of you and Mom hanging from the castle, and I noticed something that kind of bothers me.”
“What’s that?” Crystal’s father asked with sense of curiosity and concern.
“Mom looks the same in all of them as she does now,” Crystal said, “yet I noticed in lot of the older pictures from when I was first born, well…” He froze for a minute, as he struggled to find the right words. “You look, a little…”
“Younger.” Shining Armor calmly finished.
The young colt nodded his head. “I know she’s expected to live longer than us, with her being an alicorn and all. Today when I was looking at the photos, though, I started to think about you. Well…not just you. All of us. About the future.”
Shining shook his head. “Worrying too much about that stuff isn’t healthy. You’ve got to take one day at a time and live in the moment. We all have a part to play in this little world of ours, even if our time is short. If it’s me you're worried about, know that the life I’ve lived so far as been enough to keep me smiling from now until I die. If it’s mom you're worried about, about her one day being alone, know that it will never be true. Even if she does re-marry, I know she will remember me from now and forever. And even if it might take a while, we will all eventually be together as a family in Heaven.”
“What if that doesn’t exist, though?” Crystal Sword asked.
Shining Armor shrugged. “Can’t imagine why it wouldn't. If Terik and Cerberus could escape from Tartarus, a section of Hell, why shouldn't the other place exist also?”
“I supposed that’s true.” Crystal nodded, but still looking a bit unsure.“Still, I wish there was a way to know for certain. I’d hate to die expecting to go some place only to become a void of nothing.”
“I wouldn’t let yourself get all worked up about it.” Shining assured him. “It’s all out of our hooves anyway. All anypony can do is make the most out of life and do their part to make this world better. If you spend all your time worried about death, you’ll miss the best parts of life. Speaking of which, you better get your flank to bed. Your mother was serious when she said she would deny your inheritance to the throne if you ever got caught sleeping in class.”
“But she’s immortal,” Crystal moaned, “somepony would have to kill her for that to happen.” He cringed slightly from the idea the very idea of that happening. “Besides, I don’t want the Empire anyway. I’d be perfectly fine becoming Captain for either Canterlot or the Empire.”
“Just go to bed, son!” Shining cried out. “Save us both a scolding.”
Crystle gave his father a military salute. “Sir, yes sir.”
As Crystal took off towards the castle balcony, he reflected on everything he and his father had discussed. In the end, he decided his father was right. No sense in letting fear of what might happen in the future distract him from the present.
Silently he repeated his father's words in his head.
All anypony can do is make the most out of life and do their part to make this world better.