Luna's Story: Rise of the Lunar Stallions
Part 1: Kiss Thy Princess
Some called it an assassination attempt. Others a tragic slip in the kitchen, food poisoning that is. Others still thought it supernatural exhaustion from heaving at her bonds on the moon for a thousand years. Even more others than THAT thought that the extraction of Nightmare Moon’s evil had left her frail and then comatose. Though rumor in the castle was rampant, few could fathom a very good reason for why Princess Luna had suddenly collapsed upon her throne one night.
It was her first time holding the Night Court in a thousand years, and though she received no visitors she was determined to resume her duties as a royal princess of the night. She was surrounded by sleepy solar stallions, gifted to her by the royal guard, and a few officials that were normally night owls anyway. One can only imagine their surprise when the poor alicorn suddenly pitched over as though struck dead, tumbled down the high dais and knocked one of the guards down with her sheer weight.
The castle had been sent into a frenzy of activity. Not the least of which was that Princess Celestia was disturbed from her slumber, something that had never happened before in recent memory. Guards suited up, closed ranks, and loaded ballistae that were covered with cobwebs. Within minutes, the palace had turned into a fortress and only the most trusted of servants were allowed in. High alert was not pleasant, not quiet, and not certainly an activity that one wanted to participate in at three in the morning.
Princess Celestia was surrounded by the best doctors in Canterlot, her sister’s body splayed out on display for examination. They’d taken her temperature, blood pressure, weighed her hooves and checked her wings. They’d even dared to pluck one of her feathers to examine the roots for any signs of deeper infection. They’d interrogated the kitchen about what had been in that evening’s meal. Everything they could think of. None could find anything out of the ordinary. She was not sweaty, or slick with fever. She didn’t tremble as though cold, and her breathing sounded fine. Her nostrils were not blocked with mucus and the sheen of her feathers and mane were as radiant as ever. Other than being comatose, she was perfectly healthy!
Celestia’s horn was alight with deeper solar magicks, and the princess of the day was slowly moving her head back and forth over her sister. The light was beautiful, glittering and powerful. Moving her head from one side to the other many times with a frown of concentration, she finally cut out the magic and lifted her head. All those gathered looked at her hopefully. “I do not know what’s wrong with her.” Celestia finally sighed. “See to her bruises, and keep her comfortable.” She told the head surgeon. Her bowed deep, swearing it would be so. As she exited the room, she spoke to the captain of the guard. “Captain Grey.” She said with an air of royal authority.
“Yes your majesty?” He and a V-formation of six more guards stood in the hallway waiting for orders. All stood stalwart in their golden regalia, eager to do her bidding.
“Tell the palace guard to let down from high alert, it seems there has been no discernible foul play or attack. Have my sister moved to her chambers and have an attachment close ranks about her corridor.” The princess commanded softly. “Seal off any balconies, and secure the general area. None may pass to see her unless I am there to escort them.” Captain Grey snapped a salute, and it was so. A litter was put together and, after securing an empty path from the examination room to Luna’s private chambers, she was discreetly moved. Though it only took two stallions to carry the litter, they used four to redouble their speed and risk less exposure. An ailing alicorn could only bring misery and low morale to the palace.
When they arrived, the pushed the great doors open. Luna’s room was messy at best, tornado-worthy at worst. The four guards moving her could barely see the walls of the place, so covered were they with pinned notes and star charts. Her desks, all three of them, were weighed down with inkwells, quill, protractors, and a number of mathematical devices. A jeweled telescope pointed at the horizon on the balcony, and the massive circular bed was an island in the middle of the madness. Working with careful hooves, they brought the limp form of their dark princess to her bed. Using their teeth they pulled the sheets and then the curtains. Surrounded on three sides with thick velvet curtains, the day would not disturb her rest if she needed it. The guards worked quickly and feverishly to bar the balcony doors after bringing in her telescope and putting it in a corner. They parted papers, moved things about until things were in a proper sort of order for protecting their princess.
Captain Grey addressed the squad he’d gathered for the occasion. “Listen up. I’m posting you all at the end of this corridor when we’ve secured the whole thing. I want one of you in this room every five minutes from now until this crisis is over.” He bade them. “You come down here, you check on her, you come back. No lingering.” He looked from one guard to the next. They were all respectable ponies, he knew he could count on them. Four stallions, two mares, all excellent guardsponies with a few seasons under their saddles. One was staring at Luna a little sadly, “Aegis Shield! Eyes on me!” the captain snapped. The white stallion’s cheeks colored a little and he snapped back to the rigid look of the stalwart guard again. “The princess hasn’t been back for very long. Now is the time for the royal guard to really put the bits down and show that we’re just as good at our jobs now as we were a thousand years ago.” He pep-talked them. “Our ancestors were always there for the princesses, even during the great pony wars of old. Now it’s our turn.” He gestured with his muzzle at their fallen princess. “She needs our protection, and that’s what she’s gonna get. Understood?”
“Yessir!” chorused the six guards in one voice, snapping salute.
It had been over a week with no changes. Everyone was secretly thankful Princess Luna was an alicorn. Though their rulers were just as mortal as their subjects, the castle staff knew there were certain things about the sisters that were unusual (i.e. their incredible longetivity). Eating and sleeping were really just for show for the two, for one thing. It was a lucky thing too. Had Luna been any other pony she would’ve wasted away in her comatose state from lack of food.
Celestia visited often after she’d raised the moon herself, spending long evenings at her sister’s bedside and brushing her starry mane. She did not weep o’er her sister’s body, but those that had been around the princess of the day long enough could read the subtle twitches in her face. Celestia kept on a positive outlook and a bemused half-smile, but she may as well have been sobbing to those that knew her well enough. She almost didn’t look up when one of the six guards opened the door to poke his head in. Under his princess’ direct gaze he folded his wings bashfully as he entered. “Come in.” she said softly. “I know you’re just doing your job. I won’t bite.” She chuckled just a little, but he detected the hint of bitterness in her voice. She was so very worried for Luna, and knew not what to do with herself.
The white stallion crossed the room slowly, sure to close the door behind him. He approached the alicorn-sized bed reverently, peering over Luna’s sleeping form. She looked so peaceful, curled up like that. Her expression was that of quiet, restful slumber. He found himself staring dumbly at her, and then felt royal eyes staring at him as well. He looked up at Celestia with a twitch, swallowing. “Sh-she looks… peaceful.” He offered a little lamely.
“Have you any insights into her condition, stallion?” Celestia asked softly. Even though her tone was sweet, the guard could sense a scathing sort of stern-ness beneath the surface. Do you know what the buck is going on? I thought not. You’re just a guard. Buck off. He winced shamefully at the inner monologue as he mentally put words in his princess’ mouth. Shivering without meaning to, he looked back to Luna with a quiet gaze. “Her condition has not worsened, so perhaps that is good news.” Celestia said, turning her great head about to worry over her sister some more. She stuck her muzzle into Luna’s starry mane, nuzzling up and down slowly. It was a tender, heart-quivering moment and he almost couldn’t bear to look upon it.
“Y-your majesty.” The white stallion bowed low, turning and leaving the chamber. As he shut the door behind himself, he sighed quietly. There was a hundred feet between himself and the barrier of other guards that he’d been staying with for the past week. Aegis Shield cursed himself quietly, wishing he were clever enough to come up with something more comforting to say than ‘she looks peaceful’. Stupid, stupid! Gritting his teeth then retreating behind the shield of his armored uniform, he returned to his post at the end of the hall.
“Any changes?” one of the mares on duty asked him. He shook his head silently. “Ah don’t like it.” She mumbled, turning around to face forward again. “Nothin’ just strikes an alicorn down like that. And ah don’t think its exhaustion either.” Her Appeloosian accent was poking through, something that only really happened when she was upset of excited.
“None of us like it.” Stalwart Hide said with a toss of his head. “But this is all we’ve got to do for now.” Aegis Shield studied Stalwart Hide for a moment, nodding his head. Returning to his place among the three pairs of guards, there was silence for a long time. “Know what this reminds me of?” Stalwart Hide said when he was sure there were no commanders or anything of the sort nearby. “Sleeping Mare.” There was a collective rolling of eyes and a groan or two. “You know, the one with the seven mini-stallions, and the prince and all that st--?”
“That’s Snow Mare, stupid.” One of the other guards rolled her eyes.
“And I suppose you’ll be the one delivering love’s first kiss to my sister then, dear stallion?” Princess Celestia had appeared nearby, startling whinnies out of half of the guards. Stalwart Hide’s entire body seized up, blue in the face, with his wings out. The Princess loomed, if she were capable of such a thing with such a pleasant face, over the gossipy stallion. His own weight tumped him over and the rigidity of his body and wings brought him to rest at a very impressive forty-five degree angle. He was like a statue, frozen with a terrified expression on his face. Celestia gave a mild chuckle. “I think you’re dismissed for the evening…” she leaned to find his name etched in his armor, “Stalwart Hide.”
All five of the other guards stared in open-mouthed shock. The shame! The humiliation! The eternal black mark on his record! Dismissed from his post by Celestia herself! “Y-yes, your majesty.” Stalwart Hide managed to gather his wits about him and march, stiffly, down the hall. Those that knew him well knew that as soon as he rounded the corner…. Yep, his hooves thundered away down the next hall. Poor stallion. He would never live this down. Ever.
“Fetch for a replacement for me… Aegis Shield?” Celestia said mildly, dipping her head to flick her eyes across his armor-etched name as well. Though she maintained the outer expression of the ever-patient ruler, her jump to such a punishment had spoken volumes. Even as Aegis Shield snapped his salute, he knew that his princess had probably just ruined the other stallion’s life. Any hope of promotion, command, even pay-raises for the next few years… gone. Shuddering once he’d rounded the corner, Aegis Shield reported to the barracks to pluck a guard at random. Ordained by the princess herself, he had his pick and shoes a burly-looking stallion with a scar over one eye and a scowl on his face. His name was Mountain Hoof, and boy was he big.
The days went by in relative quiet, Celestia ever-vigilant to spend evenings with her sister when the moon was raised. Aegis Shield and the others stood stoic against anypony that tried to go down the hall that led to Luna’s chambers. They’d not had much trouble, other than the occasional squawking maid or little foal that just didn’t understand ‘off limits’.
But there was something quietly stirring within Aegis Shield over the days. Each time he went to check on Princess Luna (one of the six guards doing so, on his shift), he felt it. He certainly knew it wasn’t lust, for he was gelding. That is… un-stallion’d, so he would suffer no distractions from his duties for the rest of his life. It was something that made him lighter on his hooves when he was in Luna’s room, though he just couldn’t put his hoof on it.
A certain sort of giddiness that went with looking at her star charts, her splayed notes and instruments. It filled him with a certain curiosity that made him want to snatch a hoof-full and sneak them to the barracks to read. Though he was no good at fancy mathematics, the intricate drawings and complex equations made it all look so magical. The white stallion sometimes found himself staring at the papers more than Luna, some days, and often looked at the night sky to locate some of the constellations therein.
One day, while peering over the edge of the bed at her, he was struck with something. The way her mane was bannered, it looked a lot like the night sky. Knowing the strict stretch of time between check-ins, he went quickly to her desk and peered at the shapes. Returning to the sleeping princess, he peered over her mane intently. Sure enough. She held the constellations in the vaporous flow of her ethereal mane! “Beautiful…” he found himself whispering. He jolted, startled by his own voice. Turning, he was halfway across the room when Celestia entered for the evening. He bowed low as she went past, and he was relieved when he closed the door behind him.
A few days after that, Aegis Shield found himself studying Princess Luna’s mane once more. His shift was always at night, so he didn’t get to see the stars as much anymore. The guards idled by lamp-light in the corridors, and of course there were no windows or openings right now with Luna being vulnerable. But there in Luna’s mane was all the heavens. The white stallion looked upon her quite differently. Not so much as an untouchable, godly royal pony, but as a perfect piece of architecture. A paragon of her species, and of all ponykind. She held boundless beauty in her mane, lying there as still as a statue. He was entranced by it, his mouth slightly open sometimes. Beautiful. The white stallion smiled a little shyly despite himself, turning and returning to his post.
By the end of the fourth week, Aegis Shield looked forward to his job more than he did rest or food. He liked counting down the time until it was his turn to check on the princess. Night by night he gazed upon her, his heart ever eager to behold her beauty. The poor stallion had fallen in love with his sleeping princess.
“Someone’s cheerful this evening.” said the guard Aegis Shield had come to replace on his shift. It wasn’t everyday that a royal guard could be seen within a huge smile plastered across his face like that. Aegis coughed a little, excusing himself and taking up his post with the traditional blank expression.
When at last it was his turn to check on Princess Luna, he turned with the usual snap in his step. He marched down the hall until he was the proper distance, and made it to the proper door. He held his breath when he reached for the doorknob, as though teasing himself before pushing the door open. There she lay, radiant as the night. “I found the waterfall last night.” He whispered to her of a constellation hidden on the edge of the northern sky. “I got a telescope just so I could see it.” He said a little coyly, crossing the room to lean over the bed to peer at her. Rearing up for a proper look, he leaned to see if there had been any change. As per usual, the princess of the night wore a quiet and peaceful expression. “It’s beautiful.” He mumbled his praises, not wanting anyone down the corridor to hear him. Turning his ears back, he finally sighed in resignation. “I wish you would wake up, princess.” He whispered to her softly, pleading. “Please, please wake up.”
Princess Luna gave no response other than her quiet breathing. Without thinking, Aegis Shield leaned down and pressed his face into her ethereal mane. Magic caressed him back and forth, and the scent of rain-pregnant wind overtook him. A certain crisp scent that would go completely unnoticed if one were not looking for it. He found himself flushed and a little heady, lingering there for a long few moments before quickly pulling away. He didn’t want to be caught sniffing the princess’ mane. The scandal! The demotions! The shame!
Aegis Shield decided to look at her face one more time and then be off, before somepony caught him. Getting down, he went to the other side of Luna’s bed where he could look at her face more directly. She was beautiful, he couldn’t help but smile quietly and feel the chipper in his heart. Though he was gelding, it did not keep him from certain feelings. Her face looked so soft… he leaned down. So quiet and beautiful… his shadow cast itself upon the princess. Her lips looked so moist and plush… he just wanted to… to…
Celestia entered the room for her normal evening visit to find one of her guards with his lips pressed over her sister’s. Her mouth fell open and she froze on place. There was a long silence, ice flowing down the back of her neck before she started quivering. Her wings snapped open with aggression and she called out over her shoulder. “Guards! Guards!” There was a stampede of thundering hooves coming down the hall, armor clanking as they went.
Aegis Shield snapped himself away from Luna’s face, panting a little headily. Though he was a white stallion with all of his solar armor on, he could still turn pale. What had he done?! How deprived was he?! What was he thinking?! Suddenly the five other guards piled into the room in a semi-circle about Celestia. “Aegis! What did you do?!” one of the mares demanded. All of the guards looked up at their daytime princess, waiting for her to give the word to tackle the poor bastard.
“Seize him.” Celestia said quietly, her royal mask hardening over into its normal bemused expression. Anyone that knew her well enough could still see the subtle twitches. The way her wings folded down. The way her head cocked when she spoke. She was ready to tear his head right off of his shoulders and drop-kick it to the moon.
There was a rush of bodies that the poor stallion gave no resistance to, and he was forced to the ground under the crushing weight of the other five guards. They wrenched his helmet off. The solar magic covering his body sputtered, held, then crackled out. His white fur darkened into a chocolate brown, his mane exploding with the radiant blonde that was natural to him. The cutie mark hidden under the spell was exposed, a golden shield with a star on it. An aegis. His helm tumbled across the floor, stopping at the foot of Luna’s bed where it spun for a bit before coming to rest. They flailed back and forth with rope and bonds, chain and padlocks to bind him up like a pig at a rodeo. He could barely breathe it was all so tight. Aegis gave a slight whimper as he was tossed at his sun princess’ hooves like an offering.
“What should we do with him, princess?” Mountain Hoof’s deep bass voice wanted to know. The barrel-chested stallion puffed himself up. “Nearest dungeon? Nearest chopping block?” This was such a serious offense there really wasn’t even a law for any of the guards to refer to for punishment. Of COURSE you didn’t put your hooves on the princesses like that! “Exile?” he offered.
Celestia wasn’t looked at Mountain Hoof. Or Aegis Shield. Or any of the others. Her eyes had become little pinpricks of shock, her royal mask shattered entirely. All five guards turned to follow her expression.
Princess Luna was sitting up, staring at the large gathering in her room rather sleepily. “If thou art here to escort me to the midnight court, we hardly think six guards art necessary inside the royal palace.” She was rubbing a hoof over one of her eyes, then the other. Blink-blinking a little more awake, she stared at the gathering some more. “…What?” she said. “Thou stare as though thou hast seen a ghost.”
“Nearest dungeon.” Celestia whispered a little breathlessly, shooing all of the guards out with a snap of her wings. When the door shut she threw herself upon her confused sister in a tight embrace.
Luna’s wings blimped out in surprise, but she returned the hug carefully. “Er… good evening, sister?” it came out like a question as she stroked Celestia’s mane out of habit. “Dost thou want to tell us why we awoke to a room full of guards? Our room is usually off limits to all but thyself.”
End of Part 1