The Rejuvenationverse 33 members · 20 stories
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The city had been left in shock.
Ardour and Silverback cursed the words that had sent Hardhoof to the Bombastros and B.B Trunks beat his forehooves bloody against the gilded mast of his ship for incurring Hardhoof’s wrath. Though their resentment for Hardhoof was chief in their mind, they all felt a great deal of guilt for letting him turn their actions against them.
It was clear that, deranged though Hardhoof may have been, he did not lack for low cunning.
Was this a random moment of brilliance or something he kept hidden?
Canterlot was a lot more hesitant to know now that it had cost them one of their princesses.
But B.B Trunks remembered Thornwood’s words.
‘The Palominos. Bring them to Equestria.’
‘We are a fox standing before a lion.’
‘A leopard is what’s called for.’
The words were based on an old traveller’s tale originating from the Gritish explorers to Zebrica.
A fox standing before a lion has only one outcome. A very dead fox.
But if a leopard stands before a lion, where does the fox stand?
Out of harm’s way or in a place where he could do the most damage.
As the two big cats clash, the lion would overpower the leopard but be weakened, drained, unsuspecting.
And the fox could go for the throat while the giant was ill-prepared.
With his advice, Ardour journeyed to the Heptagon again and met with the Palomino household.
The Palomino’s effectively owned their home island of Polmonia though they were not its Magisters. They were something far greater.
The founders and owners of the largest bank in the Heptagon that rivalled any in Equestria.
Ardour spoke with the Ubadomi (An honorary title of a family figurehead with many other families in his debt and control) Syngnato-Cintargi do San Palomino.

A charismatic figure, Syngnato-Cintargi do San Palomino was an elegant crimson stallion with a frost-white mane and trailing beard, sideburns and eyebrows like five silver streams and sleek green eyes that measured the calibre of anypony before him most carefully. He dressed in navy and fuchsia velvet, embroidered with glittering floral and marine patterns, the finest cloth in the Heptagon for investing in the fabrics trade was how the Palomino bank had begun. He was a peerless pioneer of the arts and sciences and many young entrepreneurs alongside artists, musicians, actors, poets and philosophers owed their livelihoods to him.
He had nine children; Lampo-Machillo, Falandine, Brygo, Fonto, Larando, Aralda, Maroubra, Vanacampa and Prosperina, each one born to a different mother along with sixteen other illegitimate foals. Each and every one possessed of more wealth and influence than Lady Secretary Ardour, at least in the immediate sense.
The two talked over a fine dinner of fat black shrimps in lime juice, ribbed scallops, frigate-bird eggs, bleeding-heart fennel, bottle-green anemone, candied watermelon-rind, crystalized celery in sorbet and even boiled shark purses, all delicacies in the Heptagon, and washed down with tall, thin glasses of wines and spirits from every corner of the world. He had a slave-cook nearby to test each food for poison before either of them ate.
Syngnato-Cintargi was intrigued at the state of affairs in Equestria and proposed a way the Palomino family and the Regency could help each other...for a price, of course.
He would bring a branch of the Palomino Bank to Equestria from which the Regency could take out a loan to ease their financial problems. The treasures B.B Trunks had confiscated from the Qorian fleet would be kept safe in this bank. It would also be used as an information network for Celestia-loyal Regents to keep their secrets from Hardhoof.
After all, the Banks of the Heptagon were more fiercely guarded than the Palaces of Canterlot. Each guard was a slave, trained since birth to watch the vault...and the other guards.
Syngnato-Cintargi would then set about calling in all debts the Bombastro family owed or even ensuring those debts couldn’t be paid properly. The Bombastros would not dare risk harming Princess Luna if their own futures seemed uncertain. She would, after all, be a useful bargaining tool. Equestria could not touch them while they owned her and if any other Heptagoni family tried to harm them, they would make Equestria an enemy. And if the Bombastros truly got desperate, they would sell the Princess to the Palominos who would then safely transfer her to Equestria to be kept safe in their new bank out of Hardhoof’s gaze until the Regency was ready to throw off their chains...for a price, of course.
While Luna was gone, he wished for his own youngest daughter, Prosperina da San Palomino, to be taken as a lady-in-waiting to Princess Celestia. He also wished his own second son, Falandine, to be granted the position of Lord Vaultkeeper, a Deputy Regent under the Lord Treasurer in charge of banks and financial accounts. And he wished two more of his younger sons, Fonto and Larando to be given senior positions in Canterlot, to be decided by the Regency.
He swore that while they might bring their own slaves into Canterlot, the Palomino family would not bring the actual trade of slaves into Equestria under any circumstances.
Ardour was sceptical. Syngnato-Cintargi do San Palomino was demanding a lot and offering very little, only delivering promises that he didn’t necessarily have to keep. But Syngnato-Cintargi refuted this since, to the Banks of the Heptagon, calling in debts without warning, especially upon one of the Domi, was considered highly improper and could weigh heavily on their reputation and even safety. He wanted his household to be safe in Equestria should the worst come to pass.
Ardour then asked if it was likely that he’d ever make dealings with Hardhoof if he ever met him.
At this Syngnato-Cintargi smiled and answered...
“Not likely...Certain. But of course, it would depend on what he had to offer.”
Ardour was unnerved. Here, she asked.
“Hardhoof has our Princess Celestia. If it ever came to pass that he offered her to you, what would you do?”
Syngnato-Cintargi smiled wider and answered.
“I would accept. And gladly. Do not give me that look, my lady. At no point did I claim to be loyal to you or to your Princess. I am a banker. A businesspony. I do not pick sides. I pick investments. And if ever I was offered a Princess, an alicorn at that, I would accept it. And if Hardhoof gave her to me, I would give him in turn anything he wished, including anything you may have confided in me.”
Before Ardour could reply, he added.
“But of course, that would depend on whether he was actually in a position to give her to me. If he offered her but did not deliver when I wished, then he would be in the same position to any who could not deliver what they promised me. Deep in debt and deeper in curd. And I would no longer be invested in protecting his business...or his life.”
Ardour knew what he was hinting at. The Heptagoni way. Getting rid of one who posed them such a threat.
She said nothing.
Syngnato-Cintargi then leaned forward with a grin and asked...
“Does it ever bother you? Having to be so moral all the time? I imagine it gets terribly tiring.”
And with that, he treated her to a private music and dramatics performance in his manor and wished her farewell and good tidings.

Ardour returned and related the state of affairs to Silverback, Oia’i’o and B.B Trunks.
Trunks said this was exactly what Thornwood had hinted at. Bringing in a third faction for Hardhoof to fight while they, under the guise of being cowed and defeated, worked to overthrow Hardhoof.
Silverback was much less impressed, declaring that B.B Trunks and Ardour were...
“Two of the same. Bucking fools, the pair of you! Our objective was to take back Hardhoof’s power, not split it with another pony we cannot control! Next you’ll be inviting Tirek to Canterlot!”
“We have four of his children now.” Ardour retorted.
“And he has five. And his rival has Princess Luna. He has little and less to lose and we’ve given to him what we cannot afford to spend!” Silverback was enraged, declaring he couldn’t depend on anypony and retreated to his study to work out these affairs.
Oia’i’o tried to calm things, explaining that the Palominos could at least be reasoned with and knew just how serious things were. She also related what had been going on while Ardour was away.
Her successor, Incendor Clagg Illweather, was a brutal teacher to the young Princess. Since the Palace Steward, Hardhoof of course, had given him free reign to teach the Princess how he pleased.
One does not need to think hard about how a priest of a violently puritanical faith in a backwards society teaches foals but Clagg Illweather put many of them to shame.
Celestia, in her sullen mood and zero knowledge of what Illweather considered ‘knowledge’ fell behind in her studies and was regularly subjected to punishment beyond mere beatings. She would go for days without sleep or proper food, she would be doused in tubs of icy water, she would have her muzzle held over a smoky brazier, she would have strands of her mane pulled out with tweezers and on one occasion when she tried to sneak into the pantry (Apparently because she knew Luna had left a keepsake there than to steal cake as Illweather suspected) she was strapped down with her eyelids held open as drops of stinging juice of the skullcap plant was dripped onto her eyeballs.
Here, Oia’i’o suggested that the deal with the Palominos could ease their Princess’s pain somewhat.
Prosperina da San Palomino had been given to Celestia as a Lady-In-Waiting. She could fill the place Luna had left and give Celestia some much-needed company.
Young Prosperina was around twelve and shared her father’s silver hair but her mother’s pearl-white coat and sleek sea-green eyes.
So it was decided. Prosperina da San Palomino would enter the palace and her elder brothers would take up positions in the city.
Hardhoof’s opinion was made loud and clear. He was ballistic at the idea of foreigners having their say in Canterlot (It is recorded he almost said ‘His city’ before correcting himself.) He ordered his associates to watch them closely and the Salt-Ponies entering the city swiftly made enemies of the Dreary Ones. Fights were common and had to be broken up by the Royal Guard for Hardhoof’s own troops or the Palomino slave soldiers often took sides with lethal force.
Falandine took his deputy position in court and organised the building of the Palomino Bank. Hardhoof’s Lord Treasurer, Lord Herbetude Torp of Snorebury was barely able to keep himself awake in court, let alone keep an eye on him and Falandine swiftly began spreading his father’s influence in the Equestrian financial circles...as well as building his own.
As to his brothers, Fonto was made Lord of the Fountain, a minor but distinguished position as commander of the guards of the City Square. From here, he made many friends among the lords and generals, he among his brothers being most fluent in the Equestrian language. And Larando established the Salacia, the largest casino in Canterlot though it was well known that his patrons could indulge in recreational powders and herbs and he’d brought over a large selection of glamorous maidens and rangy young stallions to serve as ‘staff’ but it was common knowledge that these were pleasure slaves his patrons would use in private chambers for a hefty price. So it was that they swiftly began to make friends and influence ponies in Canterlot and while Hardhoof said time and again that these were evil ponies who worshipped foul foreign gods and would lead Equestria into further wickedness, it was well known that some of his associates indulged in the pleasures of the Salacia and were then blackmailed by Fonto to keep it secret from their master. Money would then be split between them and the Palomino Bank grew rich in gold and secrets, meaning that they could afford to be lax and gentle in chasing down debtors and authorising loans. Soon, they were the biggest bank in Canterlot and overtook many other businesses across Equestria.
As a gesture of gratitude and good faith, the three brothers paid the bail of Chronicler Bonce. He was returned to them frail and sickly after his imprisonment but alive and ready to aid them.
But the biggest shock was yet to come.
Hardhoof made his declaration to the Regency the following morning.
It was high time, he claimed, that Princess Celestia was married.

Celestia was still only thirteen. But Hardhoof said that mares could and should be married younger. He stated that the Princess needed a stallion who was “strong, stern, self-reliant and sensible to counteract the deficiencies of her own character.”
When asked who this stallion could be, Hardhoof’s reply was both utterly shocking and yet completely expected.
He brought forth the same of his own son; the nineteen year-old Horg af Grye.
Now at this point, Hardhoof had much of the say in what went on in Canterlot. Nopony would defy him long and his very atmosphere was enough to cow most detractors.
But the moment he spoke his son’s name, Ardour, Silverback, B.B Trunks, Oia’i’o and the Palomino family were in uproar in court, defying him with every ounce of their strength.
It was not difficult to see through his ploy here and he had severely overstepped. Silverback and Ardour made no secret of how many of Canterlot’s citizens would respond with force to what was very obviously and attempt to seize the throne. Hardhoof later received letters from the former Regents, Dragonfly, Hystrix, Pitterpatter, Penny Uplift and Diaphonous Glass to say that they had many friends and associates that knew what he was planning and were determined to stop him by any means necessary. If it meant they cut Canterlot off from the rest of Equestria then so it would be and all the city would know who was to blame.
Through one means or another, Hardhoof was convinced not to start a civil war...at least not yet.
So to hide the sham, he proposed a two-day-long ceremony that coincided with the Grand Galloping Gala that year where the Princess would meet a selection of suitors and then she would be permitted to choose the husband of her choice who would become Prince, and perhaps later King, of Equestria.`
He didn’t know what he was getting into. Before long, every lord or lord’s son or nephew or younger sibling had put their name down on the attendance list to vie for the hoof of young Princess Celestia. Even several foreign nobles were coming such as a member of the House of Armbrust from Farmany, the young Sultan of Haissan and the old Sultan of Saddle Arabia, three princes of Zebrica, a Qilin Crown Prince and a peacock griffon prince named Megadahn.
Surprisingly the Palomino brothers did not partake.
[Note: There were several prominent names who did not attend as promised and, much later, records were comprised that suggested a string of ill fortune some of the suitors. Prince Eminent Sanguine was accused of having murdered his father to acquire his throne and would surely do the same to Celestia; Cardimundus Candescus was crippled in a flying accident; Orpine Winterbottom was rumoured to prefer the company of colts his age; Amsel Ambrosias was struck with a sudden fever that rendered him bedridden; Grape Jam’s carriage wheel broke in a quagmire and he had to return home; Limburger was kidnapped and held for ransom by a bandit group calling themselves the ‘Mice of War’; Vacherin was said to have lost his virginity to a milk-cow; Simoleon Scrill was robbed by his own servants and left on the road penniless; Fotheringay Fleckleton and his family drowned when their boat sank on the Seadragon River and Prince Versitaty Svetnov of Lussia was ambushed and killed by centaurs in Stirrope.
The nature and link of these events definitely suggest Hardhoof’s work. The less prominent princes appeared at the ceremony, the greater the chances of Celestia choosing his son.]

Over a hundred colts and young stallions appeared to present themselves and their honours to the Princess.
The Princess appeared in her tiara and a frilled dress of pinks and whites over an embroidered gown of red white and gold she’d worn to remember her mother by. Prosperina stood at her side in a blue and violet dress and a black cloak.
The event was far more formal than advertised. Many ‘lesser members’ simply said their name, bowed, gave some form of flattery and departed. After the tenth, Celestia had trouble remembering the first five.
Some stood out though.
Sunday Strides, the son of Knickerbocker, took it upon himself to try his luck. With the eloquent charm and perfect manners that are trademark in the Pants family, he brought a smile to Celestia’s face with his dashing yet humble demeanour. Spending her life with the son of the old Palace Steward she had to thank for so much would not be unpleasant, she thought.
Then Bold II came forward, dressed in armour modelled off that of his uncle. Old Captain-General Bold had died in defence of the Princess and he claimed he would do the same if ever Equestria was threatened again, his heart would be hers as would his sword and shield.
It is not known if Celestia was taken with the idea of a warrior prince but she enjoyed Bold II’s company and it did mean a lot to her that the stallion who died in her defence could be honoured with such an opportunity.
Then came the Farman Starkenbrow Fray von Armbrust, a giant of a Stirropean who, at just fifteen, towered over every colt present. With a coat of green and a mane like gilded fire, he cut a gallant figure and told Celestia of the thick Stirropean snows and brazen beasts he’d braved to look upon her alicorn radiance.
She found his tales impressive and him decent company but often needed Oia’i’o to relate what he’d said for she found his accent thicker than the snows he spoke of.
And Megadahn performed a traditional griffon courtship dance, leaping and bounding, his massive tail-feathers sweeping across the palace tiles like an enormous fan as he cawed and squawked so loud it a wonder the windows didn’t shatter.
It looked like perfect nonsense to most present but Celestia obliged him with a smile and a small applause.
Then Horg af Grye entered.

Horg af Grye is not portrayed in any conventional portraits, the Grye family disapproving of art and culture and so his physical appearance is determined by three differing records.
Chronicler Bonce claims the son of Hardhoof was not an ugly colt per-se, though he resembled his father in most respects and had that certain warped, lifeless look to him, pale of coat and scraggly of mane. He at least stood well and appeared strong and at least exercised courtesy in the royal palace. However, he possessed her father’s same unpleasant glare and had that look in his eyes that denoted a hair-trigger temper. His general atmosphere levelled the merriment in the room and not just because of how fixed his attendance seemed to be.
Pester the Jester however, describes Horg af Grye as a grotesque; a bloated barrel of lard, his face coated with grease and riddled with angry red spots and scars below a mess of scraggly black mane that looked as though it had never been washed since birth. His tatty clothes were ill-fitting and plastered with food-stains. He had a glassy look in his eyes and crooked teeth in a dribbling mouth. He was almost always eating something, messily and noisily, and required a servant with a mop trailing behind him to clean up his own impromptu excrement he’d leave in his wake even in the palace. Flies followed him everywhere he went and nopony could stand to be next to him without choking. And when he was meant to present himself and bow, he instead tried to touch himself down below, swearing loudly as he did so.
Oia’i’o meanwhile tells us it was sort in-between. Horg, son of Hardhoof is described in her memoirs as ‘large and looked as though he didn’t take enough care in his health and appearance’. He had a plain and homely face with more than a few warts and very bad teeth. While he dressed and styled himself well, there was the impression that he had somepony else do it for him. He pushed past members of the crowd and was not above serious threats of violence to random onlookers. Like his father, he could not and would not control his temper for anything. He did not bow (And his father gave him no order to) but complimented Celestia on her appearance and ‘how well she’d been keeping the throne for the one who deserved it’.
[Note: It is not known which record is accurate but this historian is inclined to believe Oia’i’o’s testimony. Bonce had just been released from prison and had been regularly subjected to Hardhoof’s threats and had likely spent so much time under his hoof, he was still getting used to not writing of him with respect. And Pester was an admitted sensationalist but it wasn’t hard to tell there was something not right in Hardhoof’s kin.
But as we shall soon discover, Oia’i’o had her own reasons to mask the truth somewhat.]
Whichever case was true, Horg’s attitude infuriated those present but Celestia said nothing. When drinks and elevenses were served and it was time for Celestia to converse informally with the suitors as she chose, Glutt af Grye had his troops section her off with only Horg as company while Colonel Scraper’s Peltpushers threatened any who tried to intervene. Even Prosperina da San Palomino was chased away and was thrown out into the corridors.
There, she ran into Lord Warden Retcher Gorgelle who gave her look that made her blood run cold, alone as they were with everypony else in the great hall.
“Come here, my dear slippery sweetmeat.” he is recorded to have said, edging closer “I require your services...in every possible measure.”
She ran, screaming for help, chased by the depraved unicorn who rattled perverse threats as he steadily caught up. Eventually, by good fortune, Prosperina met Oia’i’o, who shielded the filly and said that Hardhoof would hear of his Lord Warden posing such a threat to peace and diplomacy between Equestria and the Heptagon.
At this, Retcher Gorgelle cackled.
“Oh he will hear of it. And you’ll die screaming under Scraper’s knives and hooks for assisting this little witch. And then her pretty pink plot will be mine to explore. This I assure you, you island-hopping nag.”
But he left, if only to be ready to pass on word to his thugs.
That night posed far more terrors for the two. Hardhoof had given his son keys to Celestia’s bedroom and it is recorded he entered. What he did there is uncertain.
Bonce claims he simply made threats, insults and told her that if she valued the lives of any of her subjects, he’d pick him as her husband first thing in the morning. And left afterwards.
Oia’i’o says he went further, grabbing the Princess, throwing her on the bed and preparing something unpleasant before Celestia threatened to unleash her alicorn magic upon him. When he pointed out that his father would kill everypony she loved if she did so, she responded with ‘Then I’ll lose my kingdom either way. But Hardhoof will only keep his son if you leave now.’ Taking the hint, Horg left, threatening that once they were married, he’d strap her to the bed and have her horn removed.
Surprisingly Pester’s record has not survived.
Perhaps there are some lines history will not cross.
But the morning would hatch an interest surprise that neither Hardhoof nor his lackeys saw coming.

That morning, the suitors were treated to breakfast in the great hall and Celestia arrived to find Scraper barring her way to the throne and Glutt af Grye pointing her to the seat beside Horg af Grye.
She met Prosperina and the two instead chose to stand, speaking with those she felt she could trust.
Many of the other colts were quiet and would only point to the empty seat left for her next to Horg.
But Sunday Strides and Bold II confided in her that almost all of them had been woken in the night by one of Hardhoof’s soldiers, ordering them to make way for Horg or their families would receive bits of them in boxes for as long as they could last in Slymestone’s dungeons.
The one who’d been sent into Starkenbrow’s room was walking with a limp but Hardhoof may have also been prepared to go after those they loved if necessary.
When Sunday Strides asked Princess Celestia what she planned to do, she responded simply...
“Same as you, brave colts. I will do what I must to protect the ponies I love, however much it may hurt me.”
So the two fillies tentatively paced over to the empty seat beside a grinning Horg af Grye.
But the one who took it was Prosperina. Princess Celestia meanwhile sat on the steps leading to the throne and ate her breakfast in silence.
At this Horg stood, fury upon his features, smashed his breakfast plate upon the floor and stomped over to Princess Celestia.
“Sit...Down...Now.” he snarled.
At this, the Princess glanced around and said flatly, in an almost confused manner.
“I am sitting down, sir.”
“Don’t you dare make fun of me!” Horg replied with a bellow “Stop wasting time and say the words. The words you promised you’d say come morning last we spoke!”
“I didn’t promise anything, sir.” Celestia retorted “You told me to say those words. I’m under no obligation to say them outright. You will be sure to remember who is Princess.”
Horg’s hooves ground on the tiles as Prosperina da San Palomino stood and made her way forward.
“Please young Master Grye, her highness is eating her breakfast and your behaviour is unbecoming towards-”
She did not finish her sentence. Horg grabbed her by the nape and yelled for all the hall to hear.
“Don’t tell me what to do, you worthless freak!”
And with that, he slammed her head against the breakfast table once and twice, punched her in the chest and hurled her across the room between the benches. All the suitors present stood with shock.
Here, Princess Celestia stood and yelled Horg’s name. The arrogant Grye turned, hoping she’d reflect on what could happen to those she treasured if he went unsatisfied.
Instead, her words tilted the scales of power in Canterlot.
“That is no way to treat your Princess!”
Horg’s eyes widened in shock and confusion as the Princess grabbed hold of her tiara and pulled it off. Her mane and horn came off with it, showing off an oiled, fin-like silver stream.
And behind him, Prosperina, bleeding from the mouth and nostril, stood with defiant eyes and tugged at her own mane, revealing a silky primrose wave and a small but prominent horn.
They then threw off their cloaks. The filly on the steps bore no wings while the one Horg had called a ‘freak’ and struck viciously, did.
Horg, Hardhoof, Scraper, Glutt and his cohorts were speechless.
Celestia and Prosperina had switched places. Secretly, Oia’i’o had made them fake manes and bid them go into the palace halls. Celestia had told Prosperina to rouse Horg’s anger for her to unleash with but a word.
For a good long while, two minutes at least according to records, there was silence.
Then, Bold II pointed to Horg with a stunned face and broke the quiet.
“He just hit the Princess...GET HIM!

Instantly, like a nest of angry hornets, the suitors swarmed and pounced upon Horg and beat him with their hooves from every angle for such an offence as drawing blood from a royal alicorn, one he’d come to marry no less.
Red in the face, Hardhoof ordered them to cease but the Lord Protector himself found his bellows interrupted by a bowl of porridge thrown with amazing accuracy straight across his brow by Sunday Strides while Starkenbrow and Megadahn fought off the guard with a variety of breakfasting equipment. The suitors outnumbered the guard and in that moment, there was nothing they would not do to protect the Princess. There and then, each one was the valiant hero they’d set out to be, protecting Celestia from those who menaced her.
Scraper and his guards fled under the onslaught, apparently hardened thugs blessed by the Lord Fat himself no match for angry school-colts throwing foodstuffs. They abandoned their master who was bombarded as he tried to rescue his son and make for the doors.
Under great duress, a thoroughly battered Horg escaped the mob and fled with his father and family cohorts out of the great hall where Silverback, Ardour, Oia’i’o, Bonce and Trunks awaited with the Royal Guard (Bolstered by armed retinue of every suitor and their families) along with the Palomino brothers and their sizable cadre.
As the two sides stood still, Princess Celestia made her way between them where she gave a command to those loyal to her.
Lord Warden Retcher Gorgelle was to be seized and executed forthwith for attempted rape against her very person.
The deranged unicorn paled and wept before Hardhoof, begging him to help him as guards took him away.
Hardhoof shrieked for Scraper and his guard but they did not appear.
Silverback explained that they had been seen breaking into the guest rooms of the palace, illegal for obvious reasons, and had been arrested by the guard under Fonto do San Palomino, who under his independent authority, had sold them into slavery.
Silverback said was intent on buying them, explaining that he wished to use them as test subjects for questioning techniques he’d been studying, saying off-hoof that it would be interesting to know what they had to say about ‘this and that’.
At last, the horseshoe was on the other hoof.
Hardhoof was trapped and he knew it. His son had struck a princess, his successor had tried to molest the Princess, his guards had house-broken the royal palace, he had threatened diplomatic and economic relations in every feasible measure.
Weakly, covered in bruises, cuts and discarded breakfast, he pointed out that taking slaves was illegal in Canterlot.
Ardour retorted that trading slaves was illegal and both Fonto and Silverback had received leave from the Princess. But if he truly wished to save his guards (And thereby save his secrets) he had only to gain that same leave from the very Princess he had scorned and abused for a long, long season.
At this, Princess Celestia reached over to her Lord Protector, tore off a piece of his gown and wiped the blood from her face with it. She then held it up before all those present and spoke with sternness and severity that put Hardhoof to shame.
“Blood.” she said “My blood. Your Princess’s blood. On your hooves!”
She threw it down before the onlookers and declared for all to hear.
“It is clear to me, Lord Hardhoof, as it should be to you, that you have failed most appallingly in your duties as ‘Lord Protector’. You have allowed serious harm to come to your Princess, at the hooves of your friends and family no less. You have allowed your guards to damage royal property and threaten our esteemed guests. I, Princess Celestia, find you unworthy. Of course, you have made it plainly clear that I have no real authority to deem or demand anything of you. But right now, your guard stand on a market stall, awaiting a buyer. In my mercy, shall give you permission to buy their freedom and anything else they come with. Provided you immediately resign as Regent of Canterlot, vow never again to resume such a position and leave Canterlot with all haste. Do this and you shall be remembered as a mere incompetent who severely overestimated his reach and influence. Refuse and you shall be placed under suspicion of high treason and processed to the full extent of royal Equestrian law.”
There was another weighty pause.
It was said that throughout it, Ardour was whispering ‘Please refuse. Please refuse. Please refuse.’
In the end, however, Hardhoof conceded, looking more limp and lifeless than he ever had.
Beaten utterly at his own game, while inches from taking the throne, humiliated before the entire city who’d once quaked at his step, at the hooves of two little fillies.

He left Canterlot in disgrace, all his appointees either dismissed or demoted below deputy status. He was jeered and insulted by the crowds right up until he passed the city gates.
But though he took his son and Colonel Scraper, only Retcher Gorgelle was found guilty of any real crime, executed come morning. All other associates of Hardhoof were declared simply incompetent, thus avoiding serious punishment.
But they remained in the city, under orders from their master.
Hardhoof was defeated but he was not destroyed.
And his last and most bitter blow would fall soon.

But across the other side of Equestria, in a place only spoken of in whispers, where monsters became...something else...
Something was stirring, waking from its deep sleep.
A creature of the night had opened his colourless eyes at last.
And asked in a whisper that shook the very stars.
“Where...is...my...princess...”

Hmmmm....

"Dirty world plays dirty war". That quote from Kiss Singer's Guide to Geopolitiks flashed in Rex's Mind. And Rex did not like it. He disliked General Scraper (even more than all his predecessors that he had killed) but even he himself would not exactly want to see him in slavery. If there was one thing he hated the most, it was slavery: it was over that matter that he had personally killed off three Salt-Pony families, engineered the destruction of a Camel city's governments and its most powerful families, and chased down and murdered every member of the Lucky Light criminal organization.

And sure, he knew that they never intended for any of them to actually become slaves, but still, it did not exactly sit right with him.

Then again, one could say he did not have much of a high ground anyway: he was an extrajudicial killer, a builder of bombs which he used to strike down 'institutes of corruption'. And sure, he made sure that only the powerful and guilty and their loyal servants would die by his gun, that he would kill in no other method except by guns and bombs.

But he remembered that one time when Mimic had captured him, and proceeded to rebuke him for his violent means, for "attacking the symptom rather than the disease", that he was just an impatient fanatic driven more by vengeance and a desire for quick reform than the long and boring but useful slow method of changing minds.

He protested, saying that when he attacked a corrupt system, he made sure to kill every single one of its significant participants.

Mimic responded by saying that such methods proved to susceptible to a ruthless bloodlust 'of justice'.

It was something that he had been thinking a lot lately.

Clever disguise-switch ploy, Celestia, he had to admit though.

Well, looks like Hardhoof might be preparing something in revenge. And surely, the Palaminos and the Bombastros are also making their own move. But while they play 3D chess (with Hardhoof being not even a player at this point), the Regency plays 4D chess. Wonder what their next move is.

And wonder what night creature has risen from the dark.

Also: is Orpine Winterbottom a reference to Ophrah Winfrey? Is Limburger's kidnapping a reference to the Lindbergh baby kidnapping?


The body of Hardhoof, Horg, Glutt, Scraper, and Dunpenny hanged upside down from a metal girder of a service station in the town square. And as the townspeople spat at and batted at and threw stones at the bodies of the former authorities, Princess Celestia face paled, seeing the scene unfold from her view in the Dimensional Window.

"None of this, Discord, we aren't barbarians!" she exclaimed.

"Well, excuuuuuuuse me, Princess," Discord responded, rolling his eyes. Nonetheless, he snapped away the Window's existence per Celestia's wishes.

Bronycommander
Group Contributor

7114718
Well, he had it Coming. Expected it would be like the French Revolution the more i Read it.:heart:

Purple Patch
Group Admin

7115020
I see...
Rex might want to tone it down a bit.

You'll see.

Are you familiar with my OC Midnight Blade?

No. The Winterbottom family were mentioned in Platinum's headcanon. They're kind of a family of Platinum emulators who, though their contributions to history and heraldry are great, suffer from a unicorn bias.
And Limburger was actually based on the villain from Biker Mice From Mars.

Sounds about right.
Don't worry, they'll get what's coming to them.

7115527
Thanks.
Hope you liked the cameo from Starkenbrow.
He was a great-uncle of Fletcher Fray and an ancestor of Wagensroll.
I suppose Wagensroll could reminisce at one point that for a brief time, his family could have married into Celestia's family.:twilightsheepish:

Bronycommander
Group Contributor

7115572
Of course i did. In that Case, i Think fletcher would be Surprised. Not Sure if shocked too

Purple Patch
Group Admin

7115574
He's already aware. His family history is something he was always taught from birth. Knightly custom.

Bronycommander
Group Contributor

7115575
Okay, i just meant regarding his Service under Luna.

Purple Patch
Group Admin

7115576
Actually yeah, that would be a bit awkward.
Some of the Lunar leaders might have suspected his family of shifting loyalties.
Then again, they were separate branches of the Armbrust family.

Bronycommander
Group Contributor

7115578
Of course. Though in the Civil war, could have been Troublesome.

EDIT: Long reply explaining Rex's philosophy, but I decided it was too disjointed.

Placeholder for the future.

Purple Patch
Group Admin
Comment posted by SellZaWarudo deleted January 15th
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