• Published 1st Jun 2013
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Legend - Radiant Dawn

He was an average man in nearly every sense of the term, but his entire life is flipped upside-down when a push for a paycheck turns into something unexpected...something much more.

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Chapter 7: The Royal Treatment

Chapter 7: The Royal Treatment

“Can we please play something else?” I whined, mentally berating myself for whining, but being unable to help it.

Princess Luna smirked. “But I thought we were having fun!”

I shook my head and huffed. “Fun is not losing the past eight games in a row when we’ve only played nine games. Fun for you maybe, but boring and depressing for me. I used to think I was good at chess.” I thought for a moment before adding, “Although you do have a thousand or so years of life on me, so I don’t feel too bad about it.”

She narrowed her eyes at me. “Are you calling me old?”

Having gotten a feel for the night princess’ personality, I figured I could afford to give a snarky remark. “That depends. Am I going to be punished if I say yes?”

Princess Luna huffed and turned away from me. “Yes, well...you’re stupid!” She then turned back towards me and stuck her tongue out in a very childlike fashion, and it was at that point that I knew she was messing with me.

I let out a loud laugh, and a moment later she joined me with light giggles of her own. A moment passed in mirth before I could catch my voice and say, “Now th-this is what I’m talking about, princess.”

She opened her eyes and took a few breaths before tilting her head to the side. “What do you mean?”

I motioned to her. “This. This is the real Luna, and it’s who you should be around those you consider friends.” I then realized something strange and asked, “Speaking of, why me? I mean I might not be the most observant guy ‒ and correct me if I’m wrong ‒ but you and your sister seem to have taken a rather strong interest in me. Why?”

Princess Luna gently levitated the chessboard and pieces away and set them back into their case. “You are not imagining things, Jamison Smith. It is for a few reasons actually, the most prominent of which is the fact that you are the only one of your kind. My sister and I trust Twilight in making you feel welcome, but there are simply some things about the way you feel that she will not understand.” She finished putting the chess set away before making her way to a sofa within the Lunar Tower (the place of our chess game) and sitting upon it, motioning for me to do the same. “My sister has been ambassador to nearly all of the creatures upon this world, and I have personal experience with just how it feels to be in a world you do not understand, nor feel completely comfortable with.”

I slowly walked over to the sofa and took a seat a respectful distance away from the princess ‒ so as to placate the tense night guard that was currently watching us ‒ and eyed her with a skeptical eye. “So you figured I’d be more comfortable around people that understood the way I felt, hm?”

“You do seem less tense. Do you feel that way?” Princess Luna inquired.

I thought for a moment before nodding. “I guess I do. I trust and respect my friends in Ponyville, but there're some things about me they just can’t get, if you understand what I’m trying to say.”

She nodded solemnly. “I do. When I returned to this world after my banishment, I beheld a place very different than the home I left. Culture and society as a whole had changed drastically. Even before my banishment, I was not adept at fitting in with my own people, and a millennium of exile only widened the gap I felt between myself and them.” She then bored her gaze directly into my own eyes, and I could see the intensity of emotion within her. “So to answer your question, yes...I understand perfectly. Tia does her best to help me feel more welcome, but I will forever be different from the rest. It is simply who I am. I am so grateful for her efforts, but like you do with your friends from Ponyville, I believe that there is so much about me she may never understand.”

I nodded before asking, “You said there was more than one reason you two have chosen to take a personal interest in me though. What are they?”

She shrugged lightly. “Tia and I enjoy having another around who might understand how we feel about some things.”

I raised my eyebrow suspiciously. “What ways would those be? I’m not an alicorn, I won’t live much longer in comparison to you two, and I’m definitely not royalty.”

Princess Luna shook her head. “Not in those ways, Jamison Smith. You see, Equestria was not always as peaceful as it has been. In the eras long passed, Tia and I personally battled to secure a place for ponies to call their own. We fought and killed for our people, destroying the centaur nations that would not peacefully coexist with us.”

I nodded. “It was for your people though, and you and your sister don’t seem the type to kill another just to do it. I’m sure you had good reasons for doing so.”

She nodded with a smile. “And that is exactly what I was referring to, Jamison Smith. Had I told any of the common ponies about such things, they would not see things as you do. They would see the faultless vision of their peaceful and benevolent princesses shattered forever, and that is not something we can allow, for the sake of peace.”

“So,” I began, licking my lips as I thought, “you two have basically distanced yourselves from your ponies so that they wouldn’t freak out.” She nodded gently, and I looked to the two bat-winged ponies standing guard. “What about your guards?”

Princess Luna looked to her two night guards and smiled. “Our personal guards are the only ones who know of what we have done in the past, and only because they must know nearly everything about us in order to adequately understand who it is they are charged with protecting. They are bestowed with all that knowledge at the end of their training program, and if upon learning who we truly are they do not wish to become our personal guards, their memories of our past are wiped, and they are enrolled in the Royal Guard. No pony is forced to be our personal guards, Jamie...they choose to. As you might imagine, such a career is not for everypony.” She then stood off of the sofa and walked to her two guards, both of which kept their eyes facing forward as they didn’t move a muscle. She gently caressed the cheek of the one on the left as she said, “They are sworn to secrecy, and are forbidden from speaking of what is said or done in private. They are our eyes and ears, reminding us of important matters we may have overlooked, and staying wary of any dangers that may approach us without our knowledge.” Princess Luna then smirked at me as she leaned close to the pony and pecked him on the lips, and by God, he didn’t even respond at all. The princess smiled as she pulled away and said, “Their training is the most difficult, and they are our most treasured allies because of their unwavering devotion to us. For their service, their entire immediate family is provided rent-free living quarters in Canterlot, as well as the protection of the Royal Guard itself. Upon their passing, each of our personal guard is given a personal burial in the Royal Cemetery, along with a substantial allowance to their families.”

I pursed my lips with a hum. “You really take care of your guards...and they seem to take their jobs very seriously. If you’d kissed me like that, I’d have been quite a bit more animated.” The thought of kissing a pony was weird, but I guess if I was forced to do so, a princess would be a good choice.

Princess Luna giggled and nodded. “I’m sure he’ll talk about it with the other members of the night guard.” The guard in question did not react whatsoever though, so she might as well have been talking next to a brick wall. She then walked back over to the sofa and took a seat, noticeably closer than before. “We care for our guards, but unfortunately the few that actually know us personally also are sworn to be a silent and stoic guard and nothing more, for our safety as much as theirs.” She then turned to me. “It is why Tia and I find you so interesting. You have the ability to understand who and what we are without judgement because of your life on Earth. Where most ponies would be mortified, you can see little to no fault in us.”

I shrugged. “On Earth, some people kill each other over little to nothing. Something as simple as jealousy over a pair of shoes can result in a murder.” I chuckled. “When I told Twilight about something like that, she didn’t even believe that humans could be that way.”

She nodded slowly. “Just as most ponies would not believe some of the atrocities Tia and I committed. The peace they enjoy depends on their ignorance of just how imperfect their rulers are. As rulers, we are benevolent, but as mere ponies, we are as flawed as the rest of them.” She placed her hoof on my chest and said, “Tia and I know you can understand this.”

I nodded with a sigh. “Yeah. Your ponies want to imagine perfection from you, but any sane person knows that’s impossible. No one is perfect...or if there is someone, I’ve yet to meet them.”

Princess Luna shook her head. “We are far from perfect Jamie, just like you. It is in fact our flaws that make us such good rulers, because we know the weaknesses and flaws our subjects share. We feel and experience them every day ‒ fear, jealousy, anger, depression...it is what connects us to them. You understand this better than our ponies could, as you have not been raised here. You can see us as simple ponies instead of goddesses.”

I barked a laugh at this. “The ponies see you as deities?”

She nodded. “I can understand the hilarity of it, but it stopped being amusing ages ago.”

I took a deep breath to calm myself and eyed the princess with confusion. “Okay then, so what’s the point of all this then? Are you and your sister looking for an advisor? Confidant?”

She shrugged. “We were hoping for that...and perhaps a friend.”

I felt my brow furrow as I thought for a few moments. “But...surely there has to be someone else that you trust more. Perhaps one of your own people, even.”

Princess Luna shook her head. “None that are as you are. While it is true that there are others who hold more of our trust than you, trust comes with time and understanding.” She lifted her arm and gently placed her covered hoof on my chest. “You have a good heart, Jamison Smith. You battle with your flaws every day, the same as Tia and I do, but you choose to be the better version of yourself most of the time. You leave some to be desired, but as you mentioned, no one is perfect. I have found through my life that it is the character and deeds of a pony that makes them who they are more than their words. So while your words speak often of your own shortcomings and inadequacies, I also see great potential and the will to be better if the chance is given. I see the possibility of greatness within you.”

I chuckled at the mere thought. “I’m not going to be some great hero or anything, Princess Luna. I think we both know that.”

“Greatness is not measured by quantity, but the quality of the positive light shined upon a pony.” she explained with a soft smile. She then motioned to a window that pointed towards Ponyville in the distance. “My sister and I have the love and adoration of nearly every pony in the realm, as well as most of the other beings upon this planet. However, I find myself wondering whether their love is for us, or simply the crowns we wear.” The night princess shook her head with a dry chuckle. “So many love the princesses of Equestria, but so few can say they love Luna and Celestia.” She looked into my eyes as she smiled once more. “That is why my sister and I find ourselves drawn to you. Even if we were to cultivate a young foal to become used to our presence, we will still be princesses to it. You however are unbound by the cultures of this world. While I am confident you will adapt to it in order to live comfortably here, it will be simply that: an adaptation. It will never be who you truly are as a man, because those learnings, cultures, morals, and societal norms were ingrained in you from a young age on your own world. Tia and I believe that you are possibly the only one that could completely cast aside the title of ‘princess of Equestria’, and see us only as ponies.”

I shrugged as I motioned to her generally. “Well it’s easy when you’re acting like this, but in public, you and your sister are so different. Your mere presence demands obedience, whether you realize it or not. Both of you just seem so perfect in public. It’s intimidating, to say the least.”

The smile didn’t leave her face as she replied, “But you were correct, Jamison Smith. That isn’t who I am, nor is it who I wish to be.” She sighed with a twinkle in her eye. “I wish to simply laugh with friends about everything and nothing. I wish to run and play in open fields, simply because they are there to play in. I wish to be able to speak with somepony and know that they are not catering their speech and mannerisms to suit how they believe I wish them to be.” Princess Luna’s hoof thumped the soft cushion between us as she growled, “So many believe we wish to be worshiped and obeyed without question...but what I want is for somepony to be unafraid to simply be themselves. That would be the greatest compliment to my sister and I, to know that even just one respects us enough to be honest with us not only in word, but in their thoughts and actions as well.”

I thought for a moment about her situation before realizing just how hard it must be for her. I had always believed the two princesses to be so different from normal ponies, and being free from the many different emotions and thoughts that plagued the average person or pony from day to day. In less than a day though, I learned that we were not so different after all. Underneath all the royal titles, the power and majesty, and the public behavior, they were just regular ponies. Which led to another question being blurted out…

“Why do you two seem to be so young in mind and spirit?” I questioned without thinking. After realizing that my brain-to-mouth filter had let another one slip though, I shook my head as I grit my teeth in embarrassment. “I-I’m sorry princess. I didn’t mean it to sound that way.”

The lunar princess smiled and giggled lightly behind her hoof before answering, “Fear not, Jamison Smith. It is that unabashed honesty of thought and speech that I desire, and I believe my sister does as well.” She seemed to contemplate something to herself before standing off of the sofa and motioning with her head for me to follow. “Come. I will show you why we seem so youthful to you.”

I stood and began to follow the princess through the winding corridors of the palace.

We had walked in complete silence before arriving at a completely unremarkable place within the hedge maze in the Royal Gardens.

Princess Luna stopped ahead of me and turned around, smiling before walking into the bush ahead of her. Instead of being stopped by the branches and leaves, she seemed to walk into nothing, and she disappeared for a moment before poking her head out with a smile. “Come, Jamison Smith. It is safe, I promise.”

I watched as her two guards stepped into the invisible place, and took a few breaths to calm myself before stepping through after them with my eyes closed.

I felt the air change slightly, and I heard echoes of sound that suggested that I was in a cave or stone building of some sort. When I opened my eyes, I saw that I was indeed in some stonecrafted room, with a single wooden door in front of us.

Princess Luna stepped ahead of the two guards and I before placing her horn into a hole in the center of the door, and it split down the middle and opened wide. Each guard took a place on either side of the door and stood at attention, and I just watched as the princess walked through.

She stopped when she realized I didn’t follow, and motioned me with a hoof. “Come. This is the one place where the guards are forbidden to enter, no matter the reason. You will see why in a moment.”

I found it strange that I was being allowed where the guards were not, but thought not to question it as I followed the princess inside. As soon as I cleared the radius of the doors, they closed behind me, and after eyeing the door warily for a moment, I turned my gaze to the room itself.

It was unremarkable for the most part, having only a few bookshelves and a desk for writing, but one thing struck me as odd about the books themselves. Namely, the fact that not one of them had a title on the binding. Not that I could read it of course, but you know…

“What’s with all the blank books?” I asked curiously, unable to keep my questions within me any longer.

I was eyeing the books, but was able to follow behind the princess until I noticed her stopping in my peripheral vision. She turned around to look at me and jerked her head towards the closest bookcase, the one near the writing desk. “These books are lacking in written words, this is true. However, they are not blank. That I can promise you.” She turned back to the bookcase before using her levitation spell to bring a worn blue book, and she set it on the desk. “This one, for example, is one of my favorites.”

I moved closer as she opened it, and was surprised to see a moving picture within it, akin to a videoscreen, but on paper. It was from the perspective of a person looking over a vast field of tall pink flowers, the vision of the “movie” itself barely clearing the tops of the blooms.

Suddenly my vision began to swim a bit, and I found the world around me fading away.

When I could see again, I found myself in the field of azaleas that Tia and I were playing in. What had happened? I remembered I was running through the flowers and then…

“Come Luna! You shall never catch Us if you stop to smell the flowers every few moments!” shouted sister’s voice from behind me.

I allowed myself a smile as I turned towards the voice, only to find naught but a sea of pink blooms blowing in the warm summer breeze. I trotted through the flowers until I came upon the hill that held the peach tree we had planted so long ago, and attempted to scan the field for the bright white pony. After a few minutes of looking, I pouted and snorted in frustration. “It is unfair to Us! Thy mane is pink!”

“I have you now…” growled a high-pitched voice from behind me, startling me and causing me to whip around in time to be tackled to the ground by a blur of white and pink. I rolled down the hill with my assailant for a few seconds before coming to a stop.

I looked up at my attacker to find the grinning face of my beloved sister, her smile as triumphant as it was mirthful. I huffed and turned my face away from her, even as she nuzzled my gray-blue mane lovingly. “Thou cheats.”

She gasped theatrically and lifted one hoof to press against her chest even as she loomed over me. “We would never! Thou wounds Us, Luna!” She then looked down at me from the corner of her eye as she smirked. “Thou art simply envious of our skill.” Suddenly her eyes widened a bit as she looked up towards the horizon, and she separated herself from me. “The eve has come. We must bring forth the night, dear Luna.”

Any annoyance I felt bled away into nothingness as I rolled to my hooves and pushed myself to a standing position before following my sister to the hilltop. I fidgeted with my wings to have them settle comfortably against my body, as they were still proportionately too large for the body of a young mare my size.

The two of us arrived to stand side by side with the peach tree at our backs, and I watched as Tia’s pristine white horn began to glow with a golden aura, and at the same time, the orange light of the sky began to fade to a dull red, and then violet until all that was left was darkness. Seamlessly, I turned with my sister towards the opposite direction, and lit my own horn with magic as I reached out for my moon, calling to her and requesting her to rise once more and bathe Equestria in her soft glow. Immediately, she responded by rising gently into the sky over the mountains to the east, and I released my coaxing magic on her before calling to the stars themselves, asking them to lend their twinkling beauty to the night sky once more. For this part, I opened my eyes to see the stars wink into visible existence one by one, the process becoming faster until the entire sky was filled with the many constellations of evening. I let my magic fully fade and heaved a deep sigh as I looked over our daily work. Somehow when we brought forth the night or day next to each other, it seemed so much better and more beautiful. Tonight was no different, and as Tia leaned against me, I knew she felt the same.

“It is most beautiful, Luna.” she commented softly, nuzzling my withers as she laid her head upon my back. “Thou art the greatest sister We could ask for. We thank thee, Luna. We love thee.”

I felt the love and warmth suffuse me as she said those words, and like always, it made a good day a wonderful one.

I leaned my body against hers as I replied, “And We love thee as well, dear sister.”

I gasped as the world ‒ colors, sensations, sounds ‒ all flowed back to me, and I once again found myself within the bland room I had been in before.

“I…” I began, only to find myself unable to speak the words properly. I took a moment to collect myself before stating, “I-I was you. I mean, I’m me now and I know that I was still me, kinda, but I was you.”

I turned to my right to see Princess Luna giggling behind her hoof slightly before lowering the limb and smiling warmly at me. “It was a memory.” She motioned to the bookcases, and I realized that there were far more books and bookcases than I thought there originally were. What I once thought was only a few dozen books turned out to be more like thousands. She levitated the book back to its place before turning to meet my eyes again. “This entire room is filled with our memories. You asked me how we seem so youthful, well this is how. With experience comes mental age, and the memories are part of those experiences.” Her smile then fell as she said, “Suffice to say that not all of our time on this world has been as pleasing as the bit you experienced.” She turned back to the bookcase and ran a hoof over a book that was marked, and sighed sadly. “We record all of our important memories at certain intervals, and those that we find too painful or damaging to bear, we mark, and cast a spell to forget it.” The princess turned back to me and nodded. “A few harsh memories serve as lessons to us, and we keep those in our hearts and minds forevermore to be sure we hold the proper values and morals. The rest…” she motioned to the bookcases, “we forget. It is how one keeps their sanity when you live as long as we do. Should we ever need to relearn a lesson we have forgotten, we come here to do so. It is true though...some memories are better left forgotten.”

I was frozen for a moment while I processed what I was told. To know that the princesses were as stable as they were because they literally forgot about things in their pasts...it was eye-opening. Their personalities made sense now, and I understood why they seemed so young to me, though they were thousands of years old. It was because mentally and emotionally, they were young.

“Why did you show me this?” I asked in confusion. “I mean, would it really be so bad to tell ponies about this? They’re smart, they can handle it.”

“A single pony may be smart,” she countered, “but the masses panic far too easily for such a large thing to be revealed to them. As I said, the peace they experience is in no small part because of their ignorance. There are simply some things they do not need to know, and while it pains us to keep such secrets, we would not burden our subjects with such things during their short lives.”

I raised my eyebrow in skepticism. “What about my short life?”

Princess Luna raised her own eyebrow as she planted her rump on the floor in front of me. “Do you feel panicked or upset beyond reasoning?”

I thought about her question for a moment before shaking my head. “Not really. In fact, I’m actually relieved. Everything makes so much more sense now.”

“Exactly.” she answered. “It is because of your ability to take such an important piece of information like this so well that draws my sister and I to you. You have cited many times to Twilight and the others how different you are, but I believe those differences offer you strengths and insight that no pony could ever have.” It was at that time that I felt a wave of magic pressure wash over me. Princess Luna apparently felt the same, because she smiled and motioned to the door. “Come, we must depart.”

Once again, I followed the princess of the night as we left the room and began to wind our ways through the palace.

When we reached the open area of the landing platform for chariots, I was awestruck by what I saw in the sky.

It was Twilight’s cutie mark, glowing and pulsing in the sky with power the likes of which I’d never felt before, even from Princess Celestia.

Before I could ask any questions, Princess Luna spoke. “Twilight has become whole once more it seems.” I met her eyes as I turned my head, and she jerked her head towards one of the corridors of the palace. “Now, we must prepare you a suit for the ceremony. We cannot tarry longer, I fear.”

With enough of my questions answered for one day, I figured I could follow the princess without talking her ear off with inquiries, so I walked behind her as she made her way to wherever we were headed. I had a newfound understanding for her and her sister, and because of that I felt I could trust them a bit more implicitly. So, without another word, I swore to myself that I would advise and help these two princesses as I could. They understood things like I did, and merely that fact alone was enough for me to feel a sort of kinship with them...more so than I did with my friends in Ponyville. Not to say I didn’t care for them, but there were simply some things about me that Rainbow Dash or the others couldn’t understand.

It seemed I had finally found a place for me in this alien world.