• Published 24th Jun 2013
  • 3,768 Views, 68 Comments

Prince Blueblood vs. the World - Exilo

With Celestia gone, and all of Equestria in disarray, it’s up to Prince Blueblood to set out and find her. In a harrowing journey, he will suffer, he will bleed, but will he find who he is looking for?

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Chapter 2: Prince Blueblood's Ugly Little World

Chapter Two: Prince Blueblood's Ugly Little World

“Three broken ribs, a sprained rear leg, and a hairline fracture in your right foreleg. Three of your teeth are still missing, although I have some royal guards sweeping the area, and your horn was almost snapped off. On top of all that, you are covered in bruises and scrapes. You’ve suffered at least one concussion, possibly more though we cannot tell.” Shining Armor sighs, and set the list of injuries down on the table, before returning his attention to me.

“My sister asked you yesterday, but you passed out before you could answer. Would you please tell me what you were thinking?”

I shrug, though truthfully, that hurts my ribs enough I make a mental note not to try it again. I hate hospitals. From being forced to rub elbows with peasants to the ugly decor, nothing about my residence befits my stature. The spring mattress I am forced to lay on is uncomfortable, forcing me to shift this way and that, and with the state of my ribs, this sends waves of pain through my torso. The walls are an ugly dark turquoise, painful on my eyes. And what they force me to wear: a cheap paper hospital gown that would better fit a mare than a stallion of my dimensions. I would not be surprised if the nurse purposely gave me a size too small. The food they serve is peasant fare, unbecoming of my royal lips. I am in the public hospital of Canterlot, but at least I do not have a roommate. That would be intolerable. Of course, Captain Armor seems intent on stealing even that small luxury from me. He refuses to leave my room, instead going on and on, blabbing at me. What right does he have to even speak to me? A peasant in a spiffy cuirass is a peasant nonetheless.

He continues. “Prince, I understand you don’t like me. Quite frankly, I don’t like you too much either, but this is not about you. Equestria is in disarray, and we need to show a united front. Do you understand that? Are you capable of looking a foot past your own horn? We need to show the citizens we are here for them. We cannot send the message that we are going around, punching random dolts.”

“No, we need to show these peasants they can’t get away with slurs and slander against the mare who raised me from foalhood… Princess Celestia has always been there for them, for a millennium. Now, something happens to her, and all any of them can do is whine like foals. And Aunt Luna is struggling to put on a brave front, but every time she shows her face, they pelt her with tomatoes, to say nothing of what comments they make about Cadance. If I were in charge of this empire, I would-”

“You are not in charge.” Captain Armor gives me a stern stare, the kind that would get new recruits shaking in their horse shoes.

“Do not excuse my acceptance as lethargy,” Armor growls. “I read your file, prince. You got into the Point, Equestria’s premier military academy, at the recommendation of Princess Celestia. I imagine she hoped you would follow in your father’s hoofsteps. In fact, in the two years you were there, you were considered a prodigy, but then you just dropped out. You pissed away your future. You chose to live the life of a pompous, arrogant twit who leeches off his royal name, instead of gritting your teeth and doing something worthwhile. What would your father say if he was alive now?”

“Don’t you dare mention my father!” I scream.

Captain Armor does not yield. “Now you have the nerve to question my loyalty, my judgment? I have been struggling days on end to keep some semblance of order in this empire, while you’re content to gulp down cider and screw a couple of pegasi behind the curtains. I remained at the Point, graduated valedictorian, and ascended to my present standing through blood and sweat. You were handed your position in this government like foal is handed candy. If you were in charge, Prince Blueblood, if you were given any semblance of power outside of token, this empire would collapse in a day.”

I am going to punch him, or he is going to punch me. Either way, Aunt Luna decides to come in at just the right moment and saves me from another beating. She clears her throat to make her presence known, and gives that stern stare only she and Aunt Tia can give, the kind of stare that makes me feel like a colt again. Shining Armor cast a glare at me, before gently nuzzle Aunt Luna’s cheek as he passes her. I am left alone with Luna, who sits down beside my bed.

“What were you thinking, prince?” she asks.

“Why does everyone keep asking me that?”

“You lay on what I hope will not be your deathbed. I am sick with worry something will happen to you.” She paused. “May I please use a healing spell?”

“Why bother?” I mutter.

She must have taken that as a yes, because her horn glows a soft, supple blue. The touch of her magic is a cool breath running down my spine. I shiver slightly, before the coolness spreads to my aching ribs and feels pleasant. When the rush has passed, I am left with a tingling down my body that does not want to leave.

I wish Aunt Luna hadn’t done that, though. She does her best to hide her fatigue, but I can see the weary bags that hang under her cyan eyes and the somnolent way she carries herself. She works hard to keep herself well groomed, perhaps hoping to emulate the regality that Aunt Tia can effortlessly cast, so the peasants might be more willing to accept her as their new leader. She spends all night soothing the dreams of her subjects, and all of the day making appearances to the public. She wants so bad to be there for the empire, but she only succeeds in stretching her energy thinner and thinner. The peasants are undeserving of all she gives them. Now, I have robbed her of a portion of magic. I feel awful.

“You disagree with my decision not look for my sister, do you not?” she asks.

“You have threatened any who search for Aunt Tia with exile. You of all ponies should know the severity of such a punishment. What if something has happened to Aunt Tia? What if Sombra has risen again… or some creature more horrid than Discord swept into her room and stole her in the night?”

“Princess Sparkle and I have both swept the castle for a trace of alien magic, and we have found nothing.” With a spark of blue magic, she produces a parchment out of the air. It is subtle, but I notice her foreleg buckle beneath the strain of the spell. I want to reach out to hold her, but I doubt I can leave the bed. “Aside from that, I know my sister’s writing, and I recognize the feel of her magic. This letter is legitimate.”

Luna sighs and thinks a moment, gathering her thoughts. “Furthermore, you do not know my sister as I do, prince. It is I who see her deepest fears and the sorrows that weigh heavy on her heart. When we were younger, it was not uncommon for her to rush into the wilderness to collect her thoughts after a particular strenuous battle. I believe she has been carrying fear for many years now, and her fears have finally come to head. To be honest, it eases my heart that you are so passionate about something. I do often worry about you. I ask only you respect my decision, prince. Give my sister the time she needs to gather herself and regain her strength. I promise, she will return, stronger and brighter than before.”

“We should be sweeping all of the empire for her,” I mutter under my breath. “If I were in charge…”

I love Aunt Luna very dearly, but I think of her as a friend. She was not there for me growing up, like Aunt Tia, but that is not her fault. I go to Aunt Luna and share a drink, look at the moon, or talk about politics. I go to Aunt Tia when I have a nightmare and need someone to hug me. Aunt Tia has always been there for me, coaxing me to do what is right with a gentle word or easing my fury with a stern glare. When my arrogance has swelled out of control, she is there tap my rump and set me in the right direction. The look Aunt Luna gives me is just what Aunt Tia would. It’s stern, but understanding, full of love, without a hint of irritation. I have no doubt she has entertained every possibility in regards to her sister, and I suddenly feel awful for my comment. I should say something to ease her conscience. I should tell her… something. Instead, she speaks to me.

“Princess Sparkle and I have cast countless spells, hoping to learn my sister’s location, just to know she is alright. Despite the immense power between us, we cannot find even a trace of her. I know this sparks worry and suspicion in your heart. Please know the weight on my heart is crushing, but if Celestia does not wish to be found, we have no hope of finding her. She has cast spells that keep her existence secret, even from my moonlit gaze. Perhaps if I had the support of the citizens of Equestria, I would physically scour every inch of this land and hope her defenses hinder only magical detection. I would march into the Griffon Kingdom and demand they provide their aid. I would demand to know if the dragons had seen her. I know it goes against what Celestia has asked, but the worry and pain of uncertainty is a knife twisted in my chest.

“Yet I know I cannot give such an order. Not only does it go against what my sister has asked, but it is not what is right for this empire. Sending thousands out in all direction will do more harm than good. Celestia has her reasons for what she has requested and… I must have faith in her decision. I must respect it.” Luna pauses, thinking. I wish I could hug her so bad. “As horrid a thought as it is, I almost worry this is all some sort of test, orchestrated by her, to see if I am capable of properly managing this empire. I fear I am failing the test miserably.”

“Aunt Tia would never do that,” I say.

“No, she wouldn’t. But the citizens of Equestria look to me now, and no matter the cost, I must do what is right for them. I must do everything to keep this empire strong and my little ponies safe, just as my sister did a thousand years ago. With the civil unrest that runs rampant, and with these factions vying for power, sending our military into dangerous lands to search for a mare that does not want to be found is… it’s just not the right choice, but it is the best. If something is wrong, I can only pray Celestia will understand the horrid choice before my hooves.”

Luna leans forward, and plants a soft, tender kiss on my cheek. I rub the spot with my good hoof and watch as she trots out of the room, quietly closing the door with her magic. I am left alone, though I do not really mind. I like being alone, to be honest. Aunt Tia understood that, she just didn’t care.

When I was younger, after my father died, I would spend days locked in the royal library, or any library actually. When the guards removed the locks, I pushed the shelves over and blocked the door to keep them out. I liked reading maps. There was something about them, tracing my hoof over all the pathways, it always put me at ease. I could spend hours and hours memorizing landmarks and mountain ranges, the names of rivers and oceans, and I did, even as the guards pounded on the doors. I could usually get an hour or two of peace before a burst of golden light exploded in the center of the library, and Aunt Tia teleported past my defenses. Oh, when she first adopted me, I always expected something horrible. I cowered at the sight of the grand, white mare, her magenta eyes focused on me. I was sure a hoof would break across my jaw for my insolence, or make me run around the castle until my insides were tied into knots. Even when I knew I had nothing to fear of her, when I knew she was the kindest, sweetest mare in all the empire, old worries were slow to depart. Every time she caught me in the library, she sat down behind me, wrapped me in her wings, and let me tell her all about the maps I had been studying. She did scold me, eventually, of course. She told me the library did not belong to me, that it belonged to everyone. So she sent me off on a play-date with Cadance, probably as a punishment. I do not wish to imply I dislike Cadance. I love her very dearly, in fact. I was just angry, that I could not be left alone. I was angry to see Aunt Tia, because she took me away from my precious maps. Now, I could burn off my cutie mark if it meant laying eyes upon her one more time.

I try sleeping, and fail miserably. It is not the pin and needle tingles, the result of Aunt Luna’s healing spell, that keeps me up. I do not care what those peasants think, and I care even less about Captain Armor’s words. So why can I not sleep?

There is an odd smell in the air, something that makes my snout tingle. It smells like the morning, when the sun is just rising over the horizon and bathing the world in gold. It is not easy, but I manage to roll enough and get onto my rump. “Princess Sparkle?” I ask. “Screwing around with lifting the sun again?”

She is not in my room. Or at least, I can’t see her. It takes more tries than I would like to admit, but I manage to hoist myself off the bed, and onto my rear hooves. My rump still rests on the bed. If I leave the bed’s embrace fully, I fear I will fall, and somehow, someway, a picture of it will be in the papers tomorrow. Even bandaged and beaten as I am, I must maintain appearances.

Standing in the middle of the room is a little filly, white furred with a cute, cotton candy pink mane and tail. There’s an adorable horn on her head and a pair of dainty wings folded neatly at her sides. She stares at me with magenta eyes, full of love and warmth.

“What kind of joke is this?” I mutter. “Sparkle? This isn’t funny. In fact, it’s just sick.”

“I need your help,” the filly says.

“Shut up,” I snap. I do not make it a habit of yelling at fillies, but this… this is just disgusting. I know that Sparkle and Armor hate me, but this is just…

“Get out here!” I scream. Screaming is a poor idea considering the state of my ribs. I slide to the ground and catch my breath, lightning shuddering through my lungs. The filly trots to me, and rubs against my chest like an affectionate feline. She’s warm, warm enough that heat sifts through my torso and eases the endless agony I’m racked with. Her scent… all those nights when I was young, crying, and Aunt Tia came and wrapped her wings around me…

I push her aside and pound my way to the door. Bucking it open, I expect to find Sparkle or Cadance, snickering at me, having cast an illusion spell. No one is there, however. No one is anywhere, in fact. In both directions, the hallways stretches into infinity, just row upon row of doors that I already know lead nowhere.

“So this is a dream?” I ask the filly. “Aunt Luna, this isn’t funny. Aunt Luna, please stop. Please…”

“In the Everfree Forest, there is a cave that billows heat. Follow the beaten path. I need your help.”

The filly’s wings spread and flap to lift her tiny body into the air. Her lips touch my cheek in an affection gesture. I reach out to touch her, but my hooves only pass through empty air. That is when I wake up, back in bed, all alone, only the smell of a warm, sunny morning lingering on the air.

Author's Note:

Special thanks to Pitch Black. He made a comment about a lack of descriptions, so I added about seven hundred words to this chapter, and I think it is much better for it. It’s still not as descriptive as some other stories I have written, but I feel that is more because Blueblood is the narrator. He fails to notice certain things, while focusing on others, such as the dreadful décor of the hospital, or Luna’s physical state. I’m leaving the first chapter intact, since hopefully the growth of the narrative will reflect Blueblood’s growth as a character.

If you like, please think about a Thumbs-Up. I was dreaming this fic would finally get me a slot on the Feature Box, or at least the sidebar. That’s not going to happen, but Thumbs-Ups are still nice to see.