• Published 7th Sep 2013
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Glory Be - BlackRoseRaven

Luna and Scrivener struggle to set right all the wrongs from their past and save their family and friends. Tenth and final story in the Blooming Moon Chronicles/99 Worlds Saga.

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Those Crazy Ponies You Hear About

Chapter Two: Those Crazy Ponies You Hear About

Innocence and Antares were late again, but that was to be expected by now. And even though Twilight Sparkle was getting a little agitated and worried about her children, Luna Brynhild was only cheerfully bragging about her daughter to Celestia, while Scrivener Blooms was relaxing at the table in the comfortable familiarity of the library, editing his way through a thick sheaf of papers.

“And we have full faith that this is only the beginning of what Innocence shall accomplish. What say thou to that, Celestia? Aye, nothing, just as is to be expected, except perchance that my daughter truly is most masterfully talented!” proclaimed the sapphire mare, raising her head proudly and making the strange prosthetic horn standing out of her head gleam. It was a crystalline blue, with a strange, scintillating core of light that gave short, faintly-visible pulses in time with the ebb and flow of her ephemeral, starry locks. Her dark, cyan-green eyes were filled with confidence and strength, and she wore both the collar of green, living vine around her neck and the trails of white scarring over her body proudly.

The collar had a silver hollow on its front, with a gorgeous black pearl inset into this, which bore an etching of a rose blossom. It was almost the same as the emblem on the flank of the charcoal stallion: the only difference was that his cutie mark also included a raven feather quill overtop the bloom. And likewise, the stallion wore his own collar, but his was made of gorgeous platinum and was inset with slices of gemstone that formed a white crescent embraced on either side by onyx: the symbol of the moon, the same as the symbol that stood out amidst the splotch of black over the sapphire winged unicorn's hips and rump.

It wasn't just their adornments that were similar, either: scarring laced back and forth across the well-worn, large body of the dark-coated stallion, and many of his larger scars mirrored the marks over the sapphire mare's form, such as the distinct twist of white that curled up from under his collar, or the larger slashes over his breast.

His chestnut eyes glanced up absently, looking overtop his small glasses towards the sapphire mare for a moment as she all-but-glared at a larger, ivory-coated winged unicorn with an ephemeral, flowing mane that was a soft rainbow of color. A slight smile quirked at her mouth as her amethyst eyes studied the pony in front of her for a moment, and then she asked curiously with a tilt of her head that made the bronze key hanging from one ear gleam: “And is she still taking after you, Luna?”

“Aye, she is, for I am the most influential of all ponies.” the sapphire mare replied with a firm nod, then she paused and grinned amusedly over at the stallion, her eyes gleaming teasingly as she looked from him towards the violet winged unicorn beside him, who was chewing uneasily on one hoof. “Besides, I am the fun parent. Scrivener is the boring parent and Twilight is the... anxious parent. Cease thy worrying, Twilight Sparkle, she is with Antares. They are both idiots, but very capable idiots.”

“Our children aren't idiots.” Twilight mumbled, reaching up to brush her near-black mane back uneasily, making the lines of pink and purple that ran side-by-side through it twist like scared snakes. She bit her lip as her violet eyes looked uneasily at Luna, her hoof moving down to rub nervously at the lunar lily-shaped clasp of the leather collar that tightly encircled her neck. A collar that somehow seemed a match for the ones that Luna and Scrivener wore, and if that didn't make the relationship between the three clear enough, then the black studs in her ears of a rose blossom and a crescent moon often did get the point across to anyone observant enough to see them.

The violet mare was also wearing a simple turtleneck sweater, but she had accidentally pushed it up a bit thanks to her anxious squirming around, and it left some of the thick black stitching over her body visible: stitching that literally helped hold Twilight Sparkle together. She sighed as she glanced down and caught sight of this, half-embarrassedly yanking her sweater back down even as her eyes roved towards her own cutie mark: a six-pointed, pink star surrounded by smaller motes of light, and a circle of red runes. Once upon a time, she had just been a normal – okay, sort of normal – unicorn with a normal cutie mark... then she'd gained wings, and those runes... and decades later, well...

She touched her own breast, feeling the Y-shaped stitching there... and more, the lack of any beating heart. But when she glanced up at Luna, she felt that it had all been worthwhile as a faint smile bridged her lips, nodding reluctantly to her even as the Lich said quietly: “But our kids aren't idiots.”

“They are a little.” Scrivener said mildly, returning his eyes to the pages in front of him, and Twilight gave him an exasperated look before the stallion said pointedly: “Look, Innocence swallowed a rock two days ago. Sure, she's plenty smart in a lot of ways. But I just... really don't think we can hold onto any illusion that's not something an idiot wouldn't do.”

“I dared her to.” Luna informed positively, looking over at Celestia with a firm nod, and the ivory mare sighed tiredly and shook her head even as a smile twitched at her lips. Twilight and Scrivener, meanwhile, both looked sourly at the sapphire mare even as she continued cheerfully: “And I think 'tis wonderful. 'Tis very much like me, very bold, very brave, does not ever go against what she says and will do any foolish thing she promises, no matter how brash. 'Tis like all the best qualities of the three of us are fused into one.”

Scrivener glanced up moodily for a moment as Twilight scowled a little, then said finally: “Luna, our daughter isn't... isn't some dog that you can just... feed rocks to...”

“What kind of dog did you have growing up, Twilight?” Scrivener asked mildly even as he returned his eyes to editing, and the Lich gave him a flat look as the stallion poked absently along the page with a quill. Luna, meanwhile, glowered at the stallion as he muttered: “And I told them both it was a bad idea, by the way. But if you want me to be completely honest, they're bad influences on each other. Sin makes Luna act like she's sixteen.”

“My little sister has always acted somewhere around that age, or younger.” Celestia remarked, and Luna huffed before poking at her sibling with her strange, crystal horn, but Celestia only sighed and gently pushed this away with a hoof. “I take it you didn't learn anything from when you startled Sleipnir by doing that and he punched your prosthetic?”

Luna grumbled, straightening and retorting: “'Tis not just my 'prosthetic,' 'tis part of me. 'Tis part of me and from now on thou shall be sure to treat it as such, as part of me, for that is what 'tis. Even if 'tis made of soulstone and I am not made of soulstone, although they do call us alicorns in other worlds so... perhaps I should call myself the soulstone pony. Soulstony. I am a soulstonicorn.”

There was silence, apart from Scrivener slowly turning a page of his manuscript, and then Twilight sighed tiredly and dropped her head forwards as Luna glowered around at them all. “Oh, thou art all fools and idiots.”

“Yes. The problem is clearly with us. You're so right.” Scrivener said mildly, and then he grumbled under his breath: “How the hell did I even write that. Ugh, no, rephrase... tense isn't even right and that ruins the whole mood...”

“Scrivy, thou art married to myself and Twilight, not thy work, cease being so... busy.” Luna complained, and Twilight smiled despite herself as she glanced up... then she winced when Luna picked up a book on the table and flung it firmly at Scrivener's head.

But Celestia caught it in her own telekinetic grip before it could hit the stallion, who looked up and flinched only slightly before the heavy text dropped back on the table as the ivory mare said pointedly: “Please don't throw books, Luna, I like to try and keep the library as clean and undamaged as possible. Not just because I look after it for Ponyville, but because I live here.”

“Aye, 'tis so funny. Thou art living here, comfortable, a terrible librarian.” Luna said wryly, smiling a little after a moment before she glanced towards the stallion, then to the violet mare. “My husband is a poet and writer, my sweet mare used to run the library and helps run Subterra's Archives, beneath Canterlot. And I am the mighty warrior. I am... how do you say it?”

“Yes, Luna, you're the jock who hangs out with all the nerds.” Scrivener said dryly as he looked up, meeting Luna's eyes... and more than that, feeling their very souls twisting together, as the two shared smiles despite themselves as they felt that link.

And Twilight felt it too, closing her eyes and letting it settle her more effectively than any word, any touch ever could: that sense of being linked. That sense of being connected, to the two people who were the most important to her in all the world.

Their minds met, and they shared emotions and thoughts and images and most of all, understanding. A sense of intimate knowing that came from the fact Luna and Scrivener served as Twilight Sparkle's living phylacteries, the anchors that kept her firmly bound to this world. That was how much she loved them, how much she trusted them... how sure she was she wanted to spend the rest of her life with them, in spite of how strange she knew it was to have not one partner, but two.

The violet mare glanced up with a small smile, softening as she gazed at the two, and both Scrivener and Luna gazed back at her, mirroring one another's expressions of warmth. And as always, it made her feel strangely good to see that; the little visual reminders that Scrivy and Luna had one linked soul, which was why they ended up subconsciously imitating each other so often and shared the same marks upon their bodies.

It was funny: they were so different, all three of them, but they were so much the same, too. And admittedly Twilight took some pride in their odd relationship: how many other ponies could hold together their kind of relationship for all the years they had? And how many ponies could survive being linked by the soul to two others?

“Aye, I am very strong and brave to have survived for so long as I have.” Luna said cheerfully as she picked up on Twilight's thoughts, and the Lich favored her with a wry look as Scrivener rolled his eyes in amusement. Luna only grinned, however, turning her eyes towards Celestia and adding: “And before thou says anything, the quality is in the quantity of years, not partners. We all know dirty Freya engaged more than two on the verdant battlefield at once in days' past, after all.”

“Yes, Luna. Because you haven't brought that up often enough in the past.” the ivory winged unicorn remarked, and the sapphire mare nodded rapidly before Celestia sighed, then she hesitated for a moment before saying finally: “And as much as I hate to draw the conversation away from the exploits of my past self... maybe we should focus on-”

“Oh, thou art not bringing up Kvasir, art thou?” Luna groaned, then she grumbled when Scrivener Bloom and Twilight Sparkle both looked up a little uncomfortably. “Oh shut up, both of thee. 'Tis Celestia's fault. She is the one who brought up the Elle of Fat in the room, as 'tis said.”

“Actually, 'tis said that it is an 'elephant,' Luna.” Scrivener said mildly, glancing up, and the sapphire mare replied by glowering at him until he awkwardly shielded himself with his sheaf of papers. “Fine, next time I'll just let you continue to say the wrong thing and just let people continue to silently mock you.”

“Well, what other ready reason would I have to punish them if not that?” Luna replied pointedly, and then she shook her head quickly and returned her gaze to Celestia, who didn't look quite as amused. “Look. It has been almost six years since Kvasir vanished. I am as sorry for this as I can be; 'tis not like I did not like him, after all, especially after he began to cease being such an insufferable twit. But does thou know why I do not worry?”

“Because of his bride, Terra, among other things, such as the fact she seems to...” Celestia paused at Luna's horrible scowl, and then the ivory mare sighed and rolled her eyes, but then asked after a moment, despite the clear look of regret on her features: “No, why?”

“Well, clearly, Celestia, 'tis because of his bride Terra, among other such things as that she seems to know in some way what has happened. I swear, Celestia, if thou wert any thicker we could use thy skull to bludgeon down walls.” Luna replied imperiously, earning a dry look from her older sibling. “And furthermore, I do not like thinking of things I can do naught about.”

Twilight looked up at this, hesitating only a moment before she asked quietly: “But are you sure we can't do anything to help? I mean, there must be some scrying spell... and since Antares is a liaison and all and Valhalla is kind of important in the grand scheme of things...”

Celestia softened a little, like she always did when her eyes turned towards her former student, the mare who still held such an important place in the former matriarch's heart. “I wish we could, but wherever he's gone, it's out of the reach of our magic. I don't know how or why, if he found some portal or secret of Odin's locked away beneath Valhalla, that Terra is now trying to protect us from... I just know that we don't have the proper tools to find him. And until Terra agrees to tell us more about what happened, why she was able to inform us so calmly that he was... gone...”

There was silence for a moment, and then Luna huffed over at Scrivener, saying dryly: “Oh do not think that, poet. Thou saw the pain as clearly as I did in the creature's face. Whether Terra is a Caoránadux demon or not, she truly cares for Kvasir's well-being, and thou hast heard her speaking so hopefully of the day when she shall be able to introduce father to his child.”

“I didn't even say anything.” Scrivener said finally, and when Luna looked at him pointedly, he shook his head and returned his eyes to the manuscript, mumbling: “Fine. All the pessimistic thoughts in the world clearly come from me.”

“Aye, they do.” Luna huffed a bit, then turned her eyes back towards Celestia, adding: “And young Taruos carries his father's blood, Celestia... 'tis a fact, despite the fact that to this day I am still baffled by how such a large dragon and such a small Kvasir could make a baby. I still prefer to imagine that Terra secretly had a child with some other beast and 'tis only by freakish coincidence that the blood of the Aesir flows through its veins.”

“And is pure enough to keep Valhalla's gates open, and the Vale in good health.” Celestia said pointedly, and the sapphire mare grumbled before Celestia said gently: “Only the true heir of the King of Valhalla, and one who has the blood of the gods that once ruled this place running through his veins, could keep the Vale and the Castle from beginning to shut themselves down after a few days.”

“I know, I know, shut up, Celestia.” Luna complained, and then she huffed and mumbled: “Thou art nothing but a stupid buttocks. A stupid talky buttocks.”

The ivory mare only smiled reassuringly, which just made Luna scowl deeper before Twilight asked hurriedly: “But if we can figure out a way to extend the range of our magic, Taruos could help us find his father, right?”

Celestia nodded, turning a gentle look to Twilight as she said softly: “It's possible, but to be entirely honest, I want to... I want to respect Terra in this. I feel like part of the reason Kvasir is gone is because of how insistent we've all been in trying to force our help on him. I believe that he's trying to protect us, even if... I don't know how, or where he is.”

“Terra knows. Why don't we just force her to tell us? 'Twould be an excellent fight.” Luna commented, but before anyone could reply, the front door was thrown open and Luna's attention was drawn away, the sapphire mare brightening as Innocence strode in with a warm smile on her face. “There, see! There is my daughter!”

“Our daughter.” Twilight said softly, the violet mare giving an awkward smile of relief at the sight of the young mare, disguised by her usual polymorph. Then she sat up a bit, saying awkwardly: “We were getting a little worried, you and Antares are... a little late...”

The stallion that had just followed Innocence inside glanced up at this with a slight smile, and then Antares Mīrus nudged his sister firmly as he passed her, cutting her off before she could speak with: “See? I told you so. Anyway, it's all her fault.”

“It is not, it's yours.” the mare huffed in response, and then she looked up and added quickly: “I wanted to practice right away, but Tarry took forever to make breakfast and then eat breakfast and he ate all the bacon.”

Scrivener glanced mildly over the sheaf of papers in his front hooves as Luna gave Antares a huff, but the glossy-black unicorn only rolled his eyes and reached up to tousle his little sister's mane with one hoof, making her flail grouchily and glower at him. Her older sibling winked in return, then glanced up and said warmly: “Hey guys. Good to see you all... where's Bob and the pets?”

Celestia smiled at this, reaching up automatically to touch the key dangling from one ear before she replied softly: “I'm sure Discombobulation will be along sooner or later. And Abaddon and Ratatoskr are probably off exploring the Everfree together.”

“I do dearly hope one day we don't end up with half-pseudodragon, half-squirrel babies. I am not taking care of them. Nor do I believe they would be edible.” Luna said mildly, and most of the eyes in the room turned to simply stare at her, while Innocence only giggled at her Móðer's warped sense of humor. “Well, 'tis true.”

The sapphire mare paused, then smiled suddenly at Innocence as she slipped out of her chair, striding towards her before reaching up and pulling her into a firm, surprising hug. Innocence winced a bit in surprise, blinking dumbly before Luna pushed her daughter back and gazed down at her fondly. “Thou art special, Innocence. And today, we have called thee here for a special purpose, have we not, my family?”

Antares sat back, gazing down at his sister fondly as Scrivener put down the manuscript and stood up, joining Luna in front of their daughter. Twilight did as well after a moment, gazing over her child with love and the faintest hint of anxiety: it made Innocence cock her head curiously as she shifted a little from claw-to-claw, wondering uneasily what was going on.

Then Celestia finally stood with a sigh and a smile of her own, but she bowed her head courteously to Luna when the sapphire mare glared at her older sibling, and the starry-maned winged unicorn nodded firmly once before turning her eyes towards Twilight. Twilight only shifted awkwardly, however, and by now Innocence was starting to look nervous, so Luna simply plunged ahead: “We have decided that, as thou art our child, inheritor of the bloodline of the Valkyries... if thou so desires it, we shall train thee to become one.”

Innocence reared back in surprise, then she looked up and mouthed wordlessly before asking uncertainly: “Wait, like... protecting Valhalla and stuff? I mean, I'd be... where would I be trained or...”

Luna traded amused smiles with Celestia, and Twilight was quick to lean forwards and reassure: “No, no, you'd stay here, don't worry about that, you'll still be staying on this world... but it'll mean intensifying your training, working under Luna and Celestia more, and... changing your studies a little. It would come with a lot of responsibilities, but... we've been talking about it a lot and we think you're ready if you want to... to focus on that, Innocence.”

The young mare looked back and forth, and then she brightened a bit before looking over her shoulder at Antares. But the stallion only shrugged and smiled in return, saying softly: “Hey, I didn't really have anything to do with it. And I think you should think about it, Sin, but... you're always talking about what direction you want to take your life and... this might give you a taste of just what that means. If I'd known what I was going to get myself into, believe me, I would have followed in Scarlet's hooves.”

Luna huffed at this, then she stepped forwards to poke at Antares, making him wince back a bit and slap lightly at his mother's crystalline horn. “Cease that, traitorous cur. Scarlet Sage is a fine warrior, she is just not as beholden to the battlefield as we are. Besides, thou art a messenger boy. A silly messenger boy. Silly messenger boy.”

The sapphire mare stepped forwards and swung her soulstone horn down as it took on a brighter sheen, but this time it was met by Antares' own horn as he smiled slightly, then firmly flicked and twisted upwards to repel his mother. Luna stumbled backwards with a look of surprise... but it quickly turned into a wide grin before she yelled and leapt forwards, and Antares winced even as he grinned himself, their horns crashing together as Luna began to fiercely foil against her child.

Scrivener and Twilight only watched with matching dry expressions as the two stumbled away from them, and Celestia winced as Luna attempted to sling Antares into a shelf, but the stallion managed to drive his horn down and almost force her into a pin. Then the ivory mare sighed as they thankfully both danced away from the shelves while still shoving and slashing at each other, saying clearly: “If you or your son damages anything, Luna, I'm going to make you clean it up.”

“Oh, cease being so stuffy, I am graceful as a bird!” Luna retorted, then she parried an attack from Antares before stepping forwards and slamming her head into his hard enough to knock them both stumbling senselessly, Scrivener and Twilight both wincing and grabbing at their own skulls as Innocence laughed and clapped her claws excitedly.

Luna grinned dumbly, then shook herself out before leaping back towards Antares, forcing him into a hurried retreat. Celestia shook her head slowly, then cleared her throat to draw Innocence's attention back to her before she explained in a surprisingly-neutral voice, in spite of the havoc her little sister was wreaking just a few feet away: “Your mother and I have discussed this, and... it's honestly difficult for me to think about, but I do agree that you're ready to be tested. We never recruited Valkyries in the old days: there were simply forty of them, for me to train and hone from the start.”

Celestia smiled after a moment at these old memories, and then she shook her head slowly, forcing herself to ignore the sound of the table being knocked out of position on the other side of the room, even as both Twilight and Scrivener stared over their shoulders with something like horror at the mess Antares and Luna were starting to make. “Times have changed, though, and... I understand that we must adapt ourselves. We've already faced so much, and for six years Valhalla has been without a true ruler. Taruos has much to learn still, and Terra's interest in rule extends only to ensuring the Heavenly Council doesn't overstep its bounds.

“I feel that if... Valhalla wasn't forced to rely on outside allies, we wouldn't be in the situation we are now. Valhalla needs to be stronger, and the layers themselves need to be better protected.” Celestia paused, then glanced over her shoulder as Luna and Antares crashed into each other, horns slashing back and forth fiercely before Celestia whistled sharply, and both of the ponies stumbled awkwardly apart and looked lamely at the ivory winged unicorn. “I think that's enough for the moment. Besides, Luna. You said that you three wanted to test Innocence yourselves.”

Innocence looked up in surprise, but then she nodded firmly several times as she fidgeted a bit on the spot, even as Twilight said reassuringly: “But it's okay if you don't want to, and we're not going to do it all today, and we-”

“You're doing it again, Twilight.” Scrivener said mildly, and the Lich blushed a bit even as she looked at him flatly, but the stallion only shrugged before he turned his eyes towards his daughter, saying softly: “I know you don't actually have... any kind of idea what you really want to do with your life, which I'm pretty sure you get from me. I know you also want to make yourself the best person you can be, which I'm thinking you get from your Mother, and I'm more glad for that than I can say.”

Scrivener glanced up for a moment at Twilight with a smile, and the violet mare blushed and shifted slightly even as she smiled warmly in return. Then the stallion returned his eyes to his daughter, continuing: “This is... this is a good way to help you understand... more of everything, I think. You've got a lot of potential, Sin, and we all want to help you make the most of it. Nurture your strengths and... help you conquer your weaknesses.”

Innocence blushed and nodded a little, then she rubbed awkwardly at one foreleg before glancing up and asking lamely: “This isn't like... you guys trying to pass off sending me to military school because I've caused so much trouble, right?”

“Oh, Innocence. As if thou hast managed to cause even half as much trouble as I have.” Luna replied wryly, and then the starry-maned mare shook her head with a laugh that made her crystalline prosthetic gleam a little brighter. “Nay, fear not. But we will be expecting much more of thee, daughter. And I wish for thou to know, here and now, that... if thou feels at any point thou cannot handle thyself, or that this is not the course which thou desires thy life to take, thou just needs say so and we shall amend things as best we can.”

“I can always find you an opening in the Canterlot Magic Academy, Innocence. Or in one of Subterra's universities, if you preferred.” Twilight added, and Innocence shifted lamely as the violet mare smiled and softened a little. “Even though I know... you do better learning with... hooves-on things.”

Innocence nodded awkwardly a few times, sitting up before Scrivener shrugged and traded amiable looks with Luna. “Well, neither of us ever managed much with academics.”

“True. Although I am proud to say I am less the academic than thou art, considering thou hast taught a damned class on writing more than once.” Luna replied pointedly, and Scrivener looked back at her with mild amusement. Then the sapphire mare looked thoughtfully at Twilight, as she gave them both almost-pleading eyes. “But thou art the epitome of... nerd, aye? Nerdiness. 'Tis as bad as Celestianess. 'Tis a good thing thou art so secretly-wicked or thou would be the stuffiest of all Liches.”

Twilight sighed tiredly, and Innocence smiled a little before Celestia took up the conversation before it could go on any further tangents, drawing the young mare's attention as she said: “I just have one thing I need you to promise me, Innocence. That you will not, unless supervised, try and use your thaumaturge powers. Although I can see that you were experimenting a little with them earlier, weren't you?”

Innocence grinned lamely as Luna tilted her head curiously, but both Scrivener and Twilight winced a bit. The young mare shifted awkwardly under the looks she received, then – as she always did whenever she was caught – she turned a lame grin towards Luna first, asking after a moment: “Well, I gotta learn to control them, right? And who better than Antares?”

“Well, Scrivener Blooms, perhaps.” Luna answered, and when Innocence looked at her pointedly and her partners glowered at her, the sapphire mare slowly turned her eyes to the latter before brightening. “Oh, 'twas a metaphorical question!”

“Rhetorical.” Scrivener corrected, and then he winced when Luna huffed and leaned over to bop him firmly with her horn.

He glowered at her, while Twilight turned her eyes back to Innocence. “Look, I understand what it's like to... to have these powers you want to master. But I don't think you're ready for that yet... when I was your age I still thought that mustache and age spells were the height of magical mastery. You're exploring entire... pantheons of magic that, when I was a filly, were thought of as just myth...”

“Um, Momma, not to be mean or anything, but saying 'when I was a filly' really doesn't have the effect I think you're going for when you're kind of. An undead immortal.” Innocence said awkwardly, and Scrivener cleared his throat loudly, then both he and Luna hurriedly looked away when Twilight glared at them, while Celestia smiled despite herself and Antares coughed loudly into his hoof. “I mean, it was... what... a century ago now?”

“I'm not that old!” Twilight almost blurted, and then she shook her head quickly before clearing her throat and saying awkwardly: “Look, let's... okay. I just mean that you have lots of time to learn lots of different types of magic, you don't have to rush towards mire thaumaturgy yet.”

Innocence sighed and looked pleadingly towards Luna, but the sapphire mare only shrugged and said after a moment: “Thou knows I must agree with Twilight, daughter. Otherwise she shan't have sex with me. Does thou remember the sex talk?”

“Oh god, okay, nevermind.” Innocence winced and leaned away with a shiver before she turned her eyes quickly to Celestia, promising finally: “I won't use any of my thaumaturge abilities unless someone asks me to, okay?”

“Thank you. I'm going to hold you to that promise.” Celestia said calmly, and then she glanced over at Antares, adding: “And please don't encourage your little sister to use her powers, even if you can neutralize the mire.”

“Lame. See? I knew I'd get blamed for it somehow.” Antares said pointedly, and Luna grunted before her son grunted back, the two trading looks and firm nods with each other.

Scrivener sighed a little, slumping his shoulders and unsure of whether or not he was happy that Luna and Antares were now getting along so well. He shook his head out after a moment, then turned his eyes towards his daughter, hesitating only a moment before asking finally: “Well, do you want to go out and try to work with the mire?”

Innocence brightened at this as Twilight looked nervously at Scrivener, but Luna grinned widely as well: something that only further encouraged Innocence. Antares and Celestia, meanwhile, traded amused looks before the glossy-black unicorn said mildly: “Well, fun as it would be to watch Sin play in the mud, I'm going to go visit Scarlet Sage. I promised I'd stop in and see her and the kids before I left. But yeah, yeah, don't worry Sin. I'll be back for a little while tonight before I head back to Valhalla.”

“I think I'll walk with you. I'd like to talk to Scarlet about something, and on the way back we'll have to stop in and see Sleipnir.” Celestia smiled over at Antares, who nodded in response before the ivory winged unicorn reached up and lightly touched Scrivener's shoulder. “Try and keep the concentration low. For your sake as much as hers.”

Scrivener smiled lamely, while Luna blew a raspberry loudly at Celestia's back as the larger winged unicorn strode calmly towards the door. Antares checked his mother lightly as he passed, and Luna huffed and firmly bodychecked him in return, knocking him staggering with a wince before he stuck his tongue out over his shoulder at her, but the sapphire mare only made a face in return as he stumbled out the door after his aunt.

Twilight and Scrivener traded looks as Innocence giggled and half-covered her mouth, and then the stallion sighed before reaching up and flicking Luna's horn firmly, making it ring out a long, sonorous note and the mare wince and grab hurriedly at her head. Then the stallion turned back towards his daughter, gesturing at her with his head. “Here, come on in for a few minutes, get something to eat. I've gotta finish up this page.”

Twilight nodded with a smile, gesturing to her daughter and asking quickly as she began to lead her towards the kitchen: “How did your thaumaturgy go? I mean, I'm not encouraging it of course... I want you to learn to master it but in a safer way than... I mean, are you okay?”

Innocence nodded, smiling at her mother despite the faintest hint of exasperation in her eyes, and Luna chuckled quietly to herself as she watched the two head for an archway at the back of the expansive library, near the set of stairs leading to the second floor and the guest room. The sapphire mare turned her eyes towards Scrivener after Innocence and Twilight vanished around the corner, and then she asked softly: “She is doing better, aye?”

“Yeah, I think she is. She's just... fierce.” Scrivener smiled a little, glancing up for a moment from straightening his spilled papers, and then he sighed as he marked off where he had finished editing to with a pen. “I'm glad, though. Sin's a great little girl, she just... needs to be a little more in control. And... motherly as Twilight is, it comes from a good place.”

“Aye, although I think I will have to point out to her again tonight she is being too clingy. She must try to be more of a 'cool' parent, as I am.” Luna said with a nod, and Scrivener rolled his eyes in amusement before he bit his lower lip as he looked awkwardly at the manuscript, but Luna only favored him with an amused look. “Oh come now, Scrivener Blooms. No one is going to steal thy silly papers. This is not just a library, 'tis Celestia's library.”

“Less worried about people stealing, more worried about people reading.” Scrivener muttered, and then he sighed and pushed himself away from the table, shaking out his rough white mane before he approached the sapphire mare, and Luna turned towards him with an entertained look in her eyes. “I really hate sharing any of my work with the world. Even if I'm glad Underbrush let the hype die down.”

Luna rolled her eyes at this, then she poked his chest firmly, asking mildly: “And remember how thou felt when thou received that letter in the mail about I Am, You Are?”

Scrivener looked meditatively at Luna, then remarked: “Whenever you say 'you,' it always sounds like 'poo' in my ears, thanks to the way you pronounce things. Or thou pronounces things, I should say.”

“Thou art poo.” Luna huffed and bopped him firmly with her horn, making him wince before she poked his chest gently. “Scrivy, thou hast value. Thou art worthwhile. Thy writing is not nearly as awful as thou makes it out to be, and best of all, we have a family that is whole.”

The stallion smiled a little at this thought, bowing his head forwards and closing his eyes for a moment before he nodded slowly, murmuring: “Yeah. And that feels way better than any award I've ever won, Luna. Although it's really awkward that, you know, the kids seem to think you're also one of our kids.”

“Stop implying that I am old.” Luna huffed, and then she poked lightly at Scrivener Blooms with her horn, adding imperiously: “And furthermore, it goes to show that I have an enviable relationship with my children. Scarlet Sage looks up to me, Antares Mīrus and I are friends, and Innocence adores me. I am adorable.”

Scrivener only rolled his eyes in amusement, then he leaned forwards... and was promptly stopped from saying anything by Luna leaning up and kissing him. Their mouths worked together for a few slow moments before Luna pulled back with a pleased smile, then she pushed her hooves against his chest and leaned up with a wink. “Having such wonderful children only strengthens my desire to have more. Although admittedly it helps that the process is quite fun, too.”

The stallion cleared his throat awkwardly at this, then he reached up and carefully pushed Luna backwards, but she only grinned and seized one of his hooves. And, as her own hooves firmly massaged against it, the stallion couldn't help but smile a bit as his hoof clicked loudly, then split apart into dexterous claws made of a flexible but solid dark material.

Scrivener reached this up, gently stroking into Luna's starry locks, feeling them rippling and flowing around his digits as the two gazed at one another tenderly. It felt wonderful; hell, on days like today, everything felt wonderful, and moments like this were breaths of pure bliss. For the last few years, after all, everything had finally been falling into place, everything had finally been starting to go the way they'd always hoped.

Yes, Kvasir vanishing had caused about six months' of apprehension and confusion, even with Terra being so... strangely sure that her husband, the King of Valhalla, would one day return from wherever he'd apparently willingly gone. Although to get up and abandon his duties... that wasn't at all like the Kvasir that they had known. And it didn't help that there had been an attempt on the administrator's life not long before he'd disappeared.

All the same, when Hell – or Hel, for that matter – hadn't attempted a hostile takeover of Heaven, when no mysterious enemies had attacked, when no one had tried to claim responsibility and Valhalla had settled into uneasy... neutrality, was probably the best word, everyone else had slowly calmed down as well. Kvasir's loss was a painful blow, dulled only slightly by Terra's odd promises that he would be back... and shortly after, the birth of the heir to the throne of Heaven, Prince Taruos.

Eventually, things had begun to... heal, for lack of a better word. Although maybe there really was no better word to describe the process, because like a healing wound, it itched, and it ached, even as little by little it sealed closed. And now, here they were: the wound was mostly gone, they were all trying to move forwards with their lives, and yet there was still a scar, and still the faintest, strangest itch that they were doing their very best to ignore.

Then Scrivener and Luna both looked up as Innocence cleared her throat loudly, her glowing horn levitating a cup of tea beside her as she said pointedly: “Mutt, I really love you and all but... you and Dad have a really weird relationship.”

The stallion awkwardly drew back, quickly pulling his claw away and hurriedly shaking it out before he gave a lame smile and a small shrug, while Luna only huffed, replying mildly: “Mutt has the best relationship ever, thank thou kindly, Sin. I only hope that one day thou art able to find a relationship half as strange and fulfilling as mine is.”

Twilight sighed, but smiled all the same when she stepped up beside her daughter, glancing down at her and murmuring: “I'm sure she will. Our little girl's very special, after all.”

Innocence gave Twilight a half-pleading, half-thankful look, and Luna leaned forwards, concentrating on the Lich's horn. After a moment, Twilight twitched as energy sparked along the spire, the mare blinking dumbly before she looked over at the winged unicorn as Luna said kindly: “She knows she is, mother of my children. For she was sired by me after all, was she not?”

Twilight sighed as Innocence groaned and turned a begging look towards Luna, complaining: “Móðer! I really don't want to hear the scary story about how... you know...”

“How thou came to be between three parents?” Luna asked cheerfully, and Innocence nodded morbidly several times even as she strode over to the out-of-place table. She sat down at it with a huff, and the sapphire mare grinned widely as she pranced over to her daughter, even as Twilight fidgeted worriedly and Scrivener only sighed and smiled despite himself. “Well, 'tis very easy when there is only one stallion and my two pretty mares.”

Luna winked over at Scrivener, and Innocence smiled after a moment despite the huff she gave, shoving at her mother lightly as she came close, but Luna only grinned and dropped her head forwards, bulling playfully forwards. “And since thou art so much like me, I must be father!”

And after a moment, Sin laughed, and Twilight sighed and shook her head despite the warm smile that crested her features. For a moment, she admittedly feel... the faintest sting of envy. Luna was so good with their kids, after all, and Innocence just about worshiped the ground that her Mutt and Daddy walked on. While she was just the... motherly mother, the worrier, and the nagger.

The Lich shook her head a little, feeling... embarrassed by her own thoughts as Luna looked up softly, and then the sapphire mare slipped back from Innocence and reached up to ruffle her daughter's mane gently. “Drink up thy tea, and perhaps if thou art very good, we shall make thy father show off the full extent of his powers and he can give us a ride back into town.”

“Okay, Mutt! I'd like that a lot, Daddy...” Innocence turned a big, open smile on Scrivener Blooms, and the charcoal stallion groaned and shifted awkwardly, then tried to turn away. But it was impossible: when Innocence gave him that look, he was as helpless to look away as a wild deer stranded in bright light.

Finally, he sighed tiredly and slumped, nodding moodily once as he mumbled: “Okay, okay. I'll think about it. But it's not really something I should do just for fun and games, it's... tricky. Like solving one of those puzzle blocks really fast.”

“Thou art just a complainer, Scrivener Blooms.” replied the sapphire mare mildly, and the stallion sighed tiredly and rolled his eyes as Innocence giggled a little. Then the younger mare smiled as Luna reached up and squeezed her shoulder gently. “Although I suppose it does run in the family. Thou should hear Twilight, who has adopted too many of Scrivy's bad habits, or Antares, or thyself.”

“I don't whine that much, Móðer!” Innocence laughed and nudged the sapphire mare firmly with her shoulder, and Luna smiled amusedly as she pushed back against her daughter. Then the unicorn swept up her mug in her claws and guzzled the contents quickly, and Twilight winced as Scrivener reflected there was a lot to be said for nurture over nature with the way Innocence had turned out, in spite of being Twilight's child.

The young mare firmly set the mug back down, then she belched loudly, making Luna grin but Scrivener and Twilight both look pointedly in the direction of their daughter. After a moment, Innocence cleared her throat, tapping at her breast and saying awkwardly: “Excuse me.”

“Thou art excused. Now come, come, 'tis time for us to get going.” Luna said positively, and Innocence brightened as she hopped out of her chair, looking eagerly towards Scrivener Blooms.

Luna and Twilight both looked at him as well, and the stallion sighed inwardly but smiled all the same. It kind of annoyed him sometimes how they all had come to have their little... assigned positions, the places where they were each in charge. Sure, Twilight always had the last word when it came to Sin, being her birth mother and all... but the violet mare trusted them both, and let them handle their own areas of expertise.

Luna was always in charge of training Sin, running her through drills, testing her physically... Twilight herself could clearly handle teaching her own daughter magic. And Scrivener, of course, was supposed to help Sin learn about the one thing that the two mares couldn't teach: how to handle her powers, and the Clay of Prometheus: the black corruption.

The stallion hesitated, raising his claw and studying it for a moment before he cleared his throat and self-consciously clenched it into a fist. As the digits lined up, the claw clicked and locked together, forming into the near-perfect replica of a hoof, and Scrivener smiled faintly before he shook his head and looked up. “Okay, okay. Let's head outside of town... not into the Everfree, but along it to that empty sandlot. It'll be good practice.”

“Thanks, Daddy. I'd really like that.” Innocence said softly, looking up with a bright smile before she asked curiously: “So can we... I mean, can't you maybe...”

“No.” Scrivener said dryly, already knowing what she was beginning to get at: he had something more than just his power over the mire at his disposal, after all, but he thought he still hadn't managed to get the seriousness of the Black Verses across to Sin. “We've talked about that before. That's not something we're going to try and work with.”

Innocence grumbled a little, and then she finally nodded. The stallion smiled a little, relieved that she hadn't further pressed the subject as Twilight reassured: “We do trust you, Innocence. It's more that... it hurts the user, too. I don't think any of us want you exposed to that.”

Sin mumbled a bit more, then she finally sighed and nodded before wheedling: “But you'll at least let me work the mire by myself, right? Right?”

“C'mon, kiddo.” Scrivener said after a moment, smiling despite himself: Luna's whining and Twilight's eagerness to learn mixed in a very odd way in Innocence.

The stallion turned towards the door, pushing through and leading the mares out. Sin bounced up to her father's side with a bright smile, while Luna and Twilight traded amused looks as they lingered a little behind... but not too far, thanks in part to the soul link between Luna and Scrivener.

It was their blessing, but it was also their curse, in a way: they could no longer be more than forty feet apart, and they were constantly aware of one another's thoughts and emotions. On some level, that communication had always been there, and was often willingly shared between them or happening during moments of extreme stress or emotion or even just surprise... but now it was happening like an almost constant flow, with a sensation like someone was always looking over your shoulder and breathing heavily in your ear...

It took some getting used to.

Twilight was gazing softly at Luna, and the sapphire mare blushed slightly as she glanced to the side, then huffed and grumbled: “Oh, do not pity me so, I am not a filly crying over spilt milk. Thou art a filly.”

Twilight Sparkle rolled her eyes, but she was still smiling gently, looking tenderly at the sapphire mare as she said quietly: “But you still wouldn't have things any other way, right?”

“Aye. I suppose not.” Luna said after a moment, and then she shook her head and mumbled: “But 'tis still annoying, my dearest mare. I do not want to lose my link with Scrivy, nay. I only desire to be able to throw him to safety every so often.”

“Always with his best in mind, right?” the Lich asked mildly, and Luna huffed even as she nodded firmly several times. “You know, you're a little...”

“I am a miracle.” Luna said staunchly, and Twilight laughed... then laughed louder when Luna leaned over and drew sloppy, tickling kisses up the side of her neck and over her cheek, before their mouths met when the Lich half-turned towards her, giggles silenced by the long kiss shared with the mare she trusted with her soul.

Innocence glanced over her shoulder, then groaned and rolled her eyes, calling loudly: “Oh come on, Mutt! Don't be so gross!”

“Thou art just jealous thou does not have pretty mares to kiss!” Luna shot back the moment the kiss broke, and then she added quickly, in a flash of what to her was brilliance: “Thou art just envious and frustrated that we art thy parents and thou shan't be able to make out with us thyself!”

Innocence stared, then retorted suddenly, before she even knew what she was going to say: “Well, you have dog breath anyway!”

“Dog breath! Dog breath! Thy... thy face is dog breath!” Luna shouted, half-incredulous and half-furious as she danced back and forth on her hooves, while Twilight only coughed loudly, trying her hardest not to encourage Innocence. Scrivener, on the other hoof, laughed loudly, which made Sin look exceptionally pleased with herself.

Finally, Luna calmed and grumbled, glowering at their daughter's back as Scrivener and Sin turned around to continue down the road. “Dog breath.”

Twilight gently patted Luna on the back, and the starry-maned mare grumbled a little. Then the sapphire mare looked back and forth at the familiar landscape of the village around them, sighing moodily before she mumbled: “Dog breath.”

The Lich smiled comfortingly as she started forwards and Luna trundled along beside her. Soon enough, though, her eyes drew away from the mare and along the fronts of the pretty, traditional houses with wooden frames and straw rooftops, and the updated, more-modernized ones with siding and trim and more metal amongst the raw wood. Likewise, old oil lamps stood beside newly-built electric streetlights, melding the once-future and the once-past together into a present that was struggling to find a balance between the good old and the fascinating new...

And most importantly, of course, there were the other citizens. The ponies of Ponyville... and alongside them, Nibelung, and demons, and so many other species and creatures that the name of the town harkened now to a day long past, when ponies had dominated Equestria alone. Now there were many races, many different peoples, many different cultures... Twilight wanted to believe they were better this way, but sometimes she longed for when everything had been simpler.

Then Luna interrupted her thoughts by turning almost-pleading eyes back to her, exclaiming: “Dog breath!”

“You don't have dog breath, Luna.” Twilight soothed, and the sapphire winged unicorn grunted and nodded, looking pacified for now. “But you know, maybe around Sin we should tone it down more... studies show that-”

“She is sixteen years old, Twilight Sparkle, and she is smart and strong and most of all, stubborn.” Luna interrupted, looking pointedly at the violet mare. “'Twill be fine. She will not grow up to be a prostitute because she has seen her mothers kissing. But I love her so much I fear, that if she did desire to be a prostitute with all her heart, if 'twas the goal she set her eyes upon, I would support her in her choice of career and spare no expense in aiding her to become the greatest prostitute Equestria has ever seen!”

Twilight stared at Luna with something like horror, and Luna only smiled cheerfully in response before adding brightly: “Well, 'tis Equestria's oldest profession, and one that never sees a downturn. So think of what an honor 'twould be to be named the world's greatest prostitute!”

Ahead, Innocence glanced over her shoulder curiously as Twilight began to rant away at Luna, but Scrivener only said amiably to his daughter: “Don't worry. They're just uh... arguing about your future, that's all. What kind of job they think you should have.”

“I want to be a cosmonaut and go to the moon!” Innocence proclaimed. Scrivener Blooms only quirked an eyebrow at her, unsure of whether or not his daughter was serious – or what the hell was a 'cosmonaut' was – until the young mare continued with a smile: “Cowlick was telling me about them the other day. They're ponies who go into space by machines and magic... isn't that incredible? Cowlick says they're building the world's first rocket ship right now, and trying to train these people called cosmonauts to ride in them, but they only accept the strongest and the smartest.”

“Yeah?” Scrivener smiled after a moment, looking at his daughter tenderly. He didn't know why, but... it was a little different from how it had been with Antares and Scarlet Sage. With Scarlet Sage, there was tenderness, with Antares, he felt such pride... with Innocence, he felt... adoration. She was his baby girl and he'd do anything he could to protect her. “So you'd have to be smart as your mother and strong as Móðer, is that it?”

“And tough as you.” Innocence gazed up at her father, and Scrivener only laughed and shook his head, gazing at her fondly. “I want to be strong, Daddy. I want to carry the strength of all my parents inside of me.”

“One day, I'm sure you will.” Scrivener said softly, and then he shook his head before glancing ahead and adding, as they began to approach the open gates leading out through the secure, heavy bulwark surrounding Ponyville: “Just try and remember to be a kid now and then, okay?”

Innocence only shrugged and smiled, and there was silence as they passed through the gates, Luna and Twilight both hurrying to catch up to them. Twilight nodded to the guards as they passed: a pair of the wolf-pig Nibelung, one of the dwarves holding up an axe and the other saluting them with a smile, tusks gleaming out of their lupine muzzles of the squat, strong-built bipeds.

“Does thou know how to tell a male dwarf from a female dwarf?” asked Luna loudly the moment they were out of earshot, and Scrivener looked pleadingly over his shoulder at her as he picked up the sound of mischief even before her thoughts filtered over to him. “'Tis very simple! If 'tis wearing armor, 'tis a male. If 'tis buck naked, 'tis a male. If 'tis in a skirt... 'tis most assuredly a male. There are no female dwarves because no mare is dumb enough to be one.”

Innocence laughed at this, and Scrivener looked dryly at Luna before Twilight said quickly: “Actually, they still have a very male-dominated society, that's all... the birthrate of females is only around twelve percent, according to a recent study, and the Nibelung still have very-”

“Lots of guys, only a few not-guys, you do the math.” Scrivener said mildly, and then he added: “But they all live for... thousands and thousands of years and they're born and raised really fast. And there's an old legend that some ancient Architect discovered way to chisel dwarves out of stone and bring them to life...”

“Momma knows facts, Daddy knows stories, Mutt tells bad jokes.” Innocence looked up with a smile of amusement, and the ponies looked at each other awkwardly before the mare asked curiously: “Can they and ponies have babies? Ponies and dragons can, right?”

“Ask thy aunt, she knows much about making babies with strange creatures.” Luna said cheerfully, and Innocence nodded seriously as Twilight sighed and Scrivener shook his head in wry amusement, before they turned off the path to head through the rolling, verdant fields that surrounded the town: what parts weren't occupied by farmland and cottages, that was, or places like the animal care center and its pastures and corrals.

Innocence brightened as she looked up and noted the empty lot in the distance, near the edge of the Everfree: after some more wrangling with Mayor Monkshood, they would eventually be building an enormous botany center out here, to study the Everfree Forest. Something that, oddly enough, had never really been done in great detail... but in the past, Celestia had tried to avoid anything wild or outside of her webwork of controls, right up until she'd come to realize how much she needed a little chaos in her life.

But that was a story for another day, as Innocence called brightly: “I'm ready, guys! Don't keep me waiting, I really wanna prove that I can do this!”

“Well, thou heard her, Scrivy.” Luna said mildly, and the stallion sighed but nodded after a moment, giving an amused shake of his head as he continued to linger a little. But when Twilight Sparkle only sighed and shrugged, he couldn't help but nod, starting forwards with more intent and strangely looking forwards to finding out just how strong his daughter had gotten... and feeling a strange sense of longing for the days when she had just been a child playing with her old doll Dinah, instead of a young mare looking to grow into the shoes of a Valkyrie.

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