• 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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The Queen Of Swords

Chapter Forty Six: The Queen of Swords

It was late evening when Luna, Scrivener, and Twilight finally returned home. After they had vacated the garbage pit, Innocence had mumbled something and run off into town, and Hecate had grunted at them and then strode moodily away. Scrivener had reflected that the metal-bodied goddess was a far more terrifying sight at night. After all, Hecate was pretty much the last thing he'd personally want to see striding towards him out of the shadows.

The stallion was now resting in the living room, flexing his aching Talons slowly, his body gone from pleasant and perhaps slightly-overloaded with adrenaline and energy to tired and achy and worst of all, a little floppy. He mumbled a little to himself, then shook his body out before yawning loudly, half-touched and half-worried about the fact that Luna was in the kitchen, trying to put on coffee and even making a snack for them.

“Oh shut up, beetle. Thou art nothing but a fat.” Luna complained loudly, and Scrivener only mumbled under his breath as the sapphire mare turned towards him, then paused as she meditatively examined the awkward position Scrivener was laying in. “But then again, with thy rump in the air so invitingly, perhaps thou art just trying to get mine attention for something else.”

“Stay away from my butt.” Scrivener grumbled into a pillow, and then he shook himself out a little before saying finally: “I do appreciate it, though. I just... you know. You still haven't learned that glass magically gets hot when there's coffee in it.”

Luna huffed, and then she hesitated before glancing up towards the ceiling: Twilight Sparkle was writing a short note to Celestia, to tell them about the... new friend they had lurking in nearby forest, hopefully not corrupting too much of the world around himself. The other mire-beasts had decided to stay with him, and Scrivener was honestly curious by now whether or not they would dissolve after all.

“Scrivy...” Luna paused again, and then she gave a small smile, turning soft eyes towards the stallion as she said quietly: “'Twas quite a wonderful thing that Hecate did for us, was it not?”

“You really think that, huh?” Scrivener rolled awkwardly onto his back, looking mildly down at Luna between his own legs, and the mare grinned and shrugged before she eyed him lecherously, but the stallion only rolled his eyes and said mildly: “Stop that. And stop thinking Hecate is actually nice. We all know that she'd save her own skin over ours any day.”

“I... disagree.” Luna tilted her head back and forth meditatively, and Scrivener Blooms cocked his head curiously before the sapphire mare mumbled: “Well, by which I mean... I fully recognize that aye, she is not like us. But in a way she is. The mark of a Celestia is that she is terribly evil, and terribly intelligent, but also terribly passionate. Hecate is a Celestia, even if she is an Evil Celestia. And thou and I both know that she has more than one face, in spite of only being a head.”

Scrivener grunted, and then he felt somehow unsurprised as a voice remarked: “Well, she is one of the tri-goddesses. They're actually more common than you think... well, you know. Common for something that's really quite rare. Not a lot of gods and goddesses running around. They're like gold monsters or shiny Pokemon.”

The stallion only shrugged a little as Discombobulation strode calmly into the room, and then he looked down thoughtfully at where Scrivener was sprawled out on his back before he leaned down and asked kindly: “Is Scrivener Blooms drawing you like one of her french girls?”

“No, I really don't like it when she draws me in awkward or compromising positions. We have a rule about that.” Scrivener replied tacitly, shrugging a bit, and Luna snorted in amusement, giving a mischievous look over her shoulder.

“Thou art both great, silly prudes!” she declared, then she shook her head and smiled slightly, looking with entertainment at Discombobulation. “'Tis probably in large part why my big sister adores thee so, Bob... and why art thou not with her? 'Tis a very pressing time for her, I shall have thee know. She requires thy support.”

Discombobulation huffed a bit at this, touching his own chest and retorting: “Scrivener Blooms, I am a very dependable Draconequus. I am the Horton of all Draconequus, as a matter of fact, and you're more like... Morton. That mouse wasn't very dependable at all, now was he? Always trying to get his friend to quit. Although he was voiced by Benzoate Ostylezene Bicarbonate, too.”

Scrivener Blooms grunted and shrugged at this, knowing by now what to disregard from Bob and what to simply ignore. Luna Brynhild only huffed, and then complained: “Well, thou art still stupid and should still be there for Celestia. She is very... she needs hugs right now. She may be metal and sharp things and terrible but. She requires hugs, Discombobulation.”

“Well, sometimes she requires space. Because if you hug sharp things too many times they eventually cut you and you bleed all over the place and it's just bad for everyone.” the Draconequus responded, giving the starry-maned mare a pointed look. “Now how is that good for anyone?”

The stallion nodded meditatively in agreement with this as Luna simply huffed. Discombobulation smiled wryly, shrugging a bit before he said finally: “Well, that's rather nice, at least. If the wife agrees with me, I'm sure that the other wife must too. Twilight Sparkle and Luna Brynhild have always gotten along quite well, after all.”

Luna huffed at this, while Scrivener nodded agreeably several times. Then Discombobulation became a little more serious, quieting as he tented his hands together, lowering his head and saying softly: “You see, sometimes we all need somebody to lean on... but sometimes we just have to be alone, with a little peace and quiet, all by ourselves. Sometimes that's honestly the best thing someone else can do for you. Love them, and let them go for a little while.”

There was quiet for a few moments, and then Scrivener looked up and said softly: “That's true, but you have to know when to be there, and hug right through the chaos and the anger and the up-and-down emotional twisters and... whatever else the crazy, angry Valkyrie flings your way. Because the problem really isn't that you're a guy and she's a mare: the problem is that you're a creampuff and she's former Queen of the Valkyries. But you have to remember that's your greatest asset, too.”

“My greatest asset is that I have so many preservatives in my system I'm going to outlive the planet imploding, and yet people all the same love to eat me even though it's honestly more healthy to eat glue. Which in your cases would also constitute cannibalism and yet probably would still be more healthy.” Discombobulation said dryly, and the ponies looked at each other, then shrugged. “And you can say all you like that mares and stallions are one in the same, but a stallion's face is his autobiography, and a mare's face is her work of fiction.”

“Thou art so very fortunate that part of the reason Celestia dotes on thee so much is because she is a terrible misogynist.” Luna said with wry entertainment, shaking her head and grinning a little despite herself. “Tell me, Bob: why do the mares and stallions of this world demand not just rights, but privileges, respect and wealth, when in the old days we knew these things were only attained over time and great effort? Why do the ponies of this world believe so wholeheartedly that they are entitled to fame and glory from naught but living, and feel like their lives have meaning only if they are able to bask in the glowy attention of others?”

Discombobulation looked up thoughtfully at this, then he rubbed slowly at the underside of his muzzle, looking very serious and musing for a few moments before he finally looked up and said solemnly: “Care Bears.”

“Care Bears? What evil, wretched things are these?” Luna asked curiously, looking up at Discombobulation and tilting her head with interest, and Discombobulation only smiled wryly, tenting his fingers calmly.

“They were dangerous indeed. More dangerous than we ever gave them credit for. Clearly it was all a conspiracy, because as everyone knows... the real Care Bears were all based around National Socialism. And that's a bad thing, by the way: some day I'll explain precisely why.” the Draconequus replied calmly, nodding a few times.

Scrivener Blooms looked meditatively up at this, and Luna looked thoughtful before she asked curiously: “Then if the Care Bears were such a terrible threat, then why were they never slain?”

“Much like our own universe, they were protected by a general audiences rating. Although, as you can clearly see yourself, that didn't work out all that well.” Discombobulation motioned absently at the air around them, then he shook his head and said wryly: “But of course, when you bounce from one world to the next, things all too often get a little disjointed. Especially when you're trying to write about the fourth generation of a children's show based entirely around magical talking ponies.”

Scrivener Blooms only shrugged, and Luna huffed, saying dryly: “I refuse to believe that in any other world, we are nothing but a foal's play. Nor shall I settle for this if it is truth. I adore foals, but I shall not be any sugary-sweet story for the ears of babes: we must be violent and debauched and something to turn the stomachs of the weak of heart.”

“I dunno, Luna. Not... everything we do is horrible.” Scrivener said mildly, and when the sapphire mare gave him an amused look, the stallion huffed. “Hey. I'm sure even Hel has... you know, quiet days. Where she just... knits or something.”

“Oh yes. Because after all, if you torture souls every day in Hell, it's not really Hell, is it? It becomes just a standard every-day thing. Like a Monday.” Discombobulation said mildly, looking at them with a wry smile on his features. “But Miseryville wasn't built in a day. It was built by a whole bunch of different demons. Even though all of them were named Lucius Heinous.”

“That's a great name.” Scrivener said after a moment, as he gazed up at the ceiling, and then he smiled a little and glanced up at Luna as she strode into the room, carrying both a carafe of coffee and a tray of food with telekinesis. “Thanks, Luna. I really appreciate it.”

“Aye, thou does now, because I am carrying the food. Truly, the easy way to any pony's heart is through his accursed stomach.” Luna said with entertainment, and Scrivener shrugged a bit as the mare stopped beside him, then she winked and levitated the pot of coffee over the stallion's body, Scrivener wheezing and hurriedly reaching up to catch this between his Talons. “I shall fetch mugs.”

The stallion thought for a moment about asking the mare why she hadn't just poured the coffee into the mugs, then he only shrugged and sighed a little. Luna dropped the tray beside him, almost spilling the little jars of sugar and cream and sending one of the muffins rolling off the tray, but Scrivener Blooms actually felt glad that was all the damage that had been done. Usually when Luna tried to be nice like this, they all ended up with third degree burns.

Discombobulation reached out and snatched the muffin, and he studied it for a few moments before lightly brushing it off and taking a bite out of it. Scrivener Blooms looked over at the Draconequus mildly, but he only shrugged. “Ten second rule. And even if on some off chance I do get infected by a dangerous, murderous virus, I'm sure I have a Will Smith inside to protect me.”

Scrivener looked at the Draconequus, then simply shrugged and turned his eyes upwards again, saying finally as he carefully put the carafe aside: “So you're that worried about Celestia, huh?”

“I can be worried if I want to be. I'm Tia's... I don't really know, to be entirely honest.” Discombobulation rubbed awkwardly at the back of his head. “Romantic comedies are great, sure. But you only see the romance part, and the comedy part. You don't see the 'getting arrested' part or the 'nasty divorce' part or the 'all things die eventually' part.”

The charcoal stallion only shrugged a little, and Luna rolled her eyes as she returned to the room with three mugs, chastising even as the back door opened: “Thou art a grand stupid idiot. Look at myself and Scrivener Blooms and... Twilight Sparkle! Twilight Sparkle, tell Discombobulation that he is being a grand stupid idiot.”

The Lich glanced up as she strode through the kitchen, and then the violet mare gave a small smile and took a mug when Luna thrusted it at her, as Discombobulation cleared his throat and waved a hand. “Excuse me, but you're supposed to serve your guests first. And then serve yourself. And then we drink in the order of-”

“We drink in the order of shut up or I will put my hoof up thy buttocks.” Luna threatened, shaking a front hoof violently at the Draconequus, and Discombobulation mouthed wordlessly for a moment before he cleared his throat and nodded awkwardly, making a quick zipping motion across his lips. Scrivener only gave Luna an entertained look, while Twilight strode over to quietly settle beside the stallion and reach down, gently taking one of his Talons.

He looked a little surprised at this: even with close friends, after all, Twilight was often very careful not to be overly-affectionate with her partners. Not because she ever worried about what her friends might think about her strange relationship after all these years, but because she was always a little self-conscious, wanted to celebrate her love and be open about her partners, but she didn't want to gross anyone out with public displays of affection. Maybe, in a way, a little... well, not prudish...

Luna was tempted to argue that point, but instead she smiled and remained quiet as she walked over to join them when Twilight turned her eyes to Discombobulation, saying softly: “If you love someone, Bob... then you focus on doing what's best for them, and how you can help them. You remember that your life... isn't just about you anymore, if you want that person to be involved in it. It's about them, too. And that makes relationships so hard sometimes, especially when you have a lot of society... a lot of instinct... telling you to look out for number one first. But you have to ask yourself if you really are number one anymore, or if... there's something with even greater precedence in your life, now that you've found this special person.”

Twilight looked down at Scrivener Blooms with a soft smile, then drew tender eyes towards Luna as she silently squeezed his claw, shaking her head briefly before she murmured quietly: “It might not be healthy. It might be stupid. It might leave you hurting really badly one day. Or it might lead to something amazing: trust, eternal companionship... a child. Can you imagine that?”

“Not without wanting a vasectomy. Not that. Those even work on Draconequus. Or anything.” Discombobulation cleared his throat and looked down at himself, saying wryly: “I'm so very truly glad that all my parts are well-hidden away, like... well. Crap. Every metaphor I come up with sounds like a metaphor for a mare's parts.”

Scrivener Blooms shrugged a bit, and then he recited calmly: “The stallion likes to think he's stronger because he bears a stinger: he oftentimes forgets how easily such a thin little sting is broken off in the superior predator's vise-like jaws.”

“Oh. Oh. As if I wasn't scared of sex enough, that's fantastic. That's fantastic. You're a fantastic asshole.” Discombobulation said sourly, shaking his head with a grumble. Scrivener only shrugged agreeably, and there was silence for a few moments before the chimerical creature said quietly: “Besides, Tia and I have an understanding about uh... that. Which I would very much rather not get into with you silly perverted ponies. What she really needs right now, I can't give her: reassurance that we're actually going to do something about Valhalla.”

“I... I am worried too, Bob, but I know that all I can do at the moment is...” Luna shook her head and smiled faintly as she half-dropped herself over Scrivener Blooms, the stallion grunting quietly as Twilight turned a soft look towards the winged unicorn. “Well, perhaps I am not nearly as worried as Celestia. Aye, it bothers me... but I know we will strike hard and soon. And I admit that... other things have been plaguing my attention as of late. One of those being Celestia herself.”

“I suppose it's true what they say. You can't go home again, can you? Or maybe you just never really want to; at home there's rules, and you have to behave, and you can't really do whatever you please.” Discombobulation said mildly, shrugging a little. “But sometimes we miss our old homes all the same. And if we used to run the house, well...”

There was silence for a few moments, and then Scrivener and Luna traded looks as Twilight smiled a little. “Maybe I should talk to her then. And I wonder how she's going to feel about the Tyrant Wyrm and the... what did Hecate call them?”

'We're not using Hecate's name for anything.” Scrivener muttered, and Twilight gave him an amused look as Luna nodded firmly several times in agreement.

“What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Discombobulation said mildly, and then he paused and looked mildly at Scrivener Blooms. “I'm not talking about you, by the way. And by the by the way, I think I'd better let you know that the reason you're so often accused of foppery is because of your obsession with a certain flower used for soppy romances and funerary celebrations.”

Scrivener only grunted and shrugged absently, the stallion smiling wryly before he replied dryly: “It's not my fault it's the magic symbol on my butt. Besides, I never really used to reference roses until Luna came along. It's completely her fault.”

Luna huffed at this, lightly whacking Scrivener's stomach with a hoof before she said mildly: “And what of Rose Thorns, or thy thousands of other silly little poems? If every time thou used some piece of that flower in thy writing became a real rose, then all of Equestria would be overrun with them. Silly wretch.”

The charcoal stallion only gave a shrug, and there was silence for a few moments before Discombobulation said finally: “Well, for once I think that might cheer poor Tia up. You know, like when a website runs a Halloween event and suddenly everyone pretends that they really like all this monster tomfoolery, when in fact half of them wouldn't know or believe in a supernatural occurrence if it hit them between the ears. And clearly I'm not talking about you ponies. Ponies with voiceboxes is already plenty supernatural; ponies with horns and wings and sparkly manes, well, that's all just weird.”

Luna grunted, and Scrivener shrugged absently before he said finally: “It's funny trying to wrap your head around what other ponies like and don't like. It's kind of like there's no reason for anything.”

“You make it sound like chaos is as nihilistic as you are, Luna Brynhild. But we honestly have our own purposes, our own goals, our own drives. It's not like we're just flailing in every direction because we have no purpose. We might be reasonless, but purposelessness is a chasm that leads all the way to the Void.” Discombobulation said pointedly, and then he simply twirled a metal finger and added: “Even destruction is purpose, isn't it? Even you writers have purpose. Just look at Edgar Allan Poe. The raven may quoth 'nevermore,' but it's all in mourning of lost love Lenore.”

Scrivener looked mildly up at the Draconequus as Twilight tilted her head and Luna only huffed, then she picked up the carafe with telekinesis to sloppily start filling the mugs, Twilight wincing at how Luna always managed somehow to splatter coffee everywhere. “Bah, who cares of the machinations of writers? They are either too naïve or too depressing to pay any heed to.”

The charcoal stallion only shrugged absently, and then he couldn't help but say: “A lot of writers use writers for their main character, protagonist... you know, important person. And a lot of people go 'well, those writers are clearly talking about themselves.' Well, I hate to be the one to say this, but you know that like... every writer tends to put themselves in the position of the protagonist, like it or not. Just like every writer... there's a little piece of them in every character they create.”

“What about fanfiction?” Discombobulation asked mildly, and when Scrivener Blooms looked over at the Draconequus dryly, the chimerical creature shrugged. “You know what I mean. When you write about someone else's ideas, in someone else's world. Considering how often you ponies are referred to as a 'love letter' to the first generation of a children's show, you'd think you'd know all about fanfiction. When someone builds off someone else's ideas, even for profit, it's still fanfiction: it's a fan, writing fiction. Considering She Who Writes Ponies has an account named after one of said freaking ponies, and confesses to loving ponies, even if she got paid... a redux, a retelling, a new generation... it's all still fanfiction, you know. It just sounds so much more professional when you avoid that word like the plague.”

Scrivener Blooms only grunted, and then he said finally: “I guess when I was a foal I always wanted to be Xenophon. I guess if I was writing about him, I'd probably try and slip into his character, live vicariously through him.”

“You can't live vicariously through writing, Scrivy.” Twilight said gently, and the stallion only smiled wryly as he tilted his head back towards her.

“You can do quite a lot if you're willing to just try.” Scrivener replied with a strange gentility, and the Lich laughed quietly and shook her head slowly, looking down at him affectionately. And then the two looked up as Discombobulation slowly clapped, looking at them with wry entertainment.

“Congratulations. My gag reflex is working again.” the chimerical creature grumbled, and then he added pointedly: “You know, I hate to get into this topic, but you also really should try and do something about finding a better habitat for your new pet. I'm fairly certain Tyrant Wyrms are an invasive species, being parasites and all.”

Scrivener only waved a Talon absently as Luna slurped at her coffee, and the the stallion glowered at the sapphire mare when she not only cut him off, but spat the hot liquid all over him when she exclaimed: “So that is it, Bob! Thou art jealous and fearful that our new friend will steal Celestia away from thee!”

“That's about as likely as people properly understanding Poe's law. You three don't, after all: you can never tell when I'm serious or just kidding.” Discombobulation replied mildly, shrugging after a moment before he looked up thoughtfully. “There are so many references I can make with Poe, you know. References to references. References to him. References to things you completely won't understand, but that always gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.”

Scrivener Blooms only grunted, and Luna huffed loudly before Twilight smiled a little down at the stallion, squeezing his Talon gently. “It is a good name.”

“No it's not.” Scrivener mumbled, but after a moment he sighed and nodded, saying finally: “Alright, alright. Fine. We'll call the Tyrant Wyrm Poe.”

“I never suggested that. That sounds stupid. Only a stupid pony would suggest that.” Discombobulation said huffily, and Twilight gave him a sour look, but the Draconequus hurriedly rose his hands. “Hey, I'm not saying anything against you, Twilight Sparkle. I'm making an insinuation about a certain other pony. A former lawyer pony.”

Scrivener only shrugged a little at this, and Luna huffed. “As if we would spend any time with any lawyers, Bob. What nonsense.”

“There you go, being judgmental again. Judge, judge, judge. That's not very nice at all.” Discombobulation said mildly, and Luna only shrugged again. “There are some very nice lawyers out there. Very good lawyers out there. And some very dumb ones, too, which I always figured that at least you'd try and sympathize with.”

“I am very talented. I can sympathize and mock at the same time. Simply look at my relationship with Scrivy.” Luna replied easily, gesturing at the charcoal stallion with her coffee cup, and he scowled up at her a a bit of fluid dribbled out and over him, Luna clearing her throat after a moment and giving a lame smile.

Then she leaned down and firmly licked up along the trail of coffee over Scrivener's stomach, and the stallion flinched a little as Twilight stared at her, but the sapphire mare only huffed as she straightened and glowered between the two. “What? I am merely cleaning up my mess, that is all. Thou art both stupid.”

Then she turned her eyes to Discombobulation as she straightened imperiously, glaring over the mug of coffee held tightly between her hooves. “As to thou. All of this does not answer the most important question: why thou art not back with Celestia right now.”

Discombobulation shrugged a bit, and then he said awkwardly: “I believe I have, several times over, Sherlock Holmes. It's because dear Tia needs someone else to tell her-”

“Very well! Watson, fetch my smoky pipe and silly hat!” Luna declared, swinging a hoof down into Scrivener's face, and he gave a little mumble as the Draconequus stared at her with disbelief, mouthing slowly. Then Luna grinned widely and said cheerfully: “I am not entirely stupid, Discombobulation. Thou cannot use any reference more than once upon me.”

The Draconequus slowly turned sour eyes to Twilight Sparkle, and the Lich winced and shrank a little as she mumbled: “I really liked that book you gave me.”

“What did I tell about sharing otherworldly literature with these two kooks, even in your ice cream swirl brain?” asked the chimerical creature flatly, and Twilight smiled lamely before Discombobulation huffed a bit. “Well, try and decode this, then. No simplicity of mind, no obscurity of station, can escape the universal duty of questioning all that we believe.”

“Well you know it's less impressive when we know you're quoting something.” Scrivener mumbled from beneath Luna's hoof. “Also, we don't have a silly hat and a smoky pipe for you.”

“Oh, we do so.” Luna stomped lightly on Scrivener's face several times, making him wince and grumble, and then she sat back, turning a smile towards Twilight Sparkle. “Fetch my other silly hat. And something I may shove in my mouth.”

Scrivener began to open his own mouth at this, and Luna promptly shoved her hoof into it, saying cheerfully: “Nay, Scrivy, do not be so crude!”

Scrivener Blooms only grumbled, mumbling something around her hoof that sounded like 'ball gag,' and Luna huffed before yanking her hoof free to lightly smear saliva over the stallion's features. Then she turned her eyes up towards Discombobulation as Twilight shook her head briefly but pulled away from the two, and the starry maned mare absently swung a hoof out to smack her buttocks as she walked away, the Lich wincing and glaring over her shoulder.

But Luna only grinned and shrugged, saying easily: “This is grand news, Bob. I have never before been able to sweep in and save my sister from the demons in her own mind. I shall never allow her to forget this, Discombobulation, never.”

“This is all beginning to feel like a mistake.” Discombobulation said dryly, and then he shook his head slowly before looking up at the roof, raising his hands pleadingly. “What did I ever do to you?”

Luna led the way cheerfully towards Ponyville, Scrivener Blooms looking sour as Discombobulation calmly rode along on his back, and Twilight giving little smiles now and then, a small backpack with a few treats in it on her back.

The sapphire mare herself had a candy cane sticking out of her mouth, and a drink hat on her head, iced coffee in either bottle sticking out of the holders that she was slurping at now and then. She felt inordinately cheerful, especially considering... well, everything that was going on right now. Yet for some reason, at the moment Luna could only concentrate on the good. Could only feel good, whether she wanted to or not...

Sure, there was a lot going on, and a lot that was worrying her. Valhalla was in danger, many souls and live were in danger, some of her family was missing... but all the same, she was happy. Because Ponyville was safe, and her home was safe; because her daughter was safe, and she knew that no matter what, Sleipnir and Pinkamena would return; because even if they were delving into dark powers, they were in control, they had new allies, they were going to fix everything. No matter what the cost, they were going to fix everything.

Luna smiled, even as a twist of unease ran through her system and she wondered for a moment... what if this joy, this strange euphoria, was running through her because of how she and Scrivener were exploring the darker parts of themselves? She was happy because all the things important to her were lining up, even though... hundreds of thousands of souls were in danger. No, more than that: anyone who rose to Valhalla would be corrupted or purified or... outright killed, perhaps. How could she be smiling when so much bad was happening?

She lost a bit more of her smile, lowering her head a little, her eyes closing a little, her body shivering a bit. Was she letting her selfishness take over? Even now, she was marching to Celestia like this was a game... when Celestia was hurting. Celestia was angry. Celestia had lost the colors of her mane and her personality had been... charged, maybe that was a good word for it. Charged with Freya's passion, which she was handling...

Well, she was handling it well, and to Luna Brynhild it wasn't a curse but a blessing, anyway. It made that sisterly emotion rise higher inside her... it made her look forwards to seeing what this Celestia Freya was going to do in the future, and what kind of strength she had. It made her remember the old days clearer, and want to revel in them... even if she knew that it was making Celestia hurt all the more as well.

Scrivener Blooms and Twilight Sparkle both looked softly up towards the sapphire mare, and Discombobulation gave a small smile as he remarked: "Yet gentle will the griffin be. You need to try and be a little more calm, Luna Brynhild: perhaps, like the great egg in the sky, you're simply finally hatching after all these years... well. I suppose in your case this moon is more of a cocoon. A cocoon that moves around and pummels things. Perhaps a larva."

“I am not a larva.” Luna grumbled crankily, glowering over her shoulder. “And since when wert thou privy to our personal thoughts, Bob? Thou art no psychic.”

“I'm a stage psychic. And a bard. Bards are magical too.” Discombobulation replied mildly, and then he added: “And I can read emotions, you know. And feel confusion in particular, and you're very confused. But it's a nasty, dirty, unpleasant kind of confusion. I don't really like those negative emotions. They're fattening, empty calories. So please stop being sad.”

Luna slowly turned her attention towards Discombobulation, and the Draconequus cleared his throat before pointing down at Scrivener Blooms and saying seriously: “I'm on a horse.”

Scrivener sighed tiredly and dropped his head forwards, and Luna smiled despite herself after a few moments, shaking her head in entertainment and turning forwards as she muttered: “Thou art truly fortunate thou art so adorable, Bob.”

“I'm very well aware of this. I'm like that super cute gang from the Powerpuff Girls. No one will believe they're actually horrible, evil criminals because they're such adorable little babies. Just... please don't throw me to a kindergarten class. By any standard, that's a cruel punishment.” Discombobulation shivered and hugged himself. “Out of the mouths of babes is far less dangerous than going into them.”

“Aye, thou always wert a favorite chew-toy of Antares when he was a foal. I do not know why.” Luna paused, then grinned widely over at Discombobulation. “And now thou art a favorite chew toy of Celestia's, art thou not?”

Discombobulation pointedly rose his hands and covered his ears, and Luna huffed before she turned her attention back forwards as they made their way across the field towards Ponyville's closed gates. But with the raised alerts, there were several guards on duty, watching the roads, and one of these called a warning as another turned on a bright spotlight, the three ponies wincing in pain but Discombobulation only raising his hands calmly, a pair of glasses already covering his eyes. “It looks like someone had a... bright idea.”

“That was awful.” Scrivener Blooms muttered, even as Luna snorted in entertainment and Twilight just sighed and smiled a little, shaking her head briefly. Then the stallion grimaced up into the light as he added dryly: “Either you or Luna should do something about that, though. It's blinding.”

“Aye, idiots! 'Tis us, open up these damnable gates!” Luna shouted, and there was an awkward mumbling for a few moments before Luna did a frustrated little dance, threatening: “Be well warned I can simply punch my way in through these damnable gates if the urge so takes me, and then I shall pummel all of thee present until thou knows my hooves better than thou may recognize my voice!”

For a few seconds, there was nothing... and then both gates slowly began to pull open, and Luna huffed loudly as she rose her head proudly, looking a little mollified. The spotlight was redirected and shut off, and the sapphire mare led the way boldly between the opened doors and the group of awkward looking Nibelung and Pegasi, as one of the dwarves attempted to reason lamely: “We not know it really you... we told to be on high alert...

“Well, there is no need for that. We are... I shan't dare to say we are safe, but we are in no state of immediate danger.” Luna said, pausing for a moment before he shook her head briefly and smiled, glancing over her shoulder at Scrivener Blooms and Twilight Sparkle. “But come, my family. Let us continue onward to Celestia. If we settle her, we settle Ponyville's heart.”

Scrivener shrugged a bit, and Twilight Sparkle smiled a little, lowering her head and murmuring: “I don't know why, but I find it really reassuring how important she's become to Ponyville, you know? I mean, not long ago, it seemed like... she was always something... apart.”

Luna smiled slightly at this, glancing over her shoulder at Twilight and nodding slowly as she murmured: “Aye. I think that I agree, Twilight Sparkle. I think it does good for Celestia as well, to be protector of my little sanctuary. My... what shall we call her? Regent? High General? Whore Celestia?”

“Part of me wants to defend Celestia's honor. The other part of me just wants to laugh along with you. But what makes it all truly difficult is that I'm not quite sure which of these parts Tia would prefer.” Discombobulation said wryly, and Luna grinned widely as she turned her eyes back ahead.

“'Tis not such a great riddle, Bob. Thou must simply look at who it is that Celestia spends all her time with, apart from thee. That is myself and Sleipnir, and look how we treat her, and look how close we all still are.” Luna shrugged, smiling over at Twilight Sparkle. “And even thou art beginning to know when thou should tease her instead of being so kind and generous all the time. And I shall have thee know that before thou and Celestia began thy datery, she oft tried to steal Scrivy from me. And Scrivy treats her like he treats all things: badly.”

“Hey. Screw you.” Scrivener said flatly after a moment, and Luna rolled her eyes in amusement before the stallion added grumpily: “I'm allowed to be offended. I treat you like... well... like you're a princess and not just a warrior princess.”

Luna huffed a little, but continued to smile all the same, feeling an odd tenderness inside her as she murmured: “It has been quite some time since thou last called me that, beetle.”

Scrivener looked up, then he smiled a bit as well and nodded briefly, and Twilight softened a little herself as she felt the roll of emotions between them. Then Discombobulation looked up and said mildly: “I have ever been able to come up with a nickname for Tia. Unless Tia counts. Does Tia count as a pet name?”

“Thou should simply stroll up to her and say 'kiss me, babe.' And then reel her in and kiss her. And then thou can simply call her 'babe' or 'baby.' 'Tis such a silly, macho thing, but I think it would suit her very well, all the same.” Luna said positively, smiling over at Discombobulation. “Celestia and I do not like soft things, or being treated as if people must always step lightly around us, or as if we must be put upon shiny, polished pedestals. I desire mud, and metal, and bruises and blood. Celestia is Freya, and as such even worse than I.”

Discombobulation looked dryly at Luna for a few moments, and then the Draconequus gave a tired sigh and dropped his head, mumbling: “That is the worst plan I have ever heard.”

The charcoal earth pony nodded in agreement, and Twilight Sparkle hesitated before the Lich turned her eyes awkwardly towards Luna, saying slowly: “You know... I... I recognize that you aren't very big on political correctness, and I know that Celestia is a lot... rougher and tougher than she looks or acts... but, well... I think that she still might like to be treated... nicely.”

Luna only shrugged easily, turning her eyes forwards and sipping greedily at her iced coffee again as Scrivener sighed and then glanced up at the chimerical creature on his back, saying dryly: “Just... pretend Tia counts. You don't need a pet name for her, Bob.”

The Draconequus shrugged awkwardly, but remained quiet until they reached the library. Luna was unsurprised to see the lights were still burning in the windows, and even more unsurprised when she pushed the door open and found Innocence was inside with Celestia, the polymorphed unicorn looking more than a little uncomfortable and Celestia sipping tea moodily, her eyes burning with a mix of frustration and exasperation.

“Mutt! Daddy!” Innocence smiled in relief as her parents came inside, half-stumbling around the table before she stumbled to a halt and cleared her throat awkwardly as she looked over at Twilight, saying finally after a moment: “Uh... Momma.”

Twilight nodded, but before she could say anything, Celestia looked up and asked a little too quickly: “Can you tell me about the Tyrant Wyrm you created, Scrivener Blooms? Innocence and I had just finished up discussing Valhalla and the Pious. We came to several... interesting conclusions.”

Innocence blushed and shifted lamely, looking nervously over her shoulder at Celestia. The ivory mare was... so angry. So passionate, and so determined, and radiated more of a sense of malice and fury than Hecate did.

But Luna strode fearlessly forwards even as Discombobulation winced and flung himself backwards to hide behind Scrivener Blooms, before Luna seized the bottom of the table and attempted to flip it over into Celestia. She only wheezed and made the wood bend and creak, however, the sapphire mare blinking stupidly before Celestia sighed and said tiredly: “I cemented it to the floor with magic. I remember how you used to try and 'cheer me up,' little sister, and I'm not really in the mood for that right now.”

“Well, then I shall have to improvise.” Luna huffed, then she narrowed her eyes at Celestia, who looked moodily back, sipping slowly at her tea... before the sapphire mare sharply swung a hoof up and forwards, splashing tea out over her sibling's features as Scrivener and Twilight gaped and Discombobulation gave a little whimper.

Celestia slowly ground her teeth together, but only shook slightly as she put down the teacup, taking a slow breath and saying calmly: “Maybe you should leave, Luna. I am perfectly fine, and all I want to focus on right now is business. We have a lot of work to do, but we should do it as fast as possible if we want to raid-”

“Thou art a stupidy-stupid!” the sapphire mare interrupted loudly, and then she shook her head before suddenly leaning forwards almost pleadingly, even as Celestia glared at her furiously. “Celestia, does thou not remember-”

“I remember! I remember many things, Brynhild, like how I am Freya!” the mare snapped, slamming a hoof suddenly down against the table with enough force to crack it, and Luna winced backwards in surprise before she glared furiously at her sibling. “What's a millennia and a half as a pony compared to eons as a Valkyrie, and now I am stuck in this horse's body, like some... great grand joke of Odin's! Horse-rider to horse, how can that be anything except either a trick of karma or some grand joke? You, Brynhild, you look pleased as punch to be a stupid little pony but I have remembered myself, what it was like to have a body, what it was like to be a goddess, to have hands and a woman's form instead of ungainly udders and four legs and a body as flexible as a brick?”

“Thou forgot our equine smell.” Luna said mildly, then she poked absently at herself. “And our manes are coarse, and our hide is pebbly and we sweat and fart and are all-around disgusting creatures. But we still have our minds, Celestia, and at least the males have bigger penises.”

Scrivener dropped his face in a hoof, as Celestia stared down at Luna for a few moments... and then a smile quirked at her mouth before she struggled to hold back her giggles... and failed in moments, throwing her head back and laughing loudly as Luna grinned widely, then yelped when Celestia seized her by the soulstone horn and yanked her across the table, sending papers flying in all directions before she was caught in a fierce embrace, squeezed tight against the ivory mare's broad body with enough force to make her bones creak.

“Thank you, Brynhild.” Celestia said quietly, and then she sighed and gently pushed Luna back a little, but kept a firm grip on her shoulders as she smiled softly down into her eyes, the sapphire mare's head still spinning a little as she looked dumbly back up at her sibling. “I'm glad you're my sister. I'm glad that of all the Valkyries, you survived. And I'm glad you understand me, even when no one else does.”

“I... I try!” Discombobulation said awkwardly raising his metal hand, and then he cleared his throat when Celestia looked at him with entertainment before he took a slow breath, striding quickly forwards and up to Celestia's side, looking down at her seriously as she said: “Gimme some sugar, baby.”

Celestia looked at him for a moment, and a slow blush spread over Discombobulation's features before he squeaked when she seized him by the throat and yanked him down into a kiss. And Luna laughed as Scrivener and Twilight traded looks, before the charcoal stallion said mildly: “The best proponents for mare's rights are also among the worst.”

“If you want to say something like that to me, just say it, Scrivy. Just don't expect me to be so enthusiastic in answering.” Twilight said mildly, and Scrivener huffed at her as he turned his head away, brushing absently at his chest with one Talon.

“You know, I might look like a giant macho stallion that can get away with saying things like that, but the truth is... I'm really not. It's like everyone sees the little mooshy poet inside me beneath the layers of giant, scar-covered, clawed Clockwork Pony freak, and they all know how to poke a sharp stick right into that.” Scrivener said wryly, and then he paused before glancing back at Luna, who was attempting to poke Celestia off Bob with her soulstone horn. “Besides, they're weird. Right?”

“Right.” Twilight agreed, and there was an awkward quiet between the two before the violet mare mumbled, not noticing Innocence approaching: “But I can be sexy too, you know.”

“I'm. I'm sure you can. You're a librarian, you can do anything.” Scrivener said awkwardly, and Twilight turned a sour look on him before the stallion hurriedly cleared his throat and waved quickly at his daughter. “Hello Sin. Do you want to... fill us in on what happened?”

Innocence grimaced a little as she brushed past her mother, then she nodded hesitantly, looking towards where Bob was scrambling to safety as Celestia almost glowered after him... but the way her mouth had the slightest smile, her tongue sliding out to lick her lips... it made her look far more terrifying than any scowl. “Celestia is weird.”

“She's not... she's... having... a hard time right now.” Twilight reasoned lamely, looking awkwardly towards the ivory winged unicorn before she shook her head a few times, then cleared her throat and prodded awkwardly: “But... what did you discuss with her?”

Innocence looked moodily over at her mother, then she realized her father was watching her intently, so she swallowed back all the insults she wanted to say and instead cleared her throat, forcing... not a smile, but at least to try and make herself casual as she replied: “The Pious, mostly... how we dealt with them, all the things Gymbr learned about them... the best ways to kill them.”

Twilight nodded uneasily, and Scrivener studied his daughter for a moment before his attention was drawn by the ivory mare as she called: “Scrivener, I want to discuss the Tyrant Wyrm and the Mire Spawn you created.”

“Mire Spawn. Why don't I ever get to name anything?” Scrivener mumbled, and then he thought absently of Abaddon, but decided that really didn't count: Luna had forced him to come up with a name for the pseudodragon, after all.

Celestia was only looking at him with quiet entertainment as he strode up to the table, which Luna was complacently sitting on... before she glared when Celestia leaned forwards and easily stroked a hoof under Scrivener's muzzle, tilting his head up and making him stare as she studied him thoughtfully, then said softly: “Is it just me, or are you looking a little more handsome today?”

“I... hi.” Scrivener said awkwardly, and then Luna slapped Celestia's hoof away, the two mares glowering at each other... and what scared the stallion was how much more they seemed like siblings in that moment, like they were clashing for the thousandth time over an old argument... and of course that argument is over stallions. I'm getting a glimpse of Valkyrie life and suddenly I feel very badly that I need a chastity belt.

“Oh stop it, Scrivener Blooms.” Luna grumbled, glowering over at the charcoal earth pony, and then she poked him a few times in the temple with one hoof, making him wince a bit. “Besides, I must fight to keep thee safe from greedy Celestia. In the old days, Freya constantly stole chosen warriors out from under us. And thou hast no idea how often that was literal.”

Scrivener Blooms winced and grabbed at his face, slowly rubbing his Talon against his features as he mumbled: “Oh Horses of Heaven, I do not want to her about your former life as a... as a supernatural people-pleaser, Luna.”

“Supernatural people-pleaser. That's actually quite good.” Discombobulation said thoughtfully from where he was seated up on top of the safety of a shelf. “I'll have to remember that for you, Tia.”

Celestia looked up at him for a moment, then she smiled slightly and tilted her head, winking up at him as she said kindly: “Don't worry, Bob. I'll look. I may touch. But I won't... play.”

Discombobulation grunted at this, raising his hand and saying dryly: “You're permitted to do anything you want, darling Tia. Believe me, I'd rather stay out of the icky parts of our relationship. I'm very happy with gentle kisses and the occasional cuddle... assuming you don't try and flop down on top of me, because you're rather heavy.”

“You can take it. You've always handled me well.” Celestia said softly, and then she smiled and shook her head briefly, rubbing at her forehead before clearing her throat and returning her eyes to Scrivener Blooms. “I apologize. My attention... it seems to fade in and out these days, except when I'm focusing on... the battlefield. That feels a lot like my old self...”

Celestia looked down, shaking her head slowly and laughing quietly despite herself before she closed her eyes. “I am my old self, more and more with every passing day. At first I was so angry with Hecate... now, whatever she's done...”

She stopped, then reached up and touched her own lips, smiling a little as she glanced over at Luna. “Look at me. Making this all about myself again when I had just asked you to talk, Scrivener Blooms. Please, go ahead, tell me about the Tyrant Wyrm... go ahead and talk slowly. I don't mind looking at you, and your voice is very soothing.”

Scrivener Blooms cleared his throat at this as Innocence looked almost enviously at her father, while Twilight Sparkle winced a bit, awkwardly striding up beside the stallion. But before the earth pony could say anything, Celestia's eyes flicked towards the Lich and she gave a kind smile, saying softly: “Don't you worry now, Twilight. I could look at you all day too. I just know that our relationship has always been more... tender. Even with my Valkyries, I rarely pulled them aside into bed...”

“Rarely.” Luna gave Celestia an amused look, and the ivory mare gazed innocently back at the sapphire mare. “Thou great... people-pleaser.”

“Well, I'd rather be very good at it than very bad at it... although some would say I'm both.” Celestia replied softly, bowing her head forwards and smiling slightly as she gave a wink to her sister, then she turned her eyes warmly back to Scrivener Blooms. “But I'm sure you're tired of us chirping on like birds. Quiet now, Brynhild. Let your better half speak.”

“Better half!” Luna huffed loudly, glowering over at the ivory mare, but Celestia only smiled pleasantly and shrugged, giving her a slow wink.

Scrivener cleared his throat before the conversation could be derailed... and was promptly socked in the jaw, knocked sprawling into Twilight Sparkle. It was more forceful than painful, at least, but Luna still wrinkled up her muzzle and absently rubbed at the faint bruise with the same hoof she'd used to punch Scrivener as she muttered: “Damnable idiot Scrivener Blooms. How dare thou try and be bossy to me? I am thy mistress and the moon and the entire universe. Thou shall not be silent. I mean, yes, thou.... thou shall be silent, I shall not be silent, but thou shall be silent when I say thou shall be silent. But not I am saying thou shall not be silent, so talk to Celestia before she molests thee.”

The stallion sighed tiredly as Twilight gently helped him sit up before she soothingly rubbed a hoof along his back, and he shifted a little back and forth before saying finally: “We... we tried to make him like we would any Tyrant Wyrm. By which I mean we had no idea what the hell we were doing, but we did focus on... Wyrmness. But all the same, something really weird happened: he ended up being... like us.”

“That's not a complete surprise.” Celestia said softly, and then she shook her head and smiled a little, studying the stallion with interest before asking curiously: “So you're saying that it took on your personality? Innocence has mentioned more than once to me that you have a very impressive control over the mire...”

Celestia reached out and absently caressed down one of Scrivener's forelegs, half-pulling his Talon onto the table, and he stared dumbly down at her hoof as Luna narrowed her eyes over at her sister. But Celestia only smiled before drawing her hoof back, brushing back her ivory mane and looking curiously at the earth pony, and he finally cleared his throat and nodded dumbly a few times. “Sort of... yeah, sort of. He... he said family was important. He's built to destroy in order to... protect. He's like a big angry living paradox.”

“Oh, those are always the best things.” Discombobulation said ironically, pointedly poking himself. "Have you ever seen how I am in battle? Honestly, what use is a Tyrant Wyrm that fights like me going to be?”

Luna and Scrivener traded mild looks at this, and then they both huffed and turned their eyes back towards Discombobulation, Luna declaring: “I am somehow sure he shall be far superior to that, creature, for he is like a child of myself and Scrivener Blooms. And as thou hast seen, our children are... have all been special.”

She turned a small smile towards Innocence, who blushed quietly and bowed her head forwards, looking more pleased than she wanted to admit. There was silence for a few moments, and then Innocence shook herself hurriedly out before raising her head high, saying quietly: “The Tyrant Wyrm is going to be a powerful creature. Maybe... maybe its dedication to protecting its family... will just make it stronger.”

It was hard for her to admit this, hard for her to even fathom this concept... but at the same time, she felt like she was beginning to understand it, at least a little. Maybe that was what she felt when she looked at her parents, after all... but she didn't know for sure. All she really felt sure of was that her parents were the path to power she wanted to follow right now... even if that meant trying to put up with Twilight Sparkle, too. Twilight Sparkle, her mother, who had been the one to beat her, to... to reject her own daughter...

Innocence shook her head out, hurriedly slamming the door shut on these thoughts before she awkwardly looked up as Celestia smiled over at her. “You're correct, Innocence... and whether you actually believe your own words or not doesn't matter. One day, you will understand why we believe that so deeply.”

There was silence for a few moments, and then Innocence simply gave a lame smile in return, and Celestia nodded to her before turning her eye towards Scrivener Blooms. “I have faith in your abilities, Scrivener. You're powerful, whether you believe that or not...” She gently tickled a hoof along the digits of his Talons, giving the stallion a slight smile as he cleared his throat awkwardly and grinned lamely at her. “They're something I'd one day like to test myself in more... of a personal setting...”

Twilight Sparkle twitched a little as she stared disbelievingly at Celestia, and Scrivener slowly, awkwardly shrank back in his chair as Luna scowled at Celestia. “Oh, damn thou. Thou just desires him because he is mine! Well, thou hast thine own damned toys, Celestia!”

Celestia only nibbled at a hoof, pretending to look innocent... something even she couldn't quite pull off with the sultry smile on her face and the mischievous look in her eyes. “Well, I don't know whether that's true or not, Brynhild. I just know that I'm... curious. And curiosity is the most powerful virtue of all, now isn't it? And please... call me Freya. Freya feels more... right, these days. I feel my old self, coming more and more to the surface, wild and untamed and... I don't want to be the Celestia who was so afraid of embracing this passion.”

“Thou shan't ever be that Celestia again, sister... but I shall call thee both, as I please. For thou art Celestia as much as thou art Freya to me. Unlike thou, I do not mind this stinky, wretched, pebbly equine body. And I do not think thou should, either.” Luna nodded firmly, and Celestia looked a little less amused as she tilted her head forwards the sapphire mare with an almost condescending expression.

But Luna was unperturbed, huffing loudly before she said firmly: “To the Valkyries, our horses were a part of us, aye, were they not? Just as Hex was part of me, thy own steed was a part of thee. And not in that way, Freya. Now that is far more terrible than being what we are now... even if 'tis not nearly as awful as some of the things thou indulged in, awful, horrible, greedy Celestia Freya.”

“Freya Celestia. It has a nicer ring to it and I'm more Freya than I am Celestia. If I ever really was Celestia... if I wasn't just... hiding from my old self.” the ivory winged unicorn silently reached up and brushed back her white, braided mane, and then she smiled faintly and shook her head slowly. “But I'd rather not second guess myself. I just want to revel in this... this freedom I feel, rising inside me. It's no wonder I always enjoyed the Celestia I saw in Because Love Conquers All, whether or not she was weak, at her heart...”

There was silence for a moment, and then Twilight cleared her throat before she smiled a little, carefully taking off her backpack and putting it down on the table. Celestia tilted her head curiously as the mare opened it, and then she said hesitantly: “Luna thought this would make a nice gift for you for some reason... I don't know why, because it's got Ambrosia in it, but... it wasn't that hard to make. It's... some kind of wine...”

Vanavín?” Celestia asked almost eagerly, and then her eyes gleamed as Twilight removed the bottle, the ivory mare holding up her hooves and gesturing quickly for it, making Luna grin widely: now if she ever needed proof that this was Freya, then that was certainly it. “Yes, yes, it is! I can already almost smell the honey... oh, Brynhild, it's like you're trying to get me to sleep with you...”

“Now, Freya, if I desired that, 'twouldn't take more than a casual question, would it?” Luna teased, and then she winked and said softly: “I thought thou could use a little gift, a reminder of the old days. As Twilight said, 'tis not hard to make for us, with the Ambrosia tree out back... it took some distilling, but whilst Scrivy and I do not drink, we do keep a fair stock and Scrivener sometimes uses small trickles of the stuff for cookery. Although he always gets the scrunchiest look upon his muzzle when he does so...”

Scrivener only grumbled at this, looking sourly over at Luna as he said dryly: “So what, I like to try and avoid my demons entirely. It just seems kind of like cheating when you use whiskey as a seasoning or mix wine in, that's all.”

“Thou art dumb.” Luna said kindly, and Scrivener and Twilight traded mildly amused looks before the sapphire mare returned her eyes towards Celestia, who was examining the plain green body with delight in her eyes. “Anyway. 'Tis not hard to make, but do not expect it often, Freya. Both because I may want it for myself and because I have little patience for such alchemy.”

Celestia smiled warmly, then she flicked her horn, uncorking the bottle... and Twilight, Scrivener and Innocence all stared as Celestia simply knocked the bottle back, guzzling greedily from the neck as several golden streams of liquid ran down her chin.

Luna, on the other hoof, was grinning widely, eyes gleaming before Celestia sighed in relief as she dropped the bottle and slammed it down against the table, rolling her shoulders slowly and looking delighted. “Excellent. Yes, it tastes... just like I remember.”

There was silence for a few moments, and then Celestia gazed down at the bottle, hesitating for a few moments before she glanced towards Discombobulation and held it up towards him almost shyly. The Draconequus looked surprised, and then he hesitated before leaping down to land smoothly beside her, pausing again before he reached out and grasped it.

Celestia didn't let go right away, smiling up at him and meeting his eyes as hand and hoof rested side-by-side. There was silence for a few moments, and then she finally let go, saying softly: “Freya or Celestia, Discombobulation... I hope to remain your Tia, first and foremost.”

“Well, Celestia, you know what they say: if I can't handle you at your worst, I don't deserve you at your best.” Discombobulation replied softly, and then he smiled down at the bottle of wine before calmly creating a large, oval glass in his other hand, pouring a little into this before he passed the bottle back to her as he smiled warmly. “But I suppose we go together well. Passionate and primal order meets civilized and cultured chaos. Or at least I like to think we are.”

The ivory mare smiled warmly, and then she and Discombobulation knocked their glass and bottle together as Luna grinned proudly and Scrivener and Twilight traded smiles. And Innocence couldn't help but tilt her head, feeling a strange, almost envious twist inside of her even as she wondered silently how two so opposite could mix together so well... how a Queen among Valkyries could look at a patchwork doll as her equal.

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