• Published 7th Nov 2013
  • 23,202 Views, 208 Comments

“Princest Is Wincest,” It Said - cleverpun

Luna reread the graffiti, but it came no closer to making sense. “Princest Is Wincest,” it said. It was confusing enough to be offensive; did nopony spell correctly anymore? Perhaps Tia would be able to explain it.

  • ...

The bridge in particular was a magnet for it.

The city looked very beautiful at this time of night. Bright white moonlight and starlight hit the tops of the taller buildings, and the streets were lit by the softer yellow of lampposts and the lights spilling from business windows.

Canterlot's circular layout had a very subtle effect on its architecture. As Luna's carriage clacked towards the center of the city, the buildings became subtly more compact, the alleyways slightly narrower. The shift in planning made the natural and artificial light warp slightly as they went, and the blurry patterns they made were quite calming.

They passed under a bridge, and it tapered slightly. No ordinary pony would have noticed, but the designers had been quite deliberate about it.

That wasn't what looked off about it.

“Razor Wind, Empty Sky, stop the cart,” Luna ordered.

“Oh great, not again,” Razor muttered.

Luna leapt out of the cart and floated towards the bridge. It was coated in shadows, but there was clearly a large piece of graffiti drawn on its side

The graffiti did not bother her. It was just one of many tags scattered across the city, and the bridge in particular was a magnet for it. The art of vandalism was, in some form or another, as old as civilization itself. It was the curtest type of civil disobedience possible; nailing a list of complaints to a public institution or flinging eggs at a public official was nothing new. It was even an intrinsic part of Equestria’s history: Chancellor Puddinghead had earned public support by throwing a pie at her predecessor, and swept the subsequent election on an “Egg the Incumbent” platform.

There were enough belligerent youths in Canterlot to keep the art alive and well. Trace spells were easy to cast, so repeat offenders were rare. The low price of spray paint and the periodic black market diffraction scroll, however, meant new attempts were not uncommon. Luna had seen her share of obscene words and irate tags among the buildings of Canterlot.

Its aesthetic choices were certainly loud, but that was as expected as its existence. If anything, its presence assured it would be gaudy—one could not be surprised by either unless they were surprised by both. It was written in an overwrought, curly script and took up most of the wall; clearly the result of several cans. It was bright, painful white, with a dark blue border around each letter. Perhaps the color scheme had been an attempt at symbolism, but it was too garish to succeed.

The content, on the other hoof, was an entirely different issue. “Princest Is Wincest,” it said. The grammar was the first casualty in a long war on meaning. Vocabulary was the second. Luna could certainly recognize slang, sometimes even decode it, but these particular portmanteaus escaped her. Capitalization was the third fatality, though by that point the massacre was well past complete.

The responses scrawled beneath the graffiti prevented any ceasefire. Each one was like an artillery shell at a peace talk, compared to the original travesty above them. “They can prin my cest any time,” one said. “Tartarus yes!!” another emphatically declared. “NMM is bukin hot,” a third read. Despite the low standard, the others only got less coherent and more objectionable as they went, not unlike a real war.

Luna tore her gaze away. This sort of sentence, if it could even be called such, was so absurd as to be offensive. In some ways, it was even more irritating than a simple obscenity would have been.

Luna turned back to her carriage. The pair of bat-pegasi waited patiently for her. A periodic twitch of a hoof or leathery shuffle of wings was the only evidence they were bored.

“Razor Wind, Empty Sky. I have memorized the coordinates. We can go,” Luna announced.

Razor cricked her neck. The sound echoed slightly in a nearby alleyway. “You know, princess, I’m sure the Canterlot police would’ve found it themselves,” she said. “I don’t think that documenting every tag we drive past is a very good use of your time.”

Sky poked her with an elbow.

“What? You know I’m right,” Razor said.

Sky rolled his eyes. “That wasn’t the point.”

A small smile crept across Luna’s face. “Everypony has to do their part to ensure things run smoothly. That includes me as much as anyone.” She glanced back briefly, then started walking towards her carriage. “And while I would love to simply clean it myself, the magic-resistant paint means I would need to shear off part of the wall to do so. I doubt that would be good for the bridge.”

Luna settled into her seat. She tried to return to the view, but found it difficult. She rubbed her chin. “You two are familiar with the common slang,” she said slowly. “Have either of you ever heard the phrase ‘princest is wincest’?”

The two pegasi managed to cough loudly into a hoof at the exact same moment. They continued pulling the carriage, though the thick cloud of awkward silence made it difficult. The fact that they didn’t accidently hit a curb or lamppost would have been impressive, had somepony besides the princess been around to appreciate it.

“Uh, no, Your Highness. Can’t say I have,” Razor muttered.

“What she said,” Sky added.

Luna frowned. “And here I thought the guards were well-versed in youthful candor.”

“I’m not that young,” Razor muttered.

Her partner chuckled softly. “Obviously.”

Razor opened her mouth, intending to loose a devastating counter-insult. Several scathing triumphs of wit formed in her head, and “your mom is old” was quickly shortlisted by multiple neurons to volley at Empty Sky.

She glanced back at the princess, and her mouth slowly, reluctantly clamped shut. She would save it for the barracks, where the other night guards would be able to witness her impressive comeback.

The guards continued pulling the carriage in silence, hoping the princess wouldn’t press her question.

Luna continued rubbing her chin. If even her guards were unable to decipher the obtuse construction, then there might be some real problem present. She would have to ask Celestia about the matter at the earliest opportunity. Perhaps some sort of literacy program was in order, budget permitting. If nothing else, her sister might be able to help her divine the meaning of the phrase. Learning the common pony’s tongue could only help her public image, after all.

Ever since the beginning of their rule, the princesses of Equestria had always made time for each other. Their daily meal together was an integral part of their routine. Some days it would be Celestia’s dinner and Luna’s breakfast, other days it would be the opposite, and now and then a brunch or snack would get involved, but the meal itself was always there in some form.

Today it took place in the early morning, well before the moon set or the sun rose. Luna would retire to bed around ten-hundred hours, and her dinner was the last break she would have until then, thanks to a series of tax legislations that needed review.

Celestia, meanwhile, had been awake for several hours already; even as a “morning pony”, she never seemed content with the crack of dawn.

The room they ate in was somewhat removed from the rest of the castle. It was a few hallways past the kitchen, a couple of doors down from the staff quarters, and a staircase away from the gardens. The room was a plain blue, with matching tiles and walls. It was almost entirely unadorned, save a few pieces of art and a single, massive window. The piece of glass had taken three master artisans to make, and two master craftsmen to install. Maintaining it took a shift of seven ponies, and the yearly budget allocated two thousand bits just for the sponges they used.

The view was worth every resource. It was almost as if the window wasn’t even there, and on a good day it actually magnified the sky ever so slightly. Many staff chose to spend their breaks in the room, provided the princesses were not occupying it.

Neither Celestia nor Luna ever looked out of that window when they ate together. Their gaze rarely drifted too far from the small, circular table in the center of the room. Its presence, however, made all the difference. The knowledge it was there, the subtle streak of starlight it threw into the room, and the subconscious connection to the sky being slightly less impeded was well worth it.

Celestia took a sip of her tea: mint and chamomile, with a dash of lemon, if she was not mistaken. A half-eaten muffin sat on the table in front of her, and she was about a third of the way through her newspaper.

Luna had finished her salad long ago, though her beet juice hadn’t quite run out yet.

Celestia chuckled. “Oh, here’s a good one. ‘Local Pony Gets Horn Stuck in Projector’,” she read. “Apparently it was at an amateur movie night, and nopony knew how to fix it.”

Luna took a sip of her juice.

“Not in the mood for slapstick, sister?”

“Not particularly,” Luna replied. “And I do have to wonder why anypony would attempt such a thing.”

“A momentary lapse in judgment, sister.” Celestia folded the paper and set it next to her plate. “Every pony has them, now and then.”

Luna took another sip. “Speaking of, I encountered another piece of graffiti today.”

“Did you now? I had thought your guards would discourage you from hunting such trivial things.” Celestia picked up her muffin. Hazelnuts and cranberries studded its surface. A contemplative appraisal was required to determine the best angle to bite it from, in order to maximize the flavor of each mouthful.

“I was not hunting for it—it just appeared.” Another sip. “Besides, it is good I saw it. It was so poorly constructed. I fear we may need to set aside some bits for a new literacy program.”

Celestia’s laugh was muffled by muffin chunks. “Oh, don’t be so theatric, Luna. Canterlot has one of the highest literacy rates in Equestria. Ninety-nine-point-seven percent, as of last census. Even ignoring some bureaucratic embellishment, that is quite exemplary.”

“You did not witness this graffiti, Tia. It felt like an attack on the Equestrian language, grammatically and severely.”

Her mouth free of muffin residue, Celestia’s next laugh was a little louder. “And what, exactly, did it say?” She grabbed her teacup in her magic.

“‘Princest is wincest.’”

A normal pony would have frozen at such a statement. A nervous pony would have dropped their cup, or possibly made some squeaky gasp. A theatric pony would have spat their tea out, no doubt achieving much greater oral pressure and spew distance than physics would normally allow.

Celestia did none of those things. In fact, there was only the tiniest hitch in her upstroke. Her sip was admittedly longer than normal, possibly approaching a chug or slurp, but by the time she lowered her cup she had recovered completely. Only a well-trained socialite would have noticed a difference.

“Is that all?” Celestia said simply.

“‘Is that all?’ You don’t mean to tell me that such inept phrasing has become commonplace in my absence?”

“It’s just simple slang, Luna. Hardly a harbinger of illiteracy.” Celestia calmly took another sip of tea.

“Well, do you know what it means?”

Celestia’s stoic demeanor held strong. “As a matter of fact, I do.” Celestia’s voice was calm. “Both are portmanteaus of ‘incest’.”

Unlike Celestia, Princess Luna was a theatric individual. Even without outdated royal protocol to encourage volume, she had a habit of overreacting to things. It came as no surprise when she spewed her juice across the table.

Celestia’s horn dimmed as she lowered the magic barrier. She had prepared the spell well in advance, so the juice didn’t hit anything of importance.

“Feel better?” Celestia asked calmly. She could have told Luna after she had lowered her cup, certainly, but a certain catharsis came with exaggeration. There was nothing stainable nearby, and hopefully Luna had gotten the emotion out of her system along with the saliva.

Luna frowned. “I most certainly do not! Do you mean to tell me that our subjects regularly accuse their princesses of incestuous relations?

“Not accuse, Luna. A more accurate term would probably be fantasize.”

Luna’s mouth fell open.

Celestia took another sip of tea. “You see, ‘wincest’ is a combination of ‘win’ and ‘incest’—‘win’ is an adjective in this case, and it means ‘good’. I’ll admit it’s not the most intuitive situation, but I suppose slang rarely is.”

Luna had not closed her mouth.

Celestia’s eyes flicked to the side, then back again. “Luna? Are you alright?”

Luna’s mouth finally snapped shut. The clack of her teeth echoed slightly in the large room. “That’s disgusting.”

“Oh come now, Luna. Fantasies are just that. If anything, I thought you would be flattered.”

Luna slammed her hooves on the table. The dishes rattled slightly. “So you mean to tell me that you are perfectly fine with being reduced to a sex object, who also fornicates with her sister?

“I will admit that it was not the image I was trying to cultivate—”

“Oh, but once it showed up it was perfectly fine to ignore?” Luna said loudly.

Celestia took a slow sip of tea. In any other company, she would have made some effort to appear inscrutable and detached, but she knew Luna would see through such formalities. Her nose wrinkled slightly as she dredged up the appropriate memories. “Allow me to tell you a story, sister.

“This happened about three-hundred years after our confrontation, give or take a decade. I was in Canterlot’s market district, in one of my usual disguises. I was a pegasus that day, if I recall correctly.

“Anyway, I was browsing through a used book store. I had read most of the titles, of course, but the aura of such places never gets old. I had scanned most of the stock rather thoroughly, when I decided to dig through their bargain bin. Most of it was uninteresting—the usual pundit fluff and trite romance. When I hit the bottom, however, one title caught my eye.”

Celestia smiled. It was the type of smile one might use on a belligerent pet or misbehaving child who had managed to be cute despite their behavior. “Princess Celestia and the King of Darkness. At first I was perplexed that nopony had informed me of such a piece. Normally marketing executives would trip over themselves to tell me about such things, hoping that stroking my ego would result in additional sales. Naturally, curiosity got the better of me, and I purchased it. I still remember the wink the cashier gave me during checkout, though I didn’t know what it meant at the time.

“The story was technically inept. The plot was nonexistent. The descriptions were bland at best. I was nearly ready to abandon it,” Celestia paused for emphasis, “but then it got to the sex scenes. My fictional avatar was assaulted by an idealized representation of King Sombra for about four-hundred pages. The main setting was a dungeon, but after a paragraph’s worth of scene setting, most of the prose was focused on various biological verbs. The story, threadbare as it was, ended when my doppelganger learned to enjoy the depraved situation despite herself.” Celestia took a bite of muffin, and washed it down with another slow drink. “On the whole, it was about as realistic as a hydra doing the polka.”

Luna’s mouth had fallen open again, though it was a few inches wider than the last time. She forcefully closed it, though it took a visible effort. “And what did you do?”

Celestia rubbed her chin for a moment. “Well, this was well before a constitutional monarchy had been established, and most of my advisors at the time were yes-mares and appeasers. When I passed a series of laws forbidding the use of my likeness without permission, none of my staff objected.”

“And?” Luna asked.

“The sales of Princess Celestia and the King of Darkness rose by about three-hundred percent in the first week of the law’s enforcement. A bunch of copycats followed. Despite not being sold in any bookstore, many printers could not keep up with demand. If I recall correctly, one art gallery even hosted an exhibit based solely around nude paintings of an unnamed white alicorn ‘inspired by popular literature’.” Celestia chuckled softly. “‘Alicorns in Repose’ it was called. I sent a pair of inspectors there, and every subject of every painting had its cutie mark covered by hair, or seafoam, or a low-cut dress, or somesuch.”

Celestia shrugged. “After about a month, I gave up and repealed all the laws. I still have that book somewhere, though it is not very readable.”

“That’s it? Clearly you did not try hard enough,” Luna scoffed. “Letting such a concept fester was a poor decision.”

“Was it?” Celestia asked simply. “You do not enter the more…private dreams during your patrols. The principle is the same.”

Luna’s ear flicked. “The principle might be similar, but your execution is lacking. I avoid such fantasies completely—their content is a mystery to me. Your implicit approval of these absurd scenarios is disconcerting.”

Celestia did not respond right away. She took her time with another mouthful of muffin and a sip of tea. Luna waited silently.

Celestia swallowed softly. “Tell me, sister. If you accidentally entered one of the more erotic dreams, possibly one featuring the two of us, what would you do?” Celestia leaned forward. “Would you stop it? Would you change it?”

“Of course not. It would just reappear the next night,” Luna replied, a little too quickly.

“And what if you could edit them every night, without any effort? Would you?”

“No. Eventually their absence would become conspicuous.” Luna’s ear flicked. “I see what you are doing, Tia.”

Celestia leaned back into her seat. She did not bother to mask her satisfaction. She always enjoyed the Socratic method. “I knew you would. You know as well as I do that a conspicuous absence is much worse than an open admission. A dark secret just encourages flashlights.”

“Cute metaphor.”

“Thank you, I thought so.”

“But,” Luna lowered her voice, “that doesn’t explain why you covered up Nightmare Moon.”

Celestia’s teacup paused in front of her face. ”So, you heard about that, did you?”

“Of course I did.”

“That was different.”

“Don’t give me that, Tia!” Luna leaned forward. “You suppressed it on purpose. It took effort. Why does that monster deserve a courtesy we don’t have?” She leaned in further. “Why does it get to be forgotten while these fantasies flourish?”

Celestia looked up from her tea. “I knew our little ponies would link you and her, regardless of how truthful that was. Call me foolish, but I was hoping that relegating her to myth would make her easier to forget when she was finally defeated.”

“And what if I don’t want her forgotten?” Luna’s ears flattened. “One of the responses to this graffiti…it accused Nightmare Moon of being attractive.”

“And you would rather they fear you?”

Luna did not answer.

Celestia set her cup down. “Luna, I know it might be jarring, or even disgusting that our subjects think of us like that. But in their own way, those fantasies are a good thing. Our little ponies will never act on them, or let them impede their lives. And, strange as it may seem, they represent familiarity and affection. It is normal to base your fantasies on the familiar, although admittedly it is not always very intuitive or tasteful or realistic. That’s just how ideas are, and it is why they are so hard to police.”

Luna took a sip of her juice, and then let the empty glass thunk onto the table. “Sometimes, Tia, I worry that you are too optimistic for our own good,” A hint of levity crept into her sentence; not much, but it was there.

Celestia laughed softly. “Trust me, Luna. One day you’ll find it flattering. Though it may not seem like it, it really is a compliment.”

“Hmph. I would still like a cleaning crew dispatched posthaste.”

Celestia smiled. “Well, I won’t argue with that.”

Luna stood up. “Well, this discussion has been quite…enlightening, sister, but I’m afraid that some paperwork awaits.”

“Of course. Sleep well, Luna.”

“Wake well, Tia.”

Luna trotted out of the room. A pair of aides waited outside the door for her, oblivious to the conversation that had just transpired.

Celestia took another slow sip of her tea. She swiveled on her seat slightly. She hadn’t looked out the window in ages, but it really was a gorgeous view. The starlight was incredibly bright, and the moon sat quietly near the horizon.

Celestia put her cup down and stood up. Luna had taken that better than she hoped. The other details could wait until she had adjusted to the concept. Certainly didn’t want to overload her. The manuscripts she had confiscated over the years always gave her a good laugh, but Luna might not feel the same way, not yet. Better to wait before showing her fiction starring the two of them. Especially that one with the genderswapped foursome with Nightmare Moon and Cadance.

Author's Note:

I considered calling this Princess Luna Finds Some Graffiti, but "X verbs a Y" titles hurt my soul.

Thanks to my editors and prereaders; as with everything I have ever written (ever), this story would not be a quarter as readable without their help.