• Published 29th Dec 2013
  • 9,355 Views, 1,608 Comments

What Hath Joined Together - Bad_Seed_72



Sequel to "The Order". Despite receiving a harsh reprimand from Captain Ironhoof, Flash Sentry still struggles with his feelings for Twilight. When he is assigned to escort her to the Crystal Empire, tensions on all sides escalate.

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Blessings And Curses

Blessings And Curses

The door to his room wasn’t locked. When Flash Sentry opened it, Greyhoof was sitting on the edge of his bed, his hindhooves dangling above the floor like those of a young colt. Flash couldn’t help but grin.

Greyhoof looked up, a wistful smile on his grizzled muzzle. “Well, sire?”

Trotting over to the closet, Flash removed his helmet and placed it back over its stand within the wardrobe. “A well is a hole in the ground, Greyhoof.”

Greyhoof chuckled. “Well, Sir Flash Sentry, for you to have responded so cheekily, I should expect that things went… alright, yes?”

Flash turned around and began removing his armor, starting with the shoulder-guards. “You could say that, Greyhoof.”

Carefully getting down from the bed, groaning as his old joints protested against his weight, Greyhoof replied, “I could, Flash. But I’ll be honest. You’re far more cheerful than I’d expected, so please forgive my curiosity.”

Hanging up his shoulder-guards, Flash moved onto his chestplate. “Well, the Captain was far from happy with me. He didn’t exactly hold anything back.”

Greyhoof joined Flash, despite his old bones’ protests. “I see. Here,” he said, putting a forehoof on his chestplate, “let me get that for you, sire.”

“No, it’s alright, Greyhoof. I’ve got it,” Flash assured. I might have let you help me earlier when I thought this was going to be the last time I’d see you, but now that that isn’t the case, I won’t be having you strain yourself.

Greyhoof sat down on his haunches, sighing. “And independent as ever. So I assume he did not strip you of your rank?”

Grunting as he pulled off his chestplate, Flash shook his head. “No. He did not demote me, suspend me, or fire me. Nor did he send me to the gallows, though he probably wanted to.”

Greyhoof tapped his chin. “Hmm… Flash, do you believe in curses?”

Flash did a double-take. “Curses?”

“Yes, sire. Curses. Jinxes, omens, broken mirrors, that sort of thing.”

“From what I know about magic, curses aren’t real,” Flash said as he removed his noble-blue saddle blanket and began to fold it. “At least, that’s what I was taught.”

While both stallions would never know the gift of unicorn magic, part of the compulsory Equestrian education in civics was an examination of the strengths of each race. Although unicorns were powerful—even those who were not of the noble class were gifted in some form of magic, usually artistically—there were some limitations to their magic. Flash Sentry may not have been the brightest pupil, but he had absorbed the lessons on tribal differences and history quite well.

“Ah. Forgive me. It has been far too long since this old stallion has set hoof inside a classroom,” Greyhoof said with a slight laugh. “But the reason I ask is that, while I don’t want to jinx anything, dear boy, I am perplexed as to why you’ve been on the receiving end of mercy from…” He shuddered. “Ironhoof.

Turning around, Flash sighed and glanced at his hooves a moment before looking up. “I don’t really understand why, but… Princess Celestia told Captain Ironhoof to.” He paused, glancing away in shame.

“The Princess did that?” Greyhoof asked, sounding incredulous.

Flash nodded, glancing past his window. The sun blazed brilliantly in the skyline, casting radiant, life-giving light to all those below. It was a beautiful day. It would have been a great one to have been his last.

The gentle placement of a forehoof on his shoulder prompted Flash Sentry to look back over. Greyhoof patted his shoulder and smiled, a bit of wonder shining in his old, tired eyes. “You should go and thank her, Flash.”

“I will,” he assured, giving him a nod. Greyhoof patted his shoulder again in reply, then withdrew his forehoof. Flash grinned and resumed removing his armor, piece by piece, then hung it in the closet.

Making no motion to halt the stubborn stallion, Greyhoof rested on his haunches again, his joints audibly protesting beneath his suit. Flash heard this, but said nothing. A thin blanket of silence settled between them again, as warm and welcome as the sunshine.

Then, another question drew Flash into a pause. “So… Sir Flash Sentry, if you haven’t been suspended, why are you removing your armor? If I may ask, of course.”

You may always ask, Greyhoof. It’s nice to have somepony who would want to ask.

Flash turned around again, leaning against a wall as he removed one of the iron horseshoes. Between grunts of effort, he said, “Ironhoof—nggh—wanted me to—urgh—take the day off. Says it’s ‘good for me.’” Flash scowled as he put one horseshoe back, then set to work on the other.

“Good for you?” Greyhoof raised an eyebrow. “Who shall guard our beautiful Princesses then?”

Flash chuckled and shook his head, a hint of a blush gracing his cheeks. “Greyhoof, please. You’re flattering me. Everypony shall be fine.”

Standing up, Greyhoof replied with a hint of indignation, “Sire, I may be a lot of things, but I am no liar.”

Flash paused, raising an eyebrow of his own.

“I mean what I say, Sir Flash Sentry. You are a damn fine guard.”

The last horseshoe almost clattered to the floor. Greyhoof never swore.

“Here, let me get that for you, sire,” the servant insisted, leaning down to pick up the fallen shoe. Before Flash Sentry could object, Greyhoof scooped it up and put it back inside the wardrobe. “There we are.”

“Greyhoof,” Flash said, a bit of fluster in his voice, “everything will be fine. I am just one guard, you know. And besides… Princess Twilight is taking the day off as well.”

“Well, things are certainly not fine,” Greyhoof said with a huff as he headed back towards the door, “but my voice has no weight anyway. Though…” He glanced over his shoulder, confusion on his muzzle. “I am surprised both yourself and the Princess are free of duty today, sire. Coincidence?”

Flash shrugged. “Greyhoof, after yesterday, I would be more surprised if she didn’t take a rest.”

“A rest. Is that what they call it nowadays?” Greyhoof smirked.

This time, Flash was not so quick to grab the reins on his rebellious wings. They unfurled themselves and began to extend, much to his humiliation. A furnace of crimson sprouted across his cheeks, mingling with the tangerine and creating a blaze of its own. “Greyhoof!”

Laughing into a forehoof, Greyhoof mused, “Forgive me, sire. I must say…” Taking a breath to calm himself, he continued more seriously, “I am very surprised and grateful to see that I will still have the honor of being your servant. Please forgive my wantonness, sire.” He bowed.

Forcing his wings down to his sides, Flash trotted over and placed a forehoof on Greyhoof’s shoulder this time. “No, it’s alright, Greyhoof. Sorry. And,” he said, wincing as he looked away, “I’m sorry for how I acted this morning.”

Greyhoof smiled and gently pushed his forehoof away. “Think nothing of it, Flash. There is nothing to be forgiven.”

Flash just smiled back, grateful in more ways than one.

“So…” With another playful smirk, Greyhoof asked, “How will Sir Flash Sentry be spending his day off?”

“I’m not sure,” Flash admitted, rubbing the back of his neck with a forehoof. “Honestly, I was just planning on going back to bed.”

Greyhoof’s smile fell. “Ah. Well… The day is yours to use or waste, sire. Though,” he began as he rose up, “if I were you, dear boy, I would not waste such fortune.”

“And what would you do?” Flash challenged.

Greyhoof laughed heartily, smacking his belly with a forehoof. “Sire, one of these days, when the skies are a bit brighter, I shall tell you of my colthood days. Then maybe you’ll have an idea of what I would do in your hooves.”

Joining him in laughter, Flash Sentry could only shake his head at the absurdity of it all. Less than an hour ago, he was convinced that he was marching to his fate, ready to have the last five years of his life thrown away with some choice words from Captain Ironhoof.

Now, here he was: reprimanded but still standing, an entire day of possibility before him. Somehow, as he laughed near the door with Greyhoof, the moment seemed more than just a moment—heavy with possibility, opportunity, and meaning.

For the first time in a long time, Flash Sentry felt at peace, and stronger than the armor he’d tucked away.

~

“Celestia, are you sure?”

Princess Twilight sat on one of the large velvet pillows strewn about the floor of Princess Celestia’s private quarters. She chose one near the fireplace, letting the flickering flames warm a chill in her bones that no thermometer could measure.

Princess Celestia, who was relaxing on a similar (albeit larger) pillow near her favorite former student, nodded. A warm smile graced her muzzle, though there was a hint of stern finality behind it. “Yes, Twilight. Luna has agreed to take care of the first half of your Royal Court, and I will fill in for the latter. Please just try and relax today.”

“And I’m very grateful,” Twilight said, illuminating her horn as she brought a cup of piping tea towards her, “but I don’t want you to worry. I know yesterday was… a rare occurrence,” she added, flinching a little bit on yesterday. “I know that something like that probably won’t happen again.”

Celestia furrowed her brow. “No, Twilight. It will not.”

Twilight sipped at her tea. “Celestia… what shall we do with him?”

Celestia sighed and levitated a cup of her own tea towards her. “Per our laws, we must charge him officially before the Royal Court within forty-eight hours. After that, it can take anywhere from one week to several to schedule an appropriate hearing and trial, in which you, Luna, and I shall hear testimony from the accused—”

Twilight put down her teacup, frowning. “No… forgive me. I was not meaning—”

“Forgive me, Twilight,” Celestia said, sighing. She, too, put down her drink. “I did not mean to patronize you. Of course you are well-versed in Equestrian law.”

“No, it’s alright.” Twilight shifted her weight on the pillow, tension springing through her shoulders. “I mean… It has been ages since somepony has done something like this, hasn’t it?”

Celestia nodded. “Indeed, Twilight. It has.”

Sighing, Celestia rose to her hooves and strode towards the balcony's open window. Twilight joined her afterwards. The two alicorns were silent for a few moments, looking down from Canterlot Castle on high towards the capital city below and Mount Canterlot in the distance.

Celestia draped a wing over Twilight’s shoulder. “What happened yesterday has troubled me greatly. The pure rage in Orion’s voice that you told me about… the way he so quickly sprung against you and the Royal Guard…” She shook her head.

Twilight leaned into her wing and nodded, relishing the comforting warmth of her mentor. “I know. I just… It troubles me, too,” she said quietly, a shudder passing down her spine.

Celestia leaned in closer to Twilight. She opened her mouth to reply when a loud knock at the door cut her thoughts short. Withdrawing her wing, she looked down at Twilight, who nodded.

“A moment, please,” Princess Celestia called out, pivoting on her hooves and trotting towards the door. When she was a few feet away, she sparked her horn and unlocked the great, heavy door, then opened it.

In the threshold was Night Watch, one of her personal guards. “Your Highness,” the unicorn stallion said with a low, gracious bow, “there is somepony who would like to speak to you.”

“Oh?” Celestia released her magical grip, allowing the doors to stay open. “I am not expecting any visitors, Night Watch. Who is it?”

“It is Sir Flash Sentry,” Night Watch said.

At the mention of his name, Twilight looked away from the window and folded her wings against her sides.

“I see. Where is he?” Princess Celestia asked.

Night Watch looked up at his Princess. “He is in the hallway, Your Highness. Shall I send him away?”

“No, I shall speak to him.” Glancing over her shoulder, Celestia said to the smaller alicorn, “I will be back in a few minutes, Twilight.”

Twilight nodded, unfurling and folding her wings back as she looked back to the horizon.

Night Watch stepped aside and bowed his head as Princess Celestia passed him, closing the doors with her magic. “Please stand by until I return, Night Watch,” she said, setting her hooves towards the corridors.

“Yes, Your Highness,” Night Watch said, rising to observe the corridor once his Princess’s hoof-steps died down to a steady silence in the distance.

Down the corridor to her personal chambers were a series of spiraling, twisting hallways. Each one led either to the private quarters of one of the four Princesses or Prince Blueblood. In the middle of this was a sort of epicenter, where various Royal Guards patrolled, halting anypony who tried to follow any of the pathways.

In this epicenter, Flash Sentry waited, naked of his armor but looking rather professional still. Princess Celestia acknowledged him with a smile as she approached. Seeing this, Flash Sentry bowed deeply, lowering his body to the floor.

“Your Highness,” Flash said, gluing his eyes to the red carpet.

“Flash Sentry. Welcome,” Princess Celestia said.

From the peripherals of his pupils, he saw her flick her mane. He rose accordingly. “Thank you, Princess.”

“You’re welcome,” she said, standing tall before him. She smiled warmly down at her Royal Guard, choosing not to inquire about his lack of armor. It would be a mere tongue exercise, nothing more. And though she knew what he would reply, she asked, “To what do I owe this visit, Flash Sentry?”

“I…” Flash swallowed, cursing the tightness in his throat. I want to thank you for... saving my job? For not sending me to the dungeons? I want you to thank you for… for letting me do what I did…

Because… you must… you must know…

Cursing himself, Flash cleared his throat and coughed into a forehoof, buying himself precious seconds beneath the steely gaze of the Princess. “I… I just wanted to say… thank you, Your Highness.”

Despite his slight stammer, he was far more eloquent than he would have been in the presence of another alicorn. For that, he was more than grateful, silently thanking all the lucky stars in his bare sky.

Princess Celestia smiled warmly. “You are welcome, Flash. You are an excellent Royal Guard, and it would hurt to see you leave.”

At this, several nearby Royal Guards clenched their teeth and clutched their spears a bit tighter, but Flash paid them no mind. Praise was a bitter poison at worst, a numbing salve at best.

“Thank you, Your Highness,” Flash said, bowing again.

Princess Celestia chuckled. “You’re welcome, Flash. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Shaking his muzzle as he rose, Flash replied, “No, but thank you, Princess.”

“You’re welcome.” As she turned around, Princess Celestia added with a wink, “Enjoy your day off, Flash Sentry.”

“Thank you, Princess,” Flash said, bowing low again. If it weren’t for you, I’d have all the days off in Equestria to enjoy.

I’m not sure yet if that is a blessing or a curse.

Flash Sentry waited until her hoof-steps became mere, distant echoes in the tangled mess of corridors. Then, and only then, he rose to his hooves, dodging the suspicious gazes of his fellow Royal Guards. Without a word, he turned towards the stairwells, lighter on his hooves due to the absence of his armor.

~

Princess Celestia was about halfway back to her chambers when she heard it. The unzipping of a zipper, though there was not one garment to be found here.

Spinning around, she groaned as a figure, draconic and equine both in twisted ways that defied the laws of Nature itself, clawed its way from the fabric of reality behind her.

Made of ten merry animals, and wearing a sly grin that could elicit a laugh from the most stone-faced Royal Guard, her visitor nonetheless failed to bring a smile to her muzzle.

“Discord,” she said flatly, a greeting only in appearance.

Discord’s eagle claw was the first to pop into existence behind the veil of the everything-nothing, followed by his lion paw, then his lithe body. His pair of pathetic wings pulled through the void, then his dragon claw and Buffalo hoof. Once his tail poked through while he stepped into the corridor, Princess Celestia contemplated leaving the hallway at once.

Despite her brewing hatred for the demon who appeared before her, Princess Celestia had manners. “Discord,” she said again when his terrible visage exited from that side of reality to this one.

“Ah, Celestia,” Discord said with a bow, zipping the fabric of reality shut. “It is so good to see you again.” He rose up to meet her gaze, his toothy grin spread firmly across his face.

“In the middle of the hallway, Discord?” Celestia huffed. He was most oft taken to appearing randomly in her personal chambers, when not even Twilight or Night Watch gave her company. Those times were the worst.

While she was clever at hiding her contempt for him in the presence of others—especially Twilight and the other Elements of Harmony—alone, Princess Celestia refused to wear her mask for him. If they weren’t in the middle of the corridor now, where Twilight, Night Watch, or another Royal Guard could find her, she wouldn’t have said anything more than his name.

Discord, seemingly oblivious to this, snapped a set of his claws. In an instant, a bouquet of roses appeared in his outstretched lion’s paw. “Somepony looks like they could use some cheering up,” he said with a grin, holding out the flowers to her.

Ignoring them, Celestia merely picked up her hooves.

“Oh, going to be that way, are we?” Discord sighed and snapped his claws again. The roses disappeared, replaced by a bottle of Apple Family whiskey. “Perhaps you need even more of a pick-me-up?”

Celestia said nothing and kept walking, although her steps were slow.

“Come now,” Discord offered, hovering through the air, “this is the best in all of Equestria. The only thing that could’ve made my thousand-year stone nap bearable was this whiskey. Try it.” He floated alongside her, keeping pace with the Princess.

She continued to ignore him.

“Really?” Discord rolled his eyes and face-clawed. In another instant of bright light and brief smoke, the bottle of Applejack Daniel’s was gone.

Discord now wore a cap with two cans of soda strapped to it, complete with a set of drinking straws leading to his muzzle. “Well, fine. If you won’t have a drink, then I will.” He sipped his straws loudly and happily, leaning in close so she could hear.

“Don’t you have something better to do?” Celestia snapped, stopping in her tracks at last.

Discord nudged her in the ribs and winked. “One of these cans has whiskey in it.”

Groaning, Celestia shook her head, her long, flowing mane falling to her shoulders. “Please, Discord. I am not in the mood for your games today.”

“Oh, Celly, do you have to always be so seeeeeerious?” Discord whined. Pouting, the draconequus snapped his claws a fourth time, sending the soda-whiskey-hat back into the realms of the everything-nothing from whence he came.

Turning the corner towards her personal chambers, Celestia said, “I have to be when somepony threatened Twilight’s life just yesterday, taking up hooves against the order.”

“The order?” Discord groaned and rolled his eyes. He rolled his body along with it, twisting and curling his tail and limbs against himself as he made a circle in the air. “Order, order, order. You’re always so boring, dear Celly. Perhaps you’d do better with a bit of chaos?”

She stopped again, shooting daggers at him over her shoulder. “Go away.”

Straightening himself back out, Discord laughed and feigned a yawn. “Maybe I should. You aren’t even faking it today. Forgot to put on your brave face, eh, Celly?”

Celestia bit her lip, a wave of anger washing over her. She stomped at the floor with a forehoof, rounding entirely on him. “I don’t have time for this today, Discord!”

Discord chuckled and snapped his claws. When the smoke cleared, a large clock hung around his neck, its hands made up of a lion’s paw and eagle’s claw. “Well, I have plenty of time here for you, Celestia. Why, it’s not even eight! Plenty of time to grab some breakfast or coffee and wipe that grumpy frown off your face,” he said, a sharp edge in his voice as he glared at her.

Sneering at him, Princess Celestia spun back around and took to her hooves again. Discord hated Night Watch (and vice versa) and, as such, would surely whisk himself back into the background once the stallion came into view. Deciding not to grace him any longer with the benefit of her voice, Celestia stayed silent as she kept walking.

Sighing overdramatically, Discord shook his head. “You really don’t see it yet, do you?”

“See what?” Celestia asked, continuing on. Night Watch was coming into view.

Discord snickered. “Your little visitor back there.”

Celestia slowed her steps. “What do you mean?”

“Your Highness?” Night Watch called as she came into his field of vision, bowing.

“Gotta go,” Discord said coolly, bringing his paw up to his forehead in a mock-salute. He stuck his tongue out and blew a raspberry at Night Watch, who grimaced in response.

In a flash of smoke, Discord wound his way back into the void, leaving Princess Celestia and Night Watch behind in their mundane reality.

Celestia trotted up to her guard. “Thank you, Night Watch. You spoke up just in time.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” Night Watch said as he rose. “I’m not… very fond of him, Your Highness.”

“Neither am I,” Celestia said as she began to open the doors with her magic.

Somewhere, behind the veil of the gap between dimensions, Discord twisted his face into a frown, crossing his arms as he sighed. Collapsing his telescope back into his pocket, he said, “It wasn’t always this way, Celly. You weren’t always this cold.”