• Published 26th Mar 2014
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Rise of the Phoenix Empire - kudzuhaiku



Set after the events of 'The Alicorn Academy' this story tells the tale of the rebirth of Equestria, Out of the flames and ashes comes new life.

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Chapter 3

A tiny creature cautiously prowled the Everfree, darting from shadow to shadow, ducking into nooks and hallows, trying to avoid being noticed. It moved, silently, very nearly invisible, a faint shimmer of light being the only thing that gave it away. As it ducked from place to place, it left behind droplets of green goo that glowed faintly in the shadows.

There was a howl, much like the sound of a tree creaking in the wind, and the small creature froze, terrified, its spell nearly failing. It abandoned caution and began to run.

The wood was suddenly alive with activity, more howls following the first, and then joined by horns blaring. There was a flare of white light, and the shimmering bubble of invisibility was gone, revealing a chitinous black creature. On its back were several green and black lumps. There were cracks in its shell, and green ooze trickled out. It ran towards the center of the wood, Ivy’s hounds hot on its tail.


Ivy was startled by the sudden howling, her claws flexing. She disengaged from Brimstone, who was on the bed with her and was out the door in a flash. Minerva and Hoodwink followed, and Brimstone rolled out of the bed and was on his hooves in a hurry. They all heard shouts outside, horns blaring, and more howls.

Ivy ran down her tree home at breakneck speed, reaching the ground quickly. Unknown invaders were always a concern. She waited, pacing, prowling back and forth on the ground, her tail lashing the air, producing the occasional supersonic crack.

Her companions joined her, standing on the ground, Brimstone very close to her side. “My wood, my rules.” Ivy said, reminding her friends who was in charge. The companions waited, impatient, pacing. The howls drew closer. The hounds had caught something.

There was a gasp as the timber wolf entered the clearing. In its jaws it held something small and black, grasping it by its head, dragging it along, mostly unharmed but subdued.

“Changeling!” Minerva cried, her horn glowing.

Hoodwink’s own horn began to glow orange.

“Mercy!” The changeling cried.

“YOU WHO HAVE NO MERCY FOR OTHERS!” Minerva shouted, nearly spitting, the Silvermane family spell mirror popping into place around her. Heat radiated from her crystalline body.

“ENOUGH!” Ivy roared, the sound audible all the way to Ponyville. Her companions fell back, cowering. “Why are you here, in my wood changeling?” Ivy asked, her voice filled with malice.

“Mercy…” the changeling pleaded, “I have not come to do harm.” It cowered, hanging from the timber wolf’s jaws.

Ivy made a gesture and the timber wolf dropped the changeling. It fell to the ground and cowered, green goo oozing upon the leaf covered soil.

“Why are you here?” Ivy asked, her voice commanding. “I do not want more violence, but I will allow it to happen if I do not like what you have to say.”

The changeling nodded. It took several deep breaths, staring at Ivy with a pleading look. “We are nearly exterminated.” The changeling said. “You have been a terrible foe. It was a mistake to anger you.” The changeling said, its voice quavering.

Minerva could barely contain her rage; she sputtered, unable to form words, her horn growing even brighter, the crystal spire on her head beginning to crackle with energy, the two tips arcing back and forth from one another.

“That is enough Minerva.” Ivy said. “Do not make me say so again.”

“How can you listen to this creature?” Minerva spat. “After all of the death. After everything we have lost?”

“There has been enough death during your time.” Ivy said forcefully. “It is my time now. Now be silent!”

Minerva fell silent, dancing on her hooves, pacing and angry. Hoodwink stood at her side to comfort her.

“You come to my wood and ask for mercy. Why?” Ivy asked.

“I come asking for more than mercy.” The changeling replied. “I ask for succor. I ask for a second chance. I ask that you give us life.”

Ivy stared at the changeling. Minerva remained silent. Brimstone stepped forward.

“You are covered in eggs.” Brimstone said softly. “What is the meaning of this?”

“I bring you my last hope.” The changeling said. “A gift. My time grows short, I am nearly starved and coming here was dangerous.” The changeling took a deep breath. “I have come, asking you, Climbing Ivy of the Everfree, to raise these eggs that I was sent to dispatch. I want my race to survive, but not as we once were. A change is needed. I implore you to see reason. Raise these eggs. Give them life. Teach them something better. Find a way to allow them to live in peace. You are known as the peacemaker. I am the only one of my kind who sees wisdom in this. It was difficult to break away from the hive mind and come here.”

“Celestia will never allow this.” Hoodwink said.

“This is not Celestia’s wood.” Ivy replied.

“But Celestia will make you answer for what you do. Aiding the enemy is treason.” Hoodwink warned.

There was a crunching sound from the changeling, and blue juice began to dribble from its mouth. It collapsed, and, as it did so, a crushed seed pod rolled from its mouth. It twitched a few times, and then remained still.

Ivy stood there, doing nothing for several minutes, her face thoughtful, her companions also silent.

She stepped forward, looking over the dead changeling, a strange look of pity on her face. She silently began to pluck the eggs from the changeling’s shell.

“You can’t be serious.” Minerva said.

“They should be destroyed.” Hoodwink said. “See reason.”

Ivy whirled on her friends, her forelegs full of sticky eggs. “That is quite enough.” She hissed. “My wood is a refuge for ALL who ask for it and orphans of all stripes are welcome here. I would advise you to be silent, before you anger me dear friends.”

Minerva and Hoodwink fell silent.

“Ivy.” Brimstone said, his tone careful. “I trust your decision, but I have some concerns.”

Ivy turned her angry gaze upon her mate.

“Can we properly care for them? And by we, I mean you and I. I get the feeling that Minerva and Hoodwink won’t be joining us.” Brimstone said patiently.

Ivy calmed a bit.

“Hoodwink, Minerva, we did our part in the war. And Ivy never questioned what we did or how we did it. She stood with us in tough times, even though her pacifist views conflicted with our own. We owe her the same respect. She has rebuilt where we have destroyed.” Brimstone said, his voice gentle, his eyes pleading.

A guilty look settled on Minerva’s face. Hoodwink dropped her gaze and stared down at the forest floor.

“Ivy?” Brimstone inquired.

“Yes?” Ivy replied, her tail twitching, allowing her to keep her balance bipedally.

“I am grateful that one of us escaped the war with a soft heart.” Brimstone smiled sadly as he spoke.

Ivy nodded, still clutching the eggs.

“Any idea how to care for these eggs Ivy?” Brimstone asked, Minerva and Hoodwink still silent.

“Changelings.” Ivy said. “I suspect that all I need to do is love them.” She gave her load of eggs a gentle hug. “And when they hatch, they will continue to be loved so that they will not know hunger. Perhaps they can learn not to be predatory. If they are provided for, there will be no need for deception and lies. If we treat them poorly, if we treat them as lesser creatures, if we cause them to be desperate, perhaps we deserve our foes.”

“You are a better pony than I am Ivy.” Minerva said bitterly, not able to meet Ivy’s gaze.

“I am just as hurt as you are Minerva.” Ivy said, her voice now calm and gentle. “We all have our troubles. Besides. I am not a pony.” Ivy added. “I am Ivy. My mother checked the box marked ‘other.’”

“Filly of Fluttershy.” Hoodwink said, her voice sad. “I just realised that Fluttershy would be doing exactly what you are doing right now.”

Ivy’s hounds began to disperse, back to prowling the wood.

“Yes she would.” Ivy said. “And I can live with everything that’s happened, as painful as it might be. I can’t live with my mother being ashamed of me. That is a pain I cannot bear.”

Chapter 2

Trixie Lulamoon rolled down the road, heading towards Ponyville and Canterlot, planning on a surprise visit. Her wagon creaked. Her wagon was enormous, the size of a small house, and it was being pulled by a large stone pony. She sat on a seat, watching the countryside go by as the wagon slowly moved forward. The wagon rocked back and forth, causing Trixie to sway. It was entirely to relaxing, and Trixie often struggled to remain awake as her wagon traveled from place to place. The sun was warm and soothing. Her leg, which had once been broken long ago, ached dully, but the sun was comforting. Her head bobbed, her eyes closing, her hat slipping down over her features.

She awoke with a loud snort.

“Trixie is not sleepy.” She murmured to herself. “No.” She shook her head, trying to rouse herself from her near slumber. “Must see precious Hoodwink.”

Even though she struggled not to, Trixie began to doze, and as she did, she began to dream of an earlier time…

There was a loud thump on the roof. Trixie awoke inside her tiny wagon, feeling very alarmed. Things were not safe lately. There had been an attack on Canterlot. Word was spreading about violence everywhere.

The road, which had always had some danger, was now even more dangerous.

She eased herself out of her bed, her horn glowing, spell ready. Twilight had taught her a few new spells after her ordeal down south in the desert. She gently pushed open the door of the wagon. She trotted away from her wagon, her horn glowing, the night air on her pelt causing her to shiver.

“Who goes there! Trixie demands to know! Speak now or face Trixie’s wrath!” Trixie said with a hiss.

There was no reply. Trixie backed away a little more, trying to see what was on top of her wagon. Something was up there. Slumped. Motionless.

Trixie felt a lump in her throat when she saw a familiar looking magenta highlight in the bright light of her horn.

“Twilight Sparkle?” Trixie said, her voice hopeful.

There was a faint groan from the top of the wagon. Trixie winked to the wagon roof.

She stood over Twilight Sparkle, who looked awful. An IV remained in her leg, the tube coiled around her body, connected to nothing. She didn’t move and her breathing was ragged.

“No…” Trixie said softly. “No. Twilight, what has happened to you? Trixie has you. Trixie will keep you safe. Like you kept Trixie safe.” She gently touched Twilight with her hoof. “Trixie should get you to Canterlot.” Trixie said, thinking out loud. She gently lifted her friend in her magic and winked, appearing inside the wagon. She put Twilight into Hoodwink’s bed, wrapping her in blankets. She gently pulled out the IV.

“Cadance is there any place safe left to send me?” Twilight said, her voice feeble, barely audible.

“You are safe Twilight Sparkle.” Trixie said, trying to reach through to her friend.

“Bugs Cadance. The bugs came back for us.” Twilight said, her eyes moving behind closed lids. “I told you they would. Cadance, I can’t feel my brother’s magic anymore. He’s gone Cadance. Gone. They’re coming Cadance. I love you Cadance.”

Trixie frowned, feeling powerless. She realised Twilight must have felt the same emotions about her, when Trixie had crawled out the desert and had fallen ill.

“Cadance?” Twilight asked.

“Yes Twilight?” Trixie said, struggling to hear her friend’s voice.

“I’m thirsty.” Twilight replied.

Trixie moved about the wagon, looking for something to drink. She found a bottle of grape juice. She cracked off the lid, stuck in a straw, and held it up for her friend to drink.

Twilight sipped at the straw weakly, coughing and spluttering a few times, spraying grape juice all over Trixie. Trixie did not care. She was too caught up in her concern.

“I’m cold Cadance.” Twilight said, shivering, her lips and tongue now stained purple. Trixie, not knowing what else to do, crawled into the narrow bed with Twilight, under the blankets, and pulled her in close, trying to warm her.

Twilight mumbled something about a foalsitter and went silent, going limp. Trixie cuddled her friend, trying to warm her, holding her close, in much the same way that Twilight had once done for her. A slow realisation also sank in, as she felt Twilight’s somewhat rounded belly, feeling something, a twingle in her horn, a unicorn’s intuition. As Trixie had once been when Twilight had sheltered her, Twilight was with foal.

Twilight began to warm and go still, no longer shivering and twitching. She murmured wordlessly, her eyes still moving behind her lids, her horn occasionally glowing faintly. Her wings fluttered weakly.

All of this brought back terrible memories for Trixie, and everything that had happened in the desert. The angry mob. Their vicious assault. Crawling out of the desert with a broken leg. The long slow process of healing, her feminine bits never quite being the same. The long and painful pregnancy. And finally, Hoodwink. Who had made everything worth bearing. But those memories were too much now, with Twilight lying limp beside her in the bed. Trixie bit down on her lip, trying to hold everything back, and failed.

The wagon was filled with her anguished howls.

Chapter 3

Celestia stood next to a bed, her lower lip protruding slightly, and her ears perked forward. The lump under the blankets wasn’t moving, and nothing she had tried could raise the sleeping figure, buried under blankets and pillows. She poked the lump again with her hoof.

There was no response.

“Twilight, if you do not get out of that bed at once I shall have to scold you!” Celestia said, making the worst possible threat that she could.

There was no reply, but the lump moved slightly.

“Come on Twilight.” It is late afternoon. There is no excuse.” Celestia heaved an impatient sigh.

The lump began to grumble and kick around under the blanket, and let out a protesting squeal.

“Twilight Twinkle, I am losing my patience with you!” Celestia said, her dreaded scolding tone now in play.

“I’m a pony of the night.” A small voice said from under the blankets. “Take your sunshine and get stuffed.”

Celestia pulled the blankets from the bed, revealing a small foal, dark sooty purple, with a three tone mane. Even darker purple leathery wings fluttered slightly, and one slitted violet eye opened to stare at her.

“I’m telling auntie Luna.” Twilight Twinkle said, sticking out her tongue. After blowing a raspberry, she jammed her head under a pillow.

Celestia heaved another sigh. She had known a lot of foals in her long life. She had taken many students. This foal vexed her something awful.

“Twilight Twinkle, I know you are a lunar pegasus, but they do go out into the daylight.” Celestia said, trying to recover her patience. “There are important things to do in the day.”

“And if every other pony jumped off a bridge, should I do the same?” Twilight Twinkle said.

Celestia bit down on her lip and squeezed her eyes shut. This foal… Celestia stifled a scream. No foal had ever been so successful at mashing her buttons like Twilight Twinkle. All of the intelligence of her mother, none of the humble meekness nor eager to please mannerisms.

The foal wrapped her wings around her head and body, trying to block out the light. “Go away. Lemme alone. I was up late trying to hunt and catching rats down in the depths.”

“Twilight Twinkle, please tell me that you did not eat rats. Again.” Celestia begged.

“Okay. I did not eat rats. Again.” Twilight Twinkle said, still wrapped in her wings. “And Ivy and I do not eat bugs together when you are not looking.” She added.

Celestia gagged, loudly, feeling her stomach churn violently. “I can’t imagine what you and Ivy do together.”

Twilight Twinkle, hearing weakness, pressed her advantage. “You know,” she began, “bugs are a lot like those candies you like. Hard crunchy shell, sweet creamy filling that squirts when you bite it. The gooey filling sticks to the roof of your mouth.”

Celestia gagged again, feeling her gorge rise.

“I kiss you with buggy lips all the time.” The foal said with an evil giggle from under her pillow.

Celestia fled the room and ran into the bathroom, slamming the door. Twilight Twinkle covered herself up with a blanket and went back to snoozing. She kicked and squirmed, getting comfortable, feeling rather pleased with herself. She heard retching sounds.

A few moments later, the door slammed back open and Twilight Twinkle found herself ripped from the bed, being hauled through the air by magic, being carried back into the bathroom.

She may have went a tiny bit too far, she reflected silently, not wishing to dig the hole any deeper.

She opened an eye, looking around, and heard the water tap being turned. Oh no! Water began to flood the tub. Twilight Twinkle could smell soap. She was suspended in the air, unable to run, the bathroom was too well lit to even attempt to shadow dive, not that she could do that just yet anyway.

“I’m sorry?” She said, hoping there would be mercy.

“You will be.” Celestia said, feeling no mercy.

Twilight Twinkle sighed. She had certainly stepped in it now. She opened her other eye and looked at the tub. It was getting full. Of hot water and bubbles. She felt a small rush of panic. “I think you are over reacting.” She stated in a matter-of-fact voice.

“No.” Celestia said, scowling. “No my little rat hunter I am not.”

There was a loud splash as Twinkle was dropped into the tub, still held in place with magic. An army of scrub brushes descended and began their assault.

“Ow! Hey! Watch it!” Twinkle cried. “Ow, my filly bits, careful back there! Hey, I have to sit on that!”

Celestia ignored the protests. She had heard them all before.

“This is uncalled for, this assault upon my hmmmllllurphlglarblephef!” Twinkle’s protests were cut off by a toothbrush loaded down with toothpaste being jammed into her toothy maw.

After what felt like a brief eternity, the assault with the toothbrush ended. Twinkle spat into her own bathwater, spitting several times in a row, pulling her lips away from her fangs and spluttering.

“Celestia?” She said in a small voice after enduring several minutes of scrubbing in silence.

“Yes my little Twinkle?” Celestia said, a faint smile returning to her features.

“Will I still be staying with Ivy over the summer? I know I’ve been a little rotten lately. Nightfisher said she would teach me how to catch fish. I can’t stand this castle. I hate it here. I can’t play, or hunt, or do anything without getting in trouble and making you mad. And I don’t want you mad at me anymore.”

Celestia sighed, feeling a twinge of sadness.

“Actually, I want to stay with Ivy for more than the summer. I really hate it here.” Twinkle said, daring to look Celestia in the eye as she spoke. “I hate being indoors. I feel bad all the time because you stay frustrated with me because I’m just a tiny bit obstreperous.”

Celestia looked down at Twinkle in shock.

“It was in the crossword puzzle in the paper the other day. Luna and I tackled it together.” Twinkle explained.

Celestia smiled. “You will be leaving to stay with Ivy shortly. I don’t know about staying with her after the summer though.” Celestia said, causing the soggy sudsy foal to smile.

“I know Ivy will let me stay.” Twinkle said, smiling.

“She probably would, but I don’t want you turning feral. You have responsibilities.” Celestia replied, causing the foal in the tub to scowl. “You have school.”

“What about staying with Minerva in Ponyville? She can teach me.” Twinkle pleaded.

“You honestly do not like it here, do you?” Celestia said. “Why?”

The foal’s face went blank. She stared up at Celestia with slitted violet eyes, a brief look of anger flashing on her face and then vanishing.

“You can tell me anything.” Celestia said, her voice soft and encouraging.

Twinkle took a deep breath. “Fine.” She said. “Here goes nothing.” She took another deep breath. “Everypony in this horrible castle calls me ‘the foal of Twilight Sparkle’ and nopony ever mentions me for who I actually am. Twilight Twinkle. I am sick of living in my mother’s shadow.”

Celestia recoiled as though she had been slapped.

“I just want to do normal foal things. Any time I do something wrong, it is never ‘Twilight Twinkle did something wrong.’ No. Never that. Always ‘I can’t believe the foal of Twilight Sparkle would do such a thing’ and it always hurts and nopony seems to care that they are hurting me.” Twinkle said, her eyes filling with tears. “I HATE IT HERE!” She slammed her forelegs into the water, causing a large splash, sending suds and water everywhere.

Celestia stepped backwards several times, the brushes dropping into the tub with a clunk, her magic extinguishing.

“My mother is gone. Forever. I will never see her ever again. And I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being reminded how horrible I am compared to her.” Twinkle buried her face into her hooves and began to sob.

Celestia slipped in the soapy water and fell to the floor with a splat, landing on her backside.

“Ivy never compares me to her.” Twinkle sobbed. “And Minerva knows all about living up to family standards.”

Celestia stared down at the inconsolable foal, unable to say anything.

“And you, you can’t even talk to me.” Twinkle said, beginning to gasp from sobbing, her chest hitching, her wings flapping, sending water splashing.

“I do not know what to say.” Celestia said after a long moment filled with sobs.

“Probably something like ‘Twilight never acted this way’ or something.” Twinkle said, turning away, snot starting to dribble down from her nose.

“I knew you were a little unhappy here.” Celestia said. “I didn’t know that you were this unhappy. If you believe you will be happier elsewhere, we can talk about what to do.”

“And there you go, giving up on me, ready to send me away, because I am a problem foal and I am nothing like your faithful student!” Twinkle screamed, her sobs intensifying.

Celestia felt her heart being pulled apart. “You asked to be sent away!” She shouted, her own deeply repressed emotions beginning to bubble out. “I thought that this is what you wanted!”

“You gave up too easily. I don’t think you really wanted me at all to begin with.” Twinkle sobbed.

“You… You are impossible!” Celestia shouted. “I can’t believe you are the foal of Twilight Sparkle!”

Twinkle’s sobs ceased suddenly, there was only laboured gasping as the foal sat in shock, struggling to draw breath.

“I didn’t mean that.” Celestia said, realising just what horrible words had escaped her lips. Something in her chest tore open wide and it felt terrible. She felt a lump rise in her throat. “I didn’t mean that…”

Twinkle shot out of the tub, still covered in suds, and took off running as fast as her little legs would carry her, trailing water and bubbles as she fled. She begal to howl horribly as she ran, her cries echoing off of the walls, grief stricken keening wails pouring from her throat.

Celestia sat there in the bathroom, suddenly alone, unable to give chase, cursing herself, her heart broken.

“I didn’t mean that…” She said again to the empty room.

Chapter 4

“Ivy, I owe you an apology.” Minerva said, looking up at her friend. “I said a few things. I lost my temper.”

“I did too.” Hoodwink said, looking ashamed.

“No worries.” Ivy said. “I try to not hold grudges.”

“We know.” Hoodwink said. “And that makes me feel even worse.”

Ivy shrugged and looked at the changeling eggs, already feeling oddly protective of them. She touched each one, counting again. “Seventeen eggs.” She announced. “Seventeen changeling eggs.”

“If Celestia takes this badly, I’ll do what I can to get her to see reason.” Hoodwink said.

“Oh, Celestia is going to take this badly.” Minerva said. “Get your defenses ready Winkie.”

“If worst comes to worse I could bring up the wing issue.” Hoodwink said. “That would certainly distract her.”

“You’d take a pair of wings for me?” Ivy said, her eyes brimming with tears.

Hoodwink scowled and grumbled. She threw herself down into a chair and began to rub her nose with a foreleg. “I don’t want wings. I’ve given enough of my self throughout all of this. I’ve seen what happens to alicorns.”

“Hoodwink, you are the embodiment of enchantment.” Minerva said. “You can create life where none exists. And being a unicorn is holding you back.”

“I want to be held back!” Hoodwink snapped. “We all know what happened. I’ve given everything I’m comfortable giving. I don’t want the responsibilities a pair of wings brings.”

The room fell silent for several minutes.

“I wouldn’t mind a pair of wings.” Brimstone said. “I’m the embodiment of egregious stink.”

“That’s awful Brimstone.” Minerva said, holding back a faint smile.

“I could be the Prince of Putrescence.” Brimstone said, his lips curling into a grin. “My mother once threatened to do so to Celestia when they were arguing about Hoodwink.”

Hoodwink groaned. “I swear, I am ready to abandon Canterlot.”

“That bad?” Minerva said.

“Every single day Celestia manages to find some new and creative way to bring it up.” Hoodwink said, her muzzle crinkling in anger.

“She only brought it up to me once.” Minerva said. “I created a door and fled far, far away. I don’t want the Crystal Empire, I don’t want to take my place among the Silvermanes, and I don’t want to be Sombra’s heir. I like being a librarian and a school teacher.”

“I have wings and two horns.” Ivy said, looking at her own eggs, all three of them she noted. Three.

Brimstone grinned faintly. “Yes dear. You have such fine antlers.”

Ivy shot him a look, waiting.

“Such a lovely rack.” Brimstone said.

Ivy rolled her eyes. “Later, when we are alone, I am going to make you sorry. I am going to squeeze the foal batter right out of you until you squeal for mercy.”

“I look forward to it." Brimstone said.

“The alicorn issue grows tiresome.” Hoodwink said.

“I can sort of understand.” Ivy said. “The count must always go up, but never down.”

“And we are two down.” Minerva said, her voice sad.

“Not exactly.” Brimstone said, causing his companions to look at him.

“Celestia wants to abdicate.” Hoodwink said, causing her companions to gasp. “I trust I have your silence on this issue.”

The companions nodded.

“Celestia wants to step down. She’s tired. Of everything. And she’s very insistent about having Luna take over, with me taking up a spot under Luna, learning how to be a proper monarch.” Hoodwink said. “And every day, she ramps up the pressure, hoping to draw me in, so she can have a way out.”

Minerva blinked several times. “I had no idea. I wonder what she was up to when she offered me the choice.”

“Probably no good.” Hoodwink said. “Celestia just wants to fade into the background and raise Twilight Twinkle.”

“I can understand her position.” Ivy said, reclining on the bed, wrapping her long body into a coiled loop. “I am merely the monarch of this wood. I can’t imagine trying to run all of Equestria. I constantly feel overwhelmed. So much depends on me and everything I say or do.”

“I am certain that if Celestia becomes desperate, she’ll try to enlist you.” Hoodwink said, causing Ivy to frown.

“I abdicated any claim I had to the Throne of Equestria and became Ivy’s consort.” Brimstone said. “Seems I made a good choice.” He climbed into the bed and flopped into the nest that Ivy’s body formed. “The lunar pegasi still see me as one of their council though. Can’t seem to escape that as Luna’s heir. I like being Ivy’s consort.” He buried his muzzle into Ivy’s belly, causing her to giggle faintly.

“She never offered Twilight an option. She just snatched up Twilight’s tattered ethereal remains and converted her, releasing her full potential. I suppose it was because Twilight was an ash pile on the floor of the library and there wasn’t much choice.” Hoodwink said. “I guess she’s giving us an option because we live. I really hope I don’t have an accident or end up as an ash pile, because I think I know what Celestia would do.” Hoodwink shivered, causing her teeth to clack together a few times.

Minerva nodded.

“Just imagine how much worse I would smell if my full potential was released.” Brimstone said, smiling broadly.

“I don’t think I could live with it.” Ivy said. “I still find myself drooling at times.”

“You two have this whole sickening fairytale romance thing going on. It is nauseating.” Minerva said.

“An Ascended Brimstone would certainly repel our enemies. And everything else, right out of Equestria. We would never face invasion again.” Hoodwink said.

“I wonder what my offspring will look like.” Brimstone said, suddenly changing the subject, staring over at the eggs. “I hope they’re like Ivy.”

“Gag inducing.” Minerva said, causing Brimstone to shoot her a look. “You two really are so sickeningly sweet together. I remember watching you two make out when you were younger.”

“And you were jealous.” Hoodwink said, winking.

“I was not!” Minerva said. “I just said that Ivy was lucky to have found a perfect stallion and snag him from such a young age.”

“Sounds like jealousy.” Hoodwink said.

“Maybe it is.” Minerva said. “I just wish I knew what it was like to be so completely and utterly in love. I’ve only ever been infatuated a few times.”

“Love is confusing.” Hoodwink said.

“No it isn’t.” Ivy said. “That’s not true. Love is a choice. You either love or you don’t. You love and then to work to make that love happen, and keep working to keep that love burning. It really is very simple. So simple you can just fall into it.”

“Ivy, I suspect that you love everything.” Hoodwink said.

“So what if I do.” Ivy said.

“Like those changeling eggs.” Minerva said.

“Leave my eggs out of it.” Ivy said, a faint growl present in her voice.

“I didn’t mean anything bad.” Minerva said, reclining in her chair. “Just amazes me that you could do that, that’s all. You love so easily. I guess I complicate things.”

There was a yelp as Minerva was pulled out of her chair by Ivy’s tail and hauled over to the bed. She flopped down next to Brimstone.

“One crystal unicorn.” Ivy muttered, mostly to herself.

“Ivy?” Hoodwink asked.

“Yes, dear friend?” Ivy replied.

“Do you mind if I stay here awhile? I am sick of Canterlot.” Said Hoodwink.

“Can you foalsit?” Ivy replied, smiling.

Author's Note:

Plot development. A few answers. Probably a few sighs of relief, followed by more questions.

And maybe a few tears.

**Shrug**

Tell me what you think folks, feedback is always welcome.

Oh, and please, avoid spoilers in the comments. Use the spoiler tag!