• Published 1st Apr 2014
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Puppets of Tragedy - Iridescence T Wind

We all know the story, human from earth goes to Equestria from buying a mystical prop from a mysterious unnamed salesman to attend Comicon. But what you didn't expect was the prop to be a puppeteers crafting kit.

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Circum Mensam

I found myself surrounded on all sides by world leaders, or their representatives. What I had done to earn their attention, was beyond me, and I was entirely certain that I was being watched on more than a dozen fronts. Gazes judging and measuring my worth as I sorely regretted not making a far more formal set of clothes to be wearing at this very moment. I was distinctly aware of my own slight bodily odor, as I hadn't really been given the chance to take a proper bath, or do more than a sponge bath and the lightest of showers to clean my hair for the past few days while I was heavily bandaged. The most scrutinizing looks were coming, oddly enough from the Dragon Lord, Torch, whom had shrunken himself using his magical staff, the same one that could command all dragons ever, and while towering over even minotaurs still, had settled on giving me an intense look that could probably melt stone. He wasn't happy to be here, I hazarded. That, or I was looking mighty tasty to the dragon, for some reason.

The other look, was the Breezy representative. Count Whispers-Of-The-Silver-Wind, or just Count Whispers for short, apparently, was a half foot tall butterfly pony, thin as a stick, but in a dress that looked to of been made out of the wisps of lightning itself given solid and perpetual state. I couldn't really tell what gender it was by the body, but the title of Count hinted at it being male. Its gaze was focused on me, and I found myself occasionally looking between the rulers as I waited between Amber and Melody. The former, whom was using me as an arm rest, while the later looked over a clipboard with documents in it. Forms and paperwork, I'd noted. As the stare went on though, I had to comment, "Excuse me, Count Whispers, if you do not mind... I can't help but notice, your dress appears to be made of lightning, would it be rude to ask how it was made?"

The half glare-half gaze turned full gaze as I engaged them- no her, as she spoke, the heavy accent of the breezies reminding me a bit of scotland back on my own world, "Woah, he does speak with a mask, Ah, yes. It is actual lightning, that is correct." The gaze became cheerful, as the breezy commented, "Won't reveal how it was made, though, trade secret and all that~ We breezies pride ourselves on the continuation of nature and making things out of paradoxical materials!"

"You forget your comic industry." Prince, or as I had come to understand it, Jarl Ruthford commented, the yakyakistan leader commented, "Yaks have massive appreciation for the Power Pony World-in-book series."

The breezy for their part blushed, "Ah yes, Mare-vel Comics" I resisted the urge to groan as the world continued with its horse puns, "Though that series is more a collaborative effort, we unfortunately can't take sole credit. Stand Tree is a brilliant writer, but the magic for that is both Unicorn and Breezy in nature."

"More reason for Yaks to appreciate it though." Rutherford commented, "Escapes from the little things in life, for a short while, is greatly appreciated in Yak culture."

"Would seem, I should give these comics a try too, at some point," A buffalo, whom I identified only from the Appleloosa episode as Chief Thunderhooves, chimed in, "Our youth could use a distraction as of late." The three of them fell away from me as they turned their attention to the value of magical comic book worlds, and I felt my gaze turn to meet the other one that was on me, the Dragon Lord, Torch.

The fact he could control his size was mildly unsettling to me, at least. Though he still towered over everyone else present, it came more of a statement than a limitation from my viewpoint. I didn't even need the ability to see magic to tell he had both a lot of it, and that unlike the alicorn sisters; whom seemed to have a secondary source of it from the bodies they channeled, he was all him. If I had to rate him, he'd probably be between the former tyrant of the sirens, and Android 21. Disconcertingly, I could tell he was measuring me up as well somehow. Our eyes met, and I tried my best not to flinch despite magic wise, outweighing him. He had that kind of gusto in his posture that was just begging for a fight. Those orange catlike pupils really did bring out his scales, and I wasn't entirely sure how to break this staring contest. I got the distinct feeling that if I looked away first, I'd be losing something, not sure what, but dragons were famous for their greed in this universe, for what I knew.

Either by sensing my dilemma or just knowing me better, I was jostled out of the staring contest by Cassette throwing her weight on my shoulders in a one armed hug. My burns low keyed screamed behind their bandages again, still not quite fully healed, and I was broken from the contact as the Pegasus gave me an out that was more than worth it, "Hey, so what have you been up to since you're, you know, not in the dungeons."

"A bit of this and that," I said, distinctly aware that if I told her that I broke out of the dungeons like it was a child playpen, and essentially strong armed the princesses, that it would cause a LOT of damage to both of Equestrias Diarchs, "We'll have to catch up after this... Meeting." I said, pausing only to remind my self not to say the words 'uh' or 'um'. One of the few speaking tips I had learned early on that no one else seemed to, was that saying 'uh' or 'um' made you look stupid, and that little tidbit was now in my head again as I casually spotted most of them turning their heads ever so slightly to listen in. Either with the actual tilt of their head, or the slight turning of their ears.

The Neighpone princess was the one to approach us during the intermission a minute or so of chatter later, and I was starting to regret having so much ability to multitask as she wore the kind of dress that would attract stares. Formal dress that was a mixture of design choices. An eloquently trimmed lower skirt was themed after a kimono, clearly, with thin strips of ruffled fabric interweaved with a more complex lace between every other fold representative of flowers. Her upper body was adorned with a button up shirt that was black and slightly striped but the top several buttons were undone to make room for a rack that would put some melons to shame. Pointedly, I skipped over the necklace of gold, and focused on the coat she was wearing, which was themed after an mix of a trench coat and from what I could spot, the sleeve and length styles of early era Japanese aristocrats. I couldn't place the exact date, as it was a mix, but the sleeves well covered her hands, and left another foot or two left of space, reminding me of one of my old pajama concepts. Rounding it off, I looked back downwards seeing the dojo slippers that simply strapped onto her hoof by view of a puppet card in a corner of the ceiling. All in all, her clothes brought attention drawn naturally on her assets and face where the only fur was revealed. Accenting the scarlet red kimono skirt, and the black, grey, and older orange of the shirt and coat, the fur of her was as white as Blueblood, with a mane that was a shock of Sunset shimmer red and Soarin blue... Did I just use other ponies as descriptors? I've been around Equestria for too long. Framing her mane and face was her horn, long and sharp, reminding me of Sombra, in that way, but cleaner and entirely the same color as her fur. Had he been Neighpone?

Mentally shaking my brain, rather than shaking my head, my own gaze had to tilt up in order to look up, all in all the entire examination process having taken less than a quarter of a second. Her mane was done up in a stylish double bun, with silver and jade sticks stylized after the snakes that made up her name sake. her eyes were the same color as the jade, I noted. Crown Princess Viper, they had announced, and I tried to think of what would be the proper etiquette. What did I know about japan? Not much outside of the metric tons of anime and technological advancements. While I had studied the various eras of fashion and had a moderate understanding of the histories of samurai and feudal japan, none of it covered etiquette. I knew a bit more about British royal etiquette, after a few self taught lessons of Britain History thanks to my grandparents as a child, that would have to do.

I bowed my head, in a neck bow, deference to someone who held an official rank of princess. A small smile, reminding me of the viper of her namesake again, sharp and tight was both a worrying, or welcome change from neutrality, as she gave me a small curtsey in exchange. I did my admirable best to affix my gaze to her face, as she was chest shoulders and heads taller than I was. My back was a fair bit straighter and Cass had let go of me as the two royals that made up the rest of our parties also gave their greeting bows and curtseys. "Her highness, the Crown Princess of Neighpone. How do you do?"

She presented her hoof facing downwards and I took it with the appropriate hand, having only to bow slightly to give it a slight kiss, as was my knowledge of etiquette, as she replied, "His Imperial Majesty, Emperor of Griffonstone and Atlantis, It is a pleasure to meet another who can call themselves an Emperor. His Imperial Majesty of Neighpone would extend apologies for being unable to attend this conference, and desires to have you informed that it was not meant to be an offense, but an issue of prior obligations have stayed his hoof."

"I wish his Imperial Majesty of Neighpone well in his pursuits, the apologies have been acknowledged and informed that appreciated, are not needed. From my understanding, this was arranged on quite the short notice, I extend my apologies on the behalf for this... Situation not being set up sufficiently in advance. I hope to make his Imperial Majesty's acquaintance in the near future."

That got an eyebrow raise from Dragon Lord Torch, I noted from the corner of my eye, with the kind of expression that implied either I had balls of steel or that he was thinking I was an idiot. He turned his attention away as he went to the buffet table, and grabbed a rough handful of gems and began to munch on them as if it was popcorn. Crown Princess Viper took my comment in stride, her smile turning a little bit more... Coy? It was hard to read her, despite being able to take in so much detail, "If it would not offend your honorable Majesties and Imperial highness, would it be allowed to inquire about a few subjects of import?"

Melody and Amber moved next to me, as I stressed myself over a second or so of massive multi tasking for the correct wordings, "If it is within our purview of knowledge, we allow it." I spoke for the three of us, and both the ladies at my side gave their own formal introductions.

"Is your Imperial Majesty Single?"

Brain.Exe has stopped working. I forced my face to go blank, as I felt a few of my puppets at the mountain range of the old base vanish from the momentary lapse of concentration and shock. It took a concentrated effort to keep the ones marching to the Sirens new city from vanishing as well, and her smile definitely turned Coy as she saw the response, and I spotted myself blushing slightly. Two seconds passed as my mind scrambled to reorder itself, and to my surprise Melody stepped in, "His Imperial Majesty, is courting at the moment."

That sent me reeling mentally again, as I lost all but one puppet heading Seaward, and saved the Aku puppets combing the Everfree in concentration, quickly expending a small pulse of magic to reinforce the now alone puppet as this conversation took an entirely different turn from what I was thinking it was going to be about. How the heck did Melody of all people know about my small advances towards Luna? No, she couldn't, she wasn't involved that far. She must of been talking about the others at base? Who was I courting? No one really came to mind, aside from my flat rejection of the Sirens themselves. My confusion grew bigger as I spotted the slight blush on all three of my companions faces, a bit more mastered than my own, and yes that was definitely a bit of coy joy on the Neighpone Crown Princesses face. Confusion grew higher as she added, "I would like to extend a proposal an arranged marriage at this time to your imperial majesty."

The three mares did their best to stay straight faced, but their eyes betrayed surprise, and Cass straight up went slack jawed as their gazes turned towards me. Given the impossible situation, I paused a solid five seconds to remaster myself, taking a deep breath through my nose before responding, "I am afraid, that I would have to... Reject that proposal... Not out of discontent, but out of respect for your Highness personal well being. Perhaps if we had known each other for a while, and were romantically inclined, but I would protest that we've just met." I was proud of myself for not stammering at all during that, but the wording was left with a fair bit to be desired. Ambers eyes narrowed at us, clearly mad that I hadn't shut down the proposal bluntly, and Melody proved her social graces by taking it in stride. Cassette did her best to go elsewhere, not involved but doing her best to keep an ear on the situation while making small talk to a Royal Guard.

Quietly the Neighpone Princess spoke, "Aren't you fun." and I blinked, as she gave me a much bigger, slightly creepy grin, before reverting to her sharp semi-neutral smile, "I accept the proposal to stay within your company and share knowledge between each other." She teased.

My brain ceased working again, thankfully a few seconds later the doors on the other end of the waiting room opened, and a Royal Guard announced, "If it would please your highnesses, majesties, and Imperial majesties, the Princesses of Equestria are ready to receive you within the Solar Garden Gazebo."

The small talk seemed to cease, and I spotted a small blush from the Breezy and for the crassness of the Neighpone Princesses proposal, while Prince Rutherford and Chief Thunderhooves had been too busy in their own conversation catching up with one another. Apparently Chief Thunderhooves knew Rutherford from two decades ago, which added its own questions considering the distance between their two stomping grounds. The Dragon Lord Torch was Impassive about the whole thing, having lost interest after the word 'Marriage' had been thrown in, and the Saddle Arabian delegates were doing the best they could to stay out of any unneeded conversations, having neither the formal rank or titles to really do anything but wait to be acknowledged by another party. I gave them a brief nod to validate their existence, and they nodded in turn. I briefly noted that literally everyone but the tiny fairy pony was taller than me, and I wondered if we would get along over the fact, or if me complaining about being short would be seen as insulting to the pony who could probably fit their entire body in the palm of my hand.

We entered a deeper courtyard in the castle, a wide open space dedicated to the lengths of summer to the point that one could easily forget about the winter outside. No snow had fallen in the courtyard, nor plants withered, which struck me as odd until I made the reconnect about Pegasai controlling literally the vast majority of the weather. The temperature was warm, which was mildly odd until one considered the princess of the sun was present. Beams of light seemed to cascade like ghostly chandeliers and hanging lanterns stuck in mid motion as if suspended by a spell, flickering in and out of existence like the illusion of sunlight passing through a swaying tree. The center of the garden held a massive gazebo, with a donut like table that had one tip cut out of it so that whatever was addressed could stand in the center of it. The thrones were neatly organized, and title cards had been placed with names scrawled on them in fancy cursive. Oddly, I noted, that the Princesses were sitting with at least two seats between each of them, as we moved to our assigned seats, the reason came clear.

Starting with Celestia, the dragon lord Torch came to rest to her right, and on her left sat the first of the two saddle arabian representatives. Between Torch and Cadences left sat the second representative and to her right was the Breezy. Between Luna and the representative, Melody came to sit, and to Luna's left I was placed. Which drew some eyebrows. To my left was my Griffon companion, and to her left was Prince Rutherford joined on his other side by Chief Thunderhooves. The Abyssian representative, the same mole-man that would literally try to put the Mane 6 into slavery before being bombarded by a certain broken horned unicorn was sat next to the Breezy, who looked very uncomfortable with the fact of being next to the slaver whom was named 'Diplomat Pickler Of The Abyssians', and on his other side sat Crown Princess Viper. Completing the circle between Viper and Thunderhooves was the Diamond Dog Corperation representative, whom I noted was named 'Raker Of Profits', he reminded me of the devil in business clothing in appearance, utterly grey with a grey square shouldered suit, formal shirt and tie that was ruined by the lack of formal pants and shoes.

Had this been arranged by importance to Equestria? Or something else? If so, I was flattered Luna considered me of such import, but it also drew up individual concerns and showcased the potential cleverness of Equestrias princesses. By keeping both representatives of Saddle Arabia close to the princesses, they were showing that they could reliably voice the concerns of their nations without being overwhelmed by opposition. Likewise however, the Breezy representative was clearly being put off their game by both having Cadence as a neighbor, as a show of favor and a restraining force of someone she intently disliked on her side. Was it a sign that they considered the breezy a friend, but wanted them to practice self restraint with their vocabulary? If I recalled breezies were like the spiritual incarnation of the scottish culture and stereotypes in mlp, given their diet tier swearing in a kids pony cartoon was reeking as well in their accent.

Likewise, I could see the two burly proportioned leaders, the Yak and Buffalo spokesmen being put together to keep them from being rowdy by general jovialness, but Amber was looking a little put out by being put next to a tribal chieftain when she was the Griffon Ruler. Perhaps it was petty vengeance, stayed from acts of retribution on her part by being placed next to me. Crown Princess Viper seemed to then be another heavy hand at restraining the opposition, as both Picker and Raker looked worried about her to pay attention to their other neighbors. Torch for his part utterly ignored the Saddle Arabian representative and seemed pleased with himself to be sitting next to Celestia, though beyond a small microscopic change of his lip into the faintest hint of a smile, he didn't seem influenced by it too heavily.

Cadence wasn't yet an imposter, as I momentarily regretted the surge of pain as I checked with my ability to see magic, getting first swarmed with hundreds of thousands of chains, and then trying my best to tune them out to view Cadence's, and both Cassette and Shining Armor remained standing as they weren't apparently of national importance. I could see Shining Armors small squint at me as if trying to laser the compulsion to behave into me, like I wasn't doing my best to do so at that point anyway. I shut down most magical visibility keeping it the faintest bit on, as I noted Amber didn't have chains yet, but Melody already had some presumably from the time of Sharp Operas Trial. My emotions grew a fair bit heated at that.

If only it was so easy to out Celestia and rip apart the legions of chains she had around everyone. All the world leaders save Princess Viper and Amber had those chains, I noticed. Unfortunately, I didn't want to risk lives with haste, and other options didn't leave me with much more than enemies. Outing Celestia here, and breaking the chains all at once would topple the government, leading to anarchy and chaos. With a feudal society of high ranking aristocrats, their individual household troops would then war for control of Canterlot, and then Equestria as a whole as their individual dukedoms, duchies, and fiefs were called into a giant civil war for the right to rule Equestria. Having a heir designate in the Blueblood family wasn't a guarantee of succession, if they were ancestor to the very tyrant that had performed all these spells, and Luna didn't have nearly enough political presence to rule by herself both the duties of day and night. Cadence couldn't be trusted either, as she was due to be replaced by Chrysalis, and was a user of a pink love afflicting version of the chains as well.

Starswirl had begun pushing for higher availability of police and military in all the cities and towns within Equestria, but it would be a month before the proposal could be approved or denied, and it would then be a later half a year before it could start to be implemented, then another two to four years of training depending on the various details that I had been trying to remember about the united states own police system, but that was so on the backburner, that I was essentially relying upon the millennium year old Unicorn to bring the current regulation back up to the level it was before Celestia let everything spiral into the ground with her zealous use of the shackle mind control spell. Of course none of these changes could be implemented unless Starswirl could get an approval for it himself, as my interference would taint the whole process to suspicion of gearing Equestria up for war. So instead, I focused on Celestias horn, and did my best to figure out what petty revenge I could have on Celestia for what she was bound to do.

I spotted it, the moment she rose to stand up, there was the faintest shimmer of light, easily hidden as a ray of light perchance glancing onto her horn, the chain went spiraling out of her chest, into her horn and then shot out, ejecting itself from the horn over to Amber... Only for it to get repulsed by something. Not something, someone. My concern grew a notch, as I spotted the cause from Ambers Crown. It was infused with magic, I had known that, but not what magic it had. A spectral form of a Griffon king had risen from the crown, his lower body still within the confines of where the head would sit, his glare like venom at Celestia as she didn't respond to the miss. Two more rays of light, and chains tried to get both Amber and the ghost, and he swatted both and growled at her. Judging from the lack of reaction of everyone else present, it was a magic specter that was hiding its presence. That was the last span of a second before Celestia addressed the room like it never happened, "My fellow highnesses and Imperial Majesties, representatives and diplomats, with absence owed to the Queen of the Hippogriff, Queen of the Hippos, Matron of the Bovines, God of Minotaurs, and the Great Sage of the Eastern Dragons, we are now calling together the three thousandth, two hundredth and seventy first great meeting of world powers. If any of you, or your representatives have been called to take their place, please indicate so now for us.

Princess Viper was first to stand, "As is standard, His Highness Of The Eastern Dragons have subsided their votes to the Neighpone, with writ of seal due to ongoing war with the Storm King, alongside her Highness, the Queen Of The Hippogriffs."

As she sat, Prince Rutherford stood up, slightly jostling the table with his bulk, "Prince Rutherford of The Yaks speak for Zeus, God-King Of the Minotaurs, Zeus is predisposed likewise to defense of his borders."

The Saddle Arabian representative next to Cadence and Torch stood up next, a skinny but lanky horse with all the iconography to remind me of Jafar from Aladdin, if Jafar had decided to flip from reds and evil black goatee to mutton chops and navy blue, "Ziegfield has been given the role of representation by the Matron of Bovines, as she is currently amidst business discussion with the Diamond Dog Corporation Owner for rights over Dairy-gem hybrid product rights."

Ah the reason he had been placed next to Torch then, I noted, as well as why Celestia was apparently peeved with the Diamond Dog Representative to set them between Thunderhooves and Viper. After a moment, no one accounted for the Queen of the Hippos, and I was sort of surprised that even actually existed. But then again there was that one credit scene in the pony movie, but I had taken that as a joke at the time. Celestia took over after, "Then we are now all aware of who holds what votes." She nodded, "Now for Our introductions."

The various nations were each called out in turn for recognition by the other nations, starting from Equestria and working her way counter clockwise, I noted that she had saved us for last. As various parties acknowledged Equestria, The Dragon Lands, Saddle Arabia, Love, and the Summer and Winter Courts of Fey as separate entities both under one representative of the breezy. Things turned a little sour as people recognized, or refused to and was passed anyway by popular vote that let them stay in the case of Picker, Viper, and Raker. Mostly them vetoing each other, than anyone else, save the breezy also vetoing Picker. Things returned to unanimous agreement when going through Thunderhooves and Rutherford. Amber earned a pause, but the only one to deny her recognition was Picker, surprisingly. I was skipped over for Melody, who earned an identical response, but then the rounds ended and I looked to Luna questioningly, she whispered, "Wait for it."

"From what we've been told, the first issue on this meeting today is the recognition of Alexander, Red Herrington, also known as the Puppet Master, as Emperor of both Griffonstone, and Atlantis. Alex, would you please enter the center stands?"

Ugh, I hated that iteration of my name, it made me sound mundane, and the fact that I knew like, twenty other Alexes... Alexi...? Back in my own world only three of them were men, which also had the side effect of the name to also seem feminine despite it being supposedly gender neutral in nature. I gave my best smile, however, and stood up, quietly extricating myself form the seat as I walked around to the spot between Raker and Thunderhooves that allowed access to the center, taking a stand on the raised dais. I felt underdressed in this black robe, I barely had anything on underneath it than burned underclothes and bandages from the fight with Android 21. Mildly I noted with distress the burnt state of my shoes, where would I find a shoemaker in a land full of horseshoes?! I'd need to figure out how to do it myself, or find a species with actual feet to do it for me. I tried not to draw attention to that, as I gave another neck bow to all involved, "Greetings, your various majesties, highnesses, and representatives." As far as I was aware, I was the only supposed Emperor here, "Though I will say I prefer Xander, as a form of casual address, not Alex."

"So this noodle is the one who took Sharp and made him a Janitor of Tartarus?" Torch asked, a bit disbelieving, whatever he had saw in me, he wasn't impressed. Which fit the profile of arrogant dragons as far as I knew. I guess he couldn't really see the magic of those around him then, "I find that hard to believe."

"His other title very clearly lends itself to him having a magical disposition," Melody interjected in my defense, and I nodded to her.

"How much magic are we talking here?" The breezy asked, uninformed apparently of the full extent of what I could do.

"He took out the King of Wendigos when he was freshly remade from his Phylactery Crystal, and followed it up with Sharp Opera a scant few days later, and has shown a propensity for being a one man-army." Amber interjected, which got a few looks of reconsiderations. To my unease, Crown Princess Viper seemed turned on by that.

Celestia and Luna also clearly noticed that too, it seemed, but Celestia also added in, "He also bears knowledge from another world and powers given to him by the spirit of Chaos, Discord."

Which was a point both towards and two points against me, with my knowledge it could lead to complications, and with my reputation, it wouldn't pay for any of them to accidently underestimate me. Celestia was essentially playing hard ball with me, to try and keep me out of the role of a government leader, as she could see where that would go. Luna, however, seemed to be opposite of her sister, "He has also defended the planet against an other-dimensional invader identified as Android 21, who showed properties for magic that could of ended our ways of life fairly easily, but in combination with myself and mine sister, Celestia, we managed to defeat her and make her a non-threat by the time she returned to her home world."

"So on an individual basis, he could shoot lasers from his eyes," Pickler noted, "If the vote doesn't pass, can we press a motion to push him into Abyssian contracted labor for his prison sentence?"

Everyone knew what he meant and gave him a short glare of 'no', but Melody interjected, "Given his current position as the reigning member of both Griffon and Siren society, attempting to subject him to such an idea would be an ill advised motion. Especially in combination with his own personal powers."

"Those Personal Powers were given initially to him by the spirit of disharmony and chaos, Discord, are they not?" Chief Thunderhooves interjected, "Is it not dangerous to leave him in such a position where he can influence the natural order of the world, and throw it out of balance?"

Princess Viper laughed, earning a confused look from a few members, namely Thunderhooves, and the Arabian representatives, hiding her smiling face behind a fan, "If he was of such a disposition, now would be the perfect time to dispose of several world leaders, would it not? The fact that he hasn't acted speaks volumes in of itself."

"Or he could be playing the longer game, waiting until an even larger opportunity occurs, whence our guards are down." Pickler added.

"Ziegfield suggests we ignore the unknown and unproven theories and focus instead on the past and present." The horse snorted, "We have here a self proclaimed villain who in the act of performing a relatively speaking minor number of crimes, has saved the nation of Equestria, and by extension quite possibly the safety of its neighbors several times over, and has come into possession of the loyalty of two such independent nations over the course of his career. The question is, are these crimes so repressible, that we denounce him a tyrant, dictator, or otherwise and declare war on the spot, or welcome him in open arms into the waters of international relations."

"Quite well said Ziegfield." Celestia agreed. Earning the stallions brisk nod of approval.

"Then let us vote, I think you all know how much I hate semantics." Torch breathed smoke between his teeth momentarily, his gaze locked on me.

"Alexanders reckless Vigilantism should have a penalty, perhaps a fine, regardless of outcome. But agreed." Raker rubbed his clawed paws together in the universal symbol for money changing hands, "Otherwise we're telling the world that this sort of thing is accepted internationally."

"Agreed." I remarked, holding my tongue from adding in that such a thing should drag the Elements of Harmony to their own trial, as I'd rather not piss off Luna and Celestia in regards to the Mane Six's various crimes quite yet. They'd dig their own pit of legal issues if they continued to be hostile anyway, and I got the feeling that the plot of the show would change tremendously if I dragged them into the international spotlight for their wanton violations of both international and Equestrian laws.

"Lets hold this vote then." Celestia concluded the argument, drawing it to a close as I awaited the verdict, "Those for allowing Alexander Red Herrington into the international council as Emperor of both Griffons and Sirens?"

Luna, Melody, and Amber were also immediate in their raising of hooves and claw. Shortly followed by Ziegfield, and Rutherford surprisingly. Princess Viper gave me a quick wink before adding in her vote for me. Another surprising addition came from Raker, as he raised his clawed paw up as well, only after studying Celestias face for a short while, as if deciding between what would benefit him more, attempting to get on Celestias good side, or having a new face to deal with. Apparently I won out. Raker raising his paw, made Pickler also do so, the mole likely acting only in his own interests, and I made a note to myself to be wary of being scammed in the future for this act of 'goodwill'.

The Votes against, was largely Celestia, Thunderhooves, Whispers, Cadence, and the other Saddle Arabian representative whom had remained silent so far.

"Accounting for the other species representatives, we are at twelve for, and seven against, with Dragon Lord Torch abstaining." Celestia remarked, and it took me a quick moment to realize that Celestia had counted for three votes, which left me wondering why Luna and cadence only counted for one, until I realized that Celestia represented all three day time races of ponies, and Luna represented the Threstrals. It made me wonder why Cadence had a vote, then, since she wasn't the princess of Crystal Ponies yet, but I glossed over that, assuming there was reasons for it as the conversation continued.

Celestias face was perfectly neutral, if any surprise or distaste for the results were had, they were well hidden. The conversation continued over the exact fines and fees that my actions had taken, but it felt kind of odd after that point. I was an emperor now, and the costs they were assigning to me were trivial in comparison to what was remaining in the treasure horde. I wondered vaguely if I'd need to rob another dragon at some point of its horde, and oddly the charges for taking another dragons horde was dropped by Lord Torch claiming that, "A dragon that abandons its horde doesn't carry the rights to it. The Same is said of a dragon that fails to defend it against someone smaller than a light snack. Leave that charge out of it." before resuming being silent and ignoring the rest of the meeting.

The cost in the end was pocket change, two thousand bits for the medical bill of injured ponies during my shennigans of both whacking Rainbow Dash in the face, injuries to Shining Armor, and a few colds given to the Guards during the museum heist. Medical care was cheap in Equestria, and magic shortchanged a lot of things besides. Community service was negated by my vigilantism in the end, and the prison stay so far was entirely negated by my cooperation thus far. After a quick few words, I was allowed to either take over for Amber and Melody, but left it to them to handle the wrap up of the meeting.

The wrap up was mostly pointless small talk, with me redirecting Raker to Melody for talk of economics, and after a brief exchange of words with Princess Viper, mainly the exchange of contact information and a quick promise to pay a visit to Neighpone at some point in the future. Honestly dealing with Princess Viper left me wanting to both have a moment of her time, and avoid her all together, but the excuse of getting my own 'court' in order managed to get her to leave me alone for the time being. As we left, I had to note Cadence leaving before her husband with a few guards that didn't have the endless chains attached to them.

My mind noted it and sent a carded puppet to follow them, as I confirmed my suspicions a bit further away from the blinding view of being anywhere in proximity of Celestia. It caught up with them as I found Cadence knocked over, isolated in a hallway with four additional guards alongside the two escorting her, my interest. A Green energy flooded from her into one of the guards mouth, which gave way that I was looking at Changelings. Cadence, was stunned, confused, and hurt as she laid on the floor, she gasped the word, "Why?"

The one draining her sneered, and in a flash of green fire, turned into her. Leaving her face startled and giving me a confirmation that it was Chrysalis that was here. So this was when she was kidnapped? How much endurance did Alicorns have to last that long in a cave of crystals? I'd make a note to find and observe what methods they used to keep Cadence down there, if they fed her or if they were just assholes enough to leave her down there to starve. If it was the later, I'd have to cut the Canterlot Wedding short with an ambush. Cadence's kidnapping was completed with the exact same spell that Chrysalis would later use upon Twilight, a bubble of green fire sinking her through the ground as if she was a ghost or demon being banished.

I quietly excused myself to prepare my quarters to recieve guests, and took the moment to flood my quarters with puppets instead. Flipping my hood up, I gave a test drive to the subtly of what counted as a mask. The outfit I wore was after all, belonging to a fictional character. My head covered, the dozens of puppets in my quarters began to change shape, their forms distorting once, and then again as they flattened into the ground and walls, Shadows by any other name, as they flooded out the window and down to the grounds below, fanning across the city at a surprisingly decent rate as they began to search Canterlot as well as the castle for another way down below. It had to exist, since Twilight and Cadence would later find themselves leaving somehow.

My best guess, was that it would be somewhere near the castle. Unless 'This day Aria' had a far more massive delay to the wedding vow interruption itself. I had resisted the urge to search for it so far, as not to risk being spotted, but with the Queen of the Changelings being here, and my observations of the surrounding area, I felt safe now pursuing what would be a person sized pink target to learn the truth. The only down side was that in order to keep the Heartless Shadows that were being manipulated by my Nobody persona, I'd need to keep the hood up. Regrettably, I had yet to make a full suit of clothes for myself, as tailoring was a fair bit harder than putting foam together in my personal taste. I had neither a sewing machine or an idea of how to make one without horrifying someone. While the idea of using a spider themed mask or villain had come to my mind, I was fairly wary of creating one, as I did not know how to make fabric from scratch, and blobs of magically created spider webbing was a mystery factor of if it would even stay at all. Everything else faded when the mask was either shattered or taken off, minions would cease to be, created Ice would quickly disperse, and unless it had a natural reason to stay burning, fires would go out. Why wouldn't the silk? My mind flashed to GLaDOS, the base having not disappeared despite her deactivation on both being trans located and knocking myself unconscious during the Android fight. Was that because I had converted the mountain into the materials used? Too many questions that needed answers for a power that was unpredictable thanks to Discord.

There was the idea of hiring a tailor, but I was... Shy in the regards to my bodily privacy. I brought my room to order, as I sighed. It wasn't like I had fur to cover my privates, as apparently every single pony did. While I could stitch together a loose fitting pair of pants, and did just that, I was unfortunately going commando underneath them at the moment due to my only set of briefs being burnt alongside the rest of my original clothes. Stitching just took so much longer, and far more consideration in accounts to who was wearing them, than a prop mask. Then there was the style that I would want. I had worn my baggy clothes and hoodie for comfort over any sense of making a show of myself, and I hadn't really expected to change that appearance due to the props hiding away my true body anyway whenever I put one on.

Now I was an Emperor? My mind relayed my frustrated sigh throughout the puppets, with a momentary shudder through all of them, before they redoubled their pace like a wave breaking the surface across an ocean. Perhaps I shouldn't of ticked off the Mane Six, Rarity would have an eye for both privacy, comfort, and fashion. My eyes adjusted as I sat down at a wooden table, I had hidden away my tools, and brought out what few bolts of cloth I had gained during my stay and limited shopping throughout the city, none of them really seemed like something I'd want to wear long term. There was the idea of making an outfit out of props, but that felt... wrong somehow. Like I'd be weaponizing everything that I could even more than before. This robe had been more of a test and a backup outfit, but was I okay with stealing a fictional characters style for the long term? My pride said no, but my mind flickered the image of my near death encounter with the Android. I might not get the choice if I wanted to live. I left it undecided at the moment, as currently there was more pressing matters.

Melody, Cass, and Amber arrived, with I noted as a puppet pushed another chair into place, Starswirl the Bearded, as my concentration dipped towards them. Mentally I cursed at myself for being lax with watching them when Changelings were on the loose. I checked them, chains on all of them, and with more knowledge of changelings at work, I could now determine that they weren't disguised either. My vision was still painful thanks to Celestia, but Changelings had a slightly off green hue to them. My companions, didn't have the hue, nor their guards as they waited outside. Formality was left at the door it seemed, as while both Melody and Amber had kept themselves regally composed and strict with their every movement in the hall, they let it drop just a fraction before I spoke, "Hey." A bit simple, but these last few hours had been complicated enough already.

Everyone else seemed to agree, as even with the unknown stranger to their eyes, Starswirl, I was rushed again. I gave a small eep of surprise as I was all but tackled out of my chair by the trio.

"All hail Big Boss," Ambers voice held a barely contained laugh, was the first to properly say something other than my name, and the firm grip adjusted to pull me out of the grip of the other two, righting me at least to a sitting position on the ground, while Cass was draped over my now toppled seat, and Melody off to the side.

"Smallest of rulers." Cass teased, I noted some wear and tear on her cybernetics, I'd need to touch up on them soon. Wait had she called me small?

"Isn'-" I began, but melody cut me off.

"The Breezy is clearly way smaller than he is!"

I rolled my eyes beneath my hood as all the others shared a brief laugh, I added in, "Allow me a moment to change my coat, before we catch up, but there is something I need to address before we do so."

I nodded to Starswirl who nodded back explaining himself, "I ran into them in the halls, and wanted to meet some of your friends. Respectable company, all of them."

"Fair enough, now for something you might find surprising. As of five minutes ago..." I spoke quietly, eyes watching the faces of guards, and changeling alike, "Princess Cadence has been kidnapped by the Queen Chrysalis."

The room fell silent in shock, and I sighed.

It was going to be a long night.

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