• Published 1st Nov 2011
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Stories in Stone, Luna's Royal Guard. - TDR



The Gardens of Canterlot contain more than their fair share of stories. And more creatures than just Discord.

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Imperial Mass

Stories in Stone
Luna's Royal Guard
By TDR





Imperial Mass

“So Applejack's stubborn streak struck again huh? I was wondering what happened.”

“Honestly I have no idea why she would be this upset over not placing first, she must have placed in twenty or so events, I mean its not like shes never lost before she only had a few blue ribbons from all the competitions shes been in. Though maybe mayor mare didn't need to focus so much on the bits.”

“Yah think? I wonder about her sometimes, maybe her Nightmare Night laugh was more fitting than I thought.”

“You may be right Spike. Thanks for sitting in again. Applejack kinda got mobbed when we got back to town.”

“It's fine, the sooner you finish with that sword the more comfortable I'll be in the study.”

“There cannot be that much more Spike, the events of the rise of Nightmare Moon happened right after the second Dragon War, and that's currently whats starting.”

“Well that's good at least.”

“Oh,by the way Spike, have you been to Fluttershy's lately?”

“No, why do you ask?”

“I was just wondering if she started some sort of training. When I first met her she apologized for being weak and not able to lift more than a few baby bunnies. Lately she's fought bears, managed to catch up to Rainbow Dash while towing us in the balloon, caught you and Rarity while you were falling, and on this trip she and Rainbow managed to jump a cart over a moving train after chasing Applejack across the desert in a cart pulled by four stallions.”

“That does sound like a massive improvement. Maybe, she's getting lessons from Applejack or Big Mac? I know they have been bringing some of the spoiled crops to her cottage lately for her animals, usually its AppleJack, but with this rodeo thing she's been to busy and Big Mac has taken over the transport.”

“Could be, it does make more sense if they were helping her out. Any way better get to this before it gets too late.”
“Have fun.”

The room fades around Twilight as casts the spell, dropping her back into the sea of stars. She exhales deeply opening her eyes, gaze shifting over the unchanged gray landscape pin pricked with a multitude of lights.. She drifts over to the windows, looking over the fragments of the blade wondering briefly if they still wore these necklaces while in stone. She could not remember if they did or not honestly, but at the time she did not even think to look. It did not matter though, she was here to learn from the past and to help Luna reach a decision. So far she had not seen anything that would make the Princess hesitate to bring them back. Everything the group did seemed to be an attempt to help one another.

It could not just be because of Princess Celestia, her teacher seemed to favor the idea of bringing them back. Would Luna resist her sister that much still? It seemed to Twilight that Luna was still seeking to amend for her own mistakes in the past as Nightmare Moon. Perhaps she simply did not want to bring those who sided with her evil self back before she was sure she was incomplete control? There were still far to many questions left to answer in this, but so far Twilight could not see why she would not forgive them.

Twilight slips into the larger window thinking to check on Jer'rahd first.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jer'rahd sits at the edge of the buffalo camp, staring into the night above, a soft sigh leaving escaping him. He had not seen the stars this clearly since he was a foal, not that he had taken the time to look lately. The few glances he turned skyward in recent years were either to offer a silent thanks to the Goddess of the Moon, or to watch for attackers from above. Having met the Goddesses on a more personal level than most of Equestria he had found he could not pray to them as he once did and as much of Equestria still did. They made mistakes, they could be hurt, they let their emotions get the better of them at times, their powers could fail them. A more pious stallion might have simply ignored these faults, or spun it in a way that made them seem all the more holy for mimicking their followers problems. To him, Princess Luna and Princess Celestia were no longer the all powerful Goddesses he had grown up believing. Rather than lessen his reverence for the pair, this line of thought simply made him respect them more. They were beings of great power, and where they could use this power for selfish ends, like Discord or Aqua, they did their best to help their subjects directly. Luna risked her life every time she went out into the world beyond the lands of ponies,something which she did often enough to have developed a way to remain hidden around other ponies. Celestia ran the government directly, keeping infighting and arguing from tearing Canterlot apart. Arranging and directing ambassadors and greeting those from other lands who came to Equestria. It was hard to tell which was the harder task. Facing the threats from without, or the ones for within. He smirks slightly at the memories of his own brief involvement into politics and laws. How many of Celestia's plans had he screwed up with that rule about dueling he forced through. What challenges had that added to her plate? He was quite sure that the methods he and Luna employed for peace were likely the easier ones.

“Not going catatonic on us again are you?”

“I will fake it if you tell me to move another body Sir.”

“So long as you do not kill anything else in my camp I will not.”

The white buffalo moves over sitting nearby Jer'rahd his gaze turning skyward as well.

“Something I can do for you then sir?”

“No, though since you have calmed down a bit you need not call me sir. I would have preferred not to use my rank, but that seems to be how you respond.”

“Ingrained into me by my grandfather and father, all the time spent in the Guard has helped with that too. Tends to feel a bit more comfortable to have at least something that doesn't change, sir.”

The great buffalo sighs at the failure to get the pony to relax more. It was not the first time he had tried, but he had hoped without others around he might be able to get him to at least drop the constant acknowledgment of his superior rank.

It had been two weeks now since the hydra and within the next day or so they would be heading back to Canterlot. It had taken Jer'rahd the better part of the first week to clear the hydra, and the scavengers that came after the corpse, from the camp. During that time he seemed some what prone to relapse, spacing out every so often for no clear reason, and requiring some sort of physical contact, usually violent, to snap him out of it. Thankfully ,particularly for his head which seemed to be the common target, those times were getting fewer and farther in between.

It was odd to see his reaction to water however, after clearing the body he went to bathe in the pond as if it was nothing though he only made it within sight of the small bathing pool and simply froze solid staring at it and shaking. He eventually pulled his eyes away, but he had to leave sight of the it before he calmed down. It took him another day or so to manage to use a barrel to bathe in and even then he flinched at the touch of the water.

Firewater on the other hand he had no fear of what so ever. Raven Claw and MoonBerry both expected him to simply fall over dead after draining a barrel of the harsh liquid by himself. Though when he suffered no ill effects aside from falling asleep,Raven Claw felt justified at her claim the Dragon had been connected to him.

He did however make the mistake of getting into a drinking contest with Three Bear. It was the first time in years that he could remember having been out drunk. It did little to ease the pony's constant use of Three Bear's rank, but he at least was somewhat more lax with his manner of speech now.

“So why did you come out here? Just to check up on me, sir?”

“Do you know our legends for what the stars are?”

“That doesn't answer my question, but no sir I do not.”

“Legends say that the multitude of stars in the sky are those that have died, but are not yet ready to pass on to the next world, or their next life, due to something important remaining here for them. Each star is the soul of one who lived, the brighter the star the stronger the soul or the more important it was to our world. When a star vanishes from the night sky it has either moved on to another world or to a new life. “

“With how many die in the wars here, it is a small wonder that the night sky is not as bright as day, sir.”

“Not every soul has something it wishes to complete in this world, some are simply reborn into this world after their deaths. Others it is said move on to another world that could be similar or as different from this one as can be imagined. It is the ones that remain in the sky above us that have the greatest importance. They are the souls who chose to remain to watch over the world, It is them our ancestors and likely yours as well that the Buffalo worship, we have no living gods or goddesses like so many other races. While we respect them, we do not worship them as you do.”

“I don't worship the Goddesses, sir.”

“Hmmm, a crisis of faith perhaps??”

“No, oddly my faith in the Goddesses has grown stronger rather than falter any,sir.”

“Hmph, after what Princess Luna told me of what you have gone through, and the state you were in when you got here, I would have thought the opposite. All your dealings personally with the pony deities and you believe in them more? You are a strange pony Kaisur, and not just because of your fighting ability.”

“And what is wrong with my fighting ability, sir?”

“You are sloppy, your anger gets the better of you and you are easy prey for those who use that against you. Your form has a multitude of flaws within it that would be easy for a skilled combatant to exploit. Yet, there are already tales of your battles against dragons and other beasts that have reached even here. Seeing your battle with the Hydra with my own eyes did not sway this opinion of the strange nature of your skills. You are relentless in destroying something you have taken as a target, and when you are defending something important, you always seem to have an easy victory.”

“To be honest sir, I do not think I have ever had an easy victory. Every win I have experienced has been coupled with pain or loss.”

“Every one? Even the small ones?”

“What?”

“It seems that you are much like General Mustang. If what you battle is not some massive danger to yourself or others you do not count it as worth noting. Grand victories might save the world, but smaller victories might make sure the world was never in danger. How many small things have you done that you discount that have had more impact than the grandest battles you have had?

“Heh. I think I liked it better when you were just talking about the stars, sir. Far less confusing.”

“You do not understand because you do not want to. In time however I hope you will choose to understand what I speak of.”

=====================================================
It had gone exactly as expected. The council met and the answer was no. The Elk would be offering no aid to Equestria. Keeper Dogwood even added to the ruling, claiming that if any creature at all came into the Everfree due to this conflict or flew over it they would be killed. He even went so far as to take offense to the Princess even coming into the forest to ask in the first place, he then ordered all trade with the outside cut off until he said otherwise for the indiscretion. Luna briefly considered staying to try and argue the point though Rhede convinced her other wise.

“His mind is made up Princess. If we continue with this he likely will attempt something considerably less peaceful. He's not used to his little world being rocked, and our being here does that.”

“While I expected a refusal I did not expect him to continue to add to the refusal. Nor be this hostile about it.”

“Yeah well, hes a jerk. Mossflower has said there are quite a few others who are not happy with how he runs things, but he has the forest spirits on his side so no one will stand up to him.”

“He rules by fear then?”

“No, he rules because he was chosen, the others could very well remove him from power quite easily, but they keep him there because it is less of a bother. The few who truly want him removed do not have enough support do to little more than apathy.”

“I do not suppose you were able to acquire what I asked?”

“Yeah I got the stick. Not sure what the deal is or what you need it for, but I made sure it was from the big tree just like you asked.”

“ Thank you, let us leave then. We have enough problems without trying to work through his orc headedness.”

The pair were escorted out of the forest and informed not to return by a somewhat reluctant sounding Mossflower. Starfall was on watch when the pair came out and quickly flew over to show them where the camp was set up. Bleu,Velkorn, and Starfall were set to head out immediately though Luna felt it better to wait till the morning before heading out. This surprised them at first, but it gave her time to inform the others what she had told Rhede about the wendigo. The others listened curiously to what she told them before adding their own questions.

“Wait, why would the Princesses of the time ask them to drive the ponies from their land?”

“According to Celestia, it was due to the war that was looming. The three races had been at war for as long as any pony could remember they were in danger of wiping each other out. The alicorns had managed to set up a fragile peace between the three races without involving themselves directly, though Tia has no idea how. But that peace was always strained, with each new pony born, the same old hatred of the others was instilled into them. It was a rare pony indeed that could rise above the hatred their parents had given them. Smart Cookie, Clover the Clever, and Private Pansy, were three such ponies, while the alicorns of the time could not make them leaders directly they managed to at least get them as advisers to the leaders. Then they sent in the weindigo to bring about a harsh winter, hoping the common threat would be enough for the three tribes to band together. It might have worked if not for the leaders stubbornness. As such, because of their insistence that their own kind was best, many ponies died ,and the race was nearly again wiped out, not by war but by pride.
The rest of the story continues there the remaining ponies fled the ice covered lands and found Equestria on the other side of the mountains. Though the wendigo's were again sent to try and ensure cooperation as the three tribes were ready to fight over the new land that they had been guided to by the alicorns. Only through the actions of the three advisers did any pony survive. Considering at that point in time there were only about ninety ponies left alive in the world, that was as close as we have ever come to dieing out completely. The alicorns refused to risk that again and ended their isolation coming down to greet the remaining ponies who had started working together in harmony. The ponies had before known the presence of alicorns in anchient times though their reappearance was close enough to the sudden rise in cooperation and even some crossbreeding that all it did was reinforce the ideals of harmony between the remaining ponies.”

“OK, if I was more in touch with pony lore I likely would be staring slack jawed like Rhede and Starfall there, but what happened to the wendigo?”

“The alicorns gave them the land that was abandoned and the ponies were told not to return there. Over time the place became less taboo though it was rare that any pony that traveled there returned, most came back with tales of monsters, ponies made of snow, and a land of nothing but frozen earth.”

“If the land is naught but waste, why do we head there with such haste?”

“Celestia was told the wendigo had set up their new home in the ruins of the earth pony settlement. If they are still there we will find them and ask them to aid us again, if not my power should be enough to return us home, so long as I do not need to move another ship.”

“So if Princess Celestia was not even there, how does she know about all this?”

“Boredom is a great motivator to learn everything you can. Tia has had far more years than I have to experience and fight it. She learned everything she could from the alicorns before her out of boredom, and she told me all she knows for the same reason. Suffice to say, there are tales both of us know that we only share with each other, and the retelling of what we have gone through on this trip will make a interesting tale in the future. Regardless we should reach the mountains in a week or so.”

“There's a few small settlements that way, we should be able to procure some winter gear for us to make the traveling easier. And be sure when you retell the tale to make sure she remembers my dashingly handsome self.”

“What is it with you ponies and traveling into the cold?”

“Whats the matter Bleu, not liking you have to walk this time cause your to big to carry?”

“Shows what you know firm flank!”

The pony sized dragon suddenly shrunk back to her normal dragonling size with a grin.

“I don't act my age very often so I might as well not look it either, besides a lil baby dragon gets more free sweets than a bigger one would.”

Velkorn sighs having evidently already gone through this with Bleu in the two days that Rhede and the Princess had been gone.

“Of course this skill is not for our sakes, but it is just another excuse for free cakes.”

============================================

“Are you ready then General?”

“Considering the only thing I had to get was a saddlebag for some traveling rations, I've been ready for about a week, sir.”

“Let us go then, Canterlot is a good three days travel.”

“Three days? I thought it was easily a weeks worth, sir.”

“You have never traveled with a buffalo before have you? I certainly hope you have not slacked off in your running after basic General.”

“Crap.”

=======================================================

The trek to the mountains took them another weeks worth of time, a brief stop at a trapper trading post gained them all they needed for the trek up the mountain as well as a map showing the pass that would make their journey a little easier. The grizzled pony at the trading post warned them about the area with popular legends, all while hitting heavily on the glasses wearing Princess, and Starfall. Rhede was starting to see why Jer'rahd got so annoyed that the Princesses trick worked so well. Bleu in the meantime had managed to turn herself and Velkorn into walking balls of bundled fur, neither of them had any love at all for the cold.

They set out once more,finding the pass easily enough, heading up into lands that few ponies had traveled in thousands of years.


====================================================

“Hmm, I had forgotten about this.”

The White buffalo and the shaking unicorn looked down the rise at the churning waters of the river in the distance. Even with the great distance between the water and Jer'rahd was still trembling at the sight of it. The Chief watched him for a bit before sighing.

“Perhaps I can simply knock you out and carry you?”

“Not the best plan, sir. I've been told I've got a rather hard head, would take quite a few blows to knock me out and if I woke up while you were in the middle of crossing..... yeah not going to happen.”

“I suppose you have a better idea then?”

Jer'rahd sits back looking at the ground to take his eyes from the water pondering, before looking skyward and at the heavy cloud cover over the land. There was no rain, but the sun was hidden by the clouds. Jer'rahd smiles getting an idea.

“How are you at heights sir?”

==================================================

“Well Velkorn?”

“The body is very old, but clearly this pony was killed by the cold.”

“I get the same thing looking at the camp site. Most of this gear is a hundred or more years old. A lot of things seem missing however, and not the usual stuff that would just rot away. Looks like it was picked apart. Some things look like they were broken open for specific pieces to be taken. Plus if the body was this well preserved why weren’t his clothes, or his cutie mark, That looks like it was cut free doesn't it Velkorn?”

“Yes, but it was not the cause of death, the mark was taken long after his last breath.”

Starfall shifts her gaze looking around across the white and gray landscape. White, brown, gray, and black seemed to be the only colors that could be seen, the constant snow fall and cutting wind was not doing any one in the group a favor, and the ball of furs that was Bleu was attached tightly to the Zebras back.

The group had come upon this camp while looking for a spot to make their own, the little valley they found between two boulders seemed the perfect site to set up for the night before it got colder. Luna had found the body while trying to clear away a snow drift and Rhede had found the remains of the ponies camp. The fact the pony had died long ago from freezing to death did little but worry the group given the condition it was in. The group took the body to the outskirts of the rocks to give the nameless corpse a proper burial if nothing else. It was unlikely that there would be any one left alive still waiting for this pony to come home.

====================================================

“I have come to a conclusion General Kaisur.”

“And what is that Sir?”

“I am not well at all with heights.”

“Relax Sir, your not heavy enough to even be a strain to me.”

The pair strode above the clouds trotting on a pathway of green panels, far below them lay the river, the cloud cover effectively blocking it from the unicorns sight. It was odd, he knew it was there and it made him nervous, but as long as he did not see the water, it did not seem to panic him as it had before. The climb up the spiraling ramp had been interesting for both him and the buffalo Chief, Jer'rahd had neglected to inform his companion that he had never tried something like this before and simply let him think it was done all the time. He had not known himself if he could make a stairway into the sky with his shields, this was far higher than he had ever been before save when Bleu carried him after the dragon, and he was not much for looking around then.

So far though he felt no strain at making the path, he figured he would be tired by the time they reached the other side, but for right now he was reveling in the sunlight for once. Rather odd considering since joining Luna's Guard he had become more of a night pony.

“Please stop being so chipper General, your prancing about is making me nervous.”

========================================================


“I am starting to think you plan for this sort of thing Princess I really and truly do.”

“Pelt I did not even think we would find them let alone that they would ambush us.”

“Both of you be quiet, you two have been going on like a married couple ever since we left the Princess Bride. And at this point I am sick of it, knock it off before I find a way to put you both in a corner like foals.”

“mummmfummmf fumph”

“What did Bleu just say?”

“Sounded like mummmfummmf fumph.”

“Yes, thank you for that Rhede your translation skills have saved us again.”

“If you wish me to knock them out, Starfall you will not even have to shout.”

“Don't tempt me. And I swear to Celestia Rhede, if that is your hoof on my flank I will bludgeon you unconsciousness myself.”

“I said don't make me turn this net around. Now stop fighting you idiots and put that energy into thinking of a way out of this mess before more of them show up.”

The entire group continued to swing slowly in the cold wind, a giant net having sprung up from under them and wrapped them all into a confined ball of annoyance dangling from a ledge. A pair of crystal blue eyes look up from the ground at them curiously. The figures seemed to be snow white earth ponies with gray manes and tails, they had no cutie marks that could be seen and a pair of gray saddle bags hung from their sides. They continued to stare up at their prisoners with confused blinking and a few comments in a strange that no one in the group understood.

“Well if they are wendigo they are getting a rather decent meal of strife from those two.”

They don't look like the wendigo from the stories.”

=========================================================


“I believe I am slightly less happy with this turn of events than I was with our trip through the air General.”

“You and me both Sir....... trust me on that....”

Jer'rahd was perched on top of the buffalo his back arched up and eyes wide like a hissing cat as he stared down at the puddles forming on the ground, he winced with every splash of the buffalo’s hooves against the muddy ground. A shield was formed above him and he kept forming new ones every time the first was about to be passed. They had come down from the clouds little over an hour ago and had barely progressed any further away from the river when the rain started. The first drop that hit him sent Jer'rahd into the air like a snake had bit him. He had made the shield umbrella and was fine until the puddles started forming, at which point he had climbed up onto the Chief's back, much to the buffalo's chagrin.

“How far are we from Canterlot now sir?”

“Two days too long.”

“Well you did offer to carry me once before.


==================================================

“I have no clue what language they are using? Are you sure you want to go along with this?”

“So far they have done nothing really threatening to us aside from making us trot this way at icicle point.”

“Yes not threatening at all.”

“Don't Even start this crap again..... I have no qualms about smacking the shit outta you Rhede and I am reaaaaaly close to not having any about doing the same with you Princess.”

“You think you can actually do anything Commander you are welcome to try.”

“So this is the wendigo's blight?, Causing normally agreeable ponies to fight?”

“Either that Velkorn or all the stress from the last month is finally catching up with the three of them.”

“If this is the way they feed, why does it seem they are still in need?”

“Yeah they do seem a little upset that those three are fighting.”

The group is marched past a large crowd of onlookers who wandered out from the houses of the small town to look at the newcomers. Odd it looked like any other pony town they had ever seen save the lack of color. Every pony seemed to be either gray or white, all of them blending into the back ground of gray stone buildings covered with perpetual snowfall and gray clouds. They had been out here for days now and had yet to even see the sky. None of the ponies seemed to have a cutie mark either at first though on careful observation, namely Bleu staring at the well toned and bare flank of the male pony leading the group. It seemed the cutie marks were there but had the same lack of coloration as everything else in this land.

The single armed guard that was escorting them had spear that seemed to be made out of ice, and was likely more used for hunting than anything else. He seemed rather nervous to be put in the position of watching over the five of them. Occasionally one of the spectators would move forward and try to look under the hood of Velkorn or Bleu's coats, only to be yelled at by the guard and sent back into the crowd of on lookers.

The other three were still arguing for some reason and neither Velkorn nor Bleu could figure out why, Neither of them felt any thing aside from the cold, but Luna , Rhede and Starfall seemed to be getting pissed off just looking at each other. Velkorn had moved to walk between the three in order to keep them all separated as that hostility did not seem to extend to Bleu and herself. This was evidently something different from what went on in Neighlantis as even Rhede was affected. The Zebra and Dragon had not felt anything there either so it was coming to be expected. The Princess displaying a temper however was worrying, particularly with her power nearly returned.

[“Bleu are you feeling anything?”]

[“Hungry, and cold oh so cold.”]

[“Aside from that, this is beyond any normal arguing and it is bothering Rhede as well, when it should not. Even if his training does not cover this his ambassador training should at least allow him to remain calm.”]

[“I noticed that, it's likely nothing to do with their mental states, emotional maybe?”]

[“Astute observation.”]

[“So far, these are all I have seen, none of them look like warriors, its like a whole community of hunters and gatherers. None of them look like what the popular descriptions of wendigo are supposed to be like either.”]

[“Perhaps they are just a lost tribe of ponies?]

[“Could be, but something here is messing with those three, I don't think its any of these ponies though none of them seem to be doing anything. They have some power, I mean the one with the spear just made the thing out of snow. Hmm seems we have arrived where ever we were going though.”]


The tall building blended in just like all the others they had passed, though it seemed much larger than the others and was likely the town hall or what ever these snow ponies equivalent was. A group of four ponies came out of the building wandering around the group curiously looking them over and talking among themselves. They glanced at the Dragonling and the Zebra bundled up as they were and ignored them in favor of the others. Who did not seem to happy to be looked over like objects but evidently were in control of themselves to not doing anything stupid.

“WE ARE PRINCESS LUNA OF EQUESTRIA. DO ANY OF YOU UNDERSTAND US? WE HAVE COME LOOKING FOR THE WENDIGO.”

The four jumped back and the whole crowd seemed to scatter at the sudden booming voice of the Royal Canterlot speak. The reaction of several was to form weapons of ice and point them at the alicorn ears flat against their heads evidently some what pained by the volume.

“Well that is the most honest reaction to the Royal Canterlot speech I have ever seen.”

“Shut up Rhede your not helping.”

“Neither are you.”

“Both of you be quiet already, Princess I suggest against using the Royal Canterlot voice again while here they don't seem to like it and they don't seem to understand us either.”

“I suppose you are right Bleu there is no need to appear as hostile.”

“Good now you three all go back to standing on either side of Velkorn and try not to talk to each other cause something is setting you all off and its driving me CRAZY!!”

The guards whirl on the mound of furs that just shouted from Velkorn's back. The whole group of guard ponies seemed a little freaked out though the Four ponies that had come out of the building had seemed to calm and were talking to each other occasionally pointing at the ponies. One of them nods walking up to them again telling the guards something then waving to Velkorn as if trying to get her attention over the others and pointing her towards the door of the large building they had come out of.

The general populace that had come back was watching them all with interested eyes just as Velkorn was watching them. The four ponies Had caught Velkorn's attention. She noticed only when the one tried to get her attention. Their cutie marks were slightly more visible as if they had just the faintest hint of coloration to them. It was only noticeable one the one getting her attention turned around to point to the building. The book that was on his flank had the faintest hint of lavender on its cover. The zebra muttered lightly under her breath.

[“Interesting.”]

[“Whats that Velkorn?]

[“Bleu, Starfall, do you see anything different about the four that came out of this building?”]

[“I've not been paying much attention to them why?”]

[“I am curious about that myself Velky.”]

[“OK, my Zebra is not too good, can you tell me in small words what you are saying Velkorn?”]

["Endeavor to expand the scant education received in the language Starfall.”]

“Even Jer'rahd could tell that was a insult one, more word out of you Pelt.”

“Can you let her finish please!! Buck. If boss was here, I don't think even he would be enough of an idiot to completely ignore that his emotions were bucked up enough to fight like this. There is something seriously wrong with the three of you right now so NONE of you are allowed to talk unless I say so. THAT INCLUDES YOU PRINCESS!”

“I do not see a reason to shout, but if you fight again I shall knock each of you out.”

The snow ponies with them glanced back but seemed to be some what used to the shouting by now enough to know it was not directed at them, though the guards still looked nervous.

[“Alright try that again Velky.”]

[“Must you shorten my name?”]

[“Don't like it?”]

[“It changes the meaning.”]

[“Well what does Velkorn as a whole mean?”]

[“Later, right now there is this, the ones from the building have cutie marks with some coloration in them. That is likely why they are the leaders.”]

[“Shouldn't we be kings then?”]

[“We are not of their people and they have evidently seen our kind before.”]

[“Damn, I was hoping for a repeat of that deal with the teddy bears.]

=============================================

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DO NOT KNOW WHERE SHE IS!?!”

“She left me behind, I have been told I was in no shape to continue.”

“GENERAL I GAVE YOU A SIMPLE TASK TO STAY WITH, AND PROTECT MY SISTER AND NOW YOU ARE BACK HERE WITH OUT HER?!?”

Jer'rahd Twitches.

“It is not like I asked to be mind raped, thank you very much Celestia. If not for you sending us to these cursed places, I would still be with her.”

“YOU WERE SENT WITH HER BECAUSE THERE WAS POSSIBLE DANGER. AND YOU FAILED TO PROTECT HER FROM THAT. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY FOR YOURSELF?”

Rhede was right a pissed off Celestia was likely the most terrifying thing he would have ever seen. However right now she was far less frighting to him than a simple puddle of water. He was angry,Celestia was angry, and she was attempting to place the fault of something he had no control over on him. He already felt bad enough that he was not allowed to follow her towards the wendigo lands and now Celestia was shouting at him because of it.

“Yeah I do, who the buck is Aviana?”

Celestia stops dead staring at him, her eyes wide in surprise, her eyes narrowed again as if she was trying to figure out who the pony was that was suddenly before her. He could tell she was still angry, she was about as good at hiding that emotion as he was, but the fire of her anger had turned ice cold, as did her voice. But at least she was no longer yelling.”

“Where did you hear that name?”

“From at least two things that nearly killed both me and your sister on these little quests we have been sent on. Who is she and what is her connection to you and the insanely powerful individuals who want me and my friends dead?”

“That is none of your concern.”

“Bull shit, Celestia. Keep in mind what I have told you about intentionally threatening or harming my friends. With holding information about some one whose name has come up in particularly dangerous situations counts as intentional to me. Particularly if I can count it as a warning that the manures going to hit the windmill.”

Celestia meets Jer'rahd's glare with her own neither of them moving a inch for a moment or two though the rooms temperature seems to drop drasticly.

“General Three Bear, please step outside, it seems I have things to tell this mule headed idiot.”

“Of course Princess...... Um you are not going to kill him or anything I doubt your sister would be thrilled with that.”

“GO!”

“Yes Princess.”

The white buffalo darts out of the room faster than he likely should have been able to. As the door shuts Celestia exhales deeply settling back on her cushion.

“You are a pain in my flank General, even failing to retrieve the Elements you have managed to place yourself in a position that is has made it difficult to simply turn you loose. You already know far more than you should, regarding the Star metal, and the books recovered from Discord's Castle. Now you are delving for deeper secrets again.”

“Every secret I try to get out of you or your sister has a purpose for every ponies safety and is like pulling teeth with a noodle. You know that what I ask could have merit which is why I figure you have not just thrown me into a lake. You also think I am likely useful for something as you have not just added me to your little garden to stop dealing with me.”

“You know about that as well...... there is still time for me to throw you into the lake.”

Jer'rahd shudders causing Celestia to raise a brow curiously at the reaction.

“If you wish to explain to your sister why I died in mid air after being flung out the window from a heart attack feel free to do so. Though I would ask you to aim for a pile of rocks instead. I might survive that.”

“Not a response I expected. Though I am now curious as to what did happen. I will do that later, you asked about Aviana. You recall the conversation we had after the chess game, where you asked if I had any friends?”

“Yes. Vaguely.”

“Aviana was one of my friends a long time ago, Luna only met her briefly before she passed on, but Aviana was with me for a long time. “

“Another alicorn?”

“Figure that out already? I really should no longer be surprised by you any more. You are far to similar of mind set to my sister.”

“It was implied by the image of Discord that Luna was a new Princess.”

“She is, by those of us who have lived long enough any way. I will not go into the whole situation about how little alicorns are made I am sure you have had sex ed. And no contrary to rumors she is my sister not my daughter.”

“I was not going to ask that.”

“You would be surprised how often I heard it when she first was introduced to Equestria. Moving on,and do sit down General you are making me nervous.

She waits a moment as he takes a seat though his attention remains on the Princess as she lays down across the cushion.

“Aviana was the alicorn Princess before Luna, She was a Princess long before I was born even, though again we were not related in any way I know of. Well maybe some ancestor of hers and mine was the same, but she was not directly related. She was my teacher and friend, perhaps the truest I have had. She practically raised me to be what I am today, she taught me all she knew about being a Princess along with a great many of the mistakes she had made so I would not repeat them. She was the first to follow an oath of not killing, she was far forgiving and loving of everything to allow anything to come to harm. The Discordian war hurt her far more than she wished to let on. After Luna and I sealed him in stone she stepped down as ruler to let Luna take her place. She died not long after that. Her name may have come up General, but it was because you were talking to those old enough to remember her, rather than Luna. There was nothing malevolent about her, she is why I have vowed not to kill. Even if there was some hidden evil about her, she is long passed on from this world.”

Celestia had slowly slumped down as she spoke giving Jer'rahd the impression that this was a great deal harder for her to talk about than she was letting on. Changing the subject might be a good idea.

“Well that answers that at least. I suppose all that is left is to ask what did you do to piss off Aqua?”

The Princess smirks a little, but still seems darkened by the talk of her old friend.

“Oh that … I turned her pet fish a bright yellow and put smiley faces all over him.”

“You're kidding.......”

=============================================================


This had just gotten silly. The inside of the building was a massive visual shock compared to the lack of coloration outside. The walls were hung with old banners their colors faded but still brighter than anything out side the building. The three story building was open in the middle with the two floors above over looking the central courtyard . Square cases made of ice , yet as clear as glass filled the room holding bright objects within. Everything from clothing scraps, gem stones,and bits of assorted junk, was contained in these cases. Starfall Paused to go over to look at one ignoring the guards who verbally tried to stop her.

“I found the rest of the pony we buried. His cutie mark was a compass with a bright red needle.”

“That's morbid.”

“What did I tell you two about speaking? But this does paint these ponies in a whole new light now doesn't it. Peaceful mission or not they try anything we tear them a new plot hole.”

Velkorn had paused and was staring at something though she nods lightly to Bleu suggestion, though long after the statement was made. The guards urged the group further along towards the back of the building and what looked like a few hastily made cells.


======================================

Jer'rahd had been introduced to a new level of hell. It had to be there was no other explanation for why the Princess of Equestria had suddenly gone into a massive story mode after the question dead friend and had broke down weeping like a school filly.

“....but then I couldn't do anything but just watch him get old and waaahhhh die and it was nothing but funerals for at least thirty years, after just that as every pony who was around me died of old age or otherwise and Aviana wasn’t there to help me through it. Lulu was too young then and had not even out lived her first group of friends andahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!””

Jer'rahd twitched as the alicorn Princess blew her nose in the shoulder of his dress shirt. The question about the joke on Aqua brought back other memories for Celestia about other jokes she had played with Aviana, then it all went south. The best he could figure was Aviana gave up her alicorn nature to live among the ponies she had ruled over for so long in an attempt to have a normal life. The last half an hour had Celestia naming off the children and grand children and children of the grand children for at least nine generations as well as their accomplishments and failures in life. She had started crying about the third generation, bawling by the fifth and a complete wreck of a mare hanging off of him by the final one. She went on after that naming off her favorite students she had seen grow from foals to adults and then old ponies and die right before her eyes. To Jer'rahd it seemed this sort of thing had been a long time coming with how easily she broke down now.

“And I don't even remember who her kids are any more....... BWAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!”

The door opens a bit attracting Jer'rahd's gaze to see several servants and the Buffalo chief peeking inside. Celestia continues to cry like a new born foal against his shoulder. He looks to them mouthing a silent plea for help and every one of them quickly shake their heads and duck back out leaving him again to deal with the emotional alicorn Princess.

“Do you have any idea what it is like to live this long?”

“I cannot say I do. I often wonder if I will survive the next day let alone what would happen if I was still alive in a thousand years.”


==============================================

The group stood in place after disrobing, leaving Velkorn and Bleu the only ones covered for the moment. One of the leaders had mimed the motions to take off their gear and had tried to show Starfall by attempting to remove her cloak. After the Snow pony managed to pick himself up and dust off he tried shouting the command to take off the gear with the spears of ice aimed at them all again.

Luna pulled off the bone helm glaring at the guards who relaxed a little as the bone plate fell to the floor. They seemed to have little interest in the blackened and silver highlighted bone armor though the coloration of the Princesses hair and coat held their attention. They were mildly curious at her wings and horn, but seemed more interested in the bright coloration of her hair. Starfall pulled off her cloak and snow gear though kept the worn leather belt with her blades on. The seemed to take no notice of the weapons or the harness due to the dull color, but were fascinated by her cutie mark,mane ,and tail.

Starfall was clearly uncomfortable at the attention though Velkorn still seemed frozen watching the snow ponies. Rhede Seemed to draw the most attention the deep red of his coat had both the mares and stallions in the small snow pony group staring, and for once he looked as uncomfortable with the scrutiny as Starfall did. Two guards kept their spears pointed at the last clothed pair as the other three were guided into various cells while their belongings were picked through. Saddle bags were dumped and the more colorful items were taken into another room while the rest was simply shoved into a gray sack. Luna sighed with relief that Jer'rahds armor, the pearl and the stick had all been shoved into the gray bag. Ice formed the bars of the cells though even without their coats the place was still warm enough to not be a bother to the now naked ponies.

“They seem a bit reluctant to try and get us to do the same here Velkorn.”

“None are brave enough to do the deed, they seem to think this group I lead.”

“Perfect. So what now then great leader?”

“Give them what they want of course, a white dragon and a striped horse.”

“White dragon?....... Ahhhh good idea. Glad I thought of it.”

Bleu hops off Velkorn's back peeling out of the stack of furs she had on and stretching out cracking her neck. Dull white scales covered her form and gray eyes shifted over the snow ponies who seemed greatly upset over the reveal. Velkorn pulled off her gear as well eliciting a few disappointed sighs though her amber eyes were of some interest. The leaders again rummaged through their gear taking the rest of Bleu's Gemstone lunch and the green sea pony Medical bags from Velkorn. Thankfully the brown leather bound Medical book she had acquired from the buffalo shaman was left alone. The pair were guided into a third cell and left as the leaders went off to look over the new bright shineys and the guards were ushered out.

“Well now. This was a fun trip. Are we going to jump into a volcano on the next adventure?”

“Stuff it Rhede.”

======================================================


Jer'rahd exhales deeply, his eyes closed, ears flat back against his head, he had found a suit of guard armor that was suitable for his build and come out here to the training field, again. His wooden sword was stuck in the mud before him, point down in the mud and the collecting rain. His breathing quickened as he watched the puddle of water inch closer to his hoof.

“Are you sure about this sir, you don't look that good.”

“That's the point Corporal. The rules are the same, when I drop the shield you lot keep attacking until General Three Bear tells you to stop or I'm unconscious, got it?”

“But sir....”

“That is an order. Crazy as it sounds I likely need something like this, and my normal sparing partner is not here. Now then.”

He moves forward lifting his hoof and setting it out of reach of the puddle as he closes his teeth around the grip of the wooden sword. He breaths out hard a last time teeth gritting as he lets the shield above him vanish.

Fire the first drop felt like fire, his skin crawled from the sudden deluge that poured down on him soaking him in moments His eyes shot open, panic filling them as the first training blade caught him across the side of the head the echo of the wood against the steel helm he wore sending a jolt of pain through his head that briefly drown out the feeling of being burned alive. He blinked as a second blow caught him across the shoulder, pain arching up along his back as his leg briefly went numb from the impact. He whips his head mind cleared for a moment blocking the third blow though his eyes widen again as they focus on the rain soaked forms of the Guard in front of him, his body seizes up again, tensing with fear. Another blow strikes across his back bringing a instant reaction to kick out and send the attacker falling back into the mud. The guard rose shaking the water from his eyes before charging in again. The four were attacking together now and doing a very good job, this would have been a challenge even with out his handicap, with it he felt like a pinata. He blocks another blow lashing out with a return strike that the Guard easily dodges.

Focus, push down the panic, focus, feel the pain let it guide you, focus, this is fresh water from the sky, focus, this is mud not sand, focus, nothing lives in these puddles,focus,counter, focus, block, focus, strike, focus, dodge, focus on the pain, on the threat, on the fight.

Another blow struck him from the side sending him tumbling to the ground to crash face first into a puddle with a small whimper escaping his mouth as he yanks his head up from the water quickly the sword remaining in the puddle as he nearly hyperventilates throwing a shield above his head again.

“All of you stand down.”

“Yes Sir.”

“I thought perhaps you were a smarter pony than this General. You have not been recovered more than a week and you are already fighting to put yourself back into a catatonic state?”

The rain had stopped falling on him and a second shield formed under him allowing him to climb out of the puddle still franticly trying to get his breathing under control. Out of the weather and the dark puddles on the ground calming down was getting easier though he had to close his eyes still.

“If I can be, hufff, beaten by a little rain storm sir, I will be useless when combat starts.”

“You should take it easy General. We have some time yet.”

“No, Keep the rain coming Sergeant!”

A pegasus guiding the rain cloud over the courtyard yells back a yes sir as the others look to each other.

“I do not think this is wise, but I shall remain here to make sure you do not kill yourself General Kaisur.”

“Thank you very much Sir.”

Jer'rahd drops the shield below him and lifts the blade with a hoof flicking off the mud. He shudders again as he stands in the puddle, issuing the command before taking the blade in his mouth and dropping the shield above him.

“Again.”

========================================

“So when do we bust out of here?”

“After lunch I hope!!”

The others look down at the sparse collection of mushrooms and strange arctic hay,as well as some sort of blubbery material that might have been meat. Velkorn professed it tasted of fish which made it less appetizing to the others. Almost as one they look over at the little Dragon in the other cell who was munching on what looked to be a bucket of diamonds. Considering she was on her second bucket full of them and the snow ponies who brought them did not even seem to consider the gemstones important likely meant they were common here, something Bleu was ecstatic over.

Velkorn had taken notice of a interesting effect that seemed to happen when any of the snow ponies came in to look at them. It was less like they were prisoners at this point and more like they were bits of art. Granted Bleu and Velkorn barely got a look directed their way with the coloration s they were sporting, and Starfall was getting quite annoyed at all the snow ponies staring at her flank. Luna had been watching for the effect that Velkorn noticed and saw it on some of the snow ponies that watched Rhede.

“Interesting. But why does she consider this important?”


=======================================================

“You look like hell Kaisur. What did you do, get Three Bears whole tribe to tap dance on your face?”

“Missed you too Sir.”

Jer'rahd all but hobbles into the room where the Generals Mustang , Three Bear, and Meteor Shower stand over a table with the map of Equestria from Canterlot to the great wall. It was covered with small scale figures depicting various forces and land marks.

“I doubt it. Of course even if no one had told me you were back the massive destruction you have done to my training grounds was more than enough proof. Whole bucking field frozen solid last night and turned into a ice skating park. I am amazed it lasted this long with you flooding it for the past few weeks. Any way here's the situation. The Princesses' plan starts next week, that's good. The dragons primary forces are still at the wall, also good. We interrupted a supply train once, and the dragons turned on and ate all the little bear things like popcorn. That in itself is fantastic, cause those things creeped me right the buck out.”

“They ate them all?”

“That's what the scouts say, said the little things even lined up for it and jumped into the pots themselves like some sick suicide cult. One week of rations missing and the savages cannibalize their own.”

“They did worship dragons.”

“Well in any event that's the good news.”

“Specially since it ends the chance for a lawsuit.”

“What was that Shower?”

“Nothing sir.”

“Any way now we got the bad news. The orcs are on the move. Cold weathers not bothering them and they are pushing most of their force toward Manehatten. We have troops set there, but its not nearly enough. So here's the plan. Shower and I are stuck in Canterlot taking care of the main forces, and all the boring paper work. Kaisur you are going to reenforce the garrison at Manehatten. Three Bear you are going to take to these hills here with your force, when the pigs move past to hit the city, you sweep them from behind. This is nearly all of the orc forces, we win this battle and the dragons forces will be greatly reduced for the main conflict. It is imperative you stop them at the city Kaisur, there's no natural barriers between Canterlot and Manehatten, just open trading road right to the front gate. Not to mention that will give them a port on the Cape Foal River, they could strike all the way into the heart of Equestria using that. We can not allow them to get a hoof hold in that city. Evacuees have been pouring in ,but there’s still far too many citizens in the city who won't leave. You have a hard run ahead of you just to get there in time to do anything before the orcs get there. Once there do what ever you need to to hold that city. You two are perfect for this as neither of you was expected to be here.”

“Understood sir.”

“You still look vexed Kaisur whats wrong?”

“Nothing Sir … well, just, what is this box here on the map supposed to be?”

“Canterlot.”

“Canterlot?”

“Canterlot!”

“Its only a model”

“Shhhh, General Shower I know what it is. You two are dismissed your troop assignments are at the Canterlot barracks now go.”

“Yes Sir.”
“At once Sir.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Twilight was ripped out of the spell by a scream of pure rage.

“RAINBOW DASH GET BACK HERE I WOULD HAVE WORDS WITH YOU!!”

“Gaaaaah, words don't mean flinging cactus at me ahh I said sorry!!”

“SORRY? SORRY? I'LL GIVE YOU SORRY WITH A SIDE OF BURRS AND A CHERRY CHIMI CHANGA RAAAAAH.”

“SOME PONY HELP, SHE'S CRAZY!!”

Twilight and Spike watch from the door as Rarity charges after Rainbow dash flinging cacti balls at the pegasus while Pinkie Pie bounces along after her still talking about cherry chimi changas.

Spike and Twilight look at each other and slowly move back into the the library closing the door and cutting out the lights to not get involved.

“I knew we forgot something.”

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