• Published 5th Aug 2014
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CoH (Book One) : Of Magic and Masquerades - Diespitris

It is up to Twilight Sparkle to find a way to protect the Crystal Empire on her own. Yet, when its former king offers her a helping hoof, she has two choices: befriend him, or reveal him. Despite her choice, there will be consequences to face.

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Prologue : The Conclusion to the Best Wedding Ever

“You have a lot to think about.”

Twilight Sparkle exhaled a sigh. It was a soft, light sound that was completely overshadowed by the mellow hymn that filled the air, for she was only one of countless bridallers who merely stood and watched as Shining Armor and Princess Cadance danced. Their movements, like the music, were gracefully passive. There was no rush. It was, after all, their first dance as husband and wife. And, as they danced, it appeared as though the happy couple were in a world all their own. Twilight could not recall a moment in time that was more joyous for her brother and sister-in-law.

“This is your victory as much as theirs. You persisted in the face of doubt and your actions lead to your being able to bring the real Princess Cadance back to us.”

Gradually, the music slowed to a halt, and so did Shining and Cadance's dance. While her friends dried their eyes, Twilight wiped her own tears away with the back of a hoof. She then turned to Pinkie Pie and nodded. The party pony knew what it meant. Miraculously, the moisture vanished from her sapphire eyes as they grew wide with excitement. She made a beeline for the mix table, plucking a certain shades-wearing disc jockey from the crowd along the way.

Although, she gave Vinyl Scratch more than enough room to work her magic on the turntable, while she pressed one end of a headphone set to her ear and held up her free hoof to get everypony's attention. “Let's get this party started!” she exclaimed.

It was then that a loud, but upbeat musical number was brought to life. Everypony was caught off guard, given the miniscule window of silence that had followed the comfortable tune of the married couple's dance. But, smiles soon appeared on their faces as they began to move to the new rhythm.

Twilight watched as her friends left her side to join Shining Armor and Cadance on the dance floor. Unfortunately, she was in no mood to dance. Or sing. When Pinkie Pie suddenly appeared out of nowhere to hand her a microphone, she declined as politely as possible. Visible disappointment crossed her pink-coated friend's features, but it lasted for only a second before she shrugged and made a dash for the snack tables.

Chuckling, Twilight then made her way through the crowd. She didn't really have a destination in mind, until she caught sight of her parents past the sea of both familiar and unfamiliar faces. They had separated themselves from the mass of guests and were seated at one of the small, round tables that were scattered amongst the lawn. Waving a hoof in the air, Twilight called out with an enthusiastic, “Hey, strangers!”

Twilight Velvet and Nightlight smiled warmly at the presence of their daughter. “Oh! Twilight, dear, how are you doing?” inquired her mother. “Having fun, I hope?”

With a smile of her own, the young unicorn pulled up a chair between them. “Oh, definitely!” she chimed. “Between that whole mess with Queen Chrysalis and the wedding, this has been a day I know I'll never forget.”

“And you can forget about being my best mare. In fact, if I were you, I wouldn't show up to the wedding at all!”

Nightlight crossed his forelegs on the table as his gaze swept over the nearby festivities. “You got that right!” he replied cheerfully, grinning wide at the sight of his son and daughter-in-law. “Just look how happy they are. It's still hard for me to believe that our little Shining just got married.”

“And our little filly made it all possible.” Velvet pulled her daughter into a tight hug. “Oh, we're so proud of you, Twilight. Who knows what would've happened if your brother married that nasty queen!”

“Think about the foals they would've had. Yikes.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “I'd prefer not to think about it, Dad," she sighed. She shook her head again as a tremor chilled her to the core. Yes, out of all the things she wanted to not think about, that was near the top of her list.

Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as her mother's horn lit up. Atop her head, she felt her circlet being straightened. “Now, now,” Velvet gently scolded. “Don't do that. You'll mess up your mane!”

“It's fine, Mom.”

“But, it's so pretty! You should curl it like that more often.”

“I like my mane the way it normally is..."

Amused, Velvet chuckled. “All right, all right, I'll leave it be,” she replied. “Now, why don't you go dance with your friends? Cadance and Shining are sure to take off any second now and this party won't continue without them.” She glanced at the crowd. Much to her surprise, even Princess Luna appeared to be having a good time as she bobbed her head and tapped her hoof to the lively music that was played.

Princess Celestia, on the other hoof, was watching them from a few yards away.

Velvet's head tilted to the side. She tried her best not to stare back, but it was hard for her to read the expression on the Princess's face. It appeared neutral at a glance, but there was something else that she just couldn't decipher. In the end, she shrugged it off and returned her attention to Twilight. Her daughter, however, remained seated... and silent. Her amethyst eyes were narrowed, as though she were deep in thought, and they were locked on the table.

Nightlight noticed this as well. “Twilight?” he said softly. “What's wrong, hon?”

With a start, their daughter jolted out of her trance. “Huh?” she gasped, her gaze rapidly shifting between her parents.

“Are you all right?” repeated Velvet. “You're awfully distracted...”

Their daughter rubbed the back of her neck sheepishly. “Oh, yeah, I'm fine!” she laughed. “Sorry! I didn't mean to zone out like that. I guess today was more exhausting than I realized.” Although, she quickly searched her surroundings for an escape. The sound of the fading music drew her attention to the other bridallers, who had ceased dancing as Shining Armor and Cadance began to take their leave. Rolling her shoulders, she slipped out of her chair. “Oh, look at that! They're leaving. Well, I should see them off before bed. Early morning train and all that,” she said informatively, albeit awkwardly, as she walked away from them. “I'll see you two later, okay?”

Nightlight and his wife glanced at each other, then back at her. “Uh, okay,” her father replied with a nuance of uncertainty. “Be sure to write soon, all right?"

“You got it!” Waving, Twilight trotted away. Only when her back was turned to them did she allow her smile to falter. She instead adopted an expression of neutrality as she maneuvered herself through the countless ponies in an attempt to get to the newlyweds. She paid little mind to all other faces.

As such, she unknowingly walked right past the Royal Sisters without so much as a passing glance.

Princess Luna was the first to acknowledge the look of concern on Celestia's face. “What troubles you, Sister?” she asked.

Celestia's eyes briefly fell upon her before she shifted her attention back to her student. “It's nothing,” she retorted softly.

“You speak falsely. This is a joyous celebration, yet you behave as though you have a dark cloud hanging above your head!” Frowning, Luna rested a hoof on her sister's shoulder. “Now, will you please reveal to me what has you in such a mood?”

When Twilight finally disappeared in the distance, Celestia took a deep breath. “Oh, nevermind. I'm sure it's nothing,” she said, smiling at her shorter sibling.


She feigned a chuckle as she draped a wing over Luna. “Let it be, little sister,” she said. “Let's see Shining Armor and Cadance off, and then we'll partake in what remains of the cake. Sound good?”

Luna raised an eyebrow. She knew better than anypony that Celestia was borderline notorious for using food as a diversion. The Moon Princess held her tongue, however, and yet she made a mental note to bring it up at a later date. Instead, she sighed and nodded as her lips curled upwards in a smile. “Sounds good to me,” she replied.

“Excellent!” the older mare happily exclaimed. At a hurried pace, she and Luna made their way towards the carriage.The crowd parted for them, and they made it just in time to watch Cadance toss her bouquet into the air. While Luna watched in disbelief as Rarity push a few other ponies out of her way to catch it, Celestia once again focused on Twilight. There was a genuine smile on the young mare's face and, much to the Sun Princess's relief, she stood close to her friends as she watched her brother and sister-in-law ride off into the night.

Celestia had half a mind to talk to her, but Luna gave her tail a tug. "Well, that is the end of that," she said. "Come, Sister, the leftovers await!"

Once more, the Sun Princess glimpsed back and forth between her student and her sibling, before she turned to follow Luna back to where the reception had taken place. Whatever the source of the nagging concern that tugged at her subconscious, she was sure that it was nothing that a slice or two of cake couldn't cure. And, if that was not enough, then a lovely blend of herbal tea awaited her in her bedchambers.

Author's Note:

And then the Royal Sisters returned to the food tables, only to stuff their faces with said cake. Much to Celestia's horror, Luna ate far too many sweets. She became ill, and promptly emptied her stomach contents into the nearby bed of peonies. The only witness was the poor groundskeeper, who was so terrified by the sight that he declared his retirement from the night shift right then and there.