• Published 1st Oct 2014
  • 3,230 Views, 417 Comments

Story Shuffle - FanOfMostEverything


Thirty-one one-shots inspired by thirty-one random Magic cards.

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7
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Matters of Interest

Celestia hesitated outside of the guest room. It had been a month since Luna had been cleansed by the Elements, and three weeks since Celestia had seen her last.

This wasn't by choice. Reintegrating Luna into Equestria's government was a time-consuming process, one that had to be done concurrently with the usual affairs of state. Thankfully, Cadence was available for some of the more routine matters, because there simply weren't enough hours in the day for Celestia to cover everything on her own. (Technically, Celestia could've added more hours to the day, but that was a terrible idea for countless reasons, not least the poor taste of doing so just weeks after the return of Nightmare Moon.)

Twilight Sparkle's first few friendship reports were a balm, little bits of innocent self-discovery that buoyed Celestia when she needed it most, though that first one rather underscored just how busy Celestia was. She never would've sent a form letter with the usual two tickets if she'd had two spare seconds to rub together.

Celestia had been able to spend a little time with Luna during that first week. The sisters had been together as Celestia raised and set the moon. Then, with scarcely a star in her mane, Luna had taken it upon herself to resume her duties. Celestia had objected, not wanting her to strain herself, but Luna had proved her wrong. Celestia had been thinking of her own struggles with the moon, but it had responded to its rightful mistress's touch with ease and eagerness. Celestia had embraced her sister with love and pride... then had fallen asleep on the spot.

The moment Celestia's millennium of double duty came to an end, her body began exacting its toll. For the next several weeks, from sunset to sunrise, she slept the sleep of the undying, which was even deeper than the sleep of the dead, excepting certain strange aeons.

But now, Celestia had recovered enough to see the sky go dark, and so she found herself outside of the room where Luna was being cared for. The younger diarch might have reclaimed her moon, but she was still weak and in need of care in many ways. At first, she hadn't been able to allow others to enter the elaborate bunker that was her personal chambers, and even now, she felt uncomfortable extending such invitations for as long as they were needed. Thus, she was kept in one of Castle Canterlot's best guest rooms, her every need attended to.

Naturally, she hated it. She'd welcome the reprieve from her pampering. But Celestia would have to explain why she hadn't visited for so long...

A procession of servants leaving the room broke Celestia's dithering. One of the hoofmaidens looked up at her and, knees shaking, "P-Princess Luna... requests your presence, Your Highness."

"I suppose she didn't put it quite so politely," Celestia said with a smile.

The hoofmaiden—Humble Service, that was her name—shook her head. "No, Your Highness. She..." Humble squirmed. Luna no doubt ordered her "request" delivered verbatim.

Celestia knelt, putting herself at eye level for the poor mare. "I won't be offended, Humble Service."

Humble gave that familiar little "the princess knows my name!" gasp. "Sh-she said to come in already, because she tires of listening to you whipping yourself for your failure to be utterly flawless."

Celestia nodded and held back a laugh. Ponies never seemed to know how to handle her laughter. "That sounds like her, alright. Thank you, Humble."

"Of course, Your Highness."

In Celestia went, watching Humble flee as quickly as she dared out of the corner of her vision. Then the princess brought her attention to her sister.

Luna was looking well. Not quite back to her full state; it would take years for her to return to being Celestia's equal as well as her opposite. But she had grown in stature and power, her mane and tail once more gently undulating in cosmic waves. She scowled at Celestia from the four-poster, but it was one of her friendly scowls. "Celestia."

"Good evening, Luna."

Luna looked out the window. As with her, the stars were coming out. She smiled a little. "Yes, it is. I am proud to have had a hoof in making it so once more." She turned back, her expression hardening once more. "I thank thee for the chance."

Celestia dipped her head until her horn touched the floor. "I'm sorry for not thinking you were ready. And for not coming to see you for so long."

"Thou worriest without need. Thine efforts in guiding the moon in my stead were clearly great. I did not expect to see thee again for some time yet."

"Still..."

"Sister..." Luna's tone had become surprisingly plaintive. "Prithee rise. 'Tis not like thee to abase thyself so."

Celestia did so, and moved to the side of the bed. "It's just... Even now, I can barely forgive myself, Luna. There was so much I did wrong, so many times I could've stopped this—"

Luna raised a hoof "Peace, sister. Thou wert never the only pony at fault, and at the end, all blame lay with that which I became." She hung her head. "I do not blame thee for not forgiving me in full."

Celestia flinched and took a step back. "What! How could you think that?"

"If thou didst truly forgive me, why dost thou still speak to me so formally?"

The two just looked at one another for a time. Celestia then facehoofed. "Because I am even more of an idiot than I realized."

"Sister?"

"A thousand years is a long time for a language, Luna. 'Thou,' 'thee,' and 'thine' have fallen out of use."

Luna gaped at this. "Truly? Then how do ponies show proper respect to their superiors? Affection towards those close to them?"

"Context."

"Shared madness, more like. Art thou certain Discord remains sealed?"

Celestia nodded. "Oh, yes. He's in the statue garden."

"Ha! A fine jest, sister. Truly, where lies the blackguard?" Luna's smile faded as Celestia didn't answer. "Oh. I see. Clearly thou wert in greater need of my counsel than I realized."

"I have plans for him, Luna."

Luna rolled her eyes. "Of course thou dost. Mother forbid thou leavest even the least insect from thy machinations. Tell me, sister, be that the sun on thy rump, or a gilded cog, elaborate and impractical?"

Celestia rushed forward and embraced. "I missed you so much, Luna."

"And I... you?" Luna managed to shake her head in such a way as to nuzzle her sister as well. "Neigh, it feels most unnatural. Mayhaps anon, but I shall thou thee for now."

"Whatever makes you comfortable, Luna."

For a time, the two simply enjoyed the other's presence. Luna broke the silence. "I believe I shall work a new starscape soon. I still cannot believe thou left it unchanged in all my exile."

"I... Well, I could never figure out how to alter it," Celestia confessed.

Luna broke from the embrace, the better to stare at her sister. "Truly? The stars be like tiny suns, Celestia. Lie they not in thy ken?"

"Tiny suns, Luna. I could never figure out how you'd gotten them so small." Celestia frowned. "In any case, I'm all for something new in the night sky, but you may get some rather hostile reactions."

Luna drew herself up. "Who would question the Princess of the Night on matters sidereal?"

"Astronomy has also changed in the last millennium."

Luna tossed her head imperiously. "Then it shall change again. I ask thee, how could our ponies stand to look at the same constellations for centuries on end? We have done them a grave disservice, sister, and it is my duty to correct this." She smirked. "Of course, I shall blame thee should these modern stargazers vent their spleens."

"I suppose that means I can blame you for my busy schedule lately."

"Blame?" Luna's smirk became a grin. "Neigh, thou canst not blame me for that. That too is my duty, as it is the duty of all younger sibs to bother the elder."

Celestia found herself caught between affection and annoyance. "Luna..."

"Oh! Yon talk of the celestial vault reminds me, what became of my private assets?"

Celestia blinked. "Your what?"

"My private assets," Luna repeated. She frowned at her sister's continuing confusion. "Recallest thou not? When we minted the first bits, I gave thee the gold and kept the rest for myself, for as Princess of the Night, those treasures formed knowing not the light of day are rightfully mine. Thenceforth, I tithed the miners, the rock farmers, all and sundry who gathered such things." She looked down. "When the Nightmare consumed me, it thought to use them as a war chest and raise a dark army to conquer the land in its name. Thankfully, thy actions were swift enough that it could not."

"Luna..."

"Still, I had assumed thou knewest of those savings and allowed me to collect them, so that we would have a reserve in times of need." Luna tilted her head as she looked at Celestia. "Didst thou truly not know?"

"I'm not omniscient, Luna."

"Sometimes I wonder." Luna snorted. "Still, surely somepony knew of that fortune. That it might still be lying slugabed in some forgotten coffer... Neigh, I refuse to believe such. CHAMPION!"

Celestia's ears flattened against the Traditional Royal Canterlot Voice. The whole palace had likely heard Luna. Of course, that was the idea.

A brief burst of anti-light, and Witching Hour, the Champion of the Moon, stood before the princesses, fully barded in the manner of the Night Guard. The dusky unicorn stallion knelt. "Yes, Mistress?"

"Rise," Luna boomed. Not quite Royal Canterlot Volume, but considerable. "Thou hast never failed Us in telling Us of what has become of what We left behind in Our absence, Sir Hour. Tell Us, what has become of Our Treasury of the Night?"

"The family of the last Shadow Bursar has been looking after it in your absence, Mistress."

Luna nodded. "Ah, yes. Our remembrance of Black Market is clouded, but fond. What is the state of Our personal wealth, then?"

"Some is used to fund charities and other worthy programs, including the Chiropteran Defense Fund and the Royal Astronomical Society."

"We will have much to tell the latter," Luna snarled.

"How have I never heard of this?" asked Celestia.

Witching hesitated for a moment. "By your own request, Your Highness. You asked that the Night Court attend to the matter of your sister's legacy roughly nine hundred and eighty years ago. I believe it was mostly out of grief, but we've tried to avoid troubling you since."

Celestia processed this for a moment. "Luna, may I borrow your champion for a few days? I get the feeling he'll be very helpful in getting you back into the system."

Luna nodded. "If it will ease thy burdens, sister, then with great pleasure." She turned back to Witching Hour. "These are indeed worthy tasks for Our wealth, Sir Hour, but We suspect that they are not all it is doing."

"You are correct, Mistress. Through careful investment and simple aggregation, roughly ten percent of Equestria's gross domestic product is technically in your name."

Both princesses boggled at this. Luna shook her head. "Per centum tells Us only so much. How many bits would We receive, were We to sell the lot?"

"Roughly a billion, Mistress."

"A milliard," added Celestia.

Witching nodded. "Your pardon, Mistress. It is as Her Highness says."

"Another term We are sorry to see the end of. Still, We thought a million millions seemed a bit much." Luna nodded again. "Thou hast done well, Sir Hour, as have the foals of Black Market. Thou hast Our deepest gratitude, and art dismissed."

"Mistress." The champion teleported in another flare of sourceless shadow.

Luna sniffled. "They never forgot." She turned to Celestia, tears welling in her eyes. "When only thy student could name the Nightmare, I thought..."

Celestia hugged her again. "You were always loved, Luna."

Luna squeezed back. "I was," she said with wonder. "I truly was."

Author's Note:

My first plan for this one was a story set on Dominaria, where Ditzy meets a Magus of the Coffers as she dabbles in black magic, but it never went anywhere. Thus, I drew on a few sources, ranging from why Hades is the Greek god of wealth to Georg's In Celestia We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, and this resulted.

I was tempted to use the long s (ſ) for Luna's dialogue, but that would've implied using all of Early Modern English's orthography, and I'm pretty sure most people don't know what sound Þ makes.