• Published 4th Apr 2015
  • 17,768 Views, 323 Comments

Sweetie Belle and the Quest for Knowledge - CheshireTwilight

Sweetie Belle trys to return to normal life, but after everything she's been through, will she want to? Meanwhile, Lyra aims to get to the bottom of these "precursors" one way or another. Book II of III

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Prologue - Conspiracy

It was a beautiful spring evening in Canterlot. The sun had been hotter than average, but the cool wind had made the day delightful. This was especially true for the two Royal Guards who stood at attention in front of the Royal Court. Their gold plated armor was stifling in the heat, so they took any gust of wind as a blessing. Normally that—and minor leg pain from standing around—would be the only thing they would have to worry about in this situation, but today was different.

“Hey, what do you think about all this?” The dark grey unicorn stallion on left of the large court entrance asked.

“About what?” the white pegasus stallion on the right groaned, shifting his spear from the left side of his withers over to the right. “Guard duty? With you, it is as pleasant as always. Praise Celestia...” The lackluster salute he gave was matched only by the seething apathy in his tone.

The sarcasm was lost on his friend. “Guard duty? No. I’m talking about the ‘urgent business’ that Princess Celestia left on! What could be so important that the Princess had to leave personally—without her carriage, no less—and leave the running of Equestria to Princess Luna, even though it’s still light out?”

The pegasus rolled his eyes. “Oh, so that’s why we were turning down all the court petitioners at the door. I thought it was because there was a party and they weren’t invited.”

“Then you haven’t been paying attention, my friend,” the unicorn replied, ignoring the obvious sarcasm.

The pegasus facehoofed. “Look. Whatever it is, it isn’t our concern.”

“Still,” the grey stallion continued, “what do you think it could be? A world-ending disaster? Discord’s return? A premonition of a prophesied pony plague primed to pounce on ponykind?!”

“No,” the pegasus stated candidly. “Don’t you think the Princess would warn ponies about some disaster like that? Besides, isn’t Discord already released?”


“Oh, come on. That was like, months ago. Anyway, I’m more worried about Princess Luna then whatever Princess Celestia is doing right now. I’ve heard from the Night Guard that she’s been trying so hard to ingratiate herself with the citizens that she barely sleeps. When we started guard duty, she looked like she was about to collapse at any moment, and that was six hours ago. I don’t think she slept at all since yesterday. I don’t know about you, but I’d be a bit more nervous about a grumpy, all-powerful alicorn princess less than 100 meters away than...”

Before the pegasus could finish, however, the two felt a sudden, sharp gust of wind, which nearly toppled them over. They turned towards the source of the disturbance to see that an extremely worn-out Princess Celestia had just landed between them.

Still panting she asked—without her usual vigor, “Could…could you open the door?”

The two guards stood in shock. They looked to each other in confusion before they both pushed the large doors open for the Princess.

She nodded her thanks to them before entering, leaving the two guards still in stunned silence.

When the princess was out of listening range, the unicorn spoke. “Wow, Princess Celestia looked exhausted. Do you think we should follow her? Whatever got her to rush back so quickly has got to be important!”

The pegasus smacked his friend upside the head with his wing, eliciting a small yelp from the unicorn. “Are you stupid?! The last time both of the princesses were tired like that, Tirek escaped from Tartarus and nearly destroyed Equestria! If you want to follow, it’s your death wish. I’m going to stand guard for another hour, collect my pay, and spend my weekend off with my marefriend like a sane pony.”

The unicorn reconsidered how smart following their Princess inside would be after all.

Princess Luna was rhythmically tapping her hoof on her throne anxiously.

It wasn’t the first time she took over her sister’s duties—that had been a real mess. The fact that she couldn’t sleep before-hoof and was unprepared to take on the overwhelming responsibility, however, made doing a proper job nearly impossible. In her state, she had a difficult time keeping up with her duties, let alone those of her sister. Luckily, she was still new enough to the throne that she could afford to rely on that as an excuse. Indeed, were it not for that, the nobles might have been offended when she teleported them out of the throne room and barred all those wanting to enter.

All this was, of course, done to ensure that the most vital of responsibilities were done as soon as possible—definitely not because Princess Luna thought the nobility was composed of drooling buffoons. No, such thoughts would unseemly for a Princess.

Despite these efforts to make things easier for herself, however, she had not had a wink of sleep in over twenty-four hours and it was starting to wear her down. Fortunately, she had found a way around that. Canterlot housed some of the finest brewers of a—relatively—recent discovery, ‘coffee’. She discovered that after drinking four-or-so cups an hour, she was more than able to take on both the day and the night courts. ‘I’ll show you, sister!’ Luna thought, ‘N-n-nopony c-can perform the royal duties better than o-ourself! ‘Tis but c-c-children's entertainment for us!’

“G-guard!” Luna cried, more than getting the attention of the Night Guard standing a few feet away from her. “Tell us- me. T-tell me, is there any news of my sister?”

“No, Your Highness,” he responded, the thestral stallion clenching his fanged teeth slightly from the auditory onslaught. “There have been no new reports except an update of seismic activity to the south-west. That is to say, it still has ceased, as it has for hours now.”

“Yes! That is the reason We- I am so ... concerned. ‘Twas nary a few hours prior that my sister absconded from the castle on her investigation of a powerful magical presence to the south-west that came with the quake. The quake has desisted its stirring, so why has my sister not yet returned?”

“Still, Your Highness, you shouldn’t worry. I’m sure-”

“Worry? Thy princess is not worried. ‘Tis no need for fear, so long as I protect Equestria. Verily, even with our sister gone, there is ... ‘mild concern’ at best. I am sure she will return soon.” The twitching and body tremors from Luna’s over-caffeination was clearly visible and was more than a mild concern for the Night Guard, but he stayed silent.

Suddenly, the door to the court was opened and the object of their discussion trotted quickly towards them. “Luna! There is something urgent that must be done!” Celestia replied.

“Oh, sister!” Luna cried, meeting her sister halfway and embracing her in a hug. “I was so worri-” She caught herself when she heard the guard behind her giggling quietly. She straightened up self-consciously. “W-we- I mean, I was slightly apprehensive with regards to your safe travel in investigation of whatever magical presence revealed itself. Tell us- me, what happened? What needs to be done?”

Celestia took a moment to collect herself. “We must … we must send a company of the Royal Guard to a small hill on the outskirts of the Buffalo settlement of ‘Boiling Rock’ immediately. It should be near Los Pegasus from what I was told. I never went to the place. In fact I never even left Ponyville before returning here.”

Luna’s confusion was plain on her face, but the current appearance of her sister was more than enough to convince her that the situation warranted immediate action. “Alright,” she replied, assuming more information would soon follow. Turning to her guard she asked, “Nightwing, c-could you get word to the guard captain in Los Pegasus to send a company of his finest to this Boiling Rock settlement immediately? There should be means of magical communication in the castle postal office.”

He saluted. “By your leave, then, Your Majesty.” With the nod of Luna’s head, the guard flew out the door.

“Now, Tia,” Luna sympathetically asked, returning to face her sister with a stern look. “Thou shalt expound to Us how such action cameth so requisite … and how cometh thou portray such an uncomely ragged posture?! This dilemma thou speakest must assuredly be one of great peril!”

Celestia sighed, both at the situation and at her sister’s deep regression back to the old tongue. “Well, the situation is ... a little complicated, but I wouldn’t go as far to say dangerous. Still, a minor situation could spiral quickly into a major one with little trouble, so I felt…some cleaning up was warranted.”

Luna hurumped. “Do not play coy with Us, sister! We would hearken unto thy whole story ere We commit Our judgement. It hath been many of our moons since We have seen thee in such a sorry state as this!”

Celestia groaned, “The old tongue is slipping, Luna.”

“Oh quiet thy fleeting japes, ere their haste miss thy purpose entirely! Thou hast explications to give! If thou givest it quick enough, We mayhap make swift slumber ere mine night!”

Celestia stopped groaning, but rather giggled in spite of herself. She liked this side of her sister. However, seeing the redness and bags of Luna’s eyes, she immediately stopped. She was now reminded that she had left her sister in charge of the nation for a whole day with no word. “Right, and I am sorry-”

“Do not speak of such things,” Luna said, turning to her sister with a soft smile. She took a deep breath before continuing. “We- er I would do it again if you asked it of me.” Turning back to her sister, she flamboyantly waved her hoof around and continued, returning to the Old Tongue, “Prithee! Speak of thine harrowing tribulations which hath left thee in such a sorry state!”

“I will … although we should probably do so in a more private location,” Celestia said, gesturing to the throne room around them. Luna noticed that a few of the castle maids and guards—whom up until now were listening in from the doorway—quickly shuffled along to their regular duties.

“Yes,” the dark alicorn said, grinning at the thought of the rumors this would no doubt cause, “t’would be a sound idea.”

They stepped out onto a balcony and flew to one of the tall towers which served as both an observatory and Luna’s bedchambers. “This will be secluded enough,” Luna stated as they entered the room. “Besides, I would like to get as much sleep as I can once we have finished speaking of this.”

Celestia frowned. “I’m not sure the tale is so important that I need to explain it tonight Lulu. Perhaps we can continue this in the morning when-”

Luna shook her head, “You will speak now,” she stated, leaving little room for retort. “We will be the judge of how important your story is. We have missed enough of thine actions already. We grow concerned with your avoidance.”

Celestia rolled her eyes. “You know it isn’t like that Lulu. You are clearly exhausted and have earned your rest…but I suppose you won’t leave this be.” Celestia sighed and then began the story. “Well, it all started a week ago when Rarity’s sister found a unique ‘metal cave’ near Ponyville.”

“Oh, I remember thou speaking to your student about this. ‘Twas even in the paper-of-recent-events! Ancient artifacts, if I remember correctly.”

Former student, and yes. Although—as it turned out—one of these magical objects found itself latched to the consciousness of that young filly.”

Luna looked to her sister seriously, “Is she alright?”

Celestia frowned. “I am still not sure. As it turns out, however, it wasn’t this magical parasite that caused the filly’s current dilemma. You see, it forced her to remain silent about its existence, but also told her that if she travelled to a certain place, it would no longer hold sway over her.”

“Naturally—being a filly—she innocently agreed, correct?”

“Exactly. Unfortunately, she also got her other filly-friends involved and, as expected, Twilight and her friends gave chase. They even informed me to have the Royal Guards on alert.”

“Yes,” Luna said, remembering sending out some of her guards as well. She put a thoughtful hoof to her chin. “Why was all of that necessary, though; and why can I not remember news of the fillies’ capture?”

“It was because they weren’t,” Celestia replied, putting up a hoof to silence any potential objection. “It turned out that this artifact was giving her very 'intelligent' suggestions on how to escape. I don’t remember all the details, but it involved the Tree of Harmony, of all things.”

The gears in Luna’s head turned before she came to the correct conclusion. “Then, this place she went and the magical presence-”

“Precisely, one-and-the-same,” Celestia interjected in agreement. “It seems that 'it' led poor Sweetie Belle into the ruins of an ancient civilization and activated a magical conduit of immense power.”

“Sister!” Luna said, jumping to her hooves. “What are we laying around here for! A small company of guards might not be enough to-”

“It’s fine, Luna,” Celestia replied, stopping her sister’s thought. “You can sense it, just as I can, that the magical presence is gone now. That earthquake earlier, it turns out, was the ruins destroying itself. We still don’t have the whole picture—the filly is resting in the Ponyville hospital at the moment—but I confirmed with Discord that the threat is likely over.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Luna interjected in annoyance, putting a hoof up. “Wherefore dost the explosive destruction of the ruins occur? Also, how is the filly back in Ponyville already and why is Discord involved in all this! Although, I am not surprised ...”

Celestia smiled. “Somehow, Sweetie Belle, the young filly I mentioned, was able to teleport her friends to Ponyville using the power of the conduit before the ruins destroyed itself.”

Luna stared on in shock. “How could such a filly- I imagine it was likely another act by this parasitic artifact?” Celestia nodded her assent. “Still, shouldn’t the explosion have been even more massive than that? That presence I felt was no minor thing! Were Tirek of such strength, even our combined might would not have stood against him! If a conduit pulling that much power from the Aether was destroyed-”

“Yes,” Celestia agreed, “I have no doubt that all of Equestria if not the World would have felt the effects. If what Twilight said was true, then Sweetie Belle went into the Aether and pulled the magic back.”

Luna sighed, looking down somberly. “Then she is lost. Though we owe her more than she … wait. Didn’t you say she was resting in Ponyville hospital?!”

Celestia smiled again. “Yes. In fact, thanks to my former student and the Tree of Harmony, Sweetie Belle was brought back.”

“Are you certain?” Luna said with an incredulous look. “Again, the Tree of Harmony has aided us. Since when has it been so … involved in equine affairs? Save for when we recovered the Elements from its branches, I never heard a word of it doing anything at all!”

Celestia pondered that for a moment and then shrugged. “I guess it’s fate. Whenever there is an obstacle to overcome, Harmony helps us finds a way to overcome it. Since we have had … an abnormal increase in threats to Equestria, I would suppose it, too, has increased its aid.”

Luna groaned, “‘Tis always ‘Harmony’. As nice as it is a concept, I would prefer it if we could protect this nation martially without such unpredictable support. It only deigns to help us when we are in serious trouble …”

Celestia rolled her eyes, “This is Harmony. It only stands to reason that it only helps when there is disharmony or trouble. Why would the Tree make efforts to improve things when everypony is harmonious and fine?”

Luna sighed, resigning herself. “Alright, fine … but that still does not explain Discord. Why does that thing find himself slithering out of the cracks?”

Celestia frowned. “I understand why you feel that way, but he really is reformed. He is still … well, troublesome to say the least, but it is an honest kind of trouble that ties well into his nature. He actually was a great help; if it wasn’t for him, we may not have known about Sweetie Belle’s location until it was too late.”

“So he cause no problems at all?”

“Actually … no, now that I think about it,” Celestia responded with a hint of surprise. “I suppose I will have to thank him.”

Luna’s incredulous look melted into surprise as well. “Huh … well, I suppose if Equestria can give myself a second chance, it is only just that we give him one as well; even after his betrayal to Tirek. It seems that your decision to free him once more was not the mistake I had made it out to be after all.”

Celestia nodded her head. “When the Elements of Harmony were sealed away back into the Tree, I was worried that I had made a mistake, that Discord—no longer held back by the threat of petrification—would cause havoc once more … but it has been months. Apart from his traitorous actions you mentioned—which as I later found out was only because he wanted a friend—and ‘forgetting’ about his plunder seed vines, he has done nothing too chaotic that it would even threaten the livelihood of an individual pony, let alone Equestria. Fluttershy at least comfortable in his presence on a regular basis.

“Still, we have become sidetracked in this conversation. You have clearly told me why you are so worn, flying to and from Ponyville while dealing with the Tree of Harmony and Discord could not have been easy.” Luna smirked. “There is still the nature of what we must do henceforth. As much as we should congratulate this filly for possibly saving Equestria, we must also ensure that she won’t try to find any more powerful magical conduits in the future.” Luna chucked before turning serious again. “Also, there is the matter of this company of soldiers you have sent to secure this ‘ancient ruin’ and what announcement we will have to make to the peasantry.”

Citizens, Luna,” Celestia admonished lightly. “And I agree. We have little choice but to provide guards for Sweetie Belle, not just for Equestria’s safety, but her own. As for the ruins … well, we do have a policy regarding ancient artifacts, and we should not treat it any differently from any other. We will document and secure any potentially dangerous artifacts that remain and keep them away from the public. As for what to tell the public … we should just state that it was a natural disaster. An earthquake that caused … perhaps an aquifer near this ‘Boiling Rock’ to become unstable?”

Luna shook her head, “As much as I would like to agree, this type of discovery should not be hidden. The average pony may not care for such dangerous relics, and the relics will be secured, but should we really hide this away completely? If a filly could stumble on one of these ruins, others will surely follow someday. In the past, lying to the populace never seems to be the correct course of action, no matter how justified the intentions.”

Celestia turned away and paced for a moment before giving her response. “It has worked so far, Luna. The archives and the vaults are filled with artifacts too dangerous for common use and our scientists have learned much from their study. Public disclosure comes with unintended side-effects. The other nations and even private citizens will demand access. An arms-race could suddenly spark, or an entrepreneurial pony could upset the economy with an ill-timed invention, or an undiscovered byproduct could make ponies ill. Until the mechanism for this new source magic is uncovered and safely disseminated through published research, I will not risk the future on such an unknown.”

Luna nodded her head slowly. “I understand … but do not forget the cause of the 3rd Griffon War. I only mean to avoid such a tragedy from repeating itself.”

“That was an isolated incident, sister,” Celestia criticised. “One thousand years ago, we did not have the resources to adequately protect ourselves as we do now. The entire company of EUP Guardsponies we send is more than enough to stave off any bandits that might crawl out of the woodwork like in that incident. Equestria has never been safer then it is now. It is highly unlikely that rumors will cause more havoc than the truth like it did then.”

“Alright, sister, I won’t breathe word of these new artifacts.” Luna consented, in equal parts agreement and drowsiness. Luna—now lacking the caffeine hyperactivity—had deep black rings around her eyes which drooped slightly. She really needed her sleep.

Celestia smiled, “I know you were never one for subterfuge, sister, but if it can save ponies’ lives, and the integrity of Equestria, it is the right thing to do. You will not regret it.”

Celestia left Luna alone. ‘There are only a few hours left until she must raise the moon,’ Celestia thought, ‘and she needs all the rest she can get.’ Still, Celestia was left with a sense of unease. ‘I don’t know what it is about this time in particular, but it just never feels right to lie—even to white lie—to my little ponies.’

Despite her misgivings, Celestia would not make the announcement. The explosion would be an earthquake, nothing more.

An aquamarine mare woke up to the quiet chirps of birds near her window and the smell of spiced candy and chocolate. To most ponies this would be a delightful way to start the morning, but for the unicorn it was enough to make her want to puke. After all, when one lives upstairs to a candy store and lives with the owner, you inevitably taste the product.

A lot.

After ‘sampling’ well over five-hundred candies and chocolate the day before—many of…questionable quality—she vowed to never touch the stuff ever again. Still, she couldn’t sleep in. Not because she had work to do as the entertainer at the Silly Filly bar. She only worked nights. No, the real reason was her hobby, to search out the truth in all things … or as others would call it, being a paranormal/conspiracy nut.

Lyra!” a voice called from outside the bedroom. “Are you awake? I’m going to open the store soon and I want your opinion on some last minute changes to the candy-counter!”

Lyra’s eyes—which until now had been shut—almost burst out of their sockets. ‘Ohnononono!’ she thought in a panic, ‘I am not trying another candy for as long as I live!’

She quickly got out of bed and opened her window. There was a moment’s hesitation. She hadn’t thought of what she would need. Her lyre? Her bit-bag? This delay—as it turned out—was far too long, and just as she was about to leap, she was suddenly pulled back to her bed by a pair of hooves.

“Now Lyra,” the vicious, hoof-appendaged predator admonished. “I know you’re weird, but I won’t have you jumping out of a second-story window until you have at least had a shower.”

Lyra groaned, her latest attempt at freedom once again foiled by the pick and blue-maned menace. “Alright Bon Bon, but please, no more candy! I-um, I have a place to be and won’t have time today, sorry!”

“Well, alright,” Bon Bon sighed. “We can at least have breakfast, right?”

Lyra felt a bit guilty now, she really did like being around her friend. “Of course! Just, uh, let me clean up.”

When Lyra came down from her shower, Bon Bon was sitting quietly at the kitchen table, eating blueberry pancakes, cereal and juice. Another spot with an identical nutritional configuration was laid out for her. Lifting the knife and fork with her magic, she sat down and began eating.

“So Lyra,” Bon Bon asked, lifting her head from her food, “you left early yesterday too. What’s going on? Is this about that ‘vampony’ business again? I thought you left their ‘coven’-thing.”

Lyra quickly swallowed a pancake before she replied. “No no, I’m done with that after the whole ‘sparkling’ phase that popped up ever since that new ‘book’ came out. I’m sorry I couldn’t talk about it yesterday, but I’m actually really interested in ‘precursors’ again!” Lyra said enthusiastically.

Bon Bon sighed. “Again ... really Lyra? Apart from maybe your ‘Seaponies-are-evil’ phase that was probably your worst obsession of the lot. I remember I had to spoon-feed you because you wouldn’t eat anything. Not to mention that you had covered your whole room in paper and thread. Please Lyra, I know you are all about the truth and stuff, but shouldn’t you wait until there are some hard evidence before-”

“Hey, seaponies are evil! Have you heard their music?! Anyway, that’s the reason why precursors are so interesting again! There is new evidence!” Lyra exclaimed, grabbing a newspaper clipping from across the table and handed it to the earth pony mare, who was more than a little concerned at the hastily scrawled writing on the edges. “See! It says that Princess Twilight and some other ponies found a ruin just outside of Ponyville! I wanted to tell you yesterday, but I was so excited, I just had to rush over and talk to Twilight and-”

“Oh Lyra,” Bon Bon groaned, remembering all Lyra’s crazy theories about aliens, humans, and government mind-control. “Please don’t tell me you heckled our princess about your theories.”

“Hey, I don’t heckle … much,” Lyra said, her self-righteous indignation melting into a pout. “Well, she wouldn’t let me talk anyway, she just teleported away! For a princess, she can be pretty rude.”

Bon Bon smiled, ‘At the very least she isn’t in trouble again,’ she thought. “Alright Lyra, just please try to be calm about it this time? Even if you’re right-”

“And I am!”

“-nopony is going to listen to you if you sound like a crazy pony.” Bon Bon knew at this point in their friendship that there was no way to get Lyra to stop … but she could at least bring her back to earth. “Just … take a deep breath and tell me what you’re going to do.”

Remembering the plan she had made last night, her face glowed with excitement. “Well, first I’m going to go to the new library and research everything I can about Pre-Discordian history! Then I’ll meet up with Twilight and ask to join her team! Then we’ll all work together to-”

“Lyra…” Bon Bon groaned.

“Yes, Bon Bon?”

“You’re not an archaeologist. There’s no way Twilight is just going to ‘let you on the team’. Not to mention you have a job already. You work 6-2am at the ‘Silly Filly’, you won’t have time for all this.”

“Well obviously I would have to quit my job if-”

“No Lyra!” Bon Bon fumed. “This ‘truth-seeking’ thing is fine…as a hobby, but your special talent is that lyre. I’m sure they will be fine without you, but you need a real job with real money.”

Lyra sighed. “You just don’t understand. My cutie mark isn’t just about making music, it’s about poetry and stories too! I can’t help but delve into the lore and mythology and try to find the truth. It would be like you making candy, but somepony else selling it. It just feels … wrong when all I do is play music.”

Bon Bon rolled her eyes. “Hardly ‘all you do is play music,’ Lyra. All your free time is dedicated to your hobby, and that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean you can just quit your job! A lot of ponies have talents that don’t quite fit into a profession. I doubt the the mail mare's bubble mark has anything to do with delivering mail, but she doesn’t seem to have a problem keeping her job, and she’s happy too!”

Bon Bon settled down a bit now, finally getting all that out of her system. “Lyra, can’t you just try to tone it back a little bit? I know you are excited and I can relate. When I discover a new candy combination, I can’t sleep until I’ve got it right…or I realize that it wasn’t as…appetizing as I thought it would be. That being said, I care about you and all these obsessions aren’t healthy. Even at my worst, none of mine ever threatens my livelihood or my career.”

Lyra wanted to retort, to give an impassioned speech on the merits of truth and the righteousness of her ‘quest for knowledge,’ but one look at the moisture threatening to leave her friend’s eyes gave her pause. ‘Am- am I really taking this too far?’ Lyra thought, ‘No, that can’t be right.’

“I’m sorry, Bon Bon, but I have to,” Lyra said, not willing to look Bon Bon in the eyes across the breakfast table. “Princess Twilight herself is involved. This has to be true. If there is one thing I know about her, she doesn’t put her name on things haphazardly!”

Bon Bon sniffed loudly but refused to sob. ‘Oh, I hate it when she’s like this,’ she thought. ‘Still, I can’t give up hope. Without you, who knows what could happen to her. You just need to tone down her enthusiasm a bit. One week and she will be back to her cheery, happy, normal self. Think, there must be something.’ She looked at the newspaper clipping again and did notice something was odd.

“Lyra?” she asked, causing the aquamarine mare to look up with a smile. “Where does it say that Princess Twilight put her name on this?” Lyra’s smile immediately turned into a frown.

“It- it doesn’t,” Lyra admitted, but before her friend could speak up she quickly amended, “but I know because she told me herself! She, uh, said something about the paper being right. Oh yeah! She said that the paper was ‘exactly like her discussion’ or something like that.”

“But then why didn’t she put her words in the paper, then? To me it just sounds like they were making an assumption and one of the archaeologists went behind their back and told the paper about some theory without any evidence.”

“That means it is up to me to figure it out, then! I know with just a few weeks of research I’m bound to-”

No Lyra! It is not up to you! Please, for Celestia’s sake just let it go!” Bon Bon exclaimed, tears now readily falling down her face. She could barely get the words out between sobs. “This is too much, Lyra! You can’t do all this at once, it … it isn’t fair! You can’t do this to me again! Not after that week-long Seapony binge! I’m sick of staying up late, not knowing where you are or finding you passed out on your desk and having to beg with your boss to let you keep working when you miss work the next day! I’m not going to- to be your friend if you can’t even care for yourself!”

Bon Bon was crying uncontrollably now, her hooves pushing the food in front of her to the floor so she could rest her forehead on the table and cover her head with her hooves. ‘I- I can’t take it anymore…’ she thought, clouds of anger clouding their every word. ‘Why can’t Lyra just go back to the silly filly who sang dopey songs about vampires and witches on her lyre?! The one that would spend hours making funny stories about my candies fighting the evil pastries at Sugarcube corner when the competition was getting the better of me. That-that silly filly that made me fall in love with her…’

Bon Bon was so distracted with her anger that she didn’t notice when a warm fuzzy body wrapped itself around her, finding some purchase on her seat. “I’m so, so sorry, Sweetie Drops, please don’t cry,” the soothing voice said, whispering Bon Bon’s favourite nickname into her ear. “I just- just get ahead of myself sometimes, right? You know me. Why don’t I help set up the shop and we can have a nice lunch before my shift starts. We haven’t done that in a while. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

‘That would be nice,’ Bon Bon thought wistfully before her previous anger caught up with her again, mixing in a painful mix of melancholy. ‘I just wish you could give me more, Lyra. Friends don’t live together, or give each other cute nicknames or cry in each others’ forelegs. Why can’t you show that you love me like I know you do? Why do I have to play second fiddle to your obsessions? Why do we need to argue and hurt each other before you do something nice like this?’

“Don’t worry, Bon Bon,” Lyra continued, “this won’t be like the other times. It will just be a little bit at a time. I promise.”

Bon Bon sniffed loudly and wiped her tears, looking up to her friend. However, the frown and the feelings of defeat didn’t leave her face.

‘I wish I could believe you, Lyra.’