• Published 27th Apr 2015
  • 952 Views, 52 Comments

Family - Talon and Thorn



A series of short stories and extended scenes featuring various characters from the Lunaverse all on the general theme of families.

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Missing

The soft wind from the west reminded Cheerilee of the brush of lips from a shy lover, both in its gentle touch on her coat and in its calming warmth. It was mid spring, and at that time of day when the sky was already dark and splendid with the brilliant mural of stars crafted by Princess Luna, but it was still early enough that light still poured from the windows of most of Ponyville’s residences, bathing the night with a welcoming yellow glow.

It was the time of evening when Berry Punch would be at her most busy, her tavern packed full of revellers enjoying drink and music before heading home. Cheerilee could already see her older sister in her mind’s eye, imagining the smooth, easy manner in which Berry Punch flitted about her bar counter responding to orders with the aplomb and grin of a mare in her element.

The tavern sat comfortably nestled in the circle of shop fronts that surrounded the town hall, the wide two-story building sharing the same simple and welcoming stone and thatch roofed construction that made up most of Ponyville’s architecture. A nice large pair of swinging wooden doors led straight into the tavern common room, and Cheerilee stepped through swiftly, taking in the familiar scenery with a practiced glance.

It was a bit less busy than was common for this time of evening, but Berry Punch was still in full swing keeping her patrons well supplied with their choice of drink, all while taking time to listen in on multiple conversations and add in her own two bits. Usually she had another pony, Fizzy, helping her work the bar, but it looked like this was a day off for him. Berry Punch caught Cheerilee’s entrance and the two sisters shared a brief look, Cheerilee tilting her head towards a side table to which Berry Punch returned a quick, small nod. Berry Punch went right back to conversing and serving her patrons while Cheerilee took a seat at one of the tables sitting up against the wall.

A few of the ponies present noticed Cheerilee, and she got an assortment of warm hellos and waves, which she returned with small smiles. The patrons quickly noted, however, that she wasn’t inviting conversation, so she was politely left alone. The older patrons, the ones who’d frequented Berry Punch’s tavern often and knew what day it was, understood why Cheerilee was here and merely gave her solemn nods, one pegasus stallion even lifting his drink in a short toast.

Gradually the evening winded down, and one by one the ponies drank their last drinks and with warm laughs and farewells trotted, stumbled, or in one lightweight unicorn mare’s case was carried, out the doors. Cheerilee watched as Berry Punch went and pulled in her ‘Open’ sign from outside. She didn’t bother locking up the doors. One of the benefits of living in such a pleasant town like Ponyville; you could trust your neighbours.

“Want your usual?” asked Berry as Cheerilee stood and trotted alongside her sister towards the bar.

“Oh, I think I’ll try being adventurous this time and let you pick something,” Cheerilee said as she slid onto a bar stool and rested the elbows of her forelegs on the counter, “Surprise me, sis.”

Berry Punch gave Cheerilee a wry half grin as she went to her liquor cabinet, “Just remember, you asked for it.”

A companionable silence ensued as Cheerilee watched her sister mix a pair of drinks. She was only slightly concerned she didn’t recognize the combination of liquids Berry was mixing up, and she could smell the sharpness of the alcohol clearly. At Cheerilee’s raised eyebrow Berry Punch chuckled.

“Been experimenting with a few new mixes. Don’t make that face, Cheery, I’ve tested these out myself. Geez, give me some credit!”

Cheerilee wiped the scrunched up expression off her face and let out a brief laugh, holding up her hooves, “Okay, okay, I’ll trust you.”

When the mix was done the drink was poured into a pair of tall shot glasses, a pair that Berry Punch only broke out on special occasions. The liquor was a near bursting neon green and Cheerilee eyed it dubiously for a second as she balanced it on her hoof. Berry Punch, drink in hoof as well, gave Cheerilee an encouraging nod and held the drink out to toast.

“To sis,” she said.

Cheerilee’s eyes lidded as long buried feelings of melancholy rose to the surface like the bubbles of long held breath underwater finally breaking free, “To sis...”

The glasses clinking together sounded to Cheerilee’s ears like a forlorn cry, but she reflected that was probably just the mood she was in colouring things. She didn’t flinch as she knocked the drink back, letting the scalding green liquid blaze its way down her throat. Whatever Berry had mixed it burned ferociously, while filling Cheerilee’s nose with the scent of tangy fruit. It left a faintly sweet aftertaste that reminded her of peaches. The drink left an intense warmth in her gut and she could feel that warmth spreading out to her head rather quickly.

“Phew... potent,” she said, licking her lips and holding out her empty glass for Berry to take and refill, “Just what is this stuff?”

Berry Punch’s tail wagged as she worked up another mix, “Combination of things. Got some fruits in from the import market in Manehattan, all from Zebrica. Wanted to add something exotic to the tap. What do you think?”

“I think I ought to visit Zebrica sometime,” Cheerilee said as she downed her second round, shaking her head as the effects of the potent drink beat its way past her usually stout constitution.

“Heh, well... kind of like having you around... “ said Berry, who contemplated her own second drink with saddened eyes before swigging it down even faster than Cheerilee had. A stiff silence followed, and both mares starred, not at each other, but far and away, each viewing their own memories. In Cheerilee’s mind she was seeing another mare, one who looked so much like herself, with a cocky smile that Cheerilee could remember so clearly even after six years.

“I’m not going anywhere, Berry,” she said, but Berry Punch just shook her head.

“No promises you can’t keep, Cheery. You’re a knight now. That whole Tambelon business? Who knows where Luna will send you next... or if I’ll see you come back.”

There was a hesitant pause before she added, “Just like Cherry Blossom.”

Cheerilee’s face screwed up a bit and she said, perhaps too quickly, “It's not the same. Even if something goes wrong doing my duties as a knight, you’ll know what happened. Luna wouldn’t leave you wondering.”

“I know, I just don’t want to toast to two sisters who aren’t here anymore,” Berry Punch said, pouring herself a third round. Cheerilee shook her head when Berry gave her a questioning look and gently pushed her empty shot glass away. After Berry put away that third shot of lime green liquid, so intense it seemed to glow as it slid down Berry’s throat, her face was turning that rosy tinge of a mare well on her way to being plastered. Cheerilee sighed. These toasts weren’t meant to go to the point of putting them under the table.

“Ya know,” Berry said, voice a tad slurred, “Given you got that fancy Right of Approach, you think you could ask the Princess to... to try looking again?”

Tension rippled through Cheerilee, and she took in and let out a deep breath, “Berry, it’s been six years. There’s nothing to look for.”

“You don’t know that!” Berry snapped, though without much force, and more with that familiar long held hurt Cheerilee knew she kept buried inside her, too. Berry’s expression softened, “You don’t know that for sure. Nopony does.”

“What do you want me to say?” asked Cheerilee, holding out her hooves, “When the Bluesurf went missing they searched for months. That was six years ago Berry. What good would going to Luna about it now do?”

Berry didn’t say anything, just stared at her empty shot glass as if debating whether to go for round four. Cheerilee could almost see the memories slipping through her little sister’s mind, recalling the events that she herself could remember so vividly after all this time.

Cherry Blossom was Cheerilee’s twin sister. Rambunctious, energetic, aggressive, it was Cherry Blossom who’d opened up Cheerilee’s otherwise shy early disposition and got her viewing the world in a different light. If not for Cherry Blossom’s adventurous nature it was possible Cheerilee wouldn't have acquired the taste for it herself, travelled the world the way she had for so much of her youth. Cherry Blossom had channelled her own energy towards sports, earning a cutie mark that put the mare squarely in the wrestling ring where she seemed to revel in physical competition. So much of Cheerilee’s own skill in hoof to hoof had been sparked and honed by early sparring with Cherry.

Cherry had been good, so good she’d risen in popularity while still pretty young. Before she’d even hit twenty Cherry Blossom, now the Mystery Mare (mask and all), was set for a shot at the championship. She’d gone on a two week vacation to the Acaporko Islands to celebrate her success. Cheerilee would have gone, but she’d been studying for becoming a schoolteacher by then. The last time anypony saw Cherry Blossom she’d been boarding a passenger ship called the Bluesurf for the trip home.

The Bluesurf never made it to the port in Manehattan. It’d gone missing somewhere in the calm straights between Acaporko and the mainland.

It’d been a complete mystery to everypony. Search parties of pegasi flyers and swift Equestrian navy ships swept the area for days, then weeks, and even onto months. They started by searching the most common routes ships took for that trip, for the tourist business was booming and ships like the Bluesurf made that trip dozens of times every year. The ocean of that region was among the calmest and safest in the world. Storms were practically unheard of. Sea monsters more myth than a real threat. Pirates hadn’t threatened that region for centuries. The Bluesurf itself was a stout ship with an experienced crew, with a reputation as among the best of the merchant fleet that operated that travel route.

How it vanished was utterly unexplainable.

No wreckage. No bodies. Nothing.

It was as if the Bluesurf had simply been plucked off the face of the world... with Cherry Blossom along with it.

The memories left Cheerilee feeling the keen hole her twin sister’s disappearance left, but over the course of six years she’d come to accept the loss. She’d moved on, mostly. She missed Cherry Blossom, but she knew her twin well enough to understand that if Cherry Blossom saw Cheerilee fall into depression then she’d get hit with a Spinning Appleoosa Roll so hard it’d made her see birds for days. The thought had run through her mind to try and take up Cherry’s old mantle as the Mystery Mare, yet she felt in the end Cherry would’ve been prouder of Cheerilee if she stayed true to her own cutie mark. So Cheerilee had buckled down, studied harder than she ever had in her life, and made it into the ranks of Equestria’s educators. Wherever Cherry Blossom was, Cheerilee wanted to make sure her twin wouldn’t be let down.

She’d thought Berry Punch had also moved on, these toasts on the anniversary of the Bluesurf’s disappearance just a way to honour their sister’s memory. The pain dug deeper than Cheerilee thought, because Berry Punch looked terrible, eyes red and puffy. But maybe that was just the fourth shot doing its thing. Cheerilee thought that perhaps it was a bit... different for Berry, being the older sister. Cheerilee had grown up with Cherry, but Berry had been there the day both twins had come into the world and had helped raise them. Did Berry feel like she’d failed as an older sister? Cheerilee couldn’t quite work up the courage to ask.

“I dunno whut gud it’d do,” Berry said at last, “But anything’s better’n not knowin’. She’s the Princess fer moons freakin’ sake! Gotta have a... a... find stuff spell or... I dun know. Just so tired Cheery! So tired uv not knowin’...”

Any more words got choked up in the sobs that followed. Cheerilee, holding back her own tears, slide right over the counter without a thought and wrapped Berry up in her hooves. Berry didn’t show any shame or hesitation in burying her face in her sister’s mane and letting the bawling commence, fully and unreservedly. After a bit Cheerilee decided to stop trying to act tough and joined her sister. Even thinking she’d moved on from it Cheerilee couldn’t deny the swelling of memories and all the pain the silent loss of her twin had left in her. She missed her sister.

And was just as desperate as Berry Punch to know the truth about what happened to the Bluesurf.

Sometime later Cheerilee carried a tired and passed out Berry Punch up the stairs to the second floor of the tavern, which was Berry’s apartment. Cheerilee carefully and gently laid her sister down in her bed, tucking the covers up over the now slightly snoring older mare. Cheerilee patted Berry Punch’s mane tenderly, and listened to Berry murmur in her sleep. It sounded like Cherry Blossom’s name.

Cheerilee hung her head, “G’night sis.”

She was a tad tipsy herself as she left the tavern, stumbling slightly on the long trek back to her own house. As she walked she passed by the Residency of the Representative of Luna’s Night Court in Ponyville... the house of Trixie Lulamoon. Cheerilee looked at the Residency with a thoughtful expression slowly making its way onto her faintly drunk features.

Would it be so crazy? Six years. What could be left to find? Whatever happened, any evidence would have to be long gone, right? It had to be impossible... right?

As impossible as six common mares defeating the Tyrant Sun.

As impossible as the return of Tambelon.

As impossible as traveling to an alternate dimension.

Cheerilee had to admit, her definition of “impossible” had taken quite the beating over the past year and a half. Perhaps...

She shook her head, “I’m just drunk. Just drunk.”

But the idea didn’t leave the back of her mind as she trotted onward to her home. It sat there, resting at the back of her mind as she moved through her living room, putting food into the many fish tanks dotting her cluttered home. The idea remained lodged firmly, like a pebble stuck in a horseshoe, inside Cheerilee’s brain, even as she clambered into bed and drew the covers up to her neck.

Turning in her covers, gradually letting sleep worm its way around her consciousness, Cheerilee looked at one of the many pictures lining her bedroom side table. One of them was of a pair of young fillies. Through the picture was black and white, Cheerilee’s mind vividly painted the image with the magenta colours of the two fillies, both of the young ponies sharing the same gleaming green eyes. One’s mane was cut shorter than her twin sibling’s, with sharper bangs, but there was no mistaking that cocky, fun loving grin as Cherry Blossom rested an elbow on Cheerilee’s back. The picture had been taken back when they were both foals no more than seven.

As sleep took her, Cheerilee murmured the question that was now stuck inside her, demanding an answer with reawakened fervour.

“Where are you, Cherry?”

Author's Note:

Thanks to thatguyvex for this extra chapter to add to this story, any comments or queries should be directed at him.

That's this finished for the moment, although is anyone else has any stories they'd like to add I'd be happy to oblige.

Comments ( 6 )

I had been wondering if the Lunaverse was going to acknowledge Cherry Blossom or not...

This is a sad story.

It is easy to read because each paragraph has whitespace around it and starts with an indent.

6026251

Cadence is probably in the 60's to 80's age bracket for the story, so yeah, young for an immortal but probably older than most of her fellow rulers.

I can see a few problems with a government consisting only of Luna's 'decendants', families fight as much if not more than unrelated individuals and Luna may have some problems being objective when dealing with the. The nepotism of the system is problematic (although that's probably already a problem in the current Night Court), I suppose new blood can always be brought in via further adoption.

Interesting. Feels like a sequel hook for something, possibly a world tour story.

6027870 Mostly I was thinking that it would mean Luna would be in a position to more easily intervene in the situation of nobles that aren't living up to her standard, both before and after they're in the Court itself.

Also, it might have resulted in something other than the cycles of corruption we've been told she's let happen over the years, and IMO nearly any amount of additional meddling on her part would have been a good thing.

Just idle thoughts, though.

I need to hug both of those ladies now. :(

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