• Published 11th Jun 2012
  • 4,213 Views, 180 Comments

Renaissance Pony - Dafaddah



In the late middle ages, Celestia foresees trouble for humanity and seeks help

  • ...
27
 180
 4,213

Meet the Siblings

Renaissance Pony

by

Dafaddah

Based on the The Conversion Bureau by Blaze, as well as other related stories by Chatoyance, Midnightshadow and creative motivation by Krass McWriter

Chapter 3: Meet the Siblings

***

High over Equestria, Starswirl the Bearded gazed out in rapture from Princess Celestia's back, nestled between her magnificent alabaster wings. He was flying! Long had he dreamed of roaming the sky and observing the world from above. The sensation was everything he had imagined it would be, and many things he had not! With every twist and turn his heart thudded in his chest as it hadn't since he was a youngster. Yet he felt completely safe as Celestia expertly wove a path through the sky, approaching the towers of the castle he had glimpsed from below.

They landed on a large parapet surrounding the tallest tower. This time instead of jumping off he waited until the Princess gently levitated him to the floor using her magical ability.

"Thank you again my Princess. This truly was a kind gift to an old man," said Starswirl.

"You are no longer an old man, Maestro. You are a young stallion and it would seem you enjoy flying even more than I do," replied Celestia. "But as you lack wings, perhaps you might seek other means to do so." She winked at him and with a laugh entered the tower proper.

"Speaking of wings, I could not fail to notice that yours are somewhat smaller than what my studies have shown would be needed to carry aloft a... lady of your... importance... carrying a passenger," he finished lamely. To his embarrassment and joy, this again set her to laughing. Another laugh joined Celestia's, lower in tone, but still undeniably female in timbre, as a dark form emerged from the shadows.

"Sister, I believe this gentlecolt called you fat. I would say he lacks gratitude to one who just saved him a climb of some three hundred steps!" said a dark colored mare with horn and wings, no doubt the sister Celestia had previously mentioned.

Starswirl was dismayed at his poor choice of words. To this sister he must have sounded like some boorish character from a farce! He was much relieved when Celestia carried on as if nothing untoward had happened. "Starswirl the Bearded, please meet my sister Princess Luna, co-ruler of this realm."

He now noticed the crescent moon motifs on her regalia. Something of her countenance looked familiar, but he could not quite place a finger... er hoof, on it. Celestia looked at him expectantly. It came to him that he was being rather slow in his response. He clumsily bowed to the new Princess.

"An honor, your majesty. I apologize for my lack of tact. I am both old at meeting royalty and new at being a pony." He smiled sheepishly.

"My, he is indeed as ferociously smart as you related to me, sister dear... and much better looking, even with that long white beard. It gives him a bit of a goatish cast, don't you think?" Princess Luna turned her head sideways as if to better examine him.

Celestia laughed. "I have a favor to ask you, sister."

"And what might that be?" replied Luna.

"I have asked Starswirl to do a scientific study of magic. His efforts will be very important to the future developments of Equestrian society that we have planned, and to the eventual merging with Mundus. My wish is that you help him in the learning and development of his magical abilities, as he is quite new to being a unicorn," replied Celestia.

As the lighter colored Princess made her request, Starswirl could have sworn that her sister's complexion darkened in displeasure. Nevertheless Princess Luna agreed if somewhat reluctantly. "Of course, dear sister. If you think this is the course of action we should take, then I will certainly comply."

Celestia raised an eyebrow, but did not further comment on the less than wholehearted response. She looked Starswirl in the eye and seemed to make a decision. "Good. Well, I must go verify that the accommodations for the new member of our household are in place. Perhaps this is a good opportunity for the two of you to get to know each other." She stopped at the door and winked. "By the way, sister, despite his relative newness, his magic is frightfully strong already. Please don't break him, or the observatory while I'm away. I look forward to seeing you both at dinner." She disappeared in a flash.

***

Luna sighed and looked away from her sister's pet project. No amount of discussion on the topic had done anything to dissuade Celestia from her intended path. She had decided to try to save an entire alien civilization, and the new 'foal' before her was the latest folly in that hopeless and potentially dangerous enterprise.

She looked back towards the unicorn and saw that he was gazing intently at her. He was obviously used to the presence of the powerful and did not seem in the least intimidated. He was also strikingly handsome, and from the look in his eyes frighteningly intelligent. Her sister had picked up a most dangerous pet.

"In answer to your earlier question, the wings of Equestrians are bolstered by magic to accomplish that for which they might otherwise appear insufficient," stated the Princess as this was the rote answer to the stallion's question.

"Might I ask your majesty another question?" His blue eyed gaze was steady on hers.

"Certainly, Maestro Leonardo." Her smile did not reach her eyes quite intentionally, looking to see how he would react to her assertion of his true provenance. She winced when she saw pain cast its shadow over his expression.

"Da Vinci the man is dead. I am what is left of him, but I am quite sure that I am not the man himself." He paused for a moment. "What do you think I am?"

Luna was caught flat-hoofed by the question. Yet she was still angry enough at her sister not to honey her reply. "You are a human poured into the shape of a pony. But you are not a pony. You are not part of the herd, not like they are." She pointed at the ponies tending to their fields below. "If I were to take that question to mean how do I judge the quality of your character, I must admit that I do not know you. But I do know of you, and how highly my sister thinks of you."

The unicorn's intense gaze relented a bit, and he smiled most fetchingly at her, the scamp!

"Your words are a great relief to my soul, Princess, for I harbor no shame to be a man. Much the opposite in fact," said Starswirl. "I believe I have met my second goddess of truth. Now I see how much indeed the two of you are sisters." He suddenly laughed.

"What drives you to such jocularity, Starswirl the Bearded?" she asked, intrigued, and truth be honored, flattered at his unusual compliment.

"In the castle where I resided of late, my assistant and dear friend Count Melzi has painted a fresco depicting the mother figure of my religion. She is standing on a crescent moon, and somehow resembles you closely. She is called the Virgo Lucis, the virgin of light."

This time her smile was genuine, its warmth reaching her eyes. "You are a scamp, Starswirl. A virgin, really?"

"Indeed. Your sister was visiting when Melzi was painting the fresco, and I thought he had used her likeness, but they both denied it. Now I know why."

Perhaps this won't be such a chore after all, thought Luna, and he is a handsome devil!

With a mischievous glint in her eye, Luna decided to get down to business with this unicorn. Her horn glowed purple. Moments later, a large stone quickly floated over the parapet and came to rest on the floor between them. "I would like to test the veracity of that other goddess of truth, who states you are quite the powerful magician. I want you to take this stone and lift it as high as you can."

To her astonishment, the stallion just smiled, and drove the large stone straight up and through the roof. Blue sky shone through the hole. So much for not breaking the observatory, thought Luna.

***

Celestia returned to the observatory tower of the castle, where she had left her sister and the Maestro to get to know each other. Much depended on the success of that relationship, and she knew her sister was far more likely to be her brilliant self when Celestia was not also present. The thought made her sigh. It was her hope that Starswirl's natural congeniality and wit would win Luna over. Two who had so much in common could be friends.

Over the last century Luna had become increasingly frustrated with feelings that her contributions to the growing realm of Equestria were less than fully appreciated. The increasingly bitter rivalry between the pony tribes was taxing her somewhat limited ability to suffer foals. She was also highly skeptical of Celestia's plans for saving humanity. Nevertheless, Celestia's intuition told her that Starswirl was the pony who could provide the key to solving all three of these vexing problems.

Arriving at the top of the stairs, she noticed the Maestro's signature ventilation of the observatory roof. She sighed and permitted herself a moment's indiscretion to eavesdrop on the two. She smiled as she heard a mare and stallion's laughter ring from the parapet.

As she exited the room onto the parapet itself she beheld a strange sight. Her sister and the Maestro each seated on cushions, whilst between them in the air floated two sets of chessmen, a game obviously in progress. Luna played black, of course, and just as Celestia arrived lost a bishop to Starswirl's knight.

"Aha!" shouted the Maestro. Then to Celestia's horror he jumped over the rail of the parapet into empty space.

"Drat!, I lost another piece." Luna jumped over the parapet in her turn, returning a moment later with Starswirl on her back, who commanded her with great enthusiasm to fly in a spiral as he held on to her neck with his forehooves. He whooped with delight as she executed the arial maneuver and returned to land on the parapet.

Celestia's heart resumed a more stately beat seeing the maestro safe. Raising an eyebrow she addressed the grinning pair. "Chess is so popular these days. How nice it is to see that you two have found a way to turn a perfectly harmless intellectual pursuit into a death defying activity."

"It was his suggestion, sister," pouted Luna.

"On the contrary," objected Starswirl, "it was her majesty's proposal that taking a piece be rewarded with a boon. Mine was that her majesty would take me flying on her back." His smile could only be described as predatory. "Hers was that I recite an ode to her beauty."

Luna blushed, as Celestia could see that Starswirl only had lost one piece so far. "Maestro, would you mind repeating your ode to the elder sister of the mare in question?" asked Celestia with a wicked gleam in her eye.

Luna blushed even deeper, but Starswirl recited in a beautiful voice:

Tell me where, in which country
Is Luna, the beautiful;
Aepona, and Celestia
Who was her sister;
Echo, speaking when one makes noise
Over river or on pond,
Who had a beauty too much more than human?
Oh, where are the nights of yesteryear!

Celestia saw through her sister's embarrassment at how pleased she was with the poem. "I think Villon would have approved." She looked over the railing. "Perhaps even with the parapet jumping part." Now it was Starswirl's turn to look abashed. "And pray, was there a wager for the taking of the king?"

"I promised to teach him how to teleport," said Luna humbly.

"I offered to paint her portrait," said Starswirl, still smiling.

Celestia eyed the pieces still floating in the air between the cushions. "Better prepare you lesson for tomorrow, sister. He will win the game in four moves."

Luna looked shocked and immediately went to examine the pieces. "But..."

"I suggest we all go to my quarters where dinner awaits us."

"But..." said Luna.

Starswirl bowed to the younger princess. "Princess Celestia is most correct. I have played her many times, as she is one of the few I have met whom I cannot best in every match."

"Don't wager with him if you can avoid it sister," said Celestia, "or he might soon be wearing your regalia."

With one last look at the chess pieces, Luna turned away and sighed. "Very well. I concede. Good game, Maestro. Teleportation class begins tomorrow." She bowed to him in return, her good humor restored.

They disappeared from the observatory in a violet glow.

***

As the purple glow faded Starswirl saw that he was now in a large, richly appointed room in the castle. In many respects it reminded him of the Château de Cloux, where he had spent the last years of his human life. Everywhere were motifs of white and gold, and mirrors reflecting the rainbow of colors of Celestia's mane and the star speckled black of Luna's.

In the center of the room was a low table laden with food, surrounded by the low cushions the pony folks favored over chairs. Princess Celestia invited them to the table with a gilded hoof. They each took a place and began to serve themselves using magic to handle fork, knife and spoon. How fascinating, he thought. It is all done as if they possessed hands. He could no longer contain his curiosity.

"My dear Princesses, I cannot help but remark upon how much your meal etiquette, like so many other things in Equestria," Starswirl gestured to the apartment around them, "is very much akin to that of the human world. Surely this is no coincidence."

Luna looked at Celestia, who simply nodded and continued daintily eating her meal. "What you see here in Equestria has been much influenced by Mundus in the last several hundred years. Ever since Celestia discovered the bridge to your world she has been visiting and bringing back with her ideas, mores, tools, processes, scientific discoveries, and even in a rare few cases entire individuals." She looked at Starswirl pointedly, then resumed.

"Oft these have proven beneficial and been adopted and adapted to suit our own realm. My sister has under several noms-de-plume chronicled many of her trips, styling them the travels of fictitious ponies to foreign lands neighboring Equestria. These books are very popular and circulate widely." The younger Princess laughed heartily, warming to the subject, even as her sister began to blush.

"I will have you know that many of our subjects think highly of France, Italy, Spain and England, imagining them peopled with their fellow ponies, even adopting many of the frivolous fashions my sister so enjoys describing in her fictions. Why, some of our more idle aristocrats even attend classes to learn to speak these languages!" Princess Luna almost fell over in her mirth.

Celestia coughed politely into her hoof. "All these were devices for us to quickly disseminate ideas, and to enable me to perfect my own disguise, ensuring my access to the leading lights of Mundus nearest the bridge!" she replied a bit hotly, her embarrassment having lent a quite delightful rosé color to her muzzle.

"Especially the fictions with all those randy princes and princesses!" laughed Luna. "She spent entire nights writing those." Of a sudden she stopped laughing and raised an eyebrow at Starswirl. "Speaking of custom, I have yet to hear our human-of-late guest ask for his meat. What say you of our repast, kind stallion?"

"Oh, dear Princess, I have not fancied the meat of beast, fish or fowl for decades. I like not the thought of profiting from the suffering of others, even such as they. Also, having studied the insides of all of these, the similarities are such that in a joint of pork I see the shadow of the limb of a man and my appetite quite deserts me. From foreigners and other like minded souls I have learned how to profit well enough from vegetable sustenance alone."

"I am quite abashed, sir stallion," said Luna. "Your qualities certainly demonstrate that you had the heart of a pony long before you achieved your present equine estate." She turned to Celestia. "What else have you not told me about this most excellent gentlecolt, sister dear?"

"I did not intentionally deny you any intelligence I had of the Maestro, sister," replied Celestia, relieved to no longer be the subject of the meal's discourse and pleased at her sister's obvious rising affection for Starswirl. "But as you have asked I will make one thing clear: that I have never met a greater assemblage of both talent and wit than that which resides within the stallion sharing our table this eventide."

Starswirl felt his face grow hot with the praise, setting both Princesses to jolly laughter, which despite his discomfiture he eventually joined with his own.

"Your majesties are too kind," said Starswirl, "as is your welcome. I know that I have much to learn if I am to assist you in your great quest, and I look forward to the exercise most eagerly."

"I am truly glad, Maestro," said Celestia. "In this regards, have you under my sister's tutelage today learned anything of interest about magic, other than your fancy for flying acrobatics?"

"Oh indeed," he replied, "I have noted how there seems to be many forms of magic, some translational that move objects, some transformational that change an object's nature, and some animational magic that allow an object to behave as if it had a will of its own. I saw all three used by Princess Luna when she lifted a stone from the castle yard below, transformed it into chess pieces, which floated in the air and seemed to know of themselves when they were defeated by another piece and removed themselves from the game. I could tell that her majesty was not involved in active magic at those moments because her horn would glow brighter whenever she was. This last magic of animation intrigues me greatly, as it has great potential for the augmentation of will and intelligence, much as a lever multiplies the strength of a limb."

Luna's mouth hung open, a look of pure awe on her face. Celestia reached over and delicately pushed her mouth closed with a hoof. "As I said, sister. He will surprise you. Take notes tomorrow as he will no doubt be teaching us about teleportation by day's end." She rose from the table. "Maestro, might I show you to your new quarters in the castle?"

Starswirl rose with Celestia, Luna rising a bit slowly as if still deep in thought. "Goodnight, sir stallion," she said in a subdued voice. "I look forward to our lessons tomorrow."

He bowed to the Princess. "Your majesty is too kind, and I also look forward to the morrow."

"Come, Maestro, it is almost time for the Unicorn tribe to lower the sun and raise the moon," said Celestia as they exited her apartments.

He laughed. "What a charming jest, your majesty."

Celestia chuckled along uneasily. "Yes, well, perhaps we should save discussions of the nature of Equestria's cosmology to another day."

"Of course, majesty." He was still laughing at the silly joke when a few minutes later in his own quarters he lay down to sleep.