• Published 11th Jun 2012
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Renaissance Pony - Dafaddah



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

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Serious Trouble

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 4: Serious Trouble

***

Luna sat upon the Moon Throne, Starswirl the Bearded at her side. Her sister's Sun Throne was vacant as she was about other business this morning. The days when the Princesses held court together were becoming rare, and today it was the younger sister's turn to preside, a lonely duty she found increasingly irksome.

The huge doors of the audience hall opened and two unicorns entered, a mare wearing a tiara, and a pea-green stallion with a mane of almost the same color. "Her Royal Highness Princess Platinum, and the unicorn Clover," announced the chamberlain.

"IT IS OUR WISH THAT THIS AUDIENCE BE CONDUCTED IN CAMERA!" pronounced Luna in the Royal Voice. The chamberlain backed out of the hall and the doors closed with a clash.

"APPROACH!" she commanded.

The two visiting unicorns did as they were bid, stopping and bowing deeply at the foot of the steps leading up to thrones.

"GREETINGS TO THE UNICORN TRIBE!" said Luna, nodding. When the visitors had raised their own heads she addressed them in a less formal tone of voice. "We will speak plainly, as we have many weighty matters at hoof today. We have requested the presence of the unicorn King. Where be he?" Luna was displeased at seeing only the Princess and not her father.

"Our humble apologies, your majesty. My father sends his greetings, and expresses his sorrow at being too ill at present to attend your majesty's request personally. He has delegated me to do so in his stead," replied Princess Platinum coolly.

Luna's eye narrowed as the Princess delivered her message. She thought it entirely too likely that the words contained an intended slight upon the Royal Sisters. The unicorn King's defiance seemed to be growing worse with every passing month. "Thou wilt suffice, as the main object of our command be thy companion." Luna smiled inwardly at her dismissal of Princess Platinum, and looked directly at Clover. "Unicorn, we have requested that thee be apprenticed to the mage Starswirl the Bearded, to aid him in any task he may wish to undertake, to assist him in the scientific study of magic, and furthermore to learn from him the methods and philosophy of rational investigation and such arts as he would wish to convey onto you. Art thou fit and willing, Clover?"

"He is indeed," replied Princess Platinum.

"Is the stallion dumb, that he hath no voice to respond to his sovereign's inquiry?" Luna scowled at Platinum's intercession.

"No, your majesty, of course not." Clover spoke for the first time. His voice was low and gentle. "I am most honored to meet the mage Starswirl, having heard much of him in the months since his arrival."

At the mention of his name, Starswirl bowed to the Princess and her companion. "The honor and pleasure is mine."

"Of that we shall see," interrupted the unicorn Princess again. "Before we entrust into his hooves our most promising young mage in a generation, we wish to know: where did this Starswirl the Bearded come from? Why does his name not appear on the rolls of the unicorn tribe?"

Luna was growing very weary of this impudent unicorn Princess, and was on the verge of a rather cutting reply, when Starswirl's voice rang out, calm and conciliatory.

"My dear Princess, I was born and raised in a foreign land, far from Equestria and other unicorns. Consequently my name has not been added to the unicorn tribal rolls, an oversight I wish to have repaired. Another is the limited magical education I received from my mother only, as my father was mostly absent during my youth. I was fortunate though that my parents were wealthy, and did see that I be educated in many other arts, sciences and philosophies by great masters of these foreign lands. These skills I wish to now bring to the unicorn tribe for the benefit of all equestrians." Starswirl finished his exposition with a broad smile and another bow, this time aimed directly at the unicorn Princess.

It took but a moment for her to make her mental calculations and decide that there was potential profit for the unicorn tribe in the enterprise. "Oh, well, then I can see the wisdom of your majesties' intent, and can report to my father the unicorn tribe's assent." She bowed to Princess Luna, waiting to be dismissed.

Luna was fuming at the insolence of this mare, but saw Starswirl's signal as he repeatedly gestured towards the entrance with his eyes.

"WE DISMISS THEE, PRINCESS PLATINUM." Princess Luna stamped a hoof. The sound reverberated loudly in the cavernous hall. Before its echo had died away the doors opened ponderously, and under Luna's watchful eye Princess Platinum wisely backed out of the room, bowing every few steps as per protocol. The doors closed again.

"Please join us, Clover." Luna gestured for the stallion to climb the steps to the throne, which he did with a certain trepidation. This made Luna laugh, greatly improving the mood in the hall. "We did not mean to frighten thee, good Clover. Our patience with your former companion's antics wears thin. But do tell us truthfully, how dost thou see our intended placement of thee under a unicorn both strange to you and foreign to this land?" She looked at Clover expectantly.

"The Bearded Mage is a subject of much speculation amongst the unicorn tribe." He smiled at Starswirl. "He has been seen to do great feats of magic in the company of the Royal Sisters, and is most mysterious. I do so like a good mystery!" replied the young stallion.

"Well then," said Starswirl, "you are no less a mystery to me, and Princess Luna says you also have some repute as a mage. Perhaps we can start with you showing me everything that you can do, and every spell that you have mastered. In the process we shall document them all, and then see if we can build an architecture in which to house them. Oh, and you may call me Maestro, a title I have worn for so many years that I would sooner hear it than my own given name."

Clover lost his smile as Starswirl spoke. "Maestro, of course you are aware that the members of the unicorn tribe rarely divulge their spells to those outside of their own families. These spells are both power and legacy."

Starswirl looked to Luna. "Good Clover, if we are to do a scientific study of magic, we shall improve the lives of all Equestrians, and that is a most worthy thing alone. Even thus, the unicorn tribe will profit the most as the usages of magic will no doubt significantly multiply and the importance of unicorns gain in the affairs of it."

"I understand. In fact I even agree, as likely would most younger mages. We secretly share spells already, when necessity so dictates. But what you ask might be considered a betrayal of family by many unicorns." He looked lost before the enormity of that which they had asked of him. "One thing escapes me," he added in a low voice. "The raising of the Sun and the Moon consume by far most of the magical impulse of the unicorn tribe. How can we spare enough to engage in new magical affairs?"

This time Starswirl spoke. "We have a plan for this as well, although young Clover, the time is not yet ripe to share it. Not until such a time as we have verified that it is indeed both feasible and that it shall indeed augment the fortunes and happiness of all equestrians, including the unicorn tribe. For much the same reason, we shall not disclose our compilation of spells until that time. Neither shall we do so without the agreement of the unicorn tribe."

Clover looked relieved, but it was obvious to Luna that he was still not fully convinced. "Gentlecolts. As there are many ponies waiting for audience without this hall, I recommend you take your deliberations elsewhere, so that the state may move ponderously foreward and other ponies be satisfied. Or not."

She looked on regally as the stallions bowed and left the hall, trying not to appear too obviously disappointed at the loss of Starswirl's company. Oh, my! thought Luna, I am getting rather fond of that stallion. I wonder if he has noticed? Lost in her thoughts she awaited the announcement of the next petitioner.

***

Starswirl led Clover out of the castle and into the beautiful gardens surrounding it on three sides. He found a pleasant low bench amongst a grove of very interesting statuary: they were technically very good, but lacked any of the artistic touches that give such pieces dynamism and emotion. Today he ignored the sculptures, sat on the bench and facehoofed.

"What is the problem Maestro?" asked the green unicorn.

He looked at Clover anew, liking what he saw, a good soul that had the courage to speak up for himself before two Princesses. They would be working closely together for the foreseeable future, so there would be no way for him to hide his nature from the youngster. Also his situation was becoming urgent. He decided to take the stallion in his confidence. "I believe I am getting into serious trouble, my friend," said Starswirl. "Though I am a unicorn, I am a foreigner in Equestria, ignorant of many of its mores and social customs. So please forgive me if my questions offend you."

"Certainly Maestro. You may ask any question and I will do my utmost to reply competently," replied Clover.

"My first question is this: is it considered unseemly or even forbidden for ponies of the same sex to... become intimates?"

Clover blushed deeply at the unexpected question, but nevertheless responded easily. "No Meastro, there are many such couples, and even a few herd families consisting entirely of one sex or the other. That is considered a personal issue in our society, also I have read that this is not necessarily so in other lands such as in Spain, for example."

Starswirl smiled. His companion's mention of the ponified version of Spain, recounted under a pseudonym by Princess Celestia, was a reminder of his hosts' delightful ingenuity. "Excellent! My second question is this: do the Royal Princesses ever take on either husbands, companions or even consorts? I have never heard either mention relationships of an amorous nature in respect to themselves."

Clover's muzzle split into a wide smile. "Good Celestia, Maestro! I thought I had detected a glimmer whenever Princess Luna looked your way. Tee-hee! The Princesses have been rumored to have paramours upon occasion, which they have usually kept discrete, if such were true." He winked. "Even now, whispers circulate holding you as the object of trysts with either one or even both the Royal Princesses." He continued a bit more soberly. "However, they are rumored to be most reluctant to engage in such relationships. As immortals, it is their great burden to see their loves grow old and die while they stay ever young. That is truly sad, don't you think?"

"Young Clover, my situation is most unfortunate then. Indeed I have noticed the signs of Princess Luna's favor waxing over the last weeks. And you say that there is no real social impediment preventing her from wooing my lowly self?"

"No, sir, there is not," replied Clover.

"And yet I am an impediment for such." He took a deep breath. "I do not... fancy... mares." He took another deep breath. "You will keep my confidence in this, won't you?"

Clover's mouth had dropped open, at a loss for words. Finally he mastered his shock and spoke. "Yes I will, and, yes I believe you are getting into serious trouble, Maestro."

Starswirl facehoofed again.

***

Princess Platinum entered her father's bedchambers. The unicorn King was having one of his better days today, reading reports in bed. Several scrolls lay in a heap beside him and his spectacles were perched on the end of his muzzle. "Greetings Father. I am here to report on the meeting with Princess Luna and Starswirl the Bearded."

The report he was reading hovered down onto the covers and ceased glowing as he released it. "Approach, daughter. So, what did the moon mare have to say?" His voice was clear and almost devoid of emotion. Excellent! thought Platinum, He truly is having a good day.

"Her Lunar majesty relates that they wish Clover to receive many new arts and learnings from this strange foreign unicorn. Such I determined to be to our tribe's advantage, and so raised no objection to it. Starswirl also wishes his name be added to the rolls of the tribe. This may provide further opportunity for advantage." Platinum delivered her report crisply and factually, a trait much valued and praised by her father.

"Well done, daughter." He raised one of the scrolls. "Please do have a look at this. It was recorded three days ago. I have only today been sufficiently hale to peruse unread reports and found it therein."

Platinum unrolled the report and began reading.

As recorded on the second day of the fifth month, in the one thousand and and second year after the defeat of Discord.
Lieu: the Royal Gardens, Subjects "C" and "S"

C: I believe now is an opportune moment to finally discuss cosmology.

S: Yes. I would hope so. Never has something so shattered by confidence in my own reason. Truly, in Equestria the sun and the moon are raised by the unicorns?

C: Indeed. (reference to S) I must now tell you something that you may not repeat to any other living being. Something related to my sister and I by our mother in millennia past, and that may have some impact on your study of magic. Do I have your word that you will not repeat it?

S: Yes, (reference to C).

C: Some universes are born naturally of the cosmos as part of the fluctuations of its very fabric. In very rare circumstances universes are produced that will foster new life, and that life may eventually produce self-aware beings, such as humanity. If such a race of beings can avoid the many possible disasters that can extinguish it, it sometimes achieves the wisdom and science needed to be able to create entire new universes of its own. (C paused.)

C: Equestria is such a fabricated universe. It was made by the antecedents of my sister, myself and Discord. As with any craft, the making of universes leaves room for both artistry and whim, and so their shapes may be radically different from that of naturally life-bearing universes. In our universe, we chose to have magic to play an integral part of life, and we made the unicorns, pegasi and earth ponies such that they would found a harmonious society on this world, in this universe. Also, many processes that are natural and unguided in your native universe are here objects of magical craft, such as the movements of the sun and moon, the weather and the growth of plants and minerals.

S: Why was it done this way?

C: To ensure interdependence on all members of society. We did not want it possible for any one group or tribe to hold the others hostage, and drive them into penury or even slavery.

S: So that is why the unicorns move the sun and the moon. It is part of their commerce with the other tribes.

C: Yes, indeed.

S: I wonder what that young Pole, Kopernic (ref. unknown) was his name, would think. (subject laughed)

C: I have actually met the man (ref. unknown, possible reference to Kopernic above). He was brilliant, but a bit ambitious for my tastes. I also wondered what he would say if I told him that the geocentric model of the universe he wished to debunk is actually the more correct model in this universe. (subject laughed)

S: This has rather dire implications for our plan. How much of the cumulative magical power of the unicorns is spent on moving the sun and moon?

C: Better than nine tenths of it.

S: That is disastrous. This leaves the unicorns very little energy to drive the new equestrian economy we have planned. We must find a means of freeing the unicorn tribe from these tasks.

C: They will resist the change, (ref. to S), these tasks are how they hold sway over the other tribes.

S: And that is also the problem. You do not have a single society in Equestria, you have three, each competing as much as cooperating with the others. All are governed separately, live apart, work apart and meet infrequently. They have no loyalty to each other. And from my brief time here it is evident to me that the unicorns are showing signs of wishing to place themselves at the apex of this pyramid.

C: It is a most vexing problem, and one of the reasons I went to search for answers in your universe. Our talks there, especially the more recent ones when you lived in France, have helped me grow my own philosophy and statecraft.

(At this point subjects arose and moved beyond hearing range. End of report.)

Princess Platinum levitated the scroll back to pile on the bed. "It would appear this unicorn is far more foreign, and far more dangerous than we thought," she said.

"Yes. I want you to watch him closely by whatever means you may deem necessary. Celestia is disclosing too many of the deepest secrets of Equestria's past to this outsider. If he proves a threat we may need to remove him from the game," said her father as coolly as if discussing the pegasi's mismanagement of the weather.

"Yes, father." The thought gave her a chill. However, the ultimate advancement of the unicorn tribe was far more important than any one unicorn's personal scruples. A pity, she thought, this Starswirl has no idea that he is getting into serious trouble.