• Published 10th Sep 2016
  • 1,939 Views, 26 Comments

A Moon in a Box - vorxil



Princess Luna finds herself in a box. How or why, she doesn't know. All she knows, is that it's cramped and uncomfortable. Oh and there's this human thing that knows her but won't tell her how. At least until Saturday.

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Truce

"Were thou trying to kill Us?"

"Luna, put the knife down. You're being irrational."

"Princess Luna, thou brigand. And We art perfectly rational."

The night had only just begun before this brigand, this human, had shown his true colors. Marenapping was just the tip of the iceberg. Cruel and unusual torment was just a stepping point. Humiliation and marehandling of a princess, a diarch no less, was just an appetizer. He clearly had planned regicide.

"I didn't even know ponies acted like that," the brigand spoke under his breath, his eyes glancing away from her terrifying gaze.

Not silently enough for the Princess of the Night, who narrowed her eyes as she inched the kitchen knife closer to his throat. The knife was glossy in splotches, that the Princess was certain. What it was covered in though, she could not tell. Poison most likely, a just taste of his own medicine. She'd investigate later, if only for the sake of expanding her alchemical knowledge.

"Meow."

Ah yes, then there was that. The Night Terror. The evidence of that one's attempted regicide lay bare on the Royal Flank. She would deal with that one in time.

The brigand commanded the Night Terror with a whisper. "Not now, you'll get dinner later."

Luna, of course, was not pleased to hear that as she reared up and pushed and held the brigand against the door to what she could only presume to be an armory. The knife was dangerously close to slitting his throat.

"Not you, Luna!" His eyes widened at her silent threat. "Goodness no!"

"A likely story," she retorted with snarl.

"He already has his own food! It's in the box! The purple one!" He pointed to a shelf in the kitchen. A purple cardboard box with the picture of a gray cat lay open.

With a flick of her magic, she levitated the box over to her and tilted it slightly. Rows of... gray something filled it up halfway. What those gray things were, she wasn't sure. The brigand called it food. Luna was not that gullible as she turned her attention back to her adversary.

"Thou callest that food?" Her skepticism was palpable.

"Processed food in a plastic bag, relatively cheap and hopefully nutritious enough." He put on a hopefully deescalating smile.

Luna was not satisfied. "Plastic? Such nonsense."

The brigand did not look amused. He breathed in deeply with closed eyes before coming up with his next foolish excuse. "Polymerized hydrocarbons or hydrocarbon derivatives." He pleaded silently that Equestria had at least heard of organic chemistry.

Then again, this was Luna. She was a bit behind.

"Dost thou take Us for a fool?"

"No?"

"We have studied with and under the great minds throughout the ages. We have discovered knowledge and secrets beyond thine imagination.

"Thou speak of nonsense, pure and simple, and We have grown tired of thy digression."

The brigand sighed. "Look, I know this might be difficult for you, Princess, but you're a bit, um..."

"A bit what?" Her patience was really wearing thin by now as she stared into those blue eyes of his.

"... Scientifically delayed?" He smiled again.

She stared and stared and while she didn't possess her sister's millennium of experience of reading faces, she had spent enough time on the battlefield of yore to know the look of fear in one's eyes. Normally she'd be glad to know her opponent feared her. But then again, her sister had recently been... persuading her to look at all possibilities. Still, fanciful stories make for cheap excuses to escape justice.

His silence had left the ball in her court. "We have been brought up to speed by Our sister on Equestrian advances."

"And it never crossed your mind that Celestia might have left out details or that nations more advanced than Equestria existed?"

"Ha!" she declared as she returned to all four hooves. She stood proudly with her muzzle pointed up into the air. Her wings were extended as she took on a stance worthy of royalty—with a front hoof raised and everything. Her eyes were half-lidded as they bored down upon the peons, reminding her lesser audience of their insignificance. That was to say, she looked like a stuffed up animal in a museum. "Equestria is the cutting edge of the scientific, thaumaturgical and liberal arts! There is no nation greater nor more advanced than ours."

Hook, line and sinker, the brigand thought to himself as a smirk grew upon his face regardless of the knife. "And yet, you haven't even heard of humans."

Her eyes shot open as she barely contained a noise most unfitting a princess of her stature. The error of her logic was dawning upon her. Even the force of the knife upon his throat slacked. It was just like he said, it had never crossed her mind. She hadn't heard of humans before she had met the brigand and had asked him and if there was one there was bound to be others. A civilization, a nation even. But one more advanced? That would be problematic.

Equestria had fought wars before but the last one was centuries ago. While Luna was still stuck in the past of militaristic necessity, Celestia had in Luna's absence pursued a pacifist future. One of diplomacy and trade. Minotaurs and griffons had ended their aggression when the value of trade had grown too invaluable. Wars had simply grown too costly. Soldiers would perish by the hundreds on the fields of battle, the leaders of the future—the foals—would starve to death in the sieges.

Of course, the two sole alicorns had tipped the scales in Equestria's favor. Their battle magic reigned supreme. But they were only two and two ponies couldn't be everywhere at the same time. Luna had once asked to use their celestial bodies in war or at least as a deterrence but Celestia thought it unwise. Luna could now only agree after having her... episode.

So the prospect of there being a nation that was not only more advanced but apparently not reliant on Equestrian trade was not something Luna appreciated. She'd have to be cautious, alert and mindful of her actions so as to not cause a diplomatic incident despite how much she would enjoy the battle.

Gaping like a fish was questionably not a part of the plan.

"Food for thought?" The brigand snapped her out of her stupor.

"Forsooth." She eyed her opponent—in diplomacy, of course—and lowered the knife slightly. "Thou still hast not fulfilled thy part of the bargain."

"Kinda difficult to do that when you're threatened with murder over a misunderstanding."

Luna winced. She wanted to end him right then and there, but her sister would be very disappointed if she returned to Canterlot with a war in tow. And perhaps it was just a misunderstanding. "Consider all the possibilities before jumping to conclusions," she was reminded by her sister's words.

She looked behind her. The infernal beast of nightmares lay quiet on the floor, tethered to the wall. A small yet terrifying foe, covered in armor and wielding a deadly trunk. She questioned the strength of the chain. It looked flimsy. Definitely not iron. She shuddered as she remembered the brigand sicking the beast on her. How it tried to consume her with its trunk. How she ran away only for the Night Terror to lunge upon her. Not that there were any place to run to, there was only one room other than the armory and one other near the box. A small place, this Man Cave.

She looked back at a calmer brigand. "Slay thy Beast of Nightmares and We might forgive thy transgressions."

His brows furrowed. "Beast of Nightmares? It's a vacuum cleaner, Luna!"

"We care not what thou callest it! We will not let it consume Us!" And the knife was back at the throat.

She was really being difficult, wasn't she? "Luna, it has neither the suction nor the size to suck you in. I can understand a cat being scared, what with them being stupid yet evil masterminds," he reasoned.

"Meow." Still pleading for food, huh?

"You, however, are a grown—and intelligent—mare. I thought you'd see reason."

"Thou sicked it upon Us!" And the snarl was back.

"A stupid joke! Seriously, there was no malicious intent!"

The stare-off continued, one with barely-contained rage, the other with barely-contained fear. Only the cry of the cat could be heard as the feline pleaded for food. Thankfully, reason prevailed, as Luna lowered the knife after an internal reminder of her predicament.

She breathed slowly and uttered a whisper. "Keep it away from Us."

"I need it. There's still dust on the floor."

"Use a broom!"

"It's time-inefficient!" Seeing the Princess shaking once more with death in her eyes, he continued, "Look, I'll even let you use it if you want. Get to know it and all that. As long as you don't break it. Shit's expensive."

"Language."

"Free speech."

She closed her eyes for a moment. "...Curse you, Tia," she muttered. She opened them again when she had pulled away the knife. "Cease from doing that again in the future, brigand."

"Yeah, sure. Truce?"

She reluctantly agreed. She still held onto knife as the brigand was finally free to move again and start cleaning up his dung—no, his apartment. As the beast roared once more, she deftly maneuvered herself so as to keep distance away from the beast, hugging the walls as much as possible.

Little by little, the beast consumed the dust, revealing the floor beneath. It was a light-blue floor and most unusual to the princess. It had creases going back and forth like parquet floor yet neither sounded nor felt like wood. It sounded more like dull marble yet felt almost like silk or ceramic. A very polished marble, perhaps, but still far too soft. It also didn't lose its heat as quickly.

The walls, however, were plain white. Slightly rough to the touch like brick but without the lime mortar. She couldn't tell where the bricks began and ended. Either that, or the walls were nothing but solid blocks of polished rock.

The room itself was plain and bare. A bed near the windows—the moonlight soothing Luna slightly—and a glass-inlaid door to a small empty balcony. A structure of rope and wool stood at the end of the bed. One wall hosted a half-empty bookcase with books and memorabilia such as photos. The other wall had a chair and a desk with a few black boxes of unknown make on top as well as tethers and other items she could not identify. Then, there were the boxes. Cardboard boxes lined up on both sides of the room, filled with papers and more boxes and items. At the wall opposite the bed was a small kitchen with dishes piled up. Either that or a laboratory, she wasn't certain.

"Um, you mind handing the knife back?" the brigand asked her. He had finished cleaning the floor and was letting water run through the tap. It seemed the humans had mastered plumbing, one of the few advances Luna had appreciated.

"Why?" she cautiously inquired.

"Because it's dirty." Seeing the blank stare, he followed up. "I'm doing the dishes?"

She looked back to the knife. Then back to him. "'Tis not poison?"

Rolling his eyes, he answered, "It's grease, Luna. And maybe botulin for all I know." When all she did was narrow her eyes, he sighed. "You have a horn to stab me with, you know. Not to mention your God Mode."

"We art not a barbarian, you miscreant," she recoiled. "Our Royal Horn is not to be used in such a manner."

"At least allow me to clean it."

A few passing moments of silence came and went before Luna reluctantly handed the weapon back. Nevertheless, a princess never lets her guard down. Thus she stood vigil and kept an eye on the brigand. Once the knife was clean, he casually handed back the now wet knife. This was slightly surprising, she had expected him to at least disarm her. Either that or he was simply frightened.

She preferred the latter.

The kitchen was certainly in a better condition now. A stove, an oven, a metal countertop and sink. Iron, perhaps? A foolish choice. Iron would rust. Ceramic or magically protected iron would fare better and she could sense no magic emanate from it. A small wooden table with pathetic excuses for chairs made up the imaginary dining room.

Above the countertop and sink were a few cupboards. The brigand opened up one of them and pulled out a metal pot. Surprisingly, the shelves of that cupboard were made of thin bars rather than solid boards of wood. Cutlery, plates and cooking equipment were piled up, slotted in and placed upon the bars respectively. She spotted glass and ceramic as well as metal. Iron again, most likely.

A tick of a sound drew her attention to the stove, a red light having appeared on the front. Once again, no magic. Electricity, perhaps? It was relatively new in Equestria and used for lighting. But the stove itself had no magic. Nor were there any telltale signs of wood or gas. Just four black dais of two sizes. A cooking pot of water was placed upon one of the smaller ones, sealed with a metal lid placed on top.

The brigand moved to the other side of the kitchen to a small white door. Opening revealed a light source but not much else as the door blocked the line of sight. No magic. From within, the brigand pulled out a larger lidded metal pot and placed it on top of one of the larger black dais.

"So, mind if I ask you something, Luna?" he asked.

Her pet was peeved. "Princess—"

"Yeah, yeah, I know. May I?" He turned around to face her, his face betraying his nervousness.

She gave it a moment of contemplation. "Thou mayst."

"What kind of food can you eat?"

"Ponyfood."

"Specifics, Luna."

She rolled her eyes. "Vegetables, roots, fruits."

"Dairy?"

"Yes, as well as eggs."

"No allergies?"

"None."

"Any food beyond that?" He put on a nervous smile.

"Specifics, human," she smirked back.

"Like, say..." He gave it a second's thought. "I assume you've been on a diplomatic mission before, yes?"

She dropped her smirk and glanced at the floor in thought. "Not... recently, but yes." In truth, she hadn't had time to take part of modern diplomacy since her return. Her acclimatization to modern times took precedence. Still, she had been to peace negotiations before her banishment. Those counted, did they not?

"And you've presumably had a taste of the culinary arts of the host nation?"

"Where art thou taking this?" Confusion began to take hold of her. He had already claimed to not be able to cook food worthy of Royalty so she wasn't expecting perfection.

He sighed. "Have you ever dined with a griffon before?"

"Yes, We—"

"And I don't mean your servants bringing food from Equestria but griffons serving you their food. Without reservation."

She furrowed her brows momentarily before realization dawn upon her. The brigand took note of this as he glanced sideways before giving her a smile. A big smile—yep, those were canines and she doubted those served the same purpose as her thestrals' fangs.

She fought back the tinge of green on her face. "Thou... art a carnivore?"

"Omnivore, technically, but yes. Humans eat meat."

Tearing her gaze away, she reluctantly asked the difficult question. "Thou art cooking meat right now, art thou not?"

"Technically yes."

"Dost thou... have a herbivorous alternative?"

"Well... there's bread and butter but that's reserved for breakfast. There's also raw potatoes and carrots."

She grimaced at her choice. Either eat like a homeless beggar or battle with nausea. "What... what kind of meat?"

"Tuna."

"Tuna?"

"It's a fish. Cheap. Processed. Shredded to pieces. You can barely feel it."

"... Anything else in there?" she dithered.

He opened one of the cupboards and pulled out a red-green bag of something. It appeared to have already been open and had half its contents left. He poured the remainder into the smaller pot which now had boiling water. The yellow pieces looked familiar. A white powder, salt presumably, was tossed in as well and the contents of both pots were stirred with a wooden spoon. "Crushed tomatoes, champignon mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic. Oh and spices. Lots of chili."

It was a difficult choice.

***

She was a warrior. She reiterated that to herself every time she lifted her spoon to her mouth. She could fight; this was just like a battle. There was always blood and gore on the battlefield that could make anyone nauseated. If she could fight that nausea, she could fight this one. How difficult could that be?

Oh my sweet stars. She could feel her stomach picking up the pitchforks at the mere thought of what she was resorted to inflict upon it. But by her Mother's name she would not degrade herself to eating like the homeless peons, if they even existed these days. If this was the best quality this brigand had to offer, then she would take it. Perhaps Tia would appreciate Luna's new open-mindedness. Yes, she'd call it that. No one could contest that.

The brigand sat opposite of her, eating away the food in his bowl with barely any look of contentedness in his eyes. As if eating was a chore that no matter how much work he put into it, it always left some to be desired. He coughed a bit as food was caught in the wrong pipe. A quick swig from his black and sealed mug afterward put any further coughing fits to rest.

Speaking of drinks, Luna looked at her ceramic cup. She had been allowed to pick one and she chose one which could at least be seen in the presence of royalty. A foolish endeavor, to be sure. It had paintings of weird comical animals of an unknown species on it. They looked like cows except bipedal with similar paws like the human and the coats were all light gray. No udders, though, and they were far too plump to be minotaurs. The contents of the cup was a yellow opaque liquid. It tasted almost like orange juice. Almost. She couldn't tell what was wrong with it and it irked her. It was so close yet so far away from the real thing.

They sat there, silently eating. Even the Night Terror was eating away from its own bowl on the floor. Apparently there was food in those plastic bags. That still didn't excuse attempted regicide. She would get back at it somehow.

Luna was still three-quarters through her meal when she noticed the brigand seemingly pondering. His jaw was moving back and forth while his gaze was fixed on his empty bowl. "What?"

"Hmm?" He gazed back at her.

"Thou art pondering something. Enlighten Us."

Gazing back to his bowl, he answered, "Merely wondering how you're even here."

"We thought thou knew," she stated with a raised brow.

"I don't. You shouldn't even be here."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Just me trying to make sense of the senseless. I mean I know things from my education but I have neither the knowledge nor the equipment to explain how you got here."

A few spoons of silence and nausea-inducing food followed. "Do you know, Luna?" he asked.

"Nay, We do not."

"What's the last you remember before meeting me?"

"Terrors uncounted," she deadpanned.

"Before that." He put his elbows on the table and rested his head inquisitively on his hands.

Luna pondered for a moment, whether she should trust him with this knowledge. Then again, he had been putting trust into her, hadn't he? She wasn't certain what had happened. She explained to him about her patrolling the Dreamscape and the dream she had last visited. Of the colt jumping up to eclipse the sun and how she was forcefully awakened.

"Wonderful symbolism," he muttered under his breath.

"Hmm?"

"So just like that?" he digressed. "You just woke up in the box?"

"Yes. 'Twas not pleasant."

He sighed, before rubbing his eyes with one hand and whispering, "I swear, Discord, if you're involved in this somehow..."

"Thou knowest the Spirit of Chaos?" Luna was a bit taken aback. He was still in his petrified state, wasn't he? How could this brigand have heard of him if it had been a thousand years since his reign had ended? Unless the brigand was ageless, which she doubted.

"Not in person, but I've heard of him."

"How? From where?"

"Doesn't matter. I'm more interested in getting you back to Equestria. Somehow. Save us both a lot of pain and trouble."

"On that, We can agree. When doth the next train or chariot leave for Equestria?"

"Yeah..." he grimaced. "Communication with Equestria is a bit, shall we say, strained at the moment."

"Then send word for my sister to organize transport."

"Strained, Luna."

"Then thine own government. We art technically a foreign diplomat."

"You're far more likely to end up vivisected on a table somewhere than that happening."

Luna blanched. Her bowels were almost ready to void themselves and not through the correct end. "V-Vivisected?" She wasn't quite certain she was hearing him correctly. "What kind of brutes for a government dost thou have?!" Images of horror invaded her mind.

"The morbidly curious kind. With a few greedy and corrupt bastards mixed in, naturally."

"Thy nation is a polyarchy?"

"Oligarchy with plutocratic tendencies, all disguised as an indirect democracy in the form of a republic. But that's just my opinion."

"How doth thy nation even function," she gaped. Inwardly, though, she was hoofpumping for having proven Ares Trot wrong. A diarchy was evidently superior to a democracy.

"I ask myself that every night. It's a miracle is all I can deduce."

"Then thou willest give Us directions to Equestria."

"Vivisection, Luna."

"We can be stealthy!" she loudly assured him.

He shook his head as he chuckled. "It's not a matter of stealth, Luna, but distance."

"We have time."

"I'm sure you do," he chuckled once more.

"Then what is the problem?"

"Measure. Norm. Vector space limitations."

She sighed. "Speak plainly, please."

"I don't know where Equestria is."

"But... you know of it." Luna just couldn't understand this human and his nonsense.

"Doesn't mean I can pinpoint it on a map and I know my geography. Sort of."

She sighed once more. "This is tiresome. Thou art tiresome. We art tired. Where can We retire?"

Dawning realization struck the brigand. You see, he had only one bed. It was sized for one person, one human. The apartment now had one more inhabitant, leaving only true horror as the consequence.

The truce was a short one.

Author's Note:

So I switched over to double spacing instead of inline for paragraphing. Is this more readable for y'all?