• Published 8th Jan 2017
  • 643 Views, 52 Comments

The Lunar Chalice - Spirals95



A magical chalice prized to Princess Luna has resurfaced in the collection of a wealthy Griffon family. To retrieve the enchanted cup, she sends one of her followers and his friends. But some of Equestria's enemies have plans for the chalice.

  • ...
1
 52
 643

PreviousChapters Next
Chapter 18 - Cadance Caves In

Chapter 18

A very sleepy Lighthearted stumbled her way to work in the earlier hours of the morning as usual. She had to be in at six to start mixing pancake batter for the breakfast rush when they opened at seven. The sun had barely graced the horizon, and the darkness wasn't helping how tired she felt.

“Like I'll be any less tired when I open that daycare,” she mumbled to herself in a strange mix of optimism and acceptance.

Her restaurant seemed strangely dark on the inside, usually her boss and the owner of the establishment beat her there to open up shop and start doing paperwork in her office.

“Did I get here before Sodastraw?” asked Lighthearted aloud, spotting a mysterious piece of paper on the glass door.

* CLOSED DUE TO IMPERIAL EMERGENCY *

“You can't do this to me, Sodastraw!” cursed the mare, thinking she was going to lose her shift pay.

The door swung open, her timid manager inside, a teal pegasus mare with a small set of red specs on her nose. Her restaurant was set up like a traditional pancake house, linoleum tile floors lined with red cushioned booths for eating, and an open kitchen with a metal counter. Sodastraw loved her little establishment, set up since the Crystal Empire had returned, but today her soft smile was replaced by a shocking sense of fear.

“Shhhh! Lighthearted, get in here!” she whispered, pulling her employee inside by the hoof.

“Woah, easy,” said Lighthearted, “I didn't mean to yell. I just... really need each shift.”

“Yeah yeah, I know, I'm going to pay you anyways,” Sodastraw assured, “but we can't open today! The empire is bustling with rumors right now.”

“Rumors of what?” demanded Lighthearted, raising an eyebrow.

Lighthearted pointed to the door to her office in the back of the open restaurant room, “Come on, I'll show you.”

She brought her into the manager's office, barely a closet with a chair and a tiny desk stuffed into the corner, a couple of ledgers with profit numbers written down for taxation purposes. Sodastraw picked up a newspaper with her left wing, the long feathers guiding the tabloid underneath Lighthearted's eyes. The headline written across the top of the newspaper in a font so ponderously large made her mouth fall open.

FIRST IMPERIAL CRYSTAL BANK ROBBED

“No!” gasped the earth pony, placing the paper in front of her and beginning to read.

“The first Imperial Bank was robbed last night by a zebra wielding a magic amulet...”

“I can't believe it,” she growled, “and to think I helped that...”

“Hmmm?” hummed Sodastraw.

Lighthearted blushed, “Oh um... I helped out um... that Mr. Lamplight guy, at the bank. He was having trouble getting a heavy gem deposit in. I just can't believe it was robbed a few hours later!”

“Ohhh, Mr. Lamplight, nice fellow,” agreed Sodastraw, humming.

That was close...” thought Lighthearted, “I've got to get out of here and find that moron Rosseth. Nopony uses me!

“Soooo,” she continued aloud, “don't I get the day off?”

“Well yeah, but... it's chaos out there!”

That wasn't going to stop her, “I'll be fine, boss. I need to take care of some stuff.”

“All right,” sighed her manager, “but be careful out there, Lighthearted, you're my best!”

“No problem!” answered the other mare, already out the door of the office.

Once she was a safe distance away from her place of work, she kicked the pavement in anger and broke into a full gallop.


Guards had already barricaded off the bank when Lighthearted reached the building, the smell of smoke still in the area for blocks around. Most of the windows had been shattered from explosions and misplaced magic bolts, even the roof had been perforated in several areas. It had been a small miracle that the bank had not been completed destroyed in the brawl the night before. A large crowd of Crystal Ponies stood in front of the bank gossiping about the horrid event, a grand heist in their city!

Lighthearted ran up to the closest guard in front of the entrance, “Out of the way!”

“Woah, you can't go in there,” answered the armored pegasus as he stuck out a wing, “crime scene.”

Something seemed rather familiar about the mare in front of him though, his memories of the previous day having blurred together from the chaotic battle in the building behind him.

“Wait... were you the mare who was with the suspect?” he asked.

Panicking about being caught, the earth pony mare shoved past him and ran into the entrance of the bank, diving behind a pillar near the front for cover. Getting stopped and brought in for questioning was not something she was interested in wasting her time on. After a good few minutes had passed without pursuit, she was certain the guard had decided to let her go and peeked around the pillar.

She nearly jumped a foot, the guard had stealthily walked up to the pillar, and there was a mean look on his face.

“You shouldn't have done that,” he said, calmly yet with disgust, “you're in big trouble, missy. I know all about you and that zebra who did this!”

“Please don't arrest me, I'm on your side,” begged Lighthearted, “I'm trying to help out so we can get that zebra behind bars, he betrayed me so he could get in the bank!”

The hatred in his eyes drained, “Excuse me?”

“He told me everypony was after him for no reason, and I got duped,” admitted the mare, scraping her hoof on the floor tiles and looking down with shame, “please don't drag me off. I only want to help.”

“Fine,” came the impatient response, “get in, do what you're going to do, then get out... and no pictures!”

He turned around and stomped back to the front of the bank, Lighthearted sticking his tongue out at how brutish he had been. With the adrenaline having finally worn off, she was finally able to head further inside and get a full view of the ruined interior of the bank. A massive crater sat right in front of her, a hole blown down to the foundation of the building by the thrown fireball potion. Tiny blackened pockmarks all over the walls from magic pellets mixed with laser cannons, and chunks missing wherever one of Shadow Breeze's ethereal grenades had gone off. The strange, more dramatic damage was accompanied by spears, arrows, and knives stuck all over into furniture and desks. Even the fountain had stopped operating, one of the pipes having leaked cold water all over the floor of the bank. Destroyed sets of armor, four swords shattered, and a thin layer of sparkling dust from defeated illusions added a disturbing confetti to the scene.

Gaveler, Sharp, Mr. Lamplight, and Miss Ledger, along with an assortment of guards were analyzing the damage. Some construction workers, mares and stallions clad in hard hats and orange vests, were assembling a sizable metal scaffolding to try to prop up the portion of the roof above the fountain which threatened collapse at any moment. Senator Gaveler was trying to issue further orders to the workers, but Mr. Lamplight was too beside himself to let her speak, bawling like a hurt foal.

Oohhh, why?!” he cried bitterly, tears hitting the already drenched floor.

“Don't cry Mr. Lamplight,” soothed Ledger gently, “your gems are insured by the central supply. You'll get everything back, promise!”

“No, it's not that,” the wealthy stallion sniffled, drying his tears with a handkerchief he had pulled from his sports coat, “I decided to put all my crystals in this bank, and made it too tempting of a target! Oh it's all my fault the zebra did all of this and hurt so many!”

Gaveler didn't know whether to try and help comfort him, or slap him for implying that somehow his one wheelbarrow of crystals was “more tempting” than everyone else's, or at least enough to convince Rosseth to rob the place.

“Excuse me,” said Ligthearted, “Senator?”

She looked back at the other mare, “How did you get in here?”

“I was let in,” lied the waitress through a smile, “I'm... a reporter! They're only letting them in one at a time.”

“Ok, well, no comments right now,” grumbled the senator, “we're quite busy, fixing the place and keeping this gentlecolt from crying.”

“I just can't help but feel... responsible!” blubbered Lamplight.

“So, what happened besides Ross, I mean the zebra, getting in here and robbing the place?”

“That's all that happened,” informed a nearby unicorn in a white hard hat, “the zebra broke in, fought the crystal guard, and made this royal mess us saps have to clean up!”

“He also stole a good number of Mr. Lamplight's crystals,” explained Miss Ledger, “which was odd, because there were many other safe deposit boxes near his that would have done for the amount he took.”

Lighthearted tilted her head, “Really? He didn't clean the place out?”

“Not at all,” said Sharp, “all those crystals would have weighed him down and prevented his escape. However, curiously, he skipped over the front most boxes which would have saved him time.”

“Including yours,” added Ledger, “your gems are safe and sound, Lighthearted.”

She paused for a moment, and raised a hoof to her heart, “He didn't take mine?”

“Nope!”

Those feelings of being used by Rosseth started to slip away, he could have just as easily have stolen her savings frozen in her few energy crystals. Instead her companion from yesterday had chosen to risk being brought down by the guards to skip over her box!

Lighthearted thought, “He didn't rob me. That's so sweet and messed up at the same time!

Coming back to reality she asked of Gaveler, “Do you know what he plans on doing with the crystals?”

“Oh, um... that's a secret we can't disclose to the press,” answered Gaveler slowly, “rest assured the situation is under control, though!”

“Is the princess aware?”

One of the guards bragged, “Of course, she healed us last night after we took that fireball to the gut.”

“Of course that information was already in the paper this morning,” sighed Gaveler, “too much if you ask me.”

“Oh some poor souls got hit with a terrible fireball spell on my behalf!” wailed Lamplight.

“Shut up!” growled Sharp.

Lighthearted had all the information she needed now to begin her quest to find Rosseth herself, and demand to know what he was doing. She excused herself from the situation, bidding the construction workers luck in repairing the bank, and left through the front exit where she thanked the guard for letting her in. He seemed a bit less hostile this time around, but refused to show her a smile.

After getting a good distance away from the bank again, Lighthearted decided to head for the Crystal Palace and try to get the advice of Princess Cadance.

Even if I can't find you myself, Ross, I'm going to help the princess find you. You owe me an apology!


“You're thinking about separation?” Cadance spat out, her vocal chords nearly refusing to form the word.

“Not immediately, but we've decided that might be for the best,” Ignitus said firmly, “as it is, I have not been home very much at all in recent times already. The only thing that will change is our legal status. Faerie and I just cannot come to an agreement.”

Faerie Tail lowered her head, hurt obvious in her eyes, “I'm sorry Princess Cadance.”

The Princess felt her anxiety ratchet through the ceiling, a throwback to her early failure. She remembered that day back in Canterlot, in the tiny, cozy room Aunt Celestia had furnished for her to use as a counseling center. It had only been a few months out of her education on family sciences, a program Celestia had gotten her into very soon after earning her cutie mark. If healing damaged relationships was truly her special talent, her place in Equestria, she would need nothing more than the lovingly crafted space to get started. Cadance recalled it as if it was her throne room, a humble place with white walls, two soft ocean blue couches with heart-shaped pillows, her fuzzy white chair draped with lace, and a shelf full of books and stress toys.

Dark memories flooded her mind about the room now, all the times she had succeeding in fixing marriages, friendships, and dating couples were discarded in favor of remembering her one failure. The sweet Honeysuckle and the strong Lance, sitting on opposite ends of the first couch, with little Rosseth on the floor in front of them. Each of the little zebra hybrid's tears hitting the ground in front of him made very little sound, but the soft patters felt like daggers on Cadance's heart.

I'm sorry Princess Cadance, but Lance and I just can't come to an agreement. We will be legally separate tomorrow morning.

Eerie words that mirrored what was being said now to her from a very different couple. Within her subconscious, Midnight Blaze and Rosseth had merged together, both innocent beings torn apart because she had failed as the Princess of Love. The two moments in time were almost identical.

Almost.

There was one key difference between her failure with Rosseth's family and her failure with Midnight's. With Rosseth, she had plenty of time to try and work things out between the couple. Cadance had come to accept that she had truly let down Rosseth, and vowed to become the best she could be from that day forward. But with this case, there was only one factor that truly tore the family apart, and a “fix” was more than within her reach, albeit an unethical one.

A hard decision stood before the thin alicorn, and the temptation to save Midnight's spirit where she had broken Rosseth's became far too much. Cadance locked in her choice, and her head slowly tilted down, her eyes becoming dull.

“Very well. I just wish to speak with Ignitus in private, then... I will let you go,” she said with a total void of emotion.

“Come on, everypony out,” said Captain Arbiter, removing Faerie Tail and the servant staff from the room.

Ignitus slowly walked up to the throne, his fiery eyes failing to find where the princess's were. She looked like she had been crushed and left to rot on her throne in the cold and lonely throne room. Something made him understand that the princess clearly intended to give him a final beat-down before sending him away, but something also forced the unicorn forward.

The alicorn still refused to look at him.

“Princess Cadance, I accept any further verbal punishment you deem necessary,” the detective stated, “I will never return to the Crystal Empire after today.”

Still no words.

Great patience was being given, Ignitus stood still in front of the throne, believing he had simply left the princess speechless with his behavior.

Cadance did not move her eyes, only her mouth finally moved with a soft, “Ignitus... forgive me for this.”

The unicorn found himself consumed in a sudden blast of green light and energy, pushing him backwards across the floor of the throne room. He felt his core catch ablaze, with no time to defend himself as a strange feeling quickly spread through every inch of his body. Had Cadance finally snapped and decided to remove him from the situation altogether? The feeling reached his head he grabbed for it with his hooves in an effort to get it out, the magic tearing at his psychological defenses quickly.

And then it was over. Ignitus's eyes glowed green for a moment, Cadance's horn dispersed its aura and released filthy black smoke into the throne room in an effort to cool off.

“Cadance... what did you do?” muttered Ignitus, “I feel... different.”

Princess Cadance remained motionless on the throne, “Go to your wife.”

“I am not sure that will do anything,” droned Ignitus.

“Please.”

Without another question, Ignitus seemed to reluctantly obey, leaving the throne room. He felt weird on the inside still, but he had full knowledge of the magical blast he was exposed to. Had Cadance just wanted to vent all her magic on him, but felt like it would be wrong to physically hurt him?

Ignitus pushed the door open and entered the hallway, where his wife Faerie Tail stood accompanied by Captain Arbiter. Her beautiful eyes were wide open, pain and suffering clear on her face, as tomorrow they would no longer be a couple. They simply were not able to get things to work, and he hardened his mind on the separation. Yet, Ignitus saw his wife and her beauty, and felt the strange feeling surge again through his body like a pulse of electricity. From his cousin's perspective, Arbiter noticed a quick green twinkling in the bright orange eyes of his relative, and then he shocked them both with an unexpected statement.

“Faerie Tail... perhaps... there is something we could do to save our marriage,” he said slowly, “I am a very serious stallion, but maybe... maybe I could just avoid discussing Midnight. Maybe, I should focus on just us.”

Faerie Tail's eyes flooded with tears, she couldn't believe those words, “Ignitus?! Are you sure? You'll accept Midnight and come back?”

What's going on?” thought Arbiter suspiciously, “What in Equestria did Cadance say?

“Honey, I can only want what's best for our Midnight and his brother. I may not be able to understand why he does not want to fulfill his duty, but I will tolerate it and leave him alone if it means we still love each other,” he said, albeit somewhat monotone.

Ah, he still doesn't totally approve of Midnight, that figures. Yet still, this is quite sudden,” questioned Arbiter in his mind.

“I... that's enough for me,” whispered Faerie Tail, “I'm sure some day you'll fully warm up to him.”

“For now, can we work just on our bond, my sweet wife?” the unicorn responded, pushing his muzzle up against hers, “Let's go out. We can talk about it.”

“Yes, yes!” she cried, overjoyed, throwing herself around him.

The two unicorns, having rekindled their relationship, wrapped their tails around each other and walked down the hallway of the crystal palace. All of Cadance's staff burst into applause with their hooves on the floor, save Arbiter, who remained skeptical. He remained stationary while the staff filed out to return to their duties, and entered the throne room to find Cadance collapsed on the throne still. The air clearly smelled like burned cloth, making Arbiter's nose twitch.

“What did you tell my cousin?” he demanded, “That was quite sudden, and this room smells like smoke!”

“Arbiter,” Cadance replied quietly, “I did what had to be done. That's all. Midnight Blaze's family is going to be whole again.”

Such a creepy answer warranted the captain's angry question, “WHAT DID YOU DO?!

Princess Cadance finally lifted her head, and stepped off of her throne, her legs nearly buckling underneath her from her lack of energy.

“I did the wrong thing,” she answered soullessly, “the selfish thing. But I did it for the right reasons, please understand.”

Captain Arbiter's one good eye twitched, and his mouth fell open, “You... you didn't.”

“I did... I placed a bewitchment on him Arbiter, I had to,” she replied, tears running down her face, “I couldn't stand to fail again, please!”

With a swish of his cape, Arbiter put his back to the alicorn, making soft sputtering noises as he mulled over the situation. It sounded very much like he was brooding and trying not to shout, but Cadance accepted any kind of backlash she was about to get for taking the easy way out.

She was therefore quite confused when Captain Arbiter opened his mouth and let out the heartiest, most inappropriate laugh she had ever heard, a true laugh out of unbridled schadenfreude. The swordspony's heavy laughter echoed through the throne room, lightening the mood and relaxing Cadance's heavy feelings.

“Ignitus has really gone and done it now! He made you so mad you've cursed him into trying to patch his relationship with his wife!” guffawed Arbiter, “Good Celestia that's funny. I haven't laughed this hard in forever.”

“So you're not mad?” asked Princess Cadance.

“Of course I'm mad, he's my cousin and bewitching others is an abuse of your power,” answered the pegasus, turning around quickly, “but... Ignitus has forgotten that his role in defending Equestria means not becoming a force of destruction himself...”

Arbiter's voice lowered a bit, becoming more serious, “Just like I did. I'm merely laughing in consideration of the alternative, Cadance. Now, how long will the spell last?”

“A few days,” she answered honestly, “it's not too predictable, but the Return to Bonding spell will wear off. If he still feels the same way when it does, I will step down and let the divorce continue.”

“Hmm, well, until then... let Ignitus pay for his treatment of Midnight,” chuckled Arbiter, “I just hope you realize that things will be worse once that hex does wear off. All you've done is bought yourself time, and this may very well come back to haunt you.”

“Of course, but by then... Midnight will have returned by Rosseth and satisfy his father's demand he be a hero,” the princess explained.

Captain Arbiter shook his head and exited the throne room with one final insult, “For your sake, Your Highness, I hope you're right. Until then... I will be enjoying every moment of this!”

Once more, Cadance found herself alone in the throne room. Had she really done the right thing to try and bring them back together using magic? It felt unethical, it was a form of cheating she had never really considered. Sure, she had used magic to get ponies to stop arguing and settle their differences, but all it had done was clear their minds for a fresh start. This kind of brute force she had used felt shameful, forcing Ignitus to love, almost as if she was... enslaving him.

A thought occurred to her, a humorous comparison at first, but one that carried strong conviction.

“Midnight, I hope this has helped,” she whispered to herself, “I'm no better than he is, now.”

PreviousChapters Next