• Published 7th Jul 2012
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Palace Perils - Rated Ponystar



Princess Luna vs Philomeena in a prank war

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Chapter 1

Palace Perils

By The Rated Ponystar

Edited by Fernin, Adjudicator, and tayman2037

Artwork done by ColgateFim (http://colgatefim.deviantart.com/)

***

Corporal Helm Breaker was facing the most difficult and dangerous assignment in his career as a Royal Night Guard. Before him stood a silver door, bearing the sigil of Princess Luna in the center. Beyond this door was a creature more terrifying than anything the depths of Tartarus could ever produce. Its very existence was a nightmare for all in the palace. Helm Breaker would have loved nothing more than to spread his wings and fly away, but duty called.

Helm Breaker turned to his partner, Piercing Valor. “Remind me again why we have the grand honor of waking Princess Luna?”

Piercing Valor responded with a smack that nearly knocked the helmet off Helm Breaker’s head. “Because somepony was too busy getting salted up last week to get in line for assignments.”

Helm Breaker huffed and pushed his partner away. “Come on, it can’t be worse than guarding the dungeons or Blueblood. Hay, even latrine duty is worse.”

“Oh really? Remember what happened to Cinder Whip?” asked Valor, raising an eyebrow. Both ponies shivered at the thought. “He’s still in the hospital for what happened last month. Last I heard, he still shouts, ‘Mercy Princess Luna! I’ll never wake you again’ over and over every night.”

Helm Breaker gulped as he began to imagine himself in Cinder Whip’s condition. Piercing Valor pointed at him and then at the door. Helm Breaker opened his mouth to argue, but when his partner’s horn glowed threateningly, he shut his mouth. Raising a shivering hoof, Helm Breaker slowly reached for the entrance...

“Excuse me?”

Helm Breaker screamed and leaped into Piercing Valor’s hooves. Turning around they were relieved to see that it was nothing more than another unicorn night guard. Helm Breaker turned to Valor and gave a nervous smile before his partner dropped him to the floor. The new guard quickly saluted them. “Sorry to interrupt you, sirs.”

Helm Breaker rubbed his flank and got back on all fours. His eyes glanced towards the newcomer’s uniform. “You’re new, Private?”

The Private nodded and saluted again. “Private Nocturne of the Royal Night Guards, sir. Thirty-fourth regiment, sir. I must say, it's an honor to be here. I've always wanted to serve ever since I was a foal.”

Helm Breaker stared at the newbie before glancing at the door behind him. A sly grin stretched across his face. Breaker quickly banished the smile and put on a stony gaze, thinking back to his drill instructor during his training days. Let’s see if those times mocking Sergeant Muscle Grinder pay off.

“Private Nocturne! Atten-SHUN!” shouted Helm Breaker. Nocturne jumped and stood at attention as Helm Breaker trotted around him, scrutinizing every inch of his body. He could already see sweat dripping down Private Nocturne’s neck. Helm Breaker struggled to hold his ‘instructor look’ and not laugh at the sight. “Private Nocturne, do you know what kind of a room is behind me?”

“Those are doors to a bedchamber, sir!”

“That is correct, Private,” said Helm Breaker. He looked at Nocturne straight in the eyes, making the poor rookie gulp. “And do you know whose bedchambers those are?”

“Those are Princess Luna’s, sir?”

“Princess WHO, Private?!” yelled Helm Breaker, his saliva splattering on Nocturne’s face. “You will address her majesty as ‘Princess Luna the Sovereign of the Night and Diarch of Equestria’ when you are asked such a question. If you do not address her as such I will make sure you are thrown into the dungeon for your insolence and have the Provost Marshal whip your sorry flank until it’s as red as a baboon’s butt! Do you understand?!

“Sir, yes, sir!” shouted Nocturne. “I will address Princess Luna the Sovereign of the Night and Diarch of Equestria as such, sir!”

“Good! Now listen up. We have a duty of the utmost importance we need you to perform.” Breaker pointed to Valor. “Piercing Valor here has received the honor of waking up Princess Luna the Sovereign of the Night and Diarch of Equestria from her slumber so she can bring forth the night. However, “ he turned back to Nocturne with a smile, “he has decided to give this glory to you.”

“Wait, wha—“ a glare from Breaker shut Piercing Valor up. “Um, right.”

“As such, you are to enter her bedchambers and wake her up,” said Helm Breaker.

Nocturne tilted his head. “Is this really such a big deal, sir?”

Helm Breaker grabbed Nocturne by the shoulders and shook him. “Listen to me, Private! Every pony in Equestria depends on the sisters performing their duties on time and without delay! Even the slightest miscalculation will send the entire world into chaos! Oceans rising! Cities falling! Panic everywhere! Discord coming back to life! Cats and dogs living together! There will be madness not seen since the Dark Ages! You must do this! For Equestria!”

“Yes, sir! I will do it for Equestria, sir!” shouted Nocturne as he hurried toward the door and opened it. Helm Breaker closed it behind him and chuckled.

Piercing Valor shook his head and sighed. “You just got that boy killed.”

Helm Breaker turned to his friend and snorted. “Come on, it won’t be that bad. As long as he doesn’t blurt it out like an id—“

“Good evening, Princess Luna, Sovereign of the Night and Diarch of Equestria!” shouted Nocturne from inside. The two guards’ heads snapped towards the entrance as fear darkened their faces. “I am Private Nocturne here to wake you up on this gloriouAUGH!”

What was heard next could only be described as a cross between a dragon’s roar and the shriek of the damned. The entire floor rumbled and both guards felt the monstrous power of alicorn magic surge through the air. The sound of crackling lightning and blasts of fire echoed from the night princess’ room. The stench of ashes flooded the air. An unholy cry of terror echoed across the hallway along with a pleading cry for help. They could have sworn the poor rookie had awoken an ancient eldritch abomination that was now ripping him to shreds. The two terrified guards stood as still as statues, forced to hear the horrors from inside.

As quickly as they had come, the sounds stopped. Neither guard could move or breathe as the door slowly opened and revealed a dressed Princess Luna. Noticing the two guards, she gave them a bright smile. “Good day, loyal subjects. If you excuse me, I am needed to raise the moon.” She gave them a nod and was off, humming a tune neither recognized.

The guards continued to stare at the door, too frightened to go through it to see what carnage lay in the darkness. Finally, Helm Breaker managed to break out of his stupor. “You alive in their, rookie?”

A small, weak groan was all he heard.

***

“Ah, another night, another job well done,” said Luna, trotting alongside her sister and a few guards. With her head held high, Luna paraded through the halls like she was on cloud nine. For some reason, tonight felt like it was going to a good night. She didn’t know or care why; all that mattered was how happy she was.

Luna’s behavior was so outgoing even Celestia couldn’t help but smile. “You seem to be in high spirits tonight, Luna.”

“Yes, Celestia, I am. I feel like I can conquer the world!” said Luna, dramatically raising her hoof to the ceiling.

“Hmm, do I need to call upon the Elements of Harmony again, dear sister of mine?” teased Celestia. The two rulers looked at each other and giggled. Celestia cleared her throat. “Before you go perform your nightly duties, Luna, I must ask you a question.”

“Certainly, dear sister,” said Luna, sitting on her haunches.

“Have you seen Philomena by chance?” asked Celestia. “Her cage was empty this afternoon and I’ve asked the guards to look for her.” She sighed and shook her head. “That mischievous bird is always coming and going as she pleases.”

Luna’s smile turned into a frown. “No, I have not seen… the bird… lately. And I hope it stays that way.”

Whether Celestia heard her sister’s comment or the demeanor behind her voice, Luna’s response was met with a disapproving glare. “Luna, I know you and Philomena don’t get along very well, but please ask your guards to keep an eye out?”

“Very well, sister. I will alert my guards,” said Luna. “If there is nothing else, I would like to take a bath.”

Bidding goodnight, Celestia made her way towards her chambers while Luna continued down the hall, trying to ignore her thoughts on the phoenix. She arrived at her own personal bathing room, complete with the large, pool-sized bathtub. Her bathing maids were already putting in the finest of oils and scented leaves in the water, infusing it with a heavenly aroma.

With a simple command, the guards following her left the room and the maids went to work. They took off her royal garments and carefully put them away in the cupboards as if the pieces of the regalia were precious newborn foals.

Luna slowly dipped a hoof into the water and sighed in relief as she sank into the water. Leaning against the edge of the pool, Luna closed her eyes and relaxed as her maidens went to work. One of them, a unicorn named Droplet, kept her grip on the valve, twisting and turning it to the princess’ wishes. The other two were busy tending to Princess Luna. An earth pony, Bubbles, scrubbed Luna’s luscious star-speckled mane with shampoo while another unicorn, Aqua, held a bucket of warm water ready to rinse it.

“Princess Luna, the sky is so amazing this evening,” praised Bubbles. “I wish I had the honor of seeing you summon it every night.”

“Thank you for the kind words, ‘tis no small matter really,” said Luna.

“Oh no, Princess. It is a big deal,” said Bubbles. “I don’t know how anypony can say such a thing when you create such a beautiful evening every time.”

Luna rolled her eyes and sighed. After rinsing their mistress’ mane the servants went to fetch the soap and brushes, but the princess ordered them to stop. “There is no need. I will wash myself tonight.”

The brushes dropped from the maids’ mouths. Droplet stepped forward and asked, “Princess Luna, have we done something wrong?”

“You have done nothing wrong. I just wish to be by myself for tonight’s bath. Take the night off,” said Luna.

“But Princess Luna,” said Aqua, “What if you need us for something? Surely, we can at least stay by your side?”

“If you wish, you may wait outside with the guards until I call for you,” said Luna, pointing to the exit.

The three nervous maids nodded and excused themselves, whispering to one another. When she was finally alone, Luna sighed in relief. It wasn’t that she didn’t like her maids, but, like many others, they could be such—for the lack of a better term—flank kissers. Always trying to please her and compliment her on the simplest of things.

Still, it was amusing to see how far they would go sometimes to satisfy her. Closing her eyes, Princess Luna cleared her mind and let the warm water wash away her worries.

In fact, the bath seemed very warm tonight… almost too war—

“HOT! HOT!” yelled Luna at the top of her lungs. The water might as well have been boiling lava. Luna shot out of the pool as fast as she could. The guards dashed inside, blowing away the steam with their wings and demanding to know what was wrong. Luna saw them and blushed, “Get out of here!”

A powerful wind spell blasted the guards back out the door before they could react, throwing them in a groaning heap on the opposite side of the hall. The resounding crash and pitiful moans of pain could be heard from inside the bathroom. Luna, however, was too busy jumping up and down in anguish as the maids entered, begging for orders.

“Water! On me! Now!” shouted Luna, her body slowly turning red. Aqua took the bucket and filled it as fast as she could from the nearest source available—the bath. The hot water splashed over the princess. Luna screamed again and started rolling on the floor as if she was on fire. “Cold water! Cold water!”

Aqua nodded and ran to a nearby faucet, filling it with the coldest water it could give. She hurried back to her princess and showered the water onto Luna, eliciting gasps of relief from her mistress. After two more buckets of pure and frigid relief had splashed over her much-abused skin, Luna got to her hooves and let her maids dry her off. “Bring me a mirror!”

Bubbles quickly brought the mirror. Peering into it, Luna gasped in horror. Her once beautiful dark blue pelt now had red rashes on it. Teeth grinding, she glared at the three huddled maids. “Which of you made the water so hot?! I demand to know right now!”

Droplet pointed to the value. “But Princess Luna! The valve hasn’t been changed! Look!”

Trotting over to the valve, Luna saw that the temperature was indeed normal. The amount of heat she had felt couldn’t have come from the spigot. She made her way back to the bath and tested it cautiously with a single hoof. It was no more than pleasantly warm—although after her ordeal it felt almost chilly. Rubbing her muzzle, she began to think of possible explanations: had a pipe broken? Maybe it was a prank? A somewhat pathetic assassination attempt?

A shout jerked Luna from her musings. She glanced up to see Bubbles waving a hoof at something in the water. “Princess Luna, look!”

Luna delicately plucked the floating object off the water’s surface and brought it up for a closer look. Her eyes widened. The bright orange feather shone like the sun, radiating heat like warm sand on a beach. Only one creature in the castle had feathers like this and the power to heat her body to the point where it was blazing. Just as she suspected, an orange creature with wings flew straight out of the water and made for the exit. Luna dashed to the halls, hoping to catch sight of where it was going, but she lost sight of the bird. Shaking with rage, Luna let loose with the full fury of the Royal Canterlot Voice.

“Philomena!”

***

“Honestly, Luna, I think you’re taking this a little too far,” said Celestia as she took another spoonful of porridge. She waved her hoof over the table covered with every breakfast delicacy imaginable. “Why not just forget about it and focus on breakfast. Or would you like something more suitable like a dinner meal?”

Across the table, a sulking Luna finished her orange juice. As she refilled it, Luna answered, “I’ve told you, Sister, despite our sleep schedules I don’t mind having breakfast in the morning with you.” When her cup was full she drank the whole thing in one gulp and slammed the glass on the table. “What I would like is for you to tell that accursed pet of yours to stop pranking me! It took me hours to get rid of the red spots on my pelt, which made me late for night court!”

“Philomena is just having fun. You know she likes to be a bit of a prankster once and awhile,” assured Celestia. “I have had Philomena as a pet for over three hundred years and I know she doesn’t mean any harm.”

“Oh really?” Luna raised an eyebrow. “History says otherwise. Remember when she drew on my face with a marker? It took me at least two hours to wonder why everypony was snickering when I walked past them.”

“At least it was not permanent,” pointed out Celestia, taking a sip of her coffee.

“What about the time she placed a whoopee cushion on the throne when I went to have my night court and everypony thought I passed gas?” Luna’s cheeks blushed redder than the carafe of tomato juice resting to her left. “I have never been so embarrassed in all my years, both before my banishing and now! Even the guards were snickering!”

“Harmless fun,” said Celestia, putting a hoof to her mouth and stifling a snicker.

“And then there was the time I got a letter from somepony claiming to be my ‘biggest fan.’ When I went to meet this fan, all dressed up, I found nothing more than a fan, literally, waiting for me!” Luna cried. “I still do not know how she even managed to write the letter!”

“Well, that one may have been me…” whispered Celestia, smirking as she peeled a banana.

“What was that?” asked Luna.

“Nothing.” Celestia put her fruit down and gave her sister a warm smile. “Very well, I will talk to her later today and ask her to stop pranking you.”

“Thank you,” said Luna, with a smile.

Before they could talk further, there was a knock on the door. After allowing entrance, the sisters watched one of the day guards enter and bow. “Sorry to interrupt your private breakfast, your majesties. One of the tour groups visiting the castle has fillies and colts who are begging to see the princesses."

“Thank you, sir. You may return to your post.” Celestia turned to her sister and asked, “Do you want to come with me and greet our little ponies?”

“You go, Tia. I’m going to finish here and head to bed,” yawned Luna, waving her hoof.

“Alright, see you in the evening, Lulu.” Celestia bowed to her sister and exited the dining room with the guard.

When her sister was gone, Luna quickly glanced around the room. Nopony was around. Luna rubbed her hooves together and grinned. Using her magic, she summoned an item from her room and nearly squealed as it landed in her hooves. It was a blue and red sock covered with purple crescent moons. Luna wore it over her left front hoof and smiled. “Good morning, Mr. Socko!”

Luna moved her sock-covered hoof up and down as she used her best gentlecolt voice. “Good morning to you too, Princess Luna.”

“Are you ready for another adventure today before bed?” asked Luna.

“You betcha, but first I’m really hungry!” declared Mr. Socko.

Luna smiled and pointed to the table. “Well, Mr. Socko, we have plenty of delicious food all ready for us to eat. Shall we dine together?”

“It would be an honor, milady!” said Mr. Socko as Luna made her sock puppet bow.

“Oh, Mr. Socko, you are such a gentlesock!” Luna laughed and turned, noticing a lid-covered tray. The heavenly smell of waffles hung thick and rich in the air over the silvered dome. Licking her lips, Luna brought the tray forward and set it down in front of her.

When Luna pulled up the lid, she gasped—but the gasp quickly turned into an angry growl. Half the night she had spent looking for the prankster and now she found her. Sitting on the tray, waffle in beak, was Philomena. She turned around and tweeted, giving Luna a two-feather salute of impudent greeting.

Luna wasn’t impressed. “You have five seconds to let go of that waffle before I cage you.”

Philomena’s eyes drifted to Luna’s sock puppet. She began to laugh uncontrollably and pointed at Mr. Socko. Luna turned to Mr. Socko and gasped, turning bright red. “Th-this isn’t w-what it looks like!”

Luna’s blush only deepened as Philomena started pounding the table with her wings, feathered body wracked with hilarity. Growling, Luna tried to grab Philomena with her magic, but nothing happened. Ugh, I forgot. Stupid phoenixes and their high immunity towards magic.

Her eyes then noticed the tray underneath Philomena and grinned. Surrounding her magic around the lid, Luna forced it to flip over, launching Philomena into the air. She landed on the edge of a bowl of scrambled eggs, sending it into the air. After a few surprisingly graceful loops and spins that would have done credit to a particularly agile pegasus, the egg-filled bowl landed. On Princess Luna’s head.

Luna’s eye twitched as the gooey eggs slipped down her mane and onto her back. A second later she dived for the bird, rage in her eyes. Philomena squawked and flew away, using her legs to knock back whatever food she could to calm down the raging beast. This only added more fuel to Luna’s burning ire. Eggs, porridge, grapefruit, salt, milk, juice, and more were tossed around and splattered all over the room as the chase continued around the table.

Philomena managed to avoid a swipe from Luna’s hoof by diving forward. She rolled across the table and came up brandishing a butter knife. Without a moment’s hesitation, Princess Luna snatched up a matching knife of her own with her magic, twisting it to test its balance. The knives’ dull edges glittered. For a moment all was silent in the dining hall. And then—

“Have at thee!” screamed Luna, lunging forward. The knives clashed. Up and down, left and right, the combatants slashed and parried each other’s attacks and sent more chinaware clattering to the floor.

Luna, looking to her sock out of the corner of her eye, asked, “How am I doing, Mr. Socko?”

“Splendid, Princess Luna! Keep up the good fight!” cheered Mr. Socko.

Luna saw her chance and knocked the knife out of her opponent’s wing. With her weapon gone, Philomena gulped and saw the sinister face of Princess Luna, reveling in her victory. “I think I am in the mood for boiled phoenix for dinner!”

With a butter knife dangling overhead, Philomena looked desperately for aid or escape. Her frantic gaze landed on a bowl of yogurt nearby. Just as Luna was about to step forward, Philomena grabbed the yogurt and threw it. The bowl smashed into Luna’s face. “Ah! My eyes!”

Luna stepped back and slipped on a plate of warm butter. Pitching backwards, she fell head first into a bowl of chocolate pudding. Taking this chance, Philomena flapped her wings and flew towards the exit. Luna managed to get back on all fours and wiped the chocolate and yogurt off her face. She followed Philomena, screaming bloody murder.

***

“And this hallway leads to the dining room, where my sister and I eat and exchange our greetings to one another,” explained Celestia as she lead the tour group along with a small group of guards. The tourists were all ‘oohing’ and ‘aaahing’ while a few snapped as many pictures as they could.

The foals were an energetic bunch and Celestia couldn’t help but be amused by their behavior. From the moment Celestia had greeted the tour group, they had bombarded her with question after question about her and her sister. Where did they sleep? Did they ever have parents? What were their hobbies? One colt even asked if alicorns used the bathroom like every other pony, much to his mother’s embarrassment. Celestia answered by showing them her bedroom, her family portrait, and her garden. She avoided showing off the last one for the sake of taste and just simply answered yes. Ah, to be young and full of curiosity.

One of fillies asked, “What’s Princess Luna like?”

Celestia gave the little pony a proud smile. “Princess Luna is just as proper, disciplined, and well mannered as me. In fact, if she was here I’m sure she would show you.”

As if on cue one of the hallway doors slammed open. Everypony’s jaw dropped as a crazed Luna stormed into the hall. Smeared with food and wearing a single sock, she looked like an escapee from some kind of mental institution. This impression was confirmed a moment later when Luna brought up the sock up to her face, screaming, “Where is she! Do you see where the accursed bird fled, Mr. Socko?!”

The audience’s faces filled with horror when Luna, changing her voice to that of a male’s, answered herself. “Not yet, Luna! But she could not have gotten far! Don’t worry! Revenge will be ours!”

“Yes! And when I find that phoenix I will go all Nightmare Moon on her feathery behind!” Princess Luna unleashed a sinister laugh that sent the foals scurrying to hide behind their parents. With a yell, Luna dashed between the stunned Celestia and terrified tour group to continue down the hall, still laughing maniacally.

Everypony stood still until the bizarre princess and her crazed laughter faded down the hall. As one, the ponies of the tour group turned to Princess Celestia. Their stares mixed equal parts worry, disbelief, and abject terror. Faced with such a cocktail of emotions, Princess Celestia hesitated for a moment, coughing into one hoof as she tried to avoid the small crowd’s collective gaze. Finally, Celestia cleared her throat and smiled. “Of course, sometimes my sister has her bad days.”

***

Once again, the avian annoyance had escaped Princess Luna’s grasp. She wasn’t sure why Philomena seemed so intent on making her life a living nightmare, but she was too tired to care. It was already ten in the morning, way past her bedtime, and she was exhausted from such a terrible day. And it was all thanks to a certain phoenix who Luna was tempted to send to the moon to suffer a thousand years of isolation.

Luna walked over to her sock drawer and her worries were washed away when she looked at her collection. There was Woolbur, Mr. and Mrs. Hevesy, Tickle Pink, Sir Warms-a-Lot, Nicky Nylon, Cotton Eye Joe, Mittzy, and many more. Placing Mr. Socko with the rest of her babies, Luna kissed each of them before making her way to bed. Before she could get under the covers, she heard a knock at her door and huffed. “What is it now?”

One of her sister’s guards poked his head in. “Um… Princess Celestia requires your attendance to discuss the ‘breakfast incident.’”

Luna could feel her headache returning as she left her room. Unbeknownst to her, something slowly crawled out of its hiding spot underneath the bed and gazed towards the open sock drawer.

***

By the time Luna was done talking to Celestia, she had decided to make an appointment for an ear doctor tomorrow. Apparently, Celestia still knew how to use the Royal Canterlot Voice. When she reached her bedroom door, Luna found it hard to resist smashing her head against the wall. Her day had peaked when she’d gotten up and gone swiftly downhill from there. All thanks to that stupid pet bird of her sister.

At least it can’t get any worse… When Luna entered her chambers, she took in the state of the room and froze. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped as far as it could. Mittzy, Mr. Woolbur, Sir Warms-a-lot… all her knitted friends were strewn across the floor, lying where some callous monster had tossed them. All save for one.

Sitting on the bed Philomena toyed idly with the crown jewel of Luna’s sock collection. Mr. Socko looked strained and uncomfortably forced onto the bird’s flame-colored wing and Luna’s heart instantly went out to her much-abused friend. Philomena turned around and saw the stupefied Luna. Grinning maliciously, it tweeted a cheeky greeting.

Philomena had lived a long life, but apparently nopony had ever told her an important thing about Princess Luna. In fact, there were three things in the world to be avoided at all costs when it came to the night princess unless one wished to meet an untimely demise. First, one should never call her Lulu; only Celestia had that right. Second, one should never attempt to wake her from a sound sleep. And third, and by far the most important fact: one should never, ever, ever, touch her sock collection.

“GIVE! ME! BACK! MY! SOCKO!” roared Luna, diving forward. Philomena squawked before jumping off the bed, but was jerked up short when Luna’s muzzle snapped onto the sock. Like a wild beast fighting for its meal, Luna continued to clench the sock between her teeth. Philomena screeched and tried to remove her wing from the sock, but Luna’s bite was too powerful.

With no other choice, Philomena teleported with a spark of flames and disappeared. The blast of fire knocked Luna back into the wall, leaving her in a dazed heap on the floor. When her eyes stopped rolling, Luna was ready to cheer in triumph—but instead she gasped in horror. “Mr. Socko!”

She rushed over to her now burned sock and cradled it in her hooves. A few tears dripped down her cheeks as she whispered, “It is okay, Mr. Socko… I’m here… I’m here…” Cradling the ruined sock to her chest, she raised her head and gave voice to her anguish with a single scream.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

***

“Your majesty, I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to be your assistant for your party this week,” said Fancy Pants, bowing to Celestia. He looked around the throne room and raised his eyebrow. “Are you sure you want to have it in the throne room? I think the gardens would be a simply fabulous alternative.”

“Now, Fancy Pants, I understand my gardens are popular,” commented Celestia. She looked up at the glass mosaic windows, feeling a faint smile grace her lips. She adored looking at them when the sun shined through their multi-colored frames. “But I think we should change things up a bit with my parties. I feel that hosting one in the throne room will be just—“

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Everypony in the room covered their ears as the cry of grief tore through the air. Celestia watched in horror as her precious windows cracked and shattered into tiny pieces. Guards and attendants fled to avoid the sudden rain of sharp, glittering fragments. When the scream was finally gone, everypony held their breath and stared at the sun princess. Her left eye was twitching.

“On second thought… the gardens might not be such a bad idea… due to… recent plans for redecoration…” hissed Celestia, already thinking of the words she would have with her sweet and caring sister later on.

***

In the library at Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle and her assistant Spike held their breath as they stared at the bubbling green liquid in one of Twilight’s innumerable beakers. The strange fluid was the result of an entire morning of work by both of them… which was to say, of course, an entire morning of Spike working while Twilight watched and gave one order after another. Twilight carefully levitated the beaker for a closer inspection. She grinned and turned to Spike, waving the contained liquid in his face. “Guess what we just did, Spike!”

Spike took a closer look at the bubbling green liquid and shrugged. “I don’t know, make a cure for the common cold?”

“Please Spike, nothing that impressive,” chided Twilight. She gazed at her experiment like a precious treasure and kissed the beaker. “This is a polymorph potion. Whoever drinks it will transform into a random animal.” She clapped her hooves and squealed. “Imagine it! It could turn anypony who takes it into a dragon, or a hydra, or a chimera, or who knows what else!”

“You’re not going to test that on yourself are you?” asked Spike, looking cautiously at the beaker.

“Of course not,” said Twilight, smiling sweetly. “That’s what assistants are for.”

“What?!” shouted Spike. He turned to run, but Twilight already had his tail in her telekinetic grip.

Before Twilight could take any further action, the library’s windows shattered as a familiar powerful voice rolled over Ponyville.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Twilight and Spike covered their ears, trying to block out the scream. Unfortunately for the beaker, it had no protection. Its contents sloshing, the beaker vibrated with the anguished cry until it shattered. Green liquid splattered down, some of it landing in Twilight’s mouth. Twilight gasped in horror and, just as the horrible shriek finally faded, there was a blinding flash of verdant light. Twilight disappeared. When Spike opened his eyes, he turned his head left and right. “Twilight! Where are you?”

“Ribbit.”

Spike looked down and gasped. A small green frog sporting a nicely combed lavender mane looked back, purple eyes wide with shock. A grin spread slowly across Spike’s face. Unable to hold back, Spike fell onto his back and laughed.

Twilight hopped onto the dragon’s stomach and glared. “Very funny, Spike.”

“Sorry, Twilight Froggle, but from where I’m sitting, I’m just glad it’s you and not me!” teased Spike. He got up and placed Twilight on the table. “So how long does it last?”

“About an hour. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to wait,” croaked Twilight.

“Yeah, sure. I’m going to hang out at Rarity’s in the meantime,” said Spike, making his way to the door.

“Wait! What am I supposed to do?” asked Twilight, hopping up and down.

Spike turned back toward his froggy friend and grinned. “Why not head down to Froggy Bottom Bog and interview some of the frogs there? I bet it would make a nice research essay for the princess.”

“What? Why on earth would I do that?” asked Twilight.

“I don’t know, sort of seems like the thing that only leaps at you once in a lifetime.”

Twilight continued to shout threats as he left, laughing his scaly tail off.

***

It had taken the dragon nearly a year, but at long last he had found a suitable cave to serve as his bedroom for the next century. Sure, he had found one spot in Equestria, but that had been lost thanks to that yellow pony with the terrible eyes. The mere thought of her sent a shudder down his spine.

The exhausted dragon’s search had drawn him all the way north to the mountains where the snow was bitter and the winds were fierce, but at last he was ready. He had his horde, he had his cave, and there were definitely no ponies to bother him. Everything was perfect.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Wincing at the sudden ringing in his ears, the dragon looked around for the cause of his sudden headache. He was quickly confronted with a problem more serious than a simple migraine. Snow and ice fell from the ceiling as the cave started to shake. Narrowly avoiding entombment, the beast sped out of the cave, darting through the entrance just as his perfect sleeping spot collapsed with a rumble of icy rock and a spray of snow. That had been close.

Then the dragon remembered that his entire horde was still in the ex-cave, now buried under uncountable tons of rock. Collapsing, the great red beast began to cry.

***

When her voice finally gave out, Luna’s sorrowful look was replaced with one of righteous fury. The only sound whispering in the silence of Luna’s mind was the sweet tune of promised vengeance.

Rushing to the edge of her balcony, she shouted out, “I Princess Luna Artemis Diana Beatrix Leah Olympia Faust, Princess of the Moon and the Night, Diarch of Equestria, and Mistress of the Socks will have my revenge on Philomena the Phoenix! I will not rest until I have plucked her of every feather! I will make her feel the wrath of a thousand pranks! I don’t care if it takes into an eternity! I will avenge my honor: mine and Mr. Socko’s! So mote it be!” With determination on her face, Luna smashed her hoof against the floor and flared her nostrils.

Prepare yourself, Philomena! Because I will make war with you and will not stop until victory is mine!

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