• Published 23rd Apr 2017
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Magic School Days - Dogger807

When the CMC asked Discord to help them attend magic school, he pulled an owl out of his hat. Only he didn't exactly have a hat. Which was okay, since their new school had a singing one laying around. Where the hay was Hogwarts anyway?

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Chapter 83: Wet Whistles and What

In the nights since Harmony had been restored, the throne room no longer slept. Its full majesty and grandeur could be felt regardless of the hour. In the not so distant past, there had been a distinct ebb and flow to the activity. The stillness of the night had offered a precious respite to the princess.

In the days of loneliness, ponies had come from far and near to petition the princess for matters great and small. After all, the princess had been renowned for her patience, and she would be unlikely to react poorly so long as the requests were not too outrageous. Nobles had preened and postured as they had attempted to validate their titles, attempting to prove to all that they had projects worthy of their stations. More often than not, these had been public works proposals, with the petitioners as the deserving public. While they had realized that the princess could easily perceive the true intent behind their efforts, they had felt it was still worth their time in the unlikely event that she would be uncharacteristically unobservant. Besides, at the very least, they could honestly say they had personally spoken with the princess.

The reconvening of Night Court had initially been met with unbridled enthusiasm. The nobles had been confident that the die had been cast by the centuries of precedent established by the Sun Princess. With the Moon Princess being the younger of the two, the nobles had champed at the bit at the prospect of petitioning a ruler who would no doubt be more gullible, more pliable. They had known the elder had centuries of experience with political intrigue while the younger had spent that same time in isolation.

What they had discovered was the difference between day and night. The sun had been warm and patient. The moon, however, had proven to be a harsh mistress. What had been a matter of scholarly debate for centuries was now patently obvious. There could be no doubt which sister had wielded the Element of Kindness and which had wielded the Element of Honesty.

It had been a night of infamy. Fortunes and freedoms had been lost without regard for station or standing as the Princess of the Night had proven time and time again that she did not suffer fools. What had been most galling had been the cheers of the rabble as they had come to dub the upstart "The Ponies' Princess".

After the third night, it had become apparent to all that there was a distinct dichotomy between the two courts. Day Court continued as it had for centuries, a soapbox for the nobles and the self-important, full of pomp and ceremony. Night Court was the venue for action, for swift, blind justice. It processed four times the petitions in half the time, allowing Luna to fulfill her duties as Protector of Dreams.

This session of Night Court had proceeded at its normal brisk pace. Luna took a quick break to down a mug of espresso. With no less dignity than her sister, she addressed the pony at the head of the petitioners' queue. "Step forward, our subject; we would hear the words thou hast waited in line to share with us."

"Your Highness," the young pegasus stallion said as he stepped forward and made an acutely awkward bow. "I have a story to share with you, which I am forced to admit will sound preposterous. I only ask that you hear me out."

"Speak truth, and we shall judge for ourselves."

The pegasus took a deep breath before continuing. Desperately, he spat out, "Your Highness, I am Inspector Todd Harrison, Scotland Yard. Currently, I am undercover, investigating a string of escapes from our prison system. A successful inquiry has left me cut off from my support and unable to contact my superiors. You see, this is not my birth form; I come from another world."

He fidgeted nervously as silence reigned; he was all too aware of the princess's disdain for dishonesty.

At length, Luna narrowed her eyes at him. "Art thou saying thou art a human?"

Todd blinked and took a half step backwards. "You've heard of my kind?" The surprise was evident in his voice.

"Certes," Luna declared. "Canst thou not take thy original form as proof of claims made?"

"The women who have brought me to your land have informed me that the transformation is permanent. If there is a way for me to change back, I do not know of it."

"Women are responsible for thy presence in Equestria?" Luna asked.

"Yes, it is a network. They are sifting through our prisons, finding willing and reformable candidates to offer them new lives here in exchange for being sold to wealthy women."

Luna frowned. "A fortnight has not passed since relations have been established, yet a crisis has reared its unseemly head. Most perturbing. We assume thou art one of the purchased stallions."

"Yes, your Highness. I slipped away from my wives to alert you of the situation and assess my next course of action."

"The ambassador shall be notified. Thou shalt be provided means to return to thy birth form and transportation arranged," Luna stated. "Let us hope that this does not strain . . ."

"Princess Luna!" A voice cried out as two finely dressed mares galloped into the chamber. One was a zebra, and the other easily recognized as the bearer of Honesty.

Luna shifted her attention away from the pegasus. "Lady Applejack, what emergency hast thou so distressed?"

"Our stallion was just foalnapped right from under our noses!" Applejack skidded to a halt in front of the thrones. "Right in the middle of our date!"

"SUMMON THE FULL NIGHT GUARD," Luna commanded, abandoning her throne to stand on her hooves and spread her wings dramatically.

"They weren't even being discreet." The Zebra broke in. "It was they who did the feat."

Luna blinked in surprise before doing her best impression of modern dialect. "Say what, now?"

"They weren't wearing uniforms or anythang," Applejack said. "But Professor Snape was snatched up by a flankload of batponies. It stands to reason some of them are in the guard."

"Why would they do such a deed?" Luna demanded.

"Their method was both crass and cruel. They seek to expand their gene pool," Zecora explained.

Luna turned to the zebra. "The pony form of thy stallion is that of a thestral," she stated. Luna's hoof found her face and she inhaled deeply. "The matter becomes complex. Worry not; We shall retrieve thy stallion, though fear for his virtue would be well warranted." She sighed and turned her attention to the public entrance of the chamber and looked expectantly.

"Um, what are you waiting for?" Applejack asked.

"It is our experience that crises such as these always occur in threes. We are simply biding our time for the third."

"Surely y'all don't think . . ." Applejack started.

Suddenly, a yellow unicorn rushed through the entrance screaming, "Chrysalis, don't think for a second that I don't know it's you masquerading as the Night Princess. I should have guessed sooner. What better way to entrench yourself than take the form of a long-lost pony!"

"Objection withdrawn," Applejack said.

Apollo and Artemis was the premiere lounge among the nouveau riche. The stuffiness of old money wouldn't be caught dead there, and that was just what the clientele wanted. The atmosphere was refined, and the furniture was beyond comfortable. The service was the best that could be found in a public establishment. Despite eschewing the requirements for ancestral connections, the lounge was among the most exclusive; the price of a single drink would give pause to all but the wealthiest.

Despite the preponderance of presumptuous potables, the lounge was, at its heart, still a pub. As with any establishment of that nature, regardless of the closeness of the couples, an inevitable segregation would occur when the members of the fairer sex decided to powder their noses en masse, leaving the men the opportunity for candid discussion.

As soon as the women were out of earshot, Remus turned to his friend and said, "Sirius, I'm surprised how well you are handling this."

"Handling what?" Sirius asked, looking around the lounge. "My first night out as a married man? It isn't that difficult. In fact, it's easier than dating."

"I mean Twilight's friends and how you are interacting with them," Remus said.

"So, they're a couple. I have no problem with that," Sirius said with a shrug. "Why would you think that bothered me?"

Remus and Ted shared a look. "You don't know?" Ted asked suspiciously.

"Know what?" Sirius asked as the prickles of unnamed dread tickled his spine.

"Twilight brought them to see how well you like them," Ted said.

"What's not to like?" Sirius took a sip from his sunset magic margarita. "Rainbow is one of the blokes, and Pinkie is in a class all her own."

"He means, Twilight wants to see if you're willing to advance an intimate relationship with them," Remus said diplomatically.

"Rubbish," Sirius said. "I've learned the hard way, back in Hogwarts, that women don't think like that."

"Sirius," Ted said. "Twilight is not a school girl; she is a pony. She told Andi that she feels overwhelmingly guilty not sharing. She's looking to add a couple more names to the Black family tapestry, and I don't mean descendants."

"Bollocks," Sirius said. "You two are trying to take the piss, but I'm not falling for it."

"You'll be singing a different tune when they end up in your bed tonight," Ted said.

"There's no way I could get that lucky," Sirius replied.

"Just don't forget the major drawback of having three wives," Remus cautioned, taking a sip from his blue blazer.

"What's that?" Sirius asked.

"Three sets of in-laws," Ted deadpanned.

The warm and cheery drawing room welcomed guests and hosts alike. The master of the house could not help but beam at the progress of the small soiree; he could already savor the benefits of what was sure to be a successful alliance with a member of the Wizengamot from an unabashedly wealthy family. The mistress was likewise elated; her guest cared little for the chains and hobbles of wizarding convention and had treated her as a peer, equal in standing to her husband. Their guest could not be more pleased; every carefully-worded inquiry had shown that the couple was on the cusp of accepting her into their herd.

"I so look forward to having some time alone to get to know you much better," Lady Greengrass said earnestly. "I can already tell we are going to be the best of friends."

"Darling, I plan on showing you a time you shall never forget," Rarity returned.

Lord Greengrass chuckled. "I almost feel jealous."

Rarity blushed. "You simply must wait your turn."

The children on the loveseat were, by contrast, more circumspect. Two looked decidedly uncomfortable in their evening finery, while the third was a little horse. Daphne nudged Sweetie and whispered, "This is getting ridiculous. You need to tell them."

Sweetie shook her head as she watched the adults with wide eyes. "They're your parents," she whispered back. "You tell them."

"I'm not telling them. I can't believe they haven't caught on yet," Daphne countered as she watched with morbid fascination.

"I know; at this rate, you'll be calling me 'Auntie Sweetie' before morning comes."

"At this point, I'm not sure if that's what my parents want or if they are just trying to build a business relationship."

"Mmmmm," Astoria purred from where she lay in her unicorn form in her sister's lap, being petted.

"You really should tell them," Daphne repeated. "She's your sister."

"With your dad's reputation, I'd be lucky if he doesn't bite my head off. Besides, I'm sure they'll figure everything out before too long."

"If you say so, Aunt Sweetie."

Long after Luna's moon had taken command of the sky, away from the demands of court, the pink princess lounged on her bed. This was the time that she did her real work. Unless Shiny were with her, she could count on being able to work on her charts and diagrams uninterrupted until Celestia's sun chased away the darkness. While love might be blind, romance often needed her guiding hoof.

She started at the sound of firm knocks on her chamber door. The guards knew that she was not to be disturbed at this hour unless the matter were urgent. Cadance lit her horn, opening the door to admit her caller. "Come," she said. "What is the nature of your emergency?"

A nondescript beige earth pony with a grey rock cutie mark stepped through and gave a respectful bow. Rising, she said, "My queen, we have experienced a minor setback during one of our standard operations. The situation is well in hoof, but protocol dictates that you be notified. Since you are not on our link, I am here to ensure that you are informed."

Cadance stared at the mare and brightly said, "Huh?"

The mare shook her head slightly before saying. "A thousand pardons, my queen. My name is Multi Facet. Since you are now responsible for our hive, my duty is to ensure that you receive all command-level communications until Queen Chrysalis resumes her duties."

"You're a changeling," Cadance stated.

"Yes, my queen." Multi bowed again. "Routine hive business does not warrant your time. We, however, have a situation that needs to be brought to your attention. The actions of the culling team have garnered the attention of the local authorities. We cannot insert substitutes for the subjects of their most recent operation."

"Ooookay," Cadance said slowly. "What's the culling team?"

"It's the group charged with removing disruptive individuals, those who threaten the well-being of the masses and jeopardize the production of love.

"Disruptive individuals?"

"Those that prey on innocents," Multi replied. "The worst of the worst."

Cadance opened her mouth to say something, but she discovered she had nothing to convey. She closed her mouth as the implications assaulted her sensibilities.

"My queen?" Multi inquired.

"You have just shattered my perception of pony civilization," Cadance admitted.

"I am sorry, my queen."

"This is standard procedure?" Cadance asked.

"It is the reason that mass murderers remain solely in the domain of fiction," Multi said.

"I suppose I should be upset that changelings seem to be taking justice into their own hooves," Cadance opined.

"Or you could take the view of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'," Multi countered.

"I see," Cadance said. "So, the culling team was caught?"

"No, they were interrupted mid-task. Currently, they have gone to ground, waiting for the humans to leave so they can make a tactical withdrawal."

“Gone to ground?” Cadance asked.

“Yes. Like ponies, humans take random rocks on the ground for granite. Splinter Claw, however, is regretting his decision to mimic a welcome mat.”

“You know,” Cadance said, her eyes suddenly twinkling, “I just realized it’s my turn.”

As the evening progressed in Apollo and Artemis, the differences between Twilight's prospective herdmates became apparent. Pinkie Pie was not a drinker. She favored drinks that pleased both the eye and the palate. No one dared try to discern how she could burn off the alcohol with no apparent ignition source. Rainbow Dash, on the other hand, had insisted on matching the men drink for drink. Two things had become painfully apparent. The first was that froufrou drinks offended her sensibilities. The second was that she had no idea how little alcohol her petite form could manage.

With an unceremonious thump, her rainbow-hued head slumped to the table as she daintily gave her rendition of an asthmatic two-stroke engine.

Nissy looked at the half-filled highball glass that the fallen woman weakly clutched. "That was what? Two and a half drinks? She needs to learn to pace herself."

“Pfft,” Pinkie said. “Rainbow would never let herself be out-drunk by a stallion.”

“News flash,” Ted said, lifting his own Long Island iced tea. “She just has.”

“She does realize we each weigh nearly twice what she does, doesn’t she?” Sirius asked. "We're all still working on our first drinks."

“I’m sure she sees it as a challenge,” Twilight said with a frown. “This is not the impression I was hoping she would make.”

“Merlin, she is so unbearably cute,” Andi said. “How many cases of diabetic shock has she been responsible for?”

“I’ll bet the reporters would give their first-born for a picture of this,” Remus stated with a hint of amusement. “They’d be printing posters before the night was over.”

Twilight summoned a scroll, apparently from thin air. She scowled as she unrolled it. Highlighting several items, she grumbled, "This is going to ruin the best parts of my plans for tonight."

“Don’t worry,” Andi said. “I can cast a sobering charm, if worst comes to worst. It only takes a minute.”

Ted snorted, "And it feels like your brain's trying to force its way out of your skull for that minute."

“Thanks Andi,” Twilight said, still perusing her list. A gasp escaped her lips when she glanced towards the top of it, “Oh no, I’ve completely neglected two important action items that should have been completed right out of the gate. I’m such an idiot.”

“I’m positive that definition of idiot cannot be found in the dictionary,” Nissy scoffed. “Distracted would be a better description.”

“What did you forget?” Sirius asked.

“Candid discussion of herding with Sirius,” Twilight said, referencing her list. “Though, admittedly, the restaurant and the theater were unsuitable venues for that discussion.”

“We covered it while you were in the restroom,” Ted said. “He’s still in denial, so I’ll leave that part up to you.”

“Denial?” Twilight asked worriedly.

“Thinks it’s too good to be true,” Remus said reassuringly. “What’s the second item?”

“Wait, you don’t mean?” Sirius said with a prolonged side glance at Pinkie. “Sweet Merlin.”

“Yuppers.” Pinkie bounced, and she also bobbed in her seat excitedly.

Tearing his eyes from the enthusiastic woman's undulations, Sirius asked his wife. “And the other thing you forgot, besides warning me to invest in pepper-up potions?”

Twilight wilted. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a couple days now. I really should have gotten to it sooner, but I got sidetracked completing the anti-Voldemort network my brother has been assisting me with.”

Nissy put down her drink. “Okay, an anti-He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named network is something you should have brought up earlier. By the way, he’s dead, you know.”

“Oooooh. Twilight has forgotten to tell everypony important information again,” Pinkie said. “Don’t get too mad at her; that’s just Twilight being Twilight.”

Twilight looked at Pinkie and said. “Really? That’s a thing now?”

“Definitamondo.” Pinkie asserted.

“This conversation just took a disturbing turn for the serious,” Ted stated.

A certain individual opened his mouth to comment but was cut off when Nissy said. “Don’t even think of it. Please continue, Twilight; we will discuss your punishment at a later time.”

Twilight winced visibly. “I’m sleeping on the couch tonight, aren’t I?”

Nissy blinked, momentarily off balance. “That remains to be seen. Please continue.”

“Well, it all started when Voldemort attacked Harry Potter the other day,” Twilight said.

“WHAT!” exclaimed the native humans at the table.

“You probably could have most likely, should of, indubitably would have thought to phrase that a different way,” Pinkie noted.

“Calm down. Calm down,” Twilight said, waving her hands frantically. “It’s nothing to worry about. Lily Potter protected him and we all got rid of the piece of Voldemort in his scar.”

The witches and wizards at the table stared at Twilight, dumbfounded. After a second, Remus drained his glass and raised his voice. “Waiter! Another round!”

“You were right,” Nissy added. “You are sleeping on the couch tonight.”

“Isn’t that my call?” Sirius asked, some anger evident in his voice.

“No!” Nissy and Andi said in one voice.

Rainbow continued to snore, blissfully unaware.

In the now-quiet drawing room, the warmth of the flames crackling in the fireplace was nothing compared to that of the burning cheeks of the lord and lady of the manor, as well as those on their guest. The three stared at each other in mortification as uneasy tension filled the air.

Sweetie nudged Daphne and whispered, “See, I told you they’d catch on sooner or later.”

Daphne did not reply.

“Well.” Rarity broke the silence after a few more seconds. “This is appallingly awkward. I assume you would prefer Sweetie and myself to take our leave?”

“No, no.” Lord Greengrass had lost his normally controlled demeanor. “I do not hold you accountable for the differences between our two cultures. Your company is agreeable, regardless of the misunderstandings.”

“And your interest is not unwelcome,” Lady Greengrass added.

With uncharacteristic astonishment, Lord Greengrass said, “It’s not?”

“This conversation has exceeded what is proper for children to witness,” Lady Greengrass said. “Daphne, see that your sister makes it to her room.” She paused as she considered the last girl on the couch. “Sweetie can share your bed. There is no reason to make her brave a guest room by herself since you shared her room when you stayed with her.”

Daphne blinked, her mouth agape. “Yes, mother.”

“Dear?” Lord Greengrass asked.

“We need to start this conversation over from the beginning.” Lady Greengrass said. “It would be cruel to leave it unresolved. Now, off with you children.”

Daphne led the way to Astoria's room as she cradled the sleeping foal in her arms. As she followed, Sweetie said, “I did not see that coming.”

“Shut up, Aunt Sweetie,” Daphne growled.

The stars and the planets had given the equivalent of a primal shrug. The elders did their best to hide their panic. This was completely unprecedented. They had prided themselves on being able to see the future, and now they had been struck blind. The only consolation was that this affected only a nonessential member of their community. That could be easily handled; after all, what was one life compared to the greater good?

She had been fated to meet her end before reaching adulthood, anyway. An unfortunate encounter with acromantulas had long ago been foretold. That, however, was no longer the case.

What was certain, no longer was.

She was becoming hard to see.

Only an unexplained awareness that they must wait and see remained.

Only that trumped the sense of dread and prevented action.

Only one thing was certain.

Chaos advanced.

In a fallow section of Sweet Apple Acres, glass walls concealed a hubbub of activity. The Crusaders were quickly learning to use their new superpower -- money. While the funds were theirs, they were still under the watchful eyes of others, others who would keep them from doing what they must.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

Promises had been made. Promises would be kept. The easy path was closed to them. Still, they would find a way. They would improvise. They would adapt. They would overcome.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

The human world had much to offer. Cases of butcher's gloves were stacked against the wall. Rolls of aramid fabric was leaned against it. Skeins of paracord lay, waiting to be used. These would form the basis of their defense.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

The pony world offered its own resources. From their mines, the Crusaders collected the ore from which the smelters extracted ingots of silver. From their mines, the Crusaders collected the ore from which the foundries produced sheets of iron and steel. From their business contacts, they procured the finest silver chains. From their business contacts, they procured a Minotaur forge. These would form the basis for their offense.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

It would have been better if the entire herd had managed to sneak away to help with the preparations. Regardless, they would make do with the available members. The hunt could not start this night. The hunt could not start on the next. There was far too much to do. There was far too much danger to venture out unprepared. They would make all necessary preparations. They would act as a team.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

Seamus, Ginny and Hermione were in one corner, using their horns to painstakingly form suits of armor. Seamus would separate the palms from the butcher's gloves. Ginny would hold the edges together and join them with small, interlocking steel rings, link by link. Hermione would spot weld each ring shut. Slowly, the armor took shape on the ponyquin. They already had two suits complete, ready for electroplating with silver.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

*Clang* *Clang* *Clang* Apple Bloom brought her hammer down again and again on a glowing steel and iron sandwich that Ron held steady with a pair of tongs. Both foals wore the appropriate personal protective equipment. Once a piece was thin as cardboard, Apple Bloom folded it back into a bundle and repeated the process. In the end, it would have hundreds of layers, making it strong, flexible and able to hold a wickedly sharp edge, just like the blade of Rockhoof's shovel. It was time for the farmers' daughter to beat the plowshares into swords.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

Luna and Abagail twirled bolas made of salmon weights and braided paracord over their heads before sending them downrange. The stakes driven into the ground displayed their hits and misses. With each successive attempt, their aim improved. Soon, it would be time to start on moving targets.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

Neville and Lavender wrestled atop a mat in another corner. Jiu jitsu, sambo, pankration, and sumo all melded together into moves designed to subdue larger, stronger, and faster opponents. They practiced while wearing modified butcher's gloves with aramid linings; the metal parts would be plated with silver in due time.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

Harry, Scootaloo and Parvati hovered and practiced with devices that resembled crossbows, but fired cannisters loaded with cast nets made of fine silver chain. The spring tension and the cannister size still had to be modified to get the nets to spread properly. but at least they were starting to get the nets to land where they wanted. They, too, would soon be ready to start on moving targets

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

Nopony could expect them to sit idle after the parents of one of their members were savagely attacked.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

Nobody would stand in their way.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

The goblins had failed to retrieve the assigned target; only the general area of his retreat was known.

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

There were things ponies just had to do for themselves

They were a herd. They took care of their own.

Fate shuddered.

Cutie Mark Crusader Werewolf Hunters were a go.

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