• Published 1st Jun 2017
  • 6,256 Views, 312 Comments

A Princess, a Magician, and an Exile Walk Into a Bar - Sporktacles



Sunset, Trixie and Luna meet in a bar for drinks every week.

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Beer and Family

It was a Friday night, relatively quiet by Ponyville standards. Most of the town's residents had long retired to the privacy of their homes, but a quaint little bar not far from Carousel Boutique remained open despite the late hour.

Cherry Berry’s bar was a very cozy and humble affair, filled with low-key small-town goodness far beyond what would be expected from the only watering-hole in Ponyville – luxurious paneled flooring, comfortable booths for privacy, dartboard, pool table, the works. Indeed, it saw more than a brisk business, and it wasn’t purely because Cherry had a rabid passion for expanding her selection of booze that only a special talent for alcohol could bestow.

Imagine, if you will, an otherwise-quiet town where incidents of megafauna attacks, Chaos Gods dropping by for tea, and the eccentricities of a frequently-overreacting alicorn princess were a weekly occurrence, so regular that one could set a calendar by them.

Now imagine how much the local ponies would drink to get over it.

*THWOOM!*

Suddenly, the doors were flung open with such force that they practically imploded into the bar, causing several of the regulars to nearly leap out of their seats in panic.

"HUZZAH! This establishment is indeed still open!"

Several seconds passed before the patrons could recover from the shock and peer towards the entrance in curiosity. Through the doorway strode a very chipper Princess Luna, completely oblivious to the commotion she had caused. Sensing the attention upon her, she smiled regally and waved.

Behind her was a very much less oblivious Sunset Shimmer, who grinned sheepishly at Cherry.

Nevertheless, Cherry was, if nothing else, a conscientious hostess. She grabbed a couple of menus and quickly glided out from behind the counter, guiding them towards one of the empty booths.

“Good evening, Your Majesty. Hi, Sunset," she said, as the two quickly made themselves comfortable, "it’s a little late, so I’m afraid the cook’s already gone home, but we still have drinks. Would you like to order right now, or shall I come back in a bit?”

A dark blue aura surrounded the menu and raised it before Luna. But it took only a brief glance for her expression to quickly harden, and in a frosty voice, she said curtly, “I will decide on my beverage in due time. Thank you, bar pony.”

Cherry bowed and quickly retreated.

Luna slowly lowered the menu, staring majestically as she watched Cherry go.

“There is something of which you must know, Sunset Shimmer.”

Sunset sat up. “Yes?”

“Before I continue, it is vital that you understand: in ages past, the palates of my sister and I were considered the very pinnacle of Equestrian refinement.” Luna turned to face Sunset, chin slightly raised. “Ours was the standard by which good taste was measured; entire cultures revolved around what we did and did not favor. And while I have since learned that modern Equestria does not hold us in the same paramount regard, Celestia still takes a great deal of pride in knowing, at all times, that which is considered best and greatest.”

“Okay…”

“So I hope that you will understand my consternation…” Luna suddenly leaned in close and dropped her voice to a whisper, “when I say I have no idea what anything on this menu is.”

Sunset blinked. “Uh, what?”

“This menu! It is entirely Minoan to me. What, pray tell, is an Alchemist’s Focal Banger? Or an Iron Neighden Trooper? What could possess a pony to name a drink a Clown Shoes Undead Party Crasher? Attached to most of these is a label declaring them ‘Highly Recommended!’, yet I have not the faintest idea what they are!”

Sunset shook her look of surprise away. “Ah… okay, look.” She pointed at a different section of the menu. “Ponyville is kind of famous for apples, so Cherry stocks mostly local hard cider. I’m having a Toffee Apple’s Private Stash, which is brewed by one of Applejack’s cousins. I really recommend that, if you’re not sure.”

“I see. While I trust it is most delicious, my tastes tend more towards the bitter.”

Sunset raised an eyebrow. “Okay. Cherry also stocks a huge list of craft beers. They’re supposed to be pretty good, even though I’ve never had any. There’s like, hundreds of microbreweries run by just about every pony with a beer-related special talent, so lots of them have really weird names to stand out. I’m not that familiar with most of these, but if you like bitter drinks, I think you should try one of the BPAs.”

“BPAs?”

“Brahmindian Pale Ales. They’re supposed to be crazy bitter.”

“I was unaware that cows had a significant beer-brewing culture.”

“They actually do, but these aren’t brewed by cows. These are brewed by ponies in the style of a beer that was first made for cows in Brahmindia. The Focal Banger is one of these.”

Luna looked over the menu several times, then shrugged and let it drop onto the table. “Very well. I shall sample one of these Bangers.”

Sunset called Cherry over, and made their order.

Once they were again alone, she turned back to Luna. “So uh, I was just wondering, if you don’t mind...”

“Yes, Sunset?”

“Well, I was just curious– I mean, I get that it's not often that I stay over at Twilight's castle, but… why did you jump into my dream and wake me up to go to a bar?”

“Ah. I do apologize for your abrupt rising.”

“It’s okay. I was just a little… surprised.”

***

“Oh, dear Sunset Shimmer! How long have I awaited this day!”

Sunset gasped as a maniacally beaming Luna plucked her straight out of bed, swinging her around in an exuberant hug. Surprisingly, the crushing grip of a warrior princess’s forehooves, the agony of being nearly suffocated, and the sudden invasion of her precious personal space didn’t quite allay Sunset’s terror from her unexpected awakening. She struggled to break free from Luna’s hold, but only succeeded in flailing vainly against the unnatural strength of the squeeing alicorn.

Fortunately, after about twenty or so seconds of being spun and squeezed like an enthusiastic foal’s plush doll, the hug relaxed. Luna grinned cheerfully, smooshing Sunset’s cheeks between her hooves.

“EEEE! So adorable you are! Every bit as chubby-cheeked as in your… photographs! D’aaw, pinch them all day, I could!”

Her lungs finally free, Sunset gasped through several mouthfuls of air. She endured a few more moments of having her face abused into yet more cute-looking shapes for Luna’s benefit, before finally managing to get in a word.

“Uh, l-look, I’m really glad you’re not as scary as I thought, b-but aren’t we being just a little bit too familiar here?”

Luna paused for a moment, surprised. “Do you not know who I am, Sunset?”

“I-I think? You’re Nightmare Moon. I’ve read a ton of books about you.”

Luna’s face instantly fell. She unceremoniously allowed to Sunset drop onto the bed, and slouched back on the floor.

“I… that explains why you fear me so. You are correct, in a way. No doubt those books spoke quite candidly of my many crimes,” she said, murmuring sadly.

“Ah… yeah. I mean, Celestia trained me for years to fight you, until I… flunked out. Though, I’m sure you know all about that, Your Highness.”

“Indeed. But there is no reason to fear me any longer. And please, call me Luna.”

“Wait… Luna?” Sunset immediately looked the alicorn up and down, paying special attention to her blue coat and starry mane.

“Aye. To my shame, I styled myself Nightmare Moon whilst wallowing in my anger and self-pity. Luna is the name I was born to, and the name to which I answer now.”

“Uh… you wouldn’t by any chance happen to be Princip-er, Princess Celestia’s sister, would you?”

Luna nodded solemnly. “Yes. We ruled Equestria together a thousand years ago until... ah, Sunset?”

Before her, Sunset appeared to have frozen solid in a state of wide-eyed slack-jawed shock. Luna waved a hoof in front of Sunset’s face, to no response. She found it disturbing that she could almost hear a soft sound of ticking, or the turning of gears, coming from inside Sunset’s head, but was somewhat more alarmed when wisps of smoke beginning to seep out of the unicorn’s ears.

Sunset was apparently thinking very hard.

Nightmare Moon is Princess Luna.

Princess Luna is Princess Celestia’s Sister. Hence, Nightmare Moon is Princess Celestia’s Sister.

Princess Celestia raised me to fight Nightmare Moon. Hence, Princess Celestia raised me to fight…

“SON OF A BI-”

***

Shortly afterwards...

“I am uncertain why you vent your anger against the name of puppies.”

Luna watched patiently even as Sunset ignored her question; the unicorn paced furiously around the room, working herself into a solid rage. Sunset had clearly forgotten all sense of fear or decorum and the kind of facial expressions she was making could honestly be best described using adjectives normally associated with live explosives.

“SHE TRAINED ME TO FIGHT YOU BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T HAVE THE OVARIES TO FACE HER OWN SISTER!”

Luna took a deep breath and nodded sadly. “Celestia has never been willing to lay a hoof on me. Even a thousand years ago, when I left her little choice, she never fought back except with the Elements of Harmony as a last resort.”

“AARGH!” Sunset stomped her hooves into the ground, cracking the crystal floor. “She’s always doing this sort of thing!” She reared up, flailing angrily at the air with her forehooves, but then stopped herself. She gritted her teeth and began breathing deeply. “No. I must not rage. Rage is the mind-killer. Rage is the little death that brings total obliteration…”

Luna raised her eyebrows curiously as Sunset continued mumbling inaudibly.

“You do not get along with Celestia?”

“…be nothing. Only I will remain.” Gradually, Sunset’s breathing slowed to normal and her face returned to calm. Sighing, she leaned against her bedpost, spent from the earlier outburst. “No. No, I don’t. I mean, part of it was my fault. I was- am a very rebellious teenager. We’ve been arguing ever since I stopped being a little foal.”

Luna didn’t answer for a few minutes, quietly regarding the unicorn standing tiredly opposite her. Eventually however, she nodded to herself, as if coming to a decision.

“I should like to be friends with you, Sunset Shimmer.”

Sunset looked up with widened eyes. “Uh, okay? I mean, this is a bit of a first. Nopony’s asked to be my friend in ages. All the friends I have now were kind of roped into it by Twilight. Or are Twilights. Long story.”

Now it was Luna’s turn to look surprised. “Do you not try to make friends on your own?”

“Well, I’m constantly surrounded by the same students I kind of tried to mind-control back when I had my little temper tantrum. I mean, they don’t hate me anymore, but you have no idea how hard it is to become close when they’ve all seen you taken over by that horrible evil part of you that you keep hidden deep inside because it wants to enslave everything…”

Luna cocked her head to one side and smiled sympathetically.

Sunset facehoofed. “…Right. I feel really stupid now.”

***

Luna stretched herself as best as she could in the tight confines of the bar booth, chuckling quietly. “As I said, I am very sorry for your rude awakening. And the answer to your question is quite straightforward, Sunset. Celestia told me a great deal about you, after your dramatic appearance during the Princess Summit–”

Sunset blushed and lowered her head.

“–and I wished to meet you. But of course, that was impossible for a long time, since you remained in the strange other-dimension after Twilight returned with her crown. Therefore, I was much surprised tonight to discover the presence of your dream – and that you were a guest at the Castle of Friendship.”

“Ah, yeah.” Still blushing, Sunset explained, “Twilight lets me stay over whenever I want to uh… visit Equestria. The portal in her library leads right to my school, so I can go back first thing in the morning.”

“I see. Twilight Sparkle is truly a wonderful friend to have. Indeed, she asked me about you just earlier, when I came to see you.”

***

“Oh yes, Sunset Shimmer is right upstairs. Actually, Prin- uh, Luna, now that you mention it, there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask…”

“Certainly, Twilight. You are always welcome to ask anything of me…”

“Oh good. It’s about Princess Celestia and Sunset Shimmer.”

“…t-though I might not be able to give you an answer,” said Luna hastily. “Depending on the question, of course.”

***

Sunset’s eyes widened in horror. “Did… did you tell her?”

Luna smiled. “I explained that your relationship with Celestia is something she should discuss with you, and not me.”

“Huh? That’s… thanks for keeping that private, but it- that’s not what I was asking about.”

“It isn’t? What then?”

“I was referring to, um…” Sunset scratched her fetlocks nervously, “…what you saw in my dream.”

“Oh.” Luna blushed. She stared at the ceiling, taking a sudden interest in the rafters. “Of-of course I said nothing – I retain strict confidentiality while carrying out my duties in the realm of dreams! And in any case, there is no disgrace in being so smitten with one who has been so kind to you.”

Sunset’s cheeks were red as beets. “Yeah… look, it’s still kind of embarrassing, and the last thing I want is for Twilight to know who – and what – I was dreaming about…”

Luna tried her best to sound comforting. “You are a healthy young mare and this sort of dream is entirely normal for one your age. Even if it was a great deal more ah, exuberant than is usual.”

Sunset whimpered. “O-okay, I think maybe we should change the subject…”

“There is naught to be ashamed of! Verily, t’was the most creative employment of an avocado that I had ever witnessed.”

Please don’t say any more about it.”

“I was not even aware that custard could be used that way.”

The look of pure humiliated agony on Sunset’s face prompted Luna to stop talking. A tense quiet settled on the booth, except for the faint sound of Sunset scratching the table.

“Here are your drinks,” said Cherry, smiling in a way she hoped was acceptable for royalty.

“Oh gosh, thank you, Cherry. Your timing is impeccable,” said Sunset gratefully. She practically snatched up the massive mug with her hooves, forgetting about her magic in the rush, and chugged the lot.

Cherry’s and Luna’s eyes widened as the long stream of alcoholic beverage throbbed through Sunset’s gullet.

“Woo…” muttered Sunset, wiping her muzzle once she was finally finished. “Okay. Better now.”

Cherry smiled cautiously. “Uh, would you like me to bring you another?”

“Yes. Please.”

Once Cherry left, Luna turned back to Sunset. “I find myself apologizing again. It was not my intention to inflict you with such discomfort.”

“Don’t mention it. Seriously, please don’t mention it anymore. Or to anypony.”

Luna nodded. “Well, in any case, we are here specifically because I had no wish to trouble you with travel to Canterlot.” She took a short gulp from her glass. “And sin- EGADS!”

Sunset’s head whipped upwards to look right at Luna.

Luna was staring, wide-eyed, at her glass. She slowly brought up a hoof to point at it.

“This is-this is…” she babbled. “This. THIS!”

A single tear spilled down Luna’s cheek.

Sunset raised an eyebrow. “Uh, are you okay?”

“This, Sunset… is the greatest drink I have ever been so blessed to imbibe!”

“Really?”

“Indeed!” Luna drew her forehooves close to her chest, shaking them excitedly. “I had thought the art of distilling perfected a thousand years ago. Never have I been so happy to be wrong! Oh…” She pulled the glass out of the air using her hooves and eagerly took another mouthful of the golden liquid, shuddering with delight. “This is perfect…”

“Wow. I’m… I’m glad you like it. I had no idea BPAs were so good.”

“Have you not sampled this most excellent of ambrosias, Sunset?”

Sunset shook her head. “I’m not usually one for bitter drinks.”

Luna quickly pushed her glass across the table. “It would be a crime - a crime, I say! - if this taste of Elysium never crossed your lips. Please, partake in some of mine.”

Sunset picked up the glass with her magic, shrugged, and took a sip.

“NGYAAAAAARRGH!”

Sunset’s tongue spilled out from her mouth, her face contorting into a grimace of pure disgust. She put the glass down in a hurry.

Luna started slightly at Sunset’s reaction. “Ah... I take it that your tastes are very sensitive to bitterness…”

“Ih wa ah seh.” Sunset clawed vainly at her tongue with her flat hooves, desperately trying to scrape the taste off. “It’s what I said.” She made an extremely impolite sound from her throat, attempting to force the remaining drops out. “Oh stars, it’s like somepony ground up raw coffee, ginseng, and pure unsweetened cocoa powder and boiled the lot in quinine.”

“Don’t exaggerate, you big baby,” said Cherry Berry, walking up and putting another mug on the table. “That’s not even close to the bitterest beer we have.”

“Are you truly claiming,” said Luna, grinning with unconcealed joy, “that your cellars hold ales of yet greater delectation than this?”

Sunset grabbed the mug of cider and gulped down a mouthful. She whimpered as she swallowed. “Nngh. My taste buds feel like they’ve been pulled out with a tweezer…”

Cherry rolled her eyes. “Enjoy your toffee-flavored candy drink, Sunset.” She turned to Luna. “And yes, Your Highness. I have about a hundred and fifty different beers here, including twenty or so BPAs - and half of them are more bitt- uh, bitterer than the Focal Banger.”

Luna’s grin widened considerably. “Clearly, Sunset Shimmer,” she said, draining her glass, “We must make our meetings at this bar a regular affair!”