• Published 27th Aug 2017
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The Blue Mage - Nebula Star



Gifted with extraordinary power, Apple Bloom must learn to control it and try not to lose herself in the process.

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Chapter 5: Newspapers and Floorplans

The Blue Mage
By Nebula Star

Chapter 5: Newspapers and Floorplans
***

Twilight yawned, slowly descending the stairs of the library. After giving Apple Bloom permission to use her new magic, the ecstatic filly just had to show her and Applejack everything she'd already learned. It wasn't a whole lot, but impressive none the less. She could conjure simple solid objects, though they all appeared as glowing blue shapes since she hadn't mastered the visual part of Rekaj's spells yet, save for the one she'd used to hide the Sa'Dracori. She'd spent most her time with Rekaj learning the spell for her wings.

It was by far the most impressive spell she'd learned. Though they also appeared a translucent blue, they had the texture of real feathers and radiated as much warmth as real pegasus or alicorn wings. In addition, the spell also imitated pegasus magic. Twilight had even tested it to make sure, just like she had tested Scootaloo's magic the night before. Then Apple Bloom had managed to hover for a few moments, proving that the artificial pegasus magic was working properly for flight. What was more, she could feel the wings as if they were her actual limbs. That was perhaps the most amazing part; that the spell allowed her to feel through the false limbs.

After seeing all that Apple Bloom wanted to show her, Twilight had then run a few errands. By the time she had gotten back to the library, it had already been late. She hadn't gone to bed though, instead she'd taken the time to send Princess Celestia a letter concerning her thoughts on Rekaj after meeting him. So, by the time she'd finally gone to sleep, it was well into the night.

Yawning again, Twilight went to the front door to check for the morning paper. For once it was already there waiting. Levitating it up in her magic, she unrolled it as she went to get some breakfast. Then she froze, her eyes wide.

~~~

Having finished her morning rounds; Rainbow had returned home to take a shower, intending to spend the rest of her morning making plans for her and Twilight's date. Though she'd managed to hide it, she'd been rather panicked when Twilight had asked her to plan their first official date. She didn't have the slightest idea of what would be a good first date; she was no romantic. And the thought of messing it up...

She'd spent nearly two hours fretting at home before she'd finally swallowed her pride and sought advice from the one true romantic she knew that would always help her out.

~ "Who is it?" Rarity called as she opened boutique door opened. "Oh, Rainbow, darling. What brings you by so late in the evening?"

"I need your help!" Rainbow said, her stress clear in her voice.

"Whatever is wrong, darling?" Rarity asked, letting her friend inside.

Rainbow didn't hesitate, zipping inside as if she were afraid of being seen. "I... I asked Twilight out!" Rainbow told her.

Rarity's eyes widened. "You did!? And did she...?"

"She said yes!"

"Why that's wonderful, darling!" Like most of their friends, she'd known for some time that Rainbow had a crush on Twilight. "So why do you look so worried? I would think you'd be ecstatic."

"I am! It's just... she asked me to plan our first date!" Rainbow started pacing. "I... I don't know what to do. I want it to be perfect! But I don't have a clue what Twilight would like! I've never planned a romantic date before!"

"Rainbow, darling." Rarity said in a sing song tone.

Rainbow looked at her. "What?"

"Calm down."

Rainbow blushed, realizing how frazzled she was. "I just don't know..."

"But you do know, Rainbow. You know Twilight, you've been friends for years."

"But I don't know what she'd want to do for a date!" Rainbow exclaimed, starting to pace back and forth. "I mean should I take her to a bookstore..."

"Okay, Rainbow, stop right there." Rarity said, using her magic to turn Rainbow to look at her. "Rainbow, Twilight agreed to go on a date with you not because she wants to do something she likes. She agreed because she enjoys spending time with you and wants to spend more time with you doing what you both like."

"But what should we do!? What do you think Twilight would like!?"

"Don't just think about what Twilight would like, Rainbow; think about what you and Twilight like to do together. And remember, she wants you to be happy just as much as you want her to be." Rarity told her.

Rainbow blinked as that thought sunk in. Then slowly smiled. "Thanks, Rares."

"You're welcome, Rainbow. Now, I'm more than happy to help you with a few ideas..." ~

She'd barely managed to escape without a new gown for the occasion, but at least with Rarity's advice, she now had a good idea of what she wanted to do, though she had yet to make any real plans.

A knocking at her door startled her. Not just because she wasn't expecting it, but because it should have been impossible. Cloud doors usually didn't make any sound when someone knocked.

"Rainbow!? You home!?" She heard Twilight's voice call from her porch.

Well that explained the knocking. Rainbow could only guess that Twilight had used her magic to make the knocking sound. Taking wing, she quickly flew to the front door, pulling it open. "Hey, Twi, what's up?" She asked with a smile.

Twilight wasn't looking too good, but Rainbow only had a moment to notice her frazzled mane before a newspaper flew up in front of her face, held in Twilight's magic. “Look at the front page!"

Rainbow took the paper with her wings and scanned over the front page to see what had Twilight so upset. It wasn't hard to find. There, about halfway down, was a full color photo of her and Twilight at a café table sharing a kiss... their first kiss. "Whoa; how'd they even get that? I don't remember seeing anypony with a camera... Heh, it's actually a pretty good picture." She smiled a bit, the picture reminding her of that wonderful moment.

"Rainbow! This is serious!"

"Why? Ponies were going to find out eventually anyway... You didn't want to keep us a secret did you?" Rainbow asked, a little worried.

Twilight looked at her surprised. "What? No! Of course not! That's not the problem!"

"Then what is?"

"My parents are going to see this!" Twilight exclaimed starting to pace back and forth. "And then they'll be all upset that I didn't tell them myself! Shining will probably think it's payback for him not telling me he was getting married..." She was cut off as Rainbow stepped in front of her and pulled her into a kiss.

Twilight was surprised at first but soon melted into the kiss, putting a hoof around Rainbow. Once she was sure she'd stopped Twilight's rambling, Rainbow broke off the kiss with a smile. "Twi, calm down."

"But..."

"We'll just go tell your parents what happened. I'm sure they'll understand if we tell them we just barely decided to start dating."

"But when will we tell them? They're going to see this today!" Twilight exclaimed.

Rainbow took a moment to think about it. Then an idea came to her that made her smile. "How about this, We can head up to Canterlot this Friday..."

"But what about our date?" Twilight asked, looking up at Rainbow, worried.

Rainbow just gave her a confident smile. "I haven't made any definite plans, yet. We'll see your parents that night and then stay overnight, then we can have our date in Canterlot Saturday evening instead. We could probably even visit the princesses during the day, if they have time."

Twilight smiled. "That... that sounds good. But if we're going to have our date in Canterlot, maybe I should make the plans."

"Oh no! I already have an idea of what I want to do, and I can make my plans in Canterlot as easily as here." She smiled and gave Twilight a hug. "You just try to relax."

She sighed, holding to her tightly. "Thanks, Rainbow."

"And don't worry about your parents, I'm sure they'll understand."

"I guess you're right... I just wasn't expecting to be on the front page this morning."

Rainbow laughed releasing her and taking another look at the newspaper. "Tell me about it. It is a pretty good picture though."

Twilight smiled. "Yeah, I guess it is. I should probably put it in my scrapbook... Rainbow, what about your parents? Do we need to plan a trip to tell them as well?"

"Nah, I mean I'm sure they'd love to meet you some time, but they'll be cool with it."

"What are they like? You've never really mentioned your parents before."

She shrugged. "They're pretty cool. My dad's name is Spectrum Blitz, he works in the weather factory," she rolled her eyes. "Rainbow specialist. Go figure."

Twilight giggled.

"But he's cool. Really into sports ever since he was a kid. You know, he used to play sports in flight school."

"What about your mom?"

Rainbow grinned. "My mom's awesome. She was a pro racer by the time she was fifteen and kept racing most the time I was growing up. That's where I got my love of speed." She smiled thinking back. "We were always going to some race or another."

"What's her name?"

"Oh, my mom's name is Firefly."

Twilight blinked, and her eyes went wide. "Firefly!? You mean the record breaking pegasus racer, Firefly!?"

Rainbow blinked slightly surprised. "Yeah, that's her. You've heard of her?"

"Of course I've heard of her! She broke almost every speed record there was! She's world famous!"

Rainbow raised a brow. "To sports fans, yeah, but you never struck me as a being very big into sports, Twi."

"Oh... I wasn't. But Shinning was, and he was really into racing when we were foals. He used to go on and on about his favorite racers and'...actually..." Twilight snorted with laughter. "He used to have the biggest colt crush on Firefly..."

"Really!?" Rainbow grinned wickedly. "Heh, maybe I should see if my folks want to take a trip to the Crystal Empire sometime, meet the prince and princess."

"Rainbow!" Twilight scolded, but couldn't help giggling a bit at the idea. Then another thought occurred to her. "But... wait a second; Firefly only retired from racing just over four years ago, at thirty-four." She said, looking up at her twenty-one-year-old marefriend.

Rainbow blushed. "Yeah... Mom had me pretty young. But dad did things right. He and mom got married and raised me together." She smiled. "Luckily my mom was already a famous racer, so even though she had to take a year and a half off, by then she'd made enough off of races and advertising deals that, along with my dad's job, we were pretty well off. And after I was foaled, she got right back into it." She shrugged. "Anyway, I'm sure they'll want to meet you but they won't be upset or anything."

"Okay, good. Then for now I'll just plan a visit to my parents." Twilight said then smiled, already feeling better. "After that I guess we can visit your parents whenever you want."

"Yeah, we can worry about my parents some other time." Rainbow agreed.

Twilight nodded, then smiled up at her. "Thank you, Rainbow. Sorry about showing up a little panicked."

"Don't sweat it, Twi." Rainbow said, waving it off. "It's not every day that you see yourself on the front page kissing your marefriend."

"My marefriend..." Twilight repeated as if trying it on for size. "Yeah, I think I like the sound of that," she said, then stepped close, affectionately nuzzling Rainbow's neck. Rainbow returned the nuzzles wrapping her wings around Twilight in a soft embrace then caught her lips in a gentle kiss.

"Well I better get ready for my weather shift... We're going to be preparing a light rain for this evening." Rainbow said reluctantly as Twilight continued to nuzzle her neck.

Twilight sighed, clearly having been enjoying herself. "Yeah, I guess I have things to do as well. I'll have to cancel Sweetie's lesson on Friday."

Rainbow grinned giving her one last squeeze before releasing her. "Alright, I'll see you later, Twi."

Twilight turned to the door, throwing Rainbow one last smile. "Later, Dashie." Then she was out the door and winging her way back toward town.

~~~

Sweetie Belle galloped up the path to the crusader's clubhouse, her excitement about what she carried spurring her ever faster. Reaching the ramp, she barely slowed as she climbed up to the clubhouse door. Pushing it open, she was glad to see Scootaloo and Apple Bloom were already there. They'd heard her coming and were both looking at her wondering what had her so excited.

"Girls! Did you see the newspaper this morning!?"

They both shook their heads, and Sweetie Belle levitated the copy of the morning paper out of her saddle bags, unrolling it and holding it for them to see. They both saw what she meant almost immediately.

"Whoa!" Scootaloo gasped seeing her idol / honorary sister on the front page, caught giving Princess Twilight a clearly affectionate kiss.

"Oh, yeah. Ah actually saw that in person..." Apple Bloom said with a grin.

"You were there!?" Sweetie Belle asked excitedly.

"Not that time," she said pointing to the picture. "But Rainbow came with Twilight to meet my friend, RJ, and after, before she left, she and Twilight kissed. Twilight said that she and Rainbow decided to start dating."

"Really!?" Scootaloo said surprised. "Rainbow and Twilight!?"

Sweetie Belle nodded. "Rarity said that Rainbow has had a crush on Twilight for a long time."

"On Twilight!?" It was clear Scootaloo was having a hard time believing Rainbow would be attracted to the studious princess.

"Yep, that's what AJ said too." Apple Bloom agreed. "And now that I think about it Rainbow did seem pretty upset when we thought Twilight was dead..." Sweetie Belle winced and Apple Bloom immediately regretted bringing that up. "But yeah, they're pretty cute together." She said quickly, trying to keep the conversation on lighter tones.

"So how did it go yesterday?" Sweetie asked Apple Bloom, to change the subject. "Introducing Twilight to your dragon friend?"

Apple Bloom grinned. "Ah think it went pretty well. Princess Luna was there too. Twilight was pretty upset that he gave me his magic without askin' first. But Princess Luna seemed more concerned that he'd been spyin' on us in secret. She didn't like that he gave me his magic without askin', but said we shouldn't dwell on it, 'cause what's done is done."

"What about your sister?" Sweetie asked curiously. "What did she think about him."

Apple Bloom winced. "She wasn't happy about it at first. But after meeting him and spending some time talkin', she said she was willing to trust him."

"So, did Twilight give you permission to use his magic?" Scootaloo asked, eagerly.

Apple Bloom grinned. "Yep! After we went to the doctor and he said usin' it wouldn't cause me any problems, Twilight said I can use it whenever I want; she just said to be careful!"

"And I meant it."

The Crusaders all turned toward the clubhouse door, finding Twilight standing on the landing, smiling. In her rush, Sweetie Belle hadn't closed the door behind her.

"Twilight!" They all cheered, happily.

"Hey, girls." She said, smiling, then saw the newspaper lying on the floor between them. "Heh... I see you saw the paper."

Sweetie Belle grinned. "Rarity bought ten copies."

Twilight face-hoofed.

"So, what are you doing here, Twilight?" Scootaloo asked.

"Actually, I came to talk to Sweetie Belle," she told them. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to cancel your lesson this Friday."

"Why?" Sweetie Belle asked, sounding slightly disappointed, but more curious.

Twilight pointed at the newspaper. "That's why... My parents will have seen that, and knowing them, they'll assume I was either hiding this from them or that I just didn't care enough to tell them..." She sighed. "Anyway, Rainbow and I are going to go up to Canterlot on Friday so we can explain to my parents what happened."

"Oh, okay." Sweetie Belle said and smiled. "Rainbow's going with you, huh?" She asked with a sly look in her eye.

Twilight nodded. "Yes."

"Going to have some fun while you're there?"

Twilight blushed. "Well yeah, we're planning on going on a date on Saturday..."

"Gunna get all kissy with your marefriend?" Apple Bloom asked with a wicked grin.

"Aack, that's enough of that!" Twilight said, her face flaming. "I'll see you girls later." She said and quickly retreated, leaving the three fillies giggling at her reaction.

~~~

"Focus Apple Bloom. You have to feel the path of the spell as I cast it with you, you have to remember that path; know how it feels so that you can find it again."

Apple Bloom nodded and closed her eyes, paying close attention to the pool of magic that was ever-present in the back of her mind now, waiting for Rekaj to cast the spell. It was still early Saturday morning, but Apple Bloom wanted to get in some time training before getting started on her chores for the day. She wouldn't have time later that evening due to plans made with the other Crusaders.

"Focus." Rekaj admonished once more then cast the spell. Applebloom felt the magic begin to flow down what Rekaj called paths. Each path split again and again; each split creating a different spell. Apple Bloom paid careful attention every twist every turn, the magic made. Really it reminded Apple Bloom of tree branches more than paths. Most the paths she had experience with only had a few splits, and most stayed the same size; but tree branched split again and again, each time becoming smaller and smaller...

Suddenly, it was a tree she saw in her mind, and she watched as one of the branches began to glow. She tracked the glow in her mind's eye, watching branch after branch light up, tracking the light as it made its way further and further out from the trunk. Finally, one last tiny branch lit up and she imagined a flower opening up, a single apple blossom, as the spell was cast.

She felt the effects of the spell, the illusionary wings, taking shape, folded against her sides. But unlike when she'd cast the spell, this one had the full effect, including the visual illusion. She looked back at the wings, grinning at how real they looked. It was seamless; no matter how closely she looked, she couldn't even tell where her real body ended and the wings began. Any that saw her would think she was a true pegasus.

They only lasted a moment however, as Rekaj ended the spell. "Now try again."

Apple Bloom nodded and took a deep breath, focusing once more. She felt the pool of magic as the tree came back; taking ahold of it as Rekaj had taught her, she began to guide it up into the tree, following the branches outward, trying to retrace the path Rekaj had just shown her, seeking the single blossom she'd imagined. Branch after branch, further and further; suddenly she was there, and the blossom bloomed once more. She felt the spell cast, felt the wings form.

Her eyes snapped open and she looked back over her shoulder, spreading her perfect illusionary wings, looking every bit as if they were growing right out of her back.

"Ah DID IT!" She shouted in excitement, and Rekaj laughed.

"Well done Apple Bloom!"

"Ah look just like a Pegasus!"

"You sure do. And once you've had some proper lessons you'll be flying like one."

"Ah can't wait! Ah bet it's going to be awesome!"

Rekaj smiled stretching his wings. "Flying is a freedom like no other, but I want you to promise me that you won't try until you've been properly taught."

"Ah promise." Apple Bloom said with a nod.

"Good. Now let's practice that spell a few times to make sure you've got it down, then... then we need to get started on an even more difficult spell."

Apple Bloom looked up at him curiously. "What does it do?"

Rekaj frowned, thinking. "It's difficult to explain. But your sister made me promise I would make sure you're safe; and this spell is the greatest protection I can give you."

Apple Bloom frowned a bit, but then just shrugged. "Okay."

"It will be very difficult; but I want you to try your best to learn it."

"Ah'll do my best!"

"That's what I like to hear." Rekaj said with a smile.

~~~

"I told you, you were worrying too much." Rainbow said with a grin.

Twilight laughed. "Alright; you were right..."

The evening with Twilight's parents had gone just as well as Rainbow had predicted. Once they'd explained what had happened, Twilight's parents had been quite enthusiastic about the new couple and they'd spent the rest of the evening embarrassing Twilight to no end with foalhood stories.

This morning though, they'd had a home cooked breakfast and were now out walking through the streets of Canterlot in the early morning light.

"So, any clue what Princess Celestia wanted to talk to you about?" Rainbow asked.

Twilight hmmed thoughtfully. When she'd written to Princess Celestia that they would be coming to Canterlot and asked if she would have time for a quick visit, the eldest princess had responded almost immediately that she would be glad to visit and that she, in fact, had something she wanted to discuss with Twilight. "I don't know. She didn't say what and I can't think of anything off-hoof." She shrugged. "You want to head up to the castle now and find out? Celestia said she'd be available all morning."

"Actually, I have a couple things I need to take care of before our date this afternoon." Rainbow told her. "So why don't you head up to the castle and I'll meet you there when I'm done."

Twilight smiled. "Sounds good." She said and after a quick kiss, Rainbow took off into the city. Twilight watched her go for a moment. It had only been a few days but already she wondered why she'd never pursued such a relationship before. Though she still couldn't honestly say she loved Rainbow; at least not romantically, she was certainly enjoying the new experience, as well as the affection Rainbow clearly had for her.

It was then that she noticed many of the other ponies along the street starring at her. Blushing, she took off as well, heading toward the castle.



On arrival, the guards had directed Twilight to Celestia's office, where she did much of the actual work in running the nation. Knowing the way from her years living at the castle, she had thanked the guard and made her own way. Before long, she found herself at a familiar door flanked by two royal guards. They both bowed as she approached. "Princess Twilight, Princess Celestia was expecting you, go right in." The one on the right said and used his magic to open the door for her.

Twilight smiled. "Thank you," She said and stepped inside.

Princess Celestia looked up from her desk and smiled seeing her. "Twilight! It's so good to see you!" She said getting to her hooves to greet her fellow princess. Twilight closed the door behind her and walked up to her mentor, giving her a quick nuzzle.

"It's good to see you too, Celestia."

"Though I wasn't expecting you to come alone." Celestia said slyly as she straitened again after returning the nuzzle.

Twilight blushed. "You saw the paper..." She said, not really a question.

Celestia smiled. "I take it you came to Canterlot to tell your family?"

"Yeah, and Rainbow will be here later, she just had a few things she wanted to take care of in the city... we're... well, we're actually planning a date this evening. Our first real date."

"Sounds lovely."

Twilight smiled. "It was Rainbow's idea. I, uh... kind of panicked when I saw the paper."

"I imagine seeing yourself on the front page was quite a shock."

"You could say that." Twilight agreed. "So, when you replied you said you had something you wanted to talk to me about?"

"Yes." Celestia said turning back to her desk and levitating a large roll of paper from a nearby shelf. "And something to show you as well." She said and unrolled the large sheets across her desk.

Twilight didn't hesitate to move to the elder princess's side, looking over the sheets. They were a floorplan; she realized, of what appeared to be a castle, with defensive walls, towers, a large gatehouse and barracks... "What is this?"

"This is the floorplans for your new home."

Twilight's eyes widened. "My new home!? Princess, what..."

"It will take some time to build, of course, but I've already purchased the land for the crown, just on the edge of Ponyville and a lovely location at that. I was surprised it was still vacant."

"Celestia, what do you mean this is my new home!? What's wrong with the library!?" Twilight exclaimed.

Celestia gave her an innocent smile. "Nothing's wrong, you just don't have room to house your royal guard at the Library, so you're going to need more space."

Twilight stared at her in shock. "My royal guard!?"

"Yes. You're a princess Twilight. It's about time you had a royal guard." Celestia told her calmly.

"But I've been a princess for almost two years, I never had a royal guard before; why do I need one now!?"

Celestia didn't answer, and curious at the other princess's silence, Twilight looked up at her mentor and saw the tears forming in her eyes.

"Celestia?"

"I can't lose you, Twilight... not again." Celestia whispered; tears beginning to fall freely. "When Achlys... when we thought we'd lost you for good..."

Twilight understood and put a comforting hoor on her mentor's shoulder. "But a royal guard wouldn't have helped me against Achlys..."

Celestia sniffed. "I know; but do you think you have more ancient evils hiding inside of you?" she asked wryly.

"I suppose not." Twilight admitted smiling.

"Then the next threat will come from elsewhere, and at the very least a royal guard is an extra set of eyes and ears that can give you early warning of any dangers." Celestia told her then turned and wrapped Twilight in a tight embrace. "Please, Twilight. Do this for me..."

"Okay..." Twilight agreed finally. "I suppose you're right, I really should have a royal guard; and I will need a place with space for them." She pulled away from the embrace and gestured to the floorplans still spread across the desk. "But, Celestia, we can't go with these plans. It's too much. And besides; this... this is a fortress! Made to be intimidating." She shook her head. "I'm the princess of Friendship, if I'm to have a castle of my own - A small castle! - Then it needs to be open and welcoming. Yes; there can be defenses, but they need to be subtle!"

"Okay..." Celestia said with a small smile and levitated the first few sheets off the desk, revealing a second floorplan; this one much smaller than the first - though it would still be the largest structure in Ponyville - and lacking many of the intimidating defensive structures of the first. Included was an artist's rendition of what the finished castle would look like. It was smaller, but every bit as charming and elegant as Canterlot castle itself.

Twilight looked up at Celestia suspiciously. "Did you show me that other design first just so I'd be that much more likely to accept this one?"

Celestia blushed, but didn't deny it.

Twilight snorted softly, rolling her eyes. "Alright, let's go over these designs."



Rainbow trotted at a quick pace through the halls of the castle. The guards had been expecting her and had directed her toward the princess's office in a section of the castle she'd never visited before. They had been very clear on their instructions though, and it wasn't long before Rainbow reached her destination. It had taken nearly two hours to take care of everything she needed to do in the city, but now it was done and she was confident Twilight would love what she had planned.

The guards gave her a respectful nod in greeting and opened the door for her, letting her into the office. She wasn't expecting it to be a mess. Large sheets of paper were strewn about the room, some pinned to boards on the walls while others were laid out across the floor. The two princesses were in the center of it all, lying on their bellies and looking over the sheet in front of them. Both princesses looked up as she entered.

"Hey Rainbow!" Twilight said happily though it was Celestia's reaction that really caught her attention. The eldest princess's eyes narrowed glaring at her; a disapproving frown forming on her muzzle.

"Rainbow Dash." She said coldly, the very sound of her voice sending a chill down Rainbow's spine. "I understand you've been making certain advances toward my beloved former student."

Rainbow gulped nervously; but even as she did, Twilight jabbed Celestia in the ribs.

"No scaring my marefriend!"

The glare vanished from Celestia's face and she laughed. "I'm sorry Rainbow Dash; I couldn't resist."

She let out a relieved laugh. "Heh, no biggy, princess. I probably wouldn't be able to resist either," she said, still a little nervous. "So, what is all this?"

"Plans for my new home, apparently." Twilight answered.

"Your new home? What do you mean?" Rainbow asked as she moved closer to see the designs herself.

"Yeah, apparently, I need a royal guard now, so I need a home with space for them as well as space for a staff to run said home..."

"Twilight, you need a royal guard." Celestia said in a gentle but firm tone.

"I know, you're right. But that doesn't mean I have to like it." Twilight grumbled.

Rainbow looked over the plans. She was no architect, but just judging by the number of rooms she could see in the designs; this new place for Twilight was definitely going to be big. "So where is this going to be?" She asked, a little worried.

"Just on the outskirts of ponyville." Celestia told her. "I've already purchased the land for the crown, so once Twilight approves the floorplans, we'll begin construction. With a large enough crew and a bit of magic, it should be ready by next spring."

"Really? It looks huge."

Celestia smiled. "You'd be surprised what a good construction crew can do when they're paid enough. However, I'd like for your guard to be in place before then." She said turning to Twilight.

Frowning, Twilight gestured to the plans on the floor in front of them. "Celestia, the whole point of this... castle is so I have space for a guard; where are they going to stay until then?"

"I've already made arrangements with the Ponyville inn. It will have to be a minimal guard until your castle is finished, but it's only temporary."

"Fine..." Twilight sighed.

"It's for the best, Twilight," Celestia said gently. "Anyway, everything is already arranged. All that remains is for you to choose your captain."

She blinked. "I get to choose?"

"Of course. Your captain will be the one you'll be interacting with the most, so it's important that they're somepony you can get along with."

"Right." Twilight sighed. "Well I guess we might as well get this over with."

Celestia smiled and nodded. "It will take me an hour or so to gather the available captains,” She levitated a folder from a nearby drawer and presented it to Twilight. "Here's dossiers on all of the available captains. Why don't you go over those and I'll send orders for them to gather."

Twilight looked up at Rainbow. "Will that be a problem?"

Smiling, Rainbow shook her head. "Nah, we've got a couple hours."

"Okay. Well, do you want to go over these with me? It might be a good idea to make sure you can get along with them as well."

Rainbow grinned. "Yeah, I guess I should make sure they're awesome enough to be your captain."

Twilight rolled her eyes. "I don't think any of them are going to be wonderbolts, Rainbow."

"Heh, well we'll just have to settle for the coolest available."

~~~

"You were formerly a captain in the Manehattan city guard?" Twilight asked the fairly young Pegasus mare in front of her. After an initial introduction of all the available guard captains; Twilight had decided to do short interviews with each of them. Rainbow was there listening in, though she'd kept silent through the interviews only offering her opinion afterwards.

"Yes, your highness. I was stationed in Manehattan for three years, and was captain for nearly half of it."

"I wasn't actually aware that Manehattan had a guard force. I thought their city police handled protecting the city."

She nodded. "The police force handles most of the standard patrols; the city guard is mostly just in charge of security at the docks and customs. Otherwise they're just there for emergencies."

"That makes sense..." Twilight said softly. "Are you originally from Manehattan? You don't have much of an accent."

"No, I'm originally from a little place south of Dodge."

Twilight smirked, "You don't have an accent from there either."

She laughed. "Well I wouldn't know."

Looking back at the mare's dossier, Twilight tried to remember what else she wanted to ask about. "It says here you transferred to Canterlot two years ago and that for the past year and a half you've been in charge of combat training for the pegasi of the royal guard."

"That's right."

"It also says that your specialty is in magical countermeasures."

She nodded. "Without magic of our own, the biggest threat to any pegasi are magic wielders."

"Pegasi have magic." Twilight corrected automatically.

"Of course, but without a great deal of training, we can't wield it consciously."

"So, how do you counter magic without magic?" Twilight asked curious how the mare would answer.

"In most cases, you need to predict how the magic wielder is going to attack, avoid it, then counter quickly in a way that will disable their magic. For unicorns this can be done by hitting their horn. But that won't work on a Changeling, for them, you have to hit their forehead, just at the base of their horn. Zebra are the most difficult, they can channel magic through their entire body. Fortunately very few Zebra learn magic."

"And what if you encounter a pegasi that can wield magic? How can you disable their magic?"

She winced. "In that case, the only way may be to remove their wings." She answered reluctantly, clearly not liking the idea of doing that to any pegasi.

"An earth pony?"

"Their legs."

"And what about an alicorn?"

She hesitated. The only known alicorns still alive were the four princesses. "Well Alicorns have all forms of pony magic; but most only ever learn to wield magic with their horn, so a strike to the horn should be enough; but if they mastered their other magics as well, then their wings and legs will have to be disabled.

Twilight nodded approvingly. "So, how do you predict how a magic user is going to attack?"

"That can be difficult; knowing your opponent is key. If you don't know what they're capable of it's best to keep your distance while still pressuring them until they've attacked a few times to see what they do. Most magic users will stick to the same few spells in combat since thinking on the fly can be difficult."

Satisfied, Twilight nodded. "Alright, that will be all for now. Thank you, Captain Feather, you're dismissed."

"Of course, your majesty," she said saluting sharply. She then turned and left without another word.

Twilight turned back to Rainbow. "So, what do you think?"

Rainbow shrugged. "She was the first one that wasn't saying your highness or your majesty every other word."

"Yes, that was rather refreshing." Twilight agreed.

"She also seemed to know what she was talking about; I didn't know that you have to hit a changeling at the base of their horn to disable their magic."

"I didn't either... well actually I did, but not me..."

Rainbow raised a brow at the strange response. "What do you mean by that?"

Twilight sighed. "Achlys knew."

"Oh, right." Rainbow said softly, then the room fell silent for a moment.

"Well, we've got one more interview to do, but I think Captain Feather may be the one." Twilight said finally.

Rainbow nodded. "Yeah, she seems like the best choice. The rest could really use some personality."

Twilight laughed softly then used her magic to open the door. "Send in the last candidate."

~~~

"Captain Feather?" Celestia repeated with a little surprise evident in her voice.

Twilight simply nodded.

"I have to admit, I'm surprised. I would have thought you'd prefer a unicorn captain." Celestia said with a slight smile.

Twilight rolled her eyes. "I'd prefer not to have a captain at all, but since I have to have one, I'd prefer they be somepony who knows how to loosen up and not be so formal all the time. My guards need to be open and friendly, not stoic and intimidating."

Celestia smiled, understandingly. "I have had a complaint or two from the other captains that Captain Feather was teaching the trainees bad habits..."

"Let me guess; she didn't have them standing at attention and saluting every time they spoke." Rainbow put in with a smirk.

"Something like that." Celestia took one last look at the dossier of the mare Twilight had selected then tucked it under her wing. "Well that takes care of everything here, I understand you two have plans this evening?" She asked with a knowing smile.

Twilight blushed a bit, but nodded.

"And most the afternoon actually." Rainbow told her.

"Well, don't let me keep you from it." Celestia said, her smile broadening. "It's been nice seeing the two of you... oh, what time are you heading back tomorrow?"

"We've got tickets for the two o-clock train." Twilight told her, wondering why she wanted to know.

"Alright, I'll make the arrangements for Captain Feather to accompany you back to Ponyville, the rest of your temporary guard will be there the day after."

Twilight sighed, she hadn't expected them to be showing up that soon... "Alright."

Celestia gave her one last encouraging smile. "You two have fun. And don't hesitate to visit next time you're in Canterlot."

"We will." Twilight and Rainbow said in unison then with one last wave they left the office.

Once they were gone, Celestia pulled out the Dossier for Captain Feather and looked it over once more. That Twilight would choose her as her captain was a surprise; but she had to admit, the young captain's attitude was rather refreshing at times. She'd be missed around the castle. But Twilight definitely deserved the captain of her choice. Turning down the hall toward the guard barracks, she set about making the arrangements needed.

Author's Note:

Introducing Captain Feather. Feather is a character that will be appearing in pretty much all of my stories. She'll be mostly the same in each story; she'll always be a royal guard, usually a captain and usually she will become the captain of Twilight's Royal guard. But the fun part is that in each story she appears in, she will have a different secret. There will be clues what her secret is, and it will be revealed before the end of each story she's introduced in, but I'm interested to see if anyone can guess her secret before it's revealed. Though if you do want to make guesses, please put it in spoiler tags.

Since this part of the story has been written for a while, I'd already had plans for Rainbow's parents before we actually saw them in canon. And since this story breaks off from canon before the season 4 finale, I decided to go ahead and keep what I already had.

I also decided to skip the whole scene of Twilight and Rainbow talking to Twilight's parents because really it would have been pretty boring. No shocks or drama, just Twilight explaining that they just started dating.

As far as the issue of Twilight not having a royal guard or castle staff, I really think that's something that needs to be addressed in canon, but at the same time, I don't think they will... Of course that means that in this story Twilight needs a castle. And no, Flash Sentry is not going to be a part of Twilight's royal guard. He's staying in the crystal empire.

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