• Published 24th Jul 2012
  • 4,941 Views, 465 Comments

Symphony for Moon and Sun - GrassAndClouds2

Lyra must help Octavia play a piece of forbidden music. Both will be ruined if she fails.

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Treason's Rewards

Moonlit Night allowed himself a single smirk as he eased his way into the Representative’s House. Everything was going according to plan. The schoolteacher was already eating out of his hoof; they’d just enjoyed a ‘romantic’ dinner together at Les Bits Argents, the fanciest restaurant in town, and she’d spent most of the evening staring into his eyes. That charm spell he’d laid on her was working perfectly; she trusted him with all her hopes, fears, dreams… everything. All he needed to do now was modify the town records, see that she wound up in a bit of trouble in her position as schoolteacher, and she’d come running to him for solace… at which point he could casually mention that he knew of a school in Duke Greengrass’s domain that could use such a fine and outstanding teacher as herself.

The office was quiet. Moonlit cast a low, yellow light from his horn, lighting up the room until he could see the Representative’s desk. The teacher had told him that the important town records were kept here, and that would include teacher disciplinary reports. He just needed to find the pile of forms that were due for filing – there they were – and put his doctored complaints report somewhere near the top. A confusion spell would ensure that the Representative would get a headache whenever she tried to stare at the form too closely; she’d end up just glancing over it before filing it, and in a few days Cherilee would be suspended. And that would be that.

Moonlit inserted the falsified report into the pile and smiled. “Once again, the greatest grifter in Canterlot has stolen another mare’s heart.” He straightened. “And now, he—“

The lights in the room turned on.

Moonlit immediately shut his eyes, stung by the sudden, harsh light. “What?” he began.

“Alright, Sapphire Beauty – if that’s even your real name!” It was a familiar – and very annoying -- voice. “Freeze!”

Moonlit opened his eyes to see Representative Lulamoon entering the room from the back entrance. Moonlit turned, only to watch as Raindrops strode in through the front door. He was trapped.

“Did you really think you could put one over on the Great and Powerful Trixie?” laughed the blue unicorn. “We knew who you were from the moment you entered town! Oh, by the way? Cherilee says that she’s not into you. Once we removed that charm spell, she thought you were actually kind of pretentious.”

Moonlit scowled. If his cover was blown, he would have to get out of town -- the magic he’d been using, particularly the charm spells, was not exactly legal – but he had to escape first. His horn glowed. “Out of my way!”

“I don’t think so.” Trixie stepped into the room and approached Moonlit. “You’re under arrest for attempting to interfere with official reports, illegal use of forbidden magic, and—“

Moonlit’s confusion spell slammed into Trixie before she knew what had hit her, and in a moment she was reeling, dizzy and somewhat nauseous. Moonlit took the opportunity to race around her. He booked it for door she’d been guarding – until it opened again, and an earth pony stepped out. The farmer Element, Carrot Top.

Dang it. Two confusion spells of that magnitude in a row would tax even Moonlit. He changed his course, using his telekinesis to pick up a paperweight from the bookshelf and hurl it at the window.

“No!” he heard Trixie cry, but then the glass was shattering. He jumped out the window, dodged a blast of magic from the green unicorn outside, and vanished into the night.

“Drinks are on me,” said Cherilee, putting a small stack of bits in the center of the table. “Thanks for saving me. I would have done something crazy if you hadn’t removed that charm spell.”

“No problem!” said Ditzy. “I’m just glad he’s gone.”

“You’re sure you’re okay?” asked Carrot Top.

“I’m fine now.” Cherilee giggled. “Really, once Trixie cast the counterspell, it was like I could think clearly again. I didn’t have thoughts of that blowhard running through my head all day and night.”

Trixie smiled. She’d heard some… interesting reports of Cherilee’s behavior in class the other day. ‘As distracted as one of her foals’ was a polite way of putting it. “Well, Greengrass fails again, and now we know another one of his agents. I’d say that’s worth a celebration.” She raised her voice. “Berry! Gimme my usual!”

“Right away, Miss Lulamoon!”

Lyra laughed. “Looks like the Elements can chalk up another victory over the Court.”

“Hey, some of us here are both,” said Trixie.

“You know what I mean. The corrupt parts of the Court, then.” Lyra grinned. (Meanwhile, the drinks were arriving, and Trixie grabbed the bottle of bourbon). “The Duke and his cronies might have lots of power and money, but they can’t overcome the magic of our friendship, the bonds of our loyalty, and the—“

Whatever else they couldn’t overcome would never be known, because Trixie had just gulped down her first glass of bourbon. “To us!” she yelled, apropos of nothing.

Lyra chuckled. “Alright, that works too. To us!”

They all laughed happily as they toasted.

“What do you think Greengrass will do now?” asked Cherilee.

Trixie shrugged. “Who cares? It’ll take him a while to set up another attempt. I say, let’s enjoy the downtime while we can.”

Three days later.

“It’s Philharmonica, sir. She’s our leak.”

Greengrass looked up from his evening hot chocolate at his secretary. “Ah. I suspected as much.”


“She’s the only one who knows my plans and has a personal friendship with any of the Elements. Lulamoon’s not competent enough at Court to merit any smart political allies, and I would hope I could find any idiot Courtiers foolish enough to try dealing with her. If her source isn’t political, it must be social.” Greengrass chuckled as he carefully spread jam on his toast. “What proof did you find?”

“Lockpick broke into her house while she was at Vicereine Puissance’s dance. She found a half-written copy of her next letter to Lulamoon. It referenced Moonlit, and also contained a short list – mostly accurate – of some of your political allies.”

“Mmm.” Greengrass sighed. “Well, I was hoping to get more use out of her, but I can’t let a traitor remain in my service. Sets a terrible precedent. So, what shall I do with her… the Mild West settlements are putting out a call for entertainers, as I recall. Apparently, it’s a bit dull out there.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Kindly inform her that she will be moving there within the week, or we will…” Greengrass thought. “Well, we’ll frame her for something. Something assault-y, attacking a rival, that kind of thing. She cares about her reputation, so she won’t want to wind up in the papers.” He paused, then shook his head. “Actually, cancel that. I’d like to send Lulamoon a message too. You know ‘this is what happens to ponies you try to use against me.’ She’s selfish, but it still might give her pause -- and it'll definitely scare any other allies she's scrounged up. Perhaps there’s something more we can do to Octavia.” He thought. “What’s Philharmonica doing in the next few days?”

“In the next two weeks, she has three relatively small recitals and shows, in addition to a lecture at the Canterlot School for Musical Arts. Ten days from now is her next big concert – the Treaty Celebration at the castle.” Notary looked annoyed. “In honor of the renewed treaty with our southern neighbors the—“

“Oh, right. There will be a huge gala, everypony will be there, good food, good music, yadda yadda.” Greengrass snorted. “Do the ambassadors even like cello music?”

“I don’t think they will be in attendance, sir. It’s just for the Court.”

“Which of course had nothing to do with anything; Luna was the one who fixed up the treaty, but then again, if the Court stopped taking rewards for things they didn’t do, half of them would starve to death.” Greengrass smiled slightly. “But you worked hard to get her that booking, didn’t you?”

“Quite hard, sir. Princess Luna herself will be there, and every noble of rank Archduke or higher. Octavia will be the youngest mare by three years to perform for the Princess. I do wish she’d had the decency to betray us before I went to all that trouble.”

“Notary, it’s a sad fact of life that sometimes our best efforts are unappreciated.”

Notary grinned.

“…you are now going to use that opening to tell me of the things you’ve done that you feel I have not sufficiently appreciated, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

Greengrass laughed, but then paused. “Wait. The Princess will be there.” He rose. “Yes! This is perfect!”


“Octavia didn’t just steal my money or try to bribe one of my employees. She gave up my political secrets. That should exact a more severe punishment than a few years of exile. Also, there’s the issue of making it very clear to Lulamoon that, if she uses tools against me, I’ll smash them from her hoof. So, if our cellist offends the Princess…” He clapped his front hooves. “Notary! Do we have any plans for the night?”

“At eleven, you are scheduled to heroically stride into the Education Department budget meeting and offer funds from your own fiefdom to plug their budget gap, in return for a series of trifling concessions which you will then use as part of a scheme to—“

“Okay, yes, besides that?”

“No sir.”

“Then we have time.” Greengrass began to trot towards the door. “Let’s go promote a concert, Notary!”

Notary followed. “I can book a few reporters—“

“That can come later. First, we need newspaper ads. Magazine circulars. Personal invitations to everypony who’s anypony.” Greengrass grinned. “It simply must have a huge crowd. After all, it will be Octavia Philharmonica’s greatest – and final – performance!”

My little pony, My little pony
Ahh ahh ahh ahhh...
My little pony
Friendship never meant that much to me
My little pony
But you're all here and now I can see
Stormy weather; Lots to share
A musical bond; With love and care
Teaching laughter; It's an easy feat,
And magic makes it all complete!
You have my little ponies
How'd I ever make so many true friends?

“Hi Ditzy!”

Ditzy Doo smiled at Lyra as she trotted over to her house. “Good morning, Lyra. Expecting an important letter?”

Lyra grinned. “Yeah, I guess I don’t usually wait for the mail, do I? But I submitted an application to the Trottingham Philharmonic – they need a guest lyre player for a concert in a few weeks. Today’s the day I’m supposed to hear back.” She grinned. “I’m so excited!”

Ditzy checked her mailbags. “Well, let’s see… ah. You have mail!” She carefully took out a stack of letters and passed them to Lyra. “And I think I see one postmarked from Trottingham – oh, it’s thick, and—“

Lyra grabbed it with her telekinesis and ripped the envelope open. “Dear Miss Heartstrings… blah blah blah… oh!” Her eyes widened. “Invited to audition! I got the audition! I made the short list!”


Lyra laughed. “I got it! The Trottingham Philharmonic! Woohoo!”

Bonbon poked her head out of the house. “What’s going on?”

“I made the shortlist for Trottingham!” Lyra grinned. “Two weeks from now, I’ll be auditioning!”

“Wow! Nice going!”

Ditzy passed Lyra the rest of her mail. “Have a good day, Lyra!”

“I already am!” she said, almost bouncing back inside.

Bonbon was just setting out the plates for a lazy Saturday brunch. Lyra began to help, using her telekinesis to grab the glasses and the orange juice. “I’ll need to see Rarity later, figure out what to wear, and… oh, this is so exciting!”

“And this time, no politics, right?” asked Bonbon.

“Nope. Trottingharm Philharmonic doesn’t have any Court representation. This one’s strictly music.”

Bonbon nodded. “Hey, can I see the rest of that mail? I’m expecting a letter from my cousin in Baltimare.”

Lyra passed the letters to him. “You’ll be there, right? Watching my Trottingham debut?”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Bonbon cycled through the letters. “Bill, junk, junk, notice from the mayor regarding the streetlights, concert…” She trailed off. “You didn’t tell me you were going to a concert.”

“I wasn’t.” Lyra chuckled. “But I guess somepony thinks I should. What’s the piece?”

Bonbon opened the letter and scanned it. “The, uh, Symphony for Moon and Sun.

“What?” Lyra laughed. “That has to be a joke. Nopony plays that piece.”


“Because the Princess hates it,” said Lyra. “It’s practically a legend. Anypony who plays it never performs again – Luna shuns them, and then they’re poison. No venue will host them. That letter can’t be real.”

Bonbon was still reading the invitation. “The piece must be terrible, then.”

“Oh, no. It’s gorgeous – some of the score survived; I read it in the Canterlot library once. I mean, it looks crazy hard to play, but if you can do it, it would sound fantastic.”

“… then I don’t understand.”

Lyra grinned, and her horn glowed as she cast the spell to summon her lyre. “Want to hear the whole story?”

“Uh. Will the pancakes get cold?”

“Oh, hush. It’ll only take a minute.” Lyra smiled and began to strum her harp. “Nine hundred years ago, ponies wanted to celebrate the century anniversary of the defeat of the Tyrant Sun. Luna was being reclusive, and the ponies wanted to please her by showing her how grateful they were at her victory. So they threw a huge party – great food, drink, even early stage magicians. Everything was done as a big ‘thank you’ to the princess for saving the country.

“Now, Luna loves music, and she loved it back then too. The crowning jewel of the event was supposed to be the Symphony. The greatest cellist of the time, Concerti Brilliante, had found most of the score in the old castle archives. He mastered it, and then played it at the party. But instead of praise, she castigated him. She said that he got it all wrong and he wasn’t fit to play a note. Then she left without finishing the party.

“A few days later, another cellist offered to try – Fame Fortisi. But her performance was even worse. And neither of them could get work as musicians afterwards either. Luna shunned them, and nopony would hear them afterwards.

“For a while, a new hotshot cellist would try to play it every few months. And then it became every few years, and then, in the end, once every ten to thirty years. Nopony ever succeeded. And, within the last one hundred years, it’s almost stopped completely. I don’t think anypony’s tried it since… since Amour Piano seventy years ago.”

“And Luna won’t say why she hates it?”

“If she has, no one remembers what she said.” Lyra shook her head. “The prior performances weren’t recorded, or even reviewed, because of Luna’s displeasure. Nopony knows exactly how they sounded.”

“You said that Concerti whats-his-name found the score, right? So a different composer wrote it before Concerti’s performance? Did Luna like his rendition?”

“Hers. Maestro; she was famous, but there’s no record of her ever playing the piece, or of Luna’s thoughts.” Lyra shrugged. “Thing is, Concerti didn’t find the full score. The last movement was missing. A lot of ponies think that Luna might not like the other renditions because none of the endings ponies have made up over the years can compare to the original. Then again, some think she always hated it, and that she had the ending destroyed because it was so offensive. It’s a mystery.”

“Oh.” Bonbon carefully balanced the big plate of pancakes and got it to the table. “So the piece is beautiful, and the score’s available—“

“Most of it, the ending’s lost—“

“Most of it’s available. But it can’t be played because Luna hates it for some inexplicable reason that she hasn’t bothered to tell anypony. Is that about right?”


Bonbon smiled a little. “…Don’t you find that just a bit silly?”

Lyra giggled. “I suppose. But aren’t there silly quirks like that in your line of work?”

“No, actually, there is no candy recipe that produces delicious toffee but is forbidden by royal decree. We’d know if there was, because Pinkie would be banished in about twelve minutes.”

Lyra laughed as she used her telekinesis to pick up her fork and cut a big slice of pancake. “Fair point. But anyway, that letter has to be a joke. The audience shows up and it’s a big prank or something. Who’s playing?”

“…uh.” Bonbon frowned. “It’s Octavia, Lyra. Your mentor.”

Lyra’s fork clattered to the floor.