• Published 19th Feb 2019
  • 2,141 Views, 74 Comments

Death has a Cutie Mark Problem - The Mountaineer Brony

Death Himself seeks out the Cutie Mark Crusaders for help getting back in touch with his special talent.

  • ...

Romance Macabre

Twilight watched nervously out the window as the train rattled up the tracks, ascending the mountain towards Canterlot.

"I probably should've informed Princess Celestia a bit more about who we're bringing into her house." The young mare bit a hoof and fidgeted. "How do you think the princesses will react to coming face to face with Death?" she asked, turning in her seat to face the nearest friend. Pinkie Pie sat across a low table from the disguised specter, who seemed surprised to be several moves into a game of chess he didn't remember starting.

"Ah, it'll be fine, Twilight!" the pink mare waved a hoof in dismissal. "With the kind of lives the princesses have lived, I'm sure they've faced death plenty already!" Glancing back at the board, Pinkie leaned in, scooting a pawn forward and smirking at the reaper. He hadn't expected her to move that piece. Furrowing a confused yet nonexistent brow, Death began pondering his next move.

At last, the Friendship Express pulled into the station at Canterlot, the shining capital city of Equestria. The Elements, the Crusaders, and their tall, dark, and lifeless guest stepped out onto the platform and were quickly met by a squad of Royal Guards. Flash Magnus was at their head.

"Princess Twilight," he said with a quick salute. "Celestia and Luna are waiting to receive your retinue in the throne room. We'll make sure you get there quickly." Flash was somehow completely ignoring the death stare the tall "lady" in the back was giving him, almost as if to ask "How in Equestria are you still alive?!" With this, the party left the station, headed for the castle grounds.

The grand doors opened in front of the young alicorn as she and her friends entered the celestial throne room. Likewise did they creak shut behind them as Celestia requested privacy from her guards, who ducked away into side rooms should they be needed. The Cutie Mark Crusaders trotted ahead of Twilight and gave playful bows towards the Royal Sisters, who smiled.

"Welcome, Twilight; it's good to see you and your friends here in Canterlot." Celestia greeted warmly. "Though it seems as though something rather urgent has brought you here, judging by your letters... I hate to say this, Twilight, but as your teacher, I know your hornwriting is better than this."

Twilight chuckled sheepishly. "I was... in a hurry."

"Well, what is it exactly that brings you all before us so hurriedly?" asked Luna.

"If Ah may, Your Majesties," Applejack spoke up and stepped forward. "we're here because of a rather... interestin' client the Cutie Mark Crusaders decided to take on..." The tall pony in a dress carrying a parasol stepped forward.

"Oh? And who might that be?" Celestia asked.

Just a moment after, the dress, the parasol, and all the accompanying frills were blazed away in violet flame, revealing the skeletal pony beneath in a dark robe, carrying a long scythe. Rarity's mouth fell agape and she hit her knees, sobbing to herself about how much hard work had just been incinerated. The princesses gasped, nearly jumping in their seats. The pale horse stepped towards them and bowed.

"Your Majesties," Death's booming voice came from everywhere and nowhere. "A pleasure to meet you once more after such long millennia."

"Indeed, it has been millennia since we encountered each other, Death." Celestia replied, sounding very distant and untrustworthy. "What exactly has brought you to Ponyville to seek council with the Cutie Mark Crusaders? And, likewise, has brought my faithful student to seek council with me?"

"A problem regarding a Cutie Mark, of course." The wraith replied. "The endless march of time and the countless souls I've shepherded on to greener pastures has worn on these old bones. I simply wonder if there is something more for me to do; a change of pace, if you will. And, judging by the flanks of these fillies, destiny has chosen them to solve problems such as mine."

Celestia eyed him apprehensively; Luna was sitting bolt upright and silent on her throne, a look of discomfort dominating her face.

"Then why is it you were so willing to come to Canterlot with my student, instead of staying in Ponyville? I'm sure Twilight could've convinced me of her claims without physical proof." The radiant alicorn cast a gaze like sunlight upon him.

"You do remember we are immortal, correct?"

Death laughed. "Oh, dear Celestia, you think I've forgotten? I keep those who destiny chose to defy me close to my black, withered heart." Death reached a hoof inside his cloak and pulled forth several golden pendants on chains, resembling small sundials. On one side was a picture of the creature whose life force they represented; on the reverse was an empty hourglass overlaid with an infinity symbol. Twilight's eyes were in awe looking at them, and her inner magical sense couldn't begin to comprehend the aura these pendants gave off. She could spot several beings she knew: Celestia, Luna, Tirek, Discord, and Flurry Heart among them, as well as several she didn't know. Before she could stop to ponder what this meant for herself and Cadance, Death had hidden the pendants away.

"I just hope you remember, O Daybreaker, that if you keep getting yourself imprisoned by a changeling queen, or losing your magic to a demon lord, or getting turned to stone by a unicorn with a bunch of toy airships, I'll have to come and collect you just the same." Death said haughtily. The Sun Princess almost allowed herself to huff loudly in a very unladylike fashion.

"But Luna..."

The blue alicorn froze. Death approached her very gently, yet seemed to instantly appear in front of her just the same.

"The offer I made to you over 1,000 years ago still stands."

Luna sat upon her throne uncomfortably as the skeleton extended a hoof in her direction.

"I know we were much younger back then, but you are just as marvelous a pony still. You and I could live together forever among the peaceful souls in Elysium." His bleached bone hoof reached down and took up Luna's own, daintily raising it between them as she sat, wide-eyed and silent. "Never would you have to die by such cruel means as war or disease. Your soul and body would reside in my realm... the princess of night in eternal sleep..."

Death's glowing red eyes seemed almost gentle as they looked into Luna's. The princess was sweating bullets.

"…a serene and graceful Queen of Death."

"THAT IS ENOUGH!" Celestia brought her hoof down against the marble floor with a sound like thunder. Nopony would've been surprised if she'd cracked it. "Luna made it clear to you 1,000 years ago that she desired not your hoof in marriage, and I can tell from how she behaves in your presence that she still does not!" Death quickly retreated back to where he'd been standing before the dual thrones.

"Now begone, grim reaper!" Celestia stood, her eyes and mane seemingly ready to burst into flame. "And take your pall of darkness with you!"

Death lowered his head, though his eyes were locked on Celestia; he was angry, but knew he could do nothing to harm her. Not wanting to upset Luna, he quickly became his cloud of black smoke once more and whisked himself out of the throne room. The CMCs quickly trotted after him, hoping to calm him down and start on solving his Cutie Mark problem.

Celestia then quickly turned to her sister, putting a comforting hoof on her shoulder and wrapping her up in broad white wings. Twilight approached the throne with a few flaps of hers; Luna was breathing rapidly, and Celestia was doing her best to soothe her.

"Princess Luna, are you alright?" Twilight inquired. The princess was too busy hyperventilating to respond.

"She'll be alright, Twilight. Luna has had panic attacks ever since we were young, and I've learned how to treat them effectively."

"Really? I've never seen one before."

"They're brought about by... very specific circumstances." Celestia explained. "Usually traumatic memories do it, like being overtaken by Nightmare Moon."

"What exactly happened between Luna and Death?"

"That's something Luna is going to have to tell you about. I only know what little she has told me. Perhaps it would help her to talk to you or Starlight; I feel like she might be able to open up to somepony more removed from the whole situation."

Author's Note:

And we have a subplot!

PS: Thanks to hyreia for help editing and encouragement.