• Published 14th Dec 2020
  • 3,879 Views, 163 Comments

Of Dragons and Maternity - SymphonicSync

When Twilight visits Ponyville to prepare for the summer sun celebration, her assistant Spike develops a crush.

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(10) Relics

"You're wearing hundreds of pounds of gold, how can you be broke?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"I can't just pawn off my regalia, they are an Equestrian relic." Celestia responded. She smirked and leaned closer to the filly.

"Besides, how else am I to keep my royal figure?" Spike and the princess spoke in unison.

Spike laughed at the princess' annoyed expression. "It's not my fault your humor was part of Twilight's studies on antiquities."

Sweetie let out a singular "Ha!" before covering her mouth and flashing a guilty look.

Celestia made note of how Spike's smug visage softened at the foal's reaction. It wasn't like him to seem ashamed of his quips.

Perhaps his new friend had made him nervous. She'd expected Twilight to be the one in need of encouragement. "Would you rather listen to my jokes or one of Cadence's speeches about the power of hope? I'm sure that she'd be more than willing to answer if I sent along a little call..." Blazing gold runes awoke in the air, forming a circle in front of the mare. The unicorn's eyes went wide as she traced every motion. Celestia thought back to her time with Starswirl and all the things she'd seen him do prior to learning the spells herself. Fascination was such a wonderful aspect of youthful.

Spike tossed up his claws and turned to the side. "You, any day of the week. Calling Cadance, come on, I thought they banned torture."

Good, Celestia smirked. Her 'niece' had told her something about being busy today and she would have hated to interrupt.

"You know Cadance!?" Sweetie Belle's voice cut through the air. Celestia felt a ping of pride; the filly's reaction to the second monarch had not reached the same volume as with herself. "That's so cool, can we talk to her? I've got so many questions!" The ping faded. The filly had not been so enthused to interact with Celestia.

"We'd better not," Celestia abdicated, "she has many duties to tend to." Such as gallivanting around the continent, keeping her head of security on leave for months at a time to keep her safe between speeches. Why was Shining Armor needed for that again, anyway?

"Oh, okay."

The drake peered at Sweetie's dejected face and frowned, as if to question his stance against Cadance. Celestia sighed and resolved to shift the topic back on its previous track. "To tell you the truth, I am in a spot of bother when it comes to finances." She quelled the urge to refer to it as her allowance, like some sort of school-filly. Like how Luna and she had called it for decades. Hopefully that would derail both childrens' current attitudes.

"But you're a princess," Sweetie objected, "you live in a castle!"

"The ponies of Equestria own the castle. While I do collect a salary from my work as royalty, it's... Meager."

"Meager?" Spike questioned.

"Are you familiar with inflation?"

"Oh, ooh!" Sweetie Belle sat straight up on her stool and waved her hoof in the air. "I know this one! Cheerilee talked about it in class last year," Spike's face flushed at her mention of school, "it's where bits buy less stuff as time goes on."

Celestia tilted her head in curiosity. "Your teacher is covering economics?"

"No, she was just complaining about rent."

"Ah, of course. Yes, bits mean less over time and you see, my salary was set in the year..." Celestia thought back over the centuries, trying to recall the events recent to the congressional motions of the time, "8? Maybe 9? It was just after our regent passed on full authority." She hid the sadness that came with thinking of those days in the wake of Starswirl's vanishing. Her and Luna had been thrust into quite the precarious arrangement looming over the fledgling nation.

Spike rested his elbows on the table. "How much do you make, then?"

"It was quite exorbitant at the time, I assure you. It was meant to be used to requisition the services of any number of ponies should the need arise."

"How much?"

"Somewhere in the order of thirty." Celestia said flatly.


She shook her head.

"Hundred?" Sweetie Belle's voice was a mix of hope that would prove the answer and fear that it would not. Again, Celestia shook her head.

"Only thirty!?" The filly cried out. "Rarity gave me ten bits this morning just for the market!"

"It's not just the value; Bits were larger back then. It was the practice to cut coins down to pay smaller costs," Celestia instructed, "To present a pony with a fresh, solid gold bit was almost a luxury. It faded away as the economy was stabilized across the three tribes."

"So why do you still have it?"

"It was forgotten with time," like sisters, her mind told her, "as the need faded and everyone subscribed to the new government. There's other, more important topics for the senate to discuss than some archaic payment plan."

"Well, you're archaic too but they still-" Spike held his comment as the door handle turned. Mrs. Cake entered the room carrying two ice cream cones and a small plate. She hoofed the cones to Spike and Sweetie Belle before setting the plate in front of Celestia.

"Is there anything else I can get for y'all?"

"Thank you, Mrs. Cake!" Sweetie Belle answered.

The princess's wings ruffled. "Oh dear, have I still been calling you Ms. Swirl?"

"It's quite alright," Mrs. Cake ran a hoof over the bits on the table, sweeping them into her apron, "it reminds me of the first time you came to town." She walked to the town and leaned back inside as she grabbed the handle. "I'm going to open the shop back up, feel free to stay in here as long as you'd like." The door closed, leaving the three of them the room's only occupants.

Celestia examined her plate. On it sat several pieces of hard, gold tinged candies with green stars painted on. Her aura surrounded one and lifted it up to her mouth. It had the distinct taste of pineapples...

"Celestia?" She heard Sweetie Belle say her name.

She shook her head and looked at the filly. "Sorry, were you saying something?"

Sweetie nodded. "Spike said that you were archaic too, but ponies still think you're important. You should bring it up, you deserve more pay for what you do." She licked the side of her scoops of ice cream. After a moment of pondering, Sweetie asked, "What does archaic mean?"

"Nostalgic!" Spike blurted out before he buried his face in his ice cream cone. He waited until Sweetie accepted his definition to swallow and go back to talking. He looked back at her and asked, "Hey, Celestia. Are you... Alright?"

"Hm?" the alicorn brushed a hoof over her eyes. "Yes, of course. These are just, very tart candies. That's all." A new memory surfaced, one of a grown mare and a dragon hatchling standing among piles of gold. Caught with their metaphorical hoofs in the cookie jar as the treasurer filled out a bill for the gems she'd allowed the drake to pick out, 'As my royal bedtime snack'. She couldn't tell what was worse; that she was still paying off some of those jewels, or that Spike should recognize the sound of her lying.

Pineapples always had been her favorite.

"It has been quite the morning with you two," Celestia grabbed her empty purse and slid it back under her yoke, "but I fear it is time to face the music. The day court should be opening soon enough." She stood, walking to the door. "It's been a pleasure meeting you Sweetie Belle, and Spike, tell Twilight just how proud I am of her."

"I will," Spike promised, "it was good seeing you again."

"Do you really have to go so soon?" Sweetie pleaded.

Celestia nodded and smiled. "Yes, how else am I to ask for my raise?"

"I hope you get it!"

Celestia opened the door. "Goodbye for now, Sweetie, Spike." She crossed the main room of the store, weaving between gawking towns ponies and their startled children. Not more than two steps into the street was she approached by her two escorts.

"Princess, thank-the-sun we found you." one of them muttered.

"Welcome." Celestia looked them over before inquiring "Why are you not in uniform?"

"We," one of the pair stuttered, glancing to their partner before drooping his head, "we couldn't find our armor..."

"Well obviously you didn't search my room well enough while looking for me." She cast down a disapproving glare as the stallions looked to one-another in worry. A moment later, she began to laugh. "Oh my little colts, go find it already. I'll see you back in Canterlot."

A blazing sphere surrounded her and Ponyville vanished in an instant. Normally Celestia would not resort to teleportation to escape her security detail, but she needed some time alone before returning to her official duties.

The world around her was dark and arid. The landscape was spotted with small, flat topped trees. The Zehara was beautiful at this time of night.

A tear rolled down her cheek as she peered at the moon.

"I faltered, earlier. I said 'Our regent', sister."

The night air was cold and silent.

"It hurts, truly, to think that nopony knows of you. That I'm the only one who misses your presence. I don't regret the censor, or the fake story in that day..."

A gentle wind rolled over her, chilling her dampened cheeks.

"I just couldn't bear the thought of ponies hating you, the real you."

She ran a fetlock across her face, wiping away the evidence of her penitence.

"I'll keep on missing you, for now. Until you return. I love you, Luna."

The night erupted in flame and Celestia felt her hooves fall onto marble floors. She cantered the short ways to her meeting hall throne and sat in wait.

The court used to be more bearable with a partner.