• Published 10th Jun 2021
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Celestia Goes West - DungeonMiner



Retirement has not been kind to Celestia. Pushed by boredom, she disguises herself as an average pony, and she heads west. Unfortunately, she's picked up a traveling companion that was not a part of the plan.

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Chapter 1

Silver Shoals breathed with the sounds of the ocean. The small, tight-knit community of a thousand-or-so ponies enjoyed quiet, easy living outside the reaches of the city of Vanhoover.

At least, they had, until about a year and a season ago, when the Ex-Princesses of Equestria moved into the old manor house on 15th and Cliffside. Since then, the town had suffered a near-constant influx of “tourists,” which continued to harass the manor house until the present day.

Between the paparazzi, the journalists, and the entire entourage of nobles that wished to mimic the old royalty and buy their own properties in the small, quiet town, Silver Shoals had no choice but to grow and upgrade. A few weeks ago, they finished building a Hay Burger, the new Barns and Noble bookstore went up three streets away, and a mall popped up across the street from that.

The town’s locals grumbled as the world seeped into their sleeping village but otherwise said nothing as modernity began to encroach. They still fished, sold seashells, and occasionally hosted sailors as they journeyed across the North Luna Ocean.

Celestia, once High Princess of Equestria, loved it. She enjoyed seeing the ponies she used to rule over succeed and grow in new ways, and she always marveled at the ingenuity of her little ponies.

At the same time, watching old traditions die left a bad taste in her mouth.

Sighing, she picked her head off the windowsill and left the solarium of Two Sisters Manor, at least that’s what the tourists called it.

The long hallways mimicked the grandeur of Canterlot Castle and had tall, arching ceilings that once were built to accommodate the sisters’ height. Of course, now they just felt strangely empty to the pair.

Her hooves echoed as they walked down the halls, where the windows opened up to the extensive, well-manicured gardens. She continued to walk down the long corridor before she finally turned the corner to see her room.

A bed, sized for her old height, sat against one wall next to a full-length mirror that now stood too tall and a chaise longue that now lay too long. Celestia glanced around the room for a long moment and nodded to herself. “It’s official,” she muttered. “I cannot take it any longer.”

She knew this moment was coming. She reached out with her magic and dug out a set of already-packed saddlebags from her closet. She checked the straps and then, setting the bags on her bed, about-faced, and walked out of the room.

The brilliant white alicorn sighed again as she meandered down the hallways, staring at her reflection in the mirror-finished tiles, revealing the mirrored gold above her. The days seemed to be growing longer by the hour, and the town’s limited by growing attractions had done little to lighten her mood.

Though watching everypony gasp as she sat in the audience of a tacky Las Pegasus magic show did make her grin from ear-to-ear for a good twenty minutes.

Celestia tried other little tricks to try and keep boredom at bay. She tried her hoof at fishing, though she didn’t see the appeal. The thought of brewing alcohol and opening a bar as a change of pace struck her once, but the possibility that it might get too much attention anyway put the alicorn off. She even tried to go to the Grand Galloping Gala as a guest instead of a host for once. Of course, that did little else than show Celestia that Twilight, her successor, still had a lot to learn.

Looking back, it should have been evident that Twilight would have issues working with a thief to better the kingdom. The mare had a very tight set of morals, which wasn’t a bad thing, but without the few thousand years of experience Celestia had on her, it could make certain facts harder to see. Then again, she’d heard that Twilight managed to learn her lessons just in time to save Night Silk’s job, which the old diarch chose to take as a good sign.

She passed by their open library, stuffed with books that she had read a good twenty times. She walked past the tea room, where her daily cup of oolong waited for her. She slipped by the kitchens, where she made waffles that morning. Again.

She probably could get back to learning how to actually cook something else for a change, but it didn’t hold any lasting appeal at the moment. No, she had a better idea.

Of course, she needed to present this idea carefully, but if anyone knew Luna and how to push her in the right direction, it was Celestia herself.

She turned the corner and stepped into Luna’s study, quickly saw her little sister, and made her declaration. “I want to go on vacation.”

Luna blinked as she turned to her sister and blinked. The younger alicorn, for some reason, had taken to her changes better than her older sister. While both had shrunk down to the height of an average pony, through means neither of them understood, Luna’s mane continued to shine like the night sky. Celestia’s own mane, however, slowly, almost imperceptibly began to bleed its colors away.

“And what would cause one to need a vacation from retirement, Dear Sister?” Luna asked, looking up from a book that sat on her desk. “I was under the impression that retirement was a point in time where one could do whatever one wished. A vacation seems counterproductive.”

“That’s not what I mean, Lulu,” Celestia sighed.

“Regardless of what thou mean, my question stands, why dost thou want to go on any kind of vacation?”

Celestia sighed before slumping into a nearby overstuffed chair. “Because I’m bored.”

Luna raised an eyebrow.

When the younger sister said nothing, Celestia opened her mouth to continue. “I have nothing to do, Luna. I’m used to running a country, taking care of affairs of state, holding court. I’m not used to having this much time on my hooves with so little to do.”

Luna returned to her book. “We’re several thousand years old. We’ve always had too much time on our hooves. In fact, until recently, I was convinced we were immortal and had nothing but time on our hooves.”

Celestia pouted. “But I have nothing to do, Luna,” she said, sniffing loudly and only a pinch over-dramatically.

Luna didn’t even look up from her reading. “Write a book, then. I’m sure the common ponies of the land would feast for the words of their once-diarch. For that point, why art thou asking me? Thou needs no permission.”

Celestia smiled. “I do, actually,” she said, crossing the room to huddle conspiratorially next to the midnight blue mare. “I do, actually,” she whispered, “because I’m talking about one of our old, old vacations.”

Luna blinked and sat up straight in her chair. “No,” she said.

“Oh, please!” Celestia said, pouting again, giving her sister her best puppy-dog eyes.

“It t’were a game, Celestia, and a horribly irresponsible one at that!”

“It was your idea,” Celestia noted.

“And a horribly irresponsible idea!” Luna repeated. “What thought has entered thy skull to make thee think such a thing?”

“It’s fine, Luna,” the elder said. “As you pointed out not that long ago, we’re retired. We don’t have any responsibilities to be irresponsible with.”

“And throwing thy life away is a better use of thy time?” Luna asked.

“I won’t be throwing my life away, Lulu,” Celestia said. “Half the time, we never ran into anything that dangerous.”

“And the other half?”

“Well...maybe,” she admitted, “but we don’t know if we’re immortal anymore. I could die right in the middle of this conversation anyway.”

“We never knew if we were immortal or not,” Luna said. “We just didn’t age. We still haven’t aged. We just grew smaller. We might live for another four thousand years. Still, that does not make the idea of actively seeking danger any better.”

“We’re still alicorns, Lulu. We used to hold the titles of Archmage Rulers. There’s not much that can be dangerous to us.”

“All of the spells in the world do not make you invincible if you disguise yourself as a pegasus.”

“Then I won’t disguise myself as a pegasus,” Celestia said.

Honestly, that point had been made far earlier than this conversation, back when Celestia still ruled. Occasionally, the elder Princess went out to see how her people lived from their point of view, using an amulet to change her appearance.

On her last trip, a particularly desperate pony stole the amulet and left Celestia as a pegasus and unable to change back.

That alone taught her the importance of having a way out.

Luna did not seem convinced. “This is a crazy idea, Tia, and thou know it to be true.”

“We had so much fun, Luna. We used to do so much good for the kingdom when we did this. Do you remember when we stopped the flood in Tall Tale when it was just a small mining town? Or how about that time we literally put Canterlot on the map before I had to move the Castle there. We used to go on adventures, Lulu! We used to masquerade as heroes and save the world as only we could. It kept us sharp, and ready, and—”

“And we lost most of it,” Luna said. “We lost the chance to be heroes since…” she fell silent, letting the sentence hang for a moment. The wound of Nightmare Moon still itched like an ugly scab, and neither of them wanted to talk about it when they didn’t have to.

“Elements or not,” Celestia said gingerly, “we were heroes. We can still do that now. Besides, this is probably the best way to help Twilight now that she’s on the throne. We can push in small, tiny ways and help deal with problems she’s not really aware of. We can be useful, Lulu. That’s all I want.”

Picking at the albatross that Luna insisted on carrying seemed to take the fight out of her, and the younger sister sighed, and Celestia felt a small stab of guilt.

Why did every other discussion lead back to that?

“Why don’t we talk about this later,” Celestia said.

“No, no, it’s fine,” Luna said. “Have thou at least planned this out?”

“I received an untainted Changeling amulet from King Thorax,” Celestia said, “Twilight finally sent it back, and I’m going to keep it on me at all times. Regardless, I’ll be disguising myself as a unicorn to cast a Transform Body spell on myself without it if I really need to. I’ll be heading south and then taking a boat westward with a few college students from the University of Canterlot heading out for an archeological dig of a Tenochtitlanian ruin. I’ll disembark with them and then play it by ear like we always have,” Celestia recited.

Luna sighed again. “Thou knowest that not having that amulet will make getting groceries hard.”

Celestia nodded. Leaving the manor did prove to get about a dozen reporters on either one of them, most asking about what they thought about Twilight’s rule or if they were thinking about retaking power. “I know, and I’m sorry. If it makes you feel better, I give you full permission to haunt their dreams if they bug you too much.”

Luna smiled a little at that. “Who says I haven’t?”

“Luna!” Celestia said with a frown. “That is not appropriate.”

“Thou just said I could!”

“I did, but that’s not the point!”

“A small nightmare never hurt anypony.”

Celestia rolled her eyes but smiled nonetheless. “You are so bad.”

“I should hope so,” Luna said. “I’d make for a terrible children’s monster otherwise, wouldn’t I?”

The joke barely landed, but Celestia smiled nonetheless.

“So what dost thou need of me, then?” Luna asked. “I certainly need not rule in thy stead.”

“No, no, I just need you to let everypony else know that I’m still here. Maybe writing that book you suggested.”

Luna nodded. “I suppose so. Thou best stay safe when thou art out there.”

“Of course,” Celestia replied before bringing her sister into a hug. “Just remember to use ‘you’ when you’re out there.”

Luna sighed as she hugged back. “It sounds so formal…why did language have to evolve like that?”

“Blame the nobles, Lulu.”

“I do,” she replied before giving her sister one last squeeze. “Thou wilt owe me for this one, thou realize?”

“I do.”

---☼---

When Celestia returned to her bedroom, a massive smile on her face, she immediately got to work. A basic drawing of the mare she wanted to become sat on a nearby desk, and her saddlebags with her pre-prepared supplies waited for her. The bags were filled almost exclusively with rations, though they did carry some rope, a folding hammock, a small tarp, a pot to boil water in, and a machete. She figured that these would be useful enough when heading to a jungle. After all, you never knew when you had to clear away some brush to make a small campsite.

This trip had been months in the making, with several day’s worths of planning, questioning, researching for an opportunity, and occasionally nudging some ponies in the right direction. It took a few favors to reach out to A. K. Yearling to spill the location of the ruin to the college and then a few thousand bits to convince the University of Canterlot to send a team out there to investigate appropriately. This trip had given her more to do than any simple hobby. This was it.

Now all she had to do was determine the name and spells her little alter ego would have. Sure, Celestia knew all five forms and five techniques, she could cast basically any spell that existed across the entire breadth of Equestria, but if she had those, then there wasn’t really a point to disguising herself, would there?

Transform was already out the window. Arguably one of the most dangerous Techniques, Celestia and now Twilight, controlled access to this particular word to trusted members of society, who had all been carefully checked and registered. Showing up with those spells would only raise questions.

Control and Matter had to be in her disguise’s repertoire. Unicorns tended to learn these words innately and cast the basic telekinesis spell through them.

This left her only Create, Destroy, and Perceive for her Techniques, and Body, Mind, Image, and Energy for her forms. Create had some appeal to it. Combining the Technique with Mind, she could recreate intrusive thoughts or mimic someone’s intuition, not to mention sending mental messages to other ponies.

Of course, Celestia never really liked Mind magic for that exact reason. In fact, she made sure that most ponies could recognize when someone was casting it on them through various state-sponsored training classes. So that was probably out, despite how useful it would be to keep ponies from doing something stupid around her.

Energy was a good reason to try and keep Create spells in her metaphorical deck of cards. Working with pure magic, fire, lightning, and more had an appeal, mainly because it meant that she wouldn’t need to use a flint and steel to start a fire at night.

The ex-princess tapped her chin as she mulled it over before she sighed. She’d figure it out later. If she wanted to get started today, she needed to catch her train.

She slipped on the amulet and used its incredibly effective Transform Body spell to alter her physical shape. Her wings disappeared, her horn grew shorter, and her unique alicorn figure slipped away to something more average.

She chose an athletic form, more suitable for running around in the far-flung jungles of the Equestrian frontier, but nothing too extreme. Her alter ego needed to be practical but not explicitly crafted for danger and swashbuckling. A normal mare, maybe one that spent enough time on the track as she did in the library, but still normal.

The spell burned away her old form in a flash of green fire, and Celestia smiled before she looked to the far-too-big mirror. A simple, pale yellow mare with bright, pale magenta eyes and a pale turquoise mane stared back at her. She looked nothing like Celestia did. She appeared far more relaxed for one and possibly carried a little too much pep in her step. This new mare had none of the noble bearing to possibly be ex-royalty.

Perfect.

Now suitably disguised, she made one last check over her materials. Satisfied after one final rummage through her bags, she pulled them down over her back, tightened the strap, and walked back out of her room to give Luna one last hug goodbye.

She trotted down the massive hallways, smiling wider than she had in weeks, and hummed a quiet tune despite herself.

“This mare is perhaps a little too optimistic,” Celestia thought to herself. “Smiling all the time and looking on the bright side of things. She’s going to be so much fun.”

As long as she didn’t step on stage, she’d be golden.

Ahead of her, Luna stepped out of her study and paused as she watched the strange mare nearly skipping down the hall.

“So, what do you think?” Celestia asked in her own voice.

“Art thou going to use your actual voice?”

“I might.”

Luna shook her head. “Have fun, Tia.”

“I will, Luna,” she said before giving her younger sister one more hug. “Try and make some friends while I’m gone.”

Luna groaned.

“I’m serious, now,” Celestia said as she stepped away.

Luna waved her off.

Celestia smirked before she cast a teleportation spell.

She disappeared from the hallways and appeared a few blocks away.

From now on, she was a completely different person. She was no longer Celestia, not a Princess, or even an ex-Princess.

She was…

She was Sunny Smiles.

Sure, it wasn’t the most original name, but it couldn’t be worse than Trixie Lulamoon. What even was a Trixie?

And so, without another word, Sunny Smiles made her way toward the train station. Her vacation had officially begun.