• Published 23rd Sep 2021
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The Only Mark That Matters - CocktailOlive

The story of Radish Root, a pony with obscene cutie marks.

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11. The Moon

Dear Radish,

It’s great that you’ve been making new friends in the palace. I’m starting to realize how many friends I could have made during all the time I spent there. I’m glad that I made at least one before I left.

Now that I’m a librarian, sharing books is one of my most favorite ways of breaking the ice with a stranger- which, as Pinkie Pie says, is just another word for a friend you haven’t met!

Radish rolled his eyes, then continued reading.

I’ve included in this package a wide variety of books for your friend. Don’t worry about returning them- these are from my own collection, and you can consider them a gift. Let me know which ones your friend likes the most!

Your Pen Pal,

Twilight Sparkle

Radish entered Selenic Spire and met the duty officer at his desk.

“Ah, finally. Princess Luna has been asking after you since she woke up.”

“But she knows my schedule, right? I always start thirty minutes before sunset.”

“Oh, I love to tell princesses they’re too impatient. And they love to hear it, too.”

“Yes, sir.”

“What’cha got there?” he asked, pointing to Radish’s saddlebags.

“She mentioned wanting some new books. Twilight Sparkle sent me a whole bunch.”

“I’ll need to check them.”

Radish piled the books on his desk. The duty officer went through them. He picked up a pulp jungle adventure novel with a gold pegasus on the cover.

“Too intense for her.”

He put it aside. He picked up a gothic ghost story.

“Too reminiscent of Nightmare Moon.”

He put it aside. He picked up a war epic.

“Too intense, and too reminiscent of Nightmare Moon.”

“Are we allowed to censor Lady Sparkle’s gifts to Princess Luna?”

“Censor? Who’s censoring?” he said, putting most of the books in his drawer and closing it. “But the rest of these are fine.”

Radish put the remaining books in his bag and climbed to Luna’s hall. As he entered, her door creaked open.

“Guardstallion Root, to our side.”

“Yes, princess.”

He entered her room. She looked at him expectantly.

"Okay," he said, and started to unbuckle his armor.

"Nay, we need not the levity of thy cutie marks tonight," she said. "For tonight, we-"

She noticed his saddlebags.

“What dost thou have in thy satchels?”

“Oh! You mentioned wanting some new books. A friend sent me some.”

Radish opened his saddlebags and arranged the books on one of Luna’s tables. She stared at their covers, one by one.

“Boarding school adventure tales? A biography of a mathematician? A detective story set at a racetrack? Guardstallion Root, thy friend’s tastes are wanting.”

“Hmm. Sorry.”

“Make sure you tell them that.”


“What’s this one?”

She picked up a dark purple book and stared at the illustration on its cover, then flipped to its back. Radish recalled it being some kind of courtly romance tale of knights and high-class ladies.

“This… may keep our interest. Thank you, guardstallion. Thy gift is appreciated.”

“You’re welcome.”

She looked at the longcase clock against the wall.

“‘Tis about time to begin. Guardstallion Root, we have important business tonight. Dost thou know our unique talent?”

“Raising the moon?”

“Indeed. That duty has fallen to our sister lo these past thousand years. We are now ready to assume that function once more.”

“That’s wonderful!”

“Truly. But now we need our technique assessed. We must know the opinion of the common pony. Watch us raise the moon, and provide critique. Behold it now.”

She trotted onto her balcony, and Radish followed. Luna’s horn glowed with a deep indigo aura. The moon flew from below the horizon and stopped high in the sky. Luna turned to Radish.


“I kind of wish it was… slower.”

“Slower? Thou wish ponykind to see us perform our duties lazily? Hesitantly? Feebly?”

“No, it’s just that… I like seeing it in motion. I don’t like it when I just blink and miss it.”

“So, ‘tis a spectacle you desire. And Celestia raises it too fast for thy liking?”


“And she handles the sun the same way?”

“Yes, it just pops up. But you can’t look at the sun, anyway.”

Luna looked at the moon.

“Then we have this advantage over Celestia. Our talent may be looked upon in wonder, while all eyes must shun hers. We have never considered this.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Now, behold- we will attempt anew.”

She thrust the moon back down below the horizon. Then, she closed her eyes and concentrated. Her horn glowed again, but softer.

The moon rose up elegantly. It slowed as it approached its apex, and stopped so gently, Radish had to keep staring to make sure it was done moving.

“Is it to thine liking?”

“That was amazing. I’ve never seen it like that before.”

“We are in agreement. The moon is beautiful, and should move gracefully, like a partner in a dance. The sun is utilitarian, like a common wall sconce. Let Celestia spring her sun on ponies, with its demands of daily toil. The moon will rise gently as a song, calling to all that beautiful night is upon them.”

“That’s why ponies love the moon. The gentleness. The peace and quiet. It means they don’t have to do anything but sleep.”

“This is the lesson we needed. We had once believed that sleeping ponies were shunning our night. But they were truly enjoying it to the fullest, were they not? Radish Root, if thou had been at our side a thousand years ago, telling us so, we may not have fallen into darkness.”

“Oh! That’s very nice of you to say, your highness.”

“Now, as a reward, thou may sit by our side upon this balcony. We will enjoy the peace and quiet together, until Celestia once again flings her baleful sun skyward, disrupting the perfect beauty of night.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“You are welcome, Radish Root. Now, the peace and quiet.”

Radish sat in the chair next to Luna’s. He took in the sky, with its wisps of cloud sailing slowly overhead. The moon shone brightly, illuminating the palace grounds.

He took in the palace. Even at night, it’s beauty was overwhelming. Other guards on other, lesser night shifts patrolled the walls and courtyards. Crickets chirped far below in the palace commons, while a nighthawk called overhead.

He took in Canterlot, seeing ponies buzzing about the streets. They milled about on sidewalks, pulled and rode taxis, and sat drinking at outdoor dining tables.

“Radish Root, we must break the peace and quiet. Look at how the night has changed. Ponies now inhabit it as they do in the day.”

“It’s nightlife, your highness. It’s the weekend. Ponies enjoy going out at night these days. They go to bars, clubs, movies, and all kinds of other things.”

“Dost thou partake in this… ‘nightlife’?”

“Well, I don’t get out much. And it’s hard for me to be in public.”


“I’m always afraid somepony is going to see… you know.”

Luna looked at him with curiosity.

“My cutie marks.”

“We had not considered. Even to modern pony sensibilities, they are a disgrace?”

“Uh… well… yes.”

“That is regrettable. If those nightlife ponies knew thee as we do, they would have no compunctions about thy company.”

“Wow, thank you, Princess Luna,” Radish said, blushing.

He waved his hooves out at the world.

“I wish they all could know you better, too.”

“Then we are of the same mind. We have plans for a public coming out.”

“Really? Soon?”

“We will debut ourselves at the upcoming Grand Galloping Gala. There is much to accomplish before then. We have many powers to regain. Our body itself is still in a weakened form.”

“I’ll help you any way I can.”

“Of course. It is thy duty. Now, we return to the peace and quiet.”

Radish sat back in his chair, watching the world. Luna perched forward in hers, observing it.

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