• 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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49. The Wedding, Part 2: Preparations

“Hey, there’s the hot shot!” said the duty officer in Luna’s tower. “Defender of the Spire, himself!”

Radish saluted. “I’m here to see Princess Luna.”

“Go on up. She’s expecting you.”

Luna’s bedroom door unlocked and opened itself as Radish approached. He entered to find Luna at the balcony gazing at the city through her telescope.

“Lieutenant Root, I have been informed of your duty,” she said without turning. “Congratulations. Cadance must have been greatly impressed by your record.”

“Thank you, ma’am. Can you tell me what’s going on?”

She turned and nodded. “This time, I can. I sought out Harold and found him in the deepest, darkest depths of the dreamlands. But he was not merely lost- he was being held captive.”

“Captive!? By what?”

“A very powerful, very malevolent entity. Harold had stumbled across its dream- a dream of conquering Canterlot.”

“Discord?”

“Nay. This was a creature unlike any I’ve known- shapeless and elusive. It was interrogating Harold for information on Canterlot, the palace, and Celestia, using frightening imagery to torture him to his breaking point.”

Radish frowned. “Is he okay?”

“He did not break.” Luna looked out toward the infirmary. “Harold refused to give up even the smallest detail. I must admit, he was quite valiant.”

“So this entity didn’t learn anything?”

“Nay. But neither did I. It vanished as I stepped forth to confront it. Likely, it woke up. I conveyed Harold to a safe place in the dreamlands. He is still unconscious, but he will have pleasant dreams until he awakens.”

“That was very kind of you. Thank you, princess.”

“I was merely doing my duty as the Princess of the Night. But we are left with a problem- somewhere out there is a creature that dreams of attacking Canterlot. I believe its attack is imminent, and the threat it poses is severe. Thus, I called for this heightened security level.”

“You can count on the Guard to stop this thing, princess, whatever it is.”

“Thank you Radish,” she said, looking out the balcony to the shield barrier. “Shining Armor’s shield is quite impressive. With him on duty, we should be quite well-protected.”

“And we have the Elements of Harmony on-site,” said Radish, encouragingly, “with those, AG1 can beat anyone.”

“True, they have proven themselves to be reliable, if unconventional, protectors.” She turned to Radish. “You’ve now conversed with Cadance?”

“Yes ma’am. She’s, uh, very friendly. I don’t know much about her. I didn’t even know she existed until recently.”

“I’ve only met her twice since my return, but we’ve maintained regular correspondence. She has spent the last few years at the University of Mountreal, working toward a cardiology degree. She wants to heal hearts, both literally and metaphorically. It is admirable that one of her station chooses so demanding a path.”

Luna grinned.

“It was quite a shock when Celestia told me that there was another alicorn princess, and that she had adopted her as a niece, making her my niece as well. I never thought I’d have one.”

She made a short, mirthful snort.

“That means I soon will be family with Shining Armor, Twilight Sparkle, Spike, and all their relatives as well! I returned as Nightmare Moon completely alone, but I now have a growing family. It is wonderful.”

She smiled sweetly. Her eyes shone.

“Think of it! Celestia and I may soon be celebrating Hearth’s Warming at a full table! I’d almost forgotten what that is like. Celestia was by herself for a millennium. It was just the two of us for so long before that.”

She took a step toward Radish.

“Lieutenant, why not court Twilight Sparkle? If the two of you were to wed, you and I would be family, as well!”

Radish chortled. “She’s destined for someone a lot better than me. I think she’ll end up with some great wizard, or a dashing prince charming. Besides, I’m brethren with the bat ponies, so I’m already like a… son to you?”

Radish didn’t like the sound of that as it came out of his mouth. Luna frowned and shook her head.

“Radish, I am no mother to the bat ponies. I forced my way into their lives through acts of cruelty.”

“Nightmare Moon did that. They’ve all forgiven you.”

“Forgiveness does not undo the deed. Though I am happy that your parents have taken them in. They are doing well?”

“You bet! Ma and Pa have taught them which bugs are good for the farm and which ones are best to gobble up. We’ve got the most parasite-free farm in the Flint Steppes.”

“Excellent. Now, about my tower…”

“Yes. Princess Cadenza is worried about the valuable artifacts you keep here. If you could tell me about them…”

“I have no such things. Nightmare Moon purloined all my artifacts for her own purposes.”

“Then, if someone broke in here, what’s the first thing you’d be worried about them stealing?” asked Radish.

Luna looked around.

“Hmm, perhaps some of the paintings? Custom furniture? Imported soaps? I am sorry, Radish, I do not have much that would interest a burglar.”

“That’s good, I guess. You can enjoy the wedding with peace of mind.”

“I am sorry you will have to work during the wedding.”

“It’s my duty.”

Luna smiled. “It is a shame. I would have liked to have shared another dance with you.”

Radish’s heart did a flip. “But… isn’t a princess dancing with a guard a scandal?”

She laughed. “In my day, it was. But it seems the world has moved on. I’ve been informed that anypony may now dance with anypony. I think that is an improvement.”

“Princess, I think you should stop thinking of a thousand years ago as ‘your day’. You’re here, now. This is your day.”

“Thank you, Radish. But Saturday is Cadance’s day, at least.”

“I’ll do my part to make sure nothing goes wrong.”

“I will save you a slice of cake. And… perhaps we may still share a dance after?”

Radish’s heart tripped over itself. “I… I’d like that.”

“Good.”


Radish patrolled the entertainment quarter. He tried to picture just how many ponies would be filling the palace campus on Saturday. It was daunting.

“Radish!” called a familiar voice. Radish turned to see Twilight Sparkle rushing up to him.

“Twilight! Good to see you. And congratulations! You’re about to become part of the royal family!”

“Crazy, isn’t it? I didn’t even know Shining and Cadance were dating.”

“You didn’t?”

“What, you did?” she asked.

“Yeah, all us guards did.”

“Really? You never said anything.”

“Well, now we’re even for you never telling me that there was another alicorn princess in the world. And that she was your foalsitter.”

“I thought everypony knew about Cadance.”

“I didn’t.”

“I guess we should talk more often.”

“How’s everything going?” asked Radish.

“Oddly. Cadance was acting strange today. It’s like she barely remembers me. And she seemed a bit… haughty. She used to be the nicest pony ever.”

“She was rather nice to me. She trusts me to guard Selenic Spire all by myself during the wedding.”

“You're working during the wedding? That can't be right. You're one of my best friends! You should be at our table."

“That’s the life of a guard, Twilight. Sometimes you miss out on the fun."

"What’s even in there worth guarding?”

“Not sure. But even if someone just wants to steal Luna’s socks, I won’t let them.”

“She wears socks?”

“Sometimes. They’re really cute striped ones.”

“Uh…”

“Never mind. I didn’t say that. So, you’re best mare, huh?”

“Yeah. I’m about to check on what everyone’s doing. Everything’s moving so fast. Plus, there’s this nebulous threat. Do you know anything more about it?”

“Not really,” Radish said, looking up at the pink-tinted sky. “But whatever it is can’t get through the barrier.”

“Hmm. What if it's already inside?”

“Then us guards will handle it.”

“At least you’re confident.”

“We’re the best of the best, Twi. And your brother is the best of us."

"Yeah. He's a great BBBFF."

"A what?"

“Big brother best friend forever! I've got a whole song about it, if you'd like to hear it.”

“I should get back to work.”

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