• Published 8th Oct 2012
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Blueblood: Hero of Equestria - Raleigh



Like all heroes, Blueblood will always do the right thing... after he has exhausted every other option.

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Bloodstained (Part 1)

Bloodstained

Prince Blueblood and the Siege of Fort E5150

I must admit the popularity of these Manuscripts, which I have been dutifully compiling and editing from the hodgepodge of rough notes and scribbling that I found scattered inside Blueblood’s safe, is rather surprising despite their rather limited circulation. What had started as a small hobby for me to while away a particularly boring weekend has now developed into a fully fledged project, with aims to collect and publish Blueblood’s memoirs in their entirety within our rather close circle. Though I do have aims to release these texts to the general public once all living memory of these events has passed, excepting myself and my fellow immortals naturally, which should be within the next couple of centuries or so.

To this end I present the third entry in the Manuscript, which details the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Black Venom Pass and the Siege of Fort E5150 (colloquially known by its nickname as ‘Fort Nowhere’). This particular text neatly rounds off the ‘trilogy’ that describes Blueblood’s meteoric and rather unwanted rise to fame, which culminated in the climax of this siege which has since passed on into myth and legend. Indeed, the image of Blueblood standing triumphant amidst the destruction of the battle, and putting himself in harm’s way between mortal danger and a pony very dear to my heart (in typical fashion he says this was entirely accidental and done in the heat of the moment), has formed an enduring propaganda icon that has burrowed its way into the Equestrian subconscious.

It should be noted that Blueblood is not necessarily the most reliable of chroniclers; however, I am inclined to accept his depiction of these events as absolutely true for the most part, and therefore have largely left the original text alone. As per the previous entries I have annotated this entry to clarify certain points or expand upon the historiography of the events described, considering how he tends to focus entirely upon things that concerned him to the exclusion of virtually all else around him. Despite the involvement of myself, my sister, and my faithful student Twilight Sparkle in the events described I have resisted the foalish urge to edit the text to make myself appear better.

-HRH Celestia, Princess of Equestria



Part One

If there is one thing that I’ve learned over the course of my long and fraudulent career, other than that I am in a small minority of ponies who aren’t utterly and irrevocably insane, is that any military operation advertised as being simple and easy is very unlikely to be so. The senior echelons of the Royal Guard were still plagued with the sense of rather irritating and misplaced optimism, even after the near annihilation of the 3rd Solar Guard Regiment in the Battle of Black Venom Pass, which they regarded as merely being a slight setback. Field Marshal Iron Hoof and his subordinates were still under the peculiar misapprehension that the war was not only winnable, but could be done so within the vague timeframe of ‘before Hearth’s Warming’.

It was roughly a week since the battle, and the Princesses were coming on an official royal visit to the encampment at Dodge Junction, which would entail a tour of the encampment and a delightful tea party for which all of the senior officers of the five regiments there were invited (at least, the ones who had survived were invited). I had been given the somewhat unwanted pleasure of forming part of the honour guard to greet the Royal Pony Sisters, which, as far as I could remember from my previous service in the Royal Guard, involved everypony dressing up in a pristine uniform and standing very still as Auntie Celestia compliments each and every guardspony on how smart and wonderful they look. It was a particularly warm day too, with nary a cloud in the bright blue sky to provide any cooling shade from Celestia’s sun which, in its mercy, was in danger of giving the guardsponies heatstroke as we waited in the parade ground.

Compared to the usual display of pomp and circumstance that occurs with most normal royal visits, ours seemed to be rather lacklustre, but I assumed we could be forgiven due to the unpleasant heat wave, the fact we had only been given a day to prepare, and, of course, the fact that we’re still in a state of total war. The Changelings had been rather quiet recently, but in a rather uncharacteristic display of sensible caution Field Marshal Iron Hoof was taking no chances. The garrison at Maredun remained on high alert, gazing watchfully down through the valley for signs of an approaching Changeling horde, while the Dodge Junction Encampment remained in a permanent state of readiness to provide much needed reinforcement if it looked as if the castle might be overrun.

I was feeling rather impatient, fidgeting nervously and awkwardly on the parade ground as I watched the thin sliver of gold that was the Princesses’ royal chariot approach with an agonising slowness and blatant disregard for urgency. Sweat was pouring down my body, forming rather unsightly stains in the folds of my uniform and sticking to my matted fur. I had long since given up with my normal grooming regimen beyond what was mandatory for a pony in the Royal Guard to maintain a basic level of sanitation, largely because I no longer had an hour of free time a day to bathe and clean myself, but also the oppressive heat and my daily exercise and training made my daily ablutions rather pointless, for in a few hours my efforts would be nullified by the grime and dirt accumulated as a result of that.

The honour guard was formed of two platoons; one from the Night Guards and led by Captain Red Coat, and the other from the 1st Solar Guard and led by Shining Armour, which were arrayed three ranks on the parade square. An ensign from each regiment held aloft their regimental standards, which hung limply in the still air. The ponies wore their dress uniforms; a crimson red tunic with white sashes for the Solar Guard, a midnight blue tunic with white sashes for the Night Guard. I was unique in this respect, for my dress uniform just so happened to be exactly the same as my combat uniform, mess dress, and off-duty dress, which, while it did save on time getting dressed for different social events, was not especially practical when it came to combat.

Traditionally, the Night Guard contingent should have been led by Colonel Sunshine Smiles, but considering Red Coat’s rather fragile emotional state I thought it best to give him something that was relatively important but also rather simple to do to help rebuild the lad’s confidence. The adolescent officer, who, at just seventeen years old, I believed to be much too young for the Royal Guard let alone being given a position of authority, stood next to me and watched the skies intently. Since Black Venom Pass he had become rather more quiet and withdrawn, prone to ‘spacing out’ as it were, but still maintained the facade of cheeriness and youthful exuberance. Ordinarily I’d have left him to it, but looking after the soldiers’ wellbeing was my responsibility and it would not have been conducive to my continued existence if he were to have a breakdown in the middle of combat.

At the moment he seemed to be coping well, perhaps even a little excited at the prospect of meeting the Princesses for the first time. I couldn’t blame him, even I was looking forward to seeing my dear Auntie Celestia again, Luna perhaps less so but I had hoped that my recent alleged heroism in Black Venom Pass had at least made her tolerate my presence, but I like to believe I was doing a better job of maintaining that aristocratic detachment expected of all officers. Red Coat, however, couldn’t seem to stand still and instead jittered from hoof to hoof as if he was in desperate need of the loo.

“Have you ever met either of the Princesses?” I asked, if only to alleviate my own boredom.

Red Coat thankfully stopped hopping like a constipated foal and shook his head, “Not in person, no, but Princess Luna did deliver a speech when I graduated from the Academy with my commission.” He rubbed at his floppy ears with a hoof, “Do you think I should have brought my earplugs?”

I chuckled, “I don’t think that’s necessary, she’s learned to use her indoor voice now.”

The speck in the sky was now close enough to be identifiable as a large chariot pulled by a team of four pegasi. The golden chariot banked lazily towards us, circling above the town and gradually losing height in preparation to land. I questioned the reason why my aunties, the both of them being alicorns and possessing fully functioning wings, needed the services of a sky chariot. I supposed it was to make some sort of grand regal entrance, but it just came across as being rather lazy to me.

“But we’re outdoors,” said Cannon Fodder, who had hitherto been silently standing at his usual position just behind me and slightly to the left or right. I glanced over my shoulder to see the same gormless and blank expression on his face that implied he was, in fact, being sincere and not trying to be facetious. Of course, he was entirely incapable of using or even recognising sarcasm.

The royal chariot drifted down towards us gracefully with a gentle flutter of the four pegasi’s wings. The ornate craft, built out of gold and studded with glistening jewels and gem stones, descended and landed gently upon the flat dusty ground before us. Though they were likely exhausted from their flight, the pegasi charioteers pulled the heavy vehicle forth proudly, their powerful muscular bodies heaving and panting with the exertion.

As with everything involving my dear Auntie ‘Tia, the craft was ostentatious to the point of vulgarity. For starters it was almost entirely made out of burnished gold, which scintillated in the burning midday sun, and the myriad gem stones embedded across its prow cast bright multi-coloured light into the assembled array of the honour guards. The ornate prow was emblazoned with the ancient coat of arms of Equestria that illustrated the union between the sun and moon; the golden sun, carved out of amber, lying in the embrace of the crescent moon, here represented by a curved sliver of diamond that reflected bright light rather painfully into my eyes. From this armoured prow, a pair of wings swept gracefully over the fuselage of the chariot, though in my humble opinion the effect was somewhat ruined by the gems placed in a seemingly haphazard manner. Of all the chariots in the Royal Chariot Fleet that she had to use, it had to be the one most likely designed by a blind pony for whom sartorial elegance and practicality was only a suggestion.

[My chariot is not made out of solid gold, but is actually gold-plated. If it were made out of solid gold it would be far too heavy for my pegasi to pull. I must admit, that particular chariot is not one of my favourites, but it is the only one large enough to accommodate myself and my sister.]

Princess Celestia, diarch of Equestria and Goddess of the Sun, sat at the reins of the chariot with an expression of serene regal detachment on her face. By her side sat Luna, who, as ever, wore that permanent scowl on her face as if she had just bitten into an apple and discovered half a worm inside.

“Honour guard!” cried Shining Armour as the chariot touched down before us. “Ah-tenn-SHUN!”

Behind me I heard, no, ‘felt’ is more appropriate a word, dozens of hooves slamming into the ground behind me. The quiet banter and laughter was silenced as the guardsponies snapped to attention, the well-ingrained discipline of their training over-riding their ‘normal’ behaviour. The only sound audible was the faint, ever-present murmur of activity in the encampment beyond, and the impatient stamping and whinnying of the four pegasi pulling the chariot, who could probably have been excused from making the necessary obeisance to the Princesses after having dragged them across Equestria for the past couple of hours.

“Honour guard! Kneel!”

As one the assembled guardsponies prostrated themselves before our Princesses. The ensigns respectfully lowered their regimental standards to the dusty ground before royalty, as tradition dictated. I knelt too, though technically as a member of the Royal Family a simple nodding of my head in their general direction would have sufficed, I felt that I should give the appropriate reverence required of our two Goddesses. Besides, I didn’t want to stand out by being the only one still standing up, so like everypony else knelt down and pressed my nose into the dust.

The reverent and sacred mass obeisance before our Princesses, however, was rather rudely shattered by a certain purple baby dragon.

“Finally!” I heard him shout, and I dared to raise my head prematurely to see Twilight Sparkle’s pet baby dragon, a lizard-like beast roughly the size of the average dog, leap over the side of the chariot and fall face-first into the dust. “We’ve been on that chariot for hours, I really need to pee.”

Spike!

Twilight Sparkle’s head popped up just between the two Princesses and followed her irritating little purple pet over the side of the chariot, though she managed to avoid embarrassing herself with a similar face-plant and instead managed to land dextrously on all four hooves next to the squirming baby dragon.

I exchanged a confused glance with Captain Red Coat as the guardsponies behind us lifted their heads one by one and stared incredulously at the sight of the Princess’s esteemed faithful student shouting at her assistant. A few chuckled and jeered at her, but were quickly silenced with aggressive admonishments and blows to the head from their sergeants, and the young unicorn flushed red with embarrassment. Princess Celestia was suppressing a giggle and held a hoof in front of her mouth, while Luna merely scowled harder, if she frowned any more she’d probably have ruptured a blood vessel in her forehead, assuming that she actually has blood. [She does.]

Shining Armour shook his head and chuckled as he stepped forwards out of the formation. He waved a hoof in the general direction of the latrines, “Over there, buddy.”

The baby dragon muttered a quick ‘thanks’ and darted off to the latrine shacks as if Tirek himself was on his tail.

“Ugh,” Twilight sighed in exasperation, “I’m really sorry, everypony; he’s usually better behaved than this.”

I could only cringe at the atrocious disregard for the great social traditions which Equestria is built upon, and wanted nothing more than to bury my head in the ground and pray that this horrendously embarrassing affair was nothing more than a fever dream brought on by sunstroke or shellshock. But no, and typically Auntie Celestia seemed to find the whole thing hilarious as she giggled away in the chariot, though I suspect after having a millennia long lifetime to deal with all of this pomp and ceremony she was rather tired of it, and thus prone to sabotaging as many royal events as possible for her own amusement (yes, Celestia, if you’re reading this, I know all about the Grand Galloping Gala). [He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I would never sabotage such a dry and boring event like the Gala by inviting the six ponies least qualified to attend and allowing them to run riot.] I shared a glance with Auntie Luna, whose expression of pure disdain at what was going on implied that, for quite possibly the first and only time in my life, we agreed on something.

“You must learn to control your bondservant better, Twilight Sparkle,” said Luna, leaning over the edge of the chariot. “I suggest beating him harder.”

I suppressed a snicker. It seemed despite Princess Luna’s attempts to adapt to modern life, the closest thing she could approximate ‘personal assistant’ as was ‘bondservant’, which, to give credit where credit is due, is a step up from what she used to do the previous year by referring to Spike as a slave or a pet.

“Luna,” said Twilight through set teeth as she looked at the Night Mare over her shoulder, “I am not going to beat Spike.”

“Don’t worry, Twiley,” said Shining Armour as he stepped up and rubbed his hoof roughly on his younger sister’s head, thankfully interrupting the already awkward situation before it could erupt into an argument between the all-powerful Goddess of the Night and the bearer of the Element of Magic. “If he’s lucky he might not even have to face the firing squad.” [Shining Armour is obviously exaggerating here; the practice of execution by unicorn firing squad was discontinued several centuries prior.]

Twilight snorted and flinched away from her brother, looking not at all impressed by the somewhat inappropriate cheeky remark, “Very funny, Shiny.”

By now the two Princesses had disembarked from their chariot, and the guardsponies quickly recovered from the distraction and snapped back to attention. Celestia was still chuckling to herself, while Luna merely glowered at Twilight with all the disdain she could possibly muster. The young unicorn mare winced and ducked behind her mentor as a foal would with her mother, though refrained from embarrassing herself further by trying to hide beneath the sun princess’s undercarriage.

“Be nice, sister,” said Celestia, her voice as motherly and warm as ever even when quietly admonishing her younger sibling. “We did spend three hours in the air and, well, he is only a baby dragon after all.”

“Let us just get this over with,” Luna snapped.

With that embarrassment out of the way the ceremony continued, though with the added addition of Twilight Sparkle doing her best to hide from Luna’s judging stare. Shining Armour stepped back into formation and stood to attention as Princess Celestia inspected him and his Solar Guard. Though he was technically family now through his marriage with my cousin, Princess Cadence, they maintained the formality of this austere procedure by only exchanging a few terse, polite words with one another as Celestia complimented him on the discipline and appearance of his troops, despite the fact that climate conditions here meant everypony’s fancy dress uniform was covered in a thin covering of pale dust.

Shining Armour flushed with pride, puffing his chest out and standing tall like a new officer recruit on graduation day who had just received his commission. As Celestia and Luna moved onwards, he winked at Twilight, who followed her teacher dutifully.

Red Coat looked up in quiet awe at the two giant-sized alicorns as they approached, both standing head and shoulders above him. As he shivered from the sheer anxiety of it, the perspiration dripping down his face in rivulets not entirely due to the hot weather, I wondered if allowing him to lead the honour guard was a bad idea.

Princess Luna stood before us, wings flared out menacingly and looking rather more like an ancient nightmare beast of myth than a serene Princess of the Realm. For a rather long and awkward moment she glowered down at poor Red Coat in the same manner as a judge preparing to sentence an obviously guilty criminal, or a predator about to devour a helpless prey animal. To his credit, Red Coat didn’t run away screaming as many a poor stallion had done when subjected to my Auntie Luna’s patented awkward stare, despite his obvious anxiety and nervousness, but merely did his best to meet her gaze.

Vivas Noctus!” screamed Red Coat suddenly, as if suddenly struck mad [‘Long live the night’ in Ancient Equestrian, an old battle cry of the Night Guards].

Behind me the stallions reared up on their hind legs and then slammed their fore hooves into the dusty ground, sending a small tremor through the earth.

VIVAS NOCTUS!” they roared in unison, which made a handful of the normally stoic and disciplined Solar Guard flinch and stare at their darker brethren in abject confusion before returning to attention. I winced, my ears still ringing after having thirty or so stallions screaming into them.

Luna smiled, which was an extremely rare but not unwelcome occurrence, before laughing heartily at the display. Twilight Sparkle slowly emerged from behind her mentor’s long graceful legs and blinked as the assembled Night Guards snapped back to attention as if nothing untoward had happened at all. I merely settled on my haunches and rubbed at my ringing ears and hoping to get some of my hearing back; after enduring my Auntie Luna’s Royal Canterlot Voice for over a year and now this it’s a miracle I wasn’t struck deaf.

“Glorious,” intoned Luna, smiling widely at her stallions. “You are to be commended, Captain, it does my heart good to see the old ways of the Night Guards Corps still yet live after one thousand years.”

Red Coat beamed proudly, looking much like a schoolfoal who had just aced his spelling bee contest and was about to be treated to ice cream.

“T-thank you, Your Highness!” he stammered.

“And Prince Blueblood,” she said. All of the mirth and joy immediately evaporated from her face, only to be replaced by that same chilling expression of supreme condescension she always wore when having to lower herself to speaking with me.

“Princess Luna,” I nodded my head respectfully towards her.

“I am...” she paused, trying to think of the correct word, “...pleased that you are still alive.”

“As am I,” I said dryly as I shrugged my shoulders, which I instantly regretted as the shrapnel wound I received there at Black Venom Pass was stinging rather painfully at the relatively simple gesture. Irritatingly, the ache there would never go away, becoming quite unbearable in the cold winter months. “And all things considered I’d quite like to keep it that way.”

Princess Celestia chuckled melodiously; her warm smile did much to ease the awkward and tense atmosphere that seemed to cling to her darker sister like a body odour does to Cannon Fodder. She walked around Luna gracefully, the golden vestments of her office, the breastplate and her crown, shimmered brightly in the harsh light, and her golden horseshoes kicking up only the faintest amount of dust with every slow and deliberate step. I returned the smile, feeling much more relaxed by the familiar visage of the mare who had practically raised me after Father had gotten himself lost forever exploring the Zebrican jungles and Mother subsequently lost her marbles and was locked away. [Though I was a major part of Blueblood’s early life, much of his raising after the loss of his parents was done by a succession of governesses and nannies who probably did more to instil the toxic ideas of social class and hierarchy in him than anypony else. My involvement in his upbringing was cut short when I took on Twilight Sparkle as my personal student.]

The difference between the two regal sisters was like night and day, if you would pardon the unforgiveable pun. Where Luna was cold, distant, and aloof, Celestia was warm, loving, and motherly. The greatest difference, of course, lay in their physical appearances. The taller sun Goddess, for those of you who have been living under a rock for your entire lives and thus have no idea what she looks like, is pure alabaster white with a shimmering rainbow mane that wafts ethereally on a non-existent breeze, which contrasted with the rather chilling malevolent air that was invoked by her younger sibling’s countenance. Of course, it didn’t help Luna’s case that she happened to be wearing her silver and black lacquered armour, which had the rather unfortunate side effect of making her look more like the nightmarish half of her psychosis than she might have wanted.

“Quite so,” said Celestia, lowering her head down to my level so I wouldn’t have to crane my neck back, “though I fear so many of my little ponies were not so lucky.”

“Their sacrifice will be remembered,” I said, giving my words the appropriate amount of gravitas. I turned my gaze to Twilight Sparkle, who had by now emerged from the apparent safety of clinging to Celestia’s legs like a foal. The formally shy and socially awkward filly I remembered from high school was replaced by somepony altogether more confident and mature, though traces of her anxiety around new situations were evidently apparent as she seemed rather intimidated by the imposing guardsponies and still embarrassed by Spike’s behaviour. What hadn’t changed, of course, was the insanity that descended every time she was presented with something brand new to study, which this time just happened be my unfortunate aide, Cannon Fodder.

“Lady Twilight Sparkle,” I said, using her formal title as the austere surroundings of the official ceremony demanded it, “I didn’t know we would have the pleasure of your company today.”

Twilight flicked her rather unkempt mane away from her eyes. “The Princesses requested I help lead an investigation into how the Royal Guard can be improved,” she said plainly and somewhat awkwardly, “and where better to start than right here?”

Well, I couldn’t fault that logic, though I wasn’t particularly happy about that arrangement. It implied that she would be staying there, which, as political officer, would only make my already complicated life that much more difficult. Military and civilian personnel tend not to mesh particularly well, especially when said civilian has had very little experience of how the Royal Guard works, or doesn’t work as the case may be. Though I suppose I had little to fear, after all, her irritating older brother was Captain of the Royal Guard and a career officer, despite his rather ignominious beginnings as a private soldier, so she probably had some knowledge of what to expect. Honestly, however, even though I knew what she was capable of and what she had done to save Equestria many times before, I could not shake the image of the scared filly I used to make cry on a regular basis.

At any rate, it seemed that my problems, actually, would come from the Royal Guard side, as the military tended to resent what they saw as civilian interference in how they do their job; the fact that many of them can barely perform their own duties without it resulting in a massive cock-up and she was only trying to help notwithstanding. Not that I could blame them, really, as despite their massive incompetence and blind adherence to the outdated traditions of the Royal Guard, it’s rather galling to a stallion for some strange, adolescent and slightly psychotic mare to turn up one day and tell him that everything he had been doing for most of his adult life was absolutely wrong.

“So you’ll be staying here for a while, then?” I asked with no small amount of trepidation. On a more personal level, I somewhat feared that the filly I used to go to school with would begin undermining my tentative authority and sabotage the nascent beginnings of my heroic, but discreditable, reputation by telling everypony about all of the rather unpleasant things I used to do to her.

“I hope that’s not too much trouble, nephew,” said Celestia. “Twilight Sparkle will only be observing and interviewing ponies in preparation for her report.”

I arched an eyebrow at the strange purple mare, “I suppose if she doesn’t mind sleeping rough; we’re not exactly running a hotel here.”

“And I get to spend more time studying Cannon Fodder!” Twilight squealed suddenly, clapping her hooves together excitedly. “Oh, it’s a shame I left all of my equipment in Ponyville.”

I glanced back to see Cannon Fodder stiffen almost imperceptibly at Twilight Sparkle’s glee at the prospect of subjecting him to another battery of tests and experiments. I knew she wasn’t deliberately malicious, but previous experience had taught me that whenever Twilight is presented with something that is beyond her current understanding she will do absolutely everything in her power to change that, occasionally forgetting that little thing called ‘ethics’. As I saw Cannon Fodder’s slight discomfort I recognised the opportunity to win a few brownie points over my foalhood nemesis, petty though it may have been, but one must remember I was rather younger and less mature than I am now, that and using snide remarks to gain a modicum of social prestige over a rival was something that just came naturally to me as a senior member of the ruling elite.

“Cannon Fodder is a soldier of the Royal Guard, not a guinea pig,” I said carefully and loudly so that everypony could hear me. “Don’t you think he deserves a little dignity?”

Twilight shrank back a little, her ears folding flat against her head in embarrassment. “You’re right, I’m sorry.”

I suppressed the urge to grin inanely. A niggling part of my mind warned me I was being too cruel by embarrassing her in front of Equestrian Royalty, though a far larger and more rational portion told me that it was not entirely advantageous to me maintaining my favourite hobby of breathing to upset a mare who had enough magical power and expertise to render my physical body into its component parts. However, a quick glance around indicated that the guardsponies approved of what I had just said, as even though technically Cannon Fodder was not part of the regiment, he was still a fellow guardspony, and it showed that I was looking out for their best interests. This was probably the only part of my fraudulent reputation I actually wanted to maintain, the rest of it being sustained purely out of necessity, as giving the impression that I care about the common guardspony tends to make them much more willing to help protect me when things inevitably go pear-shaped in battle.

Twilight Sparkle recovered quickly though; her excited expression returning to her face as she looked up into the concerned visage of her ancient mentor. “I can’t wait to get started with my research!” she said, waving her little hooves animatedly with all the exuberance of a schoolfoal relishing the chance to impress their teacher. “I’d like to start by examining the Night Guards first, if that’s okay, Blueblood?”

I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t see why it shouldn’t be. But wouldn’t you rather be with your older brother?”

“Of course I’d rather be with my BBBFF [Big Brother Best Friend Forever],” she said, glancing over at the eponymous Shining Armour who winked at her before returning to attention. “But having a family member involved in the very thing I’m studying just wouldn’t be good practice; I would invariably be biased by my familial relationship with the subject and the integrity of my results may be compromised, which is why I shall be avoiding studying the 1st Solar Guard and instead allow another researcher to conduct the study in my stead.”

I nodded my head, only half paying attention to Twilight Sparkle’s small lecture, but I got the general gist of it. I inwardly cursed my luck as undoubtedly I’d be saddled with looking after the civilian as she sticks her nose in where it’s not wanted and makes a general nuisance of herself. I supposed that if it led to a widespread reform of the Royal Guard to make it at least somewhat more competent, then a few weeks or months of irritation would be worth it. If anything ‘protecting the Princess’s favourite pet’ might make the perfect excuse to stay away from the frontlines and the horde of Changeling horrors massing in the Badlands, but I didn’t count on Twilight Sparkle’s almost suicidal urge to gather new knowledge.

“There’ll be plenty of time for studying later,” said Celestia, extending a wing over her young protégé. “Shining Armour is giving us a tour of the encampment and then we’re meeting with the officers for tea.” Please excuse us Blueblood and Captain.”

I bowed curtly as Celestia and Twilight stepped back towards the waiting Captain of the Guard. Princess Luna glowered at me for a short moment longer, as if trying to dream up some brand new and extravagant way of getting me killed in her glorious name right then and there. Apparently she came up blank as she just turned and followed her elder sibling without another word.

I breathed a sigh of relief as she was gone. Princess Luna always made me feel anxious, as she did with just about everypony else aside from the very few of us mortals she deigns to consider friends. We watched as Shining Armour led the small royal entourage deeper into the encampment, which was still little more than a collection of tents of varying sizes and large cleared out spaces for the soldiers to bivouac in [A fancy word for ‘sleeping outside without a tent’]. No doubt the Royal Pony Sisters would be thrilled to see the various important tents around here; they who moulded the world from dust and raised the entire pony race from nothingness, fought daemons and numerous unnameable horrors from beyond the Veil, and whose statesponyship and skills in war have built Equestria into the sole superpower in the world. Somehow the organisers of this little event believed these veritable goddesses would be suitably impressed by a collection of tents.

At any rate, it gave us a little more time to prepare for the tea party, which I was very much looking forward to. Auntie Celestia and I had grown rather distant over the years since I became old enough to claim my birthright as prince of the realm and heir to the Blood Clan, probably in no small part to my admittedly loutish and un-chivalrous behaviour in recent years. A nice social gathering would be perfect for me to rekindle my somewhat strained relationship with my aunties, at least, that’s what I thought at the time. Naturally, things didn’t go to plan, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

With the Princesses and Twilight leaving, the honour guard was dismissed. The arrayed ranks of soldiers dispersed noisily as they returned to whatever duties they were required to perform at this time. I assumed Spike would be picked up at some point and not left alone in the latrines with the stallions; they were not exactly the best ponies to leave a young child around if you didn’t want him to pick up some colourful language and an advanced knowledge of a mare’s anatomy and what to do with it. I was about to leave for my tent for a long and intense bathing session to get myself looking presentable for the tea party, when I noticed Captain Red Coat lingering and staring at the retreating forms of the Princesses and their escorts.

“Hot,” he said breathlessly.

I stood next to him, watching the swaying flanks of the Royal Pony Sisters as they followed Shining Armour. I shrugged my shoulders; a lot of ponies seem to have a rather peculiar attraction to my divine aunties, but not me. I, for one, prefer my mares not to be twice my height and, more importantly, not related to me.

“Celestia or Luna?” I asked out of morbid curiosity.

Red Coat shook his head, “Not them, I mean Twilight.”

I followed his slack-jawed gaze to Twilight’s sashaying rump. She was a little pudgy and rather too bookish for my tastes, but evidently she had an effect on the hormonally imbalanced teenaged mind. Then again, at seventeen years old colts are wont to become infatuated by anything female and still breathing.

“Hey, Commissar?” he said, finally taking his eyes off the swaying flank as it disappeared into the crowd of guardsponies milling around the place. “Do you think I have a chance?”

“I think you have about as much as I do,” I said blankly, not quite sure what to make of this interesting turn of events, though I felt the best course of action was to try and nip this in the bud before Red Coat’s sudden lust for the Princess’s protégé would result in an incident which would end with his banishment to a celestial body. “You know, it’s not a good idea to get infatuated with civilians,” I said, trying to sound like I had been there and done that, as Red Coat seemed to be under the mistaken impression I was some battle-hardened veteran.

The young stallion shrugged his shoulders and muttered something that sounded like ‘I guess so’.

With that done I left for my tent, knowing that in reality it would do little to dissuade him from pursuing his rather foolish courtship. Actually, looking back on this it’s rather amusing, but I had rather more important things on my mind at the time than to dwell on that, namely getting Cannon Fodder and I to look suitably neat and tidy for this tea party.

As we made our way through the mob of off-duty guardsponies milling around, chatting, drinking, eating, and playing card games, my hooves started tingling slightly as I thought about the upcoming social event; why would the Princesses come all this way just for a tea party? Granted, as royalty, attending social functions with high ranking members of the Royal Guard and aristocracy was just what was expected of them, and visiting the soldiers on the frontlines was obviously there to boost morale, but I had the rather distressing notion niggling in my hindbrain that there was an ulterior motive behind this visit. Whatever it was, I sincerely hoped that it wouldn’t involve me. But as always, things very rarely go according to plan.

Author's Note:

Woo, new instalment.

Anyway, hope you guys like it. Trying to go with shorter chapters to facilitate faster updating, though I'll be taking a short break until the New Year perhaps.

'Vivas Noctus' is, of course, a tribute to Aegis Shield's Lunar Stallions stories, which have been a major influence on my work.

Also, fast running out of titles with the word 'blood' in it, may have to abandon this naming convention.

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