• Published 9th Feb 2013
  • 11,280 Views, 43 Comments

The Next Level Of Your Studies - cleversuggestion

Twilight Sparkle gets a letter from Celestia that sets her on a quest for knowledge which will transform her more deeply and completely than she ever imagined was possible.

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8. Unexpected News

Two Days AR

“Deep Field!” Perry Pierce exclaimed as he burst through the professor's door.

Deep Field's heart stopped for a moment, then resumed its tired beating, while his face stayed impassive, eyes focused on the telescope photo in front of him. He had never truly gotten used to this cloak and dagger business, but he had been doing it long enough for his outward appearance, at least, to be placid. He was unsurprised that Perry had figured out who he was--he reflected again that their missing member was the only one who had any true talent for discretion--but they had rarely done more than chat inconsequentially at the Lunar Society or share significant glances at dinner parties. Now, the stallion was in his office unannounced and out of breath, neither of which suggested good news.

“It's Professor,” he said icily, “and close the door behind you.”

Perry hurriedly slammed the door shut with his magic, making the collected trinkets of a long career rattle on the bookshelves around Deep Field's office. Annoyed, the professor looked up from the photo, studying Perry, rehearsing denials if the stallion was in trouble.

“It's Princess Luna,” Perry said quickly. “She's alive and in the palace.” Deep Field's carefully maintained expression vanished, replaced by pure shock. “Celestia gave her the West Tower, which they're renaming the Night Tower, and Celestia's going to formally announce Princess Luna's return and their co-rule tomorrow night at a major banquet.”

“Co-rule?” Deep Field muttered, even more shocked. “That's... certainly a surprise. Can you get us seats at that banquet?”

Perry chuckled, slowly regaining his breath. “Velvet Rope is busy working his magic. I might be able to get you one. Or did you want four?”

Deep Field's irritation returned, and he displayed it on his face. “Why would I need four? One for me, one for my wife, if you can spare it.” Even with this new development, they ought to try and maintain some paranoia.

Perry Pierce's expression immediately sobered. “Of course, I don't know what I was thinking.” Deep Field wanted to facehoof. Had he really been that obvious once? Thin Knife had claimed so, sometimes laughing and sometimes deadly serious, but while the grey chef had taught him everything he knew, she hadn't taught him everything she knew. He resisted the urge to shake his head to clear out thoughts of an old pony decades in her grave; he just moved his attention to another spot. Like she taught him to.

“You must have run here to bring me this information,” he added more kindly. “Can I get you something to drink?” He levitated out a small bottle of brandy; the good kind he kept in his office for celebrations.

Perry smiled and shook his head. “No, I have more messages I ought to deliver, and I should eventually get back to work. But thank you for the offer.” He opened the door and departed, shutting it softly behind himself.

Deep Field poured himself a glass and swirled it idly, watching the amber liquid as he digested this news. Co-ruler? Thinking of the chef who had once used her namesake knife on both tomato salads and other ponies made Deep Field paranoid again. This could be very good, or very bad. The Moon's Horn had been Night Mare Moon's servants more than Luna's. Luna might appoint them as advisors for their service, or Celestia might throw them in prison for their treason.

But would Luna need them as advisors? They were skulkers and agents, shadows and whispers. Would Luna need that now? They had once been assassins. He had been the youngest in the cabal when Thin Knife died, and her replacement had been the mystery mare. He wondered briefly if she had been an assassin. Not for the Moon's Horn, certainly. Thin Knife's viciousness had seemed like just a tool used by the Moon's Horn when he had joined them, but after she died it hadn't seemed necessary to replace her.

He saw the glass of brandy held idly in his hoof and drank deep, reflecting that some tools create their own purposes.