Desperate to save his family, Viktor makes a life changing decision to become a noble mare, but a greater scheme comes to light that could threaten not only her family and the Canterlot nobility, but all of Equestria.
Following the return of Nightmare Moon, Canterlot was in turmoil. Noble houses and loyal ponies stood in defiance against the fallen Princess and perished. The Elements of Harmony cleansed the Nightmare, and the Princess of a millennium ago was returned, but the damage was done, and lives were torn asunder.
Noble House Vanity, a house repute of true self reflection and inner strength, lay in ruin, its thousand year history on the brink of closure. Viktor Vanity, one of the last living members of his house, desperate to save it from bankruptcy and ending the bloodline, takes matters into his own hooves. Faced with no other options, in his eyes, he transitions to marehood believing it will allow her to find a sympathetic suitor. However, things are not so simple when it goes beyond the game of politics after a mysterious murder of a friend in high standing and strange games of subterfuge begin to put the nobility at each others throats.
No longer is she and her house trying to rebuild, but survive a coming storm that could shatter the masquerade that the nobility dances about in its corrupt blissful ignorance and threaten all of Canterlot, if not all of Equestria.
The Council chambers were a mess, bustling with echos against the walls as members of the Lunar Council murmured and spoke over one another, each having their own ideas and arguments that were usually just as questionable as the others, or even self serving. The squabbling had been going on for most of the night as several notable council members brought forth proposals to better the new Council's reputation given the return of Princess Luna to her seat of the Crown, but of those that came forth, only a hooffull were clean of serving self interests. The other, more subtle, nobles either had weak ideas, or put too much attention on the princess herself, being nothing more than brown nosers wanting to advance their political status.
Basyrr Dusk could only sigh and close his eyes, knowing this was the very thing he was afraid would become of this Council. The Solar Council was already a travesty, but seeing it here was something he hoped would never come to be as there were other more important matters that needed addressing once everypony was on the same page. The lavender unicorn was pulled from his train of thought as the bell was rang by a mildly disgruntled Princess Luna.
“Hear ye! We believe this has gone on long enough. We are one half hour past our closing time. Let us save our words for the morrow.” She levitated the hoof sized bell out to the center of the round council table and gave it three sharp rings. The Princess left no time for the other council members to argue, knowing very well if she were to entertain their opinions or protest, it would be another half hour before they got anywhere. With the bell’s ring, the meeting of the Lunar Council came to an official close, the Princess wasted no time rising from her seat and briskly trotting towards the exit, chin up and ears deaf to the pleas of nobles trying to catch her attention. All but one.
“Princess Luna.” Basyrr said, following after her, the pale violet maned pony almost gliding with how low his purple robes surrounded him.
The Princess of the night hardly broke stride, but spoke over her shoulder firmly. “Come Basyrr. We will talk…” The doors of the great chamber opened for them as they approached, the Lunar Guards bowing their heads as they passed. “What ails you?”
“I think it’s best we speak in private, my Princess.” Basyrr scanned around him with his purple eyes for any eavesdroppers.
“To our chambers then.” She replied after a moment's hesitation. The Princess led the noble unicorn down the halls of the castle, remaining in complete silence until they reached her personal chambers. The doors were opened for them by the guards there, none of them questioning Basyrr’s presence there with her. Once the doors closed, Princess Luna let out a long sigh, letting her stature fall and shoulders hang.
“Stressed? I can understand after a meeting like that. Can I get you some tea?” Basyrr offered though the Princess shook her head.
“You were right Basyrr. This is starting to get out of hoof.” She threw her mane to the side and fell into the nearest sitting cushion. “These ponies strive toward self gain sooner than they would toward a working solution.”
“That is to be expected, all things considered,” said Basyrr. “Though if it continues at the frequency it does, it will become a Council of appeasement, much like the Solar Council.” Taking a seat aside her, he let out a controlled sigh.
“Then We shall dissolve the Council and hoof pick its members to better serve Equestria’s interests.” Said the Princess with her head held high and confidently.
“My Princess…” Basyrr shook his head at her. “You know the Council is meant to give ponies of interest and influence a means to partake in Equestria’s governing, despite the monarch having the final say in all matters.”
“Of course We know this. We understand the need for advisors and their uses they can provide-”
“Their connections not only provide benefits, but they also represent your will and public image. It has hardly been four years since your return from banishment, and only a few months since officially governing independently of your sister. The public already has a wary opinion of you. Dissolving the Council and picking your own supporters would hurt your image and ruin any credibility the Council has with the public.”
Princess Luna sighed irritably and lowered her head to her hoof. “That rules out adding and removing anypony...What would you suggest then, my friend?”
“A little of both.” He said, smirking ever so slightly when she gave him a bemused look. “As I have mentioned before, we both know a few seats have less than stellar records, and others who might be willing to give up theirs for other benefits. My brother has filled me in on some interesting information recently to back up a few suspicions and my foresight validates what I can see.”
Princess Luna looked to her smaller companion and smiled. Even though he looked like a young adult, the Princess knew he was closer to middle aged and had the stoic wisdom of a elder pony. “Well thought Basyrr. Were it not for your friendship and advice, they would have ousted me and declared you Princess of the Night.”
“I can’t say I would be terribly fond of that my Princess. I believe the change of gender would prove to be ultimately distracting, if not give me a host of new problems all together.”
Princess Luna laughed beautifully. Ever since she had first met him after her return from banishment she grew fond of him and his interesting dialogue. Basyrr was the pony who helped her get adjusted back into modern day Equestrian society, teaching her the changes in culture and politics of governing, and has been her unofficial assistant ever since. “So you find mares distracting Basyrr?” She said with a smirk.
The unicorn casually shook his head. “No, Princess, you misunderstand me. Having a body of the opposite sex, shaped and proportioned differently as well as es-”
“Basyrr, I am making a joke.” She said with a smile. Of the many great helps he has been to her, humor was something that he felt short on almost as badly as she did upon her return.
“...I see. My apologies for robbing you of my gratuitous laughter.” He said, looking right back at her with his usual hard to read expression.
Luna looked back carefully, smirking as she tried to determine if he was attempting some humor of his own with that suspiciously sarcastic feeling sentence. The awkward silence dragged on until broken by the Council stallion.
“...Princess, I think would be in our best interest to never attempt ‘humor’ in public for the sake of our reputations. We both...’suck’ at it.” The stallion managed to smirk ever so slightly.
Luna chuckled lightly. “Right you are, good friend. We have detracted enough from the topic at hoof though. You came to talk to me about removing and suggesting new members for the Council?” Much to her surprise though, he shook his head.
“No, actually, I came to speak about something of greater concern. I believe that there may be somepony trying to...’infiltrate’ The Crown.”
Princess Luna turned to him, regarding her concerned friend skeptically. “There are political influences inside and out of Equestria that want the same. Even other fellow nobles wish to pervade and spy upon us, even your own kin. How does this differ from any other occasion that does not deserve to be presented at the table?”
“Well, it certainly is not...’traditional.” Basyrr hesitated on his words, something he rarely had issue with. “I do admit I do not have any substantial evidence, but...I sense something coming in, and close.”
The Princess was intrigued, raising her eyebrows. “Your precognition spoke to you?”
“Yes. I have felt something upon the Council, getting closer, or maybe it is already here, and another influence is coming. It is a bit soon to tell, but I felt the urge to tell you rather soon.”
Luna nodded relaxing some. “So, this is an early indicator? You sound rather concerned for being so short on certainty and clarity. Normally you have much more insight to offer. What urges you to speak of it now?”
Basyrr looked down at the ground, shaking his head. “I...am unsure. I have not felt anything like it before. Just an impending sense of... a need bring closure.”
“This sounds like a matter that my sister should want to hear of, but you must be certain of it first. It is unlike you to speak about your future visions without having dwelt on them more. If these visions of yours continue, and with more clarity, then I will see that both my sister and I have an audience with you.” Luna and her sister both knew that Basyrr often provided sound precognitions, having aided them both and become a valuable friend for Luna. Premature or not, she would not ignore his concerns. Her sister must be made aware.
“Princess Celestia wakes soon, does she not? I do not wish to be overbearing, but I must insist that I see her this morning.” He looked to Luna, his face starting to become grave.
This further perturbed the Princess, and only worried her further. “Basyrr, my friend, that will be nearly two hours from now before she can see you. Are you sure you want to see her this soon with only what you have given me?”
The mystical unicorn noded firmly. “I am. I will wait for her to rise. Perhaps draw up the list of ponies I will recommend to the Council in the meantime, as well as some meditation.”
Luna nodded, relaxing herself some as she felt some relief for the topic at hoof being concluded for the moment. “Very well, I hope you do not suggest any ponies of ill will toward me.” The Princess chuckled and rose from her seat. The silence that followed, though, made her stop and look.
“Well, counter arguments bring about the best debate…” Basyrr had only so much time to calm before he was onto yet another stressful, if not humorous, point of discussion.
“Who is it that makes you say that?” Her gaze rested sharply on him.
“House Vanity has been a Solar Council member for many centuries until late.”
Princess Luna’s eyes began to widen as she recalled the name with unfortunate ease. How could she ever forget. “Basyrr, there are counter arguments and then there are ponies who want me dead.”
“Pony. Singular in this case, considering-”
“Please do not remind me. You are serious about this?”
“I understand there are many reasons for you to be concerned, but I believe it is a good choice, all things considered with our current situation. The others I suggest may appeal more to you if you would like to hear them.”
The Princess shook her head. “No, I think it best I wait until you present them all at once when I am prepared to address it. The night is growing late, and I will need my rest if both my sister and I are to see you. Perhaps she would like to hear of your list as well.” Luna began to remove her crown and other adornments.
Basyrr nodded with some uncertainty. “If she would like to, but I hope she does not wish to poach.” He rose from where he sat, preparing to leave.
“She wouldn’t. My sister is better than that.”
“Very well, Princess. I shall see you again soon.” He helped himself to the door.
“I shall see you again soon, good friend. Do not let the Horizons pester you too much if they show early.”
Her wise friend smiled before helping himself out the door of her chambers. Having parted the Princess’s company, Basyrr set out to find a place for him to relax.
Ever so gradually, the feeling of anxiety continued to build up in him. Something was coming, he was sure of it. He needed to be sure he conveyed that to the Sisters with the best of his words. For now, he needed calm his mind.
The walls of Canterlot Castle were often a favorite of his, letting him admire the starry sky and read to the gentle moonlight. He always found it more calming than any library could ever be, and watching the sunrise was a reward on its own.
“Need a cushion, Bassy?” Asked an approaching thestral Night Guard as he headed toward the battlements. He recognized the mare that stood a couple inches taller than him and smiled. This mare knew him so well, she already had the cushion in question on her back for him.
“That will do fine, Caster. As always, thank you.” He said to her graciously.
“No bother. Your legs’d be fallin off you if you fell asleep on me again, not to mention you’d wake the Princess with your gobshite snoring.” She smirked and followed him up to the battlements before putting the cushion in his signature spot.
“I can’t be that predictable, can I?” He asked, but she was already on her way back.
“Wee bit.” She chuckled. “I’d stay and chat, but my round is due in justa coupla minutes. I’ll be heading off, talk to you!”
Alone, Basyrr sighed and looked to the moonlit sky. Tonight was already starting to ease up some. He took out his note pad and quill, but before he began to write, that feeling was back, and growing. He bit his lip and sighed, having never before felt his foresight pester him so much. Worst part was it was barely able to feel that far, as if time just stopped after the coming moment. He looked about to see if anypony else were nearby, but only the occasional Night Guard patrolling the walls could be seen. It felt like eternity was creeping by as he stared at his notes, hardly able to think with the building unease in him. As one of the Night Guards passed, Basyrr could barely stand it anymore.
“Excuse me...Could you-” But as soon as the guard turned to him, he froze, knowing what this moment was. “Oh...I see.” That crimson streak in his mane was subtle, but unique and unforgettable.
There was hardly any time for him to say much more when the spear came thrusting forward, piercing Basyrr’s neck. The realization as to why he felt this urgency settling upon him earlier, and why he couldn't see beyond this point, only seeing mere fragments of it. They were to be his last moments, and likely the beginnings to many others.
“Viktor Alan Vanity, are you ready? There is no shame in waiting or having second thoughts. Just remember that this cannot be undone,” Said the aging doctor. She looked at him with conflicted eyes, conflicted with whether or not this was the right thing to do. She was right to feel that way, considering the circumstances. Viktor had bribed a therapist and doctor to get to this point, that he had received all the therapy and gone through the waiting time required. Normally a pony would have to spend at least a year of consultation and consideration before they got to this stage, and that was if they could afford it. He didn’t have that kind of time though, he needed this sooner and didn’t want to go through with all the ‘hoop jumping’ that ponies normally had to go through. That was all paranoia and red tape to him, just another barrier to slow things down. There were much bigger problems to deal with, and this would simplify them. To do nothing would guarantee that everything fell apart.
“Doctor, I’m perfectly fine with my decision. I don’t have any doubts. Please continue,” Viktor said with confidence, hoping to put the doctor at ease. He knew that he could always get get a hold of some other, less questioning, doctor, but he’d rather get this taken care of today so he could have the weekend to himself. This was, after all, going to change him for the rest of his life, and he might as well spend the weekend getting situated before the world saw him. It would be a good opportunity to deal with any nervous feelings too, just like he was having right now.
The mare watched Viktor, noting his fidgeting hooves. He hoped she didn’t put up any more barriers of doubt or try to question him anymore. Viktor responded with a sigh of relief when she nodded and brought over a tray of two glasses, each one filled with a murky white brown color liquid.
“Alright, then lets begin. Please drink the left one first, wait two minutes, and then drink the second one. This will prime your body to be receptive to the alteration magic. Once you drink the second, it should put you under for some time. After you wake, we can do a physical, collect signatures, and release you.” She levitated a clipboard in front of him with a few pages on it. “Also, please check and verify that this is the correct body description and no mistakes were made.”
Viktor bit his lip, feeling his heart rate pick up as he looked at the pages before him. He remembered the hours he spent considering each little detail, small changes here, bigger ones there, not just in shape but color and definition. The doctor told him that not everything would be perfect, that his natural genes would have their own influence on his body, but that didn’t bother him too much. It meant that there would always be some kind of family resemblance in him no matter how much of himself he changed, and family was of utmost importance to him. That was why he was here after all, for his family, to save it by becoming a mare.
He had the chance to control how she would look and he fully intended to make the most of it for what he needed to do. Nothing too extreme, but none too mundane either. Too short and soft was too submissive. A bit more height, or at least a body appearing lithe enough to look tall, would give off an impression of being in control of oneself and having some authority, while still fitting within respectable mare standards. To be a mare with elegance and a potential for glamour, so that nobility didn’t just come off as a title, but radiated through her appearance. A mare that other nobles could look at and respect and take seriously. A mare he would soon be…
I have got to do this. I know it will work out, it’s brilliant enough to work. There is no other option as it stands. No noble pony is available or willing as it is now but this will give me so many more options. All the patriarchal noble family mares are taken, and the matriarchal ones would mean giving up his family's name. I’ll save the family, house, and Arty’s future with this.
Viktor took the first glass and levitated it before himself, staring a moment before quickly upending it into his mouth and down his throat, expecting an absolutely awful taste. He was mildly surprised when it tasted more like watered down chocolate but the flavor did nothing for the chill that went down his spine as it settled in his stomach. It made him feel queasy if anything, like he drank milk that was recently expired.
The silence after was unsettling, as if it was anticipating something more dramatic, or trying to draw him out of his own silence. It made Viktor wish Elise was here. Hearing the housemaid dancing to music across the study gave him something to be distracted by at home… especially when he interrupted her to ask for some scotch on the rocks. That expression on her face never got old.
“One minute.” The doctor said calmly.
Anxiety began to flood through him again as his heart raced.
This shouldn’t have to be so nerve wracking! Ugh, I hate doctors. Always so dramatic. Can’t wait to get home and relax...Gotta avoid Elise though. She will probably be pretty mad at me. And Arty…
He smiled as he thought about his nephew. There was nothing that made him more happy than to see that little colt smile. The most innocent and purest bundle of joy he had ever had the honor of being related to. His nephew was easily the most important thing to him in life. He could only guess how he would react to all this. Being six years of age, he didn’t think he would have to worry about him much in that regard. Still, he was nervous about Arty and how this affected him. It would be a work in progress.
Arty, I’ll have to sit you down for a talk. Hopefully everything will be just as it was before, but better.
Time sure flew when reflecting under stress. Viktor looked at the second glass, feeling a nervous dread build up in him. These last fifteen seconds would be the last he spent being like this, as Viktor. Afterward he would be a very different looking pony that everyone would see him as from now on, all accomplished with a visit to the doctor. It was almost funny, did he always have to feel so emotionally distraught every time he visited the doctor? As if the ominous countdown wasn’t stressful enough. He struggled to get his mind back onto more pleasant things, but he started to feel a bit drowsy, like something was sapping his strength slowly and making him numb. Blinking his eyes, they felt heavy and sluggish.
“Alright. Drink up dear.”
Viktor felt himself stop breathing as his heart jumped ahead a moment. His moment was now. He tried to focus his magic, but his horn sputtered and could barely even touch the glass.
“Use your hooves dear.”
Oh right...I’m a magic sponge right now.
He reached forward with his hooves, taking the glass in between them. He felt clumsy and heavy as the world began to rock back and forth. It was not very pleasant, almost sickening.
This feels like being drunk….at 4 am...without the fun bits.
He remembered that he had a glass in his hooves that needed to be drank. Refocusing his mind, he put far more mental power into moving his limbs than ever was necessary. Staring into the glass of milky brown liquid that would lead to his life changing forever, he took one last moment and took a deep breath.
Well….bottoms up?...Ugh...Thats a terrible last thing to think. Oh bother. I’ll think of one in a second.
He upturned the glass and drained it in seconds, almost slamming the glass down on the tray next to him as his lazy limbs were ready to give up. The liquid sensation that flowed down his stomach was chilling, like it wasn’t just going to his stomach, but flowing throughout his body, saturating every corner of his body. Within moments he could feel himself entering a deep heavy sleep as his mind started to slip away.
...I’ll think of one...when I wake…
And in moments, Viktor was out.
Viktor softly came to, his consciousness fading back into reality. At least he thought it was reality. His sleep must have been dreamless because it felt like he was awake just moments earlier with the doctor. Despite the fact he was feeling rather rested now, he felt like his whole body had a soft dull ache to it, like somepony had massaged him a bit too hard the other night for far too long. He wanted to stretch, to move and work out those sores, but he was a little afraid of what he would find.
The urge to yawn crept up on Viktor and he obliged it, opening his mouth with a big sigh and reflexively reached up and out with his hooves. Usually this was a very pleasant sensation, but it came with something else this time. Something very different.
Every part of his body that moved felt intensely and sensationally wrong. As one limb moved, the rest of his body shifted ever so slightly, feeling every inch of new alien feelings he wasn’t accommodated to. His proportions were wrong, his fur felt different, and everything moved differently. Almost every strand of fur on his body suddenly started to light up with sensations, cascading down his body. His eyes shot open as he bit his not so familiar lip. The first thing his eyes noticed was his purple and pink mane in his eyes, hiding the world from sight. Blinking his eyes awake, he kept still, not wanting to move any more than he had to. The sensations in his body were already enough to deal with and his chest was heaving from the surge of panic that came over him.
Okay! Breathe! Calm down! Just...calm down...I’ll be alright. This is normal...I need to take this slow...Just take inventory and carefully observe...
Blinking a few times, he looked at the soft wave of pink and purple mane with light curls and let his eyes start to do their work. Through his mane, he could see a few cabinets and a biohazard waste disposal next to some medical equipment he couldn’t care to remember the name of. It took very little assessing from there that he was in the recovery room, probably laying on a bed considering he felt comfortable and warm on his side. His eyes, still looking about, noticed that even with mane in his face, he felt like he had a larger field of view, like something was missing. Looking down, he found what exactly it was that changed, his snout. It was noticeably smaller than before and seeing the difference, rather than just feeling it....calmed him, even if just a little. Seeing the change gave him some of the affirmation his sensations were asking for.
I must have a tiny mouth now.
He licked his teeth with his tongue, feeling little waves of tickles and unfamiliar sensations in his mouth as he twisted his lips. It felt a lot smaller than he remembered. Even his teeth were rather odd feeling. Considering this was just his mouth that was feeling this way, it was probably going to be a long day of this all over.
I’m going to be finding a lot more things than just this in a moment….I should get this part over with and just look myself over already.
Taking a deep breath, knowing this would be a moment for the rest of his life. As certain as he was of this decision, the thought of looking down and seeing a different pony was still a lot scarier now that it was right here. Taking a few more deep breaths, he prepared himself. All he had to do was look. Shifting his legs slightly, he hesitated and delayed, the sensations resulting only making matters worse. Even his legs felt thin and strange.
Alright...It’s just your body. You can deal with this. You are Viktor Alan Vanity...Well, until the name paperwork clears.
He shifted his hoof, pushing himself up on the bed to sit up. What followed was a wave in indescribable sensation shock. What felt like thousands of tiny little ripples of soft pinpricks were washing down his body with every slight movement. Every inch of his body that had changed was alive with sensations and life. It scared him, but at the same time, he never had felt so alive! It was such a rush to feel everything at once with a body so new and feeling every sensation for the first time. It was so intense that he couldn’t help but wince and close his eyes tight, his body tingling and building up with this feeling faster than he thought possible. The sensations were becoming less confusing as he gradually was able to place where they were coming from, but the intensity didn’t stop, especially since it was practically everywhere! Waves of tingling pinpricks kept washing over him as he curled up his body tightly to himself, biting his lip and squirming. It was intense. It was overwhelming. It was scary. But most of all, it was….wonderful. Every bit of himself tickled with the slightest movement, alive with life that he could barely contain.Cringing tight, it built up inside him until he couldn’t hold it in anymore and burst out in laughter, the floodgates letting everything out.
The laughter he heard was….beautiful. It sounded nothing like the pony he knew himself as. Such a beautiful trill to this laugh, it couldn’t be his, could it? The way it softly rang out in a gentle tumble of giggles was angelic, soothing to the heart even, and it wouldn’t stop. The tickle of her body only encouraged her to laugh more, which made her squirm with more sensations bursting through her. It was simply...divine.
The sensational pony fell onto her back, pulling her legs to her body in a tight curl, trying, and failing, to hold in her giggles. She could never have anticipated this, despite being told the after affects of such a transformation, she just couldn’t believe the absolute wondrous intensity that it came in. They were right to say that the best words to describe it would be ‘feeling like you were reborn’. Every corner of her body, from her snout tip and cheeks, down her ears and neck, through her shoulders, her barrel to her flank, and down to her tippy hooves, she felt a surge of energy followed with many pinpricks of tickling sensations. She could feel every part of her body all at once, flowing with constant caresses. It felt like ages had gone by before they began to diminish enough to calm her downright laughter into muffled internal giggles. Taking sweet shallow breaths, she began to finally calm herself down enough to take control of herself.
Oh sweet Princesses...This is...amazing. I feel so...different….and alive...I can’t even feel anything I recognise anymore...I really am a whole new being...
Taking softer breaths, she took inventory of her sensations. She could feel her new shape, the curve of each corner and changes to her body now. A blush warmed her face as she picked up sensations down below her belly that she was not familiar with at all. Bracing herself, she opened her eyes and curled her neck down to gaze upon her body...only to be interrupted by the sound of the door latching opening. A scramble of hooves followed as she tried to cover herself from that moment of exposure, but the after affects from earlier were still there in force, and she quickly devolved into a squirming fit teeming with giggles and squeals.
The doctor stopped partway in the room, quickly smiling at the giggling mare, knowing full well what was going on. “I see you’re awake Miss Vanity. I’m sorry to have interrupted. I’ll come back later.” She started to back out, but ‘Miss Vanity’ put her hoof up amongst her giggle fit to try to stay her presence.
“W-waaheeet. Eeeehehehee!” She nearly squealed aloud, forming words was difficult, both because of the new ticklish sensations and because she had a very differently shaped muzzle. The scene was comical and the doctor could only smirk to herself and roll her eyes.
“You just need to acclimate some more. I would hate to ruin this moment for you. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, and one best done in private. So I’ll leave you be for the moment.” Said the doctor, backing out of the room as more squabbling squeals of protest followed.
Oh bother, I sound like a howling cat. I can hardly control myself. I don’t know if I hate this or like it.
Alone again, Viktor bit her lip to calm herself, though it hurt a lot more than she remembered. This would take her some time to adjust to, but it would eventually calm down in a few hours. Or was it days? She couldn’t remember so well since she wasn’t very attentive when it came to the specifics that the doctor was telling her earlier.
Getting herself together, Viktor carefully sat up on the hospital bed and took stock of herself very carefully. She would need to do this at a comfortable pace if she hoped to get anything done. Slowly, she brought a hoof out in front of her, the sensations made her scrunch her face, but she kept herself together this time. Her hoof looked so...delicate, if not softer looking. Its shape was much slimmer and thinner than before, making her wonder if it would snap if she pressed too hard on it.
Eyes trailing further down, she noticed her fur had lightened up a few shades, being a more gentle soft gray, rather than a darker demanding one. Looking further only affirmed how her legs were now thinner and, perhaps, even longer looking, especially looking at her barrel and chest. She could already see a dramatic change there, her size now being much slimmer, thin, and lithe, but she could only see so much.
Looking up, she searched for the mirror that she knew was somewhere nearby from earlier. Viktor silently thanked the doctors thoughtfulness when she spotted it over her shoulder, obviously placed for the very reason she was about to use it for. Being careful, she slowly rolled over and took a look at herself.
Even though she was bracing for it, she was shocked that there was a mare staring right back at her. A mare who was stunningly similar to the stallion that she was when she entered this place. Her thin lithe body was sprawled on the bed, looking gracefully and healthily shaped. Her mane and tail were a lighter royal purple than they were before, but a new color was there now. A fair portion of her flowing mane had large streaks of pink, the very same color of her mother’s mane. What surprised her the most though was her eyes. Before, she had her mother’s eyes, a soft hazel brown that fit her gentle nature, but now she was looking into eyes much like her fathers, those icy bright blue eyes that were powerful, yet beautiful. She had turned out far better looking than she could ever have hoped, and it both pleased and scared her.
She was a bit upset to lose her mother’s eyes, but she had her mane partially now, long and flowing, as well as her face. It made her smirk a little, which only showed more of her mother’s lovely smile and caused her cheeks to flush a little bit more red. Then again, everything here was making her flush red. The realization was gradually setting in on her the more she stared at the mare mimicking her movements in the mirror.
This….is me? That mare?
Viktor shuffled her body, feeling a nervous, excited, and anxious feeling building up in her. She had to look and see. If only for a moment. Just to see and make sure. With a nervous hesitation, she carefully lifted up a leg to peer at her new gender bits. She was greeted by the sight of parts that she had seen several times before from a much more distant perspective, but when she could see it and, thanks to her recent sensitivity, feel the difference in her body, it made it that much more surreal. The presence of her newfound female sex hammered the realization home that much harder. There was nothing left of her old gender, having been taken over and replaced by the soft plush shape of fur that was between her legs now.
I…I’m a mare.
She admitted this to herself, but still couldn’t feel it completely descend onto her mind. It was strange and sensational, but she felt like she might just wake up and be fine the next day, like it were all some very lucid dream. The vacancy her body felt now was already very alien and noticeable to her now. Would it go away with time or would she feel this ‘abnormality’ forever? Was this what being female felt like?
A knock on the door pulled her out of her running thoughts. It was probably for the best, as she was getting further lost in her mind, questioning her new unfamiliar identity, and also she was staring at her crotch a bit too long. Quickly, she pulled the bed covers up and rolled onto her back.
“Come in!” She called out, immediately startled by her voice. The way it flowed out of her throat was soothing and soft relative to her former gruff and somewhat deeper voice.
The doctor from earlier walked through the door wearing a professional but ‘knowing’ smile. “How are you feeling, Miss…” She looked down to a clipboard she carried in with her. “...Victoria Elana Vanity.”
The name honestly surprised her. She knew it was coming, especially since she had greatly considered what her family would have wanted for her name to be, but hearing herself being addressed as such was another startling change in addition to everything else.
“I’m...fine.” Victoria said aloud, not entirely convincing sounding as she pulled up her covers a bit more.
The doctor looked to her for a moment, considering her words before going back to her clipboard. “Congratulations love. You are looking gorgeous right now. Uncover yourself for me please? I just need to do a checkup.”
This didn’t sit well with Victoria. She had only experienced just a few moments with herself in a body she was uncomfortable and unfamiliar with, and she already had to share it with another pony? She had some confidence with herself before because she knew who she was there, but this body, her voice, her unfamiliarity with how to even handle herself, she just didn’t like feeling so vulnerable.
“I don’t need a checkup...Everything is fine with me.”
The doctor raised an eyebrow at her. “...Dear, we need to check and make sure everything is good and healthy before we can release you-”
“I feel quite alright. I would like to get going soon.”
“Miss Vanity. This is for your own health-”
“My health is fine. Need I offer some bits to be free?”
Victoria was getting more irritated with the doctor, and the doctor felt the same in return. “Miss Vanity, this isn’t for my benefit. A lot of very complex changes have happened to you and I need to make sure that none of them send you to the hospital.”
Victoria sighed. “Didn’t you get to look enough while I was out?”
“You were asleep then. I need to check you and ask how everything feels.”
“...Just to look, right?”
“.....There will be some minor probing.”
Oh heavens no!
“I wish to go home! 100 bits?”
“Miss Vanity...I need to-”
“1000! That’s all I’ll give.”
The doctor narrowed her eyes at Victoria, rolling them before sighing. “Miss Vanity! This is not negotiable. This is for your health, and is part of being a mare. You are legally required to do this, or you will not be allowed to leave.”
Victoria held her tongue at that, thinking a few moments before frowning and groaning. She tugged the sheets aside, feeling her face go red as the doctor was free to observe.
“Alright. You look wonderful and healthy in the hindquarters.” She scribbled a few notes on her clipboard before gesturing at her legs with a hoof. “Could you spread your legs for me dear?”
“Mmmnoo…” Victoria mumbled quietly, almost too low for the doctor to hear.
“Come now dear. I’m here to help you. It will be quick.”
Victoria let out a whine, hating this so very much. She was a Canterlot Noble and she shouldn’t have to go through this...agonizingly humbling embarrassment. Twisting her lips into a scrunched up face, she reluctantly parted her legs and looked away.
The doctor smiled and took a few more notes. “Looking good. Alright. Now this part is just going to last a few moments, but I need you to hold still for me.” She pulled pulled out a metal contraption from a jar of sterilized fluid. Victoria immediately became alarmed.
“What is that?” She pushed herself back a little into the bed.
“That looks like a gardening shovel….”
“Don’t worry, this will be brief-”
“2000 bits! Bwwaahaahaah! That’s COLD!”
Victoria wore a dazed and confounded expression as the carriage gently rocked along the road toward home. Each bump shifted her unfamiliar body and tingled with the tickling new sensations that were still tingling through her, reminding her of her body repeatedly. She tried to not focus too much on what had transpired in the last hour of her visit at the doctors office. The significant amount of paperwork, the magic aptitude tests, hygiene education, and of course….the physical and its icey cold-
Stop thinking about it….It was only one time...and another checkup next week...and then every month for the rest of the year….
Victoria winced and shook her head, trying to pull herself together. This was not the time to spend thinking about this. Her family estate was getting nearer, she could tell by from the buildings becoming more sparse, and the greenery filling in the spaces between. She moved to carriage window and stuck her head out to look upon the familiar private drive coming up, Rumination Drive.
The view ahead was a welcoming sight. Hedgerows lined the road, leading up to the opening ahead to a large gate. What was beyond it was no simple home, but the large estate that represented her household.
The Vanity Estate Household… Home sweet home…
The grand mansion that housed her family for generations was iconic in Canterlot, being one of the first mansions ever built that still stood. Its weathered and worn appearance that refused to yield completely to age reflected the resolve of her family had. Both its west and east wings were holding up better than the main body of the mansion, being newer additions to the estate. Though like the family, the whole estate had fallen on hard times as well. The vegetation was getting overgrown and unkept, the paint fading with murk, and the lack of lights and life made it feel hollow. Victoria sighed, upset with the spread of deterioration through her home that reminded her of how dire her family situation was.
One day… You will be back to your former glory… And I’ll make House Vanity great once again. I promise.
The carriage came to a halt outside the gate and Victoria began to help herself out when the carriage door opened for her, the driver offering a hoof.
“Madame?” He said when Victoria paused, looking at his hoof that was offering such a kind gesture, a gesture that she had not ever been given before, not to mention the title he gave her.
“...Thank you.” She said, taking his hoof after turning over many thoughts in her head. Victoria wobbled on her hooves as she was led down the steps, her body still feeling very out of proportion to her. She knew to expect things to be different, but some came as a surprise-
“Ahem…” He held his hoof out still after helping her down, looking a bit impatient.
“Oh...Right…” She grumbled and fished about for her coin purse in her saddlebag that did not fit her at all anymore.
Reduced to using mere taxi drivers to travel around. How plebeian.
Victoria paid the taxi driver, nearly throwing the money into his hooves before turning from him sharply to put some distance between them, stumbling on her wobbly hooves.. She fetched her key to let herself in through the gate while reminiscing about how much simpler it was when they had a driver of their own. Things had certainly changed since then…
Since the events of Nightmare moons return, everything had gone so horribly wrong. The only pony left to deal with the household was the one who was the family runt. Victoria always was overshadowed by her brother, and she could still feel the effects of that. At the very least she still had Arty...
She had to snap out of her reflection when she reached the door of the house she had been born and raised in, the paint starting to show some protest from age. She normally would knock before letting herself in, announcing herself to her maid, Elise Pirouette, but in this case she rather avoid that, especially considering she hadn’t precisely told her yet, at least not directly. She left a letter on the table before leaving this morning to avoid too much issue.
Victoria carefully unlocked and opened the door, peeking her head inside to scan the large interior entrance. The marble floor and columns were immaculate as expected, having been well kept by Elise. She was glad to have somepony like her around still after how few of them were left to care for. But for the moment she rather avoid her, knowing that she...heavily disagreed with her when she asked for her input on it. She kept scanning the doorways she passed by as she slipped inside, careful to step as lightly as she could on the marble floor, but no matter what she did there was a slight clatter to her hoofsteps. All she needed to do was get to the stairs which were not very far, being just next to the study. Carefully clitter clattering her way there, she was just a mere few feet from them when she spotted disaster. A missing book...
A small stack of three books lay on the floor just a few feet from the doorway of the study. They weren’t just any books either, they were ‘History of the Frozen North’ parts 1, 3, and 4, completely out of order, not to mention in the middle of the floor. She knew exactly where in that study they were missing from, and could easily imagine that now vacant space that took its place. The very thought of things missing or being disorganized made her want to have a nervous fit. By now, nothing could stop her, her OCD going into full gear as she trotted over to the books and picked them up with her magic. They had to be put back, the very thought of it built up in her a desire that she could not wait to fulfill. Of course by the time she was in the study, she knew very well that the books were not taken out by mistake. They had to have been placed there by somepony, and there was only one pony she knew who would do that, a pony who was probably very upset with her right now.
Elise...She probably wants to talk to me. I’ll just do this real quick and get to my room. I have to get this done, and she can’t simply wait for me all day to just walk in here. She had no idea when I would be ba-
“Ahem…” Said a familiar sounding pony from behind.
Nothing was said as the maid silently glared, her gaze practically burning into Victoria, expression radiating with anger, disappointment, and a mild curiosity. Victoria looked back at Elise with a fear similar to how one would look to an oncoming train, her icy blue eyes piercing the dead thick air between them. Elise stared back like a hawk, and it was only a matter of time before Victoria stole away her gaze, looking to her hooves as her face flushed red. The maid sighed, her eyes following down the rest of her now, noting the similarities of this mare to the stallion that lived here not long ago. Victoria could feel those eyes search her, scanning her every inch, piercing her thoughts as she cringed like a foal under a parents scolding eye. It seemed as if an age went by before the silence was shattered.
“...Viktor? Victor Alan Vanity?” She asked with a mildly curious but largely flat tone. The other mare didn’t respond at first, rather her ever growing need to put away the books motivated her to glance to the shelves and find their resting place.
“...Yes...Its actually...changed now…” Elise’s eyebrows raised at the gentle sounding voice. Victoria pulled an envelope from her bag and levitated it to Elise with the gentle hue of her magic. “It has the paperwork in it…” She was unsure what to make of the maid’s reaction. She was being far too calm.
“...And what shall I call you?” Elise took the paperwork in her hooves, but the earth pony did not open it.
“Victoria Elana Vanity…” She eyed the vacancy on the bookshelf that formerly held the books she found in the hallway. It looked like nothing else was moved, but that didn’t matter. Even as she slid the books back into their original spots, she was scanning the whole row, looking for the slightest hint of inconsistency.
“Alright...my Lady Victoria?” Elise said with a hint of emphasis on her new title.
“Umm...Yes, that’s right.” Victoria ran a hoof past each book, going from one row to the next, unable to stop herself. The trap laid by the maid was very effective, trapping the younger mare with her own obsessive compulsive disorder that was now running wild in her mind, stimulating her joyfully with every compulsive action.
Elise, though, still had her quite nervous. The maid’s stare watched her every movement, inspecting, analysing, and judging her before an upset sigh left her lips. Anypony who knew Elise would cringe at the very sound, knowing very well what would soon follow.
“...You are such an idiot! Have you no respect for this house? No patience?” Elise scolded her. It was a tone she knew very well, a tone a parent spoke to a child with. Elise may be the housemaid, but she was the closest thing she had to a mother for most of her life.
“I do! I love my house and family! That’s why I must do this!” She stated sharply, her attentions however were barely pulled from the bookshelf and its contents
Elise scoffed. “Turn yourself into a mare so that you can marry yourself off into more riches? Do you really think its that easy?”
“No...But I have to try. Its the best option-”
“No its not the best option! You think the houses are going to just openly throw suitors at you? They aren’t just looking for someone to marry, Viktor, they want something to gain. You think they feel anymore compelled to marry off to you knowing you are this desperate and stupid?”
“It’s not going to happen like that-”
“And this is traditionally a patriarchal family. You think the other families won’t try to capitalize on that? They will want to merge this house into their own, and then there won’t be a House Vanity anymore!”
“Traditions can change. Recently House Dusk-”
“House Dusk has the money and family count to do whatever they want. House Vanity does not. House Vanity is running out of money, your father in a coma, brother gone, and you have lounged around for the last 5 years as the family businesses have fallen to shambles. And now you do this? For what?”
Victoria’s hooves were starting to shake as they trailed across the spines of the books lining the shelves. Heart beginning to race and breathe deepening, she counted off a few more books before attempting to formulate her reply.
“I-I...Couldn’t do it before. N-not like that. Not like how I was... It works out better this way…” Though her words were of her heart, they were scared and lost. “I will make this work. It is for the better of House Vanity… My family. Arty...”
Her book skimming had stopped, being no longer able to read them with the tears that blinded her eyes. Why did they come to her so easily now? She knew the answer was related to the new hormones in her body, something she was already learning to hate. Feeling too prideful to let Elise see her face like this, she tried to subtly wipe her eyes with a simple swipe of her trembling hoof, her back still toward her.
Elise was no simple maid of the house, being just a few years shy of Victoria’s father at age 49, the maid had spent a majority of her life working for House Vanity. She was practically family and had more perception and insight than most others. Having been there to help raise her, it was not hard for Elise to see the trauma surfacing in Victoria. With a sigh, she approached the crying mare.
“Alan…” She put her hoof on her shoulder. “I have known you since you were a foal, and you’re a smart pony... I’m worried about you.” Elise pulled her in closer, wrapping her hoof around her shoulders in a hug. “I want the best for you, and I don’t know if this is it. I don’t understand it, but...I am here for you, even if you make stupid decisions sometimes.”
Victoria was pulled away from the bookshelf by her hug, tears running free down her eyes. So much effort was put into keeping herself quiet, wanting to be a newer and stronger leader for the household, but nothing could hold back the tide of sobs that trembled from her lips when the now taller maid rested her head on her own. Her whole body started to tremble and all inhibitions gave way as she leaned into Elise, burying the side of her face into her neck. Never before had she felt herself want to cry so hard, always having hidden it away for fear of showing weakness and being mocked, but right now, it felt...necessary...and good.
As time passed, Victoria let her emotions pour from her tears, not letting Elise go. The maid herself felt a tear or two tempt themselves from her eyes, but kept silent for the most part. It was not like this five years ago, when the house was not in such a dire situation. Victoria’s father, Audric, was still conscious, his words carrying strength and demanded respect by many of the other houses. Close behind him was her brother, Keaton, having many ambitions for the house, and being already quite accomplished with his stellar service to the Royal Guard. Her father had spent considerable time grooming him, leaving Victoria to her own devices that, often, received scolding from her father. She knew her father loved her, and he did show it, but her brother was always the favorite one. Keaton even managed to win the heart of a member of House Horizon and married her, something that had not happened for centuries. House Vanity was prospering, and she was overshadowed by it all.
Until Nightmare Moon returned.
“Alan..er, Elana...Perhaps you need some time to collect yourself.” Elise said, using her middle name. It was customary in their family to use middle names when being much more personal and sensitive among other members. “Maybe some time in the yard to think. Do not get me wrong. I am here for you, but...little Reginald is due to arrive soon. I doubt you are prepared to see him at this moment.”
Victoria took one last breath and wiped her eyes on Elise’s fur before pulling away. She had forgotten that it was just about time that her nephew was getting home from school, and considering the teary mess she was now, it was best she avoided him until ready.
“I...Suppose so. Yeah. I will tell him before dinner time...I think I’ll visit the Hall of Mirrors...Just for a little while.” Victoria’s voice cracked as she tried to speak, still shedding a few tears. Elise couldn’t help but smile and give her one more hug.
“I will see to Reginald and get him ready. And I dare say...you look lovely, even with tears.” She released her and stepped away. “Come now, lets go before we have any-”
A bell echoed from the entrance of the house.
“-surprises...Off you go My Lady. I shall see to little Reginald. You collect yourself by dinner time.” The maid bowed, going as far as to insure she went below Victoria’s height now, before leaving to tend to the door.
Victoria wiped her eyes once more before forcing herself to get a move on out of the study. While she still felt a draw toward the book shelves, it was mostly out of her mind by now. The new mare trotted out and around the corner, seeing Elise watch her go as she waited by the door for her to be out of sight. In moments, Victoria disappeared into the mansion, a feat not too terribly difficult to do considering its size and many now unused rooms. Passing through a few halls, she exited to the outside again into the back courtyard. She didn’t realize how confined she was feeling inside until that moment when she took in a few breaths of fresh air.
The courtyard, much like the rest of the estate, had fallen victim to overgrowth and weathering. Vegetation grew between brick and stone paths, gardens covered in weeds, and hedges that were in dire need of trimming. Despite it all, the wild feel of the property only aided Victoria in getting away from her emotions. The uneven ground made her stumble a few times, falling once or twice as her hooves were still feeling like jelly from earlier. Cursing her clumsiness, she brushed herself off and carried on.
The Hall of Mirrors was barely visible from the mansion, being hidden away by the small forest that surrounded it for the most part. The pathway was among the only ones that was maintained somewhat, being perhaps the only path that anypony here ever traveled. The hall itself resembled more of a temple from the outside, though it was overgrown with weeds and moss from the many years it was left unattended.
Victoria pushed open the ancient wooden doors, proud of how they were nearly silent thanks to her efforts in keeping the interior of the hall in good shape. It was one of the few places she intentionally indulged her OCD in keeping clean and in shape. The hall represented her family's culture and history. Inside, the entranceway was nothing but mirrors, confusing any pony who did not already know the layout. She knew it represented how a pony saw themselves as who they were, having an honest understanding of themselves and those around them. Victoria could see herself more easily now than ever, the many mirrors, which she had been sure to keep clean herself, reflecting back the mare that had replaced her previous image. Normally she would simply stroll through but it made her pause this time around, considering her new appearance. Now that the initial shock was over, she could really see herself now compared to what she was before.
One of the first things she noticed with herself at a distance was how she looked smaller. Walking about, she didn’t feel it was the case, but being near doors, tables, a especially Elise, she noticed her height had fallen. Seeing herself in so many mirrors aside the door she knew so well, it was hard to miss. She frowned to herself at this, having always enjoyed the fact she was taller than the maid in the past, especially when they butt heads. Her slimmer legs and body didn’t do much to help her feel any better, only adding more a sense of fragility to herself. Victoria never considered herself a great fighter, but it had its appeal for glory to her. Any chance of her achieving that now were gone.
I look like a mare made of sticks. Do I even have the strength to do the things I used to?...Is anypony going to even let me?
Victoria looked herself over again. She had seen many noble mares with her body type, and often times those mares were given such chivalrous service that the idea of it being applied to her made her groan.
Oh heaven’s, they are going to try and treat me like I’m helpless aren’t they? Fleur De Lis already abuses that, and now I’m her size and shape. I can’t let anypony do that to me and make me out as some kind of...damsel… And damn that blush!
She frowned harder as she looked at herself in the mirror, her face starting to flush red. Whenever she got upset in the past, she was usually laughed off, and now it was only more apparent that, with her current frustrated look, she was only going to get more of the wrong kind of response. Aggravated, she whined and fell back onto her rump with a sigh. She needed to be taken more seriously if she was going to make any impressions on the nobility. Having her fathers eyes she thought would enhance her seriousness, but in this case it only made her look that much more innocent, if not doe-like.
Staring at herself in the mirror longer, she looked at her cheeks and snout, turning her head about. Eventually she took this further, and stood up to spin herself about, getting a more casual look at her new self. At least she did not come out ugly or lacking in any departments, there was no denying that there would be somepony interested in her.
...Stallions interested in me. Now there’s a disturbing thought I wasn’t sure I would be ready for.
Victoria knew that all this would entail an inevitable coupling with a stallion that she might not be entirely comfortable with. Being a mare when she was raised a stallion her whole life did not bother her as much as it would others. If anything, the idea was a curiosity, and it always amused her how stallions took so much pride in their ‘manliness’, as if there was something horribly wrong with the other end of the spectrum. Even so, she wasn’t quite prepared to face the idea of it with so little experience.
I’ll just have to make sure none of them play me. I have seen how some of the stallions act up close. I have the advantage.
Breaking her gaze from the mirror, she decided to move on beyond the entryway of the Hall. As designed, the entryway gave those entering a chance to reflect on themselves, and rarely was an exception ever made. Entering the main chambers, Victoria was greeted by a cathedral like interior, adorned with mirrors, and reflective mosaics, depicting various chapters of history. House Vanity was no simple rich family that bought itself into nobility, but had founded itself on the very artifact that laid in the center of the room. A magical artifact that her family was entrusted with as keepers and guardians because of its self reflection and loyal duty to knowing oneself in service to equestria. The Mirror Pool.
Victoria walked past mosaics that depicted many events of the past that her family had struggled and prospered through, a rich history that her father had taught to both her brother and herself. Centuries of history that her name stood for, that she now had sole responsibility for, that made her who she was. All of it started with the Mirror Pool. All that was left of it that is.
Victoria looked down into the pool, the steps that led into it along its border were dry till the very last one, the pool itself being merely a couple inches deep. Ever since she had seen the pool, it had been anything but the glamorous magical artifact that the stories and history made it out to be. Of all the many rumors that surrounded it about the magical properties and spells it could perform, Victoria had not seen it once do anything magical, partly because her father urged no one to try with it in such a weakened state. None of the official historical texts mentioned its use since the days of Nightmare Moon’s first uprising, and neither did it state how to use it, or what it could even do. All that was known were rumors and legends.
Victoria laid down at the pools edge, staring over into it as her hoof dangled lazily. She had been here many times before, staring into the mirror pool, seeing her reflection, and contemplated much of her life’s situation. This was it, all that she held dear, her family and its dying legacy, or at least what was left of her family. Five years ago she never could have dreamed that she would ever be responsible for its future like this. That was destined to be up to her father and brother, not the family runt, the one who was left to her own means of success that she never achieved, but fate was to be cruel. Her father comatose, mother passed away, brother and his wife dead, she was the sole pony left to govern the family and its legacy with her little nephew, maid, and a dried up pool. All she managed over the four years after those events was to seclude herself in depression as the coffers ran dry. It wasn’t just up to her to save her family, but to redeem herself from being the pony that brought about its end.
A soft sob escaped her lungs as she stared down into the mirror pool at her own reflection. Even though the pony she saw was a stranger, she could still see the face of her original self, the one who did nothing to help her family, the one she didn’t want to see. It served only to be a reminder of how, even with this big change in her life, she still could fail and lose it all. More and more she began to think about what Elise said, about if this was the right choice, or if she was just desperate enough to do anything to be somepony other than Viktor, the family runt. All her previous logic was starting to make less sense to her as more guilt and despair filled her. Staring down at that crying mare in the mirror pool seemed to only fit the image of helplessness she was feeling now.
Father, Mother, Keaton, Sinnie, Elise...and Arty...I’m sorry...I hope I can at least make it last long enough for someone else to do better...I’ll do Arty good at least.
Her mind drifted tiredly to the stallion nobles she could marry to, thinking of who would be best for her family. She didn’t have to think long as she softly fell into sleep.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself Vik.” Keaton gave his younger brother a firm pat on the back, nearly knocking his younger brother Viktor down to the ground. The smaller brother steadied himself and let out a depressed sigh.
“Father will kill me. I let him down again…” He rubbed his shoulder from the pat. Keaton’s armored body certainly added more weight to him, but the pegasus didn’t seem any more encumbered than a wonderbolt.
“Father will be upset, but he loves you.” He ran a hoof over his sky blue mane, sweeping it around his bright blue eyes and orange fur. “I know he sets high standards for you, but don’t let it get you down. Everypony stumbles and falls. Myself included.”
“But I failed several classes and am being held back a grade! That isn’t a stumble, that’s outright failure... He’s already disappointed with me for enough things. Father will—” Viktor was cut off when his brother gave him a hug, something he did sparingly.
“Brother, you’re going to be fine. When you fall down, you might get hurt, break a leg, and need to rest sometimes, but all you gotta do is get up and try again. You’ll get better each time.” He ruffled Viktor’s mane, to which he could only squirm and try to break free. “Even if you’re a bit different.”
“If it doesn’t kill me…” he muttered. “You can best nearly anypony in combat. Everypony respects you and looks up to you. I’m just the leftover black sheep of the family filling in the blanks.”
“Viktor…” Keaton smiled. “Don’t compare yourself to others. Be your own pony. You have your own strengths and more. You have a unique talent with strong magical potential, and you certainly are smarter with your words than I am. Heck, you topped the class in government, world history, economics, and culture. And I know you will find many more strengths if you think hard enough.”
“My magic that is no more useful for anything short of putting pop tarts in the toaster. I’m nothing that father wants, not some ‘paragon’ that everypony looks up to.”
“Don’t worry yourself so much about what father wants. Play to your strengths and practice your weaknesses. But for now I want you to relax and smile. You’re going to be an uncle soon. Can you believe it?”
Viktor looked out the corner of his eyes. “That’s great. It really is, but I’m not sure if I’m going to be much of an uncle.” He sighed, the title depressing him further.
Keaton chuckled heartily and gave him a pat on the back. “Oh come on Vik; you’ll be great. You got a heart where it counts, and one day you’ll have your own kids to raise. Believe me, you will love being a father.”
Viktor nodded, looking off into the distance as his words echoed in his mind, giving him a dreading chill.
The sound echoed through Victoria’s mind.
There it was again, resonating off the walls around her.
“Uncle—What did you do to your mane? Its got pink in it! Oooooh! Pretty!”
Victoria’s eyes shot open, her mind coming to a rude awakening as she snapped out of her sleep. Startled awake, she lifted her head and looked to the source of the ruckus that was climbing onto her back. Her eyes met with a curious pair of forest green ones that were quickly becoming rather dumbfounded right now. The little, warm sunset orange colored pegasus sat on his rump on her back, his sky blue and white mane looked a bit tussled, save his braid that hung over his shoulder. The young effeminate colt looked over Victoria before returning them to her eyes. Victoria was locked in horror and indecision, frozen as her nephew started to put things together in his head.
“...You look different Uncle Vik. Your eyes are blue! Very pretty!”
Victoria stared back, her thoughts stumbling for words from her recently awoken state.
“You got smaller,” he quipped.
Come on. Think of something to say. He is going to start jumping to conclusions. I can’t make this difficult for him and it’s very important he understands and takes this well.
“...You got bigger,” she replied with a smile, the words coming to her reflexively, much to the delight of the little colt.
“YOU’RE A GIRL?!” squealed the little colt upon hearing her voice, bouncing up and down on her back before taking a tumble when he slipped. Rolling gracefully, he was right back up on his hooves so quick that it almost looked like the whole stunt was intentional.
Victoria couldn’t help but laugh a bit to herself at seeing his antics. “Well you squeal like one.”
“Whatdidyoudo? Howdidyoudoit? CanIdoit?” The little colt hopped up and down, fluttering his wings.
“Arty, slow down now.” She pushed her front up and sat on her haunches. “Listen, I know you might be confused right now.”
The rather feminine looking colt stopped giggling like a little filly and looked at her with a huge smile. The angle of his head made the pink bow in his mane all the more apparent to her. “Hehe...Confused?” He stuck his tongue out a little at her. “What’s so confusing about that?”
Victoria noted the bow on his head, something that she constantly had to discourage him from wearing in public. She was a bit dumbfounded by the 8 year old’s simple understanding. It made her smile at how youth was so innocent and pure. It only made her want to hug him even more, which she did.
The little colt squeaked as he was snatched up into her magic and embraced into her arms. “Ahh! Halp! The tickle monster is gonna eat me!” He squirmed in her hug. Victoria didn’t think she could love a pony more than this one.
“Arty, you adorable furball. There is going to be some changes, but I’m the same old me, okay? What are you doing back here anyway?” She said, releasing him. Victoria was met with wide eyes staring back at her closely, so very curious and in wonder.
“Can I try?”
Victoria blushed a bit and sighed. “No Arty, this isn’t for fun. I just needed to make some changes because... there is some family business going on that I need to fix. Now what were you doing back here?” She gave him a vague answer and hoped he would follow her onto another subject.
“Ahhwww. Okay. Oh, um, Elissy was almost ready with dinner so I was gonna surprise her by having you there early!” He beamed. Victoria, however, gave him a knowing smile.
“You wanted me to tell her to make creme brulee again before it’s too late, didn’t you?”
“Maaaaaaaybeeeee.” He blushed and looked upward like the most innocent of angels. It was a face that would make the devil himself blush.
Victoria smiled and shook her head. “You have had enough of those in the last week. It takes a while to make those; poor Elise works hard enough. Why don’t you try making them yourself?”
“She banned me from the kitchen though.” The little colt frowned.
“What? Why would she do that?”
He looked to his hooves shyly. “Umm...I kinda...made a tornado in the kitchen by accident.”
“Oh I remember that.” She failed to hide a smirk. “She was very upset about that. You have to be careful about those pegasus abilities of yours.” Victoria had to admit raising the little colt was difficult at times, as he showed an early and strong affinity for wind and weather manipulation. He created so many messes and even once got the attention of the local weather team when he sent a small twister through their garden and into the street. At least he impressed them enough to start receiving scholarship offers, but she already had arrangements for him to be in the finest schools.
“So we gonna eat some din din, Auntie?” He asked carefully of her, embarrassed about her recalling those events.
Victoria blushed and was broken from her train of thought at hearing him call her that. A smile overwhelmed her and she felt the urge to hug him again. “Yeah... Lets go get dinner, Arty.”
On the trip back, Victoria could see that the sun had begun to set, darkening the surrounding overgrowth enough that it wouldn’t be hard to get lost in all of it if one strayed too far from the path. She must have fallen asleep for at least a couple hours, if not more. Victoria followed the little colt as he skipped and hopped his way across the stone tiles on the approach to the mansion, occasionally looking back at her with fresh curiosity.
It was hard to miss the massive residence, being three stories tall and meant to house near a couple dozen ponies in both wings, though it had been quite some time since the house had been that full. The large structure dwarfed most other mansions that were built in Canterlot recently, and had a history to show for it. The sight of it never failed to bring awe to her and remind her of the legacy she stood for.
The family legacy…
Victoria followed Arty as the little pegasus bounced his way inside and down the hall toward the dining area. Entering the dining room, she reflexively took a seat at the head of the table while Arty continued to bounce on back to the kitchen area beyond the swinging door. The table and room were uncharacteristically smaller than most of the other rooms, being suited for 6 ponies comfortably. Normally, her family would eat in the grand dining hall that was fully decorated and easily seat the residents and guests, but the servants table was much more convenient and quiet with only three ponies needing to be fed. The budgeted meals felt less out of place when they were not in a grand hall.
Her eyes gazed over the empty seats, remembering back when they were filled by her brother, mother, and father The addition of her sister in law was strange, as her relationship with Sinnie was a bit rocky at the start, but she grew to like the noble pegasus from House Horizon. The arrival of Arty solidified her love for her newest family members, strengthening the bond between Victoria and Sinnie as well as her brother Keaton. The feeling of jealousy she had toward Sinnie; though, never went away. She was not sure why she felt that way, but with Sinnie’s passing she still felt the pain of losing the only sister she could have ever had. While her mother’s death was expected, the loss of Sinnie and Keaton devastated her, and her father—
“Well hello there love. I got you your favorite tea.” A stallion immediately invaded her peripheral vision as a hoof patted her firmly on the back.
Nearly jumping out of her seat, Victoria gasped and threw herself to the edge of her seat furthest from the unanticipated arrival of the tan bodied pegasus. “What in bloody Tartarus!”
Her shouts were met with a hearty chuckled as the lean pegasus ran a hoof through his red and orange mane, smirking at her as his ice blue eyes wandered over her in such a way that Victoria couldn’t help but feel like she needed to cover herself up.
“My apologies there Miss. I didn’t anticipate you finding me so alarmingly ‘interesting’.” His words were suave, as was his posture as he leaned up against the table aside her.
Victoria glared back at him in mild irritation, not feeling up for his word games right now. She knew this pony, even without glancing at the silver serpent that adorned his flank, but he did not know her as she was now. Thankfully she had the presence of mind to remember that fact, she eased up and figured this might be a chance for try to play her role here as a new pony.
“You had me quite startled there. I don’t believe we have met.” Victoria put on a smile and put a hoof to her chest to exaggerate her startled reaction. He smirked and gently took up her other hoof with his own, giving it a gentle kiss that put her into a moderately surprised blushing fit.
“Brenner Skye, my Lady,” he said, the name being one that Victoria knew rather well, but always thought it oddly traditional for a pony who was not a noble himself. She practically grew up with him as he spent much of his time amongst the members of House Victoria, her father having insisted on having him around to be a friend and ‘squire in training’ unofficially. “And what name would a lovely mare such as yourself be graced with?”
Victoria didn’t know what was happening to her as her mind started to blank a little and cheeks burn red. She didn’t want to give in to weakness and tear her gaze away from him, but those eyes and smile were distracting her. With hesitation, she forced herself to talk.
“Victoria.” Before she could say more and take the lead, Brenner gracefully took it.
“Joining us for dinner then, my dear? Perhaps I could entertain you after. The rooftop has a most delightful view over the estate and Canterlot proper.” He leaned in closer toward her, his hoof resting on the backrest of her chair around her. “The stars are quite a sight, as beautiful and wondrous as y—”
Elise whacked Brenner across the head quite firmly with a wooden serving spoon, the maid having entered from the kitchen through the rather silent push door. Brenner jumped back from Victoria and stumbled away with a hoof up in defence.
“Ouch! Confounded mare!”
“I know very well what you are up to Mr. Skye and I can assure you that nothing has changed since last time.” Elise spoke with only the slightest increase in aggression in her usual calm tone. With another swing she whapped Benner across the thigh, causing a loud crack that almost made his ears ring.
“Sweet Celestia!” He jumped and hobbled several feet away from her like an injured animal. “I was merely conversing with our guest—”
She swung again, striking his rump with another loud crack. Benner jumped again and retreated swiftly to the other side of the table.
“Alright! Alright! So I may have known that she is Viktor. It wasn’t very hard to figure that out”
“...It wasn’t?” Victoria had been pleasantly enjoying the show from her seat until now.
“Well,” he eyed Elise cautiously as the maid simply stared back at him unamused, “considering how similar you look to your previous self, especially the cutie mark, Elise’s insistence that you need ‘alone time’, Arty squealing more than he usually does, and, well, the fact that you haven’t exactly had any interest in traditional ‘male behaviors’.”
Victoria groaned with a roll of her eyes as this subject came up again. “You’re one to talk.” Her cheeks were burning now.
“I find nothing wrong with appreciating somepony despite their gender. Maybe you’ll come to appreciate that, my lady.” He emphasized her title, smiling in satisfaction at her reddening cheeks.
“Brenner,” Elise spoke up. “If you wish to stay for dinner, you will behave while I finish preparation. Otherwise…” She simply stared at him a few silent moments until he quietly took a seat across from Victoria, ears drooping. It wasn’t even necessary for her to finish as he knew what would ensue. She turned from both of them and went back to the kitchen once she felt her point was made clear enough.
Left alone now, silence consumed the air as Brenner stared at Victoria nonchalantly, her eyes firmly looking back at him. Her mind started to wonder as to what he might be thinking, why that look was making her more nervous than usual, the fact that she was quite a bit shorter than him now, and how Arty hadn’t come bursting in yet to interrupt them. She knew he was bound to ask her questions and pick her brain. It was just a matter of time before he—
“So did you hear the news late this morning?”
Victoria was perturbed, was she suddenly not interesting to him anymore? She expected him to ask about her and it irked her that he just seemed to move on like she were some brief passing of mild fascination.
“...That’s the question you want to ask me? After all this?” She motioned to her body with a hoof, completely dumbfounded.
Brenner smirked and gestured to the kitchen door. “Well, Elise was rather insistent, though I didn’t know you would crave the attention like a highschool filly.”
“I am not a high school filly and I do not participate in that kind of behavior!” she said with aggravation. He chuckled to himself, covering his mouth to try and hide it when she only seemed to get more frustrated with him.
“Oh I’m sure you don’t….Yet.”
She glared at him sharply, burning her eyes into him. “I’m not that kind of pony.”
“Oh come now. You have been a filly for, what, not even a day? Don’t you think those hormones your brain is bathing in now will have an effect once they settle in?”
Victoria shook her head and put her chin up. “I have been handling it just fine, all that has changed is my appearence.”
“Pardon?” Her ears perked up at his quiet comment.
Brenner couldn’t help but snicker to himself. “You reaction earlier says otherwise, my dear.”
“You always liked to flirt, no matter the pony.” She crossed her arms and looked to the wall, a faint blush on her cheeks.
“True,” he grinned further, “but you were quite flustered moments ago by me, and I wasn’t even trying.”
“That’s not true! I was trying to use this as an opportunity to role-play and see how well I could handle myself with somepony who didn’t know. Though you botched that with your flirts.” She pouted.
“You would have role-played with me right to the bedroom with how poorly you guarded yourself.” Brenner chuckled.
“I like to role-play!” shouted Arty joyfully as he hopped up on his seat at the table. A loud thwack could be heard moments later as Brenner yelped in pain from the wooden spoon impacting the back of his head. An accomplished Elise stood behind him with an ever so slight frown on her face.
“Sinning Sisters! Would you stop that?”
“I will pluck that silver tongue out of your mouth if I hear anymore of that,” Elise said firmly. She looked across to Victoria, the new mare being quite mute for the moment as she covered her flushed red cheeks with her hooves. The mental imagery that came to mind at Brenner’s words made her so very aware of her sex that she squirmed in her seat. This wasn’t new to her with how Brenner liked to tease every now and then, but he was on a roll today and she found herself really flustered by it now that she was on the other side of the fence. It was almost jarring to her mind, but she figured she would get used to it.
“I can get some dice and we can role-play!” Arty chimed in again.
Elise shook her head and finally stepped away from Brenner after she was satisfied with the amount of cowering he showed with her spoon at the ready. “Now isn’t the time little Reginald. Dinner is about to be served.”
“Call me Arty! I don’t like that name.” He whined.
“Dinner sounds great!” Victoria forced a smile, her discomfort combined with the chaos in the room made her really want to move on with the evening. Elise gave her a nod keeping her eye on her for a moment before slipping away into the kitchen. Victoria knew that look meant something, and she would probably find out very soon.
Silence settled on everypony after the maid made her exit, save for the jingling sounds of Arty playing with the silverware. Victoria took this moment to clear her head, and think about how much had changed in the last twelve hours. The tingling from her transformation had faded long ago, but she felt like something was still there, like some mental aspect that was making her feel quite aware of herself and her body. Hearing others, such as Brenner, remind her of that was becoming near irritating. She had to admit she was adapting rather quickly in her mind, perhaps not giving herself enough credit when it came to self-reflection. It was her family name afterall.
Elise returned not much later with a serving cart of plates with pasta, salad, and various other vegetables. She meticulously and masterfully placed all their plates with an elegance that suited the cutie mark of a dancing mare on her flank. Getting to Victoria last, she hovered aside her for a few moments before looking to Brenner. “You didn’t tell her about the news yet, did you?”
Brenner smiled cautiously at her. “Well... you see,” he didn’t sound too sure of himself at first with Elise staring at him so intensely, but Brenner returned to his smooth casual taking voice soon enough. “I was more than happy to break the news, but she was just so persistent that I talk about her that I could not ignore her needs.”
Elise rolled her eyes, Victoria sighed, and even Arty looked mildly unimpressed.
“...You win some, you lose some,” Brenner said quietly to himself.
“Elise, what news is there that is so important?” Victoria was starting to feel impatient, and she hadn’t even eaten yet.
Elise nodded. “Basyrr Dusk of the Lunar Council died last night. Murdered on the castle walls.”
Victoria turned to Elise, eyes open and mouth agape. While she may have been a shut in for quite some time, Basyrr was a pony that she was familiar with, having met him quite a number of times in her childhood.
Basyrr Dusk. He would visit my mother often, talk to her about time and fate. One of her true friends. I remember him coming by to talk and bring her books when I was just a young mare— Erm. Stallion.
If the situation at hoof was any less serious, she would have given herself more trouble on misgendering herself in her own head, but she didn’t have the time. Somepony her family considered a friend had died, murdered even. What could motivate such an act scared and angered her.
“Why? How? Basyrr? A member of the Lunar Council? One of mother’s friends?” Victoria asked, knowing what answers she would get, she felt a need to exclaim her shock though as a heavy, dreadful sensation filled the pit of her stomach. She wanted to say more, but what could she say? She only had a couple of conversations with him in passing, having secluded herself during those times, and most everypony else here probably was in a similar situation. That didn’t help the emotional build up that she felt inside her, terrifying her even more. What if she were to die tomorrow? How would she be remembered? Would she be remembered? What about her family? She began to shake a little as her mind started to cascade into emotional turmoil, pondering the meaning of her life. Fortunately, she was interrupted from this when Elise put a hoof on her shoulder and leaned in close.
“It is grave news, and the occasion is not the most ideal, especially considering your recent development, but this is your chance to get back into the social circle of the nobility.”
Victoria, rife with depressive feelings, still managed to blush when she realized what she was telling her.
“The funeral is the day after tomorrow. You are going to need to be there to pay your respects and give this House a presence. It will be your first time out in public among all the nobles. There is quite a lot to prepare for.” Elise sighed. “I managed to get an appointment with a tailor for you to have something to wear in time. We’ll need to go over a lot tomorrow.”
Arty bounced in his chair, waving a hoof as if he were in a class room. “Oh! Can I have something made for me too?”
“I guess game night is canceled tomorrow.” Brenner leaned on a hoof, watching Victoria squirm as Elise piled on the responsibilities and expectations.
Victoria’s mind was running wild through her thoughts, trying to think of what she would even say or how other nobles would react. Certain houses need more attention over others, especially ones with potential suitors.
By Celestia! I have to make a good first impression on heaven knows how many noble stallions! I need to talk to Fancy Pants before then if I’m going to see all the noble houses.
“Is Fancy Pants available? I need to see him before then.” She looked up to Elise, who sighed back at her, knowing she wanted her to call in her place.
“I’ll see to checking when he is available for a visit—”
“It would be better if he came here.” Victoria added in.
Elise sighed. “I will see if he can but I doubt it possible on such short notice. It would be far more forthcoming of you to go to him.”
“You’ll get to reintroduce yourself to his marefriend as well, and she has some connections when it comes to the inner mare groups I hear.” Brenner added in, speaking with a mouth half full of food.
As tempted as Victoria was to ask Brenner how he knew that, she had enough problems of her own right now. “Is he not engaged to Fleur De Lis yet?” She was honestly surprised considering how long the two have been together.
“Same as always. I hope you’re not taking an interest in him though. It would create quite a rift in the friendship you have with him.” Brenner smirked.
“No more than it would with you, Brenner.” She rolled her eyes and blushed, much to his amusement.
Elise looked in Brenner’s direction, making him pause and keep to himself. “I think it is best we worried about the details of the funeral preparation after dinner.” She kept a sharp eye on him until he nodded his head reluctantly.
“Ice cream!” Arty tossed his utensils onto his plate before jumping from his seat and fluttering to the kitchen to claim his prize.
What remained of dinner went rather quickly, and all attempts from Brenner to ask any questions of Victoria were met with Elise’s stare. Though she knew he wanted a chance to speak with her plainly as friends, she had quite a lot on her plate now with this funeral. Elise insisted on Brenner going back home instead of spending the night at the estate, as he commonly did, and sent Arty to bed early, wanting to have a few words with Vanity before the night was over.
Elise closed the door behind her upon entering Victoria’s spacious and finely furnished room. She couldn’t help but feel a growing anxiety as Elise approached her, looking her over again. Victoria never realized how much she appreciated being taller than her when it came to situations like this or just taller in general. Standing fully upright next to the already tall Brenner was a bit of a shock to her.
“I’ll be waking you up a bit earlier than usual tomorrow. There is a bit more consideration to the morning routine that, as much as I would like for you to learn from trial and error, I will need to impart on you.” She circled around her with a close eye, as she had earlier in the day.
Victoria sighed and nodded, shying away somewhat from her observant eyes. “Ugh. I was honestly hoping I could have just a few days to myself before having to worry about making connections.”
“How are you handling all this?” Elise asked her upon coming back to her front.
“Stressed, not wanting to go out, the usual kind of—”
“I mean your transformation. How are you adjusting to it?”
Victoria paused for a moment, having to think. “Umm... Well... I haven’t grown a second head. It’s honestly going better than I expected. So much that I’m even correctly gendering myself in my head. Brenner surprised me, but that is hardly unusual for him to be that way.”
Elise frowned, much to Victoria’s surprise, and rubbed a hoof to her chin. “That is... quite an adjustment to make so quickly. Are you sure the aftereffects are not still influencing you?”
Having Elise question what Victoria felt near proud of for adapting to so well upset her somewhat. “No, I stopped feeling those effects after I woke up for dinner,” she said flatly, her tone mildly irritated that she was even making an issue of it.
Several moments of silence went by before Elise shook her head. “I knew you were different growing up, but despite that, it seems you’re taking it... too well.”
Victoria sighed loudly, the annoyance clear in her tone now. “Elise. Just because something goes right with me for once doesn’t mean you have to question it like there is some mistake I made secretly hidden inside. I regret nothing and I’m handling it fine. I think we have enough to worry about with the upcoming days.”
Elise looked right into her eyes, thinking, reading, and finally nodding. “Alright then. I’ll wake you early to start the day.” She turned and calmly trotted away to exit the bedroom.
Victoria couldn’t help but feel she was all too quick to accept her answer, but then again she never knew Elise to be one to argue much on what she wasn’t knowledgeable on. As she crawled into bed, she had a feeling that the conversation would come up again. After all, Elise never argued unless she thought she was right, and usually she was.
Princess Luna stared at the double doors of her office, the knocking that reverberated off it startled her despite her knowing full well to expect it after summoning one of her guards. The Princess collected herself, discarding a few tissues into the wastebin before taking a deep, but very welcome, breath of air to ease her tired nerves.
The Princess had watched the sun rise and set without rest, her mind far too flooded with the loss of one of her dearest friends. All the memories she formed with him, the day of her return to Equestria, the lessons he taught, the laughs they shared, all of that was now the only thing she had left of him. While her tears had subsided, the pain still ached and would for a long time. With her initial mourning over with it was time for her to think and act. This is where she would start.
“Enter.” she commanded to the one responsible for knocking. The door quietly opened and a single Lunar Guard entered. Her dark smoky blue furred legs and body moving in a quiet fluid motion toward the center of her office. The thestral mare was a pony that was hard to not notice. It was not just because of her short spiky cut mane that resembled a hot blue flame with her dark and light blue mane streaks or because of her sharp scrutinous rich pink colored eyes, but all of that combined with the fact she was one of the tallest mares in the guard, surpassing the average stallions height by several inches.
“Ye called for me, Princess?” She bowed, her armor chinking with the sharp attentive motion. The thestral’s expression was calm but her tone was solemn.
“Sergeant Nightcaster, thank you for coming. Please, be at ease.”
The Lunar Guard looked to her left and right before simply plopping her flank down in place, answering in her signature accent. “How can I help ye Princess Luna?”
Luna noted that she must be tired with how her posture was more sunken than even her usual laid back self. Basyrr’s death was certainly on her mind. Shaking her head, Luna forced a smile. “You needn’t worry over titles and formalities.”
“Well, what is this formal name business wit me then?” She looked up to Luna, eyebrow raised in mild confusion. Her tone had changed from measured to quite an abrupt boisterous informal one that coupled with her accent well..
Luna realized she had indeed addressed her by her rank not a moment ago. “I see. Well, it was my mistake then, Emi.”
The Lunar Guard’s face twisted, a hint of rose coming to her cheeks before dropping her face into her hoof. “Prince- Luna, ye know I don’t like being called that.”
Luna smiled sincerely as she could not resist the little giggle that came from her. “My apologies, Caster. It is so often I hear it from Gale that it has become more second nature.”
Caster’s cheeks became a deeper rose color as she rolled her eyes and cross her forehooves in defiance to her statement. “Well, she be a stubborn one and I let her get away with it a wee bit sometimes. You know how she can be.”
Luna’s smile rose further as she recalled the antics the two of them could be up to in the late hours of the night. They always managed to bring a smile to her face and be among the most interesting pairs of Lunar Guards. “Quite. I am all too familiar with your interactions you both share.”
Were it any other pony else, Caster would likely return a smirk, but when Luna, Princess of the Night and Dreamwalking, says it, one can only wonder how much she knows.
“Aye...Ye could say that…” Caster felt her cheeks start to burn red while she looked about the room nervously, peeking a glance at Luna every few moments to see if the Princess knew what she might be suggesting.
Luna’s brow raised, Caster’s reaction having confused her. Perhaps they had been up to no good again or she had missed a joke. “Has something become of you two? Did the Captain catch you two playing that card game on duty once again?”
She thanked the stars Luna wasn’t the most socially perceptive pony and let out a half honest laugh. “No, no. I haven’t gotten into any trouble with Captain ‘smokey bat’ since last time.”
Luna’s expression dropped to a mild deadpan as she was reminded of the incident. “When you bludgeoned one of your fellow Lunar Guards unconscious?”
“Oi! He touched me rump like he fancied me!” She put her hooves up and gave the air a few sparring punches, having an imaginary duel with the air.
Luna had to guard herself as the corners of her mouth were tempted to curl upwards at Caster’s antics. The energy and exotic personality that Caster had made Luna appreciate having her around. She probably could have had a couple more promotions by now if not for that but then again, she might not have gotten the ones she has now if not for her willingness to take action when others would be to afraid to. Regardless, Luna had to roll her eyes and sigh. “Hopefully there will be far fewer ponies reaching for your posterior in the future. The fewer Guard in the infirmary the better. I wish to talk to you, however, about matters...”
Caster went rigid and saluted her Princess, the realization that maybe this was why she was called in, much to her worry. “My apologies my Princess. I be more than willing to accept any disciplinary action from you.”
Luna shook her head, a smile coming to her at her friend so quickly seeking forgiveness to keep her approval. “Worry not, Caster. I am not here to talk to you about accidents or mistakes made, as we are sure your superiors handle those incidents appropriately with you. Rather,it is of a much more recent matter that I wish to speak of...”
Caster relaxed some, the weight of disappointing a pony she looked up to having subsided. “Oh, thank the...yeah. I am not exactly wanting to do anymore community service again anytime soon. Captain ‘Stogie Smoke’ has some pretty twisted ideas, like helping out at a daycare or retirement home…” Despite the relief, something about Luna’s tone had her thinking it was rather important. “So, my lady, what is it that you need of me? Small talk is fun and all, but I doubt ye asked for me just fer that.”
Nodding her head solemnly, Luna looked to the floor before Caster. “Yes, of course.” Rising from her seat, the alicorn glided around her desk and eased herself onto the floor, seated next to Caster. The informality was not entirely new to the thestral but she drooped her ears beside the Princess that sat only a couple inches above herself. “I know the loss of Basyrr pains your heart just as it does mine. He was a friend of yours, and secured your citizenship here in Equestria.”
Caster nodded, her head hanging low as memories and emotions started to flood her mind. The wounds of the previous night were still quite fresh and she had been wondering how Luna had been fairing.
“He was there for me when I returned from the moon, he taught me how much had come to change, how to adjust, to fit in, and…” Luna felt her voice beginning to tremble and stopped herself momentarily to recover. “I know he was of help to you in getting on your hooves when your mishap occurred.”
Caster faintly blushed and nodded. “That he did. I never got to pay him back.”
“I think you know what he would want his last request of you to be…”
Caster was silent as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, keeping herself as composed as she could despite the memories resurfacing. “I do know…”
“I am glad for you, Caster.” Luna put a wing around her softly. “You are strong, and you care for him as much as I do.” She looked down to her and hugged her with a wing. “He trusts you. I trust you.”
Caster looked up to Luna, already knowing just what she may be building this up to. “...You believe me then? You believe what I said?”
Luna looked out the window into the night sky, her starry night decorating the darkness while her moon gave a gentle glow to the land. “You were the last pony to see Basyrr alive, and the only one to speak up about seeing a pony who didn’t belong there that night.”
“Nopony else wants to risk it saying who it was.”
“But you did, despite the infighting that it may have caused. Fear not, for only my sister and myself are aware and it shall remain so for the time being. However something must be done and I will need your help.”
Caster turned squarely to Princess Luna and bowed. “Anything, my Princess. For Basyrr, and you.”
Luna smiled and motioned for her to rise with her wing. “You must keep this to yourself and speak of it to no others. Doing so would undo all of it irreparably.”
A nod was given in reply. “I swear on me Princess, me life, and me oath that I shall not speak a word of it without your approval.”
“I accept.” Luna nodded, glad to know she understood. “Something has been happening among the castle nobility, especially the Council. Somepony else’s influence is taking hold, though before Basyrr could be more certain…” She recalled the image in her head of his body, laying at the bottom of the wall. “Somepony knew he was aware, and knew he was going to make a list.”
“A list. What was on it?” Caster asked.
Luna was quiet for a moment, thinking to herself. “It was to be a list of ponies he would recommend to the Council. Ponies and houses he knew were not going to be influenced.”
“The killer took the list?” She clopped her front hooves together, flexing some muscle with the idea that maybe she would be ‘retrieving’ this list in a manner she was quite familiar with.
“No.” Luna shook her head. “He did not get that far. There is no list and we no longer have his foresight. However, he did name one Noble House in private. One pony who might be the only one that I could trust on the Council”
Caster raised an eyebrow, curious to know, and also curious as to how she was going to tie into all this. She hoped that it was not going to be some inglorious babysitting duty.
“His name is Viktor Vanity, I need you to find him and get in touch with him, off the record and not to draw as much attention as a meeting with me directly would.”
Caster sighed internally with relief. “I can do that. Easy enough, but why me? And why not ask him to just come to the castle to talk to ye?”
“Basyrr died for merely speaking to me on the matter on a few occasions. Somepony is listening in and willing to kill for their benefit. I will take no chances and I need a pony who is committed both personally and by oath. I have known you for nearly as long as Basyrr. I know I can trust you.”
Grinning, Caster proudly stood tall and gave her a salute. “Oi, I be proud to be of service to ya my Princess.” Her heart soared with pride. “I’ll go see this feller and tell him what ya want me to.”
Luna smiled to her loyal guardsmare. “Thank you. Now, for my message to him, I ask-”
“Wait, erhm. Princess Luna.” Caster put up a hoof.
Luna raised her brow. “Yes Caster?”
“Um...Could we maybe write this down? I’m not so good with remembering big fancy elaborate messages” She forced a smile as she felt her gut nervously twist.
Luna pondered for a moment. To say Caster would be one of the less ideal choices when it came to sending a diplomatic message was an understatement, but this matter was best kept on the low down. She rose from her seat and moved to her desk, magic tugging parchment from the drawer as she prepared a quill. “Very well. I shall write my message onto a scroll. However, I do wish for you to be prepared to speak on my behalf. My primary concern is to have an audience with him...And clear up any animosity that there is between us.”
“Is this ‘Viktor’ pony not a good feller to ya? I can talk sense to em if-”
“That will be quite alright Caster. I rather you do not try to pursue anything like that with him. His feelings toward me are...quite deserved. It is I who comes from the position of having done wrong unto his family. You will need to be...apologetic, if anything.”
Caster was perturbed by this, but she had a faint idea as to what could have happen. “...Princess...Was it because of your...return from the moon?”
Luna’s quill stopped writing along the scroll, the big question having been asked. A question she carried the guilt of for quite some time for quite a number of ponies. Feelings that tore at her every night, the same nightmare that reminded her of what she did and pledged to never let herself do ever again. Taking a deep breath, she sat back in her seat as her mind toiled with reflection.
“My apologies my Princess. I shouldn’t have asked-”
“His brother and sister in law were both killed in action fighting...Nightmare Moon. Captain Keaton Reginald Vanity and Major Sinnie Horizon Vanity.” Luna’s voice had become stale and dead, recalling the names with detached emotions. “His father, Audric Reginald Vanity, was put in a coma as well. He is not expected to wake. The brother and sister in law had a 4 year old named Reginald Arthur Vanity. Viktor’s mother had passed away not too soon before it all happen due to-”
“Princess.” Caster approached the desk. “I apologise. I understand now.” She knew Luna had a lot of guilt for the things that happened on her return. Basyrr had always cautioned her against ever bringing up the subject. The last thing she wanted to do was remind her Princess of past deeds that marred her reputation. “I’ll bring him the message.”
Luna was silent as she stared at the scroll, her eyes looking deep and beyond the simple scribblings of words on it. “Thank you....I hope he will be willing to listen. He has been...reclusive ever since the event, despite previous attempts to reach out to him. Perhaps...my humble request for his assistance will help heal the wounds.”
Caster was not sure how to continue this conversation. Luna was being reflective of a painful time in the past and it was hardly something she was qualified to comfort her about, unless going to taverns late at night and getting into bar fights was acceptable for a Princess. A change in topic might be best. “So...You need him to help? How?”
Luna was already scribbling away on the scroll, eyes focused and empty as she spoke without her quill stopping. “The council cannot be trusted anymore. I need ponies that I can trust. And he is the only pony Basyrr ever said he would trust on the council before he died. I want you to meet with him, give him my message, and tell him I would like an audience with him.”
Caster was a bit surprised by the news. Not trusting the council outright was no simple thing for a Princess to say. She saluted her in acknowledgement regardless. “Yes Princess. Where should I tell him he can meet you. Someplace secret?”
Luna put her quill away and began to roll it up before sealing it with some form of magic that Caster could only guess as to how it worked. “Yes, his dreams.”
“Oh…” She blinked, having forgotten how her dream walking had many good uses beyond just seeing into dreams. “Well...Why have me be a messenger at all then? Why not just show up in his dream?”
“Knowing how Viktor feels towards me, it would be rude to invade upon his dreams without permission, and quite likely cause harm before I have even a chance to offer my apologies. I need him to accept my offer so that he is ready.” She set the scroll down on the desk before her, looking to Caster. “Do you accept?”
Caster stood proud at attention and gave her a salute. “Aye, my Princess. I do.” She swiped up the scroll and tucked it away in her armor.
Luna smiled softly in return. “Thank you Caster. Please see it done as soon as you are able. And I’m glad to see your accent is getting better.”
The Lunar Guard smirked over her shoulder, about to take her leave. “Aye, I been working at it. Nopony can hardly tell, even a wee bit.”
“I’m sure you will sound like pony worthy of Sireland in no time at all.”
Caster opened the doors of Luna’s office to make her exist. “Oi, they won’t have no idea once they get ta know me. I’ll be returning to ya with the good news.”
“Thank you again Caster. May the night be your shield.” said Luna. Once the doors closed she let out a long sigh and laid over her desk. These last few days were going to be difficult, if not testing of her emotional capacity.