The Thief and the Princess

by Muramasa

First published

A thief breaks into the royal palace in Canterlot to steal Celestia's crown. A certain Princess catches her.

In the dead of night, a thief breaks into the royal palace in Canterlot to steal Celestia's crown. She successfully sneaks through the palace and enters the room where this prize possession is kept, with not a soul the wiser.

Well, save for a certain Princess.

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The Thief and the Princess

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It was gorgeous.

Everything. Even in darkness, the walls of the palace still somehow gleamed the purest white the Thief had ever seen. The ornate gold that shone and speckled about the palace decor, found embedded in everything from pillars to candlesticks, radiated a quality and age that the Thief was certain she'd never see again. Between the maroon silk carpets, the paintings on the walls and the vases, the Thief could have taken anything in the palace and been set for the rest of her life.

But there was one thing that stood miles above the rest. An artifact that simply could not be priced. An item that would turn her into a folktale only told in whispers.

There were guards, of course. The Thief had studied them well, and on many moonless nights simply stood in the corners by the window and watched. Every step of every routine, every breath and every movement. There wasn't a thing the guards could do that the Thief had yet to see, and with this heist, her scouting clearly paid off in spades. One of the guards, a large, ordinary looking stallion with a coat that changed color with the flicker of his candle, mindlessly drifted across the hallway the Thief had been occupying. Bathing in the shadows, she cautiously crept across the right side wall, a candle illuminating only just in front of her. Her eyes darted back and forth in a calm paranoia, scouting for an outlier.

When it became clear there wasn't one, she continued. She was a floor below where she needed to be, and slowly, she began to climb a set of stairs she knew would be on her right as soon as she turned the hallway corner. They were made from a fine wood, but were carpeted with a fine velvet in the middle, and so when the Thief traveled up the staircase, she drifted like a ghost in the darkness.

It all started with a rumor.

Princess Celestia could only be explained as a figure larger than life itself. Not really a pony as much as a goddess, anything she'd even glanced at was worth more of a fortune than a mare would ever need. In a den of thieves, however, nothing was ever good enough, and there began a rumor during a time when word got around that a mare had snuck into the Crystal Palace and stolen the crown of Princess Twilight Sparkle, which, of course, hosted a fabled Element of Harmony. Quickly, whispers spread in the criminal underground like a silent plague; Celestia's crown was such a powerful artifact that she actually wore a copy during public appearances, and that the real deal was locked away and only to be worn during times of danger.

Quite frankly, the Thief didn't buy it. She'd heard stories like this before, of impossibly incredible artifacts that had no way of being truly confirmed beyond the murmurs. However, when a high-ranking ex-royal guard decided to contact her to steal a family heirloom that had been placed in a museum years ago, she had decided she'd ask him for information as payment instead of money.

The bombshell. Not only did she know it existed, but with the help of this pony, she knew where it was.

The once-impossible dream became a helpless obsession. The Thief knew this, but she didn't care, working her way about the criminal underworld to acquire any piece of information on the palace she could find. The knowledge was all scarce, as only a damned fool would break into the palace inhabited by gods, but that was no concern of hers. As far as she was concerned, she was the best thief in the world, and after this escapade, she'd have more than petty trinkets to prove it.

The third floor of the palace was, of course, where Luna and Celestia slept. The risk of being caught on floors one and two sharply elevated to a risk of death on floor three, as Princess Luna was well known for her nocturnal habits. Should the Thief be caught, there was a rather high chance she'd be vaporized on the spot, as the difference between a thief and an assassin could not be so easily discerned in the darkness.

That didn't matter, though, because she wouldn't.

In a way, the Thief owed her expertise to the young princess. The shadows were the only ally she'd ever trust, and it was Luna's night that blanketed her like a shroud on countless jobs. It'd be ironic for this one, though, as the very night Luna loved so dearly would cloak her enemy to perfection.

The balcony on which Luna liked to mull was down the hallway to the right of her once she emerged from the stairs, so the Thief was not worried. Not only was the balcony far away from where she was, but, from watching Luna whilst hidden at the outskirts of the grounds, she had discovered that the young princess stayed on the balcony for three hours on the dot like clockwork every night. Although there was no way to check the time, the Thief knew hour two soon approached, and so, barring an incident of late night snack cravings, the Lunar Princess would not be a threat.

Using the shadows, the Thief gently crept along the left side of the hallway this time. She'd been here twice before, surveying the area around the door she'd needed to find, but never overextending herself. The most important thing she needed to gather during her earlier reconnaissance outings was the exact moment the guards changed their shift. It was a loud event, unmistakable for anything else, and on her second day of surveying, she'd gotten the pattern down. Daring to poke her candle out from under her just a hair more, she heard the noise she'd been anxious to hear right as she turned the corner left.

The clang of spears and greaves rang across the third floor, signaling the only window the Thief had just begun to creak open. She had about eleven minutes to get into the crown room, as once she made it there, she'd simply wait out for the next shift and be on her merry way. She silently pulled the cloak to where it covered her whole body, blending in perfectly with the shadows around her. As two or three guards passed, their heavy footsteps almost as loud as their breathing, the Thief could clearly gather from their exhausted expressions that any sort of suspicion in their minds had been violently surpassed by their will to clamber into bed after another long shift.

Her heart was beating faster now. To the Thief, it thumped like the stomps of an Ursa Major, though it took all of her willpower to remind herself the beat was as silent as her. Taking a deep breath just as loud as she could allow herself to, the thief pressed onward, the vague shape of the hallway creeping by her vision. Her small candle was a world of help against complete darkness, but if the Thief hadn't been here before, she'd surely be lost in the black haze.

Thankfully, that wasn't the case. She silently stepped to the right, making a seamless turn as the hallway broke off to the right. She now faced down the second to last hallway to the far left side of the palace.

It was where the door was.

It was where the crown was.

It was where her legacy was lying in wait.

Excitement shooting through her like an electric convulsion, the Thief hugged the right side of the wall. She felt the wall for the doors she passed, feeling two wooden doors that led to rooms she couldn't have cared less about, before feeling the grain of the door that she knew held her prize. She could hear the old guard's words now, bouncing around in her head in a booming echo. The thief could feel herself swelling with fear, pride and jubilation that she stood only moments away from that which she had so long sought. Looking around one last time, she turned to the lock on the door, a plain and inconspicuous mechanism that looked like the one on every door that surrounded it.

Of course, this one was different. It unnaturally locked via a magic spell that would only open by the touch of Celestia's aura, which sounded like a bigger problem than it would be. There was a saying amongst thieves: It takes hard work and practice to be a good thief and a horn to be a great one.

The Thief quietly removed her ace in the hole from the bag. A snippet of Celestia's coat, found rather easily from a locked carriage she had used outside of the castle grounds. After tying it carefully around her horn and ensuring it stayed stable, the Thief cast a spell that had gotten her through countless locks deemed unbreakable, a spell that could replicate the aura of any unicorn (or in this case, alicorn) with a piece of their coat.

Carefully, the Thief opened the door, ensuring that her spell kept up the entire time. She slipped through the door frame and closed the door behind her, holding down the handle before clicking it back in place with a silent grace. She turned around, took three steps forward, and withdrew her candle from beneath her cloak, extending her hoof to view the prize she had sought for so long.

The Thief had stolen possessions worth thousands of bits, but in her entire life of crime, she'd never seen anything like what rested before her.

Celestia's crown--her true crown--did not seem real. Even in the darkness, the golden crown, which the Thief knew had to have been centuries old, gleamed so brilliant and pure it could have been crafted yesterday. The three points at its tip looked sharp as the finest daggers, and the gleaming violet gem at its center was cut so perfectly that it looked as if a thousand mirrors sparkled within it. The Thief gasped louder than she meant to, staring at it for what seemed like an eternity, before reaching out her hoof. As she did so, however, she froze in fear.

A pair of magenta eyes caught the corner of her vision. They gleamed ominously with the flickering of her candle, and as the fire moved just so, a glimpse of a mane quickly revealed the identity of the pony watching her.

"I wouldn't steal that," came a calm and soothing voice.

Princess Twilight Sparkle did not live in Canterlot. She lived in Ponyville, where she operated as the Princess of Friendship when she wasn't on a mission with her fellow Elements of Harmony. The Thief had never seen her once during her various scouting missions inside the castle, and had assumed she would not be a problem during the course of her heist.

Her stomach dropped. She had written off the young Princess. And now she'd pay dearly.

"Why are you here? You don't live here," said the Thief. Her tone sounded calm and collected, and while Twilight gathered she was currently scared out of her mind, she certainly made no show of it.

Twilight scanned the mare as she stood from the shadows. While her pitch black cloak hid a large majority of her body, her cyan coat, clearly visible from her front two legs, couldn't hide. Her mane, which just barely crept out of her hood, looked to be a light turquoise, and her eyes glared a pinkish red, though the Princess mused this could have been a trick of the light.

"I don't live here, no," began Twilight. "But Canterlot is my home. I was born and raised here, and so I'm in town to visit my parents. I'm sure glad I did, though." the Princess nodded her head towards the crown on the pedestal. "Do you know what that does?"

"How did you know? That I was doing this... what I was going after?" asked the Thief. Her voice came out deep, but extremely pleasant and melodic as it reverberated around the room.

"I don't sleep," said Twilight. "Not well, at least. I was exiting my study room for a snack when I saw your candle, and when you cut left from the stairs I knew there was only one thing you'd have to have been after. To be honest, I didn't know how you were going to get in here, but I also had no idea you knew such a high level spell." The Princess stepped forward, revealing the whole upper half of her body to the Thief. Twilight had put her crown aside long ago, and so her appearance to the Thief was as casual as it could be.

"What's your name?" she asked the Thief. The mare didn't move, staying still as a stone.

"What are you going to do to me?" she asked. Twilight chuckled to herself before answering.

"Come on now, I've answered all of your questions. Cut me some slack here." Her smile quickly melted, and she raised her eyebrows while she stared at the would-be caper. "I'm going to talk to you. What's your name?" The Thief's eyes darted back and forth, her calm demeanor shattered by the hesitance slowly burning across her face.

"Cerise," said the mare. With that, Twilight's warm smile quickly returned to her face.

"Cerise. For your eyes," she said. "That's very pretty." Her gaze slowly turned to the crown upon the pedestal once again.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" she asked. Cerise appeared unsure of what the Princess sought to accomplish, and Twilight could almost feel her posture tighten. Nonetheless, she held her gaze upon the crown. "I saw this for the first time when I was midway through my tenure at the School for Gifted Unicorns," she began. "I... I couldn't believe it. Such a beautiful piece of history. It really is a shame that it has to be locked away, but if you knew what power it held... " the Princess turned to Cerise. "How did you know of this? Who told you? Very few ponies know this exists." Cerise unwaveringly peered into Twilight's eyes.

"A client," she answered simply. "I don't understand. You should be hauling me to the dungeons." Twilight once again let out a sliver of laughter.

"Honor amongst thieves, huh? Yes, I certainly should be. But I'm the Princess of Friendship, and so I thought I'd talk to you first. I've met many ponies who have done bad things for good reasons, and good things for bad reasons. I've told you why I'm here. Why are you here?"

Cerise appeared to be taken aback by these words, but if not for the slight flinch of her hooves it'd be impossible to tell. Her cool composure had been breaking the longer she talked with the Princess, but with those words, her uptight posture let up ever so slightly as she relaxed herself a bit. Turning a little, she used her magic to lift the back of her cloak, revealing the cutie mark she bore upon her body: a bag of bits with a knife planted through the center.

"When I was seven, my brother bought a wooden action figure from the shop down the lane with the money he'd saved up from doing odd jobs on the street," she began. "I was jealous, and I wanted one too, but my parents didn't have any money and neither did I. One night, when he fell sound asleep in his room, I snuck in silently, and took it for myself. When I looked down at my flank whilst playing with the toy, I saw this." With that, Twilight's smile dropped immediately. A clear look of sorrow sparkled in her eyes as Cerise concluded her tale.

"I'm here because I'm the best at what I do," she remarked. "I'm here to make myself a legend. At least... I was." For what seemed like an eternity, Twilight didn't speak, merely opting to stare at the crown, before finally breaking the silence in the room.

"Do you ever wish it was something different?" Twilight asked, turning back to Cerise. "That you'd gotten your mark for something else?" Cerise answered almost immediately.

"Every day I wish it was something else. Something on the right side of the law," she said. "But every day I tell myself that if this is what I'm born to do, I might as well be the best at it. And here I am."

The air stood still, seemingly stagnant for an age. Twilight stared at the crown as if she'd never seen it before, examining its every intricacy like a buyer on the fence. With a deep sigh, she turned to Cerise, whose look of fear returned to her countenance with the Princess's long pause.

"I'm sorry, Cerise," she said simply. "It makes me sad that you have to take other ponies' things. But it's what you're destined to do, and that is no fault of your own." She gestured towards the door with her head. "I'm going to give you a chance to leave this palace, though based on your expertise, I doubt you'll have much trouble. If I ever see you near these walls again, I won't be so forgiving." Cerise let the words process in her head, both shock and bewilderment plastered on her face before she silently nodded.

"Thank you."

She quickly headed for the door, but as she gently pushed it open and took a step into the hallway, Twilight called out to her.


The young mare turned her head, the edge of her eye curiously glancing at the Princess. Twilight didn't know if Cerise could see her now, as the darkness had likely entirely shrouded her, but she knew the words that left her mouth would ring loud and clear.

"There are plenty of ways to do good with that talent of yours," she said softly. "Destiny's a fickle thing." Cerise stood still for only a second longer, and then, as fast as she drew her cloak upon herself, she was gone.

Twilight sighed heavily for the second time that night. She began to slowly exit the darkness of the room, though as she began to leave, she too turned her head back, this time to face the crown. She peered at the jewel, which defied all sense of reality as it shone brightly in the center of the pitch black room. Doing her best not to be lost in its gaze, she quickly departed from the room, closing the door behind her and making sure to reset the magical locking system that Cerise had broken. Trotting quietly down the hall, she turned left to head back to her guest chambers when, to her surprise, she was greeted with the sight of Equestria's ruler herself.

Celestia's face looked deathly tired, to the point where Twilight could easily see the fatigue on her face even in the darkness. Her long and flowing hair appeared a mottled mess, and she levitated a small glass of water by her side as she spoke, her voice ringing sullen and drowsy.

"Is everything okay, my little pony? I heard your voice from the hall." Twilight looked up at her mentor and smiled, shaking her head in the negative.

"Oh, I was just thinking out loud," she answered. "Come on, let's get to bed."