Sisters

by Bad Horse

First published

Stories about two sisters who are best friends, and rulers of Equestria

Two silly short stories about Luna, Celestia, fashion, and legal theory. "Slice of life stories if your life is crazy royalty cake with cinnamon sprinkles." - JadeCriminal@SpaceBattles.com

Go to the Equestria Daily story page to see the stories in this set by Georg and Dennis the Menace.

Socks: The story behind the fashion craze!

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"AND SO," Princess Luna concluded, "WE HOPE THAT THE NEW RULE OF LAW WILL INCREASE THE SWIFTNESS OF LEGAL PROCEEDINGS, AND REMOVE UNCERTAINTY ABOUT WHAT MAY AND MAY NOT BE DONE IN EQUESTRIA. SIMPLY LOOK UP THE RELEVANT LAWS, AND YOU MAY BE ASSURED THAT NEITHER WE NOR OUR SISTER SHALL OVERRULE THEM. UNLESS NECESSARY, OF COURSE."

She smiled at the assemblage of nobility and press nearly filling the audience hall, and at Twilight in particular, who had come up with the Rule of Law idea in the first place. There was a quiet just long enough to hear a pin drop as the echoes faded and those ponies in the front rows recovered from her use of the Royal Canterlot Voice, before the room was full of the buzzing of ponies talking excitedly amongst themselves.

Oddly, the lavender unicorn had on the same puzzled frown she wore when she found an unchecked box on one of her checklists. Well, Twilight always did manage to find something to be puzzled about. "ARE THERE ANY QUESTIONS?" Luna asked. That had also been Twilight's idea.

The crowd immediately pressed forward up against the palace guards, with practically everypony's mouth gaping at her as they called out "Princess Luna! Princess Luna!" They reminded Luna of the goldfish surfacing to snap at her left-over peas when she threw them into the royal fish-pond.

"PRINCE BLUEBLOOD," she said, addressing him first as was accorded by his rank. He was expecting this, and was one of the few ponies not stamping a hoof or bobbing his head for attention. The room quieted.

"I think we all know the question everypony is wondering," he said, and flashed the crowd a gracious smile before turning back to the princess. "Who made those amazing socks?"

One advantage of being the Princess of the Night, with hair the color of the midnight sky, was that it was difficult for anypony to tell when she was blushing. The socks in question were black, with stars and moons in light blue, and covered her legs from below the fetlock to just above the knee.

Royal Canterlot Socks by egophiliac

"WE DO NOT KNOW," she replied after a pause. "THEY WERE... A GIFT, FROM OUR SISTER."

This revelation led to an even greater hubbub as the ponies all turned to tell each other what they'd all just heard. Luna sighed. She looked for somepony from the press, who would have a more intelligent question, and singled out a brown earth-pony mare who was jumping up and down particularly vigorously. "YES, THOU, WITH THY NOTEPAD."

"Princess Luna! Tabby Lloyd from Equestria Daily. Does this mean we can expect to see Princess Celestia wearing socks as well?"

"WE SINCERELY HOPE SO," Luna replied through gritted teeth. She looked for Twilight, and finally found her, a lone, quiet figure amidst a multi-colored sea of unicorns whose shoulders and rumps rolled like waves as they bobbed their heads and shifted eagerly from one hoof to another. "MISS SPARKLE," she said.

As always, Twilight looked surprised to be called on. When she finally realized everypony was staring at her, she asked, "Princess, when you said 'unless necessary', isn't that like saying that the written law will be the supreme law of the land, except when you decide it isn't?"

Luna smiled. "THAT IS IT EXACTLY," she boomed. Of course Twilight would understand; the Rule of Law was her idea, after all, and was really supposed to reduce the number of arguments she and Celestia had been having while ironing out their new co-rulership. It was odd for Twilight even to ask the question. But Luna was grateful to have gotten off the subject of socks. "THOU, OF THE RED FLANK AND YELLOW MANE," she said, looking at a unicorn who seemed a bit lost and so might at least say something unexpected. "AND DO NOT ASK US ABOUT OUR SOCKS."

He blinked stupidly, then rolled his eyes up and left, then up and right, fishing for a question. Then he asked brightly, "What kind of socks does Princess Celestia have?"

"THERE ARE TO BE NO QUESTIONS ABOUT SOCKS!" Luna thundered. "HATH ANYPONY A NON-WARDROBE-RELATED QUESTION?"

The ponies all looked at each other in confusion.

"THEN WE BID YOU A GOOD DAY AND A GOOD NIGHT," Luna said curtly, and swept out the audience hall's rear entrance, her nose up in the air. The crowd noise immediately crescendoed.

* * * * *

Twilight hurried out of the hall to escape the noise and get a breath of air. Still more reporters waited outside, and several accosted her, cameras flashing, notepads in their hooves. "Miss Sparkle! Was this a surprise to you?" one asked.

"Well, not exactly," she said, blinking away the after-image from the flash. "We've been talking about the relative authority of written law versus royal decree for months, and..." She trailed off as she realized the pony who had asked the question was staring at her uncomprehendingly.

"What's that got to do with socks?" he asked.

"Are they silk?"

"Do the princesses wear them inside the castle?"

"STOP!" Twilight shouted at them. "She said there are to be no questions about socks!"

They stood stunned by her answer just long enough for her to escape and push through their line towards the gates of the palace grounds and the relative freedom of the street beyond.

* * * * *

"It's dreadful," the slender, pink-maned unicorn whispered in a quavering voice now husky from crying. "Simply dreadful."

"Oh, my," the smartly-dressed white unicorn said, as he adjusted his monocle, leaning over the newspaper which she had just tossed onto the table next to his mid-afternoon ponzu braised spinach. He shook his teal mane in excitement. "This changes everything!"

She pushed the paper away and threw herself into his forelegs, sobbing. "Oh, Fancy! You don't understand! The gallery opening is in one hour, and everypony who's anypony is going to be there, and I have no socks!"

"Fleur, my darling, my delight," he said, holding her. "Have no fear. I shall scour the garment establishments of Canterby Street, and I shall return–with the finest socks in Canterlot!" He stroked the soft hair of her mane gently, but the stallion's blue eyes hardened in a way that bode ill for any clothier who failed him now.

* * * * *

"Well, I saw this coming years ago," the silver earth pony stallion said, tossing his elegantly-coiffed white mane over one shoulder and ostentatiously holding up a foreleg to study the starched white cotton ring around its hoof. "Unlike some ponies."

"You? You know nothing from socks!" the light-blue mare shouted, her face nearly hidden behind enormous violet sunglasses and shrouded by vast white bangs. She leaned towards him aggressively, and he leaned right back at her, until their respective smirks and sunglasses almost touched. "Those are cuffs! Cuffs!"

* * * * *

The aquamarine unicorn mare grinned maniacally as she strutted back and forth across her dressing room, her head nearly bumping the ceiling and her legs splayed like an alligator's due to the four massive purple socks she wore, as big around as tree trunks and covered with images of stars and moons that shimmered and glowed.

The foals wanted socks? Trixie would give them socks!

* * * * *

"Why, why, WHY didn't you TELL me?" Rarity sobbed. A copy of the latest Equestria Daily lay on her kitchen table in front of her and Twilight. The front page showed a photograph of Luna stomping her way out of the audience hall, with the socks on full display. Underneath, in all uppercase, it said: SOCKS: NO QUESTION ABOUT IT!

"Rarity, I'm telling you again: I've never seen these socks before!" Twilight insisted. "I've never seen anypony wear socks before! She didn't tell me about it, I didn't ask her, and–why are we talking about this? Don't you understand that Equestria is now under the Rule of Law? Doesn't anypony understand how big this is?"

Rarity threw her head back and let forth a long, anguished wail of misery. "Socks!" she sobbed. "If I'd known just one day in advance, Twilight. Is that too much to ask? Just... One... Day!"

* * * * *

"I think this one's especially beautiful," Celestia said, watching from the balcony of the palace, pointing her horn towards the horizon where the sun was just disappearing, and watching the sky's color deepen from red to purple. "Yes, I think I'm going to remember this sunset for a long time. In fact, sometimes I think I'd like to hold it just like this, forever." She sighed wistfully.

"Set it DOWN!" Luna snapped. "SET IT DOWN NOW! Thou hast dragged this day out over-long already!"

Celestia laughed. "In a hurry, Lulu?"

Luna stamped one still-socked hoof, and the balcony shook. "Thou knowest full well!"

"Oh, I meant to ask you. How did that audience go? You know, the one on Twilight's little project."

"IT WAS HUMILIATING! AS THOU INTENDED!"

"Oh, come, now. You were going to make me sing to them if you won."

"THOU HADST BEST PRACTICE! FOR THOU SHALT SURELY SING WHEN NEXT WE PLAY TIDDLYWINKS!"

"Luna," Celestia said, "haven't you learned a lesson about betting?"

"'TWAS A FLUKE! AN' THOU WOULDST NOT GO FOR TWO OUT OF THREE!"

"Please," Celestia said, "the voice."

Luna grunted, then fell silent. They watched together as the sun's last rays faded. Then Luna bent over and tore the socks off all four legs with her teeth in a most undignified manner, as though she had momentarily forgotten she were a princess and an alicorn. She spat the offending garments at the nearest pegasus guard.

"Your majesty," he said, as they bounced off his face.

"Take these things and burn them. Then SMASH THE FURNACE IN WHICH THOU HAST BURNED THEM, AND BURN ITS WRECKAGE IN ANOTHER FURNACE!"

"At once, your majesty!"

"THEN TAKE THAT FURNACE AND – "

"Luna," Celestia said sweetly.

"And that will suffice," Luna concluded. The guard picked up the socks in his teeth, saluted as smartly as one can with a mouthful of stockings, then spun about and flew off towards the servants' quarters.

"You realize he's going to spend the entire night trying to get brick and steel to burn?" Celestia said.

"'Twill be an easier task than burning away my shame!"

"Well," Celestia said, turning to a small basket she had brought out onto the balcony with her, "at least I've still got these." She opened it, and out floated another pair of silk stockings, these ones horizontally striped in alternating light and dark purple.

"NO!" Luna shouted, jumping back as if from a snake. "I WILL WEAR NO MORE STOCKINGS!"

"Silly Lulu," Celestia said. "Did you think I was going to let you have all the fun?" She unrolled the stockings and began pulling them on. "These are for me!"

Socks for Princess Celestia by Junglepony

Betting the Moon

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"THERE thou art!"

Celestia and Twilight Sparkle broke off their conversation and looked up. The voice, word choice, and volume were all distinctive enough that they were not surprised to see Luna winging her way down towards the little vine-covered arbor behind the palace where they had been just about to enjoy their afternoon tea together.

Luna landed hard on the grass, sending up a little cloud of dust, and began to speak before it had settled. "See what thou hast done, Twilight Sparkle!" She strode angrily towards the purple unicorn, who shrank towards Celestia's side of the small round iron table.

"Me?" Twilight squeaked.

"Thou and thy Rule of Law!"

"Now, now, sister," Celestia said. "Please, join us. I am sorry I don't have a third cup, Luna, but..."

"TEA IS NOT THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING!" Luna thundered. The birds and crickets fell silent. Luna sat down across from Celestia and Twilight, and hung her head despondently.

"Sorry," Celestia whispered to Twilight. "An old argument of ours." She waited for Luna to speak.

Luna finally raised her head. "I was in Canterlot Centre," she began. Celestia nodded. "Conversing with several of the nobility. Silver Lining was there." Celestia nodded again. "And her lawyer, Silver Tongue."

Celestia pursed her lips. "That devil."

"Silver Lining complimented me on my recent victory in the hundred-meter spider toss at the Royal Games."

Twilight looked inquiringly at Celestia. "Ponies compete at spider-tossing at the Royal Games?"

"Only Luna," Celestia said. She nodded for her sister to continue.

The Hundred Meter Spider Toss by PixelKitties

"She wondered that a pony could toss a spider a hundred meters. I assured her that we could toss one two hundred meters!"

Celestia sucked in her breath. "Oh, no."

"And she had the AUDACITY to DOUBT us!" Luna said, stomping the ground with one hoof.

"You can toss a spider two hundred meters?" Twilight asked, eyes wide.

"Certainly!" Luna asserted. "Almost without a doubt. If not for the wind."

Celestia already had one hoof over her face. "And there was a bet."

"I bet the moon," Luna said.

Celestia put her hoof down and looked back at her sister in horror.

Twilight pushed her nose reassuringly against Celestia's neck. "Don't worry! 'Bet the moon' is just an idiom. It means, to bet too much, to bet everything you've got."

"It does?" Luna asked.

"It has," Celestia said, "ever since the last time this happened."

"I did not bet everything!" Luna said. "Just the moon."

Twilight stared at Luna, then at Celestia, then back at Luna again, then, perhaps for variety, off into the empty space between them.

"And now," Luna went on, "this new Rule of Law hath emboldened Silver Lining to try to collect on this bet!" She glared at Twilight.

Twilight fell back from the table, sat on the grass and buried her face in her hooves. "Oh, no! I'm terribly sorry! I never thought this would happen!"

Celestia coughed politely. "It seems somepony is trying to evade their responsibility for this."

"I'm not!" Twilight pleaded. "I said I'm sorry!"

"Not you," Celestia said.

"Silver Lining bears some blame as well," Luna said.

"Not her, either."

"Well, there is no time to point hooves," Luna said. "She hath requested an audience today to press her claim. What wilt thou do about it?"

"Me?" Twilight squeaked again.

Celestia sat up very straight and cleared her throat. "We, meaning you and I both, sister, will hear her claim. And we will judge it fairly and impartially."

"My moon!" Luna cried.

"Twilight will apprise our court officers of the situation, accompany them to the royal library to direct a brief, coordinated legal research, and summarize their recommendations."

"Me?" Twilight said for the third time. "What about your legal counsel?"

"Why would I have legal counsel?" Celestia asked. "Until last week, the law was whatever I said it was."

Twilight leapt to her feet. "Ohmigosh! We only have a few hours and there are thousands of law books! I don't know where to begin!"

Celestia remained sitting at the table, and levitated Twilight's forgotten teacup back in front of her. She raised the teapot and filled the cup. Wisps of steam brought with them the scents of jasmine and chrysanthemum. "We will begin," she said calmly, "by finishing our tea."

* * * * *

"What hast thou to report?" Luna asked, looking down at Twilight.

Twilight took a few more breaths before formulating a reply. She had run all the way from the library in the southeast wing on receiving the summons. The throne room also served as audience chamber, advisory council, and law court, although usually not all at the same time. The great wooden doors opposite the thrones were closed; the court bailiff, a stocky brown earth pony stallion, stood in front of them. A clerk sat at a desk to Luna's far left, ready to cast the recording spell. Luna and Celestia sat with their backs to the room's only straight wall, on tall, narrow wooden thrones of equal height, lined with red velvet. They were elevated above the rest of the semi-circular room on a marble dais high enough that Twilight had to raise her voice for them to hear her.

"The first question we tackled was whether Luna owned the moon in oculis legis. The majority opinion was that the phrase 'Luna's moon', which occurs in many official documents of great antiquity, simply refers to a bond or connection, in much the same way that any pony might say 'my husband' or 'my wife,' or call Luna 'my princess'."

"But it's my moon!" Luna insisted.

"Luna," Celestia said, "you're not helping."

"I'm afraid she is correct," Twilight said. "Whether the moon was hers or not originally, under the Rule of Law, it is now."

"What?" Celestia said, leaning forward. "Why?"

"Squatter's rights," Twilight said. "After Luna, um, established her residence on the moon, nopony gave her notice that she was trespassing on their property. At least, it's not in the record. So after ten years, it legally became hers."

"No one notified her because no one owns the moon!" Celestia said.

"That's sort of what the squatter's rights law is for," Twilight said. "Everything has to be owned by somepony, or there's no legal framework for dealing with it."

"YES! MY MOON! Mine, mine to claim, mine to raise and lower–"

"Yours to throw away in a bet," Celestia concluded for her. Luna fell silent.

"Well," Twilight continued, "I have some better news for you. The next issue we took up was delivery obligations. Luna is not held accountable for delivery expenses, and is not obligated to stop, erm, using the moon, until Silver Lining takes possession of it. Since that is of course impossible, she should be able to just go on raising and lowering it."

"You mean I don't have to give it to her?"

"Well, you would have to if you could, but as I said, that's clearly impossible."

The royal sisters looked at each other, then Luna looked back at Twilight. "What if she has a very large field?"

Twilight laughed nervously. "Well, since, as we all know, the moon is larger than all Equestria, you can't just set it down in somepony's field!"

"Don't be silly, Twilight. How could I raise and lower a rock larger than Equestria? How powerful do you think I am, anyway?"

Twilight gaped at the two princesses. "But... but... it's been proven, you can compute its mass from observations and Neighton's equations..."

Celestia shook her head ruefully and sighed. "Don't remind me. It wasn't easy, making everything work with those equations! I had to re-learn how to move the Sun almost from scratch." Luna nodded sympathetically.

"Wait," Twilight said. "You... you changed the movements of the celestial bodies to fit his theory?"

"He worked so hard on it," Celestia said. "I didn't want to hurt his feelings, the poor dear."

Twilight sat down heavily, just as she would have if a goddess had deliberately reached out and magically pulled her rump towards the ground with an acceleration of 9.8 meters per second per second. "So," she asked. "Just curious. Did you just make up any of the other cornerstones of my reality?"

The two sisters looked at each other guiltily.

"Right," Twilight said, and got slowly to her feet. "Remind me never to ask that again."

"Oh!" Celestia said, suddenly remembering something. "This is awkward, Twilight, but... what you said about the moon, that's part of the Clopernican heresy."

Twilight gulped. "Heresy? Nopony's called it that for centuries!"

"Of course not," Celestia said. "Ordinarily, I wouldn't bring it up at all. But under the Rule of Law, I think we're supposed to burn you at the stake now."

Twilight's eyes widened in terror. "That... that's horrible! How could you let anypony make a law like that?"

"Oh, you know. Everypony gets upset about something, so some ponies pass a harsh law against it. They become more popular, the other ponies are happy that something's being done, and I pardon anypony who runs afoul of the new law. Everypony is happy and nopony gets hurt. Why, what did you think laws were for?"

"Ow!" Twilight exclaimed. Her rear legs had given way a bit more quickly this time.

Celestia looked down at her with some concern. "You mean, you didn't have a plan for dealing with bad laws?"

Twilight pushed herself to her feet a little more slowly under the combined weight of the questioning gazes of two goddesses. She lowered her head and ears, then said defiantly, "Well of COURSE it's not going to work if the laws are made by IDIOTS!"

Luna and Celestia exchanged worried glances. "Oh, dear," Celestia said.

There was a thump as Twilight's rear end hit the marble floor for the third time.

"Are you going to keep doing that?" Luna asked. "I find it most distracting."

"Sorry," Twilight answered. "I'll just stay down here if that's all right with you."

"Any more good news?" Celestia inquired.

"No, that was all of it," Twilight said. "Legally, other than that, we're..."

"I see," Celestia said. "We may as well hear what she has to say and find out what she intends. Hopefully she will not ask too high a price for its return. Bailiff, please ask the chamberlain to send in the petitioner."

The bailiff left the room through one of the great doors, then reappeared a minute later, leading two unicorns who walked with the distinctive, high-stepping, shin-splint-inducing gait of the Canterlot upper class. The first was a fat white mare with a silver mane, and the second was a tall, lean, silver stallion with a white mane. Together they reminded Twilight of a certain nursery rhyme.

"Lady Silver Lining, and her counsel, Mr. Silver Tongue," the chamberlain announced. The recording clerk's horn glowed as she cast her spell, and faintly-glowing white streaks began zipping from it, around the room, and back onto her desk, gathering up words and sounds and writing them out on the scroll unrolled in front of her.

The two Silvers trotted toward the dais, Tongue behind Lining, then stopped in front of it and bowed graciously to the two sisters. Silver Lining turned to Twilight, who was just a few steps to her right, facing the two sisters across what was normally the desk for defendants and their counsel.

"This is Miss Sparkle, our legal counsel," Celestia said.

"Your counsellor is sitting on the floor," Silver Lining observed.

Celestia raised one eyebrow at her, as one does when somepony states the blindingly obvious.

"I'm less distracting down here," Twilight said. "Because of the reality-shattering."

Silver Lining and Silver Tongue took their places behind the plaintiff's table. The stallion placed a thick manila folder on the table in front of him. Then everypony fell silent and looked around to see who knew what was supposed to happen next. Twilight had two books open on the table before her, and the pages of both were rapidly flipping back and forth. She looked up at Celestia. "I have the protocols for royal audiences here, and the protocols for civil cases. Which is this?"

"Pick one," Celestia suggested.

The cover of one of the books slammed shut. "All right, civil case, then. Princess Luna, it's customary at this point for you as defendant to bow to yourself as judge."

"I've got an idea," Celestia said, and the other book slammed shut. "Let's just talk this over like grown ponies."

Silver Tongue spoke up. "Your honor. I certainly appreciate your sensible and well-intentioned suggestion. However, under the Rule of Law, no judgement is binding unless arrived at by following the proper legal procedures. For my client's protection, I request we observe all of the necessary formalities. I have here a folder of affidavits from witnesses, photographs of the event and its aftermath annotated with circles and arrows, and relevant case histories, each of which must be entered in the record and attested to regarding their authenticity, relevancy, content, and completeness."

Celestia smiled back at him. "How very professional of you, counsel. However, owing to the unusual nature of this case, for your client's protection, you may wish to discuss its outcome with us on an informal basis before we make a binding decision on whether her claim constitutes an assertion of property rights, or an act of treason." She enunciated each consonant of "binding" clearly, like a pair of shackles snapping shut.

Silver Tongue smiled and nodded acknowledgement, and opened his mouth to respond. It was promptly plugged by the hoof of the pony next to him. "Talking informally is acceptable," Silver Lining said.

Once they were able to get Silver Tongue, who was presumably paid by the hour, to stop talking, everypony agreed on the basics: Luna had bet the moon on her spider-throwing and lost. It looked as if they would be able to come to some sort of agreement without anypony being bound to anything–at least literally–until they came to the matter of delivery.

Silver Lining, it developed, was not interested in any sort of buyback plan. She did not want more bits; she wanted something nopony else had, and not one of the other Canterlot nobility had a moon. She already had, as Luna had feared, a large, empty field next to her country manor that she thought would be perfect for the moon, and she wanted it brought there.

"But you can already see the moon in the sky now!" Twilight said.

Silver Lining looked down her nose at Twilight, which was admittedly difficult not to do while she was still sitting on the floor. "My dear, that isn't how collecting works. It isn't just a matter of my having a thing. It's a matter of other ponies not having it."

"HA!" Twilight said. Silver Lining drew back in alarm. "Already sitting down," Twilight explained.

Both princesses had managed to maintain their decorum, but Twilight could tell that Luna was hovering on the edge between distraught and furious, while Celestia had already opted for the latter. "My dear Silver Lining," Celestia said slowly, carefully, and calmly, "are you quite certain that you desire to take the moon, which has heretofore been a gift of beauty to all ponies, and reserve it for yourself alone?"

Silver Lining stared back incredulously at Celestia as if she had begun babbling incoherently. "Well, that's really the whole point, isn't it?"

"And you expect us to permit this?"

"I'm just asking for what's mine. Under the Rule of Law."

Luna cast her eyes about the courtroom unbelievingly. She pinched herself, twice. "But Equestria has always had a moon! Equestria needs its moon!"

"I don't see why," Silver Lining sniffed. "It doesn't do anything. It's not like I was asking for the sun."

Luna froze, her eyes fixed on Silver Lining. Celestia opened both eyes very wide. Silver Tongue and the bailiff jumped away from the noblemare in opposite directions. Silver Lining, now standing very much alone in front of the two royal sisters, looked slowly to her left, and to her right.

"Allow me to restate that," she began.

But a strange humming sound had already begun in the background, which rose in intensity and in volume until it became apparent that it was coming from Princess Luna, who rose from her throne, still staring at the white-and-silver mare. Then she opened her mouth, and Twilight realized why Luna had never considered the Royal Canterlot Voice to be especially loud. This was loud. The sound knocked Silver Lining over and pushed her back into the row of benches behind her.

"WAAAAAAAAAAAA-HAAAAAAAAAAA-HAAAAAAAAAAA!"

Then Luna leapt into the air and flew straight out between the great wooden doors, knocking one of them off its row of seven iron hinges, and into the hall beyond, crying like a filly.

"Leave now," Celestia said without looking at Silver Lining, in that same calm, quiet voice. Out of the corner of her eye, Twilight noticed one of the ancient marble statues lining the chamber's curved rear wall crumble to dust and then drift away in a cloud of ash.

Silver Tongue helped his employer to her feet, and the two Silvers galloped out of the room, not even pausing to pick up the thick manila folder full of affidavits, photographs of the event and its aftermath annotated with circles and arrows, and relevant case histories. Silver Tongue nicked the broken door as he passed, which still hung by one hinge at the top of the entranceway. The last hinge pulled away from the wall, and the door, as tall as three ponies, fell outward into the hall beyond with a tremendous crash.

"Miss Blue," Celestia called to the clerk, "you may stop recording now."

Twilight looked around the suddenly-quiet throne room. The guards stood stock-still where they had been, Celestia sat just as silently on her throne, and she could hear the chamberlain cough now and then from the settling dust as he waited in the hall beyond. Twilight felt it would be a lot less nerve-wracking if somepony would just panic. She turned to Celestia. "What do we do now? Is she going to go all Nightmare Moon? Should we follow her? WHAT ABOUT THE MOON?"

Yes, that felt much better.

Celestia shook her head and smiled reassuringly, and her flowing mane rippled behind like a streamer. "I wouldn't worry about Nightmare Moon. Not for at least another day. And I don't know what to do, but I do know how to begin. Bailiff," Celestia called to the brown earth pony, who was just then crawling out from under Twilight's table, "please tell the chamberlain to send for some unusually-strong herbal tea."

When enough tea and cups had been sent for everypony (even the guards, whom Celestia had to reassure that it was all right to drink on duty just this once), and the room was filled with the calming scent of chamomile, Celestia turned to Twilight.

"Twilight. I know this Rule of Law means a great deal to you. But you'll have to come up with some legal way of taking back the moon, or I will declare this little experiment over."

Twilight raised one hoof to her chin. "Well... You could appraise it at a very high value, then tax it until she can't afford it anymore."

"Today, Twilight."

The purple unicorn turned her head this way and that as she sat on the floor, lost in thought. Finally she said, "I've got the start of an idea." She looked up at Celestia out from under her brows. "But it's not very nice."

"Not very nice?" Celestia laughed. "My dearest Twilight. You really don't know me as well as you think you do."

"HA!" Twilight said, followed immediately by, "Sorry!"

* * * * *

The two unicorns found nothing to impede their mad dash into the throne room. Its remaining door had been left open. Within, Celestia sat on her throne, surrounded again by Twilight, the bailiff, her guards, and a suspicious absence of petitioners.

"Lady Lining. Mister Tongue. What a surprise to see you here again."

The silver stallion stopped quite a ways short of the throne, whereupon the white mare prodded him from behind with her horn.

He jumped, and skidded nervously to a halt in front of Celestia. "Your most gracious majesty," he said, bowing. Then he shut his eyes tensely, and shuddered.

She waved a hoof modestly. "You're too kind, counsellor."

He opened his eyes and glanced down at each foreleg. Finding them still intact, he looked up at her out of the corner of one eye and said, "The, the act of vengeance you have undert-taken is not in ac-c-cordance with the Rule of Law. If it please your majesty."

Behind him, Silver Lining blurted out, "I'm sorry! Please forgive me! Don't bring this poor pony to ruination!"

"Pardon me?" Celestia said. "Act of vengeance? Ruination? Really, counsellor, Lady Lining. I don't know what you're talking about."

The lawyer took a deep breath. "Your sun, your m-majesty, rather than setting along its usual trajectory, is currently descending on my client's house."

"Oh, that!" Celestia said. "Merely making good on our obligation. My sister was so distressed at the prospect of losing her moon, that I decided to give you the sun instead."

"The sun?" Silver Lining bawled. "I don't want the sun! It'll burn my house down! The grass is already completely brown!"

"That is unfortunate if you're unsatisfied. But under the law, a pony may fulfill a debt with any item of equal or greater value."

"It isn't of equal value to me," Silver Lining complained. "I don't want a sun in my backyard! I'm light-sensitive! Just look at this complexion!"

"Well, then," Celestia said cheerfully, "all you have to do is attest under oath that you believe the sun is of lesser value than the moon."

"Certainly!" Silver Lining said gratefully. "Where do I sign?"

"You don't sign, you swear," Celestia said. "By me. It's simple. Repeat after me. I, Silver Lining..."

"I, Silver Lining..."

But her lawyer turned back and raised one hoof to stop her. "Madam! Please! Always consult with your legal counsel before taking an oath!"

"Oh, nonsense, Tongue, it's a simple little oath."

The lawyer peered back at Celestia suspiciously. "I do not believe in simple oaths, simple laws, or simple rulers."

"Tongue, I am warning you..."

The princess cleared her throat. "Now that your counsel mentions it, I do seem to recall a law relevant to this matter."

"Yes?" Silver Tongue asked.

Celestia chuckled shyly. "It's a little embarrassing. It's one of those old laws that somehow never got taken off the books. It says that it's an act of treason against Equestria to speak ill of the sun in comparison to the moon. The language is archaic, but that's the gist of it."

"I... I have never heard of this law," Silver Tongue stuttered.

"That's understandable. Unfortunately, the law library has room only for the legal records of the last thousand years. This law was passed shortly after the tumultuous events surrounding my sister's banishment. One thousand years, seven months, and twelve days ago. But it's available on request."

"How do you remember its date so exactly?" Silver Tongue asked.

"The council passed it as a birthday present for me. In poor taste, but they meant well."

"And... the penalty?" Silver Lining asked.

Celestia leaned back on her throne and looked up, putting one hoof to her chin. "Death, I think. Well, I'm sure it ended with death. But I can't recall for certain all the steps leading up to it. There were so many of them. Ponies were very creative with punishments back then."

Silver Lining was rapidly losing what little color she had. "Surely you wouldn't..."

"Oh, I wouldn't. Of course I wouldn't! If I had any choice. But, you know. Rule of Law."

"If I may," Silver Lining asked, "have a word with my counsel." She was already leaning on said pony with one outstretched hoof to keep from falling over.

"Certainly," Celestia said. "Take your time. Although it is nearly sunset."

* * * * *

One hour later, Twilight and the two princesses stood on the palace's spacious front balcony. They sometimes used it for royal announcements, but it now looked out on a courtyard empty save for a lone guard on his rounds. The guard, Twilight, and the princesses all shone dimly in the pale light of the rising new moon.

"Look at that," Twilight said. "It's so easy to take for granted. I never thought it might disappear one day." The two princesses smiled lovingly at each other, and embraced briefly.

"I begin to see some of the advantage of this Rule of Law," Celestia said some time later. "I couldn't have made a credible threat without it."

"That's not – argh!"

"And I, too, have learned something important!" Luna said.

"That's wonderful, Luna!" Celestia said. "And what, exactly, might that be?"

She raised herself onto her hind legs and threw her forehooves out towards the moon, which shone peacefully in the sky above as if none of this had ever happened. "The moon is MINE!"