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Thunderbuck last won the day on May 14 2017

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  1. The Dreamless Slumber (Closed. Private)

    The gate itself held nothing special, save for a thin lone of glowing light that peeked from between the gate and stinework around it. The filly herself looked back at the gate. Her eyes fearful of what was beyond it. She seemed scared of the glow. To Luna the glow was warm, inviting even. It almost seemed to becon the pair to let it in. As if it had something wonderful to show them. Caramel finally spoke, "I dont deserve to dream... I did something bad and now I don't deserve to dream anymore." At her words the glow pulsed brighter. It was as if it were trying to get through the gate but it couldn't.
  2. The Dreamless Slumber (Closed. Private)

    Caramel seemed to think a moment before speaking. "Not always here. Sometimes I go back to Canterlot where we used to live. However I do not dream of anything. Its always just where ever I live. This is Castle Cloud, my home now." She looked at the main gate and for a moment there was a look of terror in here eyes. But it seemed to pass as she looked away. Sipping her tea she levitates a small cake up, pausing to look at it. "I dont deserve to dream anymore," she said finally.
  3. The Dreamless Slumber (Closed. Private)

    Caramel happily poured a cup for Luna, setting upon a saucer. Fixing her a small plate if sweets as well, the filly set them out for Luna to enjoy at will. "I have seen no pony here before. If you are a dream and a real pony, does that mean you are a spirit?" Curiosity overcame the young pony, as she had not experienced this before. Her eyes focused on Luna for a bit before they came to the crown. Caramel tilted her head softly, "Are you a noble from Maretonia like Momma? She merts with them sometimes for business matters. They never spoke to me before." Caramel watched the princess a bit before returning to her tea. She was unaware who was before her.
  4. The Dreamless Slumber (Closed. Private)

    The princess's voice was loud enough, but it had no echo as it woukd have if it had been the real world. The sound was dead flat, no note or tone to her voice. Nonetheless, Caramel turned and looked at her. "Hello," she said cheerfully.. making extra space at her little tea party she pat a spot for Luna to sit. "Care for some tea ad cakes?" She asked. Caramel's own voice was the same as Luna's. Dead toned with almost no real life to it. No echo and certainly no character. As well it souned almost like a foal's voice. A few years too young. "Are you a dream?" Caramel asked, having never met or seen Luna before, she did not know who or what she was aside from being an allicorn. The filly poured a cup of tea, though it made no sound at all in doing so. A bird landed nearby, its beek moving as though it were singing. And yet, no sounds came.
  5. The Dreamless Slumber (Closed. Private)

    Stormstride nodded softly, understanding as she came to the bedside and looked over her daughter. Closing her eyes she let out a soft sigh and put her face in her hooves and tried to think clearly. Stormstride then moved to sit on one of the side beds and merely wait. She was quiet, calm, but visibly still nervous. She wanted this to be over so her daughter could be happy. The waiting was painful enough, but watching it was making her tremble at points. It was, after all, her baby girl. Inside Caramel's mind was a very quiet, peaceful patch of grass in what looked to be the inside courtyard of a small but well defended palace. The main gate was closed, the walls around the courtyard were easily five ponies high. There were flowers in the bushes that surrounded the courtyard. The filly herself sat there on the grass, having tea with her stuffed animal. Though in this image she was much younger, and her chubbiness was a bit more visible. She certainly liked her sweets. There was no sound here though, no birds signing nor any chatter of guards passing by. It was all absolute silent. Stormstride's own guards stood outside the room, all of them merely watched the door. They understood that Luna's night guard were there to protect her, but their duty was to their noble, and Stormstride was inside that room. They would not leave their spot until she came out.
  6. The Dreamless Slumber (Closed. Private)

    The two guards standing by CaramelCream both nodded. As they left the room, the younger turned and stood at attention in the hall. The older one trotted down the hall to find Stormstride. Though finding her was easy enough, as all her guards were given charms that let them home in on her family when needed. Caramel was still slumbering silently, though one could tell now that her face showed she had been disturbed in her rest. She had that look upon her face a pony would have when someone moved their pillow while they were sleeping. The guard returned after a moment, with Lady Stormstride in tow. The mare stood at the door, waiting her turn to be told to enter. It seemed that when her daughter was in question, Stormstide could become quite the lady indeed. The mare was showing her years at this late hour. Her make up could not hide the scars, and wrinkles of a long and hard fought life. Though one could clearly see the fire in her eyes now. This close to an answer, a bit of help for her daughter and she would not give in. Caramel made a soft moan and rolled over, her round tummy pulling the covers with her a bit. After a moment more, she settled back down and relaxed again. Her ears laying back as she settled down again. Stormstride had to resist rushing to her, though the desire to do so was clear on her face. Stormstride looked to Luna, hopeful and fearful at the same time. "You sent for me, your majesty?" She asked a calm, polite, and delicate tone.
  7. The Dreamless Slumber (Closed. Private)

    Stormstride followed, though she did not like leaving her daughter, she understood that sometimes things had to be done. Entering the room she looked around a moment before sighing and turning to them. She motioned her guards. They relaxed into an at ease position and took stance either side of the door inside the room. "I will remain here until called for." she said softly. She moved to he bed and sat silently. The guards carrying Caramel followed as instructed. Reacing the study, they gently set her down and stood back. One removed his helmet, and set it on the floor beside himself. He was very young, and still very bright eyed. The concern on his face was clear. He was only a bit older than CaramelCream. He glanced at Luna a moment before looking back at his charge. She was sound asleep, but the blankness of her expression was disturbing to him. The other guard with him nudged him and he nodded softly. Putting his helmet back on he whispered to himself softly.
  8. The Dreamless Slumber (Closed. Private)

    Stromstride sat and took a very deep breath. She muttered to her guards, and two of them rushed off at a full gallop. This left just one guard and the captain with Stormstride. The mare looked at her hooves a moment before leaning forward some. She closed her eyes as she put her front hooves on her face. The cold metal of her shoes pressing against the scars on her cheeks as she let out her breath in a long, low sigh. Her ears fell back into her braided, styled mane as she leaned forward a bit. After a moment she put her hooves on the floor with soft heavy clacks of metal on stone. Her tail twitched as she stood again and opened her eyes. Despite the heavy bags under her eyes, displaying her own lack of sleep, Stormstride's gaze was like emerald fire as she stared hard at Luna. She breathed in through her nose and her face set in a hard, tense look. The memories flashing in her eyes were either very enraging, or something else had angered the pony before the princess. Her own guards took a few soft steps away from her, as if expecting her to pitch a fit at any second. But when the mare spoke, her tone was calm, level, but filled with a near loathing hatred. "I do not know the exact cause. I suppose it could be many things. But I can tell you when this all started. CaramelCream, my daughter was born to me and my ex-wife. And she was always a vocal and happy foal. However she started to talk about not dreaming right after... Right after that... mare I married divorced me and abandoned our daughter at daycare while I was on patrol. I came home to the daycare owner at my house, knocking thinking I was home. Caramel was crying for her mother and that... That mare was no where to be found. She left divorce papers on the counter by the front door for me to find and a vague note about leaving Caramel at a local daycare. She had long lost the love of me. And that was fine, I was just another dumb grunt in the armor for the princess. But what she took was every picture of herself, every reminder she had ever lived there. She left NOTHING for our daughter to know her by. She didnt even leave the pictures Caramel doodled with crayons of us as a family. She took all of that and destroyed it so she would have no ties left to our daughter or me. And I...." Stormstride paused from speaking to bring her tone back down and calm herself again. "She left us for a Canterlot noble, became a frequent in Celestia's court and erased all ties to being married to a low class grunt and having a foal with some dumb soldier. That was when my daughter first said she wasnt dreaming. That was years ago and I thought it was because she was still such a young pony there. barely old enough to use full sentences. Still in pre-school, and her mother up and left her like that. For weeks after that she kept saying she couldn't dream. And then she stopped talking about it. Until recently I thought she was dreaming. It was last month she told me she still wasn't dreaming. I exhausted every ounce of energy and effort I could spare without bankrupting all of Maretonia to find out anything and everything I could. We consulted with every pony that had any hint of training in the area of psychology. I even sent out for mystics that might help. Nothing has helped. None of them could point toward a cause, and all of them could not help her. I think that mare That left us was the one that caused it. Intentionally no doubt. She resented Caramel from the moment she was born. That is the only explanation I have left to offer." Stormstride was practically shaking in rage at this point. The mare before Luna was obviously at her wits end, and the lack of sleep for herself had not helped that matter at all. There was the soft thump of hooves entering the throne room that drew Stormstride's attention. The two guards she had seen off were returning, baring something between them. It was a carry cot, the kind unconscious ponies were often carried on. On it was a unicorn filly. Her coat was a caramel color, smooth and thick, her mane was near white and fluffy. her rounded stumpy horn poked up just barely an inch out of her mane. She was sound asleep, covered lightly on the stretcher by a soft blanket. Stormstride moved to her and gently brushed her mane from her face. The filly slumbered on, totally unaware of what was happening around her. But her mind was near total blank. No dreams, no eyes or ear twitches to indicate anything. Nothing was happening at all.
  9. The Night Courts of Canterlot were an unusual place indeed. These proceedings were more subdued, calm, and held a certain peacefulness that made Stormstride feel more at ease. Though given her escort, the minor noble was likely one of the few ponies feeling at ease. Nobility often had their own private honor guard, which was nothing new. What did appear to be new was the fact that Stormstride's Honor Guard were wearing armor made of a black, non-reflective metal, and adorned with antlers, horns, and what looked likes claws and fangs of dangerous and wild beasts. There were even a few dragon claws attached to the helm of what was her captain. They were quiet, but their faces were hidden behind full helmets, their full bodies covered in chainmail, furs, pelts, leathers, and plated armor that made them look like walking amalgamations of monstrous magically crafted metal golems and wild animals combined. Clashing with that was the mare herself, in a simple white satin toga and golden crown made in the shape of lightning. Maretonian nobility by style and design, and the way she carried herself as well denoted that same are that Maretonian Unicorns carried. The self importance and pompousness many of them had was there, but to a much less degree. The only thing about her that stood out as strange were the shoes on her hooves. One could see the gleaming silver metal, and the mounting screws driven into her hooves, permanently mounting those shoes to her. On her neck hung a simple silver charm, cast with the family crest of her house. The mare's emerald green eyes stood apart from her mottled gray and dark gray mane. The silvery streaks blending in her mane twisted with the dark rolling grays, creating the look that her mane, tail and coat were made of rolling storm clouds, and beset with two gems for eyes. The deep and long scars on her chest, left cheek, and left front leg were visible. This mare was no stranger to combat. However it seemed she came not to pick a fight. Instead when it was her turn to speak she came forward, produced a scroll with her credential and then spoke in a tone of both respect and dignity. "Your highness, Princess Luna. I have come before you to request your advice and assistance on a matter dear to my family and our home. As many here are aware, I, Stormstride Cloud am not within good standing within Equestria. That being said, I hope that that will not taint the request I wish to place before you. My daughter has..." She paused, to glance around as if checking to see who was watching before continuing. "My daughter has stopped dreaming. In fact she has not had a dream in many years. I have tried my own magic to help, and sought the help of others in my own lands. However, this is something that we can not understand, nor can we treat. This lack of dreams has brought my daughter a lot of anguish as of late. She is of the age she wants to attend a more focused school. Centering around her talent in cooking. She has several selected here in Equestria and a few in Maretonia. But she has become depressed because she is very different." Stormstride took a step closer, and spoke in a whisper, "Please. I know Your sister loaths ponies like myself, but do not hold it against a filly barely out of her foalhood years. She's already deaf. She shouldn't have to suffer this too." Despite the looks and jeers of a few of the Canterlot nobility that knew of Stormstride's reputation and her previous deeds or misdeeds as they would refer to them, the mare before Luna was sincere in her request. She did not make a show, but she was almost begging for help. This was in honesty a mother seeking help for their child. And so it seemed Stormstride had no other choice but to come to Equestria to seek help.
  10. Darkest Deceptions Become Reality

    That.....would be a bit more than 500 gems. This is a well established crime family. Something like that, they would have to field the cost to acquire, transport, pay off guards and dock workers, find captain and crew that will keep a tight lip, get the right kind of ship, etc. but its an interesting idea to say the least. I'll definitely keep it in mind when I get ready to start these threads.
  11. Darkest Deceptions Become Reality

    As long as he has the coin they can probably pick up some things he might be wanting. They just need payment, items to get, and location to deliver. after that its a game of waiting and watching for the delivery.
  12. Head in the Sand (private)

    Firestorm sat on his flank in silence for what had to be at least four full minutes. He said nothing to the three of them, nor did he speak to the towns ponies. After a moment he turned and called out for one of them. A mare approached, her left cheek baring a heavy scar. "Did you write the full details or did you just put down the coordinates and tell them to come rescue me?" The mare looked at the ground. "My liege, please, hath heart and haken my words before passing strong judgement. Until your hooves trod through the sands, we had thought our town the last in all Equestria. Our ancestors had survived strife and change unrelenting, under what we were predisposed to knoweth as the truth. Please... begone hence with your own brethren and best forget we doth exist. Let out township fade from memory, as the days gone hath forgotten our ancestors as well." She turned and wandered back into the town. Leaving Firestorm to sit there in the burnt sands with the three. Turning to them he motioned them to bring their cart and follow him. He led them to his own, a larger, enclosed cart with a door. As he came to it, he reached up and pulled the blindfold from his face. Turning to look at them, he let them get a very good look at the eyes he had. Having lost all their color to the cloudiness, forever darkened and robbing him of all sight. The blindfold was not to impress others with his skills, but to hide a shameful fact, as the former commander, was now completely blind. "99% by now. If I had still been a commander some time back, I would have had access to a proper military surgical unit. Unfortunately, I was demoted from commander to sergeant By Celestia's personal order, my barracks broken up and scattered about. Last I heard several of them were dismissed from duty, though for what reason's I can not be certain. I was given the 'problem soldiers' as it were to begin with. They weren't much, but they were my troops. And while we were just a town barracks in a lower end of Canterlot, we did everything as best we could. Now then. As for the matter at hoof, It was not like I could read the letter she wrote and I heard the scribbling so I assumed she was actually writing after the coordinates were given. I had intended to inform the REA that there was a lost town of ponies here, detached from Equestria ages ago, roughly 400 years. They didn't know that Equestria had pioneered the lands around them, and that their ancestor's illusion spells were failing to hide them now. I heard the pleas for help, from a plateau not far away. a few hours at a hard gallop. What I see now is that these ponies do not know how things in Equestria have changed. They were under the impression that the princess was still as tight hoofed and had run the country into the ground. They knew nothing about the REA of today, and the engineer corps that can build proper roads to connect this town to the trade caravans. Get proper supplies, fortify some walls, and post a small group of guards. This town would be secure. You have to forgive them their distrust. Until I trotted into town, they hadn't seen another pony aside from their own kin for a long time." Turning back to his cart he opened the door and his magic reached inside, pulling out his saddle bags and digging out some dried fruit to offer them. "Now that you have my sob story and their's. Mind filing me in on your full orders? or was it literally just 'bring him back', because if it was, I will not resist."
  13. The train came to a stop slowly at Canterlot Station. Caramel was still rubbing her eyes from being asleep a fair bit of the trip, and thus took time to realize they were in fact actually back in Canterlot. As the girls boarded one coach that was sent for Princess Twilight, Stormstride and her party slid quietly into a more common coach that was less noticeable. CaramelCream followed her mother into their carriage, leaning against her softly. Feather Touch gently covered her with a wing like a blanket, keeping her warm as they rode up the hill. It was still early, and most of the residents of Canterlot were just now waking to prepare for the day. Caramel fall back asleep between her parents, breathing softly as she let them hug and hold her to them dearly. Too much had happened in recent times for the filly to actually process and become accustomed too, and sleeping was her way of accommodating all the information she had been bombarded with. Twilight and the girls had begun discussing softly the plans for the party, setting Rarity to task making a little princess party for the filly while tasking Pinkie and Applejack with the foods. Pinkie had taken time to talk to and get to know the filly on the trip, and picked out a cake to make. Applejack was making party foods from fresh fruit, providing the ponies present with a bit of variety though with a more healthy selection in mind than just the usual party sweets. Fluttershy tended to setting up some games for them to play, with the help of Rainbow Dash. They set up the races, hopscotch, bag toss, a piñata, and pin the tail. Though, they tried to keep as much of it all in the ballroom as they could possibly. The gardens were restored, and no sign of combat remained, it was still best to not allow the place to be filled with young ponies who might find a piece of metal still left out or missed in the cleanup; as a cut in the hoof could ruin a party fast. Caramel slept on, even as her mother levitated her along between herself and Feather Touch. Stepping from the carriage they looked around at the pleasant morning with clear skies and clean air. They often wondered how it was always like this after every tragedy that happened here, though likely there was magic involved in the cleanup. The pair bowed to Celestia and Luna respectfully as the sister princesses came forward to greet them, though admittedly there was tension in the air. No pony wanted to speak of it, especially with the filly there; albeit she was asleep and deaf. “Lady Stormstride, Lord Feather Touch. Welcome to Canterlot Palace,” Celestia said softly, then she returned the bows and smiled at them. Luna looked at the young filly, her eyes soft and gentle as she watched her dreaming, but left her to the dreams she had in peace. Turning her gaze to the mare and stallion, she could read them just as easily. Stormstride was still full of regret, still mourning her brother in her heart and dreaming of those events again and again every night. Her husband however seemed more concerned for her wellbeing; she could see the movements he made to always keep her in the field of his view, and how he tried to ensure he could step between her and a possible threat. A warrior as she was, she was vulnerable. The guards with them were in plain clothing and carried only ceremonial weaponry. It was meant to display, not to fight and Luna wondered if the short spears they carried even truly had an edge. Though when she noticed Caramel was being levitated by Stormstride, her own magic extended and gently lifted the filly, helping to hold her up for Stormstride. She turned to the side and gave a gentle bow, gesturing with a wing. “Perhaps you would like to take time to rest in a room before the party this afternoon?” Luna offered, to which Stormstride nodded softly. Feather Touch gently kissed her cheek and whispered to her he was going to help with the party while she took CaramelCream for a nap. She kissed back and went with Luna to a guest room provided for them to sleep in. As Luna opened the door for the mare she spoke in a soft voice. “I… understand how you have felt about the upper class ponies of Canterlot. Things are not exactly equal with many of them. You were an honest pony, and a good soldier. I hope that one day, we can make up for what was done to you Stormstride. It was not right, and more than myself feels that way.” Stormy looked to Luna as she lay Caramel on the bed gently. The lunar princess was oft more elegant with words than her sister, even if she did not know it. “It is not that I have wanted things made up to me. I simply could not tolerate the thought that these things were accepted as common place and would continue. Putting an end to them so that there was never another pony like myself was my end goal. I just… didn’t realize that trying to force those changes was what created things like… him, in the first place. I still have the journal. I still make documented notation though now purely for research and benefit of pony kind, both in Maretionia and Equestria. And my goal is the same, that there never be another pony like myself ever again,” she said as she stroked Caramel’s mane softly. “It never goes away does it?” She asked suddenly, looking up to Luna whom already knew what the question meant. She also knew what the answer would mean for Stormstride when it was spoken aloud but she felt it was better to be honest at least “No. It never goes away. You will always remember, and so will other ponies. But it is up to you now to decide how best to use that power. Yes, it can be a corrupting force but seeing how pure your love for your family is and always will be, I feel confident enough you can control the knowledge you have of the dark arts. You must decide if it is a course of study worth looking deeper into, or if you are unwilling to search for answers there any further. Either way, you know you have my support, and I will always be here to answer any questions you have. I too tasted that power and leapt upon it in anger, seizing it as a weapon to further my own goals, rather than realizing it made me a slave to desire,” Luna turned slowly and walked to the door. She paused only long enough to look back and watch the mare slide up on the bed and gently pull her daughter close. Leaving them to sleep peacefully she watched Flashfire take his position outside the room, beside a normal REA soldier. The stallion’s blind, glazed eyes were looking forward, spear in hoof as he stood there silently like a sentinel. Luna had thought to speak to him, however she left it be and ventured down to the kitchens to see how Pinkie and Applejack were faring. Pinkie was baking a lovely cake with extra thick icing, making certain it varied in color and flavor since she knew Caramel had no particular favorite. A soft smile crossed Luna’s lips as she watched the pink mare working. Applejack had a few trays of snacks ready, rather delightfully made in color and shape; all of them radiating the scent of fresh fruits from her orchard blended with treats such as currants, jams, and peanut butter. Celestia was in the ballroom helping to decorate and place the games. Although no pony was certain what sort of dancing Caramel preferred, they prepared several kinds from the noble waltz to the more fun and loud music most Equestrian foals seemed to favor. After all they knew she had lived as nobility for a few years now, and that she was getting to the age where she would be looking to other ponies, and it was possible she might ask for a proper dance. Feather Touch was uncertain himself, as the only music in their castle had been Buck’s playing, and no pony had lifted any sound like it since. Celestia frowned at hearing that, knowing how much wider the hole that his death had left. Blueblood had said that there were no sounds made in the castle the whole time he was there, aside from the light conversations and usual cleaning sounds. Celestia then began to wonder where Blueblood was, she had seen neither he nor Psmith all day. Surely he was not sulking in his room, nor would he be out from the castle today of all days; so where would he be that he was not here to greet his friend and her daughter? The soft clop of hooves drew her attention and answered her question. Blueblood had been to the tailor it seemed, as his suit was freshly refitted. Psmith was not far behind in a new suit as well, and carrying a small wrapped box. Then Celestia noticed they were leading a group of ponies up to the palace. The guests were arriving now, which made her smile. Stepping away, she moved to let the girls take over and show the young ponies the games to play as she ventured to find her sister, locating her easily as she had returned to the window that she was often standing at. Contemplation on her countenance, the lunar mare was silent as her sister approached. Celestia looked out the window as well, looking over that patch of garden with the hedge maze and fountain. It was always a peaceful place, unmarred by anything yet devoid of color and special correlation. A patch where, in the past no pony had tended anything there, just a bare patch in the gardens that could be used for something and no pony knew what. “The guests are arriving sister. Would you like to greet them with me?” Celestia asked softly. She figured her sister would say no; that she was waiting for Stormstride and Caramel to awaken before taking them to the party. However Luna surprised her with a soft smile and a nod. The pair walked down to the ballroom together, joining the girls as they set up the last of everything quietly and told the colts and fillies to go ahead and begin playing, and to leave any gifts on a small side table. There were only a few gifts brought, as Caramel’s list was most short indeed; cookie cutters, beads and bobbles, and bits of shiny jewelry. It seemed she already had anything she could really want, and had just made a list for those that felt obligated to bring her a gift. As they were moving down the hall, they came to the door where Stromstride and Caramel were sleeping. Luna paused before turning to Flashfire, and asking him to give them just a few moments more before waking them and letting them know the guests were arriving. He nodded, and gave a gentle salute before returning to his pose. Celestia thought it odd that he was her honor guard so far from home, and that HeavyHoof, her captain and stand in steward was the other. Perhaps Stormstride had her reasons, or perhaps these two were just on vacation with the family; either way she was pleased to see Flashfire seemed healthy and active still. The sisters carried on back to the ballroom, coming in and instantly the foals crowded around them all bowing or clamoring about how they looked. Celestia had to giggle, seeing Luna look rather startled before she settled into the attention and smiled at them. Luna explained that Caramel had traveled from a land far away and was taking a nap so that she would have the energy to play with her friends. She had not forgotten them and was going to be very happy that so many of them showed up with their parents and teachers. Celestia did a fast count, finding twelve foals, roughly fifteen parents and two teachers; that was actually more than she imagined would show given that the list of guests only had thirty on it to begin with. This was mostly every pony except one teacher that had since moved away from Canterlot to teach elsewhere. Twilight was smiling to the side with the girls, watching and helping where they could. The parents were mostly sitting in a section of chairs set out for them, conversing about old days and how things had changed a bit. The foals were a few years older now, most had their cutie marks and others were still blank, but all of them got along. The district was once more at quiet peace and a few asked about if any of them had actually seem Stormstride the last time she was around. It was then one of the teachers spoke up, stating they had and that she had made a rather hefty donation to the school to afford new things and repair the building. Another parent spoke up, noting how Stormstride had seen and commented to them that the school no longer had a guard posting and the street section was being neglected. Princess Celestia filed those away in her mind for later when she would speak to the commander of that barracks about it. Perhaps there was just nothing wrong and she was trying to please every pony. Celestia felt the nudge of her sister’s wing as she came back to reality. Caramel was coming into the room with her father leading her. She wore her bright ear bows and smiled as she hopped forward to greet her friends again. Celestia and Luna smiled as they watched, feeling the joy in the filly to see her friends again, and tell them how her life was now. Though strangely, Stormstride was missing and so was Cadence and Shining Armor. Luna went to go find them, but her sister gently blocked her path. “My sister, you should stay and enjoy the festivities. I think it is you that our little guest of honor wanted most to meet. You are, after all the princess that would know her best; I will find our cousin and her husband. I have a feeling they are with the Lady Stormstride.” Celestia slowly stepped away, letting Luna join the foals in their party as Caramel invited Luna to a game of hopscotch with her. Celestia did not have to go far, as she found the three outside the ballroom. Stormstride sat upon a bench, catching her breath quietly. Shining Armor was speaking to Flashfire as Heavyhoof was holding a glass of water for Storm. Cadence fanned the mare gently with a wing, helping her cool off a bit better. “Is everything alright?” Celestia asked, coming over with concern for the mare. Stormstride nodded and let out a slow heavy sigh. “She is just tired. Having a foal is a great burden on the mother, so I can only imagine having three at once,” Cadence said which got a chuckle from Heavyhoof and Flashfire both. As Celestia took a moment to kneel beside Stormstride she could tell the mare was alright, just tired and easily fatigued from everything. Celestia understood all too well, and let her rest as she spoke. “Stormstride, even though we see not eye to eye, I want to thank you for allowing us to do this for your daughter. Blueblood expressed to us how much it meant to her, seeing he and Psmith as her uncles. And in light of… what has happened we wanted to at least offer something for your family. I know you likely meant no true ill toward Equestria and only wanted me to feel your pain. However, revenge never begets anything but more vengeance in the end. It creates only a circle of suffering. If you still distrust and loath me I shall fully accept that and make no further efforts to speak to you once your family leave the party today.” Stormstride shook her head softly and sighed as she looked up to Celestia. The mare was looking for the right words to say, something to express her own sorrow and her apologies as well. Celestia let her just take her time, knowing there were things the mare probably wanted to say, and in certain cases spit at her. “It is not you… I had an issue with Celestia. It was what you had come to symbolize. In the lower districts, you’ve become a goddess. Untouchable, unapproachable, unreachable except by extreme means; ponies outside this district, outside that large wall the nobles built to keep out the riffraff that ponies feel unable to even look upon you except the rare glimpses of you at sunrise and sunset when you step out on your balcony. Have you ever see a dirty train worker come to bring concerns of work place safety to your attention? What about a doctor lacking proper access to equipment in the clinic? Under paid, under staffed teachers at the low end school my daughter used to attend? Or maybe the few foals that were living in a hovel up the hill from the school stealing supplies and food to get by. “None of them felt they should bother you with their petty issues because you have a whole nation of problems to run, Gala’s to plan, a school for the wealthy unicorns, etc. Thing is… I never hated you. I just thought I did. I hated what you symbolized to the less fortunate, and I certainly hated anything of the posh ponies that lived inside this district. When I realized I had the blood of nobility in my veins the first thing that ran through me was utter disgust and want to rid myself of it. But then I had a thought; what if I could use that to rip away everything these ponies cared about and give it all to the ponies they looked down their noses at?” Stormstride let it go, figuring the princess could guess the rest from there. Celestia had a fair idea why Stormstride felt the way she had, and probably the tipping point had been the rather nasty divorce that left her bitter toward ponies that bought things, rather than have worked and made them. Miscommunications of the needs of her barracks between misfiled reports, understated urgency of supplies and filing errors because Flashfire was going blind and too proud to admit it compounded issues. Further miscommunications between the leaders of the REA, misinterpretations of the situations in her review and inspection of the barracks, even misrepresentation of herself by how ponies viewed her just further pushed some ponies away. That was something she could not always help, however it seemed Stormstride was looking past that, not justifying her reasons but explaining them and what they led up to. Celestia felt it was better to let a pony work through their own issues, and to express themselves to find the answers they sought. Only then could a pony really call anything they had truly their own. “I was in the wrong, and likely will always be in the wrong. I have the mentality of a soldier, in the body of a scholar. Maybe I have become worse than what I thought of you, maybe not. My actions were unforgivable, even if I didn’t…” Stormstride stopped midsentence as Celestia held up a hoof. “My dear Stromstride, I have long come to understand the desperation of the few that fall through the cracks. You are not as alone as you think you are. You have your family, your friends, and you citizens that stand behind your rule. From what I understand, you have quite the little haven for Pegasus and Earth ponies inside your town. And seeing Lieutenant Flashfire here as a functional member of your honor guard has proven enough that you have undone whatever dark spells you had them under. You have much more to be joyful for than you have to fear. You are not expected to be perfect, and neither is an allicorn princess. We are all ponies, and we all make mistakes, the only difference being that sometimes those mistakes affect more than just the ponies around us. I know you do not want to speak of it now, but before you leave, would you please sit to discuss the matter with myself and my fellow princesses? There is a matter I believe you will find most important.” Celestia did not tell Stormstride anything more, but merely accepted the nod of the mare. “Thank you. Now then, we better get you up and prepared. Your husband is about to have a dance with your daughter and it would be most improper to rob you of your chance to watch your young daughter display her best hoof forward to her friends.” Celestia stood and slowly offered her hoof to Stormstride, which surprised the pregnant mare. The party was lively, and as promised there was a variety of activities and food, the cake was delicious, gifts were given to the filly and she loved each one though; she was partial to the simpler gifts of things like marbles and the little mane bow her Uncles Blueblood and Psmith got for her. As the afternoon wore on into evening, the parents rounded up their kids and thanked every pony for hosting the small but wonderful party for such a unique filly. Luna and Celestia only left long enough to lower the sun, and raise the moon, as Blueblood and Psmith spent time talking to the girls over some juice and a slice of cake. The girls were most impressed with his ability to dance not only the proper waltz with the guest of honor, but her pregnant mother as well. It was after Feather took their daughter to be tucked into bed that Stormstride met with Celestia and the other princesses in the dining hall for a late tea and to talk. The noble mare understood she would likely be made to answer for her crimes as it stood, and her misuse of her abilities against ponies that were still Equestrian ponies at the time. She could never absolve herself of that list of crimes. Adding further salt to the wound, she would like also be forced to speak about what the spell is that killed her beloved brother. Arriving in the hall she found no guards, no servants and surprisingly the girls were absent from Twilight’s side, having opted to leave this to them as Princess Business. As Stormstride came up, Cadence levitated a chair out for her, and helped her sit. Luna opened up the conversation by offering tea and left over party treats. Stormstride sampled them sparingly, her appetite lost as her mind dwelt on the things she worried about. “May I ask… are we here to discuss the crimes I committed, or to discuss my sentence for them?” she asked suddenly, which greatly startled all the princesses. “As well as I am aware, there are no crimes or charges listed against you Lady Stormstride. In fact the only thing I could think to bring against you might be the discussion of how little you eat. Certainly a pregnant mare must need more food?” Luna said. Cadence and Twilight agreed and asked if she would prefer different food. Waving off the question, Stormstride turned that gaze upon Celestia, though this time there was that inquiring look. She was digging for information and Celestia brightened up a bit, smirking as she spoke slowly. “I will answer your question, with another one. Are you still able to cast all of those dark spells now that your horn is mended and your soul cleansed of that evil possession?” The solar mare asked, which almost got Twilight to spit her tea. “Really now Celestia! Such an improper question to ask. And in such an improper manner too. One must certainly have more tact than this! This is not a proper conversation for tea!” The disembodied voice of Discord came from the empty chair beside Twilight before he merely popped into existence there. Summoning his own tea cup he allowed Twilight to pour him some tea and he selected a particularly gooey peanut butter and carrot cracker. Stormstride arched an eyebrow, though his arrival had little more effect on her than that. Twilight seemed very interested in why Stormstride was so calm. Though when the mare spoke, she hinted at something that made Celestia giggle. “You must be the stallion my brother hinted at from one of his trips. Par chance, you have not visited his grave have you? We sent out a notice for you in the manner he suggested to reach out to you if you were needed for something. However we did not believe you had shown.” Stormstride sipped her tea slowly, watching his measured and rather regal reaction. “I have been there. Rather odd, such a large stone box for broken bits of mask wouldn’t you agree? What would he think when he looks upon a grave baring his own name? One should think it most improper for nobility to bury their kin when they are still kicking and screaming.” Discord turned his misshapen eyes on her and met her firm but inquiring gaze. They had never crossed paths before, until this moment and yet they spoke on a level which no other pony seemed to understand and believed they had known each other before. “Discord, are you acquainted with the Lady Cloud?” Luna asked softly. “Not personally no. Though I know her musical brother very well,” Discord purred out as his lion paw twirled in a nonchalant manner. “Given the times we caught him talking to himself and muttering your name, I’m assuming you knew him in ways no other pony did.” Stormstride hid her grin behind her tea cup, but the conversation did catch the attention of Twilight who did not understand the reference. Celestia, Luna and Cadence understood fully, though they noticed Stormstride did not seem to be getting that they were discussing her brother in the present tense, not the past. “I think you might be interested to know, I still know him that well, maybe even better than you know.” Discord said. He watched her eyes narrow sharply, before they widened some and she stared at him hard. She set her cup down and leaned her hooves on the table, as she pushed up slowly and looked him right in the eye. “How?” was all she said. The open ended question was enough to finally coax Celestia into speaking. “We were asking you the same question. Of all our research combined, the spell on the weapon the spirit that possessed you should have separated his life force from his soul and his magic. And yet, all it seems to have done is remove his body. At first we believed it was Discord playing pranks upon us all. Moving mane brushes, leaving apples or other fruits in our pillows or strange books appearing on our dinner tables. Then things began to escalate and grew menacing. At one point we were questioning Discord when a window simply exploded inward with no pushing force behind it. Discord acted to protect Twilight from the falling glass, and then he noticed the existence of a being that seemed to phase in and out of our reality at points,” Celestia sipped her tea as Cadence began to speak. “In the Crystal Empire we had to evacuate a music hall because all the instruments began blaring all at once. Just random noise but at a fair distance it almost sounded like words were being spoken. However it was too garbled to understand, as if it were being spoken through a thick piece of wood.” The Crystal princess set her cup down and then looked to Twilight. “In Ponyville, your brother used to feast on the orchard when he was there. He paid for the apples he ate though, so no worry there. But here recently we keep finding the apples he seemed so attracted too in his bat pony state in my bed. At first it was one or two. But more recently the bed was covered in them. And no pony saw them move. I turned down my covers, moved to my desk to pick up my book, turned back and a mountain of apples was neatly arranged on my bed, covers still turned down. My assistant was right there with me, and he didn’t see a thing. They merely appeared there as if teleported. The orchard is no less than three miles from my castle. That is a long teleport, especially since my friend Applejack knows her apples and was able to match each one to the tree it came from with perfect understanding. They were teleported to their place in the stack, from their spots on the trees.” Twilight picked up a small piece of cake, nibbling as she watched Stormstride’s face. “I have noticed a dark shape flying with me in the night skies. It presents no danger, and causes no harm. But when I notice it and attempt to follow it leads me toward the gardens. The last time, I found a place to land and no sooner did I land than Lightning struck the ground where our battle took place, burning a mark in the grass. That mark was gone with the sunrise, however it was not the last time I saw that mark. Since then I keep finding that mark burned into various places. Always by lightning, and always it is gone with the sunrise. Do you recognize this mark?” Luna lay a parchment on the table, it depicted the radius blade of a lightning bolt in burn pattern. Inside the image of a backward musical note with a bolt of lightning running through it. They had wet a piece of parchment and rubbed it on the wall, copying the burn patter and transferring it to the parchment to show her. “I have had many strange things happen to me as well. When the battle ended, your weapon and the weapon of your brother were never returned to you. They are still held safe if you desire to collect them Lady Cloud, we have already examined them in totality and found that the only enchantments they hold are for self-cleaning purposes. A notable enchantment used by many weapons nobility carry as display. And yet… I frequently find your brother’s sword laid over your scythe on the floor of my bedchamber, as if protecting your weapon from something or someone. No matter where I store them, they always find their way back.” Stormstride was by now fairly certain they were hinting at her brother still being alive yet out of this realm. She set the parchment down and tapped her hooves together. She did not seem as joyous as they thought she would. Her heart was bursting with joy for the fact her brother was not dead. However the question of the matter did not escape her notice. “You were wondering if I could explain how the black magic works, so you can help reverse the spell. That is what you mean isn’t it?” She said, not looking at them, but the parchment. Celestia set her cup of tea down and sighed softly. Well aware how Stormstride felt about using her new found knowledge anymore. She was stuck with it, and had to live with it for the rest of her life. However she loathed using it. Now she was being asked to teach other ponies how it was done. “As much as I want him to be alive, I cannot. What you are asking requires more than just knowledge. It requires death. And if I were not pregnant I would gladly offer my own life in exchange. However, you are asking for something more abomination than knowledge. The ritual alone took me a month to learn. The words are easy, it is the fact you must sacrifice a live pony for the act and they must be a willing sacrifice.” She said as she sat back in her chair. That silenced the princesses, though Discord sipped his tea noisily. Then he nibbled on a cracker with a crunch and made a soft burp, to which he pardoned himself and lightly wiped his mouth with a napkin. Cadence was well aware of how such knowledge would make Stormstride feel, her own coat was crawling at the thought, and a glance at her sister-in-law told her she was feeling the same. However Luna and Celestia were not so shocked it seemed. Perhaps they had come across something similar. “I am familiar with necromancy in many forms. Though I must say, this is the first time I heard of it being a volunteer process. That may be the key there. The spells of this world, even the black ones require a guiding will and force, and the freedom to be cast. Taking the life of another pony intentionally through a specific form of magic like this may just be exactly why this spell requires a living and willing sacrifice to be made. To make up for the fact that the intended target likely does not have the intent to surrender willingly to it and will fight it. However Why did it not work as intended?” Celestia said. “Because Thunderbuck is not an allicorn. Bat pony in part does not make him allicorn. It takes more than a horn and flight to make one an allicorn my sister. The spell was tailor made to kill you, though any allicorn would have done. We could ask him ourselves, however I feel his answers might be less than forthcoming in honestly,” Luna said softly. Stormstride looked up, anger flaring in her eyes as she almost hissed at them. “Why is he still alive?” The minor nobility slammed a metal clad hoof on the table and grit her teeth. “Because we have yet to find a proper means to send his soul to the other side. He would prove too dangerous to leave in Tartarus, and too tempting a target for treasure hunters to seal away in a cave. For now, he remains in the sealed tomb in a secret place here in the palace. Once we can undo the damage he has done, then we can undo the spell keeping him bound to this world. Until then, we have to tolerate his presence.” Celestia spoke in a calm, even tone to sooth Stormstride’s flared temper. She knew the mare likely would attempt to kill the thing and only set it free if she knew where it was. Celestia was wise enough to know when and how to pick the battles she could control. For now, the battle was with Stormstride’s honor and sense of duty. Convincing the pony to help recover her brother was best, though they had to be careful about it. Stormstride was a mare that was pregnant and her magic could become unstable if a foal kicked at the wrong time. However, the first hurtle to jump was her pride, and she was setting the bar quite high.
  14. Head in the Sand (private)

    The ponies shoveling the dying embers looked strangely at the three that seemed to arrive, so suddenly and without any apparent guide. None of them spoke, but all looked spooked. Around these ponies, locked in place by the fusing of their sand bodies were various Sand Coyotes, as well as the charred remains of other larger and what could have been more menacing desert creatures. Finally, one of the ponies spoke, though his accent was much closer to an older dialect of Equestrian. "We hath lived in this place five generations hence, hearkening back neigh three hundred and twenty and one years. Our forefathers sought refuge in the desert from the strange and oft daft ways of what was the princess of that forgotten time. Tis here the only patch of land which provided a place to grow crops and provided a meager spring to draw forth water. For which is it thou hast come? To make war or peace?" The stallion speaking passed his look of wary confusion between the three. The ponies were slowly raising their shoves, as they inched away from the three new comers. The nearest town had been two days away, and no pony was able to see their town for the strange mirages that surrounded the outcropping. At least no pony before now. Had the mirages failed or had some pony dispelled them so that travelers could see? The only pony that would know would be... There was a crunch on the broken sands as the heat began to rise again. Though limping, A red and orange coated Stallion stepped toward them slowly, his horn glowing as he turned his head to and fro slowly. He wore a red blindfold that also acted as a tie to keep his mane in a tight but flowing ponytail. He said nothing as she slowly limped closer, just turning his ears to and fro. Then he canted one ear toward each of the three new comers in turn, before turning the other to the ponies that had been shoveling the burnt and ruined sands into the ditch. As he padded off, the temp began to lower back down again. His back leg wrapped in a tight bandage, looking like some dog had bit him hard. He was headed for an outcrop of rock with nothing under it but the heat shimmer of the burned sands distorting the view until he simply vanished from view. After a moment he came back, in his teeth he grasped a bucket of water which he brought to the ponies with shovels, setting it down for them to get a drink as he moved toward the three. "I asked for a battalion... and they sent us two ponies and one changeling. I must say, you are either the bravest three, or the most expendable three that the REA has to offer. perhaps my old Lieutenant was correct and there is no saving the system now, however good you are you should have brought more unless you were all that was assigned. To date I have detained roughly fourteen Sand dogs of some species, and successfully slain five larger creatures I believe they were possibly manticore of some sub species that lived out here in the desert. But I cant keep this up on my own, I'm not a soldier anymore. So what are the plans? is the REA going to send an engineer corp out here to build a proper road that we can defend or are you going to clear out the entire Frontier of everything that could ever threaten the town? If the second is the case, perhaps you have some magic or artifacts I was not privy to when I was a commander. If that is the case, then please by all means, feel free to begin. I will get the residents in the town to shelter down. Just don't bring that outcrop down on us please......" The way he spoke, he had no idea who was actually in front of him, and assumed they were there for the town. But the tattered blindfold covering his eyes was a dead give away. Even with the saddle bags covering his cutie mark, this was Flashfire to a T. From the color of his mane, tail, and coat to the measured militaristic way he spoke like he were still in command of a unit somewhere. "Is there something I should know?" He asked, suddenly feeling the unease of the towns ponies behind him.
  15. Darkest Deceptions Become Reality

    im hoping for a full variety of characters. not just good and bad characters. But like the common pony caught up in the mess. Maybe a pony for hire working as a PI looking into a missing pony case or perhaps investigating for a client that had somthing valuable stolen. Maybe a pony that has had enough and any time they see mafia activity they decide to try and take pot shots at them with spells or hurl rocks at them. Maybe a pegasus with a batman complex thinks they can do something about it all. This series is about variety, and the millions of ways even the most mundane pony or other can get swept up in it. maybe someone saw something they werent supposed too. Or they decided to pinch from a fleeing mobster while no pony saw them. Maybe some small time pickpocket gets in with the big boys. Its not just my imagination here. There are a thousand things that can happen.