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Everything posted by dragonofruin

  1. "Oh, indeed. I've stayed in this city for that long so that I could gain some footing in its society, so to speak. Create for myself a space among Canterlot's elite, as well as settling myself in a new country with such a different culture. It's taken me quite a while just to get used to it all, not to mention finding myself a place here. Being able to start this shop was.. a bonus. It's something I've always wanted to do, to show off the result of something I'm so passionate about." Rose lifted a wing and gestured at the displays, her expression shifting to reveal some of her pride, her passion. There was so much that she got out of tending to something and seeing it grow and blossom.. Roses were often difficult to grow- they could be best described as picky. Everything had to be just right. Her first experience raising a flower, and a rose at that, had been wonderful. It'd sparked her inspiration, and her love for them. Rose lowered her wing, exhaling contentedly. "One of Canterlot's fine academies. Naturally, not Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, as I'm sure you can tell, I'm not a unicorn." Her wings were lifted to indicate them. "You might find worth in being taught by a real teacher, rather than a parent. Unless they hire a tutor, of course," she added, musing. "It might not be too late to learn, but that's your choice to pursue. It's not as if there's a lot in Equestria that really requires you to have a vast store of knowledge in that mind of yours." Rose tipped her head towards Gray, using a gesture to more fully point it out. "So just a year or two ago? Huh. I was curious about what part of the Crystal Empire's recovery you were privy to see. What's it like there?"
  2. The icy mare's honesty was.. commendable, but Princess Luna couldn't help scuffing her hoof against the tiles and glancing away from the desk pony, who made a noise in their throat and scribbled it down on the paper. "It's not unheard of.. I suppose. Generally its just the elderly who need such things if they're beginning to struggle with bladder problems. Occasionally few ponies younger than that may still deal with such a problem as you do, depending on what's causing it.." The desk pony pushed the paper aside and shrugged, gesturing towards the infirmary storage's door with a hoof. "Grab what you need for the night. I've already recorded it." The princess stepped back from the desk and seated herself, shedding that slight second-hand embarrassment she'd felt for Ice Storm having to admit such a thing, but she was at least honest. Luna had been fully prepared to simply distract the desk pony somehow so that Ice Storm could grab what she needed. It wouldn't be required now, and Ice would be able to get what she required for the night. Which meant.. Ice would get to stay in the castle for the night! Though Luna couldn't help pointing something out to her new friend. "It wouldn't be a thoughtless act should you ruin one of the beds. You have no control over such a problem.. It is not as if you're doing it on purpose. Besides, the beds are easily replaceable." Now that she'd said what she needed to say, Luna fell silent and waited for Ice to grab what she'd need so that they could move on.
  3. One of the shadow king's eyes twitched at the title. Princess of Friendship? He would've scoffed, if not for what Midnight next mentioned: she was one of the ponies sent to the Crystal Empire when it returned. He visibly stiffened, one side of his snout wrinkling in annoyance. So this Princess of Friendship was a part of that group of mares that'd escaped him on their way through the barrier.. Which one, though? None of them had looked like a princess.. Sombra inhaled softly and closed his eyes, releasing it. Calming. Some of his annoyance faded and he shrugged. "I don't know. Somber? Anything that isn't a frilly, obnoxious pony name that I might still recognize if you ever wanted my attention," he replied a little dismissively, moving forward and stepping in through the door that Midnight had so graciously opened for him. The umbrum disappeared into the soft gloom of the library, heading past the small entrance area for the tall bookshelves, past a small scattering of ponies seated at worn wooden tables with their heads down and their noses almost buried in their books. Giving them only a cursory glance, he focused his attention onto the shelves and began to browse, hoping to find anything that'd catch his attention- anything that he'd find useful.
  4. Rose softly scoffed, amused. "Better sooner than later to realize the train is the better option. I'm uncertain if I could even fly that distance, and when I am so 'rusty,'" she replied, another smile playing around the corners of her mouth again. "How long ago? It is my understanding that the Crystal Empire hasn't been back for terribly long. A few years at least.." What sort of things did Gray get to see, at what point in the empire's integration into a modern day? It's recovery? The stories that surrounded it's disappearance and King Sombra's reign had intrigued Rose, but not as much as stories of vampires did. Not that she'd ever mention such a thing. Stories of dark forces, and dark creatures, fascinated her greatly, but it was a topic she couldn't exactly talk about with anypony.. They might think she glorified evil. She didn't. it was as scary to her as it was to anypony else; it just had a certain charm to it that drew her attention. "The forest? The Everfree Forest you mean? I'm not sure I would ever venture into those woods. I've heard many stories about how dangerous it is, and how wild the animals are within. Strange and territorial beasts. I wouldn't want to risk my life just to see some of it.." Rose mused and turned her attention to Gray's question. How long had she been living in Canterlot? Well.. hm. She didn't exactly keep track of how many years had gone by, but she'd first come to Equestria in the first year of her adulthood. "Six years, I believe.. ?" Rose had certainly been in Equestria long enough that it felt correct, or close to it. "I originally came here for some schooling, but decided to remain here rather than return home. It's.. far better here."
  5. A soft scoff escaped the furious king as he lowered his hoof, ignoring the slight sting that'd come with back-hoofing the pony across the face. His panic and pain satisfied that terrible, sadistic part of Sombra, and having this troublemaker to himself meant that he would get more entertainment out of them. The way the pony snapped didn't surprise him in the least, but the stallion choosing to dive forward did- Sombra felt his forelegs taken out from underneath him and fell heavily onto the hardpack dirt road. He took advantage of it and rolled away from his attacker and back onto his hooves. More logical thought was lost to him as the umbrum wasted no time lunging for his intended victim. The violent green glow of his eyes was a mere blur, and a shadowy quality had returned to his mane- his very body seemed to leak darkness, as if he were inches away from slipping into shadow. No control. In his fury, his awakened desire to see an enemy come to harm, Sombra had given into it. A mindless beast. The time for talk, for shouting, for bantering and tearing down every flimsy defense the crystal ponies' ringleader tried to throw up, was past. A low snarling growl had begun to roll up his throat as he lifted his hooves, intent on raining blows down upon his target without thought, without hesitation.
  6. Princess Luna subtly took a deep breath to calm herself as she stepped up to the pony's desk, keeping her face neutral. Ponies, she noticed, often tended to seem a little intimidated by her, and she had an inkling it was all because her approach wasn't like her sister's. She was distant, almost cold like the moon, and serious in demeanor. It wasn't something that she could help quite yet; all she could do was to offer the desk pony a small, awkward smile. "Ah, evening. We come to ask for some.. medical supplies.. for my guest and companion. Would she be allowed to fetch them?" Luna queried, trying to keep the hesitance she felt out of her voice. If she presented this confidently as something she wanted from them, they might simply allow it without question. After all, she didn't want to reveal something about Ice Storm that the mare wanted to keep secret. She had no intention on embarrassing her new friend.. "Of-.. Of course," the desk mare replied, clearing her throat and reaching for a piece of paper and a quill. "What is it that you need?" The pony's jaw twitched as if she were about to speak further, and decided against it. Though it was clear that they were intending to write down whatever the supplies were for inventory purposes. If they ran too low on something, they'd have to put in a request for more. It rarely ever happened- mostly just bandages for small cuts or scrapes, or whatever other sort of accidental injury somepony might run into around the castle. There almost felt like there wasn't much of a need for the infirmary, but having one would always come in handy should anything like the changeling invasion happen again. Luna glanced nervously Ice Storm's way, wanting to leave it up to the unicorn to answer.
  7. The younger alicorn fidgeted in the silence that'd followed, her teal eyes closely studying Celestia as if something about her would reveal all the answers to her questions. Her gaze flitted away from her elder sister once the silence was broken and Luna merely nodded. If her sister had nothing more to say on the subject, then neither did she- it'd at least leave her the time to mull it all over and really process the information she'd been given. While Celestia gathered a torch and began to light it, as well as the others in their sconces- at least those that remained- Luna wandered back down the middle of the throne room, heading towards the sagging double doors that used to be grand when the castle was new. Within its arched doorway, she paused, casting a last, lingering glance back at the two, damaged thrones and the boarded up hole above them. That single, brief look reminded her of the weight of the past that was still settled on her shoulders, even after the diversion that was their conversation, and Luna tore her eyes away. Unlike her sister, Luna didn't quite need torchlight to see in the gloom of the castle. It was easy for her to navigate in the dark, and to navigate a castle she'd once been familiar with, but since then, it'd fallen into disrepair. Overgrown weeds, a few unsteady bricks in the floor, rubble from a collapsing wall or ceiling.. Even the furniture was ruined heaps. Termites, no doubt. While her mind wandered, the lunar mare attempted to find what Celestia was intent on: an undamaged flower pot. Surely there had to be a well-preserved enough spot in the castle that they could find one in. Outside of their hoof steps on the stone, it was eerily quiet; a castle that had seen no residents or visitors in quite some time, not since Twilight and her friends.
  8. When she saw that Ice Storm was ready, Luna stepped out into the hallway and started off. The paths she took began to take them towards the outer wall of the castle towards the side that face the mountain, evident by the tall, arched windows lining the hallway they stepped out into. It lead up to a pair of equally tall, wooden doors bearing the same arched design as the rest of the castle. "It wasn't, initially, but ever since I have returned and been given my own part of the castle, I ensured that it was changed. If it was to be mine, I wanted to make it mine. Dark carpeting, the walls of various shades of blue in pleasant, simple designs.. I could describe them in detail, but it may be best you see them for yourself," Luna finally replied as they approached the doors. They both opened at the push of her magic, moving inward. Within, the infirmary. It was a long room with a high ceiling, one wall lined with tall windows of stained glass in no particular design. Curtains flanked each of them, to be drawn across them whenever needed. Both walls on either side were lined with clean, white beds, each with their own privacy curtains. Currently they were all unoccupied. At the end was a wooden desk in one corner, for a couple of the staff to sit at so that they'd be close at hoof whenever they had patients. Two, normal sized doors were set in the walls- the nearest was no doubt an office for whatever healers resided here during their shift, and the other no doubt the storage of all the materials they would need for their patients. There was currently one pony sitting at the desk in question. Upon their entrance, they'd set aside a book they'd been idly flipping through and straightened up, at attention. Luna approached the pony to speak with them, intent on gaining Ice Storm access to the medical supplies without giving them much of a reason, her tone a neutral one.
  9. Rose quickly caught on to the way the stallion's mood briefly changed over her mention of money and took it as a sign that he found something unpleasant about it. Jealousy, perhaps, or he was simply- no, perhaps she'd merely offended him. Making a note not to bring it up as a topic of amusement, a small joke, she kept quiet, letting Gray move on to answer her question. "Ah.. I've heard of this Crystal Empire's return through the Equestrian newspaper. It certainly seems like another possible place I can visit, though it's so far north.. At least there's the trains, which does reduce some of the travel time. Albeit, I've heard it still takes about a day to get there, even from Canterlot." Rose made a little mental list of locations, and added the Crystal Empire to it- it would be an absolute shame if she never got to see it, even once. Though she'd heard the stories about how and why it'd disappeared, it sounded like it was safe enough now. "Ponyville?" Rose echoed, her attention caught. The little village some few miles from the mountain Canterlot was perched on? It was visible from the railings at the edge of Canterlot's marble platforms, with a darker patch of woods just beyond it that Rose had learned at some point was called the Everfree Forest. A place many ponies spoke of fearfully. As a foreigner, she was uncertain about what was so scary about it- but she had never experienced such woods for herself. Regardless.. "Perhaps one of these days I'll have to visit this Ponyville.." she mused, and lifted a hoof to wave away his apology. She wasn't offended. Even she saw the way many Canterlotian ponies acted. Full of themselves, even to her eyes, and for what?
  10. "Indeed not," Princess Luna solemnly agreed. She understood Ice Storm wished to keep this secret, and understandably so. If the mare intended on staying within the castle, and she was serious about it, then Luna could only try to be a good host and ensure Ice had what she'd need for the night.. no matter how embarrassing the problem. The alicorn shifted on the sofa she was sprawled on, rolling more onto her stomach than her side and stepped off of the couch. Luna stretched out her legs and wings, relieving her muscles. "So, shall we? The quickest that we can get this over with, the better for you, no? And I can show you to thy quarters, perhaps in the lunar wing. My part of the castle hardly has anypony in it- 'tis mostly me, and a few patrolling guards making sure that there is nothing out of the ordinary," she offered, extending a foreleg out to the small, pale blue mare to help her up out of her seat. It was a polite gesture, one meant to show kindness. If and when Ice accepted it, Luna would step back to give Ice room and strolled around the coffee table, idly levitating her silver shoes from beneath it on the way towards the parlor door. She didn't feel like wearing them anymore tonight, especially with the night wearing close to the 'early morning' hours. Once Ice Storm was taken care of, Luna decided that she would spend what little time was left to look in on the dream realm before it was close to her own bedtime. She doubted there was anything that required her attention tonight, but she wouldn't neglect it, even for a night. The dark princess opened the door to the parlor and glanced back at Ice, waiting for her to follow- if she was ready to.
  11. Rose took everything into consideration, her expression thoughtful and her green eyes looking past Gray's face towards the front of the shop. "It's wonderful. I do it so rarely, far less than I did as a foal once I first learned how to and took advantage of my new ability, but.. it is wonderful. Freeing. As well as fun." She spoke a little absentmindedly, only briefly reflecting on memories- some of which she didn't want to touch, let alone ever bring up to a stranger who she only knew the name of. Her gaze refocused back onto the stallion and she made a noise in her throat, making a note of his tips and warnings. "I suppose I am fortunate that I'm so wealthy, hm?" Her lips twitched up in an amused smile, albeit faint; it was as if she didn't want to move her face, that she had to appear collected and reserved. It was long born of what she was taught, to be a 'proper' lady of her status. "I'll certainly steer clear of Griffonstone, then, though I don't intend on wandering outside of Equestria just yet. I've scarcely gotten to see this country as it is." Rose paused, her head tilting towards his question. It was a good one; where would she go? "Hmm," she mused, lightly tapping a hoof upon the counter's marble surface. "I never considered it before. Perhaps one of its grand cities. I've heard Manehatten is lovely, full of things to see.. and there is Las Pegasus for vacationing ponies, from what I recall hearing about it. I've also heard it's rather.. exciting. I'm curious about it and I might want to see it for myself. As for the rest.. mm, there seems to be some yet untouched places in Equestria I might like to travel through to see what the wilderness of it is like. So, what places have you seen?"
  12. "Eh, well.." Princess Luna reviewed the possibilities, averting her eyes from Ice Storm's face while she thought about it. There wasn't a lot that she could do for Ice Storm's situation, not unless a cause and a solution could be found. She knew a little of pony psychology too, and knew that such problems sometimes stemmed from other issues and indeed, Ice had been steadily neglected more and more by her parents, and eventually abandoned entirely. Maybe there was something to it, among whatever else was perpetrating the problem. "The castle does have an infirmary in case any of the guards are injured in the defense of the castle and its inhabitants, or if anypony living here were to need medical assistance of any kind. I'm sure it must have something that could help you during your stay here, if you want to stay." Luna pinched her lips together in thought and lifted her eyes to the door of the parlor, eying its arched shape and smooth wood in thought. "I can show you the way there. It's usually scarcely staffed at this hour since Canterlot never has too much to worry about. One of the few times we've had to use the infirmary actively was after Chrysalis and her army attacked Canterlot. There were some injuries, among guards and citizens alike. The Storm King and his army was a.. different matter, but I'm rambling, I suppose." Luna shrugged and returned her gaze to Ice. "Whenever you wish to retire, I can show you the way to the infirmary so you can get what you need. I might distract the staff while we're there, since it seems to be an issue of some embarrassment to you, which is entirely understandable."
  13. Princess Luna took a slow breath and fixed Cadance with her teal gaze after the pink princess's outburst. "I have no wish to do away with the more social aspects of our duties completely. 'Tis not what I meant. I only wish a few of them were delegated to others. I say what I do for my sister's sake, as she seems to have the busiest schedule of us all. I've seen some of it for myself the one day that I had to take her place, and I speak of the more frivolous of it: judging the best flowers, or the best cakes.. Anypony who is a certified judge with good standing could do that instead and leave her schedule a little freer to focus on other things." Striving to clear up the misunderstanding, Luna tried to fully explain what it was she'd meant by her blunt scoff. It was a misjudgement on her part to think that any but Celestia would understand. Or perhaps it was just her, the least social of the four other princesses within the room. "I understand the importance of some of it, such as holding court to settle disputes and issues among our citizens, overlooking grand events like the Friendship Festival, or being a representative of the Traders Exchange, or the Grand Equestrian Pony Summit. I understand that our presence is required, and that it's a good thing that our duties should include social events such as these so that we are actually visible, that it's important for us as leaders to mingle with those we rule." Luna tried to get in the last of what she had to say about it and fell quiet, looking to Bluebelle with a little frown still lingering around her muzzle. "It is not my intent to belittle," she replied quietly, her ears flattening back against her mane. Her attention shifted to Twilight's interjection and she was glad enough to allow for the topic change and leaned back in her chair with a soft sigh, feeling a little regret. She would not lie about how she felt, though she could sometimes be blunt with her honesty to the point of causing hurt- trying to balance on that thin line was still something she struggled with from time to time. But, perhaps it was best she kept it to herself around those like Bluebelle. She glanced down at her forgotten tea and away to Twilight, her head twitching up ever so slightly over the mention of a relationship. She might've seen glimpses of Twilight's dreams, but there were certain dreams she would not touch nor dare to look in on. "What is your question?"
  14. Luna visibly twitched at the word heat and stared at her sister again, aghast by the implications. Did they.. ? Would Celestia really.. ? Her sister speaking of King Sombra as a gentlecolt was enough for her to want to scoff and roll her eyes all over again. Until she got to see him and know him for herself, she could hardly think he could be. Perhaps he may not be the detestable forceful type in certain ways, but he still enslaved an entire empire and terrorized so many after destroying Princess Amore. She would hold him accountable for his crimes. The younger alicorn moved at Celestia's gesture and stepped up to the taller mare's side, though not so close as she normally would. There was a cautious distance put between herself and Celestia while she listened to her elder speak. Much of what Celestia said was enough for Luna to yet again reflect upon the Elements of Harmony they each had bore, and this was a reminder that her sister had once held Kindness for her own. She spoke with it and Luna could recognize it for what it was, yet she still held her own doubts that those situations could've been solved so easily with just a little more understanding. Would Sombra had stopped if they'd tried to talk to him, or help him? Would Discord have ceased terrorizing Equestria? No. Luna knew that Discord wouldn't have taken them seriously, might even have laughed them out of Equestria or turned them into something he found humorous. King Sombra himself might have taken advantage out of that sort of naiivety- though what he could've done was an unknown. He was the more mysterious out of all the foes they'd fought just to keep ponies safe. Exhaling heavily, the moon princess sat down and glanced from the wing her sister had laid over her back up to Celestia herself. "I do remember, that and many other things. I cannot be certain if anything we could've tried would have been better than their imprisonment, or would have worked better.. I'm not sure if any of them would've taken us seriously or were willing to be reasoned with," Luna replied, expressing her doubt aloud. Twilight and her friends might have managed to do a better job than they could ever have. Even Discord had been shown the way by Fluttershy's kindness and friendship. Luna didn't think she would've ever had that sort of kindness and patience in herself to manage anything like it. Maybe it isn't even in my nature, a traitorous thought whispered. "Handsome?" The younger blurted, gawking up at her sister. A wild part of her wanted to laugh, not necessarily in a mocking way either- shock, amusement and disbelief all wrapped up together in one sound that she didn't let herself make. Her sister was blushing! It broke some of the dark mood Luna had fallen into ever since the beginning of his conversation and she struggled to remember the details of Sombra's appearance. It was so long ago, and the battle they fought was swift and violent.. Maybe once she met the tyrant face to face, she'd get to see for herself what Celestia meant. "We'll see what he's truly up to. I won't trust him until I see the truth of him." Though she'd indicated later, this had become enough of a subject of interest for her to listen to.
  15. Luna bit her lower lip, gradually piecing all the details together. If Ice Storm really dealt with such an issue even now as an adult.. Luna wasn't sure what could be done to help, or if she'd be willing to insist Ice stay the night at the castle at the risk of her embarrassment. She couldn't do that- though the castle staff often kept silent as far as she was aware. No, if she thought they kept their silence, she would be a fool. Ponies were naturally gossipy sorts. Outside of the castle they would certainly talk about whatever they'd dealt with on the job that day, or night, to their companions. "In that case.. If there is nothing I can do to change that, or offer you something that can help in any way.. The least I can do is offer a guard to escort you safely home, though I do not wish to imply that I think you can't handle yourself. With those artifacts around your neck, you'd likely easily discourage any petty criminal. It's only out of.. habit, and so that I don't look as if I'm 'tossing you out' or anything of the sort." A smile twitched at the corners of her mouth, revealing some of her amusement over a statement she intended to be lighthearted. She had no experience with the problem Ice Storm often dealt with, so she had no idea how she could truly help the mare.. Her mind might jump to the suggestions of spells or enchantments, but.. it wouldn't really be fixing the root of the problem. Luna was torn. "If anything.. We'll have plenty of time for you to return to the castle for training. I don't intend on starting early in the morning. I've never been a morning pony, or one who can thrive on less sleep."
  16. Rose took Gray's answers into consideration with a soft noise in her throat, quietly expressing that she was listening to him still rather than letting her attention drift from his voice. "I've been considering it. I've been in Equestria for six years now, and yet I've never tried to see what all there was beyond the city I arrived in, and Canterlot. The view this city provides on its mountainside perch is quite wonderful throughout all four seasons, but.. it's not the same as experiencing something first-hoof. Like pictures. You don't get the same experience." She tilted her head, some of her lengthy red mane pooling on the edge of the polished counter. "Perhaps once I find somepony who knows how to take care of my shop, I might see.. It's been ages since I've spread my wings." The pegasus wasn't sure how strong her wings would be for flight- at least prolonged flight. It wasn't as if she flew all that often, as though not doing so meant she could preserve her dignity as one of the higher class. Well.. It was entirely possible she was limiting herself for a silly reason, something that had been in the back of her mind on occasion- the conversation she was having with this near-stranger reminded her again. "Seeing the world and meeting new ponies sounds.. interesting, though the lack of self care is not. I am not one to worry about money, so that will not be an issue." Briefly, a few suggestions swarmed her mind to give to Gray about his money problem, but if he didn't mind.. Her unwarranted attempt to help would be a waste of both their time. "I'll try to remember your name, too," she replied, a corner of her mouth twitching up in a smirk. As something occurred to her, she found it tempting to find somepony to travel with.. Just not so soon.
  17. Princess Luna smiled and lifted a hoof to Ice Storm's gushing, though she did pay attention to what the pale mare had to say about what she was capable of. If Ice didn't have any real combat experience, they'd have to take it easy and work their way up. Even with the artifacts Ice possessed, the princess was worried she might seriously hurt her during a sparring session.. Only the first of them would tell how much Ice would be able to stand up to- and even then, she was still but a mortal. Trying to soothe her own worries, Luna took a breath and slowly let it out, trying to be as subtle as possible about it. It wouldn't do to let herself get worked up and allow anxiety to get the best of her over something like this. She had offered to teach Ice, after all. "You need not worry about expectations. I think you will do well. Mind you, this will not be like a class, where I'll grade you on your performances. This is for you to learn how to properly fight, how best to react to hostiles and their attacks, how to plan.. as well as how to improvise. Fighting is quick and, oftentimes, messy. Sometimes knowing certain fighting styles or discipline isn't enough for you to achieve victory. You have to be flexible, and you have to know when to strike, what sort of opening to look for.. when to take advantage of your opponent, and when to take a risk. Oftentimes, a fight in which your life or another's is on the line is swift and over before you'd think." The alicorn couldn't help the information that came tumbling out with her attempt to dissuade any ideas Ice Storm thought about her expectations and desires not to let her down. Luna hardly thought Ice would let her down. Some ponies just weren't made for fighting- they either didn't have it in them, or it was too difficult to master. There were even some ponies who might be quite good at it, but used their skills for all the wrong reasons.. It was a complex situation. "As it would be too late at night here to even begin, especially after all the time we've spent conversing.. I couldn't allow you to go home at this hour. Perhaps, for the time being, you might like to stay here at the castle," Luna casually offered. She was in a good mood, despite everything they've talked about- she might as well spare Ice from walking home in the quiet dark of the middle of the night and provide her with a bed a little closer to her current location.
  18. The moon princess scoffed. "You may downplay your part in his banishment all you wish, but it took the both of us to defeat him! 'Twas a pyrrhic victory, but you did not play a small part in that. Perhaps you were, and always have been, the less combat inclined.. but.. you aren't weak. You never were. As I gain my strength from the moon, so do you from the sun," Luna pointed out, refusing to allow her sister to lessen her abilities. "I find myself doubting you would wound yourself.." Clumsy her sister was not, though occasionally excitable. If Celestia and Sombra fought, it was likely Sombra dealt her sister some sort of blow, knowing how he was more likely to fight, than talk. King Sombra was still a great mystery to her despite her violent interaction with him during the battle for the Crystal Empire's freedom a millennium ago. The rest of what Celestia had to say about the tyrant was considered by Luna, weighed heavily and picked apart in some effort to ensure her sister wasn't lying to her. That something she said didn't hint to as much. Until Celestia told her everything about what went on in that cabin during the entire week of her vacation, Luna felt she'd never truly know what went on between her sunny sister and the king of shadows. Her stance relaxed and Luna folded her wings back against her side, lifting her head. She could see the look in her sister's eyes, and it was a shine that she'd never seen before. "I will see for myself if he has changed at all, and not putting forth a front to put you off your guard. He has always been wily. I will.. attempt to give him a chance, for you, sister. Only because it's you. I will, however, wish to learn from you why he holds your interest.. but today is your birthday. I.. suppose we'll have to speak of this later. I've no interest in ruining such a day as today for you. I want you to be happy and to enjoy yourself among what ponies will attend your festivities." Some part of Luna had emotionally withdrawn from Celestia. It was likely that it wouldn't be permanent- she was only shocked by the news, and confused about why Celestia would so readily trust Sombra. It was generally hard for her to swallow any of it without suspecting something was amiss, but for her sister she would try. Luna would never lie about anything, and that was one thing she would be openly honest about. But today was a special day, and Luna had no desire to allow such startling news get between her and her sister's time together- the first day in some time that they'd get to spend without Equestria hanging in the balance, or an event to host.
  19. A small smile finally managed to break the neutral, if slightly bored, expression on Rose's face. Even though she knew that he wasn't used to the high standards of Canterlot, and didn't hold the same, she still knew she had plenty to be proud of- any bit of attention or praise given towards something she'd put effort into was well received by her. "I'm glad to hear it." Leaning forward, she lifted a leg to curl it under her chin, at rest and quietly attentive to her lingering customer. It was nice he'd decided to stick around a little while longer. She rarely had anypony who came in for a lengthy conversation. Maybe a little gossip here and there, and the usual back and forth of questions and answers to find out what a customer might want, but no real conversation- in Rose's view, anyway. "Oh? I've yet to see most of Equestria, though it's quite green and pleasant. And the way it changes colors in the fall is enjoyable." In time, perhaps, she could hire somepony she could trust to care for her flowers and run her shop so that she could take a much-needed tour of Equestria, and see its various locations for herself. How long had he been away from Canterlot, she wondered, and how old was this pony? His eyes made him seem young, but the rest of him.. Rose wasn't certain. "What is it like, to live the life of a nomad like that?" she asked curiously. There was a small pause after the stallion, Gray Shield, introduced himself. Rose almost offered her hoof as she replied with her own, torn between shaking his hoof as Equestrians often did, and refusing to be touched. "Ophelia Rose, though I prefer merely 'Rose'."
  20. Another of many soft sighs this night escaped Luna and she lowered her head. "I know. I could not say who, exactly, is responsible for this failure or if it's on all of us. We can only try to subtly change things and discourage certain behaviors.. that I don't know." It was a big issue, too big for any one pony to handle on their own. It'd be far better if they could simply start over. The thought came unbidden and Luna frowned, choosing not to pay attention to it; instead, turning her attention onto something she could deal with. Luna listened, pondering what Ice Storm had to ask about. There weren't very many ponies she knew that she could trust with any sort of training in combat. Tempest Shadow just might be one such pony Ice could turn to about it, though that depended on if the mare was willing to teach Ice. There was also the problem with Tempest's inability to use magic properly, at least until a horn prosthetic was made for her. Her sister was, she felt, terribly rusty and more prone to diplomatic approaches than fighting. There only seemed one possible option, and this opportunity was something Luna was going to take advantage of while she had it. "There is one pony.." The lunar princess lifted a bare hoof and gestured. "There is myself. I have always been the better fighter between my sister and myself, far more active.. and though my experience of time within the moon doesn't feel as long as a thousand years might have felt to Celestia, it still feels like it's been far too long since the last I've had a proper battle.." Attempting to destroy her sister at the height of her transformation into the mare who called herself Nightmare Moon wasn't so much a battle as it was a vicious hunt- Celestia refused to fight back. Understandably so, but she wouldn't mention the past again. "There hasn't been anypony I could properly spar with without having to hold back most of my strength, and even then I fear being too rough with them. With you and your Opalus Spheres.. perhaps you'll have a chance to face off against me. I'll be able to hone my skills again, and teach you as well."
  21. "I have, and I can," Rose answered simply, picking up the change in the stallion's expression over the price. Maybe it was pricey, but it was Canterlot.. and the time and effort she put into growing such flowers made it worth it. In her opinion, anyway. Her tail slowly swayed behind her while the stallion mentioned how frequently he visited Canterlot while he took his flowers and paid. One of her dusky pink hooves swept the eight coins towards her and Rose went about putting them into the register. It'd all be collected later, after the shop closed. "I'd hope this place would be 'quite something.' I'm the owner," Rose purred, settling back into her previous place against the counter. "I sank a lot of time into ensuring this place stood up to the ah.. standards Canterlot places on so much. It's quite high, but I think I've managed well enough." Her tone was matter-of-fact. Rose wasn't an arrogant mare by any stretch, but she was terribly proud of how far she'd managed to come in a country like Equestria as a foreigner. And, foreigner she might be, she was here to stay with her acquired citizenship and all. Her observant eyes idly watched the stallion squeezing his bit purse back in with the rest of his belongings. "Do you travel often, or.. ? You're carrying quite a lot for somepony who's passing through Canterlot on a visit," she mused, returning her gaze to his face. If she was going to carry on an extended conversation with this rare customer, she might as well find out who he was.. "So, what's your name, by the way?"
  22. A little confusion worked its way across the worry that was currently present on her face. Her sister met a stallion? This was the first she was hearing of it, though.. didn't her sister mention the castle had a new guest when she returned from vacation? "Who-.." Luna scarcely managed to get the question out, her brows furrowing over the words keep him safe when Celestia revealed this mystery stallion's identity. King Sombra. She'd known a little of his existence, his return to life, from Ice Storm, who'd told her that he'd supposedly joined STAR. As far as she was aware, Ice had yet to speak to the tyrant to see what he was up to, and why he was even here. Luna couldn't help recoiling from her sister, taking a few steps away with her wings half unfurled at her sides, as if she was close to taking flight like a startled bird. "King.. King Sombra? He's the stallion you met?" she asked, aghast. "Why? He's not to be trusted. Have you forgotten what he's done to the Crystal Empire? I have had to deal with so many nightmares since it's return, ever since he was supposedly destroyed.." She averted her eyes, ears falling back against her glittering mane. All this time he'd been resting in their castle, right under her nose, and she never knew! "Why did you keep this a secret from me? At any time he could've done something.."
  23. Rose made a soft noise in her throat and gently settled the newly made bouquet on the customer's side of the counter, within easy hoof-reach. There was a slight, proud lift of her head after she'd heard his compliment. "As it should," she replied. "I'd be doing a bad job if they didn't." Crossing her forelegs on the edge of the counter, Rose leaned against it, lending an ear to the stallion's answer. His mother. Her head tilted as she considered a few different questions to ask, knowing the possibilities behind the visit. Was his mother dead, buried in a graveyard? Or was it a simple visit? What was a real mother like? This last question was clamped down on tight before she could find herself tempted to ask it. Why, of all times, would she let herself get sentimental now around a stranger? In Canterlot? It would be a weakness, and nothing that she'd want to be a source of gossip. "How nice of you. So, you don't live around here?" she queried, carefully phrasing her question to avoid making her assumptions about him obvious. She could presume from the fact that his mother did meant he used to, but hadn't stayed. Nonetheless.. Her eyes flicked to his unbrushed mane for the briefest moment. "Eight bits," Rose stated the price. Canterlot wasn't cheap, and neither was her shop. She put a lot of time, and admittedly love, into growing these flowers to be sold as decorations, or gifts. She wouldn't under price herself for anything.
  24. A thin brow arched and the corners of her mouth twitched, a smile that she was resisting to show. It was mostly amusement she was trying to hide. An older mare? Well, it could be anypony and mean anything to this grey stranger. Whatever the case, she wasn't sure what exactly she found so amusing about the answer. "Light colors? I think I have an idea what this older mare of yours might like." Rose flicked away the lock that she'd been toying with and slipped away from the counter, moving to peruse the various roses she had on display without another word. Seeing the colors she thought of, the pegasus carefully gathered a few of each from their displays and brought them back to the counter, using both hooves and the wrists of her wings to carefully arrange them. Roses of soft blue, white, and sunny yellow. They were bright, pleasant colors an older mare might appreciate decorating her home, if that was the intention. "Whether it's a 'fancy' bouquet or not, it should at least look nice for her." Rose stated it as if it were the most obvious fact as she slowly wrapped the flowers' cut stems; the ends of them were cut at a sharp angle to help them last longer. "So, who is this older mare of yours?" Some curiosity edged into her voice as she ventured to ask the question, allowing herself to be a little nosy. Most ponies liked to speak freely about many things, especially those of Canterlot with their penchant for gossip. However, she wasn't sure if this stallion was from Canterlot.. mostly because of her own assumptions about the state of him.
  25. The florists was a quaint little shop, the interior all soft pastel colors of pink and gold trim, with a floor of smooth, cream stone tiles. Various displays along the walls and hanging from the ceilings showed off the flowers that were being sold here in various colors and arrangements- most of them could be noted to be roses. The large display windows at the front of the shop let in a lot of light, while a small golden chandelier hung overhead to provide light in the darker hours. The florist herself was at the rear of the shop, behind the counter in a simple dress of muted reds that was outside her usual, dark choices. Her back was to the front door as she fussed over a few arrangements, ensuring that they looked proper enough to be seen by any potential customers. Her ears twitched, the soft ding of the bell hanging over the door alerting her to one such pony. Rose smoothly turned and paused when she caught sight of who had wandered into her shop, sharp green eyes picking up on every little disheveled detail with a cursory sweep. Something ever so slightly changed in her expression as she made a few assumptions about the stallion just from his appearance alone.. but he seemed to be a paying customer, if the cloth purse being levitated by his magic was any indication. If they could pay, she wouldn't turn a pony away.. even if they did look like they spent a lot of time sleeping outside. Although.. the stallion didn't look dirty, only disheveled. "Afternoon.. A small bouquet?" Rose echoed, her voice low and rich with the hint of an accent. "Of course. What sort of bouquet are you looking for? Standard red roses seem to be a.. common.. choice among ponies, but I have plenty of others in colors as rich as the red roses. White, blue, violet, pink.. I can even make an arrangement of a few different colors, if it's desired." Rose leaned on the counter with her forelegs crossed on it as she cut to details she often had to ask of customers. There were quite a few choices, after all, and she'd hate to guess. A hoof idly toyed with a red lock of her mane in the ensuing silence, her eyes never shifting away.
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