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dragonofruin

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Everything posted by dragonofruin

  1. "Mhm," Sombra grunted. He knew, he just hadn't considered her when he said it. One thing that Black Ice was going to have to learn about him was that he was greedy when it came to knowledge, any bit of information he could get his hooves on, he would. "I know exactly who you're talking about. I've learned about her.. history. I'd have to say Princess Celestia certainly has a habit of banishing others away for a thousand years, doesn't she? And yet she's never experienced it herself," he mused, though his voice lacked the bite that would usually be there when talking about the princesses. "Princess Luna fell," the shadow king stated, "I haven't exactly been avoiding learning since I came back, you know." He sounded mildly amused, something that quickly disappeared back into his usual, insolent attitude. "Point taken." A hoof was waved and he settled back in his seat, slouching lazily on one elbow while the mare continued. King Sombra couldn't help considering Black Ice the more he heard from her, and just what she said alone told him a lot about the mare. Indeed, she was ruthless, a pony unafraid to showcase her might even if it involved hurting others. She was certainly confident she posed a threat to him, and.. like everypony else, Black Ice only proved to him that she made just as much assumption about him. The one thing that, after their initial meeting, a certain sunny princess hadn't done. The alicorn had dared to be open with him, genuine, unafraid to let him in, even a little. She was different. "Of course its a test," he replied in a low, almost lazy sounding rumble. "You've certainly come across to me as intelligent enough to pose such a thing when dealing with me. I know that any interaction I might have with a pony who has even a little sense would want to try me to make sure I won't get up to my awful tricks." A mocking tone entered his deep voice and he rolled his eyes, just a little as he shifted in his seat, straightening up as he fixed Black Ice with those terrible, inequine red eyes. "I'm just full of surprises, aren't I?" he replied, a hypothetical question. Arrogant, his mind spat. Perhaps there was a chance he was underestimating her, and her elemental magic, but so was she underestimating him. Black Ice thought it would be so easy to deal with him, if he'd deigned to pounce. It irritated him. "I've always valued gathering intelligence, information.. You so willingly gave me openings in which to use so that I might gain more of what I seek to sate my own curiosity. How could I resist the invitations? I wouldn't trap you, or try to discard of you until you no longer had any more use to me." This, at least, was a little something that he felt comfortable with disclosing.
  2. Sombra could imagine that his refusal to spill all of his plans like an idiot irritated Ice Storm, but that was only an assumption on his part. There was still so little he knew about Black Ice beyond her desire to somehow protect all of Equestria against outside threats, and that small amount of information already set them opposite each other. Sombra couldn't give a damn about Equestria as long as he had his princess. He idly rubbed at his chest, yet again conflicted by the developing feelings, and dropped his hoof back to the armrest. "Yet," he interjected, "none of them have missed centuries as I have, and seen such a drastic change in the world, as I have. You can't compare their experiences to mine." King Sombra snorted softly and idly plucked at the white fur hem of his cape, adjusting it. Her smile bothered him, and he wanted to wipe it from her face. "I should at least point out to you that sometimes change is a good thing. If this world was always some peaceful little utopia with nothing new, it'd be boring don't you think? Nopony would learn anything new, create anything new. They might never realize how much life is worth living if there's no conflict. Without it, we'd never improve." He wasn't entirely sure why he was even waxing on about a subject like this, when he had questions he could ask. There were some he still had to get together, and sort through to figure out what exactly he wanted to ask.. provided Black Ice would answer them. If he knew her thoughts, he'd know she was justified in thinking it wouldn't be worth pursuing anything he slyly mentioned, but.. it was worth the effort, wasn't it? He just wanted to see her try. "So, these topics aside.." Sombra tilted his head, bringing his hoof up to brush at the side of his long, wavy mane. "Why would you allow me to be a part of your organization anyway? Why not have used the invitation, and my arrival, to attempt to do away with a threat? I would have."
  3. A last, errant thought would float through Luna's mind to return to their old castle later, a time after Celestia's birthday celebrations, so that she could look through her old room and see what had survived. Until then, she focused on the task at hoof: following her sister back down to the gardens, and finding the little hybrid flower among the snarl of weeds and overgrown Everfree foliage, attempting to take back the place they'd built on. "I think that will work," Luna replied, her mind turning towards the invitations. What ponies might show up to Celestia's birthday? Anypony who caught wind of it would surely flock to its location, all aflutter over the chance to celebrate such a special day. She knew they would, just like they would care little about her own. Her old bitterness was particularly strong this day, perhaps because of her proximity to the old castle and all the memories that clung to its walls as thickly as the dust did. Once they were gone from here, she might feel better.. The dark alicorn attempted to pay attention to the gentle way in which Celestia lifted the flower and the soil it rested in to replant it in the pot. They'd have to take care replanting it in the Royal Canterlot Garden, and ensure that it took well to its new home. The soil there was at least rich enough, and well tended to by the garden ponies. "Simple would be good," Luna agreed, keeping the silence from settling between them again. "I think what you suggested would do, along with any other snacks of a less sweet variety to provide some diversity. As well as different drink choices, too." Her head lifted to Celestia's nuzzle and her eyes slipped shut for a few seconds. The following sigh attempted to release some of her tension. "Indeed," she murmured. The lunar princess spread her wings and leapt skyward, bringing them down with a powerful stroke to lift herself higher. Her motions made it appear almost effortless as she ascended above the old castle's overgrown garden, a little courtyard in the middle among all the crumbling stone. She would wait for Celestia to follow her, hovering just above the height of the few towers still left standing. Luna would try to enjoy the flight back to Canterlot, and hope that the joy flight brought her would help sweep away her tangled feelings.
  4. Rose did have her reasons, and most of them amounted to her avoidance to think about her previous home. It hadn't been terribly happy for her. It wasn't bad either, not when she was more well off than most and she knew she was. Nonetheless.. "The school, for one, and I suppose I thought visiting the capital city of a foreign country was the best idea, and I couldn't help but find this city to my liking. The cleanliness, the architecture, the society.. It appealed to me. I thought it would be nice to settle here for a while, and I ended up staying," Rose answered with the little shrug of one shoulder. Her face took on a more thoughtful expression and she considered what Gray mentioned. While it was true most ponies in Canterlot preferred to keep up their appearances, to look graceful and dignified.. she'd seen the ponies she socialized with smile too. "Their jokes may not be much to laugh at, but I've seen some of them smile. I've seen them enjoy themselves, too, during social gatherings and certain events like the Gala that Canterlot Castle hosts every year, and the races the Wonderbolts compete in," the pegasus thought to point out, speaking her thoughts aloud. "They -- we -- might hold ourselves highly for our status, but we're just as much ponies as everypony else. Even if many of us might think ourselves better. I admit.. even I come across such thoughts once in a while." Rose made a soft noise of amusement over the Crystal Empire mention. If Gray hadn't have told her, she would've guessed that crystals were a big thing in the empire, if only because of the name. Why else would it be called such?
  5. King Sombra arched a dark brow. She wasn't talking directly to him? Color him surprised. She had legitimately made it seem as if she was speaking directly to him, the 'you' phrasing and all! Most of him could take it in stride, but there was that proud part of him that was rankled by it and her response, as if he'd just made himself look foolish, as if he'd been affected by her threat. Sombra was just too proud- for somepony to threaten him, or seem to threaten him, was an offense. He listened to her speech with a slight, disdainful twist to his lips and wrinkling of his snout. "I've seen ponies die and grieve as well, yet nothing drives me to do the same." Abandoned by her own parents.. The detail caught his attention and he rolled it around in his mind, tilting his head as he did so. He knew something of abandonment, but his lack of experience with parents dampened the chance of understanding her experience. Maybe it still was like never having parents at all.. Sombra grunted. Whatever the case, their experiences had put them on two separate paths: he, who had been shunned and left to suffer, saw no worth in ponies, and Black Ice, who despite her abandonment, wanted to do something for them. It allowed him to gain a little understanding of Black Ice, though he could never do anything for ponies who never tried to do anything for him, even before he'd become the monster he was now. The tyrant. "Why is that your logic? That you grow stronger when I use my own magic? Magic doesn't work like that." Sombra was missing something here, some strange leap she'd made.. A dark hoof rubbed at his temple. "And yet here you've said I've been called the crown prince of darkness." Dismissing it, before they did continue this circular struggle of wits that he had no desire to pursue, he listened to Black Ice's questions and pondered how to answer them. "I feel it would be.. foolish of me to sit here and tell you everything about what I'm up to, all my goals and precious plans.." One of Sombra's devilish smirks flashed into place on his muzzle. Did she think he'd really be that stupid? That simple? And could anypony really expect him to not be difficult? "What little I might tell you is only to learn more about Equestria, and to see what sort of place I might find for myself in a world that has long since moved on from the one I knew, and can never go back to. And, of course.. I might have my eyes on a princess.." His last statement was coy, and frustratingly vague. Did Sombra mean good or ill?
  6. Princess Luna smiled faintly, glad to hear that Ice Storm was willing to give psychiatrists a chance. If there was any chance one of them could be a good fit for Ice, could help.. then the pony just might be able to shed this physical problem of hers one day. Catching movement, the dark alicorn pulled herself out of her thoughts to notice that Ice was changing into one of her garments and turned her back on the doorway, giving the mare the privacy. It was already a bit awkward. Luna didn't move until she heard Ice Storm's voice and glanced back into the room. She bent her head to the pale mare, acknowledging her gratitude. "It's no issue, and the least I can do to help, and when we're meant to spar.. I look forward to seeing what you can do with magic tomorrow, Ice Storm. Until then, we should get some rest. Know that when you wake, you'll be free to request breakfast. It'd be best to have some a few hours before we test our skills." Returning a small smile at the sight of Ice's own, Luna stepped back from the doorway and lifted a wing in a small wave. "Goodnight, Ice Storm. I hope you sleep well." The alicorn strode off, heading deeper into the lunar wing to the spiraling stairs that'd lead up to her room. She was looking forward to getting to lie down for a while in silence, and digest the entire span of her conversations with Ice Storm. It'd be a lot to mull over- more so the talk of her own worth and positive influence from Ice than anything else. It'd be difficult for her to accept, after everything.
  7. Sombra pursed his lips and grunted. Destroying their enemies or no, he'd still be roped into protecting Equestria, and to think he'd once toyed with the thought of conquering it, but that was when he still had slaves to use for any purpose he wished. Alas. "It's at least nice to know that you were so skeptical about those rumors," he commented with a soft snort. He wouldn't admit it aloud, but he was liking Black Ice's ruthless personality and the ease in which she admitted that she'd gladly tear the enemy apart. It was how it should be, not.. giving an enemy a chance and then trusting them to leave something alone for good. That was foolish. Though these were the thoughts of a bitter, cynical stallion. The king quietly scoffed and leaned back in his chair, one dark eyebrow raised. "How bold of you to think I care about whether I get on your 'bad side' or not. What makes you think you're powerful enough to intimidate me?" Sombra wanted to believe that what Black Ice was boasting of was just that: boasting, but his eyes dropped to the peculiar spheres around her neck. Their existence, and the knowledge of the power that were within them brought back a reminder of something he'd initially been searching for: the Alicorn Amulet. As powerful as he was now, he'd be unstoppable if he had it. "Don't think you can threaten me." Sparring with Princess Luna? Sombra brought a black hoof to his fuzzy chin in thought. It sounded fascinating, although he wasn't sure if he could really believe the praise Princess Luna allegedly gave Black Ice. They were likely to praise anypony for any effort they approved of. "It took the pair of them to even banish me below the ice of the Frozen North. I know what it's like well enough, and I had to endure that icy void for a millennium. With recent developments, however, I've been willing enough to look past it.. though my experiences remain. I'll admit that artifact must be powerful, but you'd be more likely to do more harm to Celestia with them than me." There was some bluffing mixed in with what he had to say about it- it wouldn't just be simple ice and freezing weather. It would be ice magic, and who knew how that'd affect him, or anypony? "Personally, I'd like to say to all of this: why try? Why even care?" King Sombra shrugged and waved a dismissive hoof. "No matter. What else is there to this meeting outside of your.. pride?"
  8. Princess Luna had done her best to respond to Cadance, but with the shift to a new subject, she hardly had time to consider who might succeed Celestia should anything happen to her sister. Would it fall to her? To somepony else like Twilight? It didn't seem possible that anypony else could be trusted to rule Equestria, save Cadance, and the Princess of Love already had her own kingdom to lead. Even Luna couldn't follow how quickly Cadance had moved the moment Twilight revealed she had a relationship problem, and the dark alicorn could do nothing more than blink and eye the pink princess questioningly, and with a little worry. It was so sudden, but for a Princess of Love, the topic would always be one of interest. For herself.. she wasn't sure what advice she could offer on relationships. She had never had one, and might never have one. There had never been a pony to catch her eye, let alone anypony who could live as long as she- a view that she unknowingly shared with Celestia. "I suppose it depends on what sort of dangerous work he does, and how pursuing a relationship would affect it," Princess Luna began. "I cannot offer any solid relationship advice, having no experience with such a thing myself, but.. I do know one thing I can impart: talk to him. Be honest with him, express how you feel when you find the time to, when neither of you are busy. Perhaps once it's out in the open you both can decide where you wish to go with it." A small, halfhearted shrug followed her answer, showing some of her uncertainty. A glance was cast Celestia's way to see what her sister might think. Celestia had been unusually silent, but.. something did seem to be bothering her sister. Luna resolved to ask about it later, after the meeting. A curious glance was cast over the table at Bluebelle, idly listening to what the unicorn had to say about the situation herself. Bluebelle had a point. She sounded like she knew well enough to give better advice than Luna could have, but the alicorn kept it to herself. As long as she was around the others, there wouldn't be much more of a reason for her to talk beyond answering a question directed at her. There was no point if they didn't really understand.
  9. "Another country," Rose replied a little vaguely and expressed her agreement with Gray over the School for Gifted Unicorns with a small nod of her head. There wasn't much that she knew about the school, but.. it did seem that way. What she knew of unicorns is not all of them were particularly gifted with magic, let alone with various skills in it, so she could fathom that the school didn't see very many students. Unless some bought their way in, rather than the potential student taking one of the infamously challenging entrance exams. Rose could only shrug to her thoughts and smiled faintly. "No, of course not!" she protested a little playfully. "Sometimes a student's struggles can be the teacher's fault, especially when they have no skill in teaching." The mare sniffed disdainfully. "I'm sure it's not your fault." Gray's gesture to his forehead earned an amused snort, something that was surprised out of the prim noblemare. It was rare to do so, and rare still to find anypony with more of a sense of humor than most of the Canterlot elite. Some of their 'jokes' weren't very funny to her, but she had to make herself chuckle along anyway to avoid getting any questioning, or little sidelong glances if she failed to participate. "Well.. I'm sure in any new, strange place among ponies different from what you're used to would make you feel out of place. But.. it won't keep me from visiting the Crystal Empire. I'd enjoy seeing what ponies of glittering crystal look like." [OOC: i still haven't decided where rose is from, oops.]
  10. Princess Luna's pace slowed and she extended a wing to brush the top of the sleepy Ice Storm's head with the tips of her feathers. "You would be surprised to learn there just might be other ponies suffering the same as you, for one reason or another. You should at least attempt to speak with a psychiatrist to see what sort of help that you can find. It would be more than what I could offer. I may have learned some in the way of psychology to help, but not enough to make much of a difference." Withdrawing her wing, the princess folded it again and strode on, seeking out a room for Ice. The pale mare's added comment about the decor and design of the lunar wing earned a smile. Seemingly picking one at random, Luna opened the black, arched door and lit the candles within, bringing light to a spacious enough guest room with a four-poster bed. It had a bedside table flanking it, and an empty dresser up against one wall for guests to store any clothing or other belongings in. The two windows on the far wall were entirely covered by dark, heavy curtains to keep the sunlight out during the day. "Here. This may be suitable enough for you. I do believe the closet is stocked with a few extra blankets, should you need more to sleep under." The princess gestured to one of two other doors in the room. The other was likely to be the bathroom. "As for the psychiatrist.. They'll keep it a secret. Ponies go through many different problems, especially when trouble in our peaceful country can affect them far more heavily than one that sees stress and strife daily. Keep searching until you find one that works best with you. I.. believe you may be able to conquer this issue one day. Perhaps not so quickly, and not soon.. but one day you shall be free."
  11. The words crown prince of darkness pleased Sombra, and something close to smugness settled on his face. "Indeed? I'll have to remember that one.." He had a particular little quip to go along with it, but he didn't think the mare he'd become so taken with would be ready to reveal their relationship just yet. They were still getting to know each other, after all. When the time came and she wished to let the commoners know of it, only then would they release that information. For now, Sombra kept it close to his heart while Ice Storm talked, and her question earned her a shrug from the grey stallion. "I cannot say whether I did, or didn't. It's true, I didn't want to be discovered by the princesses so soon, knowing that they might wish to toss me in the next prison, perhaps even Tartarus itself. However.. my attempts to remain hidden would've only lasted so long. I would have grown tired of it sooner or later." The ego of a stallion like King Sombra wouldn't have been able to bear the lack of attention. "So.. perhaps, yes. Although I never expected to be sought out by one such as you, and for a purpose like this. I should be the last creature anypony seeks out to help protect something. I am not a protector, but a destroyer. I leave ruin in my wake- when it suits me." A small smirk had flickered across the cocky umbrum's muzzle. "So!" he exclaimed, leaning forward a little. "What's all this.. nonsense about me destroying the Crystal Palace? You mentioned it during that first meeting for STAR, asking me if it was true.. It's been on my mind for a while- I daresay even bothering me, to think about how somepony out there is pretending to be me, or perhaps spreading lies about my involvement in it. If it really was me.. I wouldn't have relied on a bunch of caribou, much less any other beasts, to attack the Crystal Empire again, and I wouldn't have made it so painfully obvious as that, not when I know about what sort of defenses the Crystal Empire has against me, and what they would've used if I'd been stupid enough to reveal myself as their attacker." Sombra couldn't help but leaping straight to the point, and aggressively pointing out the flaws in the entire story- at least what he knew or guessed of it, in any case.
  12. King Sombra was patient in waiting for Black Ice's arrival, and it appeared he didn't have to wait terribly long. A mare entered the reading alcove, decked out in armor rather than the form fitting black suit he recalled from the first STAR meeting. An eyebrow rose and he studied the armor she wore for a moment, his eyes momentarily lingering on the insignia on the breastplate. This was new, unless she was simply borrowing the armor to better make her way through the castle to meet with him. Her greeting was initially met with a soft grunt of acknowledgement, his eyes returning to her face. "And good of you not to waste my time," he replied smoothly. "You'd be correct. I do have plenty of questions. I'll just have to get them in order now that we're meeting on a more.. personal level, without the distraction of many other ponies in one room. I've been looking forward to getting to know the pony who invited me to join her organization, to find out why and how. You are aware of who I am, aren't you? I'm not something you can just summon to have tea with, let alone intend to use for your own purposes." His voice was a low purr, giving off a more casual air despite his phrasing. His unusual red eyes followed the mare as she seated herself across from him, and he shifted slightly in his seat, crossing one back leg over the knee of the other. "So, how do you wish to start this? What questions do you have for me? I'm curious," Sombra continued after a short and thoughtful pause, inviting Ice to speak up. If he offered her some information, she'd most likely be more forthcoming with anything he'd want to know. This was to be a more open meeting, wasn't it? They couldn't withhold anything, though.. Sombra was likely to keep certain information to himself despite it.
  13. It'd taken a little while for the letter to reach its intended target, and a little longer before he even deigned to respond to it. It was from the leader of STAR, Black Ice, requesting a meeting with him. Having nothing particularly pressing to deal with, especially when a certain somepony who he'd taken a liking to was busy, he had sent back an answer, with a time and place for them to meet. Canterlot Castle. More specifically: one of the small reading alcoves located within the main part of the Archives. It would be private enough for them to speak; ponies rarely ever came to the Archives, anyway. They would be left undisturbed. As the time rolled around, King Sombra had settled himself within one of the cushy chairs with his usual arrogant poise, his forelegs draped over the armrests and his back straight, patiently awaiting Black Ice's arrival- to see if she would arrive on time, or intend to meet with him at all as per the agreement. For the occasion, Sombra had freshly bathed and groomed himself. Even his cape had seen some washing. Its color was bright and pristine, and altogether the shadow king looked prim, put together. Even oddly.. calm and content for such a sour, brooding stallion. This slight change would be apparent enough to the eyes of his guest, whenever she showed. He was looking forward to having some one on one time with this Black Ice, to get to better know this mysterious mare he was to listen to on some.. grand plan to keep Equestria safe where others struggled or failed to. Sombra had yet to see if it would work out any better than these fabled Elements of Harmony and whatever other organizations that had sprang into being with that very desire in mind. He'd learned a little about them, but nothing beyond their basic purpose. He could hardly feel like remembering their names, much less their acronyms. Furthermore, Sombra wanted information and this would be his best chance to get some.
  14. "Ever since you ran away.." Luna repeated in a tone meant to emphasize a particular part of what Ice Storm was saying, and she did so without hesitation. "There is your source. Abandonment. Feeling cast out from your home, unwanted, alone.. It may be more of a psychological problem than a physical one, which may explain why the doctors could never help you. They were not the right kind of doctor." While it was entirely possible she had found the reason, there could be more to it than she knew, and she was no psychiatrist. There wasn't much she could do to help except point it out. Her stride was hardly broken as she'd given an answer to the opening that Ice Storm had given her. It was the only idea she could think of, and see, that might help. Having fallen silent again to give Ice the time to mull it over, Princess Luna continued to lead the way back through the castle, heading towards one section of it and up a set of spiraling stairs. They lead out onto a hallway, and the change between it and the rest of the castle was starkly apparent. The carpet was a deep blue, almost black, with swirling designs, and the walls were in two different, softer shades of blue with the occasional black tapestry. Strange black sconces with blue flames lined and lit the hall, completing the cold and silent mystery of its appearance. In a way it was soothing, too, easy on the eyes of a pony who was tired, or who simply desired solitude. It was one of few places in the castle that Luna truly felt comfortable.
  15. It didn't take too long for Ice Storm to grab what she needed, for which Luna was grateful. As soon as she saw the mare reappear, she turned away after a quiet thanks for the desk pony, and started back down the length of the infirmary. Ice Storm would be able to catch up with her on their way out. "True, that would've been seen as such, but.. it would've been understandable if you hadn't wanted to reveal such a thing. As it is, your face is still a little red after doing just that." It was a little teasing on Luna's part to put Ice a little more at ease. Now that the pale mare had what she needed for the night, Luna would be able to show her guest to the lunar wing of the castle at last so that Ice could see it for herself. There'd be plenty of uninhabited guest rooms, so it wasn't as if either of them would have any trouble finding one for Ice to stay in for the night. A part of her couldn't help but look forward to getting to the solitude of her room once Ice had hers, if just to relax after socializing and talking with somepony for so long. Luna felt guilty feeling that way, but.. Ice would understand, if she knew. "Mind, I do not think less of you for it. 'Tis something that must be rooted in many issues that still must be addressed, but at another time. I feel it is from more than just one reason, and that is why the doctors and healers haven't been able to help. Hopefully, in time, we can find you that help and do away with it, if it's possible." It was the least she could do for a friend that was suffering. After all, she doubted Ice wanted to deal with it forever.
  16. Thus far, Luna hadn't found anything of use, and when she noticed her sister heading into a stairwell, she turned back and followed the taller mare up the winding stairs until they came out onto a hallway that the darker alicorn recognized despite the tear of age. It was the hallway that lead to her sister's quarters. Luna followed after her and lingered just at the doorway, staring in at a ruined bedroom that still held hints of its former beauty. She could still see it as it used to be, if just through the lens of memory. The moon princess simply watched as her sister searched.. and finally found what they'd come for: an unbroken clay pot. Luna wished she could be pleased, and maybe a part of her was, but it was buried under all of her other emotions about this place, about her sister's new.. love interest. That it'd all settled over her like a dark and stormy cloud would've been accurate for anypony to describe it as. Seeing that her sister had the flower pot, Luna backed out and started retracing their steps. Though.. after seeing Celestia's old room, she was curious about how her own had fared. What was left of her old belongings? Dust and ruin a thought whispered. "Are you.. ready?" Luna spoke up to break the silence, and the flow of her own thoughts. "We still have your birthday celebrations to arrange, after all. Who do you plan to invite, or shall we simply see who will come?"
  17. "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?"
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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."
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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?
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