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Posts posted by dragonofruin

  1. The descending sun cast a certain faint glow upon the dark Everfree Forest, streaming through the gaps in the thick canopy in rays of yellow-orange. The night was still some hours off, but the sun had already begun to move lower across the sky, a time of day that had been picked deliberately by the pony who now sat in a clearing within the dark woods. He was perched upon an old log of a tree, one rear leg crossed over the other and his signature disgruntled expression on his usually sour (if handsome) face.


    King Sombra had come across a note from the mare in STAR, the one who called herself Tempest Shadow, requesting a meeting with him. Something that he was coming to find a mixture of annoyance and amusement in, that the only ways ponies wanted to meet with him by some sort of letter to meet him in a secluded spot. It was a growing trend, albeit the last time with Ice Storm, he had been the one to decide the meeting place. This time, he hadn't been, and he could understand why Tempest had picked the Everfree in which to speak. It was far more secluded than some reading alcove in a castle, and nopony would ever stumble across them because nopony was foolish enough to go into the Everfree at any hour of the day. Usually.


    He had arrived a little early, and he'd found the place empty. The log was growing uncomfortable under his rump, and he shifted in place for the nth time, trying to make himself comfortable and running a hoof against the underside of his cape to sweep it aside, wanting to avoid snagging it on some peeling scrap of bark or a remaining branch. He liked his cape, and he didn't want to rip it by accident..


    This matter was just in the back of his mind, a distant, petty problem that he wasn't too focused on. His attention was mostly on the forest and the fascination he held for it was mostly hidden. This was the first time he was in a forest and had a chance to really look at it rather than lurk out of sight of the town when he'd first come south. It and its earthy scents were something to be admired, but it was only a distraction while he waited for the arrival of the dark mare with the broken horn.

  2. A nod confirmed what Heart Shield had repeated and Sombra gave a little shrug with one shoulder. "It's difficult to explain. They were sort of.. displaced in time. They didn't experience anything. To them, it was like no time passed at all between when the empire disappeared, and when it returned. Nopony was harmed, I assure you." Except for the slavery, and working them to exhaustion, and sometimes worse, in that mine shaft.


    His gaze briefly flicked to the pegasus's wings and he quietly grunted. "You actually can, you just aren't conscious of it. How else can you walk on clouds and control the weather?" An eyebrow arched as he asked that question and gave a little start from Heart Shield's own. His expression soured and he turned on his cushion, putting his left side to the guard. "No, I don't, and I never will. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I'm not a pony," Sombra grumbled. It was one little detail he had to correct despite how uncomfortable he was with talking about it. It wasn't something he wanted ponies to know after how the crystal ponies treated him in the past over it. Equestrians would be no different.


    "That isn't really an apology," Sombra pointed out with a soft grumble, looking over at Heart Shield with a disgruntled expression. Moving past it, he shrugged. "As far as I'm concerned, Chestnut Falls was the only one that wasn't bad. The rest of them?" The umbrum made a sweeping gesture with his hoof to indicate his point. He snorted. "How.. odd that I'm discussing this with you of all ponies, but.. perhaps. Ponies will continue to see me in a negative light no matter the case, and I've no interest in changing myself just to fit into their narrow idea of acceptable."


    A soft noise escaped him at that supposed nugget of wisdom that Heart Shield offered up. "Do whatever makes me happy in life?" he repeated with a thoughtful tone, and glanced over at Heart Shield with a broad smirk. There was an inappropriate joke that he could make, and he struggled between the decision to make it and to withhold it. The smirk faded and he huffed softly. "Really? I highly doubt your life has been so boring as you think.. Certainly you have some juicy details, or are you really that dull?"

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  3. Out of the last pair of them, Princess Luna was first to arrive, finding her way to the ravine's entrance by wing rather than wasting her time walking. She'd gotten the letter from Ice Storm that mentioned that the construction on her airship was just beginning and she wanted to come and see it for herself. It was as much curiosity as it was to gauge what exactly Ice Storm was building, what sort of capabilities it had.. In truth, she was nervous about a warship being built in Equestria. It felt like it would send the wrong kind of messages, but at the same time.. perhaps make it clear to others that Equestria was not so soft and undefended as it seemed simply because they strove for peace and unity.


    It was a situation of mixed possibilities, and Luna was left uncertain about how to really feel about it.


    It would be after Tempest Shadow's arrival that Princess Luna would enter. Heading underground had forced her to walk, and she did so on silver-shod hooves. She wasn't sure what to expect as she entered through the doors and paused, spying two familiar figures. She lingered nervously on the edge, as of yet unnoticed and her teal eyes drifting past them every now and then to the construction.


    It would be a little after that King Sombra would come striding in with his confident gait, his head held high and his hooves silent on the hallway floor. He faltered when he saw Princess Luna and quietly grunted, startling her. Her flinch was subtle, and she stepped aside, glancing back at the umbrum with wide eyes that soon narrowed. Of course, Luna hadn't forgotten what she'd learned from Ice the night of their conversation. Sombra strode past her to meet up with Ice, looking like his usual grumpy self- if a little more so after the travel and having to walk all the way from that noisy city to this place. His red, slit-pupiled eyes would briefly linger on the other, darker unicorn with interest, including the jagged stump of her horn.

    "Ice Storm," he purred softly, his focus switching back to the pale pony. "Is this all you've called me here for?" Sombra queried, looking out over at the construction with an impassive face, one eyebrow slightly raised.

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  4. A smile flashed across Sombra's face with his amusement, briefly shared with Heart Shield on the matter. "Of course you couldn't," he murmured; it almost sounded like a challenge. Shrugging, his attention switched back to their other topic at hand: the royal sisters. "Seeing as you've apparently brushed up on your history, you should know.. but let me explain, if you don't understand. They tried to save the Crystal Empire from me, the tyrant, but I placed a curse on it some few weeks before they'd ever attacked because I.. wasn't in the best state of mind at the time. I was paranoid. I knew something would have to happen eventually. So in that eventuality that I'd be attacked by the southern kingdom's rulers, I would ensure that the empire would disappear along with me for however long I was gone."

    An eyebrow arched at Heart Shield, silently questioning him if he'd gotten it yet. "They tried to save the empire. They failed. They lost to me, and it seems that they never allowed that failure to make it into their history books, not until recently I'm sure. They kept it a secret for so long, nopony knew that they'd lost an entire city of ponies.." Because of me seemed to hang in the air, unspoken.


    "They were prejudiced; I'd daresay even racist. They looked down on me because I wasn't like them. Because my coat did not become crystalline, because I never gained a cutiemark like them.." Surprise flitted across his face as he realized what he'd let slip, and he hurriedly tucked the reaction away behind his usual mask. "The other orphans bullied me often, and most adults.. I can't say they were all that concerned, I suppose. Except the mare who ran the orphanage, but there was only so much that that poor, overworked pony could do. They only ever believed the worst of me, without reason. Their princess, Amore, was the worst. Always kept on that mask of kindness, yet she let me suffer all of those years. She knew what I was, what the magic of the Crystal Heart was doing to me during the faires, and she did nothing. It was cruel. I was just a colt, then, with no clue why I was always in agony on that day."


    Sombra's face twisted in anger, into something hateful, before he hid that emotion too. "I've hated princesses ever since that day, but.. perhaps I've made an exception. I can't say my intentions are good.. at least for anypony else. Only for myself. So! Heart Shield, do you have any personal dirt to tell me about?"

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  5. The former tyrant visibly bit his lower lip, a nervous gesture, and he glanced over at the rest of the ponies at the party. They were all dancing, even Princess Luna had joined in, if her movements looked a little awkward to his eyes compared to the others. It told him she probably didn't have as much experience. He was even less so than her- in fact, he'd never even danced at all. As much as he wanted to try, to mimic one of the dancer's movements, Sombra couldn't quite bring himself to. Instead, the stallion chose to find a moment after Celestia had looked over at him to slip back towards the tables, finding another glass of untouched wine to levitate and sip from.


    There wasn't a chance that anypony was going to make him dance, or attempt to, out in public like this. Maybe some time later he could try to get some lessons from Celestia, or if he dared to, from Luna, but until then.. He'd rather sit at the outskirts of the makeshift dance floor, watching everypony and listening to the energetic music Buck had struck up. It was better that way, at least for him.. as much as he wanted to join Celestia and dance with her on her birthday. The first they'd spend together.


    Their relationship would have room for a lot of firsts, however.. This would just have to be that first birthday to spend together- as he had no birthday to celebrate, it would have to be hers.


    The comment from Ice Storm had been caught by the moon princess and Luna cast Ice a smile as she danced by the pale mare, turning in place on quiet hooves. "Indeed? I might hold you to it, though I would hardly come between you and Raven!" she replied, or tried to through the heavy beats of the music that Buck was pounding out. His skill with playing multiple instruments and singing in a different language was honestly impressive, and through the beginning of the next song he played, Luna couldn't help but come to a rest to watch him, as well as eye the other partygoers, smiling through her attempt to catch her breath.

  6. The king quietly grunted and studied the pony's body language, noticing the stiffness of Heart Shield's stance, the narrowed eyes and splayed back ears. The poor pony was at his limit. Nopony else was likely to be as irritating as Sombra could be because he knew just what to say and just where to put the pressure to get a pony so close to rage. It tickled him. He now knew he was toeing a dangerous line with Heart Shield- if he went any further, he'd likely end up provoking the guard into attacking him.


    Not like Heart Shield stood a chance against him, anyway.


    "You'd so willingly quit your job?" Sombra made a noise in his throat, somewhere between impressed and disappointed. "It seems a lot of my exploits have gotten out, now that the princesses' failure is.. ah, out in the open. They must have had no choice but to have what'd happened recorded." His tone was thoughtful as he pondered it aloud, a hoof drifting up to his chin and sliding around to rub at one of his well-groomed sideburns- something that was always particularly styled. "I had my reasons for making the crystal ponies dig that mineshaft- they helped speed up a process that I wasn't interested in stooping to, and they deserved it with as foul as they were. Ponies aren't so innocent and good as they like to believe about themselves. They're just as flawed, and as terrible, as I am- I'm just honest about my nature."


    Sombra shrugged and eyed Heart Shield with a little twist to his lips. "They did do that to me. They sealed the Empire's fate in the process though; that was how my curse on it worked. As long as I was sealed away, so was it. They lost no time at all, it was as if there was no interruption to what happened.. but me? I had to endure that wretched, icy void of a prison for those thousand years. Drove me mad, but.. the Crystal Heart seems to have fixed that." An eyebrow rose. "What issues I had with the princesses is now long since put behind us when Celestia has allowed me so close to her," he purred, hoping to make the implications of that emphasis clear. He no longer seemed as focused as before on harassing Heart Shield, perhaps because he'd let up again to talk about himself for a moment, something he always enjoyed doing if just to put the image of a self-obsessed pony in others' minds. A diversion tactic.

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  7. "Is that how you feel? Then by all means, enjoy being a serving pony," the shadow king quipped with that same, smug smirk on his muzzle, taking joy in antagonizing the stallion. It amused him, that some ponies would willingly be so subservient and still believe they thought for themselves. If that was what helped them sleep at night, then he couldn't take that away from them. It would be cruel.


    "I wouldn't submit myself to it anyway. I enjoy this life of luxury that I've found, and wooed for myself a fair and lovely princess. Others should be serving me." He was visibly enjoying this, and it became more and more apparent the more Heart Shield's annoyance shone through. He took pleasure in seeing how much he was riling the gold-clad guard up. "To use one of the usual, boring pleasantries ponies like to overuse- it's a pleasure to know you, Heart Shield. So you've heard of me after all? I was under the impression that the royal sisters had kept their failure of saving the Crystal Empire from me a secret for so many years.. at least until it finally made a reappearance and they had to admit to that failure. It was inevitable that it was to happen." Sombra shrugged and shifted in his seat, leaning back against the table.


    "So what sort of things have you supposedly heard about me? What sort of rumors and blatant lies have you believed?" His focus on aggravating Heart Shield had shifted, for the time being, giving the pony another reprieve from his antagonizing in favor of his curiosity. It was likely to be like this with King Sombra- occasionally putting on the pressure and letting up to see how and when the target of his attention might snap.

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  8. Any sign of the guard's growing agitation only seemed to feed Sombra's enjoyment in their conversation, if it could be considered conversation. A low chuckle rolled out of him, and he leapt on the opening that the pegasus had so willingly left him. "Indeed? You must enjoy it then," he remarked with that smug little smirk of his. His detour to harass one of the guards for a day was turning out to be extremely fruitful, and a good way to assuage the boredom that'd been creeping up on him.


    "I highly doubt the princess needs to order you to listen to me, servant that you are, when I hold a higher station than you. And did you not say that it was a personal preference to submit oneself to another pony?" His voice rose in a questioning lilt and he cast the armored pony another of his smug smirks. Perhaps he was enjoying himself a little too much, and Celestia was likely to have some words with him later about bothering the guards like this if this pony said anything to her. He likely would, considering how he was treating him. Trying to muffle another soft round of laughter behind closed teeth, Sombra attempted to find some calm again.


    "So, since I am to be sitting here and talking to you for a little while, perhaps I should bother to learn your name. What is it? You already know mine, of course. At least, I hope you do." Sombra tilted his head against his propped up hoof, resuming a lazy, relaxed posture where he leaned on the table. Waiting with an apparent patience for an answer, or any possible reactions from an irate guard.

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  9. A smug air seemed to rise from Sombra after he'd heard that jab, and his monstrous teeth became a little more visible past his smirk. "I highly doubt the princesses need you lot to guard them when they're powerful enough to protect themselves. Unless they've actually grown this soft.." he murmured, his voice close to a purr. With the way he spoke, it almost sounded as if nothing at all was going on between himself and Celestia. "It sounds like a nice, cushy little job, if dreadfully dull. I would never want to submit myself to such a thing, let alone be in the position where I'm serving another." His voice carried a tone of disgust, and his snout wrinkled.


    "I find it cute that you think that Celestia would ever order you to escort me out of this castle, considering I just might become the future king of Equestria. Dear Celestia certainly enjoys my company, quite a lot I might add." The purr returned to his deep voice again and a ghost of his earlier smirk lingered around his lips as he studied the pegasus, and the annoyed lines of the stallion's body language. He moved a hoof up and set his cheek against it as he propped his foreleg against the table, his head tilted and his face taking on a more lazy expression. Sombra also found it cute that this pony thought he could even make such a jab, when he'd been anticipating it long before ever since he even brought it up. The guard had been set up for it.


    "Isn't that nice?" he idly queried. "You'll have to listen to me too."

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  10. After the positive responses she'd received from Ice Storm and Raven, Luna could only smile shyly, a little pleased with herself. Their praise was always nice to hear when she received it, and she wasn't sure how many other ponies might mean it as genuinely as they did. Some only said it because they thought it was what she wanted to hear, and they wanted to get into her good graces for their own gain, whatever it might be. These two mares, however, weren't like that.


    It was also throughout this, that Luna had attempted to ignore Sombra's exclamation and his blatant attempt to steal everypony's attention. Not that it worked out all that well, with most ponies' focus going to the shy Caramel. The poor foal looked a little distressed from all the attention, at least before Buck managed to soothe her with music.


    Sombra was looking particularly sour that his spotlight had been stolen so easily, and he could only sit back frowning, though his attempt at sulking was interrupted by Raven's exuberant hug. He grunted and eyed her, begrudgingly lifting a hoof to wrap it around her shoulders and halfheartedly pat her. Since he was in public, to an extent, he had an appearance to keep up, and he didn't want to look like he just willingly gave out hugs whenever somepony wanted one! Those were reserved for very few ponies, like a certain flustered mare marching over to cuff him in the shoulder.


    His smirk flashed across his face, making a quick return. "Indeed I am, my dear Celestia, and I can only get worse if the mood should take me. You're lucky that nopony is bothering to listen to me, or else I would have told them every little detail." His smirk spread wide into a playful smile that bared many of his pointed teeth, the look of somepony who was all too willing to embarrass somepony else for the fun of it. It was unfortunate that at that moment, Buck had whipped out many more of his instruments and began to play them, filling their part of the grounds with loud, energetic music that Sombra could feel beating even through his ribcage. It was the slightest bit alarming, for somepony such as himself who'd never encountered any club scenes, much less anything like them.


    A pale hoof grabbed him, nearly snatching him off of his hooves, and he found that Celestia had pulled him in to dance. "I don't.. I don't dance," Sombra admitted a little quietly, his eyes flitting away from Celestia's as if he couldn't hold eye contact with her. Not that he could, with the way she was dancing.. though his eyes did linger on the way her body moved. Nearby, Luna had gotten to her own hooves and went prancing by, finding a spot on which to dance, herself. She wasn't terribly good at it either, but she tried, a smile on her face and her mane fluttering and roiling about her head and neck. She didn't need her sister to tell her, though Celestia's dancing was certainly encouraging. Luna wanted to get herself to let loose once in a while.


    Sombra could only watch, scuffing a hoof against the soft grass uncertainly. He wasn't sure if he.. could be so carefree as the sisters. A glance was cast back towards Ice and Raven, to see if they were joining in or not too.

  11. Sombra snorted and finally stepped away from the guard, satisfied that he'd managed to ruffle the pony. Picking one of the cushions at the table, he sat down, one elbow on the table's edge as he partly faced the unnamed pony. His expression, as sour as ever, but a glitter of amusement was in his red eyes. It seemed he'd found himself an easy target to torment for his own entertainment, something to do to assuage the boredom.


    "Like what?" Sombra asked, a dark brow arching questioningly. The following admittance after the guard's statement drew a low chuckle out of the umbrum and he nodded, as if he'd been expecting it. "Of course it would get boring. You have nothing to do in this castle except to stand around and try ever so vainly to look pretty. I can't imagine that armor does any good, unless its just gold plated. Do you ever do any proper training exercises? Sparring? Anything that might help you learn worthwhile skills that you'd need as a soldier, or is it all wasted on.. standing around?"


    He was trying to ruffle the pegasus's feathers, verbally of course, and however obvious it might be hardly mattered to somepony as antagonistic as Sombra was. He wanted to see how far he could push the pony, and just for his own entertainment. "I highly doubt the princesses would give you any commands, not when everything is always so peaceful and quiet around here. Not unless its to shine their shoes or.. perhaps on occasion, throw some troublemaker out of the castle at their behest." A smirk flashed across the former tyrant's face, as if anticipating any possible quips that'd involve just that- that he was just that troublemaker.

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  12. Those red, slit-pupiled eyes were staring intensely down at the armored guard in a face that could usually be described as grumpy. His height clearly outmatched the average pony's, but he was not so tall as Celestia. Her sister, perhaps. The guard might have a momentary reprieve from that sharp gaze as Sombra swept the room again with his eyes, studying it.


    "I might see why. It certainly would be dangerous if some errant pony off of the streets were to wander in here. I'm sure a few files might prove dangerous in their hooves.." A filing cabinet, and what looked like a couple of bookcases up against the walls looked to be the only other furniture in here next to the table and cushions. From the look of it, the princesses might not use this room much except for the occasional important meeting or visiting dignitary perhaps.. As he didn't know, Sombra could only guess from what he could see of it. His eyes returned to the blushing guard and eyed the tentative smile the pony now wore.


    "Is this what you guards do all day? Stand around doing nothing else but watching something? A room?" The king scoffed. "Such a dreadfully dull, but comfortable job, isn't it? A shame you should live in so peaceful a country. I can hardly see why this castle even needs the likes of you, yet.. the princesses are far too busy to keep an eye on what's theirs."

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  13. Whenever Celestia was busy with her duties as princess, King Sombra did what he could to occupy himself. Now that he was no longer so much of a secret, he had no need to lurk out of view- instead, he spent his time wandering the castle, getting to know its layout and finding what all it contained. The Canterlot Archives was, thus far, his favorite place in the castle if only for its stores of knowledge both ancient and new. Whenever he spent his time there, reading, he got to learn so much more than he would have at some dinky library in town. Not when there were restricted sections.


    This day, however, found him strolling through the castle again, looking freshly bathed and groomed in his signature cape. It was all he had left of his old 'getup' and he wore it for his own comfort. He felt naked without it, and Sombra would rather not let ponies know he lacked a cutiemark. Those inequine red eyes of his roved over the castle's decorations, from the tapestries to paintings and the occasional vase of fresh flowers- initially he'd come to dislike the opulence of Canterlot Castle, but.. perhaps it was growing on him. Something fitting of one such as himself, and Celestia..

    The room were investigated too, and he found there were quite a lot of guest bedrooms, parlors.. a few offices.. Today, however, as he peeked in on one room, which looked to be like some sort of.. meeting room with a round table in the middle surrounded by cushions, he found a lowly guard. Sombra initially overlooked him as just part of the scenery, a mannequin dressed up in the Royal Guard's signature golden armor, until he came to notice the eyes and realized this was no mannequin.


    A glance was given to the rest of the room before Sombra took a few steps in, an eyebrow arching. The boredom he'd felt as of late with his natural preference to antagonize ponies wasn't a good mix with the former tyrant. "What could you possibly be guarding in here?"

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  14. The former tyrant made a soft noise in his throat, considering what little Ice Storm had to give him in the way of information about their project- it seemed the two mares had come together on a shared goal, which was a new development to him. It was a shame that he wouldn't get to find out anything in the way of how it was working out for either of them. "I see. I'll be sure to corner you later for all the details," he murmured, his inequine red eyes sliding towards Raven and a smirk lazily making its way across his muzzle.


    "Why, of course, I would be happy to regale you with all the little details about how I managed to seduce your fair sun princess!" Sombra announced, as if he intended to catch everypony's attention just to embarrass Celestia a little, and on her birthday no less. It might have been an attempt on his part to get her attention, for he did adore being the center of her attention whenever it was possible. He turned his gaze upon Celestia, in time to register that she'd introduced the chubby little filly who'd appeared at her birthday party. Caramel Cream. Sombra wasn't sure how to respond to that except to give the foal and her clumsy bow a look that he'd intentionally tried to soften just so it didn't look like he was glaring at her. As he often appeared to be doing when his neutral expression was eternally set into a resting bitch-face.


    Princess Luna was trying not to overhear Sombra's tale in favor of focusing on other things, such as Thunderbuck's reply and the little filly Celestia had introduced. She couldn't help dipping her head to the chubby foal and offering Caramel a gentle smile. "Good evening, Caramel Cream. We are glad you made it to the party," she said gently. "We may not have any games, but we have plenty of snacks."


    The alicorn straightened up then to nod at Buck, a gentle smile still lingering on her lips. It widened upon hearing his music, of which was lovely with his skills with the violin. She listened to it until Raven's voice caught her attention and her teal eyes shifted to the mare. "I am glad you enjoy the night so, young Raven. I hope it brings you as much comfort as it does Ice. Though I must admit I am not responsible for the stars, nor the moon, save for the raising of it. Yet bringing the night still gives me joy, something to look forward to. To know others now feel the same is a.. comfort."

  15. The zony bit her lower lip and finally relented as Heart Shield gave her the okay, her hooves moving to scoop the coins towards her. One of her hooves dipped to pull up her bit purse and she opened it to deposit her twenty bits into by sliding them in off the table's edge. "Thank you," she said, trying to put as much gratitude into her voice as she possibly could. She wasn't dirt poor, but.. she and her mother had always been poor, and all she had was a wagon to live in. Yuna always tried to make what money she could, and on occasion, treated herself to something nice. She hadn't been expecting to make this much, if anything at all in Canterlot, so it was a pleasant gain.


    Her dark eyes shot up towards Heart Shield when he shifted in his seat, sounding intent on leaving. "Oh, no, no!  You haven't been a bother to me at all!" Yuna insisted. "It's.. actually been rather pleasant to just have a casual conversation with another pony. Most wouldn't give me the time of day, at least in Canterlot; it's not exactly the friendliest place after all. Nice, but not.. friendly." She shrugged, her wing twitching with the movement. If he did intend on leaving so soon..


    "I'll keep that in mind. It was nice talking to you, Heart Shield."

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  16. Yuna was left momentarily speechless by the amount that he was offering her. She usually charged much, much less than that for predictions and fortunes told in order to sell her gimmick to any interested ponies, especially those that might not want to pay too much for what they saw as a little entertainment. Her eyes stared down at the little pile of gold coins, teetering between happily accepting the amount he was so willingly giving and hesitating on taking so much. She didn't want to look greedy.


    "You- You don't need to!" she stuttered and chuckled nervously. "I mean, this is so kind of you to offer- to offer this much!" This occasion was one where she couldn't help but stumble over her words as she fought through her mixed feelings and what she was picking up around Heart Shield.


    "I.. I think so. If it's not a threat, it's at least something.. dangerous?" Her brow furrowed and she rubbed her cheek with one white hoof. "This is sort of one of those cases where it really is kind of foggy." Yuna dropped her hoof and shrugged helplessly, eyeballing the bits again as she dragged her cup back over. "I don't feel as if you're in any real danger, but.. as I've said, anything can change. It wouldn't hurt to stay on guard." Her lips twitched towards a not-quite-smile and she sipped at what was left of her coffee. It'd cooled a bit, and she had thoughts to buy another despite how much the caffeine threatened to keep her awake when it was time for her to sleep.

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  17. Yuna sighed softly and made a noise in her throat, appreciating the stranger's sympathy. Her coffee had been on its way up to her lips for another sip when his next question came, a request, and she lowered it back to the table, her ears perked. "I don't normally do any fortunetelling without my cart or some of the things in which I use to divine the events in somepony's life, but.. I suppose I could manage something while we're here."


    The zony slid her cup carefully aside with both hooves and laid them flat on the table's wooden surface, focusing her dark gaze fully upon Heart Shield across from her as he spoke of the Royal Guard. How they'd been his goal. It wouldn't be difficult for anypony to guess that he might have hopes to move up in the guard, whatever it might entail, but would it happen? She quietly took a slow, deep breath, hoping that, perhaps, her talent might whisper something to her about this stallion. "Yeah, Canterlot's about as much as I can manage on a good day if the rich ponies don't rile me up," Yuna commented as she eyed the pony, trying to allow herself to relax.


    The Royal Guard. There were few possibilities in so peaceful a kingdom as Equestria, and what she could gather about Heart Shield so far was that he seemed to be a kind pony, a hard worker. Loyal, determined. "I feel that.. your future certainly holds good things for you. You won't do so badly in the Guard that you might get demoted, or cast out. Your heart's in the right place and you always do well.. though there may be no chance of a promotion anytime soon. The lack of any real conflict would make it difficult to make it, though.. even then, the future can always change. It's never one fixed thing. One little decision is all that it takes."


    Yuna paused as she thought. There were a couple of other things she was getting stronger feelings about now than the others, especially with what she'd just now told him. Distant, but.. "In time, it's possible you'll be able to make captain of the guard one day. Even though you're kind, you have the leadership skills that may come of great use to you, and to others as one. Perhaps your skills will come to be of use to you, because I feel you may eventually come face to face with a threat, something dangerous. I don't know when. Only that you will. At Canterlot Castle."

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  18. Elysium could only nod to Gray's agreement, a half smile tugging at the corner of their mouth in the wake of the earlier, fuller one that had just faded. "Indeed?" they replied. "It is good to be an explorer, to fill your life with seeing what you have never seen before, what others may never experience when they live every day the same way," they said, their tone wistful. They'd always been a little bit of a romantic, if just to try to find the wonderful things in life in order to brighten up their own. It had never been -- all that great.


    "You speak as if you are so terribly old, yet you don't look that way to me. How old can you possibly be? Middle-aged? Older?" Elysium snorted and took a few steps around Gray, eying him. Grey fur, black mane.. There wasn't much that gave away his age to them. Their eyes even sought out any form of wrinkles on the pony's face, even so much as crow's feet, to try to judge for themselves. They flicked their purple tail, the hair glittering softly in the light. The sun was still high in the sky, and a glance told Elysium how many hours they might still have left in the day. It wasn't something to really worry about yet.


    "We can only hope you still have your house. I feel that is something I'm not going to be worrying about, not with the little cabin I'd found out in the woods and claimed for my own. It hadn't looked like anypony had lived in there in some time.. It's nice, secluded. Only me and a little cat I've taken in. Maybe you can find such a home; I'm not sure how willing I would be to invite you into my home when you're just a stranger I met on the road." Their voice had a joking tone to it. "Still, it would be good to consider what you'll have to do if your house is taken."

  19. Yuna offered Heart Shield a smile to be friendly and nodded to his question. "I do, quite a few. Some ponies treat what I do as a joke, an act. Entertainment. Something to distract them with while I take their bits, or whatever," the zony shook her head and rolled her eyes. "It partially.. is entertainment, and while some ponies who claim to be fortune tellers might do that.. I don't. My talent is precognition; sometimes, I can get a good enough read on somepony that I'll know what's going on or what might happen.. and I use it to try to help ponies," Yuna thought to explain.


    Falling silent, she listened. A local to Canterlot, but originally from Ponyville. She'd been there just before she first came to Canterlot, and it was rather pleasant for a small country town. The kind of place that she might like to live, if she ever thought to find somewhere to stay. Currently Yuna didn't know if any place could feel like home to her, or if she might find something that would keep her in place.


    "You're with the Royal Guard?" Yuna asked, a detail snagging at her attention; it'd taken her a few seconds to register that he'd said the guard. It was certainly an interesting thing to find out, if only because she'd never run into or conversed with one. She noticed his brief moment of silent and took another sip of her coffee while he looked out the window, of which she gave a cursory glance out onto the street. "Yeah, I've certainly seen a lot of Equestria, but mostly small towns and the like. I haven't dared to try the big cities." Not after her life growing up in Baltimare.

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  20. Yuna shrugged and dismissed his apology with a little gesture of her hoof. "It's fine, really. This place is pretty packed, and it'd be greedy of me to try to keep this booth all to myself when ponies need to sit down." Socializing with ponies might be strange for her, even awkward, but she'd feel bad if she shooed him off, or anypony off, just to hog a booth. It wasn't the kind of pony she was.


    "I'm Yuna," the zony replied. "I'm not from here, no. I come to Canterlot just to explore the place, maybe buy myself a few nice things with the bits I'd saved up from fortunetelling.. It's my talent," she clarified with a shrug of her shoulder. "I'm actually from Baltimare. I uh, do a lot of traveling because of my job." Being given something to talk about, Yuna took advantage of what she could say without feeling like she had to hunt for it. It was as good a conversation as she could manage as any. And after she'd uttered the word job, Yuna had to seriously consider if fortunetelling was good enough to be classified as a job, even if most might consider it merely entertainment. A hobby? She mentally shrugged, uncertain. Whether it was a job, or not, Yuna used her talent and fortunetelling to do her best to help ponies. To help them avoid trouble or danger, to recognize when some ill might be about to befall them or their loved ones.. There was a long list.


    "So, uh.. Heart Shield, I'm guessing you live in Canterlot?"

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  21. A small smile tugged at the corners of Elysium's lips and they nodded to Gray. "It did, and may still serve me should I ever have a reason to use it again. I did like wearing my armor on occasion, if only because it helped me feel.. prepared." They shrugged and listened to Gray talk, taking what little information they could out of what he had to say about the differences of an army, and mercenaries. It wouldn't hurt to try out a mercenary job once in a while, Elysium pondered. It'd pay well, and it'd at least break up some of the monotony that'd settled. As welcome as it was to have such monotony in Equestria, sometimes it left them wanting excitement. Something they were a willing participant in, and not forced into it as they had been as a soldier.


    "Oh, you live there?" Elysium made a noise in their throat. "So you're a traveler. I pass a few out on the road on occasion, whenever I'm wandering. There seems to be a fair few of us, and I admit it's a nice change to be able to move about and wander so freely. Regardless.. some rest is required from time to time." A small smile made it's way onto Elysium's face then, their angular golden eyes glittering with some amusement. "You look to be carrying so much for a mere traveler, after all."


    "What will you do if your home is no longer yours? Find another, or retreat to an inn?" The unicorn asked and paused. An inn- that was something they ought to ask about, if there were any along the road ahead or if they'd have to settle for sleeping in their small tent for another night. Uncomfortable, but not unbearable; they could always hold onto the hope of the next time they sleep, they would have a bed.


    [somehow i missed that it was my post oops]

  22. Her attention wavered, close to zoning out to whatever idle thoughts tended to drift through her mind, though movement in the corner of her eye drew her back. A glance over told her that the new arrival had finally found and ordered what he'd wanted, and appeared to be on his way over, heading in her direction. Thinking that he might be picking out a seat near her, Yuna hastily looked away to avoid looking like she'd been staring at him. It was rude, and occasionally some ponies were testy about it.


    Yuna didn't realize she'd misjudged the stallion's intent until she'd heard an unfamiliar voice. The zony looked up, hesitant, and a look around the cafe reminded her that it was still rather busy. She was the only pony with a claim to some seats that wasn't taken by any companions. Well.. as often as she was short-tempered and rude with some ponies, depending on what sort of day she was having, she didn't want to look like a jerk.


    "Uh, su-sure, I won't mind! I guess you can." Yuna finally found her voice and gestured to the seat across from the one she was occupying. Better across, than sitting next to a complete stranger. Now that somepony was there, she felt a little awkward; she didn't socialize with ponies often outside of her fortunetelling act, or if she was purchasing something. Or asking for directions if she really needed them. She took another sip of her hot coffee while she waited for the pony to join her in her booth. Yuna didn't really know what to say in the way of conversation except for the usual talk about the weather. "So, uh.. it's rather chilly this morning, isn't it?"

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  23. This morning would find Yuna comfortably settled in one of Canterlot's cafes. She'd had enough money saved for herself to try it while she was visiting Canterlot, a city that she'd come to consider as a place that she could indulge herself in when she had the extra bits to do so; she deserved it, didn't she? With the coming of the autumn season, she'd taken advantage of a returning flavor and purchased for herself a pumpkin spice-flavored coffee. As long as it was sweet, she could handle drinking coffee well enough, and it went so well with the cool crispness of the weather outside- something that always managed to make her feel more awake and alive than any other season.


    Currently, however, the pegasus was zoning out as she sat alone in a booth, something that she'd had the opportunity to snag for herself, and her dark eyes had a faraway look in them as she stared out the window she was sitting next to. Yuna was only vaguely aware of the warmth of her coffee through the foam cup that she lightly gripped between both forehooves as they rest on the table. A silent, still pose of somepony who didn't seem all that interested in engaging anypony else around her, who seemed to have something or nothing on her mind while her attention wandered. She would eventually be snapped out of her reverie by the silvery ring of the bell over the door as a two-tone stallion entered, drawing Yuna back to the cafe around her and prompting her to glance over to see who'd come in now. Naturally, nopony she knew- and it wasn't like she was expecting anypony either- but the new sound and movement was just enough to catch her attention for the briefest time.


    Yuna fidgeted a little in her seat, getting herself comfortable again and lifted her cup carefully to her lips, sipping at her coffee. Her wings were adjusted beneath her warm shawl, refolding against her sides as she fussed over a little restlessness now that she was made aware of her surroundings by that little bell. It was warm her, and she was comfortable, so she wasn't all that willing to just get up and leave yet. Even if it was rather busy in here.. and she had nothing else to do but drink her coffee.. The zony took the opportunity to let her eyes wander over the other cafe visitors, including the newest arrival, with curiosity.


    [*scoots right on in here*]

    • Like 1

  24. A low chuckle rolled out of Sombra's throat after the way Ice and Raven responded to him; especially Raven. He moved closer to the pair, an eyebrow rising in interest. "I'll overlook your use of redeem if you tell me what this good news is. After all, it's just a casual little party for my dear Celestia, I'm sure we have time to discuss whatever this news is. How are things developing in the Crystal Empire for you?" he asked. He'd dropped the volume of his voice for only them to hear, and Celestia if the alicorn were to strain her hearing. When Sombra glanced her way, he was made aware of the conversation that'd been going on in the background of his focus between Celestia and the twin ponies.


    Sombra gladly accepted the glass of wine that Celestia had levitated towards him and gave the princess a mischievous wink as he took a sip. His intense red gaze briefly slid back towards the twin mares, and past them towards Thunderbuck and Luna, before he returned his attention to Ice and Raven.


    "Eh, tis only a little spelling mistake. Certainly nothing to worry about," Luna dismissed it, "but.. yes, I do consider it clever. I have never seen- or rather, heard- anypony use such a thing before to make up for the lack of a voice." Ponies usually fell back on other forms of communication if they couldn't be verbal, mostly through writing, and even nonverbal ponies were rare. "It certainly makes it easier to understand the pair of you when you speak- there is no chance that we can mishear something. And you two are the first pair of twins I have gotten the pleasure to meet," Luna said as she looked up towards their newest arrival as he approached her.


    She couldn't help noticing how he was as tall as Sombra, if more muscular without looking overbuilt; however it was his height that impressed her, when it was so rare for there to be a pony as tall as either her or her sister. There were slight similarities she could draw between the two stallions, and she had only a few seconds to think it was odd before Thunderbuck's melodic voice finally caught her attention. "It is my sister, Celestia's, birthday today," Luna answered. She followed his gaze to the now starry night sky and looked back at him, studying what she could see of his emerald green eyes while he busied himself with pulling his instruments out of his enchanted saddlebags. "You are a musician?" the dark alicorn queried, though the answer was obvious from the sight of them. She made a noise in her throat, intrigued. Neither she or her sister planned on there being music at this party, but if somepony wanted to supply it.. then it would be nice to have.


    In the ebb and flow of conversation, Sombra seated himself upon the grass and glanced back over at the other partygoers again, curiously noting Luna's interaction with Buck before he'd moved off to speak with Ice, and Sombra momentarily met Celestia's eyes. He couldn't help noticing the attention she gave the quiet little filly again, and reflected upon what they'd discussed in private during her vacation. If Celestia intended on asking him later about taking care of her.. Sombra couldn't begrudge her it during her birthday, though Celestia knew he had no interest in foals. The umbrum averted his eyes to Buck, who was complimenting Ice's dress. Sombra grunted softly, taking a sip of his wine.



  25. Elysium may have misunderstood Gray's question about the armor. When they'd left Maretonia, they'd simply kept it. They'd had no qualms about taking something they felt now belonged to them, not when it was fitted so well to their body. "I recreated it through illusion the best I can, but nothing could compare with the physical thing," they replied, somewhat apologetic. They'd tried.


    "In Maretonia. I never participated in any wars. I.. suppose were used for little more than general enforcers when anything happened at all. Merely guards, outside of drills." Elysium shrugged. "Occasionally we might've been required to defend against a threat." It wasn't exactly peaceful like Equestria was, especially with the way the three pony species were separated the way they were, but.. it wasn't terribly exciting either. Some part of them wished there was something they could do to put their skills to use before they could grow rusty, but it would cut into the time they spent pursuing their hobbies and interests.


    "I can imagine," Elysium mused. Traveling with the one you were meant to protect, or simply settled in some tavern.. and having to fight off an assassin, or some stray threat.. Ponies, creatures, they were all unpredictable. It was to be expected of intelligent, sentient creatures. "So, are you headed to.. Hoofington?" they queried, curious. Gray appeared to be heading in the direction they were coming from; they lacked something more interesting to ask Gray and instead settled on this question. "What do you seek there?"



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