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Posts posted by dragonofruin

  1. Rose couldn't help the sigh that left her and nodded. It was very true. Ponies would never fail to judge anypony else for some small difference, a small quirk, that set a pony apart. It was sad, but she didn't allow herself to fall too deep in thought over it. Gray was talking about his home.


    "I'm surprised to hear you do have a house," Rose idly remarked, her small smile still playing around her painted lips. It was evidently a joke, but there was some truth to what she'd said. She'd expected that he didn't have one, considering his apparent nomadic ways. "Maybe you should rest there once in a while, or something, if it's still yours." Her eyes followed his to the heavy bags Gray left on the floor and she became thoughtful. It was nice that he'd decided to stick around and engage in some friendly conversation with her, but she felt she was keeping him from visiting his mother, or whoever it was that he intended to visit.


    "I wouldn't want to keep you too long. I'd be afraid of your flowers starting to wilt by the time you reach your destination," Rose hesitantly put in, her brilliant green eyes returning to Gray's face. It'd been nice, but.. she wasn't sure what else she had to talk about. Gray had certainly given her enough to think about.

  2. A soft grumble rose up his throat and he leaned his head against the chair's back, rolling an upraised wrist. He'd wanted a certain reaction from Black Ice, a certain kind of treatment.. and she wasn't giving it to him. He was entirely aware of the fact that he'd never said as much, nor asked for it- he only expected it. It was true, he was disappointed, but he chose to drop the subject after giving Black Ice an insolent look.


    Praise. Awe. Understanding.. Anything of the sort would've been nice. Even fear would've been appreciated. Sombra reflected on the why and realized why Black Ice's approach had bothered him so much. She'd tried to approach him as an equal, rather than as his inferior. She was little more than a stranger to him, and for her to approach him that way- even trying to pose as his superior- had rubbed his fur the wrong way. Sombra grunted, moving that same free hoof to rub at his cheek and unintentionally ruffle a well-groomed sideburn. He wanted to believe that Black Ice was intimidated. The fact that she'd attempted to tell him to give up on trying to intimidate her.. it sounded like some sort of insecurity she'd unintentionally voiced, but there was nothing insecure about Black Ice that he could see thus far. Since she'd come in and laid eyes on him, he hadn't once sensed any fear.


    Discarding the thought, Sombra focused on the mare again, pulling himself out of his thoughts with an effort. "Perhaps I may not have won myself any points in the first impression, but you can't deny that I'm quite handsome in the 'view department' as you've put it." His sharp teeth became visible with the wide, cocky smirk he flashed Black Ice. "So.. you want me to tell you a little about myself? Ask me some questions, first, the specifics of what you want to know.. I'll be glad to supply them. I just need a point in which to begin. There's so much I could say." Something of a more suave attitude had dropped into place with his little jest about his appearance, of which he thought highly of, his deep voice growing silky. She'd asked something of him that he was glad to talk about: himself.


    "I daresay I could slip into this castle without their notice anyway, and convinced them I'm meant to be here. I might not even have to talk to them at all! As long as I act like I belong in this place, they wouldn't give me a second thought beyond whatever they'd think about my appearance." An amused snort escaped the king and he shifted a little in his seat, making himself comfortable again.



  3. "Unicorn seamstresses, I believe. There are some living in Canterlot who have learned these skills that were passed down from the days of the three tribes. The unicorn seamstresses of those days were particularly skilled at weaving tapestries, among other things. Princess Platinum had her seamstresses make the tapestries hanging in the old castle, once we befriended her. 'Twas quite generous," Princess Luna replied, throwing in a little bit of history. It was something interesting to add.


    She waited quietly while Ice Storm requested a fruit salad with tea, the latter item of which swiftly reminded Luna that tea existed. Autumn was soon to set in, which made it the perfect time of year for certain drinks, many of them containing cinnamon or the favored 'pumpkin spice' ponies had created. Without hesitation Luna requested cinnamon tea for herself and turned back to Ice, her small smile still in place.


    "No, it didn't. There wasn't anything to worry about at that hour. A few small nightmares here and there, nothing too concerning as of yet. I only ever really interfere if a pony frequently has nightmares or repetitive ones. Only then do I know they will become a problem and begin to damage a pony's psyche." Luna returned some of her attention to the rest of her food, levitating a forkful of pasta up to her mouth and eating it while she let her mind wander a little ways. Once they'd eaten, they could spar.. but until then, she wasn't sure what to talk about that she hadn't said already. "I could put in an order for some new bedding to pass along to you, if you wish, on the topic of sheets," she added, breaking what little silence had fallen after her answer about the dream realm. "I am glad to hear that you slept well, though. I did, as well, and this bodes well for our first training session."



  4. The movement of her sister soaring up beside her drew her eye and she nodded, silently agreeing with her sister's suggestions. They could have all sorts of food for ponies to choose from at the party. "A little wine may be fair," she thoughtfully put in. It was something she didn't mind having once in a while, and she rarely ever drank. The question about her own birthday celebrations was enough for Luna to fall into a thoughtful silence, facing ahead and allowing her eyes to wander over earth and sky while she seriously thought about it.


    It wouldn't.. hurt.. to have her own birthday party when it was time, although the little voice of doubt in the back of her mind said it would. "If I were to ever decide to have a birthday party.. I might prefer something small." Luna gestured with her forelegs to emulate a shrug and curled them back up against her chest. "I couldn't know who all might attend it, aside from a scant few.. like yourself, and Ice Storm.." she struggled to think of who else might come. The other two princesses, possibly.. though she didn't expect Cadance to travel all that way just for a party when she had a kingdom to run and a foal to care for. No, she wouldn't expect Cadance to come, nor would she ask her to. It was just a party.


    A sigh escaped the princess, and it was stolen away by the wind that swept by and all around her, teasing at her fluttering, wavy mane and tail of stars, brushing her wingtips. The air this high up was cool, becoming crisp with the steady onset of fall. A distracted part of her couldn't wait until the trees began to change colors and the scent of the air changed for the season. It was a subtle smell she'd always enjoyed, especially up in Equestria's more mountainous regions.


    Her gaze slowly swept back up and around to her sister, who she was surprised to see was still looking her way despite the land that passed by beneath them. Ponyville was now far behind them, and Canterlot soon approaching. Yet Celestia's attention was all on her. "What?"



  5. "Perhaps you can't," Rose put in smoothly. "We're all unusual in our own ways, putting on fronts to convince others we aren't and end up with this weird sort of.. conformity, and those who don't confirm are judged for it. I hate to sound.. like this, but maybe there is no such a thing as normal. Or rather.. every 'weird' little aspect of ourselves is normal." Her eyebrows rose and she gave a little shrug of one shoulder.


    "Not that I would ever admit to anything.." Rose added, lowering her voice but not quite muttering. "Unless I were convinced in just the right way." A small smile briefly flashed across her face and she pushed herself back from the counter, letting herself drop back onto all four hooves. Standing the way she had was starting to get uncomfortable, and her elbows ached a little from leaning on the counter's surface for so long. Stretching her legs, she sauntered around one side of it and leaned against it, fixing Gray with a green eye again. It was strange, that he should come in only to buy flowers for his mother only for them to end up having a conversation like this. He certainly did stand out from most ponies. As it was, he wasn't the least bit uppity. Not like herself or most of Canterlot who refused to show any amount of genuine personality.


    "I hope so too. Mind you, I have no intention on becoming a nomad. I still like the thought of having a home to return to whenever I wish, whenever I need the time alone to rest and recover from all that traveling and seeing new things." There was something of a joke to her words, but she was entirely honest as she said it. Rose wanted to keep her home and what she'd built for herself. The life of a nomad was not for her, but.. her life could stand to see something new, new experiences.. some change. "I'll be certain to keep you in mind, Gray."

  6. King Sombra's eyebrows shot up. "All that I'm asking is for some respect, maybe even a little reverence. How does that translate to wanting you to worship me?" Well.. A part of him would've definitely enjoyed it if she, or any others, did worship him, but that was likely not going to happen. "You're reading far too much into this and making quite a big assumption about me, Black Ice." He snorted and leaned back in his seat, resuming his earlier, lazy posture, leaning on one elbow upon an armrest.


    "Most ponies don't amount to much, and while I can see that your ideas are both grand and ambitious, I've yet to really see what you can do. Forgive me if I'm skeptical without a little proof." His eyes dropped to the orbs around the mare's neck briefly. He had no doubt that she knew how to use them, and even though he didn't know very much about them.. he knew they held power. "By all means, I'm certainly not intending to underestimate you," he murmured and exhaled heavily, visibly annoyed and internally.. disappointed. Perhaps she would continue to disappoint him with her apparent lack of understanding.


    "I never said I wished to make a deal with you. This was going to be more like an exchange," he stressed the word, correcting her. "This isn't even about your organization," Sombra almost spat the word in disdain. "I don't recall ever saying the words I agree to begin with! I came for my curiosity.. All I'm offering right now is that I will help you, if you treat me a little better than how you are now. That you'll be able to get to know more of me in a more.. personal atmosphere than this." Sombra gestured at the room they'd met in. He slumped back, dropping his hoof over his chest and sighed heavily; he could almost sound defeated, if he would ever give in to defeat, and he was unwilling to lose at anything.


    "I was invited," the king replied, sounding more subdued. "Princess Celestia herself invited me. She knows of my existence, my survival, and.. I believe Luna may know of me too if her sister has already spoken with her. I don't have to plan to get in at all. Perhaps if you'll stop viewing me the way you insist on seeing me, stop believing that I'm trying to order you around, then maybe you might see that there's more to me than what you think. I've certainly not made a single effort to intimidate you since you arrived."

  7. Princess Luna presided over a largely empty dining room, sitting at one end of the table with a plate of food before her. It wasn't so much breakfast as it was lunch, and there wasn't a whole lot on her plate. If she was to begin training Ice Storm how to fight today, it wouldn't do to overdo it. She was taking her time eating, not wishing to have finished by the time Ice Storm joined her, and her wish came true as the doors to the dining room were opened and in walked the mare herself.


    Luna looked up, a small smile lighting up the princess's serene face. "I would say 'morning', but it is more like 'afternoon'. Did you sleep well last night, Ice?" She followed up her greeting with a question to ascertain how her guest was faring. If Ice Storm's body language and her face had anything to say, Luna thought that the mare was doing quite well. It was a good sign. It meant the first day of their training would go well, and the spar that was to start it off would help the alicorn judge what Ice Storm was capable of, and where she'd need improvement.


    Keeping these important points in the back of her mind for later, Luna returned her attention fully to Ice. There was a place set at the table for the unicorn, though the plate was empty. The princess had felt it best to leave it that way until Ice came down to eat so that her food wouldn't grow cold- the kitchen was just a room over, connected to the dining room by a single door so that the servants wouldn't have to go far to deliver food for any meal. All Luna would have to do was call for them, and tell them what Ice Storm wanted. The dark alicorn gestured to the chair to her right where the table was set, inviting Ice to join her.

  8. Rose shrugged, uncertain. It was going to take her a while to mull over a question like that once she had some downtime. She liked Canterlot. Even though there was some parts of herself that, if she were honest about herself, the others might shun because she didn't fit in. There wasn't much of a celebration of individuality in Canterlot among the elite, and that was a very sad thing indeed. It was lonely here, too, but this city was where she had her shop, a goal that she had finally achieved for herself. If she gave it up.. what then?


    Her line of thinking left her uncertain about the future. Where could she go if she tired of Canterlot? Would she even be able to open herself up and be herself around ponies like the others were around each other? The stallion before her was unafraid to do that, but he didn't have the same life experiences that she'd had.. or perhaps he had, in some ways, he'd just managed to break free of it all a lot sooner. In a way, Rose wished she'd had the opportunities Gray had.


    "Sometimes they are excited by something grand, sometimes not. They joke, they talk.. though many of them, they still look to the best of their group to tell them or show them what they should favor and what they should disregard." A heavy sigh escaped the mare through her nose, her nostrils flaring. "I do know that, though. Roses have always been my joy," she answered, something in her expression and her body language softening up.


    "So, ah.. about what you'd mentioned, I'm not really certain about what I could do. I don't ask for advice, since it's my choice to make, but I find myself.. torn about such a weighty decision. I've set down my roots here, but what you've talked about has managed to make me yearn for something more. I just don't think it's something that's in my reach quite yet, let alone something I'd dare to do. To leave this place, to branch out and try to be something more.. true. It'll take me a lot of thinking." Rose couldn't believe she was admitting it, but her mouth seemed to have taken on a temporary mind of its own.

  9. There wasn't as much to the cold mare's response as there had been in their conversation thus far, leaving Sombra questioning what had changed. He certainly wouldn't feel bad for being brutally honest about one particular aspect of himself. If somepony had no use to him, he discarded them. It wouldn't have taken much introspection on his part to figure that out about himself. Sombra was incorrigible, perhaps too far gone to really come back to whatever pony he used to be.


    The shadow king inclined his head, studying Black Ice's poker face. "You never know. If you know how to treat me, you might just be surprised how I'll respond." It didn't hurt to throw out a small hint, to give her some sort of lead. Ponies often needed to be guided on their actions, after all, and even a cunning and sharp-witted mare like Black Ice seemed to need it. Only one pony had managed to change her mind, to try to view him differently.. and they were still getting to know each other. On his part, it was far more hesitant. Princesses had always been a great target of distrust, and the fact that he was engaged in some sort of courtship with a certain, sunny alicorn meant he'd have to open himself up, even if it was just a little. If he were to be truthful about his feelings on it to anypony, he might dare to say that doing so terrified him. To be vulnerable was almost unbearable.


    Sombra idly rubbed a dark hoof against the top of the armrest it rested on, frowning faintly at Black Ice. "You've given away a lot about yourself, too," he idly put in. They'd reached some sort of impasse, he could sense it. Slowly, he licked his lips with a pointed tongue, yet another inequine trait of his as he leaned forward, straightening up a little from his previous, insolent slouch, his half-lidded gaze becoming more alert.


    "We've certainly butted heads here, a fact that I admit entertains me. I usually prefer it when ponies find me frightening- responding with the fear and awe I deserve when they finally comprehend who they're dealing with, but.. I do like a challenge. Neither of us wish to budge, so I find myself.. tempted.. to make a little gamble here. I like to make deals with those who I find that might be able to hold up their end without flaking out, but this isn't so much a deal as.. an exchange, I suppose. There is a lot I seek, and one thing of interest in particular, but neither of us trust each other and I'm sure you'd want to keep it out of my hooves." Sombra paused, considering briefly how he could continue. "You want my cooperation. Understand that I do not wish to be used again, by anypony, and keep out of my way.. If you do that, I think we can get along quite well and I might be willing enough to help."


    The stallion inched forward on his chair, his rear hooves coming to rest on the floor as he leaned forward, as if imparting a great secret. "Perhaps we can get to know each other better on a more personal level sometime. Say.. at an event. Dear Celestia's birthday is coming up, and I plan to attend." It was, indeed, a gamble on his part to see how Black Ice would react to it all.. and if any of it would even help. It was his own sort of test, for her, to see if she would change her tune. At least, it might spark some questions. There was so much that Black Ice hadn't yet tried to delve into.

  10. "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.

  11. 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."

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

  16. 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?"

  17. 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.



  18. "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.]

  19. 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."

  20. 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.



  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. "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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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?"

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