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Elderflower

An Unexpected Visit (Closed: Hurricane)

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Luna stared out the window of the train, watching as fierce winds laden with heavy snowflakes whirled around outside. It seemed as though the weather outdoors was reflecting her mood, although that might be hyperbole. The princess sighed and pulled her gaze away from the storm, looking idly around her personal train car for some sort of distraction. It shouldn’t be long before the train arrived in the Crystal Empire and she could see Cadence, but she was feeling quite restless all the same. The Princess of Love had been having troubling nightmares lately, and her aunt, the Guardian of Dreams, felt that she should approach her about it. She could have spoken to the new ruler of the Crystal Empire within the dreamscape, but Luna felt as though this was an opportunity not just to help Cadence, but also to spend some quality time with her as well.

The Princess couldn’t settle on what to distract herself with. Her restlessness was tempting her to leap from the car and fly the rest of the way to the Crystal Empire, but she knew better than to hop right into to wailing blizzards of the north – that would be dangerous even for a princess who lived with two hooves in the æther. Unable to decide on what to do, Luna turned back to the window and was met with quite a shock! Just as the scenery turned from violent wintry storms to a balmy summer paradise, a strange jolt of arcane energy seemed to rustle her heart. She had just passed through the magical barrier that protected the Crystal Empire, and what impressive magic it was! It had been some time since Luna had felt such an unfamiliar and powerful surge of energy.

Before long, the train slowed to a stop and Luna stepped out of her car, nodding to the two members of the Lunar Guard who had accompanied her. Already, she found herself smiling at the radiant beauty of the crystal ponies and crystal structures surrounding her, and this was merely the train station! With eagerness in her stride, the lunar Princess began to trot forward through the gate, aiming to reach the castle as quickly as possible.

That goal was proving to be a difficult one to meet without temptation. As soon as Luna reached the sprawling crystal metropolis, she felt sorely tempted to move leisurely and take in the sights. Everything here twinkled and sparkled! The atmosphere was unlike anything she had ever seen, and the ponies whose gazes she was drawing with her presence (and the presence of her rather eye-catching guards) were equally as stunning as their city. Nonetheless, despite temptation, Luna kept her teal eyes trained on road signs and swiftly made way to the castle.

Once there, she resisted the urge to gape and gawk at the massive, glittering spires. Such remarkable beauty! And surely the craftsmanship that had gone into it was even more remarkable than the structure itself. Luna cast a glance backwards, then, and smiled as she noticed the slack-jawed expressions on the faces of her guards. It was so unusual to see such normally stern faces so swept up in the beauty of the Crystal Empire, but their expressions were reflecting their Princess’s own reaction perfectly.

Soon enough, she was upon the castle entrance, which was flanked by guards. She dipped her head respectfully and then approached one of them, making sure to show manners and graciousness as opposed to simply charging in and throwing around her obvious authority (which was announced by her regalia, her size, her combination of horn and wings, and the ethereal quality of her undulating mane and tail).

[colour=#6699ff]“Good afternoon, sir,”[/colour] she said politely, dipping her head to the blue crystalline stallion, [colour=#6699ff]“I am Princess Luna, the aunt of your Princess Cadence. She was not expecting me, but could you please inform her of my arrival? If you don’t mind, I shall wait here in the foyer.”[/colour]

The guard nodded, and after allowing the Princess and her guard to step into the foyer he followed after and went off in the direction Cadence was to be found, no doubt. Luna’s spirits, which were much higher than they were back in the blizzard, were still steadily rising as she took in the outstanding beauty of the crystal castle. Colour and light came to life here in a way that Luna had never seen anywhere else in Equestria. The light that came from the sun bounced off of every surface and painted every inch of the world inside the castle that wasn’t made of crystal with the pale, reflected hues of the tall walls and decorations. What a wondrous kingdom Cadence lives in!

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"Certainly, Your Royal Highness. Please make your way to the Lapis Lounge, where your every need shall be tended to. I am Bauxite Shale, humble butler to the castle. Please do excuse me," the stallion replied with a bow, a hoof sweeping low as he did so. He then turned, and paced off, with haste but without speed.

Cadence lay upon her bed, listening to the hustle and bustle of the castle around her. Her room was quite unlike the rest of the rooms in the castle, she had specifically requested that a layer of wood be placed around the walls of her chamber, to remind her of her forest beginnings. This was her private place, somewhere that even her husband asked before entering. It was where she went to to escape the pressures of being a ruler, and it had been where she had been sleeping the past few days, even though sleep was a very loose term for the activites she had been partaking in.

For the last few nights, Cadence had been too scared to sleep. Her dreaming world had become one too terrifying for her to enter, and it had left her with swollen, baggy eyes, unkempt fur and a fairly bedraggled mane. As she listened, she heard the echo of hooves against the floors, and a thunder of knocking against her door. She sighed, and sat up slowly. From beyond the door, a voice called out.

"My Lady. Princess Luna is here! She wishes to see you right away!" a stallion called out, before hurrying away, as crystal ponies in the room beyond her own began to feverishly move about. Cadence let out a gentle groan, and stood slowly, wobbling about a little upon her hooves.

The mare barely noticed as her hoofservants tended to her appearance, smoothing out her fur and combing her mane, making her at least presentable. She was given the official regalia of the empire, and her crown, which she let rest right against her horn, the headwear threatening to tumble or spin at any moment, a threat doubled by the princesses hung head and slow gait. Her wings were sluped, and dragged against the floor as she walked, despite the best efforts of the crystalline ponies about her to keep them close to the mare's body. They steered the sleep deprived alicorn through the crystal castle, to a room full of luxuriant furniture. At one end of the expansive room, there was a log fire, which gave the room a hazy glow, as it's light reflected through the light blue crystal of the room itself. Several book cases, in deep mahogany, lined the room, filled with classic and modern fiction, as well as dozens of scientific, historic and magical tomes.

"Aunty Luna," Cadence croaked as she regarded the midnight mare, bowing her head with respect. "To what do I oooaaaaaahhhhhh! Owe the pleasure?" she went on, her own words interrupted by a heavy yawn, one that made her shudder, and her eyes water. The mare wiped away the moisture from her eye, rubbing at it with her hoof. "And at such short notice, too. Please, forgive my appearance," she said faintly, looking down at her limp wings and loose, unkempt dress.

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Luna nodded to the butler and eventually drifted towards the Lapis lounge, flanked by her guards who were still marvelling at the crystal structure, though they now had their slack-jawed awe under control. She could still catch the twinkling of wonder in their eyes, however. As the Princess of the Night made her way into the Lapis Lounge, she had her breath stolen once more by the luxuriant beauty of the place. Firelight warmed the room and cast gentle orange glows around the surface of the blue crystal, looking almost like liquid fire was contained within. It would almost have been too much, having a fire at this time of year, but the heat was cut by a clear, cool breeze that slipped in through open windows and grazed the flanks of the ponies gathered within, stirring manes and tales and bringing the temperature down to a comfortable level.

Luna’s gaze narrowed on Cadence as soon as she entered the room, her wings hanging so heavily they had to be held aloft by hoofservants. The cheer that she had felt upon entering the Crystal Empire was immediately replaced with a mixture of the concern she was feeling before and stern disappointment. How could Cadence have allowed herself to reach this point? She was the Princess ruling over the newly awakened Crystal Empire, which was finally free from the grip of evil, of malice. Her subjects needed a figurehead they could look up to and admire, one that would let them know the hatred and pain that King Sombra had inflicted upon them would never return again. Instead, they had an exhausted alicorn who could not even hold herself up without assistance from her hoofservants. What sort of message would this convey to the crystal ponies?

[colour=#6699ff]“Cadence,”[/colour] the Princess of the Night began, her mouth set in a frown. Immediately, however, she trailed off and felt a pit growing in her stomach. Though she was correct in her assessment of the situation, she could not bring herself to criticize her niece so harshly. She had seen her nightmares, and then her consequent disappearance from the dreamscape. She knew Cadence was suffering. But most importantly, Luna was still all too aware of her own past misdeeds – actions which held much greater consequence than simply letting oneself fall victim to sleep deprivation. This was not a time to criticize, but a time to guide and assist the young Princess.

[colour=#6699ff]“Cadence,”[/colour] she repeated, her voice much gentler as she nodded to her personal guard and to the hoofservants to leave. It was time for a personal conversation between an aunt and her niece. She approached the slight mare, loaning her body for the Princess of Love to lean on once her hoofservants stepped away. With gentle, baby blue magic she cushioned Cadence’s wings to her side and guided her towards the nearest couch, keeping her pace slow to help her exhausted body stay upright.

[colour=#6699ff]“I have seen your nightmares in the dreamscape and they have been…troubling at best. And now these past few nights I have found your presence lacking there. I have even been monitoring dreams during the day, hoping to find you there briefly – but you have been scarce in my domain. I came here as quickly as I could, for I am very worried. Tell me, Cadence, what has been causing you so much stress that you cannot sleep? A Princess needs her rest – it is all too easy to run oneself into the ground without it.”[/colour]

When she finished speaking, they had reached the couch. Moving slowly, making sure Cadence remained balanced against her side, Luna lowered the two of them to the couch and then settled in, stretching one of her dark wings over her niece. Whatever it was that was bothering Cadence, she would support her. She would provide for her the comfort that she had often yearned for when she was suffering so much over one thousand years ago. This was a time for gentleness and warmth, and even though Luna’s domain is darkness and cool, silver light, she was determined to bring Cadence warmth to rival the light of day.

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Cadence nodded her head as her name was spoken, as if she had been asked a question. The mare had barely any grasp on the situation at hand, and was yawning constantly. The butler gave a worried glance to the large dark mare, almost beseeching her to help the princess. Even her hoofmaidens looked worried, not out of fear for being close to Luna, whom none of them knew as Nightmare Moon, but only as Princess Luna, thanks to their Imprisonment by the evil king.

The crystalline ponies aided their princess into the capable touch of the nightly mare, watching in awe as her magnificent, sparkling magical energy began to levitate the mare's wings with barely a thought from the larger alicorn. When her name was spoken again, Cadence nodded once more, grumbling a little. "I am capable of doing this myself you know..." she muttered as her aunt aided her towards the voluptuous sofa, which ballooned high above them, with soft velvet cushions that seemed to mold themselves to whatever form pressed into them, whilst still remaining malleable enough to move about with ease.

The pink princess listened to her aunt's words, drifting in and out as she sat there. Several times already she had contemplated sleep, but she knew that was not an option. Better to get lectured than to go back to what awaited her there. Yawning loudly, she blinked once or twice, looking over at the mare, whom she realised had stopped talking. Sheepishly, she glanced to one side, and coughed.

"Um... I must confess, I drifted a little there, but I can easily guess why you are here, Aunty. I've not been sleeping. I... I can't. It's just... there's something in my dreams, something that I cannot face. Not alone," she said faintly, looking down into the large red cushion, her face flustered with embarassment, not only at the silliness of the statement, but at the fact that it had taken her own aunt, the Princess of the Night, to come and speak to her, to get any sort of confession out of her.

For the last few nights now, she had been fooling her servants, making them think that she was asleep, when in fact she had been busying herself with various hobbies, silly attempts to keep her mind occupied, and sharp, but it had all failed. She was failing at keeping an appearance up in front of her servants, and she had almost lost her composure the day before, in front of a group of schoolfillies.

"Shining Armour is out on a mission. I cannot get in contact with Twilight, or Aunt Celestia, and, um... I still do not know you well enough to be in personal correspondance with you, I am sorry. I did not wish to disturb you with my problems, and yet, here you are... you have come all this way, just for me. Thank you, Aunty Luna," she said softly, resting her head against the mare.

"I... I can't sleep," she whispered, closing her eyes tightly as she shuddered. "I'm sorry."

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Luna shook her head gently and touched her horn to Cadence’s, letting a gentle wave of baby blue light wash over the Princess of Love. Her magic was no replacement for the comfort and rejuvenation of sleep, but it would at least energize the mare and lift her from the sorry state she was currently in.

[colour=#6699ff]“You needn’t worry, Cadence. You don’t have to face any of this on your own. We may not know each other well, but we are still family. I understand how difficult it is to face one's nightmares alone…”[/colour]

The Princess of the Night trailed off, a twinge of hurt and regret curling a tight fist around her heart. Truth be told, Luna was moving along with her life quite well. She refused to dwell in the past and let her time as Nightmare Moon define her, but seeing Cadence so defeated and lonely brought back very familiar feelings to the Guardian of Dreams. Her expression grew even more sombre as the last of her energizing magic soaked its way into Cadence’s arcane aura. Despite burning nausea of regret that building within her, however, Luna refused to succumb to her emotions. Instead, she wielded them to work for her, to remind her just how important it was to make sure Cadence knew she was not alone.

[colour=#6699ff]“And please, don’t apologize. We all need help to face our nightmares, sometimes. And yours are quite worrisome. I have witnessed the scene every time it played out in your dreamscape. It is…a very vivid horror.”[/colour]

She would not go into further detail aloud, but the images were very much alive for the Guardian of Dreams. Shining Armour kidnapped by changelings, Cadence facing Chrysalis in a cave filled with muck and swamp ooze and losing. Then, she was overwhelmed by minions while her husband was stolen from her by the insectoid queen. It was such a grim nightmare, and it was haunting the young princess.

[colour=#6699ff]“Tell me, Cadence – is there anything you know of that could cause these nightmares? Do you miss Shining Armour? Are you still concerned about Chrysalis?”[/colour] the Princess of the Night cut herself off from asking more questions, then – she did not wish for her niece to feel as though she was being interrogated.

[colour=#6699ff]“Whatever it may be, I am here. However long it takes, I will remain in the Crystal Empire. For now, I can stay with you in the æther while you sleep – your nightmare will stand no chance against me.”[/colour]

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As she lay there upon the sofa, she could feel the alicorn's energy revitalising her, filling her body with the energy it needed to secure itself a little more. No longer was she feeling deathly fatigued, and she could move her body freely without feeling like the weight of the entire nation rested upon her wings.

"Aunty Luna..." she mumbled softly, nuzzling into the mare despite herself. It was a hidden secret of hers that she had long wanted to get to know her new aunt better, but what with her past, and her rather old fashioned methods of speaking and acting, she had been too afraid to bridge the gap between them. In a way, she was a little thankful that the nightmares had done it for her.

"Shining Armour has seemed... distant lately. When he is not on patrol, his is coaching the crystal ponies, and when he is home, he is usually very tired, and it is difficult for me to talk with him, or even spend time with him," she said faintly. "Do not misunderstand, I do not believe for a second that he is up to any... illicit activities. I just.... sometimes, I want to keep him to myself for a little bit, you know?" she said, blushing a little as she spoke. She hated all the selfish feelings within her, and regretted not being able to be rid of them. It seemed that even though she had mastered her magic, she still had a long way to go before she was the master of her own emotions.

"As for the rest of the dream... Chrysalis is... I fear she may return, but I am prepared for that. I have plans that would stop a changeling from infiltrating the castle, and have been contemplating sending them to Aunt Celestia... I could show them to you, if you want," she said, tapping a hoof against her chin.

The mare was silent for a few moments as she thought, waiting for the mare's response, before nodding in recognition of her words.

"The thing that terrifies me is... well... it's... difficult to explain properly. When I enter the cave, I am supported by the crystal ponies, and by the ponies of Canterlot. But once everything gets problematic... they leave. I am left utterly alone in the darkness, with nothing but danger around me, and I am expected to cope, alone..." she said her body shaking a little as she began to speak in more detail about her dream. "The darkness is everywhere around me... how am I supposed to deal with all that on my own..." she said softly, feeling a pinching sting within her eyes as they threatened to let loose tears. She sniffed, and quickly rubbed at them, shuddering.

"Aunty..." she whispered, upon hearing the mare's offer. "I... Do you not have duties in Canterlot? I do not wish to disrupt them. Please, do not feel that you have to do this for me, I-I will be fine," she began, trying to put on a brave face, and failed miserably. "Thank you, thank you so much Aunty," she said, pulling the mare in for a tighter hug, attempting to wrap her wings around the mare. After a few moments she pulled back, and sat up, looking a little embarassed by her reaction.

"Uh... seeing as you are willing to stay, and this is your first time to the crystal empire in its current state, perhaps I could give you a tour of the city? There are many magnificent sights within the city itself, and many wonderful ponies to meet. If you are hungry, there are some truly amazing cafes in the city, as well as countless restaurants serving fine cuisine," she said, regaining her composure a little.

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[colour=#6666FF]

[/colour]Luna’s expression grew serious as she listened to Cadence bare her soul. She was troubled by many things, and though the lunar Princess was aware of this fact from the nightmares, the solid reality of them as Cadence spoke was a little unsettling. There were many doubts and discomforts in her heart, and being away from everything she deemed familiar was likely very difficult for her. Here, in the Crystal Empire, she was so far away and cut off from the Equestria she knew. Once she was finished speaking, Luna paused a moment, her lips set in a tight little frown.

She was not sure what to tell Cadence about Shining Armour. Truthfully, Luna felt torn in two directions with the situation. Part of her felt like the worried aunt who wished to steer her niece take the course of action that would best soothe her heart and bring her peace. On the other hoof, Shining Armour’s distractions revolved solely around his duties, and to the Guardian of Dreams one’s duties were of the utmost importance. Still, for newlyweds to be spending so much time apart did not seem right. But what was more important? Or did they have to choose at all? Issues of romance were…not exactly Luna’s strong suit. She let out a small sigh and stood, separating herself from Cadence now that she was sure the young alicorn could hold herself up.

She began to pace about the lounge slowly, the orange flames of the fire warming each side of her body as she turned. The dancing light shone through her mane and tail to make them appear like a celestial body that caught fire, emphasizing the natural austerity which hung around the Princess of the Night. Even in her uncertain and troubled state, Luna’s pacing exuded an air of grace and regality, the traces of her high status marked in every slight movement. She could not decide on what to say, but knew she had to speak soon – the more she made Cadence wait, the more stress would likely ball up in the Princess of Love’s stomach. But what was more important? Love or duty?

Finally, she stopped before Cadence and drew a deep breath. She would have to admit the truth.

[colour=#6666ff]“I do not know what to tell you of Shining Armour, Cadence. He is not neglecting you, but attending to his duties. I…I am not one to suggest another should step back from their duties, but you two are newlyweds. This is something you will have to speak with him about at length – he understands his own situation and how much he is needed more than I – perhaps there is room for him to make more time for you two to spend together. That is all I can say. I would like to provide for you my unwavering support, but I…it is not in my nature. I am sorry.”[/colour]

Her expression softened just a little, easing the tension that she felt. Luna still worried that her answer would hurt Cadence, but she could not lie to her. Still, she was determined to take whatever actions she could to help Cadence, while remaining honest to herself. She offered the mare a small, apologetic smile.

[colour=#6666ff]“I would very much like to hear of your plans and strategies however. As for Canterlot, my Lunar Guard will stay vigilant while I am gone, and I will be in communication with them. And no matter where I go, I always have two hooves in the æther and thusly in the dreamscape. I cannot be separated from it – I carry my duties with me, Cadence. Do not let my responsibilities trouble you. It…it is difficult to be in a place that is unfamiliar, where you are separate from the things and ponies you hold dear. That much I can understand. A tour of your Empire, then, would be beneficial for us both. I would love to see every inch of it, and it might help you to walk amongst your subjects and make this new life the one that is most familiar for you – to discover and rediscover what you love about this glittering world.”

​[/colour]

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As Cadence watched the mare pace around the room, she could indeed begin to feel the knot of worry begin to tighten within her. She knew that the mare was torn, her duties, from what she had been told of the mare, were very, very important to the alicorn, and to not only be pulling her from them, but to be asking if some other pony should shirk theirs in order to spend more time with her, was asking a lot of the old fashioned mare. Upon hearing the mare's suggestions, she nodded, her expression grim.

"I was afraid that you would say that. I have tried to broach the subject with him before, but he is either too tired, too distracted, or too stressed. I have tried my very best to retain contact with him, but it becomes harder and harder with each passing day, and now that I have begun to avoid sleep..." she said, feeling something catch in her throat. She stopped, and took a deep breath, composing herself as she listened to the mare. She nodded her head, arguably, she felt the same. Her duty, her talent, was love, to help spread it and nuture it, and it existed wherever she went. Lately, however... she had been closing herself off, making it harder for anyone to communicate with her. Even...

"Oh... Shiny... I've been the one, haven't I. I'm too tired and stressed..." she moaned faintly. She could feel sadness welling up deep within her, but, with thoughts of her husband now turning brighter once more, she could feel that beginning to melt away. I can make this up to him, I know it! I shall bring home some of those buns that he loves with the crystal berries on top! she thought, tapping her hooves together with a little grin.

"Aunty... one worry I do have that I think you might have more experience with, an issue from my dream. I believe the ponies and cyrstal ponies turning their backs represents how I have been feeling lately. I... I feel like I no longer belong, like I am alone. I am no longer a Princess of Canterlot, and while I do love the city and the ponies, it is no longer my home. And yet, when I am here, though the citizens here treat me with respect, it is a cold one. I am a ruler, a leader, nothing more. I... I am not a crystal pony. I belong neither here nor Canterlot, or, at least, that is how I feel," she said, pushing up onto her hooves.

She was a little wobbly, but she held herself upright well enough, pulling her wings in tightly to her body. "As for strategies, I have had all essential Palace guards and house staff write a letter to me, at their leisure of course, giving me some personal information, as well as a word that means something special to them. I am contemplating having this word spread to those they work with, with their consent, so that anypony who suspects can ask them for it. Not a foolproof plan, but it might work to discourage any would be infiltrators," she said, taking a few steps towards the mare. "I have also asked Shiny to train the crystal ponies in some basic martial arts, to better protect themselves, but wether he will remember that I have is another matter," she added with a wistful smirk.

She trotted around the room, slowly getting used to her newly re-energised body, testing the limits of the loaned power, before heading to the grand mare, giving her a soft nuzzle to the neck. "I could have the artificers create a room to your liking if you would like. They crafted a room that reminds me of my forest home in less than a day, I am sure they could fashion something that will soothe your stay here. It could become your room perminantly, and allow you to come visit more often," she said with a smile. She was already on the way to the door before she had finished, pulling the thing open with a flare of magical pink energy from her horn. "And, I trust you are hungry. I know a magnificent restaurant quite close by that serves the best pasta you will have ever had!" she added, smiling as she turned back to the mare.

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(( ))

Pardon my OoC intrusion in this thread. I understand a subject has come up regarding the tonality of this thread, and whether or not is is "appropriate for WoE." Playing cast can be a challenge, especially because we have to balance our personal interpretations of a character with the expected canon one. That is part of the reason the process to obtain rights to play a popular character is a lengthy process, replete with voting and roleplay prompts. It's also easy to lose site of what our goal is here -- WoE canon is a reflection of FiM, but that doesn't mean it needs to follow it exactly. FiM carries similar heavy tones of character drama; Twilight recently more than other characters as she struggled between doing what was right for her own benefit, or for her friends -- or accidentally changing her friends' destinies and making them all miserable.

Characters can feel depressed. They can feel anger, jealousy, or any other host of negative emotions. I don't think that should be seen as a crutch for character presentation -- or for a roleplay -- but as a means to make the story interesting. I think we should cool our horses (pun intended) and let this thread play out unedited.

Rarely do Roleplay Helpstaff intervene with cast characters unless something is blatantly off the presentation of a cast character. For example, Pipsqueak once had a player that decided to let him build a functioning airship. We could not allow this, because it was a ridiculous interpretation of that young character's abilities and focus. As long as Cadance doesn't start building tanks and declaring war on Changelings, I think that her player should have the opportunity to shape the story as she would like. I would like to ask that you all communicate in an OoC thread or PMs to plan ahead and avoid any confusion about how best to proceed in this thread, and I think the background miasma surrounding the tone of this thread will dissipate.

Remember this is a game we play for fun, and it's okay to push a little off course if it will make things more interesting. It's not a question of what is appropriate, but what is in spirit for the thread and the character interactions within.

Game on, friends!

sPGOGNs.png

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[colour=#6666ff]

[/colour]Whatever concerns Luna had had about Cadence and Shining Armour melted away almost as quickly as they had been realized. It seemed that matters between newlyweds were best left to the newlyweds – the guidance of the unwed was not needed! She found herself smiling softly at the overtired young alicorn, who seemed to be putting two and two together: a tired mind could trick itself quite easily, and it seemed as though that was exactly what happened to the Princess of Love.

Cadence’s next concern, however, gave Luna much more solid ground to stand upon – it was one she could understand in more ways than one. A loneliness, a separation from one’s subjects…yes, she understood that well, but more importantly she understood that Cadence’s loneliness was a fiction she herself had written.

[colour=#6666ff]“I think you could learn something from your realization with Shining Armour,”[/colour] Luna said gently, her smile still lingering, [colour=#6666ff]“The coldness you feel from the crystal ponies is something you alone perceive. I heard of everything that happened here – you saved these ponies from a darkness that held them captive for one thousand years, and that is not something they will soon forget. Perhaps it isn’t coldness, but uncertainty in how to approach you that they feel?

As for not being a crystal pony…that is merely a concern of appearances. The crystal heart is what gives these ponies their gem-like appearance – but they are all pony on the inside! And your special talent, Cadence, is the magic of love. You are the perfect princess for the empathy-driven crystal ponies.”[/colour]

She listened, then, to the work Cadence had been undertaking for protecting her subjects and nodded her approval. The normally stern-faced Princess of the Night couldn’t help but offer up a wide smile to her niece. [colour=#6666ff]“Excellent work,”[/colour] she said, [colour=#6666ff]“Personally reading those letters instead of deferring the work to your guard…the crystal ponies will certainly take note of that – and appreciate it greatly.”[/colour]

She returned the younger alicorn’s affection, then, nuzzling her mane.

[colour=#6666ff]“That is a very generous offer, and I would be glad to take full advantage of it. I think I should like to visit the crystal empire more often – it is a very beautiful place, and one of the few places in Equestria that is exactly as I remember it since it has been locked away for so very long. Though I do admit to not paying full attention to its beauty before…but that was another lifetime. As for this lifetime, pasta sounds very nice.”[/colour][colour=#6666ff]

​[/colour]

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Cadence grinned widely as the mare spoke. As much as other ponies may have teased the mare for her overbearing voice, even if she had since lost the 'Royal Canterlot Voice' that Twilight had told her about, the royal sister had a way of speaking, even when softly, that commanded respect. The pink princess hoped that one day she might have the self confidence and self assuredness to speak so boldly.

"Perhaps you are correcy, Aunty. Perhaps it is all within my own head... but I still cannot shake the feeling that for now at least, I lack a proper home. It is a little unsettling. Perhaps I need to speak with my family in the forest, to seek their advice," she said, sighing gently as she pawed at the ground with a hoof. She and the dark mare were in the crystalline hallways of the palace now, heading towards the grand archway entrance, beyond which lay the gleaming gem, the Crystal Heart. As the two ponies approached it, Cadence felt a little twinge deep within her body, like a tug of string tied to her very soul, pulling her towards it. She looked down at the gemstone, her eyes fraught with concern.

"Tell me... Aunty Luna... do you ever feel a connection to the moon, to the stars? Do they ever... speak to you, call out to you? Lately... ever since the dreams started, the Heart has been pulling me towards it, weakly, but it has gotten stronger of late. I am a little worried that it's trying to warn me about the dreams," she said, hooves touching the gem lightly, her gaze falling deep into the crystal's reflected facets. "Telling me to seek more crystallssss," she whispered softly, before shaking her head, shuddering.

"Aunty Luna, might I confess something to you that I have told no other pony?" she asked, looking around faintly, quickly heading away from the crystal. She was aiming down the grand promenade that lead to the castle, and the restaurant she had spoke of.

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