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IceStorm

A Royal Invitiation (Attn: StarSwirl)

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It was an invitation that had been long overdue. Not that the princess was only just now inviting her to meet with her. That wasn't the case at all. The princess's invitation had been outstanding for a while now. However, everyt time that Ice Storm was going to get an opportunity to finally take the invite up, something else happened and she had to immediately go into something else either with her shops, or for matters of even more importance such as Equestrian Defense missions or the like. Even today something that would normally have pulled her away was prior obligations in Ponyville, but Ice Storm had decided that the waiting had been long enough. She could easily meet with the princess in the morning before heading to the train station and making her way to ponyville for the celebration there. She had already made some plans in Ponyville to help out with the festivities, plus that's were Luna and Twilight were, both of which were ponies that she had a personal history with so she felt it proper to attend the celebration that they were hosting. Plus it was Ponyville. Something always seemed to happen there. That wasn't to say that the celebration here in Canterlot wasn't just as important. Just she knew less ponies here and felt that she would have a better time with the ponies in Ponyville. It had been long enough though since she had seen most of them that she wondered if they would still recognize her. 

 

Those thoughts left her mind though as she trekked through the snow-filled streets somewhat early in the morning. She estimated it was only a couple of hours after sunrise. The air was still delightfully crisp and she could taste the moisture and the snow with every breath that she took. She was perfectly content with the chill that encompassed her as she absorbed the sunshine that, thanks to the snow, was bathing her from all angles. Every step she took, the soft crunch of snow under her hooves could be heard as she made her way up the palace steps. Only this time she wasn't heading to her observatory. When she reached the top of the stairs she pulled out the invitation that Celestia had sent to her. "Ahh, Mrs. Storm, we've been expecting you, Permission to enter granted, enjoy your visit," she heard and entered the palace. She almost had to do a double take. She was here at least three nights a week and the Night Guard still looked at her with some sort of suspicion. Perhaps the night guard were just that much more protective. She wouldn't really have any idea why though, but that wasn't really her business. Without a second thought, she made her way to the throne room where she had presumed the princess to be, and awaited permission to enter. 

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Celestia was always one to strengthen bonds with those whom were ready and willing to help. Between her work with the Magic Guild, the Equestrian Defense Force and just being an active member of Equestrian society, Celestia sometimes wished to have special audiences, like with the mare Ice Storm. She had previously extended an open invitation to Ice Storm, but for some reason their schedules never matched up. Alright, so perhaps being a business owner and being part of the Equestrian Defense Force had something to do with Icy's schedule and being the Princess of Equestria isn't exactly a part time job... But still... it was a always a bit disappointing that they were never able to make good on the arrangements. 

To Celestia's pleasant surprise, Ice Storm had notified her that during the height of Hearth's Warming holiday time she would be able to make good on the invitation. The holidays are no less busy for royalty though, perhaps even more so, between civic matters, public ceremonies, requested appearances, the Canterlot Hearth's Warming play, and just her normal schedule that she had to... more or less... abide to daily (though she became very adept at accomplishing her tasks while sneaking away, much to the chagrin of her staff).

Most ponies assumed that Celestia did all her work in the throne room, which, to most outsiders would seem logical, after all, that is where she met almost everypony for official visits, and where she held open forum. However, most of Celestia's work occurred elsewhere, whether it be in a meeting room, the dining room or in a private chamber when necessary. Today Celestia was doing some work in her private solar, where she often went when she didn't want to be disturbed while doing more mundane tasks. It also had the advantage of having ways out of the castle in case the tasks became too mundane. She gave express instructions to the staff that she was only to be disturbed if a guest had an invitation. She promised not to 'disappear' in the meanwhile. The pony to do this was Ice Storm. Her staff alerted her that she was making her way to the Throne room. 

Princess, your guest, Ice Storm, has arrived and is awaiting at the entrance of the throne room. One of Celestia's guards had alerted her. Celestia finally got up and stretched long and hard after sitting for so long. Unfortunately for her, though she could do so through other means, there was no real way to get to the rear doors of the throne room to greet Ice Storm there without making her wait unduly long. Though it was never in the Princess's plans to use the throne room anyway, not only was this a social visit, but there was no way she was planning on staying in the castle if other options were available... so long as Ice Storm didn't mind of course. And so she let her hair down, and made her way to the grand entrance of the Throne Room. 

Ice Storm was already waiting by the door when Celestia had arrived behind her. Celestia cleared her throat audibly to hope to elicit Ice Storm to turn around so she could greet her face to face.

When she did Celestia smiled and politely greeted her. "Ice Storm, it is so lovely to see you again. Thank you for accepting my invitation..." Celestia paused a moment, not letting the chance to break the ice a bit slip by, after all, the last thing she wanted was a pony she invited socially to stand on ceremony "Though, I have to ask, why are you just standing in front of the Throne room entrance?" Celestia said with an impish grin.  

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It wasn't that long of a wait for her before Celestia had come down, but during that time she took a look around in the hallway. She normally only saw the interior of the castle at night while she was on her way to the observatory, and even then that was a completely different part of the castle. The stained glass here was almost poetic. A lot of Equestria's history was shown right here in this very room. From Discord's reign, whom after metting the reformed discord, he didn't seem like that bad a pony, a bit chaotic, but that was his entire being, so that is to be expected. His name literally translated to disharmony, which was a synonym of chaos. She remembered their little run in at the park when she first met him, and how later he had shown up in her shop and they shared some cake and ice cream. She remembered how he kept trying to prod about her accomplisments and to make herself stand out more but she shrugged. She still never got around to making a cake for the competition. She had been way to busy to even think about it.

 

Much truth be told though, Ice Storm was not expecting the princess to come up behind her. For whatever reason she had deducted that she was already in the thrown room. It wasn't really farfetched but as early as it was she could see the princess being elsewhere for the morning. She heard an audible sound from behind her though as she was waiting and she turned around to meet Celestia face to face. Seeing Celestia's warm smile made her own soon follow. Though was it really a warm smile on an icy pony or would it be considered a luke warm smile? It was a question that she would ponder for a bit with a giggle. She gave a gentle nod when the princess thanked her for accepting her invitation. "It is an honor princess, and one I wish I could have accepted long before," she replied as the princess further asked why she was standing in front of the throne room.

 

"Truth be told... I just kinda headed this way out of habit. I always thought meetings like this started in the throne room before breaking off into other parts of the castle. Not entirely sure why I thought that though, considering Luna rarely met me here. In fact, aside from reporting a couple of findings to her from my study in the observatory, I can't recall otherwise meeting her there. Even the first night I ran into her, which... seems like so long ago now but only yesterday. Although the other reason was to get a chance to see this part of the castle in the light of the sun. It's usually quite dark when I'm traversing the halls because in order to accurately study the night sky, it has to be night... and I wanted to look through here and actually take in the sight. There is so much history in this one hallway," she spoke and smiled back at the princess. "It serves as a reminder as to what I fight to protect."

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Celestia smiled and nodded as Icy responded to her greeting. As she listened to Icy's very serious answer to her somewhat facetious question she smiled.

"Truth be told," Celestia started mimicking Icy's start "I don't quite like using the throne room as a starting point to social visits if it can be avoided. Naturally for dignitaries and the like, it is almost a required stop, but not those I choose to invite as guests and friends. That is a place of work, not relaxation and socializing. I would have greatly you be taken to my solar where I was finishing up work, but if you enjoyed the walk through the foyer, who am I to argue." Celestia paused before she continued.

"It really is a lovely foyer, isn't it? The castle architects and designers do a fantastic job at maintaining the hall and adding to it when I, and now my sister as well, sees fit." Celestia continued. "And as lovely as the castle is during the day, it does have a certain charm by torch and moonlight during the night hours." Celestia said with a smile "And though it may seem like I am boasting, I do believe that the night sky view from Canterlot Castle's Observatory is without peer. Speaking of the observatory, if you are interested, long ago, I devised a spell for viewing the Sun through a telescope safely. It isn't a complicated spell, but a difficult one as it requires reversing the rays of the sunlight in the complex mirrors and lenses of the telescope, preventing the harmful rays of the sun. The result is a close up light inverted view of the Sun. It is quite the sight." Celestia finished that bit, and now it was down to business.

Celestia smiled warmly at the mention of the hall being a reminder of what she protects. "Your dedication to protecting the realm is part of the reason I invited you for a social call. It is always nice to pay thanks to those whom willingly protect Equestria." Celestia began. "Now you are my honored guest, so what we do is ultimately up to you. Though I have to say, the Castle Garden is especially lovely with the holiday snow lightly coating the winter plants. Of course we can also take a more detailed daylight tour of the castle, or just have tea and cake." Celestia said warmly awaiting the ultimate decision, as this was not the first time a guest had made a social call.

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It really made a lot of sense to Ice Storm to hear what the princess had to say. If the meeting that was being arranged was a friendship visit, and not a business visit, then there really was no point in staging it in such an official location like the throne room. She agreed that it would in fact make the visit feel less... what was the word that she was looking for... meaningful... was the best word that she could think to describe. It was in fact a place of work, and no pony wants to visit in a place that they work in. True, Ice did that herself a lot, but that was because she was serving her customers first hoof, and it really was still business. It was building rapport with her customer base, and she did care about all of them. She liked being a pony in town that others felt they could talk to. Recently the largest problem has been being in town. When she said that she would have desired her been taken to her study, but that she didn't mind if she wanted to take in the sights of the foyer.

 

Ice remained silent while Celestia spoke about the foyer and how it was maintained. She added that the architects did a fantastic job both in maintenance and adding to it whenever she, and now her sister deemed fit to do so. Ice Storm only hoped that maybe one day she could earn her own way into the stained glass, but she knew that was only reserved for the most special of circumstances. She's done a lot, but in the grand scheme of things, she really hasn't done much at all. She's been in a couple fights, important fights, but still that's just it. That's all she's done. It keeps Equestria safe, but no more than anypony else in the position that she is in.

 

She also listened as Celestia also noted the differences about the castle under torch and moonlight and how it has a different charm to it. It really was a completely different atmosphere. the flickering light over the constant light brought a sense of ambience. The mix of the orange hues transition into gradient blues and blacks around them at the upper parts of the castle gave the glass a different light. It was the same glass, but the tone that was set was more sombre. Celestia also was quick to agree that the observatory was bar none the best place in Equestria to view the night sky. She told her that she also had devised a spell that made it safe to look directly into the sun. It was somewhat of a difficult spell because it required inverting rays inside the telescope resulting in an inverted image of the sun while filtering out the harmful rays. "I would be interest in attempting to learn it, however I'm not very good with magic outside of the element of ice. It took me well into my adult hood to learn how to teleport without making myself sick, and even then, it's still a once or twice only spell before it does. Thankfully I don't have to use it often. I only do it once a week just to keep practice on it. It's like they say, a skill that you don't use withers," she replied on the offer.

 

When Celestia further mentioned that her dedication and willingness to protect Equestria was another reason why she was invited here. That it was always nice to be able to thank those who willingly defend the nation. She added that since she was the honored guest, that she should decide what they did. As Celestia listed off options, she was naturally drawn to the one that had snow. "Anything out in the garden with the snow and winter plants would be lovely, though tea and cake would also be divine. As much as I would also love a daylight tour of the castle, I think that would have to wait for a later visit on a day where we both aren't making substantial holiday preparations. I wouldn't just want to tour the castle, but to learn the history of the castle as well. Outside of the observatory anyway. I do a lot of studying in there already. I can't say that I've made any substantial break through yet. I've found some anomolies, but nothing super noteworthy, and I'm still doing research on them," she added. She would let Celestia lead her where they needed to go. After all, she probably knew her way around the castle a lot better than she did.

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Ice Storm expressed an interest in the solar ray inverting magic that Celestia had devised for sun viewing. Sure she could presumably teach it, though she never tried before. Not even to Twilight... not yet at least... Then again Twilight always enjoyed learning from books, and this was one that Celestia had written down on a single scroll. Even with Twilight's reading she could not read every magical scroll in Canterlot. Still... the teacher in Celestia prompted a response. "Well I do have some experience in teaching Ice Storm." Celestia said with a sly smile and a clearly playful tone. "Though we would have to find time in each of our busy schedules for that to happen. I could lend you the scroll though, to help you get started. Just promise you'll test with parchment and not your eye to see if it was successful." Celestia said with an air of mentoring. "If that would interest you we can pick it up before you leave from my study..." Celestia paused. She realized it had been so long since she wrote it down that she wasn't sure if it was still in the study or moved to the archives. "That is... I think it should be in my study..." Celestia followed up ponderously. 

"Well we could always do both," Celestia began to detail her plan now that she heard the will of Ice Storm. "The garden isn't so big it would take an entire day. We could walk through it and even have tea after, or even sit down in the center when we want to take a break from walking and have it then. I'm sure one of my attendants would not mind bringing us some tea and cakes." Or perhaps they would mind... it is somewhat chilly out Celestia quietly thought to herself. But no matter, it wouldn't be for long and all of them knew their way through the garden. "But let us start for the garden first. The quickest way is through one of the side exits." Celestia beckoned her to follow. 

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Princess Celestia appeared to be interested in potentially teaching Ice Storm how to use the spell that she had mentioned. That she did have some experience in the field of teaching. That in of itself was a bit of an understatement considering her last student is currently one of Equestria's princesses. While she herself is far from princess material, she wasn't a slouch herself, but learning new things did prove difficult for her outside of anything ice related. She even found a way turn turn Teleportation into an ice related spell which is how she figgured out how to disperse the aura better and keep from getting sick the first couple of times that she did it. She added though that they would have to find time in their busy schedules for that to happen. However she also added that she had a scroll of the spell in her study. She could try to learn it from that if that interested her, provided that she promised to test with parchment first and not her eye. That would be bad wouldn't it? to stare directly into the sun if the spell backfired, especially if it backfired to amplify the light coming through the telescope instead of revert it. She shuddered at the thought. "Yeah, I promise. I don't have the luxury of being quite as reckless as I used to be. Doesn't pay to be blind, both with my professions and my family," she smiled.

 

When Celestia suggested doing both, stating that the garden wasn't so big that it would take the whole day, that they could walk through it and still have tea afterwards. Or perhaps even sat in the center of it and had their tea there. Ice Storm gave a gentle nod. "As much as I would love to sit out in the garden for tea, I'm sure it is freezing out here for most ponies. I have an unfair advantage when it comes to dealing with the cold because my affinity for ice magic basically makes me immune to it. However it does have many drawbacks. Some are more embarrassing than others," she said as she started to follow while talking. "The biggest ones though, are that my body temperature is well below that of an average pony's. In fact, an average pony's body temperature is a near fatal fever for me. In light of that, I am also very susceptible to the extreme temperatures of the summer season, and can experience heat related injuries at much lower temperatures. It is why this last summer I planned an expedition into the Frozen North, and why next summer I'm going back into it. AT least barring any unforeseen Equestrian Emergencies that might pop up," she smiled.

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Celestia smiled upon hearing Ice Storm's reply to potential tutelage. "I'm glad to hear it. Send a letter whenever you wish to start. I'm sure we both can find time for a bit of private tutelage." 

Ice Storm went on to say how she had an unfair advantage with the cold, and that she was immune. Obviously Celestia herself was not, but she was no stranger to magic that was able to keep ponies warm, herself included. "I don't mind the cold Ice Storm, I've become rather adept at keeping ponies warm over the course of my life" Celestia playfully retorted with a bit of a giggle. "Regardless if you prefer to put my comfort over your own, I fully appreciate the gesture." Celestia continued. Ice Storm brought up expeditions and how she planned to go back barring any emergencies. 

"I do hope you get to go on your expedition. I certainly don't hope for any emergencies that would keep you in Equestria." Celestia started with a warm smile. "For now though, let us start our own expedition through the far less frozen garden." Celestia said playfully as she started to lead the way out of the castle through the exit of the hall leading to the garden. Upon reaching outside, they were met with a frost covered evergreen archway. Celestia extended her hoof to the entrance of the garden... "Shall we?"

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Ice Storm nodded when Celestia told her to just send a letter at any point that she wanted tutelage. It was something that she would definitely have to make time for. "Very well then! I know that I should be back from Las Pegasus in a couple weeks. I'm heading out there to inquire about some land, as I'm going to be expanding my business out there at some point once I have some real estate for it. Problem is, real estate is hard to come by there. I'm supposed to meet with a broker next week to see what is available in my price range," she smiled. She wasn't poor by any means, but this was Las Pegasus. Even Canterlot's cost of living was cheap compared to the living there. She could honestly get by on only a few hundred bits a month, not counting her pay for employees, but even then that was only about a thousand bits a week per store other than hears and so far, her stores were clearing almost fifteen thousand profit in each location every month.

 

When she heard Celestia mention that she didn't mind the cold, and that she had become rather adept at keeping ponies warm over the course of her life, she couldn't help but giggle with her. "Fair enough, but I can assure you, unless we're sitting next to a fire, I'll be comfortable pretty much anywhere in the castle. As far as getting to go back into the Frozen North, there's still a lot I need to do to prepare for it. I would need to track down a team, and make sure the receivers are working correctly before I leave. Nothing like going into a land of frozen nothingness only to have your methods of communication fail. I could survive up there for a while, but I would question the survivability of anypony with me if we got stranded there for any length of time. Considering I'm already planning on spending at least a month in the frozen expanse though, it will be worth it. My main goal is to see what's actually there, and possibly see if I can find the caves were Sombra was hiding and make sure there's nothing there that can fall into enemy hooves. I don't know if he ever obtained any other artifacts other than the heart, but doesn't hurt to be sure," she added as Celestia motioned for her to follow and lead hear through the hallway. Upon reaching the gate to the Gardens, she extended a hoof. "We shall indeed!" Ice smiled before stepping back out into the frigid, yet comfortable air of the garden.

 

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