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Celestia's Grand Birthday (Open - see OOC)

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Celestia smiled. And then raised an ear. Listening to the breeze blowing through the rafters a moment before she relaxed again. "Well, lets find a flower pot. We can take the little flower back with us and then send out a few invitations." 

 

Taking a moment to look around, the solar princess figures that the pots of the throne room were a bit too big. They once held large plants. She looked toward a hall, wondering if any of the smaller plant pots survived this long. 

 

Taking a few steps toward the hall, she levitated one of the torches and used some magic to light it. Using the light, she held the torch aloft and began lighting other torches as she passed them. It was difficult to see in the gloom, but most of the furniture was ruined beyond repair. At least from what she could tell. 

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The younger alicorn fidgeted in the silence that'd followed, her teal eyes closely studying Celestia as if something about her would reveal all the answers to her questions. Her gaze flitted away from her elder sister once the silence was broken and Luna merely nodded. If her sister had nothing more to say on the subject, then neither did she- it'd at least leave her the time to mull it all over and really process the information she'd been given.

 

While Celestia gathered a torch and began to light it, as well as the others in their sconces- at least those that remained- Luna wandered back down the middle of the throne room, heading towards the sagging double doors that used to be grand when the castle was new. Within its arched doorway, she paused, casting a last, lingering glance back at the two, damaged thrones and the boarded up hole above them. That single, brief look reminded her of the weight of the past that was still settled on her shoulders, even after the diversion that was their conversation, and Luna tore her eyes away.

 

Unlike her sister, Luna didn't quite need torchlight to see in the gloom of the castle. It was easy for her to navigate in the dark, and to navigate a castle she'd once been familiar with, but since then, it'd fallen into disrepair. Overgrown weeds, a few unsteady bricks in the floor, rubble from a collapsing wall or ceiling.. Even the furniture was ruined heaps. Termites, no doubt. While her mind wandered, the lunar mare attempted to find what Celestia was intent on: an undamaged flower pot. Surely there had to be a well-preserved enough spot in the castle that they could find one in. Outside of their hoof steps on the stone, it was eerily quiet; a castle that had seen no residents or visitors in quite some time, not since Twilight and her friends.

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As Celestia rounded a corner and came to the base of a stairwell, she looked up slowly. This had once been the stairs to their bedrooms. Slowly, she began to make her way up. Her thoughts were drifting, covering everything from her sister to how to send out the invitations. She walked past a landing where a few broken pots sat. Looking at them, Celestia sighed and moved onward. Heading up further, she rounded the corner at the top to see the long hallway. 

Her steps were slow as she moved to the first door. It was her former room. Opening it slowly, she took a deep breath. It had once been a beautiful room, decorated with gold and bright colors. Now they were faded, tarnished. The bed was broken and tattered, the window broken and hanging open. The curtains were on the floor, and the nightstand had long ago broken in pieces. As she stepped into the room, her eyes fixed onto one place. The closet, and hoping that its contents were still intact. As she moved toward it, she took a breath and then, opened the door. It was empty, and she let the breath out slowly. Nothing remained but broken pieces of whatever she had left there. 

Turning away, she paused and looked to the dresser. On top of it, there was one pot. It was small, and empty. But it was just big enough. Taking a moment, she moved to it and levitated the object up in her magic. Looking at it, she smiled. It would do, just long enough to transport the small flower home. 

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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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"I think we can just send out a few invitations to random ponies. Let it me as much of a surprise for them as for me." She smiled at Luna as they made their way to the front. Coming to the gardens, she paused and looked to the spot where the flower was. Walking over there she set the pot down gently and knelt down. Looking at the little flower she smiled and then looked up to Luna. After a moment she used her magic to gently lift the flower, and a good bit of dirt with it. Making sure not to break its roots as she did. Once it was up, and set in the pot gently, she smiled to herself. 

 

"Come sister, we can fly back slowly and enjoy the wind in our manes while we decide what to have for the party. I was thinking something.... simple. Maybe a small cake and some ice cream? a little fruit?" She was not certain. This was going to the the first time in a long long time that they had a simple birthday celebration. She had almost forgotten what it was like. She also wondered just what to do in the event of no pony coming. She had her sister and that was enough. But there was no way they could eat all that food. Maybe the castle staff?

After a moment she shook her head and smiled at Luna, leaning over to nose her sister's cheek.
"Come. Its a pleasant afternoon. We can enjoy the feel of a warm flight in the clouds." 

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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.

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As Celestia came even with Luna in the air, she smiled. "Oh good idea. Maybe some fruit or perhaps some cheese and crackers? Or both! Have a variety of things to choose from. As well I was thinking... of skipping the usual wine and opting for things like milk or juice. Perhaps some yogurt as well. That way we have plenty of choices since we dont know who will show up..." As they flew slowly, Celestia let her mane trail in the wind. She enjoyed the feeling, the warm air in her mane and tail and the flow of it over her wings. 

 

She flew beside Luna smiling, happy to have time alone with her sister again. "What of your birthday? What would you like to do? A large party or something small?" She looked to Luna, enjoying the thought of giving her sister a party as well. In fact, Celestia was getting an idea, but it was for later. As they made their way through the air, she listened and looked to Luna. The look in her eye was different. It was that soft look she had when she wanted to hug her sister and just tell her she was loved and needed. 

 

Even as the castle drew close in the distance, she kept her eyes on Luna. She gave her sister the full attention she had. 

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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?"

 

 

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Celestia smiled wider and shook her head softly. After a moment she turned her head to face the castle again. "Nothing. Just thinking of times years ago. When we were younger and life was simpler. That's all." As they neared the castle, Celestia flew lower and slowed down. She circled the garden, before touching down with a soft thump. Her hooves settling into the green grass as she let the pot in her magic settle to the ground. She looked around a bit, before waiting for Luna. She was hoping Luna had a good idea of where to plant their little flower. 

 

As she waited, her magic reached out, summoning small envelopes, paper, and a quill with ink. She was looking at the items as she began to think of what to write. She planned to send them at random to various ponies, and provide them a means to arrive magically so they wouldn't not have to worry about how to make it. The invitations were going to be short, but informative. 

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"I see." Princess Luna nodded and faced ahead again, mulling over the soft expression that had been on their sister's face as they descended upon the royal gardens. To humor her sister with her larger wingspan, Luna circled after Celestia and descended to land, softer on her hooves. Giving her wings a couple shakes to straighten them out, they were folded against her sides and she gazed around at the garden. There were already signs of fall's touch upon the plants, the duller green of leaves and scarcely any signs of flowers. Even the grass beneath her hooves was not quite as springy.

 

A glance Celestia's way showed her the writing materials her sister had summoned for the invitations, which told her that it was up to her to find a place for their strange hybrid flower. Luna stepped away, quiet and graceful on her hooves, to search the nearby areas of the gardens. Most seemed too crowded, too many trees, bushes, or other flowering plants. She continually wandered, all the while keeping her sister at the center of this wandering, until she found a nice little bare spot between a couple of trees far enough apart that there was still plenty of sunlight reaching the ground.

 

"How about here?" Luna spoke up, breaking the silence as she pointed a hoof at the spot, looking back at Celestia. "For the flower? There's plenty of room for it to grow."

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Celestia set her writings aside, and came over. As she looked the spot over, she smiled. Looking toward the palace, she noticed it was well within sight of both their balconies as well. Nodding she knelt down and looked at the soil. Luna had picked the perfect spot. Rich, dark soil with plenty of sunlight and some shade from the trees. It was wonderful. As Celestia levitated the pot over, she smiled at Luna. "This is the perfect spot. Would you like to do the honors, Luna?" She asked as she set the pot between them. 

 

Celestia smiled softly, a gentler smile than normal. And even as they stood there, she looked on her sister with a gentle fondness. Her quill and paper forgotten for the moment, Celestia seemed content. She was focused on a simpler, happier moment. Sharing time with her sister and enjoying the peace it brought. Even if it was only for one day. 

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Princess Luna glanced up towards her approaching sister and away, her ears tilting back and her hoof shyly pawing the grass. She had never been the gardener, only the explorer. The warrior. She might've helped and learned a little when she once helped Celestia in their old garden, enough to think she could remember how to replant a flower.. but she wasn't confident.

 

"I.. I could," she hesitantly replied and looked up at her sister again, into the taller alicorn's gentle face and soft smile. Willing herself to try, just for the confidence Celestia had in her, Luna lifted the flowerpot up from Celestia's magic and gently pulled the plant out, soil and all. Dividing her magic, she dug out a clump of soil, just shallow enough, and set the flower in place. With her hooves, she drew some of the loose soil over and into the gaps between the garden's natural dirt and the soil around the flower's roots. Gently patting it, she sat back, brushing the dirt from her hooves onto the grass. Now.. only time would tell to see if it would take to its new home.

 

Luna sighed softly and looked up at Celestia. "Well, it is done." Her tone was light, trying to be casual. "So.. how do you plan to send out your invitations?" she latched onto their other subject, having not forgotten the parchment and quill that her elder sister left lying in the grass.

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With the flower planted, Celestia set the empty pot aside and took a moment to admire the work her sister had done. It was then Luna asked about the invitations. "Oh I was planning to magically send them out. They would arrive at random ponies. Each invitation would give the recipient a means by which to arrive here magically and go home after the party the same way. That way they do not have to incur travel costs." 

Celestia brought the parchment and quill over again with her magic. Her glowing horn bobbed as she looked over what she was doing, scrunching her face a bit as she took a moment to think out how to right them out. After a moment she looked to Luna and smiled. "I think a simple invitation would do. What about you? Just tell them that its a party in the Palace Gardens. No need to bring presents, just show up and enjoy a birthday celebration."

 

Making a few notations, she took a fresh piece of parchment and wrote out a more clean invitation. The kind that a simple pony would make by hoof.

 

Attention Recipient!!

 

You have been cordially invited to a birthday celebration 

located in the Canterlot Palace Gardens! There is no need to bring

any form of gift. Just bring yourself and a happy thought!

 

The celebration will provide a variety of refreshments, as well as samplings of food

to account for all tastes. 

 

There is no need for Transportation, as this invitation will bring you right to the party. 

Simply place your hoof on the seal and say "take me there" and the magic will bring 

you right to the gardens! Each Invitation allows the guest to bring one friend with them, to enjoy this time with. 

 

Thank you for your time and best wishes:

Princesses Luna and Celerstia!!

 

With that done, she set the quill to making copies while she sat with Luna. "Sister, would you care for a little lemonade while we rest? It was a long flight there and back. As well it is rather warm today." She spoke softly and with a smile as a servant was headed toward them, levitating a tray at his side. It seemed their arrival had been noticed and the staff had sent them something to drink while they lounged in the warm afternoon air. 

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While her sister wrote out the invitations, Luna folded her legs beneath her and lay herself down on the grass. Her wings were loosely furled against their sides, and she idly adjusted them while she made herself comfortable. Once she was settled, she peeked over at what the invitation said before her sister began to create copies to send off. "I think a simple invitation shall work just fine, my sister," Luna murmured. What Celestia had written down worked quite well for what they wanted. All they'd have to do is send them, and see who'd show up. Of course, they probably would have to have things set up for the party soon, like the food and refreshments..

 

It could wait. "Some lemonade sounds wonderful. I could use something cool to drink after that flight, but I would have to say that such a flight was refreshing. It feels like it's been too long since I've properly stretched out my wings." Her teal eyes flitted away from her sister's face, following the direction Celestia's gaze had gone and spotted the pony that was heading their way. It seemed that their return had not gone unnoticed, and somepony was kindly bringing them refreshments.

 

Making a noise in her throat, Luna would eagerly wait until the servant drew up close before she'd levitate a glass from his tray. Once the invitations were sent out, all they could do now was relax, and wait to see who showed up first.

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As the invitations worked themselves, Celestia took her time to sip on some lemonade and chat with Luna. She felt happy to spend time with her sister. As time passed, and the invitations finished, Celestia stood and helped her sister up. "We should notify the kitchens of our choices for food. Once we do that, we can pick out where in the party will take place. I had thought that maybe in the garden near the hedge maze would be nice. Lots of room over there." 

 

Gathering up her invitations, Celestia moved to stand with her sister. Smiling she motioned Luna to follow. Walking to the palace entrance, she made her way to the kitchens. Inside it was busy as usual, with lots of ponies working to prepare meals for the castle staff. Looking around, she spotted the chef. Coming to him she spoke to him for a few moments before confirming everything that they wanted for the party. That done, she ventured with Luna back to the gardens to set up their spot. Staff were already setting up some tables and setting out plates and such. Celestia levitated up the invitations and smiled to her sister as they began to blink out of sight. They teleported across all Equestia and beyond. Landing before random ponies. 

One such pony was sitting on her own in a field, when the invitation landed in front of her. A small, chubby foal of a pony, picked up the invitation and looked it over. Opening it, she read the words and tilted her head in curious surprise. How could she be invited to such an event? And yet she had received an invitation none the less. Shrugging, she sat to think on it a bit. Wondering how and why it came to her. 

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The lunar princess's eyes were eventually pulled back to the invitations Celestia had copied by magic when silence eventually descended between them and she eyed the short stack of them. She had to wonder who they might reach, who might come to celebrate Celestia's birthday.. All manner of ponies, or creatures. She tore her eyes away when she noticed Celestia offering to help her up and gladly accepted it.

 

"Ah. And here I was under the impression that we could relax out here on the grass while we waited," Luna replied with some playfulness. Her lemonade was gone, and it was getting a little warm under the sun; at least with her dark coat. She'd be more than happy to head inside to tend to the preparations. Ruffling her wings, she followed Celestia into the castle and towards the kitchens, where her sister informed the chef about what was to be made or prepared for the party. The younger diarch could simply follow and let her sister do what she needed- up until they returned outside to the gardens, within a large grassy clearing by the hedge maze. Luna didn't stand by then, and pitched in to help Celestia set up the tables and lay out the tablecloths neatly across them.

 

A flash of magic drew her eye up, and she saw her sister's smiling face while the invitations flashed off to parts unknown. It was exciting, and.. she was a little nervous too. Who knew might show up? Though, she knew one pony who would come- Ice Storm, who she'd decided to invite to this event herself. And.. perhaps another pony; she hadn't forgotten who her sister had brought home.

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It wasn't every day that a pony received an invitation to a party hosted by the Royal Sisters. Ice Storm was a bit surprised by the invitation, but the more she thought about it, the more she actually wasn't. Ever since Luna and herself had started training together, they had grown more into their friendship. It was something that only strengthened her resolve when it came to being a part of the Lunar Guard. Sure, protecting the princess was important, but it became much more of a personal feeling when the princess that you were helping protect was also your friend. That alone she felt gave her more of a fighting force. A pony will always fight harder to protect something that they hold close to them. It's not to say that she didn't hold Luna close before. After all, she was the mare that she looked up to before Luna even knew that she existed.

 

At the same time, it did puzzle her a little bit as to why she was invited to Celestia's birthday and not Luna's. Sure she had met Princess Celestia a ways back but it was just a simple exchange with not too much to work from. She was definitely much closer to the princess of the night. Perhaps it was at Luna's request that she was invited. She was certain that Luna would be attending her own sister's party. Of course, with it being a party she felt that her armor would be less than appropriate for the occasion. Instead, she picked out her dress that she had worn for the Hearth's Warming Eve. It was a black sequin dress that faded through a gradient of blues before ending in white at the base of the runner. Her hooflets were on as well as the horseshoes that she bought to go with it. The only difference now was the necklace that she also wore now to keep the Opalus Spheres contained. She she wasn't foolish though, as she knew that somepony could easily use an invite to cause problems or catch wind of something and try to go after them when they were least suspecting anything. Being the ever cautious mare that she was, she packed her armor in a saddle bag and brought it with her just in case.

 

Now came for the truly hard part of the night... This was a birthday party after all, and not just any party, one for a princess. One that other than she rose the sun every morning, she knew very little about. She couldn't rightfully show up to a birthday party with absolutely nothing to give. It just wasn't proper. If you were going to a birthday party, you brought a gift or you sent an RSVP that you were unable to attend. She wasn't going to turn down the invitation to the party, but on the same hoof, she had no idea what to buy Celestia. Anything she could buy Celestia likely already had ten of. She thought of an ice sculpture that she could make in her honor, but that could be seen as a cop out. Plus the Ice Sculpture would melt and ultimately leave the princess with nothing to show for it. It would be as if she hadn't gotten her anything to begin with. She couldn't just give bits in this situation either and let her buy something like she normally did when she didn't know what to buy. The princess well, was the princess. She literally had all the bits in Equestria. Again, meaningless. "Let's see... Well, I've yet to run into a pony that doesn't like chocolate. I'll just swing by one of the parlors and grab a box on the way there," she said to herself. It was a good, I don't know gift for the most part. Of course there was always a chance that the princess didn't like chocolate... she hoped that wasn't the case.

 

After the quick stop she found herself at the castle and headed towards where the gardens were located. She had been through them enough that she knew exactly where they were. She could see that there were tables set up, and it looked as if things were still actually being set up as she approached. She could see Luna and Celestia still setting up some of the tables and she could see the hedge maze behind them. That could be fun, she never went into the hedge maze before. At the moment though, her thoughts drifted back to the scene in front of her as she descended to the entrance of the gardens. "Good afternoon, your highnesses. Hopefully I'm not too early, it seems like you're still setting up. Is there anything I can do to help?" she asked aloud. Just cause she was invited didn't mean she couldn't lend a hoof if they needed one.

 

(Ice's dress for the event.)

 

Spoiler

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Raven was surprised when she stepped out of the local spa, only to have a letter slap her still wet mane. She took a look at it, and went from surprise to shock. This was an invitation to... to Celestia's birthday! She skimmed the invite before racing down the alleyways of Canterlot. She skidded to a stop in front of her house.

 

Going in, she thought hard. While the invitation had said that it would be casual, Raven knew that if it was her birthday, she'd want something. The princess probably just didn't want lavish gifts that were obvious attempts to earn favor. As such, she headed to her study, intending on giving her something more personal, a copy of one of her family's journals. She'd had many of the older ones repaired and copied several times. One such volume was a journal of a palace guard from when the Castle of the Two Sisters was still inhabited. 

 

Getting dressed in a simple gown, she took the book, and spoke the words. Her view lurched as her stomach churned, and with a strange sound that could only be described as 'bamf', she arrived in the castle gardens. Raven decided that she didn't like teleportation much, as she shook her head to clear the lingering effects. Looking around, she saw the staff and princesses setting up the party, as well as Ice, who looked stunning. She waved at her marefriend, before slowly approaching the princesses. "Hello, your highnesses. I'm quite grateful for being invited. I mean, I've always wondered what the gardens looked like, and it's clear they have seen as much love as the day, or the night sky." It was then she remembered the book she'd brought with her. "Oh! I brought this for you, Princess Celestia. I just wanted to thank you for inviting me. I'm not sure if you know of my family, but they've been helping to defend Equestria for... well, I'm not sure how long... Anyway, this is a copy of one of their journals, from when they were a guard... at the Castle of the Two Sisters..." She indicated the book floating nearby in her magic, before turning to walk away. She stopped as her ears drooped, and a blush colored her face. "I... I never introduced myself... did I? I... I'm so sorry... I was just so excited... Raven Shadowfire, last heir of House Dupone, your highnesses. Perhaps I could help set some things up?"

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You have been cordially invited to a birthday celebration located in the Canterlot Palace Gardens! There is no need to bring any form of gift. Just bring yourself and a happy thought!

 

Tranquillity had been sitting in her office working on her upcoming book when she was assaulted by the letter. When she had opened up the note, she was surprised at the contents of such letter, of course, she didn't represent it physically. She was invited to a birthday party in the Canterlot Palace Gardens. It didn't specifically say who's birthday it was. It couldn't have been one of the Princesses' could it? She had never met any of them, or if they did it was long enough for her to forget. The next best guess was a client in Canterlot, though they'd have to be high enough to even get the Gardens as a venue and they didn't take any high nobles as clients. For some reason, a Princess birthday sounded more plausible to her. She lit her horn up to talk with her sister who was outside. "Plas, we've got a situation here. Royal letter from Canterlot, says I'm invited to a party in the palace gardens, you're invited by extension too." 

 

Placidity put down her tools and started to head back into the building. "Party in the Palace gardens? Why would we be invited to that? I'm coming in to take a look." When Placidity arrived at the office she saw the letter floating in her sister's grasp and took it from her. "This is real. We're literally invited? We should go. It says there's no need to bring a gift, we could leave right now." 

 

"And if it's weird, or a mistake we'll leave straight away, good," Tranquility replied taking the letter back. "It says we can use a verbal command for transport. Is it literally verbal, or can it be any sound, otherwise we might have a problem." 

 

"Let's find out." The two of them placed their hooves on the letter at once and they both projected the words. "Take me there." With a flash, they were teleported directly to the gardens. This was not the first time they'd been there, the last time had been when they took the palace tour a couple of years ago. They looked around and saw that everything was still being set up. Were they early? There was no time indicated in the letter, maybe they weren't expected to come straight away. The two of them approached the princesses and bowed down, lighting up their horns projecting their artificial voices. "Your Highnesses, we were invited to this birthday party of which there was no name. We are unsure if this was a mistake or not, please tell us it wasn't."

 

"If it is, then you can just send us back, we will understand," Tranquility added on raising from the bow. "Oh, by the way, there's a typo on the letter, not sure if you noticed."

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As guests began to arrive, Celestia smiled brightly. The tables were up, the plates were stacked, and now the food was being brought out. Celestia had decided a few simple decorates would not hurt, and was creating and placing them with her magic. A few balloons, and a few ribbons. With that done and Luna helping her to set up the table cloths, Celestia was practically beaming. Simple, and bright. It made her happy to set things up with her own hooves again, as she stayed by Luna. It was then that Ice arrived. The first of the guests!

 

Celestia smiled and gave a small bow to her. "Oh! Hello there! No need to worry yourself over the set up. It will be finished in a few minutes. Thank you for coming!" Celestia smiled brightly, more than usual for public appearances. As she greeted Ice, she took a moment to look the pony over. "That is a beautiful dress. Thank you for coming on such short notice. The party will begin in a moment. We are mostly just waiting on the food to be set up and the other guests to arrive." Noticing that Raven had her saddlebags, she smiled. "Oh! do you need a place to set your bags? I can have staff take them if you want."

 

That was when the second guest arrived. And now Celestia went into social party mode. It was a habit of hers. Greeting every guest as they arrived. It was an old habit that was nearly impossible for her to break. But at least this time it was less formal. Raven had brought a book as a gift. Celestia loved books, and accepted it gently in her magic. "Why thank you! Welcome Raven, it is a pleasure to have you. Please, relax and the party will begin soon. The drinks are ready now, so enjoy one. We have a selection to choose from. We are just waiting on some of the food now. No need to worry too much." Levitating the book to an empty table, she set it down gently. She figured some guests would bring gifts, so she had told the staff to bring an extra table. Looking to Luna, she smiled happily. 

 

It was then that she felt the arrival of more guests! Celestia turned to them, and then heard the voice more in her mind than verbally! How exciting! It seemed that these ponies used magic to speak, which was new to Celestia. Taking a moment to brush her mane aside a bit, she smiled to them. "Greetings. There was no mistake. The invitations were sent out to random ponies, inviting them to celebrate my birthday in a more... informal fashion. You are of course invited to the party. Please, come relax and enjoy something to drink as the food is set up. The party will begin soon!" Celestia smiled to them gently and softly,  in a manner that seemed to radiate warmth and a relaxing nature. It was then the typo was mentioned. "A typo? Oh my. Please, show me! I did not mean to make a mistake!"

 

That was when there was a soft blink, a feeling of little magic. A foal stood in the palace grounds. She was a chubby thing and looked confused. Looking around at all the adults, she thought she might be in the wrong place. She saw the princesses, though it did not register in her mind that they were princesses. She had never seen one before, let alone met one. To her, it was just a gathering of adults and she thought that she might get in trouble. Celestia noticed the foal standing there and excused herself from the twins. Coming to the foal she smiled softly and lowered her head to more the level of the foal. "Hello little one. Are you here for the party?" The foal nodded. "Where are your parents? Do they know you are here?" The foal began to fidget and looked away. They didnt know. Celestia wondered if she should have a guard dispatched to tell the foal's parents she was here, when the foal spoke. "I.. dont have any." Celestia's heart shattered then. An orphan, and one that likely ran away from the orphanage. Looking at the foal, she smiled softly. "What is your name little one?" "C..Caramel Cream." "Well Caramel, would you like to stay a while and enjoy some food? We have lots to choose from." 

In the back of her mind, Celestia was trying to figure out what to do. Legally, she was supposed to alert the guard to take the foal to a local orphanage and contact a social worker to help the foal. But the look on her face was just...sad. She couldn't bring herself to call a guard... not yet at least. Celestia decided to wait until after the party. Maybe by then the foal would tell her more. Caramel nodded softly, trying not to get herself in trouble. Celestia gently placed a wing on her and looked to Luna. She hoped her sister might have some ideas to help later. But for now, they could enjoy the party. After all, Celestia's special guest would be coming downstairs soon. She had sent a staff pony to tell them the party was happening soon. And Tia did not want to spoil the evening. Caramel followed Tia to where the others were all gathered and accepted a cup when it was offered to her. Her stumpy horn glowed softly as she levitated the cup and took a sip of the juice inside it. She seemed to relax some, and smiled. Celestia smiled and turned to her sister, shrugging a little and giving Luna a gentle smile. 

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After the tables were set up, Luna was happy enough to stand back while the food was brought out and watch her sister create some of the decorations. Celestia looked so happy, and Luna couldn't help being happy for her. It was the first birthday they'd gotten to really celebrate together in years, and seeing how good a mood Celestia was in was enough for Luna to allow herself to relax after their earlier, more serious talks.

 

Movement caught her eye as the first of the guests arrived, and Luna was pleased to see it was Ice Storm. "Ah, Ice! I am glad you've come!" she exclaimed. "Not that I thought you wouldn't," she added teasingly. The compliment Celestia had given the icy mare was one that Luna could agree with: it was, indeed, a lovely dress. Ice Storm didn't have to get so dressed up for so casual a party as Celestia was throwing, but the effort was nice. A smile played around the dark alicorn's muzzle as she invited Ice closer with a wave of her hoof.

 

"Afternoon," Luna put in after Celestia's own greeting. She wasn't normally very social at parties, or any sort of social event, but for such a party as this, she would make herself speak a little more than she normally would.. even if they were just hellos. "'Tis nice to meet you, Raven." House Dupone.. Luna was certain she knew of that house; it was a very old one.

 

Her attention shifted towards the movement of a pair of ponies who were the next to appear at the edge of the area, and she was surprised to find that their voices were projected telepathically. Luna might dare to guess that they were mute, or.. they simply preferred to speak that way, seeing as they were both twins. It was a little jarring to see twins, as it was Luna's first experience seeing them, as well as exciting to see something so unique. The alicorn did her best to offer them a smile. "Good afternoon." The mention of a typo caused her some concern and her brow furrowed ever so slightly. She was certain she hadn't seen one when her sister showed her what she'd written.. Alas.

 

As Celestia moved off to greet a small foal who had appeared, alone, Luna found herself as the sole princess present in the middle of four ponies. She tried not to fidget and took advantage of the lack of her sister's very social presence to mention to one of the castle staff, who were setting the food up on the tables, to fetch some pillows and rugs for the guests to rest on and turned back with a smile for her sister and the foal. She had questions, but they'd have to wait.

 

Some distance from the party, the castle's garden-side doors were opened and out stepped King Sombra. He didn't need an invitation to know about the party and he'd decided to come on his own terms; besides, it wasn't too far from where he'd been residing recently. For the occasion, he'd freshly bathed and groomed himself, though he wouldn't admit to doing so, and left his trademark cape behind in favor of a deep red ribbon wrapped around his neck, the bow just off center. His long, wavy mane was swept back in its usual style and his sideburns were neatly brushed, framing his strong face; though today, it lacked its usual, sour expression.

 

Sombra sauntered proudly across the grassy clearing, closing the distance between himself and the party, tall and confident as if he belonged there. While he was aware of the other guests who'd arrived before him, two of which he recognized, he only had eyes for Celestia. She was who he'd come for. He strode past the other ponies without so much as a greeting and walked right up to Celestia, leaning up to plant a firm kiss on her lips.

 

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"The pleasure is mine! It always helps that I live in Canterlot so I can actually attend unexpected events like this and have time to properly prepare for them even on short notice," Ice Storm smiled in response to Princess Celestia. When she started asking about the saddle bags and if she would like the staff to take them for her she shook her head. "That won't be necessary. I would rather them be within sight at all times. It has my Lunar Guard armor in them. I'm not expecting to need it, but I'd rather have it and not need to pull it out than the reverse be true," she smiled. It was a simple concept but an important one. She was expecting the event to be fun, but a guard was a guard. Even during the times of fun they always need to at least be prepared to the possibility that something could go wrong.

 

Then Raven showed up to the party and things instantly got a lot more interesting as she waved back to her marefriend. She wasn't expecting Raven to be in the area, but she wasn't upset that she was here now. She smiled and also waved as Luna addressed her before beckoning her over to her. "Of course I would make it! After all, how could I possible say no to a friend! I'm just thankful I had time to stop and grab something. I know that the invite said that gifts weren't necessary, but I couldn't in good conscious show up with nothing. I just hope Princess Celestia likes chocolate," she spoke making doubly sure that she remembered to address Celestia as Princess. Their previous meeting when it was just the two of them she had gotten a bit loose with that and was just calling her Celestia by the end of the night. She knew that she couldn't make that mistake here. At least not without her permission first.

 

Then her eyes fell to a.... rather odd pair of ponies. It appeared that they spoke with magic? It definitely wasn't a normal means of communication. they asked about the invitations and whether or not they were sent out by mistake cause there were no names on them, and apparently there was a typo on them as well. Odd.... definitely odd, but she wasn't going to say anything or react. After all, she couldn't really be a proper example of society if she constantly judged everything at a glance. Perhaps an opportunity would present itself for her to get to know these two before the end of the day or night. Only then would she be able to start formulating a proper assessment of them. Still, the guard in her made her want to keep alert.

 

She then spotted a filly that Celestia had made her way over to deal with and she could see a sense of concern and sadness in the princess's eyes... She looked down to the foal and saw that she was fidgeting. She also noticed the lack of anypony with the foal... and it didn't take too much for Ice Storm to put two and two together having been a pony that had been in that position herself... Ice would have to try to figure something out now. She wasn't entirely sure if she could take care of everything that the foal needed with how busy her life had been recently, but she knew one thing was for certain. That foal was not leaving this party alone tonight. Even if for a few temporary nights while pones got things sorted out. She wasn't going to say anything though, in case Celestia didn't want to bring anything up. It wasn't her place to.

 

Instead she smiled as she brushed up with Raven giving her a light bump. "Wasn't expecting to see you here, but I am very pleased by the surprise. How has the research been going?" Ice smiled. She wasn't sure if Raven wanted to let it known to the world yet that they were a thing or not and she would leave it up to her if she wanted to release that information. She didn't mind after all, and it's not like they were in the presence of anypony unsavory.... that was they weren't until she spotted Sombra come into the party. Still though, she couldn't in good conscious say that he was unsavory at this point. After hearing what had happened and hearing his side of things, she couldn't disagree that she would have attempted some of the things that he had done. Everypony has a snapping point at some point and even with all she had been through, she knew that if somepony had come up to her years ago, and told her that they enjoyed watching her suffer, she probably would have broke and hurt them.

 

That was for naught though. None of that happened and she shook her head of the thoughts, only to be a bit surprised... okay a lot surprised when Sombra made his way by all of them and went straight to Celestia and placed a kiss on her lips. Ice was nearly frozen in place by the event. That certainly changes some things... If he's in a relationship with her, and Celestia trusts him... then we'll have to wait and see... she thought to herself. It appeared that Sombra was honest about a few things from their previous meetings in regards to today. That was a good thing. It gave the rest of his statements some validity and that he wasn't just trying to say what she'd want to hear. Even though she knew that he wasn't already. Neither one of them really sugar coated much in their discussions that day. Naturally she would greet him if he approached them, but for now she turned back to Luna and Raven. She wanted to inquire about how Luna's week had been, but she would wait for Raven's reply before also addressing the princess. It would be rude to constantly shift ones attention between multiple ponies.

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Raven nodded and smiled at the princesses as Ice came up to her, leaning against the cooler mare. "I'm afraid not well... We still haven't found a site. Glad to see you too." She watched as two ponies, twins by the looks... and sounds of it. She'd heard of twins being able to communicate without talking, but these two seemed to make it an art form. She subtly guided Ice off to one side for the rest of the guests to speak with the princesses.

 

Soon, a small filly appeared, and Raven instantly took note. The nervous glances, the awkward movements... She'd seen it before when she helped at one of the orphanages, and resolved that she'd help make this child happy, even if it was only for a day. If she was able to be home more, she might even consider adopting the poor little one. After all, she didn't use all of her home, there were plenty of rooms there... Maybe they could work things out to where the foal could stay there for a bit... Raven found her head dipping as a memory of right after her parents disappeared ran through her head, and she leaned into Ice again, drawing comfort from the electric touch her coat always gave Raven.

 

Soon, a thought struck her, and she turned to speak with Princess Luna. "Your highness, Is there any chance I could get a moment later on, like in a few days, to speak in private with you and Princess Celestia? Its a matter of some importance, dealing with a previous citizen of the Crystal Empire..." She trailed off as the subject of her request strode through the garden as if he owned it, straight to Princess Celestia, and gave her a kiss. Raven's brain sputtered, and rebooted. "I... I need something to drink..." Was all she said before she stumbled off numbly to the drink table. She took a drink of water, swirled the glass about a bit, turned to face an unoccupied direction, and expelled the liquid at high velocity. After her spit take was done, she rejoined the others. "Well... so, as I was saying, it concerns King Sombra there, and possible helping him be redeemed..."

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Wait, it was Celestia's Birthday? Well of course the Princesses would have birthday's but the twins didn't remember ever learning about it. Was there any reason around that? Maybe they just overlooked it or forgot about it. "It's your birthday your highness? Forgive us for not knowing if we were ever supposed to. I suppose us ponies were not supposed to know? Well, we know now at least," Placidity said bowing, before remembering what Celestia said about informality. She quickly rose up. Informality around the royal elder sisters was going to be a bit weird. Princess Twilight wasn't quite formal, but these princesses were thousands of years old. 

 

"Informality, of course," Tranquility said to her sister. Unlike her, Tranquility did not bow to the princess, merely bringing out their invitation instead. "Right here, it says 'Celerstia'. It might have been a duplication error. Maybe we only got it. It's really no big deal to us. Maybe it's a big deal to you? Assuming you wrote it." She looked over at Luna. "Good Afternoon to you too Luna. Perhaps it was your mistake? If you were to have your own party too, you wouldn't make the same mistake would you?"

 

Placidity looked around. There were three other ponies here she saw at that moment. She recognised one of them, she thought. Ice Storm right? The name was brought up once during one of her sessions, maybe for only a moment. Besides the name she didn't really know them any more than the other two, one of which was a filly that proceeded to capture most of Celestia's attention. "It is an honour to meet you Luna, We are Placidity and Tranquility. We speak through telepathy whether direct or broadcasted, for we do not possess voices ourselves, we never did. I must compliment you on the work you put into your sky every night. As my sister said, would you have your own party too? I would be willing to attend if you did."

 

 

 

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Celestia had been about to bring the filly over to join them when Sombra made his rather grand and fabulous entrance. She smiled and leaned forward to hug him, when he kissed her. He kissed her like owned her. And the princess blushed because she loved it. Her eyes fluttered as she felt the warmth of his lips on hers, smelt the scent of his mane in her nostrils and all she could do was shiver and let out a soft, pleasurable noise. As their lips parted, she looked at him before her and leaned in. She hugged him tight, whispering in his ear, "Hello there darling. That was quite the entrance." 

 

Caramel Cream looked up at the tall dark stallion. He was intimidating, rather large and his dark mane looked like black fire. But the princess kissed him and seemed to love him. So he could not be bad. She slowly moved off, approaching the others. As she passed a pair of twins, she looked up at them, curious of their way of talking. But she said nothing. Looking up at Luna, she felt so small. Celestia and Luna were towering over all around them. Moving on, she passed a mare in a pretty dress, and another that looked fancy as well. It was then she bumped into something. She looked up, and up... and up. Her eyes finally fell on the soft face of a stallion that matched Somrba for height, but he was muscular. His long, curved horn came to a sharp point, which contrasted with the gentle green of his eyes set in that kind face. He knelt down and smiled at her. "Hello little one." His voice was like a melody, and it seemed to sooth her some. 

 

Celestia looked over toward them, returning to the group with Sombra. Her eyes fell on the stallion. He had a thick, bushy coat. His mane looked like he had never combed it, and the same for his tail. He was large, and muscular. He looked like he knew what manual labor was. But his horn, it was strange. It resembled the horn of an Umbrum, and yet he was not an umbrum. His coat was a deep gray color, and his eyes were emerald green. She could see he wore saddle bags, and noted that there were a couple instruments poking up from them. A musician, it seemed. He stood and greeted Everypony gently and all at once. Giving a half bow, and yet his voice... It was soft and gentle as a forest stream. "Greetings. I received an invitation to a party!" He recognized a few ponies here from the meeting with Ice. 

Thunderbuck Cloud, standing his full height, was almost a match for an allicorn in size. He smiled, pushing his mane from his face a bit before looking back at everyone. He made no attempt to assert himself into any of the on going conversations. In fact, he only stood there as if he expected to be ordered to leave. But that smile never left his face. Caramel looked up at him, and soon enough she was smiling as well. He looked like a nice pony, and he spoke in a way that made her comfortable. 

 

As Celestia rejoined the group, she made her way to the twins first. "Thank you for bringing the type to my attention. I should have noticed. It is a bit embarrassing. Here, would you care for something to drink?" She motioned to the tables where the food was set up at last. And finally there was the cake. The chefs has just set it out. It was simple, and lovely to look at. It was a plain white cake, with cream icing. It was decorated with flowers for flavor and color. Celestia looked up, her horn glowing as she began to lower the sun. It was about 10 minutes early, but what was 10 minutes when a lovely party in the gardens under moonlight and the castle lamps would be lovely!

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