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[Age of Heroes] Love and Disdain. Again. [OPEN]

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The explanation of the metaphor... made sense, Platinum supposed, even though it seemed quite foolish for anypony to act like that.  If you didn't want the hay, why get in the manger?  It was all a mystery.  *Foreigners.  Exotic, often attractive, but never fully comprehensible.*  She blushed a bit, though, at the mention of the choker, her hoof tracing a line across her throat.  The selfsame shade of pink deepening to red as Ossia sought, as gently as possible, to dismantle her ego.  Truly, a task worthy of an alicorn.

 

"Heh, I suppose you are right..."  The talk of 'lessons' could have proved even more disheartening to the decidently non-academic unicorn, until a thought suddenly occurred to her.  "Hey, would that make me your... your personal student?"  Growing up with 'Auntie' as his primary example of family, Blueblood had no other real example of a close relationship to imprint upon.  The royal was lonely, though he was loath to admit so, either in villain or civilian guise.

 

Such sweet reflections, however, could not be focused on for long.  Not only was Platinum being ponyhandled like a plush toy, she was suddenly warped out the place, throwing the timing way off on her previously-laid plan.  That disruption was minor, however, to the even more troubling apparition before them.  "AIEE!"  The fashion-conscious mare shrieked, covering her eyes as if to protect them from a wave of ammonia.  "They're hideous!  The absolute bottom of the barrel, sartorially, of those darn students!"

 

It had to be said that the writhing mare in Ossia's magic cut something of a pathetic figure.  But her scream was not out of mere helplessness; it was pitched to carry, and so to alert her maid squadron inside the museum.  In a few minutes, the pair of them would have a backup force sufficient to allow them to escape.  They just had to keep these jokers off their tails for long enough...

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"Why, this is exactly what I am talking about." Ossia said, confirmed her with to take Blue under her tutelage. "And I have a lot to teach indeed. Ufufufu...if you thought your 'Aunt' is experienced, wait until you spend a week with me. I will mercilessly pour wisdom and knowledge onto you at mornings, noons and evenings. Very looong evenings." alicorn mused with a purr.

 

 

 

"Yes, they are an affront to the eyes. Although I am think they are a bit too old to be student." Nerezza agreed with Platinum while adding her own observation.

"CORRECT. AND-WE-PITY-YA-FOOLS. IT'S-YOU-WHO-ABOUT-RECEIVE-A-SCHOOLING." android minotaur chimed in

"..........I loathe basically everything in that sentence." pink alicorn said in completely deadpan tone before turning her head towards the Platinum.

"It seems those jokers don't bother taking us seriously." she mused while setting the royal pony down onto museums steps. If Platinum had any doubts about alicorn's intention's towards the quintet, Ossia's psychotic smirk was enough to lay all of them to rest. "Let's witness how bothered they will be when they see what you do." she added before raising into the air.

 

"Haaaaaaaahhhhh......" she took a deep breath, while shrouding herself in the raw power, the spire of aether she was floating in reaching high into the darkening sky. Slowly, but surely the expressions of the five 'heroes' turned from that of confidence into those of horror and confusion. And as suddenly as it started, Ossia's display ended. For Blue's eyes nothing changed, but it was obvious that onl;y now the five could witness Nerezza true form.

"Ahahaha. What's wrong? Never saw an alicorn before? Where is it all that prior bravado?" she mocked the quintet.

 

"Isn't she....? How?" unicorn mage gasped, demanding answers.

"SHE-SUPPOSED-TO-BE-IN-SAN-FRANCISCOLT-RIGHT-NOW. IT-CAN"T-BE-HER." android clarified.

"It isn't her. She feels...different. Wrong. What are you?" the quilin mare asked, apparently more distraught then her comrades.

"Me?" Ossia said, quite pleased with bewilderment of the quintet. "I am a heart's true desire. The lover's touch of passion. A mother's first kiss for a child. Every gaze filled with longing. I am the Love given flesh, the guardian angel for this one..." the pink alicorn gave Platinum an knowing look "...but for you five....I will take a role of an executioner." she added, which made the 'heroes' take a step back.

 

"Platinum Dear...." she addressed the unicorn mare beside her, while the misfits before them were still struck with terror. "Why don't you assist me in this one? That way I can measure how capable you already are, before our first lesson." Nerezza explained while stroking Bluebelle's neck.

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To a mare of any kind of aesthetic sensitivity, and Platinum was nothing if not that, there was little in the way of rough stuff that naturally appealed.  Now, rough stuff to the ugly and mean?  Forgivable, and even, in it's own way, beautiful.  But there was... something in Ossia's look that gave Bluebelle a sinking feeling within her stomach that what was about to happen would go way, way beyond that.  And as the alicorn offered her a leading role in this next act, the genre-savvy within Platinum Gem was put on pins and needles.

 

*If I do this, I'm about to go way beyond what I already am.  I will go from tolerated villain heroes treat with amusement to someone feared and despised.  Will I lose friends over this?*  She had to pause a moment at that, but a moment's consideration only brought up one name, and that belonged to one who was by no means a goody four-hooves himself.  Certainly wouldn't put them off speaking terms.  As for the rest... the sad truth was, neither Prince Blueblood nor Platinum Gem had real friends beyond that.  And thus, nothing was stopping her from partaking in this baptism of blood.

 

Nothing, that is, save for a forgotten circumstance.  "DRAGON!!!"  She shrieked, about two seconds before a huge, scaly body arced into view and smashed into the street, scattered cobblestones like skittles and headed straight toward the five heroes in it's skid, aiming to crush them against the side of a bank!

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".....!!!" Ossia was so transfixed on the Blue, and quinted before her, that even she didn't noticed the approaching wyrm. It's only due to the royal pony cry of warning that she had enough time to put the magical barrier to shield herself and Blue from the granite shards.

 

"What audacity from this beast, to steal both the prey and the spotlight from us." pink alicorn commented, her voice somewhat between disappointment and annoyance - as if it was beneath her to be bothered with being angry at the reptile. "....But perhaps that is what should be expected from a dragon - an avarice given flesh." Nereza pondered for a moment before shaking her head.

"....Normally such malfeasance would be a death warrant for creature such as this one...." she explained while observing the dragon and five 'heroes' go at it. "....but right now it would change nothing. The mood of the scene was simply, irrevocably tarnished, a shadow of what it was. And I, Ossia, refuse to be satisfied with a mere scraps." Nerezza stated, haughtily before turning towards Bluebelle.

"It looks like  we have to seek new means and occasion to assert you, Pretty Gem." she mused with yet another endearing term. "Rejoice! This means you have a chance to better yourself in the meantime!" pink alicorn proclaimed.

 

Right then - following the yelp of shock and pain - the sword in black and gold flew the direction of the skirmish, and got embedded in the stone stairs.

"Hmmm? What's this?" Ossia mused while pulling the blade out. "How surprising. While this faker-knight and his colleagues appearances are affront to the eyes, this weapon is of excellent craft. Not really my color but this is something that can be remedied..." she mused while studying the blade. "Ufufu....I will keep it, as a reminder of my promise to those jesters, and of the insult towards us."

 

"You....witch! That's not yours!" the golden 'knight' protested while struggling with the dragon's jaws.

"Hmph." Ossia scoffed. "A lizard's chew toy has no right to claim ownership over anything." alicorn dismissed the stallion' objection before turning towards Platinum Gem.

"The wizards interference is gone, and we lingered here long enough. There is nothing else for us in this unsightly scene." Ossia declared.

"I trust you servants are shrewd enough to find way on their own? Grab my shoulder Pretty Thing, and think about place you desire to find yourself in and I do the rest." alicorn instructed, her aura flaring up around herself and their loot in preparation for teleportation.

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Oh bloody Tartarus, the wyrm was still conscious!  Platinum Gem had barely enough time to realize that she was not about to die, thanks to Ossia's shield, before having to catch her breath long enough to respond.  "Yeah... Not quite de riguer anymore."  It was honestly a bit of a relief not to cross the final villain barrier quite yet, not that 'Pretty Gem' would ever admit that to her mentor.  Anyway, she did better with less impromptu scenes.

 

The mare shook herself.  Time they weren't here.  "Right, they're on their way home right now, and we should be as well."  Reaching out towards the alicorn's shoulder, Platinum wasn't at all surprised to find the texture to be absolutely exquisite, like the richest of velvets imported from exotic clothiers.  *I can't wait to find out what her wings feel like...*  No, bad, don't picture that, otherwise Ossia will create some kind of spatial paradox.  Picture instead the caverns under Blueblood manor...

 

 

And just like that, they were there.  They had been crystal mines, back in the day, before the mining operations had to stop out of fear that the city's foundation would be destabilized.  The chamber was cool, half-furnished with shelves holding various relics, some valuable, none really powerful.  Off in the corner was a pile labeled 'Fakes' that probably should be disposed of at some point.  "Huh... well, here it is.  They won't find us here, and we can drop off the load before going up to the house."  Sighing in relief, shaking a bit to get the tension out, she levitated the Glamour Garnet off of her neck.  Just like that, in a kind of of sudden shift of transformation, the handsome prince from before stood once again.

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While Ossia imagined that the spell would take them straight to Blueblood's mansion, what she saw was special surprise.

"Oh, a secret cave . You can't go wrong with the classics." pink alicorn commented in a sing-song voice.

Nerezza looked around noticng how...unfinished the place seemed.

"Good location, but could use some more 'touch' - have to get to that soon. You did all of this yourself, didn't you Pretty Prince?" Ossia inquired. Having to maintain his secret identity, there wasn't much of a choice on his part. Yet, seeing that Blue wasn't exacly....the physical kind of pony, it had to be daunting for him to do even that much. Ossia smiled while picturing an image of Prince trying to put together pieces of furniture.

"Oh, how much your muscles had to ache how labored you had to be....My advice is learning to enjoy that kind of thing. While some would regard this as a grunt work....There always is a certain amount of satisfaction when doing things yourself." she said, with expression that made it clear she wasn't talking about carpentry.

"That and the fact you can't always rely on servants to do the job for you." Ossia added, her gaze getting harsher for a moment "If the Soldiers are to follow, the King has to make the first step. Learn to lead through the example, not just paycheck."

 

With that said, Nerezza face quickly brightened up.

"Still, seeing that yu got what you wanted, I guess the congratulations are in order. So: Congratulations on taking the initiative so resolutely!" pink alicorn genuinely praised the Prince. She even clapped to show her appreciation! "Taking hold on the ample opportunity is not something many could do, they don't know when to be...spontaneous. Plans are good, but one has to not hesitate to abandon them when a better occasion present itself. So, Good job Your Highness." Nerezza said with a smile.

"Buuuut don't allow this one success to make you rest on the laurels. Examine the order of event's, learn from your experiences, ponder what you could do different or better. Don't revel in your victories - better yourself through them. And if you do well enough...Well...." she said before making a twirl. "...You get the idea. You didn't thought I started this way, did you?" Ossia asked giving Blueblood's brain something to munch on.

 

"Well, enough of the lectures for one day. Downtime, time!" she suddenly announced before taking off the green sash around her waist. The metal bracelets on her legs soon followed, and so did the black tiara on her head. Oh dear. Was this going where it was going?

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"The classics generally are so for a reason."  Blueblood remarked, as he stowed away his most precious relic in the special velvet-lined box reserved for it.  He lingered a bit before closing it shut, with a little more emphasis than was necessary.  *Machina was right... this transformation will eat at my identity if I let it.  But it synergizes so well with with my plans and other relics...*  There was a risk of losing himself, but what was the alternative?  Remaining a practically powerless pretty-pony.  No; whatever came of this, Blueblood would persevere until he, or she, commanded their due respect...

 

But the Prince still had a ways to go before then, judging by Ossia's appraisal.  He had not, in fact, assembled the entire thing himself, though it was only with a few trusted servants that he brought down the furniture.  Apparently, his alicorn mentor appreciated a DIY stallion?  Hopefully that is what she meant.  In any case, he nodded.  "A project for when we sort our current haul out.  Heh, did pretty good there, didn't we?"  He ventured a grin, pleased that she seemed to agree with the statement... conditionally.  "Well, no I don't suppose you did.  We all have to start somewhere, though I'll admit this was the first time I'd gotten anywhere."  Opportunism was often borne out of desperation, but apparently today's first lesson was to keep it around, even for the better times.  Don't leave home without your relics, and always pay some attention to where the dragon is.  Right.

 

Upon seeing Ossia begin to shed her accessories, Blueblood raised a brow, thoughts already wandering away from villainy, though not quite away from naughtiness in general.  There was just something about her aura, he supposed.  "Perhaps... we should take the elevator to somewhere more... comfortable?"

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Ossia of course couldn't help but notice Blueblood's strange behavior when he put away that gender-bending Garnet  of his. Was something bothering him? It would be better to do some preemptive maintenance just in case....

"Don't ponder to much over tools." she said while nonchalantly leaning against one of the shelves. "I saw relics capable of turning whole realms to ashes turn useless in hooves of incompetents. The item - no matter how magical or not - is only as capable as the will of it's user. Take this blade for example...." Nerezza proceeded to summon the sword she took as a trophy a mere minutes ago from some pocket dimension.

"Remember that dragon those nincompoops were struggling against? It may be not obvious at first glance, but this weapon should - by all means - fell the wyrm in one blow. And yet...." she shrugged before dismissing the blade.

 

"Well in that case that 'sorting' shouldn't take long at all. This escapade was a show of quality over quantity." she mused when Blueblood commented on her proposition of making improvements. Carpentry wasn't exactly something she found exiting, but she picked a thing or two during her dimension-hopping life.

 

Ossia mercifully omitted to comment on Blueblood prior success rate. Was it really his first genuine victory? If that was the case, then Di Nerezza had more work before herself then she expected.

 

"Well....it's a bit chilly out here." Ossia said after Prince's proposition, while rising her hoof to neck part of her bodysuit. With an audible hiss coming off the suit, and gasp of relief coming from the mare, Prince could witness her garment inflating, before splitting into half on her back and finally falling to the ground.

 

"Uhhh finally. You have no idea how long I was in that thing. My coat is all matted from sweat." pink alicorn complained as she stepped out of her suit, allowing Blueblood to fully contemplate her physique. Sure, her cloth was form fitting, but the black color was hiding more then few details.

 

This was how Cadence could look like if she spent her life as a fitness instructor. Athletic, but not unfeminine, the sculpted features only highlighting the softness of the other parts.

Speaking of which, Blueblood finally could take a good look on her Cutie Mark.....

 

A crystal heart, just like Candace's. But slightly smaller, jade instead of cyan and incumbent on what looked like a black throne.

"You are a Prince correct? You do have pool upstairs, correct? I haven't been able to enjoy one in ages!" Ossia said, for a moment completely oblivious of any effect her unclothed form had on the royal pony. Only after taking a few steps and gazing down at her own leg she came to realization.

"Oh right. That won't do."

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Blueblood received his teacher's admonition over relics with a wry look.  "That assumes that it is only the will of the user controlling the artifact.  It's not uncommon for the reverse to be the case.  And then where are you, if you can't verify that your thoughts and desires are your own?"  A sobering thought for sure, one that may well have caused the Prince pause on his own feelings concerning Ossia.  That is, if she hadn't at that point removed her bodysuit, showing off her form in it's full glory!

 

Blue thanked his lucky stars that he had been born a unicorn, for if he had been a pegasus, it would have taken a full half-hour to get his wings tucked back in again!  Everything about her form was pushing all his buttons, from the strength evident in her physique, the charm of her large wings, or the mere fact of her height; these all blew any doubts and second thoughts about his future plans straight out the back of his skull.  He blinked, unsure of why she had hesitated.

 

"I think you look wonderful!"  He blurted out, before realizing that her striking looks may well give them both a bit of trouble when seen in public.  "But, yes, you'll want to get into some sort of disguise, I suppose.  Er, did you want a hot or a cold bath?  I can have either drawn."

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"Ahahaha well yes. But in such cases you only need to be greater then relict itself, either in will or pure power. And as I stated earlier we will be working on enhancing both." Ossia reminded her newly 'appointed' student. "This also another thing to keep in mind - don't rely on items that hold power greater then you own, otherwise you will find yourself lost without it." alicorn paused before giving a heavy sight. "Of course it's easy to say for me. You don't exactly have a luxury of turning that maxim into a practice yet." Nerezza lampshaded  "But once again, I will do everything in my power and beyond to help you grow."

 

 

"Hmmmm we have to craft a backstory first. How about 'Clear-headed mare in a need of work brought Hoofsome Prince away from danger after some irresponsible costumed freaks engaged rabid dragon in a public space? Grateful he hired her as personal assistant.' Ho-Huuum." she mumbled while giving a self-satisfied nod.

"Of course it needs ironing out. Ponies may - or rather, will - ask for details. For example, from where this...." Ossia paused, pondering. "Misty Note came from. Germaney perhaps? As of the appearance....."

 

With those words pink alicorn lighted her horn and the royal stallion could witness how the colors changed after a flash of amaranth light - her pink coat turned lime green, and her multicolored mane became solid black, and so did her tail.

"Hmm not a bad start. Now....." a few smaller magical burst ensued. Her female musculature was toned down a bit, manestyle changed form a high ponytail to a pixie-cut, and she added a pair of glasses to give more 'professional' look for this 'unicorn mare'. Something that was also suggested by her 'new' Cutie Mark, a document holder and a signing seal of some sort.

"Well that sha...." Ossia started but cut herself short upon seeing a shadow of disappointment on Bluebloods face. It took her a few seconds to connect the dots before she realized the reason for stallion's chagrin.

"Ufufu...very well." she mused and in another display of magic, Misty Note horn was 'replaced' by a pair of wings. It seemed that flying mares were one of Blueblood's triggers, an useful thing to remember.....

"I guess writing using wings is still fun. And I guess I could use some dexterity exercise for them anyway, so I could put the to a very good use later. Like a massage." di Nerezza noted, her voice practically purring. "I have to make a proper 'anchor' and do some more work to make it into a proper solid form. It's too fragile otherwise seeing it's just an illusion. See?" she added before grabbing Blue's hoof with her magic and guiding it to her stomach. While it looked relatively average right now, he could without a doubt feel a sculptured muscles hidden by the arcane mirage. "It's still me underneath all of that."

 

"Oh I fine either way." the winged mare answers Prince's question. "I have a feeling it will turn into hot bath regardless." she added with half-lidded gaze. "Now, would you lead the way Hoofsome?"

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It was of some relief to know that he wouldn't have to deal with potential psychological disintegration or personality re-writing forever.  Altogether, the prospect of being an apprentice was more and more appealing to Blueblood, which he expressed through a grateful smile.

 

As his teacher crafted her disguise in front of him, Blueblood watched with interest, and a bit of frank relief as the wings were ultimately preserved.  "Thank you; if I can help in your practice of dexterity, that will at least be something towards paying back everything you're doing for me."  That was actually not an irrelevant question; what was Ossia getting out of all of this?  A place to stay and cover for her identity, naturally, but that seemed hardly sufficient for what she was willing to invest in this relationship.  Was it, perhaps, the Prince himself?  The unicorn would certainly be flattered to think that was the case, though perhaps the full implications of that hadn't fully sunken in.

 

It was a bit hard to be contemplative, in any case, in the presence of an alicorn, even a disguised alicorn, that continually brought to his mind her sheer physicality.  Just the touch and feel of her musculature was a unique sensation in and of itself; and Blueblood couldn't help but infuse his caress with a bit of reverence.  They had to break for now, but he would gladly lead her upstairs, to his manor and the bath, where no doubt some closer acquaintanship would be developed.  In the meantime, no harm giving her a good view of himself.  "Alright then!  Just into the elevator here..."

 

The doors slid open, cracks in the rock parting to reveal a fairly lush scarlet interior; a portal to a much brighter future, the Prince couldn't help but think.

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"Well Pretty Prince...there will be a lot of things I would like you will help me with in the future." she answered with a wink. For so long she desired to return to this world that granted her power unlike any other that only now she realized how little she had planned what to do next......

 

How fortunate that she ran into Blueblood then. For all her confidence, teaching will be a new experience for the pink alicorn. Ossia was sure that -regardless of the outcome - she will come to enjoy herself. And who knows? Maybe along the ride, Blueblood really will transform into a pony who's haughtiness was actually justified. With some guiding nudges from her of course.

 

For now however, they had to get upstairs. She really needed that bath.....

 

Ossia couldn't help but rise the eyebrow upon seeing the insides of the secret lift.

"So....it just came this way, or was it designed to make potential trespasser think it was a way to the other kind of dungeon?"she asked.

 

                                                                                                                        * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

They said that time flies when you enjoy yourself. But right now di Nerezza was taking enjoyment from the passage of time, as she observed Blueblood rousing from the slumber after a very eventful afternoon and evening.

"Slept well Pretty Prince?" she asked, while sprawled on the linens next to him. "Oh what am I saying. Of course you did. But don't worry, that's because you attended to your duties as a host and student verrrry serrriously ♥." Ossia said with a purr. "You surprised me, you know. You have such handsome face, but surly are brutish where it counts. I just have to show you how to throw a few mean right hooks. That and the equanimous composure. That bit of nervousness is really endaring but can be bad for business hmmmm?" pink alicorn added while rolling onto her back. She certainly had a room for it, seeing that the bed could only be described as 'emperor-sized'.

 

"And speaking of businesses.....I did some things when you are sleeping. First thing some reading list." Ossia said before levitating the paper page up to stallion's face.  Among position on it were such titles like 'The Art of War' , 'The Lord' by the Neighchavelli, Enûma Eliš and Nibelungenlied.  "And before you ask, yes those are mandatory." she quickly added before presenting the Prince with his very own notebook.

"Also you should think about a better password. But I digress. Knowing is half the battle and if you going to commit you have to study the opposition. Your aunts may be a bit too much to bite for now so.....How about this one?" Ossia asked while half rolling and showing the unicorn the image of earth pony heroine one the screen.....

 

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Ossia's remark about the elevator, while perhaps apropos considering the usual utilitarian nature of similar fixtures in other buildings, rather went over Blueblood's head.  Mostly because the decor of his manor was similarly luxurious, and all the fixtures were simply ordered to match.  Including, as Ossia would find out to her great pleasure, the bathing facilities.  The sleeping arrangements weren't too bad either...

 

 

The morning after a thorough use of both, the Prince found himself slowly swimming up from the depths of sleep.  He only made any great effort to return to the land of the wakeful when the sight of the mare confirmed that yesterday and last night had not been a mere, pleasant dream.  "Good morning indeed, We aim to please."  His grin with the use of the royal we slipped a bit, as he recalled that today marked his return, after several long and largely fruitless years, to the world of education.  Wonderful.  Ossia could flavor it with compliments all she wanted, the whole thing was pure kale salad.  But the Prince wouldn't have the figure he did if he didn't know how to diet.  And after the binge of 'sweets' the night before... it was only fair.

 

"Let's see that list."  He cast a bleary eye over them.  "You're not going to ask me to translate from the native language, are you?  I never did that well back in school."  Truth be told, the ponies he got to do his homework for him didn't do it all that well.  There was only so much money could buy, at least the money of a student not yet come into his inheritance.

 

He bristled a bit at the remark about his password, though on reflection, using his own name was rather a bad idea.  'Hiding in plain sight' didn't really work as a cryptographic principle.  But Applejack- ooh, there was a reason that mare had a file in his notebook already.  "I first noticed that she was resistant to the effects of the Glamour Garnet; not only does that gem transform the wearer into a beautiful mare, it makes those around the wearer more susceptible to seduction.  Not her, though.  Pity, as the muscular mare's my type, in many ways, though the lack of wings are a bit of a knock."

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"Morning?" Ossia asked with amused smirk. With that, the curtains that covered the windows were pulled aside by alicorns magic.....revealing starry sky, and a night lights of half-asleep city.

"Blueblood, you were out for nineteen hours. The head of your house-staff was worried for you even ,but I dismissed her. After all, it's to best expected after such passionate work." she summed out, seeming somewhat...proud of him perhaps?

 

"School? One would expect you had private tutors Prince. Or did your Aunt dearest had an idea that you needed to 'integrate' with others, by being really stingy with what was rightfully yours?" Di Nerezza asked, not missing an opportunity to undermine already shaky relationship royal pony had with sun alicorn.

 

"But I digress. What those volumes are to teach you is not hard facts, but a shrewd ways of thinking." Ossia summed up. "Remember, cunning isn't the same as knowledge, just like intelligence doesn't equal wisdom. You surely met somepony who had so much information in his or her head, but simply lacked common sense, didn't you?"she asked.

 

Nerezza tilted her head in interest as she heard Prince's recount of his experience with the earth pony mare. Home many times the two had met? Or more importantly, how in the world Applejack hasn't captured Platinum Gem yet, if Blueblood's words about his lack of successes was to believed?

"Hmmmm somepony has a type." Ossia said teasingly, while extending one of her wings to stroke underneath of unicorn's chin with it's tip.

"Not that I fault you. Why, I may want take her for a spin myself soon...." pink alicorn whispered. It would be wise to arrange a set of circumstances so she could gauge this 'Equestrian' capabilities for herself. Especially if she is proportionally, as capable as her counterpart.... "Wouldn't you like to see this? Two strong, athletic mares wrestling in front of you...." she added, painting a very suggestive picture in royal piny's head.

 

"Now, what else do you have here...." she mused before clicking. But visage that appeared next was not someoneshe expected.

Blueblood could see, as Ossia's relaxed demeanor instantly shattered, her expression frozen in surprise before slowly turning into that of a cold loathing, one of her grey eyes twitching slightly.

"Bahamunt....Hopesguard......." the mare muttered in venomous tone, as amaranth aura crept around her and the bed....

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"Oh my!"  Blueblood exclaimed as the pulled-back curtain revealed just how long he had been out.  "Well, what can I say?  You bring up the best in the stallions, and it's admittedly been a while since I was able to go full out on anything like that."  Likely, this wouldn't be the last time such levels of exertion were called for.  The prospect was... rather enticing, to tell the truth.  At least, at the end of all of this, he'd certainly be a a better stallion... or at least more of one.

 

The blow aimed at his strained familial relationship struck true, with nary a sting of pain from the breaking bond.  "Good guess on the latter."  He snorted.  "It was terrible; one could hardly ask for help without condescension from authority and mockery from one's peers.  I wasn't even in Auntie's school, she sent me to the one for all the normal, non-powered ponies.  Having to listen to all the hero-worship made me ill."  There was enough there for Ossia to deduce that Blueblood wasn't so much a bad student as an unlucky one, having had a run of poor educators.  It might take a little effort on her part to break some bad habits, but there was a good learner underneath here.

He had to laugh, though, at the mention of knowledge and common sense.  "Oh, yes.  I'll have to introduce you at some point; he's good for a laugh.  Or would be, if his blatant disregard for self-preservation wasn't so terrifying to behold.  I drop by his lab every time I need cardio training; if I'm not running for the hills by the end of the day, the adrenaline has done have the work at least."

 

Speaking of fellow powered ponies, the roster discussion continued.  Blueblood had to admit, the thought of Ossia taking on Applejack was... exciting, to judge from his pinkening face.  Said mood was quickly dispelled by the next picture, which brought out a less... appealing side to the alicorn.  Hoping to avoid an outburst, Blueblood cleared his throat.  "Ah, yes, them.  Bit of a to-do about knitting together some worldwide network of heroes.  Bit naive if you ask me, and I think circumstances backed me up.  They got infiltrated and taken down; something about their core database being stolen or hacked or somesuch.  All the offices are defunct; there's still some going around trying to revive the thing, they pop up in the news every once in a while.  That dragon more often than most, but... well, that Haze fellow always seems to have their number.  Probably why Auntie's interested in getting new blood into her heroes; they wouldn't be in the database, and thus less easily neutralized."

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"Well then, maybe next time I will show you that I am able to bring the very best from the mares too. You wouldn't mind, do you? I guarantee, it's an unforgettable experience" Ossia whispered avidly into Blueblood's ear.

 

Ossia tilted her as she listened about Blueblood's associate with interest.

"It's mentor's failure to not see student's potential. Even more so to squander her time on many, instead of polishing one into perfection. Make no mistake Prince, I won't go easy on you, but neither you will suffer negligence from me." pink alicorn reassured royal pony once more.

 

"I know who they are! First. Hoof." Ossia snapped at Blueblood. It was only his further words that made her regain her focus.

"What do you mean infiltrated?! They disbanded?! How am I supposed to track them down now? How long I was gone?!? Who stole my revenge?!" she asked. It's was only moments later that Nerezza eyes opened wide, upon realization that she said more than she should. Alicorn froze for a moment, givin an impression that she will explode with rage moment later. Instead Ossia took a big breath, and forced her magic back into control.

"Hmph, not the first time I suffered setback like this. It was unbecoming of me to lose my temper like so." she said to herself before shifting her attention back to the unicorn.

"And you, my Lovely Student, deserve at least some of the answers I believe. Well, go on, I am waiting. You surely have many questions." she encouraged the Prince to satisfy his curiosity.

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Ossia's whispered promises were enough to light a fire in Blueblood's core, inflaming his imagination to reach delightful peaks.  "I very much look forward to that."  And if subsequent nights were anything like last night, the interdimensional alicorn would never lack for an enthusiastic student.  The Prince would work hard and play hard, now that he had the proper mentor and motivation.  A pity for Equestria that such things came from the villainous, but that was the hand that Fate had dealt him, and who was he to question fate?

 

Not an immortal alicorn goddess, who felt herself justified in raging against it for a stolen revenge.  The ferocity of her reaction genuinely spooked him, sending the stallion skittering across the sheets and stumbling onto the floor.  "Ah, uh.... like I said, it was, um, an inside job..."  Still keeping a wary eye on Ossia, Blueblood eased back up on the bed, now fully awake and alert.  "I... take it you're not from around here.  You look similar to Cadence, but you aren't her, are you?"

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"Well then, perpetrators of this 'inside job' should start worrying  about keeping in their own insides." Ossia said threateningly.

 

Pink aliocorn gazed for a moment at Blueblood after he made his question. This was going to get complicated....

"Think of me as a possibility Your Highness. A 'Mare that Could Be' throught the circumstance that couldn't happen in the world." Nerezza explained.

She made a long pause, to give the unicorn stallion time to digest what she said. But upon seeing that he didn't really followed her subtle words, pink alicorn opted for a more  'blunt' presentation.

"Blueblood, what you think of as reality ...." she started while she stood up, and surrounded herself with magical aura. "....is One of innumerable amount of Worlds." Ossia said while her spell 'ripped' the said 'reality' apart, to replace it with endless black void, leaving only two of them and bed they were on, in it.

Of course it was only a very convincing illusion that Ossia conjured to help with her presentation. One learned better when she or he could absorb with eyes, along with the ears.

 

"And I don't mean a worlds like those floating near the faraway starts, hosting alien life, like your aunts for example. I bet you wondered more then few times. 'What if I have gone left?' , 'How lucky I didn't ate that!' or 'Maybe I really should have gone to that interview.' " she said while raising into the air with a flap of her wings "But here's the thing Prince, you did. All of those decisions you could make...you made. Or rather, of of your other You did. There is You that did gone left, one that perished from the fatal food poisoning, and one that changed his life through the evening talk-show." Ossia revealed with an enigmatic smile. Only now Blueblood could see that the vast dark is not as empty as it seemed. It was filled with countless marbles. most of the blue, but here or there he could witness greens, purples and oranges. And yes even black ones. Those last somehow seemed much more dreadful then others.

 

"Life...or rather sentience does funny things with time. If one could think about time as a river, then every decision an individual makes could be likened to digging irrigation ditch. Except the act spawns and whole new river from the old one that is." Nerezza continued her lecture as they sailed through the 'void'.

 

"Of course not all decision is equal. Time doesn't like to be split, and will fight tooth and hooftip to solidify itself again. Just as badly dug furrow can be muddied up with time, the alternate timeline that spawn from each decision will collapse or merge back into the parent one when the water stops flowing. The currency in this case are lives, or rather how much of them your decision affects. A stallion deciding his breakfast would not force change, but a, say, kingslayer will." Ossia said.

 

"And, if the action brings ripple big enough, the new timeline gets strong enough, that it starts to stand on it's own. And with time, it's starts to bear it's own, children realities. A never, ending delta." alicorn grinned. "And branching enough times will bring you to a possibilities and worlds that you would deem impossible. And I..." Ossia touched the amulet that was hanging from her neck. "...I am a mare that walks from one of those 'Could Be' to another. And now I came to this one. And I found You." she finished while gazing intensively at the royal pony.

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Prince Blueblood stared agape at Ossia's display, but despite the rather empty look in his baby-blue eyes, his brain was in fact working.  "Other worlds... like, parallel dimensions, you mean?"  The unicorn cocked his head as a purple version of his homeworld floated over it.  "My friend talks about things like that, and we did in fact seem to get a visitor from another dimension last time I visited, too.  Odd fellow, came over with a heavy suit of weaponized armor.  Apparently in his timeline, I was a war hero!  Which was flattering... or would be, if we had won.  From what he told me about what Equestria was like where he was, we apparently didn't."

 

Clearing his throat to cover his embarrassment, he listened to the rest of the alicorn's words with a more engaged expression.  "I see.  That makes sense, though it rather raises further questions.  What's your homeworld like?  I'm assuming you aren't married to whoever takes up White Knight's spot back home.  Why'd you come here?  You mentioned revenge, so I assume this isn't the first time.  And.... are you planning to stay?"  With the last question, he matched her intent stare with a hopeful, not to say infatuated, stare.  It was only to be expected, of course, that Blueblood would fall in love.  It was part of her nature, was it not?  Honestly, the only surprising thing is that such feelings would take so long to reach his heart, after she had captivated every other part of him....

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"More or less..." Ossia said. The things were more complicated than that, but since it made no difference, the time spent on explanation would be wasted.

 

"I know of the world you speak of...." pink alicorn said and waved her hoof to the right. A green marble flew into a view before growing into a huge circular window, giving Blueblood a 'pleasure' of seeing Castle Bravo's home timeline with his own eyes. ".....ravaged by balefire bombs, and poisoned by experiments gone wrong, this dimension is haunted by innumerable horrors. It remains to seen if it recovers or truly becomes tomb-world." she described before turning her head at Blueblood.

"In short, a poor choice for vacation spot. Half star out of five. Wouldn't visit again." di Nerezza callously 'summed up', inadvertently revealing that her hooves touched the soil of this dimension. "The most ridiculous thing I seen there were local 'alicorns'....or rather bootleg versions. And mass produced one's at that. They were very confused why the couldn't 'feel me in Us', and even more so when I steamrollered them." she added with some clear pleasure in her voice.

 

"Ahhh see, but there is a big difference between that Blueblood and You. Or rather many, many other Bluebloods and You. Most of them, if they ever took to fighting was due to circumstances, peer pressure, expectations of others....." Ossia explained "...You on other hoof, took to action on your own. Your sucess rate doesn't matter, the very fact that you took initiative, decided to not be idle by your own free will is what makes You superior to most of your counterparts." Ossia said, doing her best to build up Prince's confidence....

"But remember, if not careful, You can repeat their failings still. You have unique opportunity to learn from mistakes of your counterparts them because of my presence. Don't waste it."...without making him too arrogant that is.

 

When Blueblood asked his mentor about her home dimension, he could see her frreeze. For a moment, a hint of pain and fury flashed in her grey eyes before she recomposed herself. Whatever she experienced in her reality that made her what she was, it wasn't a pleasant to remember.

"My world? By now probably dead. And....." her gaze turned towards Prince. "I am NOT Cadance...." she said interestedly, yet without anger.

"I may look like her, sound liker her, be alicorn of love like her....but.....I am not her. My existence is because of a desperate gamble take by a desperate mare, end that I taken to wandering realities is due to pure dumb luck as well." she said, while the look she gave the unicorn stallion made it clear that he shouldn't press for more details, at least for now. Di Nerezza paused for a moment before proceeding to answer the later of royal pony questions.

"You deduced correctly Your Highness. This is actually a fourth time I entered your world." she explained.

"You must know that for some reason, your reality is much more difficult to enter than others. If I have to guess it has some kind of Guardians or Watchers present that maintain the shield around it, although I wasn't able to confirm it due to my previous visits being very brief." Ossia said. "It usually takes some weakening of that barrier from your side, for beings like me to breach it. The first time I managed was by pure accident, I wasn't really seeking any specific world...."

 

Ossia paused for a moment, unsure if she should continue. But so far her stay with Blueblood was one pleasnt surprise after another. It wouldn't hurt to reward him with another tidbit of trust, right?.

"....Even for me entering new reality is...taxing. Unless I preparations before-hoof, it's a risky endeavour. It leaves me weakened, like fish needing to acclimate when moved from old aquarium to the new one." Nerzza revealed.

"Your timeline is very difficult in that regard as well. When I first arrived to your world it was like diving into waters of an arctic sea....and yet at the same time a felt mightier then I was ever before." pink alicorn said before focusing on Blueblood again.

 

"Alicorn's...the true alicorns that is, are mighty regardless of universe, but in yours...something in yours make them mightier still." she explained before flashing an audacious smile.

"...Not that is helped me first time before. Still confused and trying to sot things out, I was jumped by a group of five...or rather Avalon Five as the called themselves. I believe it was their experiment of sorts that allowed me to go in. I guess they were searching to enter some nasty place, because they mistaken me for some fiend, and they wasted no time in 'showing me the door'." Ossia explained her encounter with legendary - and now half retired, half dead - superhero group.

 

"Of course once I recovered I tried to return immediately. I had to understand this phenomenon, study it..see if it can be...replicated in other words. But I found the entry barred. Someone or something had founded distortion in the barrier. I had no choice but to wait, while I tended to other issues. So I placed an arcane ward and waited......" she paused for dramatic effect....

 

"....For 126 years. At least from my perspective. And when next opportunity occurred I took it right away. But it wasn't Avalon Five that gave me the trouble during my second visit. It was Hopesguard."she repeated the name of her enemy, with clear disdain in her voice. "Our very first encounter....."

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'Mass-produced' alicorns?  That drew a raised eyebrow from Blueblood.  Not that he necessarily thought the concept such an abomination; he'd bless the assembly line which would affix a pair of wings to him.  Still, best not to display such abject envy before the teacher, though.  "Well, as the old Prench Villain once said, 'Quantity has a Quality all its own.'  Of course, the Grand Armee would not have been what it was without Neighpoleon, and he certainly wasn't leading the lot you faced."  The fact that the Prince had actually picked up a bit of famous history might have been surprising to some, but scraps of facts did filter down, or up, to every mind eventually.  Plus, as a villain relying on henchmaids, those in the past who made good use of minions were targets for his emulation.

 

Ossia did pick up on the initiative he was displaying, and suitably praised it, though not without dumping a bucket of cold water on his head to reduce the swelling.  But that didn't shake him near as much as that glimpse of something terrible in her face, something that spoke of a darkness in her past that his relatively pampered life had no peek into.  He took a deep breath, glad at least that whatever she had felt, it wouldn't be dumped on him.  
"Well, I suppose the trip would be rough.  This isn't actually the weakest place for travelers to come in, unless like you said there was already someone here trying to open portals.  That's what my friend was trying to do when that Bravo chap showed up."  He blinked again in surprise at the mention of the Avalon Five.  "What, you're that old!?"  He blurted out, before immediately catching himself.  "Er, right.  Alicorn, should have known.  I can only hope to preserve myself so well."

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"This lot that I faced, shouldn't be called alicorns really, I did only due to lack of better term. They were bootleg versions, made by somepony...or something that  only heard about genuine articles, an attempt of emulating, one that slapped horns and wings and bit more power then common pony has and called it a day. Even your aunts are more qualified than those...parodies were." Ossia further explained, with disgust in her voice clearly discernible.

 

"At the same time, you are not wrong Prince. You and Me - as perfect combination as it is - won't get far if opposition is as strong as I suspect. We need allies, that is clear. But we have to be picky. For example madponies and other maniacs are simply unreliable, no matter what amount of power they hold. So are mercenaries, who are ready to turn on their employees at the sound of heavier sack of bits dropping. No, we need those who act for the cause, but a cause that wouldn't contradict our goals." pink alicorn mused, as much to herself as to the stallion.

 

"Hmmm...." the winged mare murmured when Blueblood once again mentioned the other, dimensional traveller. This gave her an idea....

"And where this...Bravo is now Prince?" she asked.

 

 

Ossia only smirked when Blueblood expressed her surprise at her age. But instead of answering his in straight way, Ossia did what often ponies did, while mysterious cloaked figures appeared, almost indistinguishable from the dark background....Figures that started to assist Ossia with their melodious chanting.....

 

Oh Prince, Born and Raised

Know that I am experienced mare

Of skills of mine I am justly proud

(Gloriae cupiditate!)

 

Oh Prince Born and Raised

Know that I much wiser then

This clueless blind ignorant crowd!

(Amor vincit omnia!)

 

So tell me Platinas

Why is love in world so rare?

Cry of empty hearts scorching my soul!

(Praeposterum!)

 

I see it, I feel it

The world that is much more fair

So why the love is not in it's control?

(Factum est utandi!)

 

This fire

Love's fire

This radiance from within!

This burning

Desire

It's time for it to win!

 

At those words the 'chorus' robes turned passionate red, with them towering on both left an right, like a a honor guard of sorts. Di Nerezza started to fly back and forth, like a tiger trapped in the cage.

 

It is their fault!

(Aeternum!)

It's them to blame!

The foolish sisters

Dousing desires flame!

(Semper in aeternum!)

But I have plan!

(Aeternum!)

They will feel woe!

(Aeternum!)

Those who will try

For love to lose once more!

(Ultimum aeternum!)

 

So join me, Platinas!

Halting turns of this unjust wheel

Let flames of love ignite your soul!

Rebel against Sisters!

And let them taste very well

How's it's to be one helpless and alone!

(Amor vincit omnia!)

 

This fire

Love's fire

Now Blueblood, it's your turn!

Choose me and

build pyre

Let's make old order burn!

 

(Ossia Eleison)

Love have mercy on world

(Ossia Eleison!)

Love have mercy on them

(OSSIA ELESION!)

They will bow to us

Or they, will, BUUUUUUUUUUURN!

 

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It wasn't surprising to Blueblood that Ossia would hold the falsified alicorn in contempt.  Didn't do a darn thing to cure his wing-envy, but that was a side matter.  What he could offer more relevant commentary on was reliability of allies.  "Honestly, that's why I use the House staff as my henchponies.  It turns out that being able to do a good job in cleaning an upkeep signifies quite a lot in terms of how reliable one is in supporting one's acts of theft and mayhem.  I wouldn't trade them for any mercenary or powered-up pony you care to name."  He chuckled.  "I guess my general rule of thumb would be, if you're not willing to get into a maid outfit for me, you're not really on board with me."  An amusing thought, but on reflection, not one that could be realistically applied universally.  "I suppose that's more for subordinates than allies, though."

 

Ossia's question about Bravo caused the Prince to purse his lips and furrow his brow in thought.  All for nothing in the end, though, so he quickly smoothed out his expression before nascent wrinkles made their presence known upon his face.  "I'm afraid I couldn't tell you.  I think he's taken it upon himself to guard the gate against unwanted intrusions from his world, though he's smuggling his children in."  He gave another sigh as he said, "Probably going to get them enrolled in Auntie's school, now that I think about it."

 

It was just as well for the interdimensional alicorn that Blueblood's last thought before her song and dance number was negative regarding his aunts.  As it was, the whole display both thrilled and puzzled him, seeming to come on at an at best tangentially relevant question.  His expression remained impressed, but his tail was thrashing in an almost impatient manner, until she reached the very climax of her coda: "Alright, alright!  Should have known better than to ask a mare her age..."  The bathos of the moment struck the pair like the floor would after slipping on a banana peel.

 

That said, he could not have witnessed the moment unaffected, and most certainly was not.  "All that said..."  He took a deep breath, knowing this would be the moment of no return.  "If you think me worthy, I shall be a carrier and envoy of your flames!"

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