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IceStorm

Retracing Old Hoofsteps. (ATTN: Alvida, PM to join)

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The golden bells of the Princess' laughter rang out yet again.  "I would say more like Raven's kiss than yours; the more juicy I make it, the more likely the tabloids will run with it.  Though the rags will take scraps of most anything and spin it into iron pyrite, fooling just enough ponies to keep selling their issues."  She sighed, though not heavily.  Rather as one who had made peace with a routine burden of her station.  All nobility had to deal with the gutter press sooner or later, and some even decided to buy part ownership in some papers, just to get something out of the mess.  Not to mention siccing reporters on rivals...

 

Blueblood's family owned shares in almost all of them, and the alabaster unicorn had found his journalistic influence to be a useful asset on many occasions, though they couldn't silence every embarrassing story about themselves.  But in cases like these, shouting enabled more secrecy than silence.

 

Eying the sparks off Raven's horn, Bluebelle returned to the atlas, musing aloud.  "You know, there are some old crystal mines underneath Canterlot, and I inherited a legacy share in them.  They're not tapped out, either, it's just that further commercial excavation could undermine the structural integrity of some of the city.  Still, if you were just doing research, I don't think it would be impossible to obtain permission to set up a lab down there.  Would have the benefit of not placing you so far away from your marefriend, after all."

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Icy couldn't help but giggle and push back into the kiss that Raven said wasn't too convincing. Bluebell added that she said that she liked Raven's kiss better than hers. the more juicy that she made it, the more likely the tabloids would run with it. She added though that most of the time they take it and spin it to make pyrite out if it. She couldn't deny this, but thankfully she hadn't come across many of those types in her travels yet. Of course, ponies should take care of how they use their words regarding herself, her friends, or her princess in the future. After all, with all of her connections, it wouldn't be too hard to plant some information to make that entire reporting studio look like traitors to Equestria. She would rather to not have to resort to things like that though.

 

When she brought up some of the old crystal mines in the base of Canterlot Mountain, Ice facehoofed. She had completely forgotten all about those. She added that she didn't think that it would be impossible to set up a research lab down there, and Ice nodded. "I can actually talk to Princess Luna about that directly the next time I'm either on post or training with her. Given that there's common interest in what you're trying to accomplish, I think it would be rather easy to convince her to allow it. Of course, you wouldn't be allowed to harvest too many of the crystals cause as Bluebelle said, some of them are part of Canterlot's structural stability. We'd have to know where the line is and how to get around it. I love the idea of not being as far away from each other though. That is definitely a major benefit," she she smiled. "And being closer, means you'll have plenty of opportunities to get used to kissing like that. Besides, it adds a little bit of excitement," she said booping Raven's nose.

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Raven giggled and smiled as Icy booped her. "Yeah, excitement is good, but not if it means I can't be close with you... Wait, there's caves under Canterlot?" Her family had been there since the city was founded, but not one of their journals mentioned anything about crystal caves... Well, at least, none that she'd read. There were several shelves of them in the study, after all, covering the entire span of Equstria's military. She shook her head to rid it of her wandering thoughts, before nuzzling Icy. "I mean, sure, we shouldn't need large samples. Besides, the physical labs will be set up here, so any I take will be for personal theories or to prove one of the others researchers' theories... Assuming the crystals under Canterlot are the same as the ones here in the north... Thaumicly speaking, they may have entirely different matrices or even different wavelengths. I'm not sure, but it may be possible that the only pony who's researched crystals at any length is... Well, let's leave it that he was a ruler of these lands... Don't want to upset anypony..."

 

All of a sudden, a shiver ran through her and she unconsciously snuggled closer to Icy, seeking warmth. "Is... Is it colder in here...?" She asked quietly, not wanting to seem like she was asking them to move somewhere else. Her brow furrowed in thought. She'd been cold a lot today, but only her. Everypony else around seemed to be fine, it was just her... Why? Could it have been the dome of fire and ice? "Icy... Do... Do you think... I... Is it possible that I... I might have got sick from our spar yesterday?" A tone of worry couldn't be kept from her voice, even though she didn't want to make her Marefriend, her love, upset. She knew that Icy would probably blame herself if she had gotten hurt, but so much had happened yesterday, and the dome... Raven still didn't know what had happened there, but could some of Icy's magic infected her?

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"Sounds like we have a plan, then!"  Bluebelle smiled brightly, closing the atlas she had in front of her.  "I'd have offered to pilot the permission papers through myself, but seeing as you have royal connections yourself, Icy, I'll probably just open up the sites I have access to and co-sign on them.  Take note of that, Raven; never feel ashamed in using personal connections and unofficial channels.  That's part of the reason that we're kept around, as a class, so that channels of communication at high levels don't become fully bureaucratized.  Of course, that also means that one becomes fully and personally responsible for the consequences of their actions; no passing the buck to a faceless organization or committee."

 

The Princess was smiling as she gave her first 'lesson', though she grew concerned at Raven's complaining of cold.  "I... don't feel any different."  Frowning, she looked out towards the street.  "Should get something warm to drink, at least.  Heat and hydration should both do you good, whether you're ill or not.  Now, where is the closest coffee shop?"

Edited by PrinceBlueblood

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Ice Storm nodded when she heard Raven ask about the caves under Canterlot as well mentioning that most of the physical labs for the studies would be set up here. She also mentioned that thaumatically, there was a chance that the crystals that were under the mountain in Canterlot had an entirely different make up and wave length. Ice Storm hadn't really thought about it, but it didn't appear that Bluebelle knew much on the matter either. If she didn't she didn't let on. Still though, it seemed that Raven liked the idea of having an source of operations in Canterlot. They would definitely be closer and that was something that Ice was happy with. She also heard her add that the only pony that she knew of that had researched the crystals to any extent, was a pony that used to rule here that she didn't want to name. She was afraid that it would upset others. Ice of course knew who she was talking about, and she was correct. Mentioning his name would probably create unrest in the library. She feared there could also be lasting side effects to the moral of the Crystal Empire as a whole if they found out that Sombra was still alive.

 

Bluebelle then spoke in approval of the plan and talked about how she would have offered to push the pilot papers through herself, but she didn't see the point since Icy had direct ties with royalty anyways. She did have a point. It would have been redundant for Bluebelle to push something like that through. Plus it would raise suspicions. A pony, especially a princess, would easily wonder why Ice Storm chose to have Bluebelle approach them with the subject rather than addressing them herself. It would make it look bad for Bluebelle. Like she was trying to use the caves for something herself, for reasons that she wouldn't say. Ice couldn't think of anything that Bluebelle would, and she knew that Bluebelle wasn't trying anything... but that wouldn't keep Celestia or Luna from thinking it. Even if Bluebelle did approach them, Ice knew that Luna would speak directly to her before doing anything.

 

"I agree. It's probably better that I approach and ask Luna directly myself anyway. Princess Luna personally knows where I stand on many matters, especially ones that would directly deal with the safety of Equestria as a whole. Any request that came in front of her that had my name on it that wasn't from me she'd probably be wary of, and talk to me anyways before making any sort of decision on them. To make sure that I was actually the pony that came up with the strategy or that the reasons for such requests were accurate. Not that she or anypony else would have reason to distrust anypony here. Just merely pointing out that if I were in her shoes, and somepony came to me with something regarding a favor for a pony that I would have direct personal contact with on a regular basis, I would be wary about what was actually going on, and wouldn't do anything before consulting said pony and found out why they just didn't come to me. Princess Luna is not as intimidating as everypony makes her out to be. I mean, I guess she could be if you made her angry, but I try not to do that," Ice commented before hearing Raven mention about being cold suddenly, and asking if it was possible that their spar from earlier had made her sick.

 

""I.... I wouldn't think so... but I guess anything could be possible... I mean, I really hope that I didn't make you sick... I wouldn't be able to forgive myself for hurting you, even on accident. Have you been feeling colder ever since we sparred?" she said as Bluebelle also spoke up on the matter. She said that whether she was ill or not, heat and hydration would both be beneficial. So they should continue their conversations over a nice cup of coffee at one of the coffee parlors. "I think that is a great idea, although I'm afraid that I am unsure of where exactly much of anything is here. After all, most of my previous visit here was spent in the hospital. Which speaking of, if the coffee doesn't help you feel better, we should go see one of the ponies there and figure out whats wrong. I'll be the first to admit I'm not exactly sure what that dome of ice that you would in would have done to most other ponies... I'll be the first to admit that it was way too much for a spar..." Ice said as she started to feel a bit down on herself. She really hoped that she hadn't hurt her new marefriend in any way by accident...

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"No, it... It wasn't you, Icy... I mean, I did have a surge there, maybe something happened then... But yeah, I've been having cold chills. I thought it was just some wind or something. Maybe some hot tea or cocoa would help." Raven said, putting up the books. She still felt a slight chill running down her coat, but it was nothing like before, just like a crisp autumn day. "Besides, I was pushing you. If we're going to work together, we need to know each other's limits." She smiled at Icy, making it clear she wasn't upset. After a short while, everything was returned, her years spent managing her family's small library making it easy for her to remember where each book she'd pulled was from. "Well, I think we passed a shop on the way here... Though maybe the librarian would know?"

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Bluebelle nodded in relation to Icy's remarks on Princess Luna.  "You're right; it is a pity that her public perception has not fully recovered.  Although, I have to say, she hasn't been doing herself all that many favors by disdaining the social elements of royalty.  It's all very well to say that judging flower shows is beneath your dignity, but who ever had a nightmare about the judge of a flower show?"  She shook her head.  "She and I aren't really that different, now that I think about it.  We both feel that reverence is due to our station as royalty, but we're not always willing to do the unglamorous work to earn it."  There was some evidence supporting that in her actions, as the Princess did put away the fewest books of the three of them.

 

Nevertheless, true to her compass rose cutie mark, Bluebelle had a good eye for navigation and landmarks.  "If it's the one down the eastern street, you most certainly did.  Shortest walk of any I saw.  Better get there as soon as we can."  She took the lead out out of the library, pausing for a moment as she entered the sunlight.  With a practiced gesture, she tossed her mane and swished her golden tail, catching the light of sun and infusing her alabaster coat with its warmth.  She looked so good it was almost infuriating, though few knew the hours of effort it took every day to make such a gesture appear effortless.

 

"Well?  Come along!"  In but a few minutes, the trio would reach the little cafe, with the Princess seating at one of the small tables under a striped awning.

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"I agree that we need to know each others limits, but not to the point where we're hurting each other to figure it out. Though that surge might have something to do with it. perhaps it awakened something in you. I mean, I didn't even have my magic until I got my cutie mark when I had my surge of magic. It's entirely possible that you had some sort of fire deep inside of you that just awakened. If that's the case, it would explain why everything is colder all of a sudden. Do you feel sick or feverish at all?" she asked looking to Bluebell whom was commenting on Luna's status and how her reputation hasn't fully recovered.

 

"I think the reason of that is two fold. She doesn't feel like she's actually wanted at these events. Her tarnished reputation affects her more than most realize. Honestly ponies that are alive now have no reason to resent her for what happened a thousand years ago. No pony today, aside from her sister and... a pony who's name shan't be mentioned here, were alive then. I understand that there are generations of stories painting the princess in a negative light, and if I had my way, I would have all of them stricken from record. I am not foolish enough to believe that such a thing would ever be possible though. A pony may not have a nightmare of a judge of a flower show, but they would have a nightmare about the judge turning into the nightmare if they still believed that Luna was in fact the nightmare." Ice started.

 

"We talked long and hard the second night that I met the princess, the night that I became part of the Lunar guard. She was genuinely surprised to hear when I told her that there were ponies that looked to the moon as a symbol of hope. She's still very much under the impression that everypony still at the very least dislikes her if not hates her. And, after the reactions she got from her first Nightmare Night in Ponyville. They didn't see the princess... They saw Nightmare moon, and it was heart wrenching. All she wanted was to try to reach out to ponies and make friends, and every, single, pony except for Twilight scorned her. So much to the point she threatened to cancel the tradition therein henceforth. After a reaction like that, would you be willing to take the risk of something like that happening again?"

 

"Even if she was invited, there would still be that nagging voice in the back of her mind that she wasn't truly welcome, and honestly, if ponies keep this trend going, the likelihood of events repeating themselves grow higher and higher with every pony that continues to spread that she's still evil. They'll continue to create more and more of a divide until their self-fulfilling prophecy comes true. Eventually, Luna will feel abandoned again, and naturally she's going to turn to the only outlet that she has. I know that she's one of my personal friends and I would guard her with my life, but in the end I am but one pony, in a sea of thousands. I don't know if one friend, or one group of friends would be enough to stop the descent if that time ever comes again," she said following Blue outside since she said that she knew of a place that wasn't too far away from the library.

 

"Honestly, the Princess is likely using dignity as a cover excuse, or to the opposite reasoning. She doesn't feel she has enough dignity to be at such event because of how everypony still views her, and her being at the event would be a slight rather than a boon. We know that isn't the case, but well, like I already said, we are a few in the masses of many. It's up to us to show that the princess isn't as ill liked as she believes. What do you think Raven? Have you had a chance to meet the princess of the night yet? What is your opinion of her?"

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Raven frowned as she thought back to the day before. "I don't think so... There was right after the incident at the joust, and then right before we went to bed, but that may have just been my magic reacting to my emotions... Wait... Are... Are you saying... I... I may be like you, but with Fire? I mean, My magic's always looked like fire, but it's never actually been fire, as far as I know..." She looked downcast as the realization dawned on her, the thoughts causing her to become saddened. What if she ended up hurting Icy, or worse... She wouldn't be able to live with herself.

 

The question Icy asked of her almost escaped her attention, so deep in worry and fear she was. "I... No, The only things I know of Princess Luna is through my family's journals... Mostly from before the whole Nightmare Moon thing. Oh, and of course, the copy of Predictions and Prophecies I have... I always thought the story was tragic though, being trapped in feeling no one wanted you around, to the point where your hoof is forced to do something terrible to prove your own worth..." She answered as they walked down the street, turning her head away as a thought entered her mind. "Actually... Now that I think about it... I kinda can't help but think of my own past... One of the reasons I studied independently was because of the teasing and... Well, and bullying I received in magic school, thanks to my horn... Of course, I wasn't much better to the other students... There were a few broken legs... I... There were times I couldn't control my anger..." Her tone was soft, and while it wasn't the full story, which involved the fact the legs broken belonged to several older students, ones who had considerable more influence then her own family did, it was clear it was a time she regretted deeply...

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With pursed lips, Bluebelle listened to Icy's assessment.  The newly-ennobled Ice Warrior was new to the public relations game, but her reading of the situation did ring true to the Princess.  "There's a lot of truth in what you say, and I know full well what it's like to have a past incident blown out of proportion and haunt you like a tantabus.  One little incident with cake at the Gala, and did anypony let me forget it?  Sure, I snubbed the wrong mare, mea culpa, but to read the tabloids and the rumor mill, you'd believe that I was some monstrous lech plotting in the background to overthrow my Auntie in a coup.  Although," Her brows furrowed in puzzlement. "How they got from me rejecting a mare that I was a lech is beyond me; must be journalism logic or something."

 

The waitress came by at that point, interrupting the Princess's flow.  "Oh, I'll have a small coffee... and a small tea, too.  And for you all?"

 

Once the other mares had given their orders, Bluebelle began listening again, nodding along to Raven's going over of her past.  "I see.  One could say that social circles don't change all that much when we grow up, they just become more subtle and sophisticated.  That said, I don't think they're all that bad, once you learn how to manage them.  But so few ponies do; I only learned myself the past few years.  Part of the reason I'm offering these lessons, you see; I wish I knew then what I know now.

 

"To return to Auntie Luna... well, part of the problem is that there really aren't any good stories to crowd out the bad ones, even to fill the vacuum.  Which is the same problem I faced, and I have to admit, I wasn't doing myself any favors at first.  Turns out, buying controlling stakes in major tabloids doesn't do much good if you can't give the editors anything to work with.  You're part right, Icy, when you say that having a group of friends to champion you is essential; but I think what's even more essential is to have a group or cause to be the champion of.  It was when I started making public efforts to forward international peace that public stock in me began to rise, but what took me by surprise was how well ponies responded to my... well, to my non-standard gender identity, once I went public with it.  Turns out, there were a lot of ponies who were very encouraged by that, and I try to look after their welfare now whenever I turn my attention to domestic policy.

 

"I think Auntie Luna could do something similar, at least tactics-wise.  I have a whole network of assets that I could put at her disposal, if she asked... but she doesn't.  It's so frustrating, sometimes!"  She banged the table with her hoof, immediately wincing as her pedicure hit the crystalline fixture.  "Oof!  Sure, it's uphill battle, or campaign, really; you have to be in it for the long haul, but it's winnable.  I know she could do it, if she thought it worth doing."  She sighed, slumping in her chair.  "It's tough, really; I sometimes think that neither of my Aunts really value what I can bring to the table.  I know it can't have been fun for you, Raven, growing up with the pressure to be as great as your ancestors, but have you ever thought what it would have been like if other ponies thought everything they worked and sacrificed for... wasn't really all that great?"

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Ice Storm nodded when Raven asked if she thought that it was possible that she could be like her but with fire instead of ice. "I think it's entirely possible. Surges of magic are a strange phenomenon that even a lot of the scholars don't know much about. At least if they do, they haven't put the information in any of the books that I've seen, and I've looked through a few of them on the subject trying to piece together just how exactly I got my cutie mark. It's not information that's necessarily important, but it's still something that I would like to know. But it's entirely possible you were able to emulate the appearance of fire because there was still fire magic within you that just wasn't fully awakened yet. The natural survival instinct within the magic could have activated it, but that's the only thing that I can think of." Ice said as she listened to Bluebell discuss the princess a bit more, as well as Raven answering mentioning that the only information that she really knew abut the princess was mostly before the Nightmare Moon thing.

 

Raven did mention though that one of the reasons that she studied it though was because of the own teasing and bullying that she had dealt with when she was a filly because of her horn. She added that there were times that she couldn't control her anger and that she wasn't much better herself because of that. Legs had been broken in some instances. "I'm not any better myself. In fact, the reason that I shut down Frozen Delights the first time, and moved to Ponyville was because Upper Crust decided that she wanted to destroy the sign that I had worked to build for the front of my shop and I shot a beam of magic at her with intent to cause at the very least major injury. I went to Ponyville to try and start over and get my own anger in check while operating my business in a much calmer atmosphere," she said with a smile before moving back to the topic of the princess herself. 

 

"Luna was actually the reason I moved back. She saved me from a blizzard that I got stuck in from the park one night after attending a gala here. I made the mistake of going out there to sleep for the night without checking in for what the weather ponies had planned for that night. ended up taking shelter in the castle after she saw me. After that, she gave me a key to the observatory and told me that I had permanent access to it, so as long as I documented any new findings and reported them to her. I was always good at the documenting part, but because of EPIC I wasn't as good at the reporting part. Now, because of recent circumstances, I'm also a part of her Lunar Guard, and I consider her to be a good friend of mine," she said turning to Bluebelle with a smile.

 

"I have no idea where they got those rumors either, but you don't have to defend yourself to me. I know for a fact that they aren't true. Believe me, If you were actually trying to plan a coupe, knowing that you have an entire organization like IMAGINE behind you as well, you would have heard from me and my forces long before now," she said hinting at the fact that she herself was more powerful than she was letting on. "Besides, a pony that's been rejected by somepony else is hardly the source for credible information. Now if multiple sources back up such claims with actual evidence to support them, and it's not just something that can circumstantially be present, that makes things different. there was nothing of the sorts revolving that rumor though. Everything in those articles was merely gossip and held no weight. Aside from a pride punch of sorts," she said before continuing.

 

"As far as a group goes that the Princess might be willing to be a champion of, I think that I might have just the thing for her. After all, she is the only Equestrian official that knows what I'm truly running. There will be a time though, in the not too distant future... within the next couple years in fact, that I won't be able to keep anything hidden anymore. At least, not with out a lot of help," she stated looking up at the two of them. "You aren't wrong though. Equestria is not really that great of a place in it's current state. It could be a lot worse, and most ponies probably wouldn't agree with the sentiments. However, myself and Raven have both seen the dark side of Equestria, the princess has seen it, and so have many more. The underground society that is festering in Equestria and allows for ponies like Golden Hoof to exist is proof enough of the overall suffering in the places that seem beyond the actual influences of the princess. Even now, with as prosperous as I have been, I will not forget the tartartus that I had to go through to get here. I've been on both sides of the coin."

 

"That's why I'm trying to change how the overall structure of nobility works, and try to push it back to what it actually means to be nobility. A noble is supposed to be a beacon of hope to those around them, a pony that will give help and lend a hoof wherever they can within reason. A noble is supposed to bring the rest of the community up to them, not create an even larger gap between them and everypony beneath them. I swear that's the one attitude that I will be pushing to eliminate as well. Nothing is beneath anypony. We are all flesh and blood, and blood is blood. No matter who's it is, makes no difference. Neither is better than the other. We all eat, we all breath, we all bleed. At the end of the day, it'd do everyone to remember that, and bind together instead of dividing everypony even more. Eventually, that divide will create a war in Equestria that not even I can stop. With IMAGINE, I'm sure you can see the signs of that just as clearly as I can."

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Raven nodded at Icy's explanation. "Yeah, I've not read anything on the subject of surges myself, well, besides caution when raising foals..." She ordered a hot chocolate, and sipped at it. She shivered a small amount as she warmed up a bit. She reassuringly nuzzled Icy before speaking once more. "I think also there's the fact that to most ponies, if it doesn't affect them, it's not a problem... I mean, even in Canterlot there's criminals... I've had to fend off muggers before."

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Blue was certainly reassured by Icy's profession of faith in her, though she had to raise a brow at the mention of 'her forces.'  "Have you begun exercising the feudal privilege of a private army already?  Auntie generally discourages that sort of thing, aside from an Honor guard, usually on loan from the REA.  And I can understand where she's coming from, especially hearing both of your stories.  The current crop of nobility probably can't be trusted with that sort of thing."  Noises of grinding beans and boiling water could be heard from within the cafe; there was apparently little separation between the drink prep area and the customer tables.  Sparing a glance over towards the kitchen to check on the progress of their drinks, she couldn't help but smile at a thought.  "It's ironic, though, you mention not believing the rumors.  I'm certainly no conspirator, but I've become significantly less of a prude at the same time my reputation actually started to recover.  As you might have guessed from a certain night we met in the Observatory."  She gave a wink to the blue mare.

 

The conversation soon returned back to Luna, though, shading again into a more serious tone as Icy brought up a proposed reform of the nobility, an idea that had the Princess nodding along.  "You know?  I had been thinking the exact same thing myself.  There's a lot in the old system of titles that could be revived to bring the worst offenders to account, and elevate those like you who have the resources and wherewithal to renew the elite of this country.  I've been crafting a plan, a series of legal initiatives, that I was going to present before the Princesses.  This is where you co-signing with me would be helpful, though I'd have to explain a bit of the history first."

 

Their drinks arrived then, Bluebelle having to the other mare's one each.  The Princess gave a sympathetic smile to Raven, who hadn't seemed up to meeting them in the conversation.  "Would you like to see something interesting?  I can show you how my little 'curse' works."  Picking up the coffee, she gave the hot beverage a little sip, and immediately a ripple of transforming magic traveled down her body like a wave, leaving a wake of toned masculine flesh where a supple feminine form had once been.  Pulling her- now his, lips away from the cup, Blueblood let out a satisfied sigh, no longer self-conscious about the stares from Crystal Empire natives surrounding him.  Canterlot Court gossip rarely traveled this far north.

 

"Tada!  A stunningly handsome Prince!"  Vanity seized hold of him, and out of habit he struck a pose.  "And for my next trick..."  Taking the tea this time, he sipped, and the whole process reversed itself, the rippling transformation leaving Princess Bluebelle sitting with them once more.  "Well, what do you think?"

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"Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss the details of such an army here, and whether or not something of the sort could possibly exist here. As you said, that kind of private stuff is for the REAs, even if they are about as incompetent as all get up. It's actually quite bothersome in all honesty. One of the other reasons why I joined Luna's guard," she said with a smile as Blue mentioned their night in the observatory. "Oh yes, I remember that night quite well. It's not one that I would ever forget," she said with a sultry smile, wrapping her hoof around her marefriend. "Personally I don't see anything wrong with that. Everyone's allowed to have some fun every now and then, and honestly it's not really anypony else's business who it's with. Although I would say, I think the three of us would have a blast at a slumber party," Ice said with a smile, before hearing Raven mention that most ponies end up not caring about others unless it directly affects them.

"I've noticed that before, and there's actually some readings on it. The theory behind it is called 'The monkey Circle'. It's name comes from, well watching monkeys. In some of the denser jungle forests, researchers noted that monkeys are very similar to ponies in how they feel emotion and how the social structure tends to work. Every heard of monkeys are their own family. Inside their own family, the level of care that they exhibit would be on part with a pony family. When a monkey of their circle is wounded, they'll tend to the wounds. If they are killed, they will mourn. However, what was fascinating in the notes. In the instances where multiple families of monkeys were around each other, and something caused pain and the emotions of one family, the other would just act like nothing was wrong. They didn't care what happened with that family because as you said, it didn't directly affect theirs. If you look around here, those social interactions aren't that much different here. That being said, if you ever run into those muggers again, you come get me, or shoot, your part of Twilight's guard now, I'm sure you'd be able to prosecute them yourself at this point," she said to her marefriend.

 

Then Bluebell mentioned that she was having similar ideas about the reform, and how there was still a lot in the old titles that could be revived to bring the worse offenders to account. That it would elevate ponies like her that would have the resources and the wherewithal to renew the elite of this country. That she had already been crafting up a plan of legal initiatives that she was going to present before the princesses. Ice Storm nodded and smiled. "I would love to hear all of it at some point, and I would be more than happy to sign them, after taking a thorough look at them first. At the same time though, I've also been discussing things with Princess Luna and looking for some ideas and she's welcome to them as well. We should speak with her before going forward to the Royal council. She might know of a way to word something better or catch something that we might have missed that others could take advantage of," She concluded as she watched blue explain, or it this case, showed just how her curse worked. Apparently, if she drank coffee, she became Blueblood, tea Bluebelle. "Interesting... So... what would happen if you drank half and half?" she asked. She never understood the concept of mixing tea and coffee herself but knew there were some that practiced it. Of course, she was biased as it was. She never liked coffee to begin with. "Although I will say, that will things a lot more fun later," she giggled.

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Raven didn't know what to say. The conversation involved things her family had never paid much attention to, and even when she'd been asked to other nobles' parties she'd not paid much attention to the posturing, to who held which title and which lands. Her family of course had their own holdings, and she had a list of them, but they mostly managed themselves... All those thoughts went out the window when Bluebelle took her first sip of her drink.

 

Raven watched, enthralled by the strange magic at work. She sensed a fleeting touch, a strange twist... She was probably one of the few who could even sense that much, all because of her cracked horn leaving her a little more sensitive to thaumic fields. "That's... Wow! I've never seen any kind of magic like that, I mean, I've heard about changelings, and their magics, But I've never seen them, or their magic for that matter, and this definitely seems pony based anyway, I could tell that much..." Raven said excitedly, her words almost running together. She only trailed off when she looked over at Icy, which caused her to blush. She ended up staring down into her cup of hot chocolate, embarrassed that she'd gushed so much...

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It was only to be expected that Icy couldn't talk more of her 'forces' in public.  Honestly, if you were to ask Bluebelle, her friend had probably said too much already.  It made little difference whether one kept a secret if others were made curious enough to take the effort to find it out.  The royal could only hope her gender-swapping display could put such talk out of any eavesdropper's mind.  It certainly appealed to Raven's!

 

"Indeed!  The fascinating thing is that the process was discovered by accident.  I had fallen deathly ill, you see, and Twilight Sparkle graciously offered to cast healing magic on me. If I understood her correctly, the exact spell sets a body to its most healthy potential.  In the process of casting, however, I sneezed, interrupting and distracting her.  As a result, she cast the spell that would make me a perfectly healthy mare.  The lingering effects came with disease interaction, I think.  We're still not quite sure about it."  Icy cutting in about slumber parties provoked a leer on the Princess' part.  "Oh my, is that an offer I hear?"

 

The question about half-and-half struck her right between the eyes.  She couldn't believe that she'd never thought of the experiment before; though having now done so, she could immediately think of half-a-dozen reasons why she shouldn't.  "I.... don't think that would be a good idea.  At least, in public.  Besides, such a mixture wouldn't taste very good."

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"Perhaps trying something like that in public wouldn't be the wisest of ideas. It would definitely lead to an awkward experience. However, you have heard correctly. I would like to host a sleepover between the three of us. We can talk about a number of things there that we can't necessarily," Ice smiled as she heard what Blue had said about how it was discovered. She shook her head and let out a soft laugh. "Of course, Trust it to be princess Twilight to make a mistake that would result in something silly but amazing like that at the same time. Something like that would be amazing for a relationship between a couple of mares like myself and Raven," she smiled at Raven and the implications behind them

 

"It is really fascinating though. I can't say that I've heard of magic like that myself either. I mean, I had heard rumors that there were some gender spells that existed and I was planning on doing some research on them myself. After all, I'm not going to be young forever and at some point I do want to start a family. I can say though that I don't think that this is similar to the changling magic. It's only the gender that changes, otherwise there's no other physical alterations. Knowing a couple changlings I can attest to that. I may have to inquire Twilight about her knowledge of the spell and see if she knows anything that would work for what we're looking for," she said with a smile. "That said, we should start planning events for the slumber party!"

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"Huh... Well, I could take a look at it, I am quite good at spellcraft... Not to say I'm better than Princess Twilight, or anything, I just mean that every spell I cast... I kinda had to learn how to make the spell itself, even if it looks like a normal spell... because of the horn..." Raven said, as she rubbed the back of her head. She'd had a little bit of a panic when she realized she was comparing herself to a princess, but managed to get mostly over it.

 

"Oh, a... a sleepover... I've not... I mean... It sounds fun." She said, a little nervous about the idea of one. It wasn't that she'd not spent the night with others, or even had guests over before, hay, King Sombra had stayed with her for a couple of weeks. No, it was the idea of it being a party. She'd had bad experiences with parties before, and didn't really like them. "I have tons of unused rooms, so... So I could host... Um... and I might know somepony for music... Though she'd not be very relaxing, if that's what we're going for..."

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"Oh, I wouldn't mind you taking a deep look at the magic."  Bluebelle reassured Raven.  "I'll admit, Twilight's.... enthusiasm for research was rather off-putting, especially since it coincided with a serious unsettling of a gender identity I had taken for granted all of my life.  I've since come to understand both myself, and the wider issue much more, along with all the magical aid that might be put towards resolving the issue of dysphoria, and the risks involved as well."  

 

She set aside the coffee, apparently content to remain a mare for now as she discussed the matter in greater depth.  "Changeling magic is not the only method of transformation.  Zebra alchemy has long had methods for the temporary shifting of physical attributes; in fact, I happen to know a practicing alchemist who has such things as one of his specialties.  I use his product with my own marefriends for... well, much the same reasons I suspect you would.  Also, one of my in-laws has developed a novel method of swapping genders between ponies, which one of my honor guard currently uses.  Of course, one has to be careful with such magic; dysphoria can be induced by incautious application, which can linger long after the magic itself has been dispelled, sometimes even permanently."

 

Sleepover parties were... well, a little too plebian for Blue to have had much experience with them growing up.  Still, she had some familiarity with the concept, and gave a reassuring laugh to the nervous unicorn.  "Oh, from what I hear, such affairs are rarely formal.  Gatherings of ponies for fun are just called parties, whether or not there's a specific party pony involved.  Thank Celestia; nothing personally against Pinkie Pie, but I find her a bit... much, to contemplate spending a whole evening in her company.  I think it would just be the three of us, in any case, especially if we want to be free to discuss secret matters.  I value such meetings very much; after spending so much time in public being guarded about certain matters and my own private opinions.  I'm sure you can both relate."

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