Things had gone pretty well after the meeting with Moon Dancer. They met up with Twinkleshine, Lemon Hearts, and Minuette for the dual purpose of reconnecting with them and filling everypony in on what happened. The initial reactions to seeing her as an Alicorn had been...interesting.
Lemon Hearts fainted on the spot and Twinkleshine needed to be poked several times to stop gaping. To Twilight's lessening nervousness, both bowed upon recovering and congratulated her. Minuette...
"Oh, this dream again?" The blue mare asked with a grin as she pulled out a hat made from folded newspaper, "Commodore Minty Fresh reporting for duty, Princess Bookworm!"
For the other three mares, it was a tense few seconds before Twilight started snickering, only barely resisting the urge to burst out laughing while the Star of Laughter blared uncontrollably. She needed that, she really did.
Which led to the start of the current conversation after arriving at Donut Joe's shop, "Wait...this isn't a dream and you're a real Alicorn?" Minuette asked in vague surprise.
"As opposed to a Chocolate Alicorn?" Twilight mock asked, getting confused looks as Laughter dimmed a bit, "...Sorry, my funny bone is a bit underdeveloped."
"What tipped you off it wasn't a dream?" Moon Dancer asked curiously.
"Even though it would be very much like Twilight, my "Princess Twilight Dreams" usually don't have me sitting around listening to a great adventure instead of living one," Minuette explained with a shrug.
"I still don't know what to think of you dreaming about me as a princess," Twilight commented with a raised eyebrow, Moon Dancer looking away at that.
"Just that I always thought you'd make a great one!" Minuette said with a wide smile.
"...Really?" Twilight inquired, flattered yet skeptical.
"Of course! Sure, you didn't always get along with everypony great, but you're the smartest mare I've ever met!" Minuette assured cheerfully, "It's just so easy to imagine the stern no-nonsense Twilight giving out orders with a commanding and wise presence to save the day!" She went on, Moon Dancer getting a lost look, before Minuette looked a bit sheepish, "...even if the enemy was usually something like an army of chocolate-fudge monsters or a Candy-Cane Dragon."
"...Can I borrow your dreams please?" Twinkleshine asked, the ends of her mouth twitching upward.
"Speaking of which, don't you and Princess Luna need your own guards now?" Moon Dancer asked with a head tilt.
"For now, Princess Luna has a division of the Solar Guard while they work on forming a new Lunar Guard," Twilight answered idly as she moved her tongue in her mouth to dislodge a particularly stubborn piece of donut from the back of her teeth, "As for me? Its been less than twenty-four hours, I'm not even sure my title is official on paper yet."
"Well, that and someone would have to be stupid or brave to attack the Nightmare Slayer," Minuette pointed out with a grin.
Twilight gave her a flat stare, "There's no getting rid of that nickname, is there?"
"Considering it's true, no, not really," Moon Dancer answered, the others joining her in a giggle.
"Not like I actually killed her," Twilight muttered under her breath.
"Slayer, Banisher, Cleanser," Minuette listed off with a grin. "They all sound good to me. Now, what's this about you moving?" she questioned, all of them leaning in.
Twilight looked sheepish now. "Well, between getting use to being...this-," she paused, motioning to all of herself. "-along with learning about the Elements, Princess Celestia thought it'd be best for me to take and I quote "A long overdue vacation" to get myself settled. Aaaaaaand I've finally admitted that my book addiction MIGHT be a problem," she answered with a nervous grin.
"One step at a time, Twilight," Twinkleshine quipped, holding Twilight's hoof in mock comfort, eliciting more snickers from the group.
"Haha," Twilight returned flatly despite a playful eye roll as she retracted her hoof.
"So...where are you going?" Moon Dancer asked, trying not to sound too saddened.
"Ponyville," Twilight chirped simply.
"..." Moon Dancer blinked as she processed that. "So...you'd only be a few hours from Canterlot...?" she realized with a smile.
"Mhmm," Twilight answered with a nod. "I've got to learn how to be a Princess too. The capital and a small town will give me plenty of insight to all ends of the spectrum of ponies. Not to mention I have no real desire to move too far from my family," Twilight opined, not noticing how Moon Dancer lit up.
But the others did. "What a coincidence! Lyra has been visiting there a lot! I think she might be moving there!" Lemon Hearts declared.
"Weird, I never see her there on the train," Minuette commented thoughtfully, getting curious looks. "I have to make business trips every couple of weeks," she explained with a shrug.
"Anyway, now for the juicy details!" Twinkleshine declared, leaning in eagerly.
"What details?" Twilight asked with a head tilt. "I already told you everything."
"Not everything," Lemon Hearts agreed with a giggle. "What's Princess Luna like now that she's now longer..."
"Nightmarish?" Minuette supplied cheekily.
"Minu, that's not...wait, no, that is a real word. Right?" Twinkleshine questioned uncertainly to Twilight.
"Yes, it is," Twilight confirmed with a sip of her drink. "As for Luna-"
"Oh, no title?" Minuette teased with a smirk as Lemon Heart nudged her in the side.
"She kind of insisted on that, even if she keeps calling me Lady Twilight," Twilight answered with a sigh.
"Well, she is from an older time," Moon Dancer mused idly. "I'm not an expert, but everything I've heard of the ancient days makes me think she probably takes her debt very seriously."
"She did said something about a more traditional reward for saving a princess after she recovered," Twilight recalled, rubbing her chin as her friends blushed with wide eyes, and Moon Dancer looking like she was choking on air. "Hm? You girls alright?" Twilight inquired in concern.
"W-we're fine, ju-just noticing the elements putting on a show!" Twinkleshine explained away quickly.
"What?" Twilight asked to no one, looking down to see Laughter was once again lighting on and off rapidly. "What's so funny?" Twilight asked in confusion to the entity in her necklace.
"P-probably just a spirit inside joke," Moon Dancer said as she calmed down from various mental images that she didn't exactly want gone. "So, what IS she like? Is she as beautiful as Celestia?"
"I heard she was at least as tall!" Minuette declared with a grin.
"Oh, she was, as Nightmare Moon," Twilight answered hesitantly as she tried to find the words. "She's in a...recovering state, as Princess Celestia put it. So, I don't know what she really looks like. Right now, she's actually about normal size for a mare, even a bit on the small side," Twilight answered with a smile. "But she is beautiful all the same, but...don't tell her I said so, she's rather cute in this form."
"...Did you happen to be standing over her in a heroic yet comforting pose after Harmony-blasting her evilness out of her?" Twinkleshine asked curiously, getting snorts and giggles from her friends.
"No, and why is everypony asking that? Mom asked that, Cadence asked that, now you girls?" Twilight asked with a scowl.
"Just that every artistic depiction of that event will probably be some variant of that rather than the truth," Twinkleshine answered in amusement.
"Bucking imaginative liars," Twilight grumbled to herself.
"S-so, Twilight, you're probably going to get your own estate or something, right?" Moon Dancer asked with a nervous grin.
"Maybe, eventually? Like I said, this whole thing is less than a day old," Twilight reminded uncertainly. "Honestly, I just want to enjoy the rest of the day before moving out to Ponyville tomorrow."
"But if you're not getting your own estate, where are you living?" Lemon Heart inquired with a head tilt.
"The local librar-" Twilight stopped with a hiss of regret as she saw their blank yet amused faces.
"What was that about your book addiction?" Minuette teased with a grin.
"Sue me, I need something to ween me off instead of stopping cold turkey," Twilight muttered with a mock glare as they all laughed at her, a smile creeping onto her face.
This was nice.
"Well, I certainly see why you enjoy these confections, Sister," Luna remarked as she licked frosting from her lips while they walked through the halls. "Even if they are a tad messy."
"You haven't even tried glazed yet," Celestia noted with a chuckle. "Still, I'm glad you're adjusting well."
"You may thank Lady Twilight for that," Luna answered with a fond smile. "Speaking of which, what are thine plans for our future Triarch...wait, is Cadenza counted, technically?" Luna questioned thoughtfully.
"Nay, she has opted to be only a Princess in Aide for now. As for Twilight, I have no plans," Celestia answered truthfully.
"Come now sister, I know you better than that," Luna remarked with a knowing smirk which fell at Celestia's look.
"I had plans, but her unexpected ascension makes most of them rather pointless," Celestia confessed. "I believe now should be a time for rest and patience as Twilight comes to understand her new state."
"Hmm, a valid point. Thine student is massively over-qualified, and an ascension is an event that makes one reevaluate future endeavors if nothing else does," Luna accepted as a silence grew between them. "...Tia?"
"Yes, Sister?" Celestia asked comfortingly.
"What happened? After I was banished?" Luna questioned softly. "I know thee well enough that you would not allow my existence to be lost to myth without good reason."
Celestia said nothing for a moment as she choose her words carefully. "There was a civil war, Luna," she answered with a sigh.
"..." Luna said nothing, watching her co-ruler with concern.
"You weren't overtaken by Nightmare Moon too long before I used...," Celestia took a breath as she fought back a thousand years of fresh sorrow. "That was both a blessing and curse in itself. You, or rather She had not committed much to earn much dhatred in the eyes of most ponies. While I understand now how you felt, Luna, you'd be surprised how many ponies were up in arms when they thought...they thought I had betrayed my own sister on a path to tyranny," Celestia paused as she fought back tears.
A few leaked out as the small figure of her sister nuzzled against her. "It's alright now, Sister. Thou need not say more," Luna assured with her own shaky voice.
"No...no, I think we both need to hear this," Celestia assured as she collected herself. "Some were loyal to you, others just saw me as a traitor. In the end, the war was mercifully short in time and bloodshed. But that brief time inspired many of my more...fanatical supporters to fan the fears of what you had become, thus resulting in Nightmare Night. I couldn't squash their fears but I could...wane them," Celestia said with a bittersweet smile that was more sweet than bitter. "Thus the night dedicated to fear of you became a Night to dress up, playfully scare one another, and give out candy."
Luna chuckled despite herself. "I do appreciate that, even if some do fear me. Not that I can cast blame, given how fresh my return is," Luna acknowledged solemnly before scowling. "Whatever did happen to the rebels?"
Celestia's smile lost all bitterness now. "That was one of my more...brilliant schemes. I never had the heart for more harsh punishments like you, Sister, buuuut I wasn't foalish enough to leave the Lunatics without some form of punishment. Technically, they were all banished from Equestria," Celestia explained with a hint of mischief.
"...And in actuality?" Luna asked with a small grin.
"I promised their princess would return in a thousand years. They promised to bend the knee if you came to them," Celestia explained warmly. "There are several "colonies" that I will need you to visit once your strength is returned."
"...Tis fortunate Nightmare Moon reappeared right where she was originally sealed. T'would have been most unfortunate for her to have learned of those," Luna mused with slightly wide eyes, her happiness obvious all the same. "Where art we heading again?" she inquired curiously.
Celestia smiled widened in mischief, happy to have this to cheer up both of their moods. "Your room, of course," she answered as they stopped in front of a blue door with Luna's cutie mark on it.
"...My room?" Luna repeated in shock as Celestia opened the door, allowing the night princess to enter with a gasp. "This...this is...," Luna stammered as she saw the room covered in shades of blue with a moon shaped bed. "My room..." she finished in awe.
Celestia nodded contently. "A perfect replica of the one at our old castle. It is a bit smaller though, but that's what I get for putting bedrooms in towards the end with limited square hoof space," she mused, half to herself.
Luna barely registered the words and didn't care regardless, moving forward in a daze to crawl on top of the bed and snuggle into the very familiar blankets. "This is...," she took a breath, suddenly feeling stronger than had since her return to sanity. "Home."
"It is, Luna," Celestia promised gently, glancing towards the balcony. "And while we're not exactly room neighbors, my room is on top of the other tower if you ever want to visit. Or get lost. Took me five decades to stop using paths in the old castle," she mumbled.
"Lady Twilight was more than willing to rend onto me a map of the castle and its main facilities," Luna assured absently.
Celestia's eye twitch. Oh how she wanted to ask for a map nearly a thousand years ago when Canterlot was built, but it wouldn't look becoming for a Princess to not know her own castle, or that's what she told herself. Luna's millennial absence gave her every excuse to have one. "Well, I'll leave you to rest so that we can test if you're strong enough to lower the moon later," Celestia stated warmly as she closed the door.
Luna horn lit up before fading away as she pouted. She had intended to give her sister a surprise hug via teleportation, but magic was still coming back to her. Worst part about the post-cleansing of Nightmare Moon was, while possessed, Luna had JUST gotten used to being Celestia's size. Now she was stuck in a smaller form until her powers were restored.
It was almost like having to relearn to walk, only less embarrassing. Externally, internally it was infuriatingly so.
"Mayor Mare, I mean absolutely no disrespect, but are you sure these instructions are correct?" Rarity asked curiously.
The elected leader of Ponyville barely looked up from her clipboard as she answered the question. "Miss Rarity, you know as well as I do that there are a thousand and one instructions I am handing out," she reminded frantically. "Thank buck Pinkie Pie is always overstocked..."
"No, I am referring to the ones you received. I mean, surely this is not a place befitting an Alicorn, let alone...I believe you said her title is now Lady Twilight?" Rarity guessed at the title with a delicately raised brow, looking towards the Golden Oaks Library, which was literally a building constructed inside a living tree.
One of the more inventive and creative make of Earth Pony architects, albeit rare.
"For now, yes, that is her title to my knowledge. And also yes, this is the place both Princess Celestia and Lady Twilight herself requested," Mayor Mare confirmed. "Oh, I hope Fluttershy can get that choir of birds rounded up..."
"Very well, I shall work my wonders," Rarity accepted as she went inside, intending to get some decoration and design ideas.
"Rarity!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed in a surprise hug, making the alabaster unicorn jump in her skin. "I'm soooo glad you're here! Mayor Mare said I need to cobablerate with you on Twilight's second Welcome To Ponyville party!" the pink mare declared happily.
"Oh. Well, I guess that would be wise," Rarity admitted, taking a moment to process the idea of working with Pinkie Pie. Looking around, she saw that the party pony had already started: Purple banners flanked by yellow ones, along with bundles of pink balloons. "I see you've gotten ahead of me."
"Yeah, sorry, I didn't know we'd be helping each other until about twenty minutes ago," Pinkie Pie explained with a grin. "What do you think?"
"In honesty? I believe you're on the right track but have the wrong idea: This isn't a party-party, Pinkie. It's suppose to be more...actually, less "energy" and more soothing, welcoming to be blunt. Less pop and more calm," Rarity recommended thoughtfully.
"So...does that mean we need to start over?" Pinkie Pie asked in concern.
"Heavens no! But I believe the yellow banners should be lavender, like her coat. And they should mostly be outside. That way there's less mess inside for our new royal guest after all is said and done. And the balloons I feel should be more a color more liken to the strip in her mane and tail," Rarity paused, looking to Pinkie Pie curiously, who was taking notes. She wasn't sure where she'd even gotten the clipboard from.
"Ahuh, ahuh. Question. Since they're already here, can I mix a few of these pink balloons in with the new ones?" Pinkie Pie suggested.
"Nooooooo….yes, actually, definitely yes. Just enough to catch the eye, not enough to distract," Rarity answered before giving a head tilt. "Not that I'm not honored to help in welcoming our future princess, but do you truly need my help, Pinkie? While beauty is more my forte, I admit your parties are never ill in design."
"Ohh, yes, defintiely!" Pinkie Pie assured with a grin. "Twilight's from the BIIIIIIG city. Like, the biggest of big cities. And while I've thrown welcome parties for a few from Canterlot, this is SPECIAL! Not even because she's an awesome Alicorn hero, but because she's MOVING here! A "Moving to" Welcome party has to be MUCH more personal than a "Visiting" Welcome party! Buuuuut I don't know enough about Twilight or Canterlot to make it really, REALLY super-duper special, so I thought you'd have some good pointers since you LOOOOOVE the idea of Canterlot," she explained, all in one rapid breath.
"That is...both flattering and sound in reasoning," Rarity admitted with wide eyes before refocusing herself. "Ahem, well then. White Bows: While white is normally a bit too bright, I believe it would work well with this setting and a subtle nod to both Canterlot and Princess Celestia, her home and mentor respectively."
"Food served outside or in?" Pinkie Pie shot off.
"Out, but we should get something to leave inside. A cake, a gift basket. Would wine send the wrong message?...Almost definitely now that I say it out loud," Rarity murmured.
"Okay, food outside, gift inside. No. Cheese. Evvvvver," Pinkie Pie mumbled as she wrote down.
The fashionista opened her mouth before pausing in confusion. "Why?"
"She hates overly cheesy things, this much I have learned," Pinkie Pie rattled off almost absently. "Is Spike coming here too? We should get him some gems."
"Spike? You mean the adorable little drake?" Rarity recalled with a small smile. "Well, I'm unsure to their relationship, but a gift to him as well wouldn't go unappreciated even if he doesn't show. Hmm, on that note, a touch of green, just a bit, to tie it all together..." she mused thoughtfully.
"...Okay, Rarity, half-off topic question? Do Unicorns have some kind of horn-ring to help them train their magic? And if they do, is it rude to give it as a gift?" Pinkie Pie questioned curiously.
"No, that's just an urban legend sprouted off by a fashion trend a generation or two ago," Rarity answered before looking thoughtful herself. "Hypothetically, it would be rude to give it to an adult as a gift, but maybe not so as a gift for a foal?" she wondered before shaking her head. "We're getting off topic...Oh, and no confetti in the house."
"I only promise to try," Pinkie Pie agreed with a surprising amount of seriousness. "Also...we should probably ask Rainbow or Fluttershy for any gifts to give for wing-care."
"...We may want to hold off on that until she starts practicing flying, but that is a valid concern. Not something you think about when you imagine becoming an Alicorn," Rarity mused thoughtfully.
"Until you're kissing the ground," Pinkie Pie said with a giggle, getting an odd look. "Its what I've heard the weather pegasi call it when beginners crash, hehe. Also, should we include some stars?"
"...I don't believe so. The sparkling in her mane seems to be an Alicorn feature," Rarity answered with a scrunched brow
"But her name is SPARKLE and her cutie mark is a star?" Pinkie Pie countered as Rarity looked indecisive. "Put it down as a Maybe for later?"
Rarity accepted that with a nod, surprised by how pleasant a coworker she found the hyperactive earth pony to be. Then again, Pinkie Pie could be just as passionate about parties as she could be about fashion. Designing a royal welcome party was the perfect setting for them to work with one another.
And a pony like Twilight Sparkle deserved for things to be perfect.
Haha, bet you're all a little surprised to see this. Just a reminded that no story of mine is truly dead, just hibernating. I promise things will stop dragging on like this. We're probably going to have a time skip during next chapter or beginning of the following.
So, Twilight reconnects with her Canterlot friends, Luna and Celestia have a heart to heart, and platonic RariPie scene. Yay for obableration! Yes, that spelling is intentional.
PSS I have a pat-reon now. If any feels up to tipping me, please and thank you. If not, I hope you enjoyed this all the same. Chapters are NOT held hostage or anything.