Hi everyone! Yes, it's me with a third (and final, and small) sequel to "The Most Chaotic Date Ever!" ^_^ I've been having a lot of trouble with the quarantine, and writing is the best outlet for me, so now we have this story lol. I hope you enjoy it! More details in the closing A/N!
The Most Chaotic Life Ever!
A Sun Pony, a Moon Pony, and a Handsome & Chaotic Former Safety Net Walk Into a Castle
I'm sorry I couldn't write to you for the last few weeks. Luster Dawn's 'adventures' making new friends and reforming Tirek, Chrysalis, and Cozy Glow have been…challenging to oversee. She's doing well, absolutely, but I still worry about her, especially since she's just starting out. This feels like the first time in years I've been close to 'Twilighting', like the girls and Spike (and Discord) used to say. Anyway, with Luster living in Ponyville now, the Canterlot castle has felt a little empty. So I was wondering if you and Luna and Discord would come by for dinner tomorrow night? You and Luna could even perform the sunset and the moonrise for old time's sake if you'd like. And Discord could even sit on the throne and crack jokes about my height. It'll be just a nice, fun evening together catching up with old friends.
And maybe I could ask the three of you for something? It's…a big favor. And if the answer's no, I understand, but either way I'd like to ask in person. It involves a lot of creatures. And Luster. A lot Luster. And others.
In love and friendship,
"Oh she must be nervous - she's only vague when she's nervous," Discord commented after rereading the letter to himself once more before snapping it away. From atop his cotton candy cloud soaring through the sky toward Canterlot he looked to the pony sisters who were sharing a cloud of their own heading in the same direction.
"Of course she's nervous," Luna managed before a yawn (the afternoon was barely over, and she still remained a night owl even if she no longer had a royal schedule to keep). "She remembers what you were like right after the first time you were 'reformed', and now she's concerned she'll have to deal with the same antics in triplicate. She doesn't want to end up kidnapped to the Everfree Forest by plunder seed vines." She smirked at the chaos master.
"Oh ha-ha," Discord rolled his eyes, "to be fair, I'd had that plan set in motion a millennium before I was semi-reformed. Tirek, Chrysalis, and Cozy Glow never had the foresight or the time for a sneak attack like that. Though I can't wait to see what 'reformed' them is like." He grinned. "Do you think Chrysalis turned all rainbow colors and sparkly? Or that Tirek gave up all his power and turned old and small again? Or that Cozy Glow…I don't know, felt better after a time out?" He raised an eyebrow. "Remind me again how one of Equestria's worst villains was a fussy child?"
Celestia laughed, looking from her husband to her sister. "Discord, Luna, don't tease so much. You both know reforming isn't easy and neither is fitting in when you've been gone for a while."
Luna and Discord shared a grin and held a hoof and claw high. "Banished for a 1000 Years club unite!" They announced together with a laugh, and Celestia laughed too.
Then Celestia turned to Discord again. "Twilight does sound nervous, Discord, but it's because she has a very special student. She's putting Luster Dawn through great trials already and letting her fend for herself; a duty that's as daunting as it is rewarding."
"Fair point," Discord agreed with a nod. "Now that you mention it, I did find it very hard to watch the girls face problems on their own after I promised to stop being their very handsome safety net."
Luna hesitated at the turn for the conversation and glanced away for a moment. But then she cleared her throat. "Er, I believe we're at the castle." She pointed into the distance.
Indeed, Canterlot castle was just ahead.
"Wonderful." Discord held up his fingers. "Shall I snap us to the throne room?"
Celestia shook her head. "No, Discord, we should land and enter properly through the front gate. It's Twilight's home now and the official royal castle, and we're not royalty anymore."
"You're my mistress of chaos - does that count for anything?" He winked at her.
Celestia blushed and giggled as Luna rolled her eyes with a grin and replied, "Nay, Discord, I do not believe it does."
"Oh fine." Discord lowered his fingers. "Front gate it is. But don't think I'm not going to make an outrageous entrance."
"I think Twilight would be deeply concerned if you didn't." Celestia winked back to him which made Discord smirk, his head held high.
Luna watched the two of them with a smile then spread her wings to fly off of her cloud. Celestia followed her and Discord as well. The trio descended to the lawn before the castle gate.
The guard at the entrance spoke. "Halt, who wishes to enter the…castle?" His question had started out sternly but had quickly switched to a tone of awe and confusion at the sight of the three imposing visitors before him.
Discord grinned, arms crossed, and introduced them. "Three semi-mythical beings who have each ruled Equestria at some point in time and who are all responsible for molding Twilight from her little schoolmare version into the towering princess you know today."
Celestia sighed and gave Discord a gentle nudge.
He snapped his fingers to make Twilight's letter appear. "Also we have an invitation."
The guard nodded at the paper and opened the gate, bowing as he gestured for them to enter.
Luna walked through first, glancing at Discord over her shoulder. "There are seven more guard checkpoints before we get to the throne room, Discord. Will you intimidate each of them the same way, or shall there be some variety from you?"
"Actually, I thought we could all take turns." He held out the invitation to her. "Want to give your Royal Canterlot voice a whirl, Luna?"
Luna's eyes brightened; she took the invitation in hoof and trotted ahead.
Celestia smirked at Discord. "And when it's my turn, should I just spread my six and a half foot wingspan, hold my head high, and stroll right past them without a word like I own the place, the invitation trailing behind me?"
Discord nodded. "Sure - and Luna and I will pose as your pony paparazzi with cameras. An epic entrance for the ages." He put on hand on her shoulder and held up his other hand, gazing into the distance.
"Well, after this we really will owe Twilight a big favor." Celestia shook her head as they continued forward.
Discord nodded and shrugged, an eyebrow raised. "Seriously though, what do you think she wants? I mean, she already has everything - like literally the whole nation."
"Even someone who has the whole nation can still be missing things." Celestia placed her hoof in Discord's paw.
His gaze softened. "Fair enough. By the way, whatever it is, we're still all agreed we're saying yes, right?"
"Of course." Celestia nodded. "But give Twilight a chance to ask the favor in whatever way she needs to before we let her know."
"You got it, darling." He squeezed her hoof and then pulled her along to catch up with Luna. The two of them stifled laughter as the former night princes approached the next guard, ready to announce their arrival in her Canterlot voice.
"Announcing, er…" Gallus, on duty as the guard for Twilight's throne room, paused with a pout.
"Oh just say it - it'll be funny," a voice behind him urged in a whisper (a voice which Twilight, sitting on her throne with an eyebrow raised, instantly recognized as the chaos master's).
Twilight gave Gallus a warm smile and a nod. He took a breath and finished. "Announcing the punchline of a joke that starts 'So a Sun Pony, a Moon Pony, and a Handsome and Chaotic Former Safety Net Walk Into a Castle…'."
And with that, the doors burst open to reveal Luna and Celestia flanking Discord who held out his arms in a dramatic gesture. "Thank you, thank you, we've arrived - no autographs please."
Her eyes bright, Twilight instantly teleported herself over to the three creatures. "Celestia, Luna, Discord, you're here!" She pranced in place…then noticed Gallus smirking at her. She cleared her throat, brought her foreleg out in front of her in the calming gesture she'd adopted from Cadance, and resumed her decorum. "You can go off duty for the rest of the evening, Gallus - I'll see to our guests."
Gallus nodded and gave Twilight a bow then looked to the other three creatures and gave them each a deep nod of his head (and added an eye roll with a smirk to Discord for good measure) before departing the room.
Twilight sighed with a happy smile and turned her attention back to her guests. "Thank you so much for coming, I—oh!" Celestia already had a foreleg wrapped around Twilight in a tight hug; Twilight hugged her back.
Celestia released her. "We're happy to be here. Anytime."
"Indeed." Luna stepped forward. "We rarely take the opportunity to visit Canterlot ever since we moved. And by coming here we not only get to visit our old home but you as well, dear Twilight." Luna bowed her head to Twilight, and Twilight bushed and bowed her head in return. They raised their head together, and Luna continued. "Also I've been curious to have you introduce us to your special student - naturally Luster Dawn would want to come here and see you after completing her first major mission in friendship; just like you saw my sister after purging me of Nightmare Moon."
"Sorry, Luna - Luster Dawn is with Tirek, Cozy Glow, and Chrysalis right now in my old castle in Ponyville," Twilight replied, smiling sheepishly. "I haven't seen her since she announced they were reformed, actually."
Luna frowned a little. "Oh, that is disappointing." She cleared her throat and tried to resume a smile. "What I mean is, tis a shame not to get to make her acquaintance."
"I second that - I've been eager to get my chaos hooks into that one," Discord added, flying between the two ponies and pointing at Twilight. "You promised me I could put her through at least two of my 'adventures' where I cheekily set up a problem, pretend I have no idea what it's about, and watch her and her friends stumble through it and gain life lessons along the way - just like I used to do with you and the girls."
Twilight rolled her eyes with a grin. "Yes, Discord, two of your 'special adventures' - but none of them can involve tatzulwurms, kidnapping, or secretly impersonating a deranged villain to create a smoke and mirrors legion of doom."
"Ugh, that is so two decades ago." The chaos master waved her off. "But as long as that's settled, let's get to the heart of why we're here." He snapped to make a cotton candy heart appear and tossed it to Celestia with a wink. "You need something from us, Twilight Sparkle - what is it?"
Luna sighed. "Excellent job being subtle, Discord."
"To be fair, he held out asking for longer than I expected," Celestia added, finishing off the last bite of the heart.
Twilight blushed a little. "Oh, no, we don't have to get into that yet - I want you three to enjoy yourselves. Spike and I cooked dinner earlier before he left on a mission, so it's all ready to serve. Then we can enjoy the sunset and moonrise together, and Discord can tell whatever jokes and stories he's got saved up." She rubbed her neck with her hoof. "I really didn't just invite you over to ask a favor. I also wanted to spend time with the three of you here - the place where so many things started."
The three beings smiled warmly at Twilight. Celestia stepped forward and put a hoof on her shoulder. "We know, Twilight. And we are happy to be here with you. But I also know you can be a little nervous if you have something on your mind, and I want you to be able to enjoy yourself this evening too."
"Indeed." Luna stepped closer and nodded. "So please, share with us. We are most eager to help you."
"And I'm exquisitely curious." Discord teleported closer. "I have a feeling something really chaotic is coming." He clenched his hands together in shaking fists of excitement.
Twilight's demeanor relaxed, and she took a deep breath. "Remember, after I reformed Starlight, how I wanted to show you her progress, Celestia? So I invited you to a dinner in my castle that I never showed up to? Sorry again about that. Well, um… Luster Dawn wants to do the same thing. She wants me to have a dinner with Tirek, Chrysalis, and Cozy Glow to celebrate their reform."
The three creatures glanced at each other then back to Twilight.
Twilight went on. "I figured it might be good for me to observe Luster's progress with those three. And I figured she'd invite her friends so I could get to know them all. But, she doesn't want to invite any friends…" Twilight glanced down hesitantly, "she'd prefer to invite one creature for Tirek, Chrysalis, and Cozy Glow each to make amends to."
"Hmm…" Luna put a hoof to her chin, "interesting approach. Please, go on."
"She's chosen Cadance for Chrysalis heh.. and, um… Discord for Tirek and Luna and Celestia for Cozy Glow," Twilight finished, blushing and looking at her three mentors.
Luna and Celestia each had an eyebrow raised.
Discord had his arms crossed with a dry look and a small smile; he shook his head, tisking.
"But Twilight, you were Cozy Glow's teacher," Luna started, "i'm not sure how my sister and I would be appropriate for her to…"
"I was her teacher," Twilight conceded, "but she wanted to use my friendship lessons to replace me and then take down the two of you so she could Equestria. And it was Cozy Glow's idea to attack you both in the throne room and destroy your home after she and Tirek and Chrysalis got the Bewitching Bell. Also, when she was first sent to Tartarus, Celestia, you chose her punishment, and Luna, you carried it out by bringing her there."
The two sisters glanced at each other, taking in all that information.
Twilight cleared her throat. "Er, Luster sent me a very long set of scrolls with point by point justifications of her plans. She's a very hard worker."
"But Twilight, Tirek and I - not a good plan." Discord chimed in, shrugging. "You know me, you know I can't control my urge for sarcasm and schtick and witty parlay for long. I egg him on, he snaps, I snap my fingers; pretty soon pies are raining up from the floor and he's bucking all the furniture. It's a mess." He waved her off.
Twilight took a deep breath. "Discord, I could read you Luster's list of reasons why she chose you for Tirek. But at the end of the day…it comes down to one reason, whether you realize it or not: you're the closest thing to a friend Tirek ever had. And he needs to face that connection."
Discord held up a finger, his mouth open like he was about to protest. But then he considered, twirling his beard, and finally sighed and nodded. "Oh fine. But if there's drama, I'm asking him to take things outside. No sense in us getting into a verbal slap fight where we could break something or ruin the meal."
Celestia touched Discord's arm and kissed his cheek. Discord's easy grin returned.
Luna considered. "So at this gathering in total, Twilight, would be yourself, my sister and I, Discord, Luster Dawn, Cadance, Tirek, Cozy Glow, and Chrysalis."
"And Flurry Heart," Twilight added, her look dry. "She is not a fan of her mother heading alone into, as Flurry puts it, a 'potential den of hidden villainy'. As Crystal Empire Captain of the Guard and Crowned Princess, she is coming to keep an eye on everyone."
"Oh, this shindig is going to be a powder keg of chaos - I can feel it already." Discord chuckled and floated in the air. "Don't worry, we'll try not to destroy your old castle or this castle depending on where you have this little legion of doom reunion party, Twilight."
"Well…" Twilight started, rubbing the back of her neck with her foreleg, "heh, that's…where the favor comes in. Luster wants to have the party on neutral ground. This castle is definitely out since here's where they staged their attack, and so is mine in Ponyville since reminders of my friends really seem to set those three off. But we do need a large secure space."
The two alicorns and the draconequus glanced at each other.
"Could we have the dinner at your castle? Celestia, Luna, Discord?" Twilight asked humbly. "If you're not comfortable, I understand. But Luster thought it would be a good environment. And I'll admit, it's a very comforting place in general. And it's removed from where most of the ponies live so no one would be hurt if there's any trouble. But it's also closer to Ponyville than this castle is in case Luster does decide to invite her friends." Twilight moved forward. "I know you three are retired and like your privacy. So if the answer is no, it's okay, and we still want you to come to the dinner."
The three creatures finished looking at each other then turned back to Twilight. Discord spoke, two words. "Tea party."
"What?" Twilight blinked.
He held his head high. "I want it to be a tea party rather than a dinner. Tea party's are my favorite form of socializing. That's my only condition."
"Can the tea party happen near dusk?" Luna asked. "I would like to be quite awake when I attend."
"Can there be cake - a lot of cake?" Celestia asked with a sheepish blush.
Twilight hesitated for a moment then smiled. "Are you three saying yes?"
"Provided you meet our needs and give us a day to 'villain proof' the house, absolutely." Discord grinned and did a loop in the air. "Who would pass up such an open invitation to fun and mayhem all at once?"
Twilight let out a relieved breath and came forward, catching the three of them in a hug. "Thank you." She laughed. "And yes, it can be a tea party at dusk with extra cake. That sounds perfect - I'll see to everything." Her three mentors hugged her in return. The group separated, and Twilight smiled and added, "Luster Dawn will be very happy."
"And as long as we can eat now, I'll be happy too." Discord rubbed his hands together. "It's been too long since I've had access to the royal treatment when it comes to food. Courting Celestia while she still lived in this castle with all the chefs and servants entirely spoiled me, you know."
"Don't act so deprived, Discord," Celestia chided with a grin. "Besides, you like cooking more than being cooked for and you know it."
"Indeed, I'm sure he's already planning some chaotic additions to the tea party menu," Luna added with a chuckle. Then she turned back to Twilight. "I am looking forward to making the acquaintance of your student, Twilight, and to seeing her friendship handiwork."
"Me too." Twilight smiled nervously but nodded. "Thank you, Luna." Twilight headed toward the door. "Come on - dinner is set up in the study. I thought it would be cozier than the big dining room with all the guards."
"And would you still like Luna and I to take care of the sunset and moonrise?" Celestia asked with a warm smile as she, Discord, and Luna followed after her.
Twilight glanced down sheepishly. "I haven't seen a real pony sister change of day and night in a long time and neither has anyone else. And the idea of doing it myself with you two sitting right beside me does make me a little nervous. And I know you must miss it sometimes."
"We'd be honored, Twilight." Celestia bowed her head and Luna did too.
"And I'll cheer you two on!" Discord snapped his fingers and instantly had pompoms and a cheerleading outfit.
The four beings laughed as they exited the throne room and made their way down the hall in the peaceful castle.
In the empty throne room of the Ponyville castle, Luster Dawn waited and paced. Princess Twilight had agreed to ask the legendary pony sisters and master of chaos to use their castle for her 'Reformation Celebration Banquet' (title pending), and Twilight had told Luster that the question would be posed tonight at dinner. According to Luster's knowledge of the princess's schedule she must have finished dining an hour ago, just after sunset. Even allowing for some post-meal idle chitchat, an answer should arrive to her any moment.
Luster Dawn rarely felt nervous - after all, as long as a pony approached any problem with determination, intelligence, ambition, and hard work, no issue was insurmountable. But, regardless, Luster Dawn did feel just a little nervous right now because she needed to be granted this invitation to the castle of the two sisters or nothing about her well-laid plans would be able to go forward.
Ponyville was a simpler place to live than Canterlot but somehow her life felt more complicated ever since she'd come here a few weeks ago. And especially ever since she'd met -
From another room, the sound of three voices made her stop in her tracks with a grimace.
"Luster Dawn, I'm hungry - please fetch me something made with love!"
"Luster Dawn, I'm bored - come up with something for us to do, preferably a workout!"
"Luster Dawn, I'm tired! Don't you have an answer yet so we can all just go to bed?"
Luster Dawn sighed deeply and hung her head. She knew even the problem of those three creatures could be solved with enough hard work. But for now, even at maximum capacity, she'd only managed to transition them from being a malicious danger down to being high-maintenance house guests. It was a start, at least. "Dinner will come soon, Chrysalis! And I'll create a track in the throne room so you can run for a bit, Tirek! And I'll have an answer soon, Cozy Glow, I promise. I—"
A scroll appeared in front of her.
Luster Dawn quickly unfurled it and read. She smiled in relief. "They said yes! We're going to the castle of the two sisters! Everything is going to work out!"
"Ugh, that took forever!"
Luster hesitated then added, "And Discord, the pony sisters, and Cadance are definitely coming."
"Do I really have to see that doddering Draconequus?"
"And that sickeningly sweet love princess?!"
"And those two big perfect boring alicorns!"
Luster's brow furrowed. "Yes, you do. The biggest challenges are what offer the biggest rewards."
There were a lot of grumbles and moans from the other room though they gave way to hesitant acceptances eventually.
Luster Dawn smiled a little and shook her head. Then she blinked at a knock. She shushed the reformed villains and raced to the entrance then opened the door.
There stood Yona and Sandbar with a few baskets of food.
"Mr. Sandbar, Miss Yona, thank you so much for offering to drop off dinner for me and my friends." Luster Dawn put on a big smile.
"No problem," Sandbar replied, handing her the basket. "And Luster, remember, you don't need to call me 'Mister'. Just Sandbar."
Yona nodded, handing over her basket as well. "And Yona is just Yona."
"Or 'Mrs. Sandbar' in two months." Sandbar grinned and nuzzled the side of her head.
Yona giggled. "Or 'Mr. Yona'." She ruffled his mane.
Luster Dawn set both baskets inside. "You two have been so kind, coming to check on me and bringing me meals now that Spike's away. I'm very glad to know you."
"And we're very glad to know you too." Sandbar turned his smile to her again. "And we'd like to know your friends too - are they here?"
Yona glanced around the inside of the foyer, searching.
Luster Dawn cleared her throat. "They, uh, they're all in one of the other rooms. And they're pretty tired from dealing with our reform project - you know, the evil trio. But believe me, they're grateful for dinner too."
Yona nodded. "Okay. Luster Dawn and friends have a good night. And be safe - Cozy Glow and others are very scary creatures."
"If you need anything, just let us know," Sandbar added, his look serious. "We're here for you."
Luster Dawn's smile relaxed into something genuine. "Thank you, I will."
The two creatures waved to her, and she waved back to them then closed the door. Luster Dawn let out a deep breath then carried the baskets through the throne room and in the direction of the three voices. "Dinner is served, guys. And while we're eating, let's go over polite conversation and basic table manners. And let's review again why friendship is a good thing. You'll feel a lot better when all of this is over. I promise."
"We haven't got much to lose, I suppose." Chrysalis sighed. "And at least you don't treat us like we're failures that have to 'magically change' or else."
"What the changeling said - also you're less wishy-washy than Twilight, which is a relief," Tirek admitted.
"And then you'll be on your way to being the next pretty princess or whatever, huh, Luster Dawn?" Cozy Glow whined. "Just try not to forget us when you're big and famous."
Luster hesitated at Cozy's words - her eyes went down. "You guys, I'm just Twilight's student and I'm just doing my best. But either way I'm not important right now." She did her best to put on a smile again. "You three are important. Let's focus on you." A few mumbled and grumbled 'thank yous' from her house guests met Luster Dawn's ears. With a smile, she headed into the other room to join them.
The next day, now back home in the Everfree Forest castle, Celestia, Luna, and Discord got to work making arrangements for the tea party. The throne room (these days used as their living room) was the largest space available, so to accommodate all their guests they chose to set up there. Luna was decorating, Celestia was reviewing menu options Twilight had sent her, and Discord had snapped up six extra copies of himself to see to creating a large table and chairs, making a few minor renovations, cleaning, and other little chores requiring a variety of costumes.
Celestia ducked as two construction worker Discords in hardhats and jeans (and no shirts) walked by her, carrying a heavy plank of wood.
"Pardon me, mam," one of them said. The other tipped his hat.
Celestia watched them walk away, her eyes a little hazed and a small grin on her lips.
The real Discord teleported beside her with a smirk. "You are hopeless when it comes to me - you know that, right?"
Celestia sighed, her eyes still hazed. "You snapped them up in those outfits entirely for me - you admit that, right?"
He chuckled and floated up and over her to meet her gaze on her other side. "It seemed like a fun idea at the time." He twirled the lock of hair over her ear around his finger then planted his feet on the ground again.
"And while the many other Discords are remodeling the throne room, what is the original up to?" She raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, I'm evil-proofing this place." He crossed his arms. "I've set up failsafes and safe rooms and emergency signals if we need them - the whole shebang. I know, I know, we should have faith in Twilight's little student, and I can't be the full-time handsome safety net for the new generation. But this is our home, and I have to make sure our family is taken care of." He shrugged.
She smiled at him. "I think, after everything we went through with those three - and after everything you put the girls through before you fully reformed - that a few precautions are a good idea, Discord." She kissed him and pulled back. "Luna's set up a few protective spells around our rooms too just in case they end up wandering the castle."
Discord nodded. "Good call." He glanced over at Luna who was very focused on choosing between two types of flowers for the sconces. She also had new curtains levitating in the air and a welcome banner painting itself. "Wow, Luna's very into adding some finer points to this tea party, isn't she?"
Celestia nodded. "Luna likes when Twilight comes over. And's very excited to spend a whole evening with Twilight's student too. Luna's looking to get a lot out of the experience."
Discord raised an eyebrow, about to question the statement, when a whistle blew. All the Discord copies stopped their work. The Discord dressed in a maid's outfit gave a shout to the others: "Break time! Union rules!" Then the copies all disappeared.
At the surprising sound of the whistle, Luna's magic had dropped everything she was holding up. She quickly tried to gather it together.
Celestia noticed and walked over. "Luna, maybe a break would be good for all of us. You've been up since 3am - why don't you take a little nap? We still have two days until the tea party."
Luna hesitated but then sighed and nodded with a small smile. "Perhaps you're right. Besides, I get my best creative ideas when I'm dreaming." She teleported the decorations into a corner of the room. "I shall see you both later for dinner." Then she disappeared.
Discord came alongside Celestia. "Want to grab lunch? We can head to my place so that we don't mess up our kitchen here since the maid Discord just cleaned it."
"Actually," Celestia yawned, "I think I'd like to take a nap too. I've was up with Luna at 3am."
"Really? Bad dreams?" Discord frowned.
Celestia shook her head. "No, Luna just wanted to talk. She's been thinking over some things lately." She shrugged with a small sheepish smile. "She'd prefer for it to stay between sisters for now."
Discord nodded. "Of course. When she's ready, I'm here. But how about we go to my place anyway? You can snuggle up on the sofa and I'll put on the fire. I'll make lunch while you're sleeping, and then if you're hungry when you wake up you can have some?"
"I'd like that, Discord." She nodded, and with a snap of his tail they were in the chaos cottage.
The cottage hadn't changed much over the years except for more pictures of Discord and his friends, especially the girls (extra especially Fluttershy), and of course pictures of him and Celestia (and Luna too sometimes). The place was still cozy and a little zany and had stairs leading to random places. Celestia loved it. She settled onto the sofa, and Discord covered her with a big knit blanket. The fire was already crackling. Celestia snuggled into a throw pillow. "It's been a lot of work setting up our castle, but it'll be nice to have so much company. And to see Twilight with her own little pony."
Discord, already in the kitchen with an apron on, hesitated. Then he smiled again and went about enchanting ingredients to combine into sandwiches and the tea kettle to put itself on. "Yes, it's been a while, hasn't it? Little Luster will be like our first 'grandchild' - or our second one after Flurry Heart. Helping raised that little filly was quite the adventure." He raised an eyebrow and glanced over his shoulder.
Celestia, eyes closed, nodded. "Yes. Little ponies make life interesting." She yawned. "The girls were so cute when they were just starting out. Fluttershy was so nervous when I asked her to reform you - I loved seeing her believe more in herself when I told her I believed in her."
"Yeah," Discord had a far away smiled at the memory. "And they're all still growing and learning. And Fluttershy still helps me in new ways even now. It's amazing." His smile softened to a pensive look for a moment as he stared at the sandwiches finishing preparing themselves. Then he took a breath and removed his apron. He teleported to float above the sofa. "Tia? You asleep yet?"
"Not quite." She opened one eye a little. "But close."
He shrugged. "Room for one more?"
"You're tired too?"
"No, but I could use a warm nuzzle," he admitted with a little grin and a blush.
Celestia nodded, smiling more.
Discord snapped and appeared on top of her blanket, nestled between her and the sofa. He cuddled in against her, and his smile grew.
Celestia sighed and cuddled against him. Her eyes closed again. "You don't have to worry you know…"
"Huh?" He almost gasped.
"About the tea party…" Celestia finished, her voice a mumble. "It'll all be okay. Everything turns out okay in the end. Just like you and I."
Discord's heart felt warm, and he smiled so much. "I know. But thanks for the reminder." He rested his head on her pillow. "Goodnight, Tia."
She sighed, and then he could tell from her breathing that she was asleep.
Discord remained cuddled with her, thinking about some things of his own until he dozed off for a light nap too before lunch.
In the throne room of the Crystal Empire, Cadance and Shining Armor sat on their thrones side by side. A few decades had left some slate grey streaks in Shining Armor's hair and a few light wrinkles under his eyes, but he was still a capable and strong leader. Cadance, though she hadn't become as tall as Twilight or remained as untouched by time as they pony sisters, still held all of the colors in her hair which was now longer and displayed gentle ethereal waves. Her yellow streak was a lighter gold, but otherwise she had only grown all the more resplendent with the years.
Cadance sighed and glanced at her Shining Armor with a smile. "You told her that she doesn't have to go about things this way, right?"
Shining Armor nodded. "Yeah. But she said the rules bend for no pony. She'll deliver her reports just like any good soldier."
The guard at the throne room door entered and bowed. "Your majesties - the Captain is here for her daily report."
Cadance nodded. "Send her in, please."
The guard held open the door and saluted the Captain as she passed.
A pony walked in covered head to hoof in armor with only blue eyes showing through her helmet. She approached the thrones and saluted.
Cadance tried very hard not to smile too much. Shining Armor cleared his throat. "Captain, you may proceed."
The Captain nodded. "The auxiliary troops have been through all basic training as of this afternoon. New recruits will be briefed at sunrise once they arrive. I've inspected the armory and ordered any supplies and repairs we need. The Pegasi have perfected their aerial routines, the unicorns have mastered the advanced sets of combat spells, and the earth ponies have completed their physical training hike through the Crystal Mountains."
Shining Armor nodded. "And are the troops receiving rest and recreation after so much hard work?"
The Captain sighed but nodded. "Yes, everyone was granted leave for the rest of the day, except for the usual set of palace guards of course. I want our forces in top form - that's the only reason I've been pushing them with extra training."
Cadance hesitantly interjected. "But you do know that no troops are coming to Luster Dawn's reform party… right?"
"Yes. But I prefer to have trained troops at the ready - if I may be so bold." The Captain's blue eyes took on a serious look.
Cadance and Shining Armor glanced at each other then nodded and turned back to the Captain.
"Very well," Shining Armor started, "in that case, you are granted leave for the rest of the afternoon too, Captain. And tomorrow."
"Tomorrow too?" Her eyes widened. "But I have battle strategies to plan and schedules to revise. And I just finished designing a Crystal Heart military emblem to show our love for the empire! I have to magically add it to all the uniforms with a special crystal glitter that can reflect both sunlight and moonlight into the eyes of enemies for a tactical advantage!"
"…But first you also need to rest and clear your head and go over some diplomacy lessons with me," Cadance interrupted, fair but firm. "In the likely event this party isn't an ambush, you need to know how to talk to your former enemies. It's important."
"Plus I'd like to see you take some time for yourself," added Shining Armor.
The Captain sighed deeply. "Fine, gosh…" She used her horn to teleport away the armor revealing a fully grown Princess Flurry Heart. "Can I at least wear my armor to the tea party?"
"No," Cadance shook her head, "we're going there on a peaceful mission."
Flurry Heart's eyes widened. "But I can still bring my spear of course, right?"
Cadance sighed deeply and put a hoof to her forehead. Shining Armor patted her shoulder then smiled at Flurry Heart. "I think eating with a spear at the table would make everyone even more nervous than they already are about this reform party. Besides, you're already an excellent soldier without it."
Flurry Heart pouted a little but nodded. "Okay, Dad. I know - this isn't a Captain of the Guard mission, it's a Princess mission. And I will be a Princess during it." Flurry Heart took a deep breath in, brought her hoof to her chest, then extended it forward as she exhaled and finally lowered it.
Her mother smiled at the familiar gesture of calm. "You'll be great, Flurry Heart."
The throne room guard popped in again. "Attention, your majesties - a visitor from Canterlot has arrived. Announcing his grace, his eminence, his knightliness - the heroic Spike the Dragon."
Spike walked in with a grin. "I really like visiting here - the announcements are fun."
"Uncle Spike!" Flurry Heart turned, her eyes bright. She teleported to him and hugged him with both her forelegs.
Spike hugged her back. "Great to see you, Flurry Heart! I'm all done with that mission you gave me."
Flurry Heart pulled back and cleared her throat, resuming her professional tone. "Oh, er, yes, right, the mission." She glanced behind her at her parents then looked at Spike with an innocent smile. "Maybe we should talk in my study…"
Cadance and Shining Armor glanced at each other then turned forward. "Captain Flurry Heart," Shining Armor started, "can you brief us on what mission Spike is talking about?"
She sighed deeply and dropped her head for a moment then turned to her parents again. "I asked Spike to check in with Queen Ember in the dragon lands to confirm the terms of our alliance and to provide assurance that their troops would be ready to assist our borders if we need help."
Cadance pouted a little; she came down from the throne. "Flurry Heart, there was no need for that - and you should have told us." She looked to Spike. "I'm sorry she made you go all the way out there. She's…nervous about the reform party."
Spike waved her off. "Oh, it's okay - I like visiting Ember and Smolder and Garble. And besides, you can't be too careful."
"Thank you!" Flurry Heart announced in exasperation, looking at Spike. Then she turned to her mother with a pout of annoyance.
The little princess had a habit of puffing up her feathers and chest when she was angry that she'd cultivated since birth. Despite the tense moment, the sight couldn't help but make Cadance smile a little, which only made Flurry Heart scowl more.
Shining Armor came between them. "Ladies, I think you both have fair points - Cadance, a little back up couldn't hurt, and it was a practice in diplomacy with our allies. But Flurry Heart, your mother and I are still the prime rulers of the empire until your official coronation this winter, and you need to let us know about official missions before you assign them. Okay?"
Flurry Heart sighed, but her features finally relaxed as she nodded. "Of course. I'll keep that in mind going forward." She looked at Spike. "Thank you very much for going, Uncle Spike. I appreciate it a lot."
"Any time." He winked. "And Ember says the dragons are always up for a good battle, especially in the middle of how peaceful everything's been for so long. Also Smolder says hi and that she misses you - you're the only pony she likes sparring with. She hopes you'll come train in the dragon lands again sometime."
"Definitely." Flurry Heart nodded with a bright smile. "Smolder was an excellent battle instructor."
Cadance tried not to sigh again. Shining armor grinned at her and whispered. "You're the one who wanted to send her to different lands to broaden her education."
Cadance whispered back with an eye roll and a small smile. "I thought she'd learn about loving all kinds of creatures and the policies of foreign royalty. I didn't know she'd become a combat expert."
Shining Armor held back a chuckle.
Meanwhile, Spike continued with Flurry Heart. "Anyway, I just wanted to check in and let you know how things turned out since I was passing by. But now I should really get back to Ponyville and guard the castle there - except for help from her friends, Luster Dawn is wrangling those three former bad guys all on her own."
Flurry Heart blinked. "You mean they're not magically restrained?! At all?"
Spike shrugged sheepishly. "Luster says they're not dangerous now, just…a little challenging. I was there during Discord's reform, I know what that's like. And Twilight's checking in with her - it's really okay."
Flurry Heart rubbed her temple but kept her temper under control. "Well, if Auntie Twilight thinks that's best, I trust her, one princess to another. But please keep checking on Luster Dawn. She's probably feeling a lot of pressure between managing three former prisoners and having to demonstrate how they've embraced friendship."
"I will, Flurry Heart. And I'll keep an eye on Canterlot while the reform party is happening to make sure everything is safe and secure. You can count on me." Spike grinned.
Flurry Heart smiled. "Thanks, Uncle Spike."
Spike held up his claws like fists and raised an eyebrow.
Flurry hesitated but then smiled more and bumped hooves with him.
A round of 'Sunshine Sunshine Lady Bugs Awake' took place (Spike had been one of Flurry Heart's many babysitters in her youth). The song ended in laughter, and when it was over Flurry Heart was bright eyed and at ease.
"I hope I get to see you after the reform party is over, Uncle Spike."
"Me too." Spike nodded. "Have a safe trip! And Shining Armor - you, Discord, Big Mac, and I are still on for O&O next month, right?"
"Oh yeah, totally!" Shining Armor winked.
"Bye, Spike!" Cadance waved to him. "Take some crystal berries from the kitchens on your way out!"
Spike nodded and waved back then headed out of the throne room.
Cadance came forward. "Flurry, your Dad and I were going to have lunch in the garden. Would you like to join us? We can just relax and talk."
Flurry Heart hesitated and her smile weakened a little. "Thanks, Mom, but I think Dad was right - I could use a rest. I'm going to head to my room and take a nap. I'll see you both at dinner." Flurry Heart smiled at her father and gave her mother a slight bow of her head then teleported away.
Cadance watched her go with a sigh. Shining Armor put a hoof on her shoulder for a small hug, and she nuzzled his neck in return.
Flurry Heart appeared in her room on her a pink canopy bed surrounded by crystal walls. She had a few shelves with books of all kinds - her favorites, each of which Auntie Twilight had gifted to her. There was also a vanity table and mirror. But instead of make up and perfume like her mom, Flurry had maps of Equestria scattered everywhere. The walls had pictures of her as a little filly (being hugged and smiling with all the important people in her life) all the way up through the present (Flurry Heart in full armor receiving her commission as Captain of the Guard, Flurry Heart opening the Crystal Faire with a hoof held high while ponies cheered, and of course her Flurry Heart graduating from Uncle Discord's chaos program at the school of magic). And in a place of honor, Flurry Heart had her crown on display and beside it her armor and spear. And whereas all the other guards had spears with grey stone tips, Flurry had crafted her tip out of pink crystal. All in all, her room was a place of…interesting combinations.
Flurry Heart glanced around to make sure she was alone then reached under one of her pillows and pulled out her best friend - a worn, stuffed snail doll she'd always had. "Whammy, you get it, right? I'm a princess and a soldier." She glanced at her cutie mark: a round gold shield with a white crystal heart and a single blue snowflake at the center. "But I'm not my dad's kind of soldier exactly, and I'm definitely not my mom's kind of princess. And I'm grown up: like almost as old as mom was when she took over the empire. But no one takes me seriously." She waited a beat then smiled. "Okay, fair enough - Uncle Spike and Uncle Discord take me seriously. And sometimes Uncle Sunburst and Uncle Thorax. But it's more like the other princesses don't. I'm not 'the baby' anymore." She wanted a beat then sighed. "You're right, talking to my old favorite stuffed animal probably doesn't make me seem very grown up. But it's this or a diary, and I'm not really into writing stuff down like Auntie Twilight was." She rested her head on the pillow. "I know I'm invited to this tea party as a princess. But a princess and a solider are both coming because I am both. And I'm happy I'm both."
Flurry Heart looked at the snail for another moment then smiled. "Whammy, you're such a good listener. Thank you." She hugged him and yawned. Then she dozed off to sleep with a wing wrapped around him.
In the Ponyville Castle, Luster Dawn lay sleeping on the floor of the library, collapsed in exhaustion.
The shadows of three figures loomed over her.
Then a blanket was dropped over her body by Tirek, a pair of earmuffs made of cocoon webbing were placed over her ears by Chrysalis, and a pillow was slipped under her head by Cozy Glow.
Luster Dawn turned in her sleep and smiled, snuggling into the comforts provided.
The three villains stepped back then moved to the far end of the library and sat down. None of them looked different from how they'd appeared before being turned to stone. Tirek had his average amount of strength and height, Chrysalis still had her holes and dark colors, Cozy Glow was still a cute little girl. But they scowled less, and their remarks were less biting, and they had just put a little pony to bed even if it was to discuss a certain private agreement of theirs regarding the upcoming 'reform party'.
"Chrysalis, we can't stall any longer. This 'party' is in two days - do you have it or not?" Tirek asked with a frown.
"If you don't, I'm not going." Cozy Glow pouted. "I refuse to face everyone under these circumstances."
Chrysalis smiled. "Come now, you underestimate me. Of course I got it." She transformed into a dark blue filly with a magic wand cutie mark. "All I had to do was pose as 'The Great and Powerful Trixie's' biggest fan long enough, and she told me the whole story about the artifact and where I could find it." Chrysalis transformed back to her usual self. "Then I just had to change into a bug, wait for that zebra to leave her hut, and finally get our prize. And that place is so cluttered she'll never even know it's missing." From her mane Chrysalis pulled out the Alicorn Amulet.
Cozy Glow grinned.
Tirek raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms. "That's it? It doesn't look very impressive. They just don't make ancient artifacts like they used to."
"It's perfect." Cozy Glow flew over and snatched the amulet. "Okay, so we remember the plan, right?"
"I did my part - I got the amulet," Chrysalis quickly added, lounging on a sofa.
"Then I put it on and let the curse make me able to use magic by giving me a horn, so I'll be an alicorn…" Cozy Glow went on.
Tirek flexed his arms. "Then I lend you my extra power and Chrysalis does too." He scowled at Chrysalis. "Right?"
She rolled her eyes. "Fine…"
Cozy Glow giggled. "Then I use the amulet to mimic Discord's little resurrection trick he did when he was pretending to be Grogar to bring back a certain somepony. Then you two take back your magic and get the amulet off me before it turns me into some kind of irrational crazy pony." She laughed evilly.
"Shh!" Tirek and Chrysalis leaned in close with scowls then glanced at Luster Dawn.
Luster Dawn turned again in her sleep but continued slumbering.
The trio let out sighs of relief.
Cozy Glow rolled her eyes. "Sorry, evil laughing was the best part of being bad - it's hard to give up." She rubbed her hooves together. "But the point is, everything is coming together."
The trio came close, grinning at each other.
"A well-deserved bit of payback…" Chrysalis snickered.
"And it'll be nice to have a fourth for card games…and for bothering these ponies." Tirek chuckled.
"Discord's going to regret using us for a long time…" Cozy Glow sneered.
They brought their hooves in to meet in the middle. Then they glanced over at Luster Dawn.
"Let's make sure she sits with us at the party, just in case." Chrysalis added. "I like to keep my liabilities close by."
Tirek and Cozy Glow both nodded.
They left the library and went to the large room they had been sharing (without admitting to anyone or each other that being apart after all these years just didn't feel right). And the three creatures ate some of the food Luster Dawn had brought them, then took a rest of their own.
Luna had slept so little over the last twenty four hours that as soon as she went to her room and laid down after setting up the throne room with Discord and Celestia, she fell into a deep sleep and entered the land of dreams. Lately the land of dreams had been a bit challenging for her - a particular longing was causing some distress and a recurring dream. She was in the process of making a big decision, and the potential consequences weighed on her.
Here she was again, standing in a large room in front of a chalkboard while a sea of little pony students sat in elevated rows of desks before her, all ready for her guidance. They chatted and laughed and engaged in horseplay. Luna tried to speak up to quiet them, but the louder she tried to be, the softer her voice got. Finally she resorted to her Royal Canterlot voice which came out so loudly that the classroom shook and the students looked at her in fear. She tried to ease them again to begin the lesson, but suddenly the lights up here felt so warm, and her magic kept dropping the chalk, and all of the students were talking again but about her.
Normally at this point of distress Luna would wake up. She knew the pattern of her dreams.
Luna shut her eyes tight, waiting for the dream to be over. But when she opened her eyes she was still in the land of dreams. Only now the rows of desks were empty - the room was silent. Then the chalkboard faded into nothing. Then the lights went out. Luna made her horn glow in the darkness. Perhaps the lack of sleep she'd endured lately was leaving her susceptible to a nightmare? That notion felt unlikely though. Luna looked around and opened her mouth and speak.
Laughter stopped her. Low and deep and amused laughter.
Luna narrowed her eyes and made her horn glow brighter. Something around her moved swiftly in the darkness.
Luna turned wherever it went, preparing to fight. Then there was stillness again…until she heard a growl behind her and turned to see a glow of green and red come at her in the darkness. There was a bright flash as she stood her ground against the shadowy presence.
Luna woke up in her bed with a gasp, glancing around. She remained bewildered for a moment until she remembered lying down for a nap after preparations for the reform party. The sun was low but still in the sky - it wasn't time for dinner just yet.
Luna rested back against her pillow and let out a deep sigh. Her brow was furrowed. "My dreams lately have had no threatening auras like that one. Perhaps my anxiety has just been growing over my recent problem. But still… that was more like a vision." She looked up at her ceiling, which she had painted with stars and the moon and constellations in glowing white and blue colors. The sight always soothed her. "Perhaps I'm just anticipating the visit of three of the worst villains Equestria has ever known to our home." She smiled a little. "One would think that wouldn't phase me much though - after all, one of Equestria's worst villains is now my brother-in-law."
The small joke comforted her. But then her smile faded. "I've set up many precautionary spells just in case anything goes wrong. And I believe Discord has too. And I'm sure Celestia has additional private failsafes in place. And perhaps I am just nervous about all the company we'll be hosting." She looked around her room. There were framed photos of herself and Celestia and Discord as well as Cadance and Twilight and Flurry Heart. There was her telescope and her former regalia on display. There were her books on philosophy and astronomy. And there was her balcony and the table where she often took tea, alone or with Twilight sometimes to discuss her ambassadorial duties and advise Twilight on ruling the night. The familiarity of the room gave her comfort but also pause; she was reminded of the precious things in her life, the ones she would protect even if she was no longer princess of them. Luna took a deep breath. "I will consider what my dream could mean, provided it truly was a vision. If I can find more clarity in it, I will let the others know." She nodded to herself then closed her eyes, prepared to slip into the land of dreams and hopefully confront her vision again.
Luna, with only her normal dreams for better or worse, slept until sunset and did her best to greet Discord and Celestia at dinner with ease. For Twilight's sake, she didn't want to cast doubt on the success of the reform party without certainty that a threat was real.
Thank you for reading! This sequel is going to be short (maybe 5-6 chapters) and a little less exclusively focused on Celestia and Discord, but I hope you'll enjoy it. I want to explore some of the potential experiences of the characters now that they're older (and a couple small things between Celestia and Discord that I didn't get to touch on fully in the last two stories).
I'm not sure what my timeline will be between chapters, but I'll work on things when I can :) The next chapter we're jumping right into the tea party.
Everyone, take care of yourselves and each other!