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Diplomacy 2

Mar 31st, 2017
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  1. >The following few weeks went by in a blur
  2. >You woke up, went to the library and struggled through dull, dry textbooks
  3. >After you finished a few chapters of whatever you happened to be reading that day, Lord Aegis would barge in and take you to the field for some training
  4. >When that was finished, you went back to reading
  5. >And if you thought you were busy, your duties were nothing compared to your lord’s
  6. >For days at a time he was holed up in his quarters
  7. >He saw to getting men and supplies ready for your journey
  8. >Everything from grain to weapons had to be bought or forged in the short time that the king had given you
  9. >Hundreds of letters were received and sent to the king and even Equestria itself
  10. >From what you've heard, the Equestrians weren't too happy with the fact that King Drfual wanted to send someone in his stead
  11. >They had important matters to discuss; matters that they didn't trust any with but the king
  12. >The fact that the king was sending Lord Aegis, a lord who openly despised non-humans and had been a blood-thirsty bandit once upon a time, probably added to their reluctance
  13. >But King Drfual was insistent
  14. >Lord Aegis was more of a brother to him than his own kin
  15. >If they wouldn't speak with him than they wouldn't be spoken to at all
  16. >The princesses had, of course, tried to protest, but the king wouldn't hear any of it
  17. >In the end, they had agreed for your lord to enter their kingdom, even offering to send their personal train to transport all of you
  18. >Humeyithal, of course, had no trains or railways, so you and your group of thirty knights had had to march all the way over to the minotaur lands so that you could use their railways
  19. >In secret, of course; your lord wasn't going to be escorted anywhere by the empress's soldiers
  20. >So, after almost two months of preparation, you, lord Aegis, and his personal guard packed up your things, said your goodbyes, and left the safety of castle Nurgle
  21. >The trip to the minotaur lands, all-in-all, was a pleasant one
  22.  
  23. >The skies were free of rain
  24. >No one tried attacking or stealing from your band
  25. >There were no injuries except for one knight accidentally chopping the tip of his thumb off while he was juggling knives
  26. >The cows mostly kept to themselves
  27. >The few that you did meet were polite, if a bit grabby
  28. >In less than five days you all had found the train station where the princesses personal train was waiting
  29. >It was a massive thing, made entirely of metal with black smoke coming out of its top
  30. >When you had first seen it you had thought it was some great monster
  31. >But, walking up to it and placing your hand on one of it's massive wheels showed you that it was nothing more than a machine
  32. >A machine unlike any that you've ever seen, but a machine nonetheless
  33. >Since all of you were eager to let this great metal thing do the walking for you, you had all piled into it
  34. >That was when the trip took a turn for the worse
  35. >This train was nothing like a manticore or even a wagon
  36. >It was loud, rocked back and forth, and moved far, far too fast
  37. >Twenty minutes into the ride some of the men started to get sick
  38. >Twenty minutes after that everyone was sick
  39. >Beautifully crafted windows were yanked open so knights could empty their stomachs on the sides of the train
  40. >Every bathroom was continuously filled
  41. >A pair of knights would always be at the back of the train desperately holding onto the edge of the railing as they puked
  42. >It was horrible
  43. >You couldn't read any of the books you had brought because every time you did you got sick
  44. >Mouth-watering treats. Candies and chocolates and the like were stocked in the trains larder, but none of you could eat it because you couldn't hold anything down
  45. >There were a pair of servants on the trip, big, strapping black stallions in bright red vests that tried to help you as best as they could, but it was no use
  46.  
  47. >In the end, you had all huddled on the floor, refusing to look through the windows, hugging your legs to your stomachs while Lord Aegis swore loudly and often that you weren't going to take this monster back
  48. >And, to be honest, you didn't have a problem with that
  49. >A week's worth of hard marching was leagues better than this…
  50. >You might have gotten sore legs, but you’d rather have that than puking up your body weight...
  51. >For three days and three nights you all suffered like this
  52. >You had wanted to speak to the stallions, since you had never seen a pony before, but you were all so sick and Lord Aegis's temper was so foul by the end of the first day they only came into your section of the train to give you water and what little food you could choke down
  53. >You didn't get to see the land change from the rough and rocky lands of the minotaurs to the wide, open plains of the buffalo
  54. >Los Pegasus went by unnoticed, as did the White Tails Woods and Ponyville
  55. >But, as you were traveling through the Everfree forest, you finally managed to peek out a window without wanting to puke your guts out
  56. >That was when you saw it
  57. >The white city of Canterlot
  58. >It loomed over everything, perched atop of the largest mountain on the unicorn range
  59. >Massive, majestic, perfect
  60. >High, white walls
  61. >Towers tipped with gold
  62. >A massive waterfall streaming out of its middle
  63. >It looked like a city where the angels would live...
  64. >"Do you see it, boy?"
  65. >You tore your gaze from the Equestrian capital to look at your lord
  66. >Lord Aegis had his back pressed up against the wall, his eyes closed and his face green
  67. >In his hands he held his iron-studded club
  68. >It was a big, heavy thing you knew
  69. >Made out of walnut and just as tall as you
  70. >The same one that he had used to kill the last minotaur empress, one of the knights had told you
  71. >But you knew that wasn’t true
  72. >You knew the stories like any other boy your age
  73.  
  74. >That particular club had split in half when your lord had used it to cave in the empress’s head
  75. "See what, my lord?"
  76. >Your lord covered his face with a hand, tapping the tip of his club against the floor
  77. >His face contorted, and you half expected him to jump up and run to the bathroom or to the back of the train
  78. >But, with a show of will, he beat his sickness down
  79. >Taking a few deep breaths, he let out a quiet groan
  80. >"I swear to the gods that I'm going to kill him," he muttered to himself. "I'm going to take this club and beat his brains out for making me come to this horse-infested shitehole..."
  81. >The wall creaked as he pressed his weight against it, looking as miserable as you felt
  82. >Breathing in deeply, he opened an eye and looked at you
  83. >"Do you see the capital? Do you see Canterlot?"
  84. "Yes my lord," you said with a nod. "I can see it off in the distance."
  85. >"Good, that means we'll be getting out of this metal demon soon."
  86. >You looked back out the window
  87. "It's a very pretty city, my lord," you told him. "It's so... big, and white, and gold..."
  88. >Don't let it's looks fool you boy," your lord said. "There's nothing pretty about that city."
  89. >Still looking out the window, you nodded again
  90. >You had read enough to know that the city of Canterlot had a bit of a reputation
  91. >Every mare and stallion that lived there had royal blood in some way or another, from the shopkeepers to the guards
  92. >It was a close knit city
  93. >The nobles protected their own fiercely
  94. >They also had a very bad habit of indulging in some very dark vices
  95. >Male trafficking, drugs, black magic, kidnapping, rape, murder
  96. >Most ponies didn't speak of it; most didn't know about it
  97. >If a stallion went missing or a mare wound up dead almost no one was ever prosecuted
  98. >The guard was so corrupt that all one needed to do was toss some bits at the right ponies and all of the evidence would disappear
  99. >Over the years, the princesses had done their best to clean up the city, but with very little success
  100.  
  101. >Princess Celestia and Luna might have ruled Equestria, but it was the nobles that ran Canterlot
  102. >And they weren't the type to give their power up freely
  103. >A shiver ran through you when you remembered a passage from one of the books that the king had given you
  104. >Apparently some of the viler nobles like to take male children
  105. >The book didn't say what they did to them, only that their families never saw them again...
  106. >Your lord tapped his club against the floor with a little more force
  107. >The loud thud it produced made you jump
  108. >Tensing, you looked over at him
  109. >"Remember to stick close to us at all times, boy. Don't eat or drink anything we don't drink. If a pony says something to you or you think they're trying to bewitch you tell me so I can bash their heads in," he said, eyes still closed
  110. >You nodded
  111. "Yes my lord."
  112. >"Always be on guard. They'll have eyes on us every second that we're here."
  113. "Yes my lord."
  114. >"And if you're stupid enough to get lost, remember your training. You might be a little shite but you're still of our Order."
  115. >You looked down at your side, where a small knife hung from your belt
  116. >You might not have had a sword or an axe like the other knights--mostly because you weren't allowed to carry one yet--but you knew how to use this knife
  117. >...
  118. >At least you hoped so...
  119. "Yes my lord."
  120. >Grumbling to himself, lord Aegis grabbed the edge of a chair and pulled himself to his feet
  121. >"Alright lads! Get up and get ready. We'll be in that whore of a capital soon and when we step out of this train I want those ponies to see Knights of the Red Heart, not a bunch of great horned girls!"
  122. >Groans erupted from all around you
  123. >Pained, sickly groans
  124. >Nevertheless, you saw knights slowly climbing to their feet
  125.  
  126. >"Boy, go and fetch my armor. We'll show these ponies who they’re dealing with..."
  127.  
  128. ~_~_~_~_~_~
  129.  
  130. >Silence greeted you as you stepped off of the train
  131. >There was no shouting, no crowds
  132. >The entire station seemed deserted
  133. >It was only when you had all exited the train did you see a group of ponies making their way toward you
  134. >There were a group of guards and two mares
  135. >These mares were simply dressed, but they had the look of nobles about them
  136. >...At least you think they did
  137. >You had no idea how a normal pony carried themselves...
  138. >Seeing your lord, the two mares bowed
  139. >"Greetings, lord Aegis. I trust that your trip was a pleasant one."
  140. >Your lord, still a bit green, pushed you behind him
  141. >"It was... something," he replied, eyeing the guards
  142. >Lifting their heads, the mares smiled
  143. >They weren't very nice smiles you noticed
  144. >There wasn't any warmth or joy in them
  145. >In fact, they almost seemed... cold, predatory
  146. >"Her royal highness Princess Celestia sends her deepest apologies that she couldn't come down to greet you herself. Something very important came up at the castle, so she sent two of her most trusted servants in her stead. I'm lady Butterscotch and this is--"
  147. >Lord Aegis took a step toward the two
  148. >These ponies weren't very tall, maybe a little bigger than a wolf hound, but compared to your lord they looked like toys
  149. >Many of the guards took a nervous step back
  150. >Even the noble's hollow smiles lessened just a hair
  151. >"Let's get on to the castle," your lord said, looking over the two at the street
  152. >Your lord’s dismissiveness seemed to throw off the mares, but only for a moment
  153. >"Of course, my lord," one of them said. "We're sure that the trip was hard on you and these other lovely stallions. Please, allow us to escort you to the castle
  154. >Nodding, lord Aegis turned back toward you and the knights
  155. >"Boys, formation."
  156. >Armor rattled as the knights formed up
  157. >Two knights stood on either side of lord Aegis
  158.  
  159. >You stood behind your lord, holding his mighty club
  160. >Weapons weren't drawn, but you could see from the looks on some of your fellows faces that they wouldn't hesitate to draw steel if needed
  161. >The noblemares must have saw this, because their smiles became a bit more forced
  162. >"Yes, well, let's be off. We wouldn't want to keep their majesties waiting now, would we?"
  163. >The mares turned around
  164. >One of them let out a whistle that had the guards scrambling to flank them
  165. >"Now, if you'd follow us gentlecolts."
  166. >With that, you all stepped out onto the streets of Canterlot
  167. >There were ponies everywhere, you saw
  168. >Merchants, nobles, and workers walked this way and that
  169. >A hundred different smells filled the air
  170. >Ponies were laughing, screaming, hawking their wares
  171. >It was just like back at home, except instead of humans, waist-high ponies were running around...
  172. >The noblemares lead you through the crowds, using the guards to push ponies aside
  173. >Your lord and the rest of your group made sure to keep a healthy distance away from them
  174. >To your left and right, you could see knights scanning the crowds, their hands on their weapons
  175. >"Keep an eye open boys," you lord said. "Don't let any of them get too close."
  176. >You could see mares eyeing your group
  177. >Most of the glances were just curious
  178. >Others, however... weren't
  179. >"Don't worry about the crowds, my lord. The guards will keep them in check," one of the noblemares said, looking back at him with a smile
  180. >Your lord grunted, too focused on scanning faces to pay her much mind
  181. >"Yes, we'll get you up to the castle in a jiffy. Though, if you'd permit, I'd be happy to point out some of our more famous landmarks on the way."
  182. >One of the knights leaned forward and whispered something in lord Aegis's ear
  183. >Your lord nodded, slowly wrapping an arm around the knights on either side of him
  184. >The noblemare, somehow, took that as a yes
  185.  
  186. >"Great! If you’d look to your left, you'll see the famous Canterlot theater, where ponies such as the great Twinkle Hooves and Marquee Strings played so long ago..."
  187. >The mare continued to chatter, pointing at this building and that
  188. >While she did so, your lord pointed out one of the alleyways that you were coming up to
  189. >The noblemares and guards, so focused on talking and leading that way, they didn't notice when the front row of your formation turned toward it
  190. >Keeping in formation, the rest of you followed, slipping into the alley with your guides none the wiser
  191. >Somehow...
  192. >"Remember that we have to make our way to that bloody castle sometime today, lads," your lord said, looking behind him. "Now come on, let's go before someone has the sense to tell them that we've left."
  193. >The ponies wanted to take you through the main road
  194. >This was where they could have guards stationed to keep an eye on everything
  195. >They had been no doubt cleaned every inch of this road and its shops, and the nobles had been no doubt warned about misbehaving
  196. >The princesses wanted the city to be on its best behavior while you all were here
  197. >Your lord had said as much before you had all gotten on the train
  198. >He had also said that nothing brought out the true face of a city like walking through its alleyways
  199. >And you hadn't come to Canterlot to see it drawn up in a false light
  200. >So marching through alleyways you went
  201. >The chattering of the ponies lessened the deeper you went into the darker parts of the city which, oddly enough, was still clean
  202. >Not clean-clean, but far cleaner than an alleyway should be
  203. >No rats ran amok, and what garbage there was had been placed in metal cans
  204. >The walls even looked like they had been scrubbed recently
  205. >"Huh, still clean," one of the knights said as he looked around. "'Wonder if they just went and cleaned the whole city for us..."
  206. >"Maybe," your lord said as you all turned a corner. "Or maybe ponies just like to--"
  207.  
  208. >A high-pitched, terrified scream filled the air
  209. >The noise made you jump
  210. >What was that...?
  211. >Without hesitation, the knights drew their weapons
  212. >"That came from the left," one of them said
  213. >"Maybe a hundred feet away, if these damned walls aren't throwing the voice," another added
  214. >Your lord, who hadn't drawn his club, frowned
  215. >"Keep in formation," he ordered. "We're going to see who's screaming. Boy, if you hit me with my club I’m going to feed you your own shoes."
  216. >You twitched, looking down to see that you were clenching your club as if you meant to swing it
  217. "Y-Yes my lord."
  218. >Lord Aegis nodded
  219. >"Good lad. Now let's move out."
  220. >Armor rattled and rubbed together as you picked up your pace
  221. >Drawing closer to the origin of the noise, you could hear the sounds of a struggle
  222. >"P-Please, I don't have--"
  223. >"Shut your bucking mouth."
  224. >"Applewood! Get that bucking shot. I need this colt nice and hard."
  225. >"D-Don't hurt m-me. I'll give y-you--OW!"
  226. >"I said shut your bucking mouth. Everclear, get those ropes. I don't want him kicking when we start."
  227. >A sob filled the air
  228. >Your lord and his knights picked up their pace
  229. >"There we go... Shush, shush, it's alright. My girls and I just want to have a little fun before we send you home."
  230. >"B-B-But I can't--"
  231. >"Shush, just shut that pretty trap of yours and let the medicine do its work."
  232. >Turning one final corner, you saw them
  233. >A trio of mares hiding their faces behind a red cloth surround a bruised, crying stallion
  234. >One of them was holding a knife to the stallions throat while another was tying him up with some rope
  235.  
  236. >Seeing this, lord Aegis's eyes narrowed
  237. >Signaling his knights to stop, he drew himself up to his full height and marched over to the would-be rapists
  238. >The ponies, so focused on the crying stallion, didn't notice as he slipped behind the mare holding the knife
  239. >Looking down at her, he cleared his throat
  240. >The mare tensed, whipping around with weapon at the ready
  241. >"Who the buck...!"
  242. >She trailed off when she saw lord Aegis standing there with his arms crossed
  243. >Her eyes widened
  244. >"I would suggest that you drop that knife," your lord said. "Otherwise--"
  245. >With a yell, the mare darted forward
  246. >She thrust her knife into your lord's armored belly
  247. >Or at least tried to
  248. >There was a spark as metal hit metal
  249. >Your lord's platemail, made of the finest northern steel that could be bought, took the blow with ease
  250. >The knife wasn't so lucky, snapping in half and cutting the mare’s cheek and lip
  251. >Lord Aegis let out a sigh as the mare reeled back, letting out a cry of pain
  252. >"I did try to let you surrender peacefully," he said. "Just remember that."
  253.  
  254. ~_~_~_~_~_~_~
  255.  
  256. >Be Twilight Sparkle, newly crowned princess of Equestria
  257. >It was an exciting day
  258. >No!
  259. >It was THE most exciting day!
  260. >You were finally going to meet humans!
  261. >One of the most reclusive creatures on Equus was coming to the castle as we speak!
  262. >And you had soooooo many questions!
  263. >Questions about their culture, their people, how they did things and why they did them
  264. >Ohyouweresoexcited!
  265.  
  266. >Princess Celestia, who was sitting next to you on her throne, let out a chuckle
  267. >"I don't think I've seen you this excited in a very long time, my dear student."
  268. >You stopped your excited, happy-fun-time wiggles to look at the princess
  269. >Realizing that you were probably making a fool of yourself--who were you kidding, of course you were--a blush came to your face
  270. "Sorry, princess..."
  271. >Smiling, Princess Celestia wrapped a wing around your shoulder
  272. >"There's no need to be sorry, Twilight. You have every right to be excited. It has been a very long time since a human has entered these halls."
  273. >Long time?
  274. >Try almost TWO HUNDRED YEARS!
  275. >Even dragons made their way to Canterlot every few years or so!
  276. >...
  277. >No, bad Twilight
  278. >You were a princess now
  279. >No matter how excited you were, you needed to act like it
  280. >Taking a deep breath, you leaned into your teacher's touch, letting it calm you
  281. >While you did that, your eyes wandered toward the door
  282. >They would be here any moment…
  283. >You were about to see history in the making...
  284. "It's too bad Luna couldn't be here to greet them with us..."
  285. >"I would have these humans be eased into our negotiations as gently as possible," Celestia said. "This lord Aegis has a bit of a... reputation and you know how Luna is around stallions."
  286. >You couldn't help but wiggle again
  287. >Ohh!
  288. >You were going to learn SO MUCH these next few days...
  289. >Maybe you'd even--
  290. >Your ears perked up as a sound wafted into the room
  291. >What was that...?
  292. >Leaning forward, you listened hard
  293. >It almost sounded like armor banging together
  294. >As the sound grew closer, you could hear yelling right outside of the door
  295. >"Sir! State you busin--"
  296. >"Move."
  297. >"Sir! I must--"
  298. >"Move. Now."
  299. >"A guard scurried into the room, pale and wide-eyed
  300. >"P-Princess!"
  301. >Without saying a word, Princess Celestia rose to her hooves
  302.  
  303. >You stood up as well, your horn crackling to life
  304. >What the hay was going on?
  305. >Were you being attacked?
  306. >Was it the Changelings again?
  307. >Did something happen to the humans?!
  308. >Pleasepleaseplease don't' be that!
  309. >Five seconds later you saw who was causing all of this commotion
  310. >An armored human, stepped into the throne room
  311. >Tucked under a arm was a mare, bloodied and bruised
  312. >Tucked under his other arm was a shaking, crying stallion
  313. >...
  314. >Huh...
  315. >He tossed the mare over to you and Princess Celestia
  316. >She hit the ground before either of you could grab her with your magic
  317. >She let out a whimper from the impact, curling into a ball
  318. >More humans began making their way into the throne room, looking just as happy as the giant
  319. >You noticed that they were carrying two mares, just as bloody and bruised as the one at your hooves
  320. >Gently setting down the stallion, the giant human dusted himself off
  321. >"Good afternoon, ladies," he said, wiping a bit of blood from his face. "I am lord Aegis. My king sends his greetings."
  322. >Your teacher, ever cool under fire, was the one that managed to find her voice
  323. >”Yes, well... hello to you too."
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