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Diplomacy 9

Jul 7th, 2017
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  1. >"Twilight, could you pass the syrup please?"
  2. "Of course, princess."
  3. >Be Twilight Sparkle
  4. >It was getting late, and after such a long, stressful, HORRIBLE day you had realized that you hadn't eaten a single thing
  5. >Nor did Princess Celestia, or any of your guests
  6. >So the princess had everypony come to the royal dining room to get some food in their bellies
  7. >Tonight a special meal was to be prepared
  8. >Your favorite when you were still living in the castle
  9. >Breakfast for dinner, or Brinner as some of the staff liked to call it
  10. >Pancakes, hay bacon, toast, enough syrup to drown a manticore
  11. >Usually, this would just be the thing to put you in a good mood
  12. >You'd eat your bodyweight in Prench toast and pass out at the table and everything would be fine
  13. >But, of course, this didn't happen
  14. >Because some high being was making it their personal mission to make your life miserable
  15. >The royal dining room, since it was the royal dining room, was massive
  16. >This was where the princesses hosted their parties and entertained friends, dignitaries and everything in between
  17. >Because of this it was able to fit both lord Aegis's party and Empress Helga's retinue with ease
  18. >And there lied the problem
  19. >On one side of the room, sitting at their table with their weapons in hand or very close by, were the knights
  20. >On the other side of the room, looking excitedly at the humans, were the nobility of Labyrinthia
  21. >The Empress's cousins, aunts, counts and marcher ladies and dukes
  22. >Some of them were young, some old, and nearly every single one had lost a family member to at least one of the knights in attendance, if what said Ser Hothel was true
  23.  
  24.  
  25. >What was incredibly odd however was that none of the heifers were glaring at the humans with looks of contempt or anger, or conveying any of the appropriate responses that one would usually have when sitting across from somepony that had killed a family member
  26. >They were chatting excitedly among themselves, pointing out one of the knights every few moments before giggling like a bunch of school colts; not at all acting like the fierce, mighty warriors that you had seen roaming the castle since you were little
  27. >The Empress seemed to be the worst offender at this
  28. >The big cow couldn't sit still, looking at each of the men like you looked at a new novel series
  29. >More than once she had tried to call out across the room, to ask a knight their name or point out an apparently famous individual, wherein she would cover her face with her hands and repeat the phrase "ohmygosh!" so many times that some of her guards looked ready to throw themselves out of a window
  30. >The knights didn't respond to any of her callings, nor to any of the other minotaurs that worked up the courage to speak with them
  31. >They didn't say a word, they barely ate, and always they were watching the taurs carefully
  32. >Both you and Princess Celestia were sitting at a small, plain table in the middle of the room between the two groups
  33. >The minotaurs, being minotaurs, didn't notice the tension in the room, but you did
  34. >Oh you did...
  35. >It was so thick in the air that you could have dipped it in your cup of hot chocolate and taken a bite out of it
  36. >You had a feeling that if you and the princess weren't sitting where you were, the knights might have gotten violent
  37. >VERY violent...
  38. >"It's very rude for a Princess to stare too long, my dear. Especially when she does so so plainly."
  39. >Blinking, you looked over at Princess Celestia
  40. >Your old teacher was staring at you out of the corner of your eye while she enjoyed a stack of pancakes
  41. >To most, the tower of food would have been far too much for any one pony to eat
  42. >But you had known the Princess all of your life
  43.  
  44.  
  45. >You knew she could eat far more than that
  46. >She WAS the princess, after all
  47. "Oh, excuse me Princess," you said, looking away from the table of knights to pick up your fork and knife
  48. >"There's nothing to apologize for, dear," the Princess said, levitating over a bottle of syrup and adding a healthy amount onto your hashbrowns. "Now eat up. You know how the staff feels when you don't empty your plate."
  49. >You nodded, cutting a square out of your stack and popping it into your mouth
  50. >As you chewed, you looked over at the Empress
  51. "...Princess?"
  52. >"Yes my dear?"
  53. "Do you think it's really a good idea to have everypony in the same room like this together? Especially with what happened today?"
  54. >The Princess hummed as she stuffed a hoofful of hay bacon into her mouth before levitating over the bottle of syrup and upending it into her maw
  55. >You waited patently as the princess chewed and swallowed, letting out a Princess-like burp when all of the food had gone down her gullet
  56. >"Oh, please excuse me," she said, dabbing her mouth with a napkin. "And I have a feeling that everything will be fine, Twilight."
  57. >One of the minotaurs called out
  58. >A knight frowned, pulling his sword from its sheath and placing the naked blade onto the table
  59. "Are you sure? Because it looks like it'll go in the opposite direction."
  60. >"The knights are just finicky because what happened with poor Aegis, nothing more," the Princess said. "If Helga had actually been the one to plan the attack on their lord I'm sure it would be different, but like myself the knights no doubt believe that she didn't do such a thing."
  61. >She cut a chunk out of her stack of pancakes and bit into it, pouring more syrup into her mouth
  62. >"I'm sure these fine fellows dislike these nice heifers as much as they look like they do, but unless their lord specifically orders it I doubt there will be any bloodshed."
  63.  
  64.  
  65. >You nodded, helping yourself to another mouthful of pancake
  66. "I hope so."
  67. >"There's nothing to worry about, Twilight," the Princess said. "When Luna finally manages to find our would-be assassin, I'm sure everything will be well."
  68. >Princess Celestia tried to pour syrup into her prench toast, only for nothing to come out
  69. >She frowned
  70. >"Oh my goodness, out already?"
  71. >From the knight's side of the room Anonymous, who was serving the knights, perked up
  72. >Grabbing two bottles of syrup from their table, he scurried over to the two of you
  73. >"Here you go, your highnesses," he said with a bow of his head
  74. >Celestia smiled, taking the bottles from him
  75. >"Thank you very much, dear," she said. "But you didn't need to come over here. I could have just called a servant."
  76. >"We weren't using any of it anyways," Anon said with a shrug. "And a page needs to make sure that the whole room is served."
  77. >You perked up
  78. "So you always have to wait the tables when you eat?"
  79. >"I do, your highness," Anonymous said. "Unless I'm told otherwise."
  80. "And what about your food? When do you eat?"
  81. >"When I can mostly. Sometimes I can only eat after everyone else has."
  82. >Though it didn't sit very well with you that a colt as young as Anon had to stand around like a servant--you WERE a progressive mare after all--you couldn't help but find that incredibly interesting
  83. >"Well, there's no need for you to wait on anypony tonight, dear," Princess Celestia said. "I have more than enough staff to see to everypony's needs. Now go and help yourself to some food."
  84. >Anonymous smiled
  85. >"Yes, your highness."
  86. >He turned, and was about to make his way back toward his table, when something flashes across the Princess's face
  87. >"Actually, Anonymous?"
  88.  
  89.  
  90. >Anon stopped and turned right back around
  91. >"Yes your highness?"
  92. >Picking up one of the bottles of syrup, Princess Celestia levitated it into his hands
  93. >"If it isn't too much trouble, could you please take that to the empress? The dear seems to have almost run out as well."
  94. >Anon looked over at the minotaur table, his smile morphing into a look of worry
  95. >"Um..."
  96. >"I thought I'd ask you since you seemed to eager to help," the Princess said, sitting up into her chair. "I'd be very grateful if--"
  97. >"Boy, get back over here."
  98. >Both you, Anon, and Princess Celestia looked across the room to see Lord Aegis making his way toward the table full of knights
  99. >The lord, though still a bit pale, looked far better than he had a few hours ago
  100. >His eyes were sharp and each step he took was purposeful and measured
  101. >The minotaurs perked up when they saw him, and the knights themselves tried to rise up from their seats
  102. >"Sit down, sit down," lord Aegis said with a tired wave of a hand. "Just make room. Give me a chair and some food; I could eat a manticore."
  103. >There was a flurry of movement at the knight's table
  104. >Chairs and plates were moved, and a new chair was grabbed and placed at the center of the table
  105. >Anon, seeing his lord, scurried over to him
  106. >Princess Celestia, watching him go, let out a quiet sigh
  107. >"Horse apples. So close..." she mumbled
  108. >Stopping right next to his chair, lord Aegis looked around the room
  109. >His eyes narrowed slightly when his gaze rested upon the Empress, but he said nothing, instead sitting down with a grunt
  110. >"Stack this plate high, boy," he said, giving Anon a plate as the page stopped in front of him. "I don't care what it is, I just need something in my belly."
  111. >As Anon scurried off to the table full of food near you and the princess, the lord looked over at Celestia
  112.  
  113.  
  114. >"Your highness, I would appreciate if you didn't try to wrangle my page into any of your schemes."
  115. >"I don't know what you mean, my lord," the princess said without skipping a beat
  116. >Lord Aegis grunted a thanks as one of his knights passed him a glass of water
  117. >"I've been around nobles for far longer than I should, girl. I know when one's scheming," he grumbled, draining his glass in two gulps
  118. >On the other side of the room, a squeal could be heard
  119. >"He's sooooo cool!"
  120. >Looking over, you watched as the Empress stood up
  121. >You could see the heifer's tail wagging as she made her way around her table toward lord Aegis and his knights
  122. >She was plainly trying her hardest to keep herself from running, her eyes glowing with excitement
  123. >Lord Aegis watched as the minotaur made her way toward them with a raised eyebrow
  124. >His knights weren't nearly as calm, many lifting weapons and pointing them at her
  125. >Oh horse apples...
  126. >You tried to stand up, only for the princess to stop you
  127. >"It's fine, Twilight," she said
  128. "B-But princess..."
  129. >"It's fine. Just sit and watch."
  130. >Empress Helga, who somehow didn't seem to notice all of the weapons pointed at her, stopped just in front of the knight's table
  131. >Her tail flicked left to right before wrapping around her leg; a tell-tale sign of minotaur nervousness
  132. >"H-Hell--Ahem! Good afternoon, my lord," she said with a bow. "It's very nice to see that you're doing good! I mean, awesome! I mean well! Well; that's what I mean!"
  133. >Lord Aegis was silent as he looked the Empress over, drumming his hand against the table
  134. >"Your Holgan's spawn then?" he asked
  135. >The empress nodded
  136. >"Yes sir-- I mean, yes my lord!" she said, beaming. "It's really, really, REALLY nice to finally meet you!"
  137.  
  138.  
  139. >Lord Aegis grunted, not taking his eyes off the Empress as Anon placed a plateful of food in front of him
  140. >"I've been told that I nearly throttled you not a few hours ago."
  141. >"You did, but it's fine!" the empress assured, not knowing what to do with her hands. "I mean, I'm okay with you choking me anytime you want!"
  142. >...
  143. >It took a few moments, but eventually the Empress realized what she had said
  144. >The heifer's at the table behind her snickered as a blush worked its way onto her face
  145. >"Very smooth, my lady," a minotaur called
  146. >"ShuttheFUCKupHolgian!" the Empress hissed, staring at lord Aegis nervously
  147. >The lord just looked back at her calmly as he picked up a fork and knife and started eating
  148. >"I suppose that I should apologize," he said, more to himself than to her. "I don't want Drfual hearing about this and giving me Hell..."
  149. >His eyes narrowed as he shoved a forkful of pancake into his mouth and chewed
  150. >Out of the corner of your eye, you could see Celestia lean forward expectantly
  151. >Setting his utensils down to wipe his mouth with a napkin, lord Aegis shook his head
  152. >"Empress Helga I.... apologize," he said with a nod of his head. "If there is anything that I could do to make up for my actions ask and I will--"
  153. >"Can I have your autograph?!" the empress shouted
  154. >Lord Aegis winced at the minotaur’s outburst, and more than a few of his guards nearly dropped their weapons in surprise
  155. >"...I do not write," the lord said. "I would be... happy enough to give you one of my seals if you...."
  156. >Lord Aegis continued to speak but you didn't hear him
  157. >Didn't write?
  158. >What the hay did he mean?"
  159. >He was a lord!
  160. >He should be writing all the time!
  161. >Though you didn't know it, you found yourself sitting up in your chair
  162.  
  163.  
  164. "Um, excuse me, lord Aegis?"
  165. >The lord's gaze flinched from the empress to you
  166. >"Yes?"
  167. "Could you clarify what you meant about not writing?" you asked.
  168. >"It' means that I don't write, your highness," lord Aegis said, leaning back into his chair. "I don't trust those damn squiggly lines, so I neither write nor read."
  169. >...
  170. >...
  171. >...
  172. >W-What?
  173. >You could feel the color leave your face
  174. >Your stomach tightened into a ball
  175. >The very light in the room seemed to dim
  176. "You... You don't r-read or write?"
  177. >"No. I never learned. Nor will I."
  178. >Each word lord Aegis said felt like a punch to the gut
  179. >You had fought monsters, tyrants, gods of unimaginable power
  180. >But this...
  181. >This...
  182. >...
  183. >THIS...
  184. >You opened your mouth to say something, what, you didn't know, when you heard a voice behind you
  185. >"My lady! We did as you asked!"
  186. >Everyone in the room turned toward the door
  187. >There, standing in a nice, neat little formation, were twenty incredibly proud minotauri
  188. >Each was carrying a pony under an arm, some of which looked like they had been beaten
  189. >Behind all of them was a very upset and haggered Luna, who was flanked by a dozen of the Night Guard
  190. >"We went out and found a bunch of suspicious looking ponies, my lady," one of the heifer's said, beaming
  191. >Lord Aegis looked at the minotaurs and their captives
  192.  
  193.  
  194. >"A small filly looked suspicious to you?" he asked, nudging his head at the shaking filly in her arms
  195. >"Yep!" the minotaur chirped
  196. >You could smell smoke to your left, as well as feel the temperature of the room rising, signaling that the princess wasn't all that happy
  197. >Looking over at the table of minotaurs, you saw some of the taurs noticed this as well, many of their pale and wide-eyed
  198. >Lord Aegis shook his head again, looking down at his food
  199. >"Gods above... how you creatures once had the largest empire in Equus astounds me..."
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