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Changing Lanes 33

By AutoPony
Created: 18th December 2020 10:47:43 AM

  1. >"So how is your arm doing, Anon?"
  2. >Twilight gingerly pokes at your arm as you move it around.
  3. "Not bad. it feels kinda stiff, but I guess when it's been in a sling for weeks, that's normal."
  4. >You've spent the better part of the past few weeks in Canterlot, living in the castle with Luna and Celestia.
  5. >Luna and Celestia felt it was in your best interest to stay with them until your arm fully healed.
  6. >But finally today, you got the sling off your arm.
  7. >To celebrate, you and Luna met up with Twilight and Rainbow Dash in one of the finer dining establishments in Canterlot this afternoon.
  8. >You feel it will not only be good for you to get out of the castle, but Luna as well.
  9. >She hasn't seemed herself lately.
  10. >She has seemed lost in her own world at times, deep in thought.
  11. >You've questioned her about it, but she's been quiet about it, brushing it aside.
  12. >"I'm still sorry about doing that to you, Anon. "
  13. "Twilight, how many times are you going to apologize for something that wasn't your fault?"
  14. >"I know, I know, but it kinda was my fault."
  15. "Tell you what, now that my arm is good, when I get home to Ponyville you can make it up to me somehow."
  16. >Twilight hesitates a bit.
  17. >"Yeah, of course."
  18. >"I still would have liked to have been there for that fight, I can't believe you whooped Chrysalis's flank, Anon!"
  19. >You scratch the back of your head.
  20. "I don't think it really counts as a win if we both get knocked out, Dash."
  21. >"But you were conscious last!"
  22. >You can't help but laugh, as does Twilight.
  23. >You stop when you notice Luna staring off into space, silent.
  24. "Luna?"
  25. >Her eyes refocus, as if snapped out of a trance.
  26. >"Hm?"
  27. >Your other two friends stop, their laughter turning to quiet apprehension.
  28. >"Are you alright, Princess Luna?"
  29. >Luna brushes her mane aside with a hoof awkwardly, before taking a sip of her tea.
  30. >"I'm fine. I just have a lot of royal matters on my mind, is all."
  31. >With both of your friends as witnesses, you press on.
  32. "Come on Luna, you can tell us."
  33. >Luna seems to be getting annoyed.
  34. >"I assure you I am fine!"
  35. >You, Dash and Twilight exchange uneasy glances as Luna struggles to regain a bit of her composure.
  36. >"I must use the rest facilities, I will return shortly."
  37. >The night princess rises from the table, while the three of you remain quiet until she is out of sight.
  38. >You sigh, breaking the awkward silence that has befallen the table
  39. >"What was that all about?"
  40. "I don't know. She's been kind of on edge for the last two weeks or so, I was hoping getting out and about with you two would help. Obviously not."
  41. >"What do you mean 'on edge'?"
  42. >You motion with your hand.
  43. "Like what we just saw. She's just starts daydreaming like that sometimes. The other thing I've noticed is at night, anytime I wake up during the night, she's already awake, tensed up. It's a little creepy."
  44. >"Er, insomnia, maybe?"
  45. "Or afraid to go asleep."
  46. >Twilight and Dash both give you a funny look, urging you to elaborate.
  47. "After all of this with the changelings went down, before we got Twily back, Luna learned what happened in the past... wasn't what really happened, I guess. Apparently she can have nightmares, which is what I suspect might be the problem."
  48. >You glance around for any sign of Luna.
  49. "I'd elaborate, but it's a long story."
  50. >"Aww."
  51. >Twilight elbows Rainbow, before focusing on you.
  52. >"Well, can't you just pop into her dreams like she does to other ponies?"
  53. >You shake your head, continuing to keep your eyes peeled for the blue alicorn.
  54. "No, she'd know. Luna knows the ins and outs of the dream world way better than me. If I could catch her when she wakes up from one of those nightmares, I'd be able to confront her, I think."
  55. >Rainbow rises out of her seat in excitement.
  56. >"Then it sounds like what you need is an extra pair of eyes or two. We should have a slumber party at the castle!"
  57. "It's an interesting idea, but I don't think she will go for it, Rainbow."
  58. >"You're just mad you didn't come up with the idea."
  59. >"What idea are we discussing?"
  60. >The three of you snap to attention to Luna, who takes a seat at the table again.
  61. >Dash speaks up.
  62. >"well, we were thinking why should the celebrations end here at a restaurant? Maybe we can continue this on into the night with a slumber party at the castle!"
  63. >She is cut off by Twilight, who chimes in hastily.
  64. >"If that's alright with you, she means. Don't want to intrude, after all."
  65. >Luna lowers her gaze, thinking about the proposition while the other two lean in, anticipating her answer.
  66. >"I suppose there is no reason we could not."
  67. >The cyan pegasus pumps a hoof into the air.
  68. >"This is gonna be great!"
  69. >The other patrons in the restaurant quiet, staring at your table.
  70. >Rainbow takes notice and slowly slinks back into her seat.
  71. >Luna manages to crack a smile, relaxing a bit.
  72. >As Twilight tries to strike up another casual conversation, you lean over to Dash.
  73. "Remember Rainbow, we're doing this to try to figure out what's bothering Luna, not to party."
  74. >"I know, I know. Geez you're a buzzkill."
  75.  
  76. >"I bet it's awesome living in the castle, huh Luna?"
  77. >Luna smiles as the four of you walk the halls.
  78. >"It is nice, though I can not say I am sometimes fond of the amount of walking that it entails living in such a large place."
  79. >You all can't help but laugh as you reach Luna's room, walking in and flopping down on her massive bed.
  80. >"So where is Princess Celestia, will she be here?"
  81. >Luna looks down at Twilight after setting her tiara on the bedside table.
  82. >"Oh, she'll be around, I'm sure."
  83. >"Did someone call my name?"
  84. >You look over to the entrance of the room to see Celestia standing there smiling, devoid of her royal attire.
  85. >In front of her hovers a tub of ice cream, a spoon sticking out of the top.
  86. "Didn't you just finish off one of those last night, Tia?"
  87. >Dash and Twilight look at you horrified, as if expecting you to be immolated.
  88. >Celestia just laughs.
  89. >"Guilty, I suppose. It's been a long day. Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, what a pleasant surprise to see you both."
  90. >Both Twilight and Rainbow Dash bow, while Celestia waves a hoof.
  91. >"Oh come now, no need for formalities. I'm not even wearing any of my regalia."
  92. >"You look a lot.... different without all that stuff on."
  93. >Celestia just chuckles at Rainbow, taking a heaping spoonful of her frozen treat.
  94. >"So what are you all up to, anyway?"
  95. >"We are having a slumber party tonight, sister. I'm sure you don't mind."
  96. >"Not at all, that sounds like fun."
  97. >Celestia wiggles her tub of ice cream in the air.
  98. >"There's plenty more of this if you all want any. Try the strawberry fudge, it's my favorite."
  99. >"Not if you finish it all, sister. I do not want to hear you complaining about how the size of your posterior has grown in a week if you're going to keep eating that."
  100. >A sly grin crosses Celestia's face.
  101. >"Oh, don't worry about that. Besides, I can lose weight, but you can't gain height, can you, 'little' sister."
  102. >Luna's eyes go wide, before she leaps off the bed and runs toward the door.
  103. >You hear the sound of rapid footsteps and giggling as Celestia makes tracks down the hall.
  104. >"Come back here!"
  105. >Twilight and Rainbow stop staring at the now empty door and turn their attention to you.
  106. "Before you ask me, yes this is normal. And don't ever bring up Luna's height, she's a little sensitive about that."
  107. >"Wow, I've never seen Princess Celestia act so...."
  108. "Childish?"
  109. >Twilight cringes.
  110. >"I was going to say carefree and playful. And I lived here for a while when I was Celestia's student."
  111. >"Anon, are you sure Luna acting strangely lately isn't all in your head? I mean, she looks like she's enjoying the day."
  112. >Rainbow does have a point.
  113. >Since arriving back at the castle, she seems much more relaxed and back to her normal self.
  114. >Maybe it is just you?
  115. >You don't want to be hasty coming to a conclusion either way yet.
  116. "We'll just wait and see. In the meantime, let's all just enjoy the night, shall we?"
  117. >Twilight and Dash nod in excited agreement, as the sound of hoofsteps and Celestia's laughter come closer.
  118. >Luna appears in the doorway, a look of irritation upon her face.
  119. >Likely because of her mane, which is dripping with ice cream and chunks of strawberry.
  120. >"Thank you for sharing with us, sister."
  121. >Celestia does her best to keep a straight face as she trots in behind.
  122. >"Well, you did tell me to hand it over, so I did."
  123. >Ignoring her sister, Luna looks at the three of you, still seated on her bed.
  124. >"I will be back after a quick shower. Do make yourselves at home."
  125. >Luna trots out of the room, a quick glance at her sister, who is still struggling to keep a straight face.
  126. >When she is seemingly out of earshot, Celestia as well as the rest of the room erupts in laughter.
  127. >As everyone calms down, the white alicorn takes a seat on the rug in the room.
  128. >"So how was everypony's day in Canterlot? I understand you all got to taste some of our fine cuisine."
  129. >You and Twilight nod, while Rainbow seems hesitant.
  130. >"Well, they aren't exactly generous with the portion sizes here. I had to have two main courses to feel like I actually ate something!"
  131. "Luckily you didn't have to foot the bill, right?"
  132. >Rainbow sticks her tongue out in response.
  133. >Celestia's smile grows wider, turning to Twilight.
  134. >"How has Ponyville been? I haven't heard from you lately, I was beginning to get concerned."
  135. >Twilight tenses up.
  136. >"Sorry, sorry, it's been so busy in the library lately!"
  137. "Twilight, chill."
  138. >She looks over at you, taking a deep breath as Celestia chuckles.
  139. >"Well, Ponyville is in the middle of winter now. The first week of winter, the pegasi weather team made a mistake. We were supposed to only get two inches of snow, but instead we were hit with two feet of snow!"
  140. >All eyes dart to the cyan pegasus in the room, who crosses her forelegs.
  141. >"What? I wasn't even at work that day!"
  142. >Twilight continues.
  143. >"Nopony was prepared for that much snow so soon, it took a couple days before travel and everyday life got back to normal after digging out."
  144. "Glad I missed that."
  145. >Winter still has not settled upon Canterlot, as the weather is rather pleasant, if just a bit chilly at night.
  146. >"Well, your home didn't get dug out since you've been here residing in Canterlot."
  147. >Rainbow cringes, as Twilight giggles nervously.
  148. >"So yeah, don't be in too much of a rush to get home. Heh."
  149. >You are confused by your friends' reactions.
  150. >Abruptly, you are distracted by the scent of lavender striking your nose.
  151. >You can't help but smirk.
  152. "That was a quick shower, Luna."
  153. >You hear the disappointed stomping of a hoof as you turn to face the blue alicorn.
  154. >"How did you know? Was it Twilight?"
  155. >You shake your head.
  156. "Your shampoo is really strong."
  157. >Everyone is the room gets a chuckle.
  158. >Luna narrows her eyes at you.
  159. >"Very well. But we shall see who has the last laugh tonight."
  160.  
  161. "Let's speed it up a little bit here, Moonbutt."
  162. >Luna blushes a bit, shooting you an annoyed glance.
  163. >She really doesn't care for that nickname.
  164. >It's down to the two of you in the game that makes everyone angry, Marenopoly.
  165. >Celestia fell out of the game early.
  166. >Apparently she did have a very rough day, as she fell asleep.
  167. >Twilight made the decision to auction off the few properties the white alicorn had, as she was so excited to play the role of auctioneer.
  168. >Not to mention managing the bank, which is why she did not participate in the actual game.
  169. >Rainbow Dash was way too eager to get her hooves on the Cloudsdale property Luna possessed, so much so she made an absolutely horrible trade.
  170. >Five properties for just that one.
  171. >She didn't last much longer once you and Luna started putting up hotels.
  172. >Now, it's been nearly an hour of the two of you going around the board swapping bits back and forth.
  173. >Finally, after about a minute of shaking, Luna rolls the dice.
  174. >Seven.
  175. >Finally!
  176. >That puts her right on your most expensive property, Canterlot.
  177. >That should be the game.
  178. >Luna frowns as she looks down, oblivious of your cocky smirk.
  179. >She looks up at you after moving her token.
  180. >"What are you so pleased about?"
  181. "Time to pay up."
  182. >"But that is my property."
  183. >Confused, you look down at the board.
  184. >Fillydelphia?
  185. >You scan the board, finding Canterlot where the Fillydelphia square should be.
  186. >You shake your head.
  187. "Luna, that's cheating. You can't move squares on the board."
  188. >"Tell me where it says that in the rules."
  189. >"Right here, under Unicorn-specific rules."
  190. >Twilight pipes up, pointing a hoof to a paragraph in the rules booklet.
  191. >Luna cocks her head, smiling as she unfurls her wings.
  192. >"I suppose it is a good thing we are an alicorn, in that case."
  193. >You scoot over, grabbing her wings.
  194. "We can change that, if it's going to be an issue."
  195. >Luna flops backward onto the floor, dragging you along on top of her.
  196. >She pulls you closer, smirking.
  197. >"You are adorable when you act tough."
  198. "Who's acting?"
  199. >She chuckles, leaning in and giving you a quick peck on the forehead.
  200. >"I don't mean to be rude, Luna, but I think the 'no magic rule' is a generalized rule."
  201. >As Twilight's nerdiness shows up, Luna rises out from underneath you, a sigh of defeat emanating from her.
  202. >"Yes, Twilight, I know. Anon, you win."
  203. >You pump your fist.
  204. "Ha, I've never won at this game. Mainly because the board ends up being thrown."
  205. >Rainbow Dash yawns, rubbing her eyes.
  206. >"Well, can we finally get some sleep? I'm exhausted."
  207. >Luna cocks her head.
  208. >"Sleep? But it is only.."
  209. >She turns to the clock on her bedside, which reads 2:30 in the morning.
  210. >"Oh my, I did not realize it had gotten so late. Give me just a moment, I have a cloud mattress somewhere for you and Twilight."
  211. >Luna rises to her hooves, stepping over her sister who is still sound asleep on the floor.
  212. >"So, Anon, are you still sure there is something up with Luna? She seems to be in a pretty good mood to me."
  213. >You turn your head to face Twilight, who seems unsure of how you will react.
  214. >It isn't so much Luna's behavior that is bothering you, but all of your friends.
  215. >It is beginning to look like it might be YOU that is the one acting odd.
  216. >Sighing, you admit defeat.
  217. "Well, I thought I was sure something was up. Maybe it's been me all along."
  218. >Rainbow pats you on the back.
  219. >"Don't worry about it. It's not like we didn't have fun tonight, this was great."
  220. >A muffled bang startles the three of you into turning around to face the doorway.
  221. >A large white mattress is wedged into the opening at an angle.
  222. >With another heave, it pops into the room, levitated by Luna.
  223. >She seems to sense everyone on edge.
  224. >"Apologies, I forgot it was a tight fit."
  225. >Glancing over at Celestia, she is still out like a light.
  226. >Luna follows your gaze, letting out a low chuckle.
  227. >"Do not worry about her, she's fine sleeping there for the night. She's a heavy sleeper, so it would be difficult to wake her regardless."
  228. >She drops the mattress onto the floor.
  229. >Despite its size, it practically floats down to the floor, no doubt based on the fact it is a literal mattress of clouds.
  230. >It still astounds you the things that are possible in this world.
  231. >As Twilight and Rainbow make themselves comfortable on the bed, you and Luna flop down onto her bed.
  232. >"Goodnight everypony."
  233. >A chorus of hushed 'goodnight' is the response to Luna as the lights in the room go out.
  234.  
  235. >It is rather early in the morning as you stir awake, the first decent night's sleep you have had in a while.
  236. >Sensing Anon not in the bed causes you to jolt up.
  237. [Anon, where are you?]
  238. >[Dining room.]
  239. >As you get out of bed, you quietly move around Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash, who are still asleep.
  240. >Your sister is nowhere to be seen, but she is likely up and about at this time of the morning to raise the sun anyway.
  241. >Making your way to the dining room, you see Anonymous seated at the expansive table, sipping on a cup of coffee.
  242. "Are you alright?"
  243. >He looks up at you.
  244. >His face shows he hasn't slept too well.
  245. >"Yeah, I'm fine. Didn't sleep great, so I figured I may as well get up."
  246. >You take a seat next to him.
  247. "What is wrong? Something is bothering you."
  248. >He shakes his head, chuckling a bit.
  249. >"Well, I thought you were the one having issues. But now that I think both Twilight and Rainbow are acting odd, it must just be me."
  250. >Your heart sinks a bit.
  251. >Perhaps now is the best time as any to tell him if he thinks he's going nuts.
  252. "Anon, it's not you. I've been waiting to explain something to you, but I haven't been sure how you will react."
  253. >He looks at you, perplexed.
  254. >"What is it?"
  255. >"You two are up quite early this morning."
  256. >Celestia's warm smile greets the two of you as you turn around.
  257. >One look at your expressions causes it to disappear, instantly realizing what is up.
  258. >Nodding to her, you focus back on Anonymous.
  259. "Anonymous, I am afraid it would be extremely unwise for you to return to your home in Ponyville."
  260. >He seems dumbfounded.
  261. >"Uh, what? Everything is okay, right?"
  262. "Your home was..... vandalized, I'm afraid. Several windows were shattered, and the contents of your home were gone through. I am sorry Anon, but it seems the changelings seek retribution for what you have done to their queen. We have received several reports of them lurking throughout the kingdom, likely searching for you."
  263. >He balls up his fists, trembling with anger.
  264. >"Bring them on, I'll fuck up every one of them like I did Chrysalis!"
  265. >A fierceness you have never seen before appears in his eye, sending a chill down your spine.
  266. >"Anonymous, we need you to calm down."
  267. >Your sister speaks up, causing Anon to roar even louder.
  268. >"What, I don't have a right to be angry?! You're telling me everything is fine?!"
  269. >"No, Anonymous, everything is not fine, but we need you to remain calm. There's something else."
  270. >Your sister nods to you as Anon relaxes a bit, unclenching his fists.
  271. "Anon, do you remember how you described to us how it felt when you attacked Chrysalis?"
  272. >His face softens up a bit as he scans through his memory.
  273. >"Yeah. It hurt something awful, it felt like I was on fire."
  274. >"Luna and I have spent the last few weeks looking for something to explain such an odd occurrence, and I believe we know what caused it."
  275. >He seems a little nervous as he gives the two of you his undivided attention.
  276. "While wielders of magic in our realm have a way of focusing and discharging their energy, such as unicorns with their horns, you seem to have no way of doing so properly. When you stabbed Chrysalis, it seems the rush of adrenaline fuelled the release of some magic, using the key in your hand as a sort of conduit. However, we think in doing so, that energy was also channeled back into you as much as it was the Changeling Queen."
  277. >"In short Anonymous, the so-called 'feeling of death' you experienced.... was not exactly far off what seems to have happened."
  278. >Anon sits quietly, looking down at his hands.
  279. >"So what you're saying is, I managed to fry myself from the inside just like Chrysalis?"
  280. >He looks up at the two of you, both nodding in response.
  281. >"Yes Anonymous. And I am afraid such a stressful situation could possibly cause a similar occurrence, which is why we need you to remain calm."
  282. >"So not only am I a marked man by a whole species of giant bugs, but I am at risk of hurting or killing myself at any moment?"
  283. >You cringe at the bitterness of his tone.
  284. "Perhaps that is a rather harsh way o put it, but yes. I am sorry, Anon. You understand why I have been debating on when to give you this news."
  285. >His shoulders slump as you and your sister exchange worried glances.
  286. >"Well, I guess I'm glad you told me. So much for everything going back to normal."
  287. >Rising from the table, he turns and begins to head out of the dining room.
  288. "Where are you going?"
  289. >He doesn't turn around to answer you.
  290. >"I need some time to think. I'll be fine."
  291. >You find his words unconvincing.
  292. >"Do not hesitate to speak to either of us if you wish."
  293. >He says nothing as the door closes behind him, leaving you and Celly to wonder where to even begin the day.
  294.  
  295.  
  296.  
  297.  
  298. [Originally posted 9 July 2015]
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