November 15, 1000 ANM

In the end, the event proved itself to be irrelevant to my interests. I have no desire to thrust myself in the public's eye so soon after the appearance of another specter of the past, and I am certain that the sword cuts both ways. The sword being the opinion, naturally, shared between two parties … though swords are not designed to be shared, so perhaps the metaphor is unwarranted. I truly must consult the nuances of figures of speech, once I have asserted myself in the throne.

In any case, I felt that my presence would be better suited with a pony who would not have Sister Dearest's company. Should I not value my kin over the scattering of peasants and bumbling aristocrats making their appearance?

My absence at the Gala was not to say I would have no hoof in its proceedings. I spoke with Blueblood regarding the Bearers' attendance, noting that it would be an excellent opportunity to further gain their confidence. I do not suspect that they suspect my aims, but it seemed logical that I could not engage my subtleties in one direction alone. Indeed, more engaging would be required, particularly with that most stunning of sorceresses, Twilight Sparkle.

"Do you know which one is Twilight?" I asked Blueblood, escorting him from his quarters to the ballroom. "While I know she is a Canterlot native, it seems unnecessary to assume that two ponies will know each other by sheer virtue of a mutual acquaintance — I speak, of course, of my dear sister, who is likely familiar with enough ponies to overwhelm any sane creature."

"You're right," said he. "I've never seen this Twilight, though I've heard of her. Spending every waking hour studying, or practicing magic, or studying magic … Auntie Celestia has spoken highly of her, and even more so in the past few months."

"I shall speak of her presently, then. Twilight, as you might have guessed, is a unicorn boasting the deepest indigo mane, with a finely filed horn to complete the image of a model specimen. She has, dare I say it, a striking balance between confidence in her abilities and wariness of others' perceptions; you should be able to see it in her stance, for you are nearly as observant as I. When you engage her, be on your best behavior. However, you must also be yourself, for this dealing requires some semblance of honesty. Let her know the magnitude of your presence, but be personable. Be aware of the deepness of her eyes, lest you find yourself entranced by them. Simply behave as a prince of Equestria should, and I know that you can do no wrong."

He smiled. "Is that all? That shouldn't be a problem."

"Take care with confidence, my son. Should this fail, we may finish the night with even more problems than we started with."

"You underestimate me, Mother." We paused at a door, listening to the muffled voices of ponies beginning to arrive. "This is where I leave. I won't let you down."

"I believe in you."

We parted ways there, and I made my way back through the winding passages of the palace. Up I went, ascending one, two, three flights of stairs, where a certain pink niece had made her abode. At the entrance stood the guard I had assigned to her, and he saluted me sharply at my appearance.

With some trepidation, I looked out a nearby window, watched the procession of approaching guests with their elaborate coverings, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door.

A voice mumbled on the other side. "No, Mom. I don't want to talk to you."

"Then you are in luck!" I exclaimed. "For I, the darkest of them all, am as far removed from that pony as is possible without moving outside the realm of family! My good niece, pray open this door, that I may behold your scowling face."

There was a moment's pause. Then the door swung open, and Mi Amore Cadenza stood there, rubbing at her red eyes. "Uh, hi, Auntie Luna. Aren't you going to the Gala?"

"Nay! Your mother is quite busy with the common pony, and cannot afford to spare her time as I can. I have taken upon myself a task that she cannot accomplish at this time."

She eyed me suspiciously. "And what's that?"

"You, of course."

"I'm a task now?"

"Certainly." I pushed past her into her quarters, which were adorned in pink to a surprisingly tasteful degree. The large window at the far end displayed a night sky sparkling with fireworks. "In my mind, I present to you a list of items to be taken care of, a scroll unrolled across the length of Equestria. And behold! One of these items reveals the words 'Speak with Mi Amore Cadenza regarding recent events.' If you will not see your mother later, then you will see me now."

She pressed her lips together, as if sealing away a retort. Casting a defeated look upon me, she crossed the room and sat upon a large cushion, whereby the light of the fireplace could warm her. One side remained with plenty of room, and so I took position in similar fashion.

We were silent for a time, glancing at each other every now and then whenever we thought the other did not notice. At length, when the flames had died to embers, she spoke. "Is he really my father?"

"Verily, such is the truth. And Celestia is your mother. Your parentage is now sufficiently verified."

"I …" Her head drooped. "I never thought it was important. Who my father was, I mean. When you've been alive for thousands of years, that just doesn't seem very … I thought he'd died long ago, you know?"

"I grasp your meaning. The past is not to be exploited, but rather left to its own devices, like a habitat for a rare lion. Should the boundaries be breached, the lion will leap at the first moment to escape, and soon all are afflicted with the plague of sneezes."

She snorted. When I raised a questioning eyebrow, she waved my concern aside, trying to hide the smile cracking her expression. "Nothing. Go on."

"Setting the lion aside, then, I shall turn to the heart of the matter. The issue of Discord being your father was never an issue until it was revealed to you. The connection between parent and child runs two ways, and if the former behaves reprehensibly, the latter is under no obligation to see in them a model for life." I thought of unblinking eyes. "Not entirely unlike the bond between sisters, though the situations differ necessarily."

"I wasn't thinking of becoming a lady of chaos or anything," she said.

"I did not mean to imply such a thing. My point is that he has been a nonentity in your life, and you have little reason to take such a person seriously. Has your mother not made up for the absence of a father, and especially the absence of a good father?"

"I … hmm." She considered this. "On the one hoof, I don't think anything could really replace a good father. On the other hand, Mom does come pretty close." A wan smile graced her features. "It's saying something that I'm lucky to have a mother who's willing to lie to me so I can be happy."

"Honesty was never her strong suit," I noted, "just as Kindness has never been mine. Yet, in our own way, we do our best, do we not?" My lovely hoof prodded her foreleg. "I request that you speak with her, my niece. You know that she cares for you deeply."

She pursed her lips, looking to the window … and then an ear twitched as she looked more intently beyond. "Do you hear crashing?"

I listened, noting shrieks of dismay amidst the sounds of wreckage. "Verily, so I do. Yet I trust that your mother can handle this level of mishap. Pray refrain from changing the subject."

"But a wall or something just collapsed down there!"

"Can you deny, Mi Amore Cadenza, that the palace has endured worse damages at shorter notice? No?"

"No," she admitted, taking interest in her hooves. "I just … what if she thinks I'm a mistake?"

I bristled. "Do you honestly believe that Princess Celestia, benevolent ruler of Equestria and loving mother, would consider her daughter a mistake?"

"Being loved and being considered a mistake aren't mutually exclusive." But she seemed taken with my logic, musing on its fair points.

"At least promise me you will try before the wound becomes a scar."

"I'll try." She did not sound entirely confident, yet there was a hint of a sparkle in her eye.

I do hope she takes my advice to heart. If she does not, I shall bring it to her attention repeatedly, never relenting or ceasing. She must realize that resentment must not be allowed to rise, nor love to fester. It is a lesson all would do well to learn, even for those whose lives have been turned upside down with a startling, even disconcerting revelation.

As it is, I must away to my slumber. Blueblood has not dropped by my quarters even in these small hours of the morning, so I can only assume things have transpired suitably with Twilight Sparkle despite the apparent disaster downstairs. Sister Dearest has not visited me, either, and I wonder as to her doings. Does she not remember the ceremony for the defeat of Discord? If she appears not, who is the common pony to hope for?