Illiad Easle

Private A Cultural Exchange 1x1 with LonnaKitty

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(edited)

OOC Thread

@@LonnaKitty

(I'll just take the premise we used last time, but don't worry, this won't be a frame for frame recreation, He'll react slightly differently in some circumstances.)

It was a relatively calm night, or what could pass as night given both the sun and the moon were in the sky. The weather team at Archback Mountain had taken to placing a thick cloud cover to protect the crops and houses from an excess of sunlight. But they weren't the only ones with problems.

Equestria was having its trouble, as always, this time they were being dominated by plants of all things. Clearly the Everfree forest had decided a more aggressive conservation strategy was in order. 

Midnight Star stood in the looking tower, watching the events unfold through the enchanted glass and mirrors. He smiled as he watched six ponies figured out how to restore the tree of harmony. The wave went out, once again saving the day in a wave of harmonic magic. This time, however, there was a new surprise.

From the corner of his view he saw something he had previously overlooked every time he watched the Everfree forest. It was faint, had he not been looking almost directly at it he would have missed it entirely given how well hid it was, but he recognized the flash of a shield breaking, then there was a new gap in the trees.

He turned and refocused the windows to get a better view of the clearing, wondering how he had never noticed the shield before, but the more he thought the more he remembered having noticed it, but just passed it by as if it were nothing of importance. Well, that would have to end today. Finally the windows focused and revealed what appeared to be a small township, movement betrayed that there was something there, potentially something interesting.

In a flurry of activity he left the tower, gathered a small supply of travelling items, as well as his nearly hoof length cover and helmet, and prepared to set out in the direction of the newly discovered kingdom.

A thestral flew out from the castle's mountain bearing a letter for the new kingdom to arrive before Midnight would. It reads as follows:

Attn: Head of governing body.

Your kingdom/nation/province has been recently discovered by the Equis Global Council (EGC) and a representative has been dispatched to, if you agree, experience and evaluate your culture and extend an offer, if they deem you worthy, to become part of the EGC and thus be invited to come to our headquarters at Archback Mountain to become acquainted with the other participating nations of the world.

If you refuse there will be no penalty, and your nation will be free to join the EGC at any point after the evaluation period has been complete.

By our count, our representative will arrive approximately one day after you receive this notice. A description of him is as follows:

Name: Midnight Star

Race: Earth pony

Description: Tall, black coat with a white mane/tail as well as white tufts on the back of his fetlocks. His mark is a large eight pointed white star similar to the four pointed star on his forehead.

He will be wearing a red cloak when he arrives.

 

The thestral was not long in the air before he came across the hole in the treeline as he had been indicated. A smile came to his face as he descended, aiming to land in a centralized location so as to quickly discover their leader, whilst also maintaining the ability to escape should they prove hostile to his presence.

Edited by Illiad Easle
Added OOC Thread link

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Hoof Beat, a strong dapple grey and white stallion, stared at this new pony that bore a letter to their princess. He was weary, and for good reason. No one had come to their town in centuries. He had sent Joyleaf to go and fetch their princess, watching this new pony. They don't know how the barrier was broken, and now everyone was on edge, especially him. 

Soon their princess, tall and regal, her coat a midnight black and hair white as starlight, joined them. She got an excited twinkle in her eye when she saw the new pony. None of them had seen someone of their kind before. It sent a shiver of excitement through her body. She kept it at bay though, having to remain calm in front on this newcomer, her subjects were quite on edge after all.

She received the letter and thanked the pony, telling them if they wished to stay they could, but if they needed to leave she would not be offended. She smiled kindly and went on her way, the council of harmony closing in around her. 

She read the letter, once, twice, thrice. How exciting. A visitor from abroad. She ginned wide and looked to her council.

"Well? What is it?" Hoof Beat grumbled. Argante rolled her amethyst eyes, well he was pleasant as ever. She couldn't blame him though, she knows he was not okay with everything going on. 

"A visitor will be coming soon. His name is Midnight Star." She turned to her head of guard, Shadow Jewel. The hardened pony stood up a bit straighter as Argante gave the description of the stallion that would be here within the day. Shadow nodded, going to the barracks to inform the guard that they would be having a visitor, and to double up patrols for awhile, to protect against the threats of the forest, now that their protection, and curse, was gone. 

"We will need to prepare a room." Raindew, an old unicorn stared off in thought. Argante nodded in agreement, sending off Joyleaf to tell the keeps maids to prep a room for the guest. Raindew smiled, slowly traveling after the young green pony, who bounded away.

"We will also need to prep the jewels." Rosebud smiled. Argante shuddered, groaning. She forgot about the ceremonial thing. Rose smiled and trotted off, going to dust off the dusty box. Argante looked to Hoof Beat and he snorted, walking off to do who knew what. She sighed and shook her head, not wanting to let his bad attitude to effect her mood.

Argante looked to the sky and smiled though. What a glorious adventure this was gonna be.     

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@@LonnaKitty

The thestral was not entirely surprised by his luck in so swiftly delivering the letter, more that there was actually anyone left to deliver it to. And an actual princess? This was just going to make things interesting, on a global scale.

When able, he dismissed himself, he had to alert his master about the type of creatures he had encountered after all. And thus took off with a short farewell into the sky.

It was about halfway between the castle and the newly discovered civilization when he found Midnight, trotting along at a casual pace towards the new town. He was alerted to their civilized nature and advised that formal attire may be more appropriate. The guard was thus thanked and dismissed to return home.

Many hours later Midnight found the clearing, the enchantment of his helmet allowing him to see it long before he came across it, allowing him some space to change a bit before entering. If formal was recommended then formal he would arrive. A first impression was something he had very few of this late in life, but much experience in doing it right.

He removed the helmet to reveal his deep sapphire eyes and free his white mane, shaking it softly until it was back in its normal state, arranged neatly. Short in length, but it grew all the way down to the base of his alicorn-esque neck. In fact one would confuse him for an alicorn were it not for the lack of wings and horn.

The helmet was stored carefully in his traveling bags, and in its place a simple crown was retrieved, a thick silver band dotted with circles that gave it the appearance of the surface of the moon to the point that it seemed to glow with the same pale light. He continued in his cloak, which covered his whole body from the neck to just above his fetlocks, allowing all to see the white tufts right above and behind his hooves, contrasting with the midnight black of his coat. Said cloak also hid well the chain-mail he continued to wear. It was always good to err on the side of caution especially with appearances as deceiving as they had lately been.

With a deep breath he stepped carefully, yet confidently, into the clearing.

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"I still think this unnecessary."  Argante sighed as her mane was pulled at, clasping the crystals into it, making it shimmer. Another maid was draping a gossamer fabric along the mares flank, the purple fabric melding against her to make her dark coat look like the night sky. Rose Bud chuckled at the glaring princess, putting a few gems into her tail.

"You know as well as I, that Hoof Beat would have our hides if we didn't follow tradition. You know how much of a stickler he is." She giggled. Argante rolled her eyes. Yeah, hundreds of years later and he was still a pain in her flank. "Besides, we want to make a decent first impression." Rose continued, checking each crystal. She nodded and grabbed the crown from the dusty box. Both mares looked at the crown with sadness. The crown was a polished silver, a beautiful moonstone placed in the circlets center in a tear drop fashion. It was very bittersweet to see the piece of jewelry again. 

Rose placed the circlet on Argante, the tear drop resting under her horn. She looked to Rose and smiled softly, the two sharing a moment as they finished prepping quietly.

Meanwhile outside, Shadow Jewel spotted the one entering the clearing. She was wearing the royal guard armor its white gleam shining the what sunlight dappled through the trees. She held of her fellow guardsponies, approaching the stallion herself, her eyes were cold and calculating as she stepped up to him. She glanced over him quickly, nodding as she made the quick mental checklist that this was the pony that was coming to their small town.

"Welcome, my name is Shadow Jewel, I am the head guard and right hand pony to our princess. We have been expecting you. I am glad you made it through the forest safely."  her voice was calm, direct, it held no warmth though, but no malice either. She turned on hoof, facing the way to the village. "Please follow me, and do not mind the stares you may receive, we have not had a visitor in a...long time." there was a bitterness to her voice then, her eyes narrowing at some memory. She began the trek to the large stone keep at the other edge of the fairly large village. 

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@@LonnaKitty

Midnight raised an eyebrow as the guards approached him, though he did not move to change his relaxed yet confident stance until he was addressed.

They could see as they approached that the Tall description in the letter was a bit of an understatement, He likely rivaled their own princess in height.

Midnight met Shadow's evaluating stare with an equal level of calm calculation, and though he had not been greeted by a bow he offered one to introduce himself to the head of the guard. It wasn't a full bow to be sure, in fact it was rather simple, right forehoof to left whither he lowered his head to just under her eye level before raising it up again as he spoke. "And I am Midnight Star, Lord of Archback Mountain and right-hoof to the Black Knight of the same."

Without further adeu he moved to follow the guards as they led him to what he assumed would be their leader. He himself was used to dealing with stares, even unkind ones, so he fixed his gaze ahead, easily seeing over those around him to get a better look at the town without looking directly at any one of the citizens. He wouldn't want to make them uncomfortable after all.

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To say that ponies would stare was an understatement. Everypony in this village stared, more curious than anything, watching as the head of the guard walked the large pony to the keep. She didn't speak, and two other guards flanked on the tall stallions sides. They were being cautious. Which was understandable in a way. As they approached the keep Shadow Jewel shouted up to lower the gate. 

The large gate creaked and groaned, the chains lowering the large oaken door with a loud thud. She scoffed a bit and rolled her eyes. Guess she would need to train the unicorns again, they were slow with the opening. 

"This way." she grumbled. Walking into the large opening to the inner courtyard. It was fairly large, spaces that lead to alcoves were dotted on the sides, a large staircase lead up to another set of doors, the image of a tree carved into them. There were all kinds of ponies walking around in the courtyard, by their clothes they were maids, other guards, errand boys, all manner of types. It was like stepping into the days of old. 

Shadow Jewel opened the large doors, waiting for their guest to come into the main hall. When he stepped in she closed the doors and stepped in front of him. 

"The Princess Argante will be down shortly, I will go and fetch our princess, please feel free to look around, but do not leave the area." her voice was curt, she lifted hoof to her chest, banged it two times, bowed, and took her leave up the grand set of stairs.

If he looked around, he would notice that this building was OLD. The walls were all cobblestone, the floors were much the same, cept a carpet kept from hurting hooves on its surface. There were a couple of tapestries. A few depicted the Tree of Harmony, one even showed Starswirl! There was one that was odd though. It wasn't that it was unkempt, but, it depicted a family.

The large stallion was the brightest white, with amethyst eyes and a dark black mane, and he was an alicorn. The mare was the blackest night, with golden eyes and a white mane that was bright against her dark form, she was a unicorn. The was a young filly, she was a nice shade of grey, a perfect mixture of the parents, she had her fathers eyes and her mothers mane, she was a unicorn. Yet what was odd, was there was a rather large hole in the tapestry, if one looked hard enough though, there was a dark grey pair of legs still there.

Meanwhile, in the upstairs part of the keep, Shadow Jewel made it to Argante's room, knocking on it, she did the customary bow when Argante answered, causing a soft laugh to come from the alicorn. Jewel smiled and lead her princess to the stranger, telling her what she noticed about him and other details. Argante took a large deep breath, her nerves were starting to get to her. Yet she would persevere, she had to. For the sake of everyone!

She found the stallion and smiled at him, her jewels shimmering in the light that came through the windows.

"Hello Midnight Star, I am Princess Argante. It is lovely to meet you and to have you here in our village."      

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@@LonnaKitty

Midnight looked around, a slight level of interest plainly visible on his muzzle as he was led to the castle. This interest only grew as he saw the castle itself, admiring the architecture and design, it seemed he knew something about castles. The guards near him could hear him mumbling about future upgrades to his own castle.

He seemed to take special interest in the tapestry depicting the family, in fact he was examining it rather closely when Princess Argante entered the room to see him. He was so enthralled in the tapestry, its implications, that he would have been completely unaware to her presence in the room had she not introduced herself.

He turned, a shadow of surprise on his face as he did so, though a slight twinkle of curiosity entered his eyes as she clearly did not match any of those depicted in the tapestry. The alicorn was male and white, the black one, while female, lacked wings, and the other two were grey. What then was the relation? It seemed a question he seemed determined to find the answer to.

He gave the same bow he gave to the guard that had brought him here, though this time he lowered his head almost to the floor, and began speaking without raising his head. "The pleasure is mine we assure thee, We are deeply grateful for thy accepting of our presence here, and we hope that our meeting here will bring about a mutual prosperity to our kingdoms and citizens."

His head remained lowered, he seemed to be awaiting permission to raise it up again.

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Argante tried not to giggle. How very formal, it made her want to laugh though. Ponies haven't been that formal with her in years. She took a deep breath and smiled.

"Please, there is no need to bow to me, though princess is my title, I am afraid it has lost its power of these many years.." her smile was sad. How many years had it been? A couple hundred at least. She glanced to the tapestry, a frown on her face that faded quickly as she shook her head.

"I am honered to have you as our first guest here in...quite some time." Her wings fluttered as she was uncomfortable in the formal wear she was wearing. "I am happy to answer any questions I can, and I hope you will answer mine in turn, I have...so many." she tried very hard to keep her excitement to a minimum, but the curiosity was plain to see in her eyes. 

"If you would like, we can start with a tour of the village? It is around lunch time, and I am sure you are hungry." she offered. Stars above she knew she was, she could feel the hunger gnawing on her stomach. She didn't have time to grab breakfast, but by golly she would have herself some lunch darn it all.  

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@@LonnaKitty

Midnight quickly rose from the bow, taking a mental note that it would be unnecessary to repeat the action in further encounters. He found it odd that she seemed, uncomfortable? to the formality and deference, though he supposed it could just be a part of their culture. After all the town was hardly large, likely she managed a very informal relation with her subjects.

Midnight nodded respectfully at the suggestion, "We would love to know thy village on a more personal level." He gave her a slight smile, "Though thou needest not preoccupy thyself, we are well enough satiated. However, if one is offering... we would gladly accept thy hospitality." He would move to follow her by her side if she were to lead. "In truth it is a long a tedious journey from Castle Archback, and certainly a lesser stallion would be absolutely famished without proper care and preparation. Our scout certainly was upon his return." He seemed to trail off, seeming to notice that he was beginning to ramble on a bit.

He shook his head, the longer locks of his flowing mane shifting from side to side as he did so before his eyes returned their focus to Argante, "Though if we may begin with some basic queries... What is the name of this place? How dost thee and thine refer to thineselves? And on a more personal note perchance, thou sayest that thy title hath lost its power... howso?" Frankly he was getting tired of using to formal tone, and was worried that he would slip up sooner or later, already he had come a bit close, but first impressions were everything.

It wasn't helping that she looked so much like the last romantic interest in his life either.

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She giggled softly. A twinkle in her eyes.

"Well then, let's go to the tavern." She lead the way out the keep, going back into the town. Several ponies either waved, or bowed, or just said hi. She responded in kind, and was always smiling. "So then, to answer your first question, the name of this place, the town was once called Harmona. In honor of the Tree of Harmony that this town was built for. Honestly, I just think my dad was bad at names." She laughed at that. Her mom would complain at him a lot about the name for the town. Its why she told her children that she was the one who named them. She refused to let her husband name the children. It was a funny memory.

"We are just pony folk now, we were once called Protectors of the Tree, but I am sure that title was lost centuries ago, as well as our history." Argante got a far away look in her eye, seeming to remember something else. Shaking her head as the two of them approached the tavern. She sat at an outside table, which was old and wooden, the chair a wooden stool. The tavern itself was made of stone and thatch, very old timey.  

"Now for your last question. I feel my power has lost its power, mainly cause, well, its my own personal feelings mind you, but..." She shifted a bit. "Well, I am sure you have seen, I am not treated like one of royalty, just one of high position. Not that I mind, mind you. The title is wasted on me. I care for my ponies though. I will do right by them. I am just one remainder of a time long lost." She smiled sadly as she watched other ponies walk by, seemingly lost in thought.

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@@LonnaKitty

While he wasn't looking directly at her as they walked through the town, it was clear that she had his full attention with every word she spoke.

Midnight politely waited until she had finished speaking to offer his commentary, "Personally, given the town's professed history with the tree of peace, or harmony as thou sayest, we think it a rather fitting name for the town." He snorted a bit, "At the very least, much better named than other towns we have encountered in our travels." He raised an eyebrow as he pondered something, "Though in said travels, I have never once heard the title, Protectors of the Tree... how odd. It would certainly put you back quite some time for me to have not heard of it. But we'll get back to that in a moment."

He smiled at her, "It pleases me to see a ruler like myself in the world, one who cares for their subjects and uses their wisdom of the past to shape their future."

His look turned slightly more serious, "If I may with my next question, What do you know of the world outside your nation? You may as well feel free to ask us..." A blush came to his face as he realized he had slipped out of his dialect for a bit, "Whatever thou wishest to know of us and our nation."

Blast, I was doing so well. Perhaps she wont notice?

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She smirked at his little slip, deciding to let him save face for a little while longer while she answered his question, however a dull orange mare came up with the largest of smiles.

"Oh stars above, welcome princess!" the older mare grinned, giving the princess a hug which she returned with just as much enthusiasm. "Guess your here for your lunch?" she winked. Argante nodded and the mare laughed, drawing her attention to the stallion. "Ah! Pardon my manners! I am so all over the place today! The name is Orange Blossom, it's nice ta meet you. You want anything?" She asked, when she received her answer, she returned back to the tavern, making the lunch.

"Now to answer your question. We know little to nothing, we have not been able to venture out, we have only known this forest and its creatures, the barrier protecting us for a long time, while it also hid us as well." her voice was a bit tight, her ears flattening sadly. They perked up quickly though at the prospect of knowledge. "However I guess my first question is what kind of pony was that, that delivered the letter!? I have never seen a pony like that before and they looked so amazing in every sense of the word! I mean, what other wonderful things could be out there that can be discovered! I am so curious about it all I just don't know how to fully begin and..." She trailed off as she realized she did nothing but word vomit. Her face became flush, a deep crimson on her cheeks as she readjusted herself and coughed.

"But uh, yes, let's do one question at a time huh?"   

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@@LonnaKitty

Midnight looked surprised at the intrusion of the mare, mostly because she acted very differently from the others that had approached him. Nonetheless, he very courteously requested something simple, a selection of local nuts and berries to try, before returning his attention to the princess before him. "We now see what thou meanest by the power of your title." He looked a bit concerned at her reaction to talking about the barrier. "I think you may have been, out of the loop, shall we say? For quite some time." But a slight smile came to his face, "We'd be happy to help you and your people get up to speed." His expression brightened further with the prospect of sharing information. "For instance, the pony that delivered my letter to you was a pure bred thestral of the Fastar Clan. A thestral is the pure form of a bat pony, if you've heard of them, which are known for some distinguishing traits from the normal pegasus. No doubt you noticed the leathery wings and slitted eyes, but they additionally have fangs, excellent night vision, nocturnal nature, and the ability to digest complex proteins like meat. Well, more of a dietary necessity. They typically live in forests and mountainous areas with low visibility. Preferring, when the group is large enough, to build their cities in the treetops to avoid the majority of the active wildlife."

He looked as if a thought had struck him.

"It's very interesting though that your people have never seen them before, they were quite prolific in this forest before Nightmare Moon's banishment oh... a thousand years ago?" He shrugged, "Though I suppose they grew quite scarce in more recent times, which may have been the cause of said ignorance."

He smiled again having had the chance to share his knowledge, and the possibility of sharing more in the near future, "I suppose it would be far if we went back and forth with the questions no?" He pondered for a moment, "It isn't often that I meet an alicorn such as yourself, In fact I know of only four living at the moment, and I've had the pleasure and displeasure of meeting all but one of them. Would you mind telling me a bit more about yourself? I'd love to see how you compare to the others."

I sure hope this isn't being too forward.

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She was on the edge of her seat as she listened to him talk about the thestral. Enjoying every moment of new knowledge. She tilted her head though when he mentioned Nightmare Moon. She wondered who that was. She would have to chalk it up as another question to ask for sure. 

"I know that the barrier made things stay away from us, we saw things in passing, but nothing ever stayed long enough for us to study, so maybe that's why..." she pondered to herself. She nodded at his suggestion of going back and forth with the questions. That did seem a bit better. She was glad he dropped into a more informal tone, it made her more at ease for sure. She was about to answer when Orange Blossom came back, setting down some nuts and berries for the stallion, and a nice plate of carrot soup for the princess along with a large tankard filled with a juice of some sort. Argante thanked her, she did a quick little curtsy, and left the two. 

"So let's see....about me huh?" She mused, taking a sip of her soup before mulling the question over. Honesty was best policy she supposed. "Well, I am a curious mare by nature, always curious about things I don't know, a bit mischievous too, I played my fair share of pranks back in the day." she giggled softly. "I really love the stars, and music. I like to sing to the stars sometimes.." her gaze was far away admitting that, then she blushed deeply as she realized what she had said. "Oh stars above why did I say that? Uhm, I am also quite clutzy, mainly with words, as you can now tell." She laughed nervously, the blush still on her cheeks.

Oh stars above don't think I am too weird, I am being right embarrassing right now! 

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@@LonnaKitty

Midnight took the same opportunity Argante did to sample the food he had been provided, and was pleased to find them palatable. Though the look of surprise on his face was undeniable at her confession. In fact, was he blushing as well?

"I, uh, greatly appreciate your honesty..."

He seemed to be at a loss for words as he thought about how to continue. "Well, since you didn't ask a question in return, I suppose I'll answer my own question. I consider myself to be a very curious stallion as well. I've spent centuries exploring the world to discover all that I can, I've meet very diverse creatures and civilizations, studied countless languages and histories. Before your nation appeared I had thought I had seen all that was worth seeing, but clearly I have been missing something very important this whole time."

His eyes widened and he seemed a bit ashamed, "I of course don't mean to boast by any of that, if it seemed rude of me I do apologize." The slight smile returned to his face, "I suppose I too have that weakness with words, especially when I'm around someone so mysterious as yourself. Ever since I was gifted sentience I have sought to know everything, and. .."

He shut his mouth audibly with a distant look on his face, "I'll stop myself there. But I'd like to say that I too am fascinated by the stars."

His blush was visable even through his very black coat. 

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@Illiad Easle

 

She grinned at him and nodded. She thought about her next question while she took another bite of her food. She supposed she should ask the biggest question of all, a bit of a sad look on her face.
"I guess I should withhold my curiosity for a moment to ask my question, but...what happened with the Tree of Harmony?" she looked so sad as she asked this question. Since her family had such close ties with the tree, it was important to know what happened to the tree, the focal point of their entire society. She just hoped nothing horrible happened to it. She hopes that now that the barrier is gone, she could even visit it, if time allowed. 

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@LonnaKitty (Good to have you back, I'd been missing you.)

Midnight's blush quickly cleared as the conversation took a more serious turn. "The Tree of Harmony? Hmm, I can't really say I know too much about it at all. If we are referring to the same tree, being the one not far from here? When I first saw the tree, oh just over a thousand years ago, my guide called it the Tree of Peace. It had given her and her sister powerful artifacts to defeat a foe that threatened the safety of the entire world, but it gave them each a responsibility in exchange, one they would only accept due to the greatness of their necessity. It too gifted me something I needed, at the cost of another great responsibility." He looked thoughtful for a bit, "I don't recall anything else happening in regards to the tree since then, up to now when the current bearers of 'The Elements of Harmony' united with it to repel a parting gift from the same great evil my guide had fought before. I suppose the purifying magic was what revealed your nation in the first place."

He looked concerned as he turned his attention back to the dark princess, "If I might ask, it is a rather odd question. What relation does your nation have with the tree?"

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Layla nodded. It was still around, thank the stars. What he asked her was not odd to her, but she nodded, happy to answer his question.

"My family was the one who planted it so long ago, we took care of it, giving it magic crystals and our magic to help it grow and be strong, to protect the lands. We were it keepers and caretakers. I am happy it was still able to thrive." She smiled sadly. A mixture of relief and sadness. There were new keepers of the elements. Maybe she could meet them one day, maybe they will be able to take care of the tree again. She placed those thoughts in the back though, it was time to focus on the present. 

"We were trapped for so long, I am sure much has changed, I am going to safely assume the monarchy of Equestria has changed. I knew of a king and queen when I was a filly, before we were locked away. Has it changed?" she asked the question softly, like she felt nervous about asking the question.

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@LonnaKitty

(Layla? Isn't her name Argante?)

Midnight looked clearly surprised by the revelation, "Planted the tree?"

He pondered something for a moment before continuing, "For as long as I've been here, Equestria has been ruled by a pair of princesses, Luna and Celestia. They could potentially be the daughters of those monarchs you knew, but I am not certain. She never commented to me about her parents. But if it was planted by you and your family, you've all been locked away for well over a thousand years, and remembering a ruler from before Discord means at least two or three thousand years ago."

He gave a quick smile, though it quickly died by the severity of the news he had just delivered, "I don't mean to offend you in any way, but you are by far the oldest creature I have ever had the pleasure of meeting."

He idly wondered how she would react to the revelation of just how long she and her people had been trapped here.

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