The trials and tribulations of managing your own personal pony village.
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!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 10:54:58 No. 32587986

> You hesitate.
> After what you had just told Shining, could you really trust him?
> Would he try to avenge the cruelty you'd inflicted on Corona?
> No.
> He was right - you were already trusting him with your daughter's life.
> Reuniting him with his family truly did seem to have broken his will to actually fight back.
> What difference could this make?
"Let me get a screwdriver."
> Shining gasps softly when you finally get the fixing-screw lose, the clamps on the ring's interior releasing his horn and allowing you to draw it off in one quick gesture.
> His legs tremble and he almost seems ready to fall to the floor.
> But a moment later he is upright again, almost seeming to stand taller than before.
> "You have no concept of how good it feels to get that off."
"I don't, but I can imagine. Cadance, you understand that this is your responsibility?"
> "Yes, Master."
> Fingering the ring briefly before dropping it into a pocket, you grunt:
"I'm trusting, Shining Armor, that you understand why I did that. That, from one father to another, you see that I haven't hurt Flurry Heart - and will extend the same to Megan."
> "Absolutely. I swear."
> His horn lights - softly at first, an almost filmy sort of haze appearing around your daughter's legs.
> "Can you feel that, Megan?"
> "Uh-huh. I can feel the magic, yeah. I've felt Flurry's a lot."
> "Okay. I'm not going to press too hard, so you can still move around a bit up there."
> This time, when Shining starts to march in a slow circle Megan is much more able to ride easily - sitting upright on his back.
> A slow, but wide grin spreads across her face; despite the soft glow of magic around her legs they are no longer clamped so tightly around Shining's flanks.
> She still does not use the reins, though.
> Still afraid of tugging too hard.
"You can pull on those just a little, sweetheart. Just not too much, and let go as soon as you feel him respond."
> "Like this?"

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 10:56:00 No. 32587990

> Her 'pull' barely qualifies as such.
"A little more."
> This time Shining huffs softly, but does turn to the rein's tug.
> Definitely not a fan of this guidance-by-bit business.
"That's good. And you keep it back as long as you want him to turn, or both to stop."
> Now minus her fear of wobbling off, it doesn't take long for Megan to slip into an easier pattern.
> For his part, her steed seems to have settled into quiet tolerance of this situation.
> Shining even perks up as she becomes more familiar with the controls, and almost seems to be enjoying himself.
> He still hesitates when Megan pipes up:
> "Can we go outside, Daddy? It's kind of small in here."
> "No! M'not 'onna..."
> Hesitating, Shining lets his head droop again and mutters around the bit.
> "Don' wanna b'seen like thi'. S'emberassin'..."
> Ah, there's that old pride again.
> In a way, you're almost glad to see it - at least you knew he wasn't fuming inside.
"You know, Megan, I'm not the one you really need to ask. He isn't mine, after all - and even if he was, you should still talk to him before you ask for something big like that - not just wait for me to give an order."
> "Oh..."
> Shining shoots you a thankful look - up until Megan leans alarmingly forward to hug his neck.
> "Pleeeeease, Shining? I know you can't run in here..."
> "I..."
> Cadance leans in again, frowning.
> "Dear - ponies here will understand. She's a child, and you are doing her a great favor. There's no shame in it."
> "Yeah, th'is. This - this isn' jus' a wor' ha'ness or somethin'. This is slave stuff. Wha' if a pi'ture gets out?"
"Remember, you have some privacy in the camp. Same thing that lets me take your horn restrictor off, means you also don't have to worry about being seen."
> "I... I guess..."
> "Yaaaaaaay! Thank you, Shining Armor! Thank you sooo muuuch!"
> He gags a bit from how tight Megan's hug is about his neck, but Shining does not recant.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 10:57:02 No. 32587995

> You take the opportunity, moving to open the warehouse doors.
> Instantly a burst of fresh, hot summer are sweeps in; Shining trots forward through it with nostrils wide and sniffing.
> His ears are half-tipped back and tail swishing.
> But there is no sign of any real anger, especially when Cadance pulls up alongside him to murmur:
> "Don't worry, Love. I'll be right here alongside you every minute of it."
> Squaring his shoulders, Shining nods and walks out onto the road beyond - Megan swaying on his back.
> "C'mon! Let's go, go, go! We're outside now, you can go faster than that!"
> No amount of nudging with her heels will drive him any faster.
"Not going to work, Sweetheart. Like I said before, you have to ask him-"
> In her frustration, Megan snaps the reins against Shining Armor's shoulders.
> The effect is dramatic:
> He is off like a rocket, galloping down the side-road with a shrieking girl clinging to his back.
> Cadance also charges after him leaving you to pick up the rear with an awkward if desperate sprint:
> For a second you fear he will buck her off, but Shining quickly comes to a halt with Megan still hanging on.
> Those shrieks quickly die out, and by the time you reach them - heart pounding and breath hard in your lungs - she is excitedly bouncing on his back.
> "Doitagain, doitagain, doitagain! That was fun!"
> "M'sorry! I didn't mean to, when Master does tha' it means I'm supp'sed t'pull as 'ard as I can-"
"Megan! Are you okay-"
> "I'm fine! It was like riding a roller-coaster - scary, but good."
> You wipe your forehead; the degree of sweat beading on it couldn't be blamed on the heat alone.
> "Can you do that again, Shining? Please, please please please-"
"Now, Megan, you can't just force him to do what you want."
> She pouts again, and Shining Armor cranes his neck around to look at her.
> The look that passes between stallion and girl is almost missed.
> Almost.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 10:58:04 No. 32588000

> "Y'know, ba' when I was a roo'ie 'olt in the guard, one of my l'tenants once tol' me: If y'scared o'somethin, y'jus' gotta go righ' into it har' as y'can."
"Hold up a moment-"
> Maybe Shining Armor had decided he wanted to stick it to you - to defy you just to prove he still could.
> Or maybe he had decided that if he was going to be seen out and about with your daughter saddled on his back, he was going to do it on his own terms.
> Whichever it is, your warning goes totally unheeded.
> "Me'han? Don't pull too har', or I'll just stop."
> His horn ignites, pink magic congealing around her legs -
> And then he is off, hooves raising little clouds of dust as they drive into the dirt.
"Wait, you can't just run off!"
> "Don't worry, I can hold her in place wi' my ma'ic now! I'll brin' her ba' fine!"
> The hollered answer does little to settle your churning stomach.
> Barely do you pursue a few steps before giving up; it's clear that you'll only wind yourself trying to keep pace with the work-hardened pony.
"Ahh, God damn it - Cadance, follow him; I'll get Flurry and the cart!"
> Except you don't have Flurry; a pink-and-purple blur shoots past you head hot on the trail of her Mistress and father.
> "Mistress Megan, wait for me!"
> Throwing up your arms, you turn for the cart.
"Well, the hell with it. Apparently nobody's listening to me today."
> "Shining was right: He can shield Megan from a fall, and if anything does happen Flurry will come get us. They will be fine."
> Despite her pointed comment, Cadance takes to wing also in pursuit.
> You aren't so sure, and push the cart to its limits - straining the electric motor in an effort to keep up with him.
> Every once in a while you could catch the distant sound of hooves on pavement or earth, or your daughter's voice in the distance:
> "Giddyap, Shining! Giddyap, giddyap!"
> Judging by the bemused-looking ponies you are passing by, this is the right way.
> Wait-
> Had they turned off into one of the fields?

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 10:59:19 No. 32588008

> You spot the pair in the distance, accompanied by Flurry Heart and raising a cloud of dust as Shining pounds through one of the work paths between rows of plants.
> There’s no way your measly little cart will keep up with him in that, but he’ll have to turn aside sooner or later or hit the fence-
> And knowing that, you can cut him off.
> Megan surely sees you coming, but still guides Shining right past you.
> Now, on a proper road, you can at least keep up-
> But all of a sudden, stopping them doesn’t seem so important.
> Megan is grinning, laughing, clutching the reins in her hands.
> And Shining has fallen back from a full gallop to a fast trot, but is focused hard:
> Both ears straight forward, head low and horn pointed forwards.
> With this pace, you really can see just how well-built he is:
> Muscles standing out as they work, nostrils flaring to suck down air, sweat beginning to lather his sides.
> A slight tug on the reins turns him down an alley too narrow for your cart to follow.
> Is Megan deliberately evading you?!
> If it’s a chase she wants…
> You miss intercepting them on the next street over, but pick them up on the third again.
> Finally Megan pulls him to a skidding, scuffing halt.
“Well, was it everything-”
> Shining actually rears up, whinnying loudly - not a sound of pain, but almost of exultation.
> For a moment you fear Megan will topple from his back, but his horn is already lit to keep the girl firmly in place even before she can begin to fall.
> Dropping back down, Shining Armor whips his head about - spraying sweat from his mane.
> “Sorry. Havin’ a run like tha’... a’tually felt real good!”
> A laugh bubbles up out of you, shaking your head.
“That’s… well, you did hold your promise. She’s fine, so that’s okay, I guess.”
> “Is th’any water? I need a drin’.”

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 11:02:34 No. 32588024

> There is, but only from a hose - and never have you seen a pony so happy to gulp down the spray from it
> Cadance and Flurry Heart catch up as he is drinking, while speaking to them, you almost miss when Megan leans over and whispers into his ear:
> “Wanna do it again?”
> And then the chase begins anew.
> ...
> Later that evening, you finally return home - sweaty, tired, but still grinning a bit from the day's events.
> There's one thing you have to deal with, though, before this can be considered 'done'...
> The house ponies are gathered up, sitting in front of you in a loose circle.
"Now, I assume you all saw what happened out there today?"
> A low chorus of 'Yes, Master' echoes you.
"This goes for everyone here, but especially you since we have so many guests here: Not a word about that comes out about that to anyone outside the camp, understood?"
> Again the chorus sounds, although more muted and less certain this time.
"Good. I don't ask much of you, but this one thing... some people out there could use that to say I am misusing another man's pony, understand? So we won't talk about it."
> It's less of a chorus this time and more of a general series of agreeing rumbles, but even so you can definitely say there's more agreement in it.
"Excellent! That's all; you're now dismissed."
> As they tumble out, you spot one lagging pony you've got a comment for:
"Oh, and Backstitch?"
> "Yes, Master?"
> The tailor-pony cocks his head questioningly.
"If you haven't already, you can put Cadance's dress and bridle away. We're not going to need them now, obviously."
> "I'm sorry, Master, but she came and picked it up earlier this evening."
> Your eyebrows rise.
"Did she really?"
> "Yes. Just before dinner this evening, Master."
> Leaning back in your seat, you dismiss him with a wave of your hand.
"Did she now..."

> You stumble back into your quarters alongside Shining Armor.
> Exhausted, sweat-soaked, and still laughing here and there in fitful bursts.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 11:03:36 No. 32588028

> Too damn long, that's how long.
> For a few minutes there it had seemed like just the two of you, alone in the world.
> Even the girl on his back didn't seem to matter so much.
> The two of you mutually collapse on the floor before the bed, not wanting to rub your sweat-lathered coats on the sheets.
> Twin scents fill the room:
> Heavy, thick, mare and stallion, strong enough to fill the space.
> Ten minutes, fifteen - the two of you just lay there, grinning like madponies.
> Maybe you were madponies.
> Finally Shining gasps out:
> "I want to run like that every day. For the rest of my life. Just running, running until it's all I can think about-"
"I know."
> Your neck ached too much for a nuzzle, but your wings had been mostly unused and were still strong enough to reach out and wrap around him.
"Tartarus' black teats, I loved that! Feeling - feeling alive again!"
> "Lungs burning, heart pounding, legs screaming for relief-"
"And of course, you right alongside me."
> "Of course."
> Neither of you wants to think about how so very soon a run together will be impossible.
> Squirming over to you with an awkward flop-shove movement, Shining rolls on his side to press himself back to back with you.
"You know what else I'd like?"
> "What?"
"To get all this sweat off of me."
> "That sounds amazing. For once, no hot water isn't a problem."
“Do you want to go first?”
> "Go ahead. I'm a big strong stallion. I can deal with some sweat for a little bit more... even if it does feel gross."
> Stumbling into the shower, you twist the water on to its heaviest, coldest stream and dunk yourself beneath it.
> There you are forced to confront another want:
> One that had first made itself known a day or two ago, but now - with his scent clinging to the room and you - had become almost irresistible.
> That desire...
> At least the water had quenched most of it by the time Shining wanders in after you.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 11:04:38 No. 32588031

> It's perhaps a minute more before either of you feels like lathering up.
> This time both of you can help the other, of course:
> Manipulating soap and water to lather in and soothe tired muscles.
> Years apart had not dimmed Shining's memory of exactly where pressure could make you coo and sigh with happiness - his hooves digging in to massage the bands of muscle that support your wing.
> Ah, that felt good!
> Really, really good...
> "Cady?"
"S'good, Shiny... keep goin'..."
> Your eyes are half closed, all focus on his hooves and the water pouring on you.
> "Cady..."
"Whaizzit, Shining...?"
> "Cadance!"
> Everything snaps back into focus; you peer over your shoulder in confusion.
"What's wrong, I-"
> Oh.
> You don't even need to finish that sentence.
> The burning need is back in force, and your tail is hiked up...
> Shame colors your cheeks; you drop your haunches to the shower floor and will the heat to fade away again.
"I... don't..."
> "Shh..."
> Shining leans in against you, which unfortunately doesn't help much:
> The scent of soap cannot entirely hide his own musk.
"Shining? Is... is it wrong of me to want this?"
> "Wrong?"
"It feels wrong. I only saw you again for the first time a few days ago, and I now I'm just thinking about..."
> "Shhhh."
> Leaning in, Shining nuzzles into your neck - one hoof rising to settle over your withers.
> "You're allowed to be a mare, Cadance. It's not wrong of you. Feelings like that are natural; didn't anyone ever teach you?"
"Yes. Celestia. And believe me, it was exactly as embarrassing as you would think having the Princess of the Sun instruct you about colts and fillies..."
> That thought puts a smile on both your faces, and even a chuckle from Shining.
> Releasing you from the embrace, he takes your head in his hooves and lifts it.
> Your eyes roam across his features:
> Roughened, aged by all he has been through.
> But still the same stallion you fell in love with so long ago.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 11:05:40 No. 32588038

> "So, yeah. Really. It's not wrong of you. You're allowed to desire, love."
> Reaching forward, he kisses you softly.
> The touch is so foreign, so unexpected, that you almost leap back before melting right into it.
> "...and I'm glad you still think of me that way too."
> Returning the kiss isn't even a question.
"Thank you, Shining... I think I'm going to head out now. If you can finish up, follow me when you're ready?"
> "Sure. Are you okay, Cadance?"
> You deliver one more final kiss to the tip of his nose.
"I'm fine. Trust me."
> In the few minutes it takes for Shining to emerge from the shower, you prepare.
> When the finally does step out, he only makes it halfway before the doorway before he halts in surprise.
> Not that you blame him.
> You were sprawled languidly on the bed, wearing the "dress" Anonymous had once made you strut before his business partners with.
> This time, wearing it doesn't feel so wrong at all.
> You'd ditched the golden hoof-cuffs and chains leading to them, of course, but the rest...
> The gauzy reins leading from the bridle set upon your head, laying across your neck and still-damp mane.
> The 'saddle' wrapping your barrel, straps of fabric emerging from it to encircle your chest and highlight your rump through the translucent cloth.
> All of that is still there.
> Under Shining's stare, you eventually turn your head aside - cheeks again burning hot with a mix of need and confused shame.
"S-Shining? Will - you be mine again, so I can be yours?"
> You can hear his hooves clip-clopping against the floor as he comes closer, but still don't look up until his magic lifts your head to face him.
> His lips press to yours, heavy and needing.
> A soft moan is pulled from your throat - how long had you dreamed of this in private, almost shameful moments?
> Of feeling that touch again, that pressure and demand-

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 11:06:42 No. 32588040

> Shuddering, you allow yourself to roll over and make room for him on the bed - something Shining Armor is all too eager to do.
> You feel the mattress shifting as his weight settles beside you.
> Hot breath puffs on the back of your neck, he drawing in your scent as you had relished in his.
> "Cady..."
> Cocking your head back, you raise it up to brush his chin.
> Your back arches, wings fluttering out, and tail again hiking up for him.
> Hormones have begun to fog your mind.
> Desires.
> Needs.
> The heat that you had only barely quenched in the shower is back with full force.
> His lips meets yours again, more forceful this time.
> Pressing and parting, letting your tongues meet.
> Shining is straddling atop you now, his hooves planted firmly on either side of your shoulders.
> His muzzle traces over your shoulders, out along a wing - brushing among your feathers in just the way you'd always loved.
> Your tail flicks up, teasingly brushing between his legs.
> Your neck twisting to let you kiss him again, then rolling back as his lips find their way down your neck.
> Cheek nuzzling against yours - his coat prickling between the straps of the bridle.
> Scent all around you in a cloud you'd missed so very, very much.
> And oh, yes-
> His length pressing down on your back.
> You can feel it, even through the saddle binding you.
> Again your tail flicks up to tease him, and that is all the invitation Shining needs:
> A gasp is torn from your throat as he enters you:
> Wings snapping out to either side and head rolling back as you are filled by him.
> On some level you are aware the dress should probably come off by this point, before it becomes wrinkled or stained with sweat and other fluids.
> Mostly, though, you are beyond caring.
> Everything is a haze now:
> Your two bodies rocking together in perfect unison.
> Each thrust driving a fresh burst of pleasure in ways that you had almost forgotten.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 11:07:44 No. 32588044

> The time for words is long since passed; only muted grunts and whinnies, moans and nickers pass between the two of you.
> His jaws clamp on the bridle's 'reins', tugging them back with a low growl as he hilts himself again in you.
> Your head kicks back in return.
> Hips rise, lifting to meet his and push him ever deeper.
> So what if your rump wasn't as large as some ponies'?
> You liked how neatly it fit beneath him.
> How it let you feel his weight over you, on top of you, pressing down on you, hips grinding against yours.
> There was nothing gentle or tender in this encounter:
> This was feral, instinctual, passionate lovemaking full of demand.
> A product of two loving souls torn apart from each other for far too long.
> "Ca-adaaa-aaaah!"
> Such were your passions that the climax comes with no warning.
> He erupts within you, an even greater heat filling your marehood.
> Teeth release the bridle's straps, only to close around the back of your neck with a force that makes you clench down on his shaft.
> The last few regular pumps break you as well - the entire room seeming to glow as a ripple of pleasure runs up from the bottom of your spine to the tips of your wings.
> Shining slumps down atop you when he is spent.
> In another circumstance his weight would be crushing; now, it is comforting.
> Familiar.
> When your breath has caught up and senses you realize that the room was, in fact, glowing - illuminated by both your horns, unconsciously lit amid your rutting.
> You extinguish your own, and focus in on the sensation of feeling Shining's heartbeat through his ribs:
> Thudding, pounding still, against your back.
> Matching your own.
> Eventually you gather enough strength to roll yourself over beneath him, pressing your lips to his once more and sighing in relief.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 11:09:48 No. 32588054

> It comes as something of a surprise when Shining lights his horn to strip the bridle from your head before he returns the gesture - unraveling the fabric from around your neck, and unbuckling the straps which kept the saddle locked to your barrel.
> You cast your eyes down, murmuring softly:
"D-Did you not like it, Shining? I'm sorry, I thought-"
> "Shh."
> His lips meet yours again.
> "I did like it. Even if I do wonder where you got something like that-"
> Before you can explain he quickly goes on:
> "-I definitely did... like it."
> The flush still showing starkly on his snow-white cheeks attests to that.
> As had the passion of his lovemaking.
> "But right now... I don't want any assistance. I want to love you, Cadenza - you alone, bare of anything like that. Just you. Just my love."
> Your heart quickens again and your head comes to rest nestled in against his shoulder.
> It hadn't been revealed to you, but that was something you had needed to hear.
> He still loved you.
> Not the mare wearing the bridle and dress that made your rump pop just right.
> You.
> Cadance.
"Thank you, Shining..."
> The second time you make love, it is much slower.
> Less beholden to the instinctual calls of need.
> More about two hearts being intertwined as your bodies were, intent as much on giving pleasure to the other as taking pleasure for yourself.
> When you take him into you, you are as much listening for his hums of pleasure as the surges coming from your nethers.
> And when he holds you against his body, coats and wings and horns brushing against each other, you can tell he is feeling for your heartbeat as well.
> The late-evening warmth doesn't even seem to matter.
> You'll have to shower again later or go to bed sweat-soaked, but that seems an acceptable tradeoff.
> And when you do finally slip into bed for the night, tangled with Shining, it is the first night you sleep utterly undisturbed without ever waking up once.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-01 11:11:10 No. 32588060
Did you enjoy? I hope you all did. This one took a while to perfect, but the result got you several extra posts longer than a normal section! We'll pick up again next time with the plot moving along again and a new proper choice.


You're certainly welcome to write what you wish; I can't really stop you. Haute in particular has one final role left to play in this story, but of course you're welcome to write out some of your own ideas about what happened to her as well.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-04 07:18:48 No. 32600213

> ...
> The next evening finds you gathered again in Anonymous' study.
> This time all a ways back from the computer, so that the camera could catch all of you.
> Up-close had proven impossible to fit you all.
> Although it did produce a nicely tension-breaking bout of laughter when Shining Armor's attempt to examine the camera closely had provided everyone with an in-depth view of his nostril.
> Finally the 'incoming video call' message pops up, and despite speaking to him once before you can feel your heart begin to thud.
> This was it.
> You only hoped he would be willing to allow you to see more of Shining.
> If he didn't...
> You cut those thoughts off with the same ferocity you had in the past twenty-four hours.
> That bridge would be crossed if it was even reached.
> In the meantime...
> Anonymous accepts the call, and Shining's master appears on the screen.
> He is-
> Well, you don't know what you expected.
> Someone kindly-looking, maybe?
> Soft, to have taken care of him like that?
> But he just looks... average.
> For a human, anyhow.
> You always did get the sense that you were missing some standard of handsomeness or beauty when it came to them.
> Anonymous is the first to speak, breaking the silence.
> "Okay. I guess, this is it... well, you can figure out who I am, and Shining-"
> "Master!"
> He's clearly restraining himself from charging the screen - although that wouldn't do much.
> "Hey there, Shiny. I... I'm just... I'm really glad to see you. Like, for real."
> "I know, Master. I'm..."
> Head hanging, Shining sighs:
> "...just shouldn't have run out on you. Shouldn't have left you, Gracie, and Corona hanging."
> Anonymous speaks up, raising a hand almost like a child in school:
> "If I can ask real fast - I assume she isn't around?"
> "Yeah. Asleep upstairs, and I have the door shut. I... didn't tell her about this, or she'd have wanted to see it."
> "Master? Can you tell Corona, I just - I don't want to her to worry."

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-04 07:19:49 No. 32600216

> "I will, boy. She's just happy to hear you're coming home."
> You can't help but giggle at Shining being called 'boy', especially since he doesn't seem to mind it too much.
> That giggle, however, reveals your off-camera presence.
> "Who was that? Is there another pony there with you, Shiny?"
> Stepping forward, you enter the camera's frame and immediately dip your head in a small bow.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be peeping, just... didn't want to overwhelm you with too many at once. I am Cadance."
> His face hardens, and your heart sinks.
> Your head dips further, mane beginning to fall over your face and wings shuffling nervously.
"I just wanted to see the face of the man who saved my husband's life. What I said before is still true: I owe you a great debt."
> "Master - don't... judge her too hard. I know what happened was..."
"Wrong. What I did was wrong. No one is questioning that. I wish very deeply there was something I could do to undo it... but there is not."
> Shining nods, stepping over to lean against you.
> His master studies the two of you for a long moment before sighing.
> "Whatever happened over there, I don't know. But I know how Shining talked about ponies who collaborated, and since you're still that close... I guess."
> Both yourself and Shining perk up - you leaning against him and nickering softly.
> That even prompts a little smile from his master.
"I know that the stallion who I loved is not gone. He has not been broken... thanks, in large part, to you."
> "It wasn't just me. There was this girl too-"
> His eyebrows rise; looking to Shining, he lifts one questioningly.
> "Been talking to them, Shiny?"
> "A bit, Master."
> He hangs his head guiltily..
> “Did you tell her what I asked you to? That I’m alright, and I’ll see her soon?”
> “I did. Corona did, actually, and you should have seen how happy she was…”
> “O-Oh. Well, I will when I get back, I guess.”
> Hesitating, Shining Armor adds more softly:

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-04 07:20:51 No. 32600221

> "I... gave his daughter a ride here too, actually. Megan. She's very nice."
> "And you didn't think you should ask me about that? Come on, Shiny!"
> Hunching over defensively, Shining lets his ears hang and tail swish nervously.
> "I'm sorry, Master! I knew you'd say yes if I did, since it's something I did before - and she's really a gentle girl, once she figured it out. Good at learning. I knew she wouldn't do anything bad to me."
> "Well..."
> His master rubs his head awkwardly.
> "...okay, that's true, but - really, Shining. Ask, okay!"
> "I will, Master!"
> Only you, from your angle, can see what the camera cannot:
> The slight smirk creeping up the edge of your husband's jaw.
> That cheeky stallion!
> He knew he'd be forgiven if he put on that act!
> Though from the way his owner his shaking his head, you rather suspect he might have known about Shining's deceit too...
> "I've... actually been thinking. I think having Shiny driven back will be for the better, but... for the two of you, it could wait a few days."
"You... are willing to let him stay here?"
> Surprise at the sudden turnaround can't be kept from your voice or expression.
> "Yeah. I thought about what you'd said the last few times, and... if he really was fine, I thought maybe - I dunno. It seems wrong to take Shining back so fast, when you are finally still back together."
> You spin about on two hooves, a wide smile growing as you give Anonymous a wide grin.
> "Okay, okay!"
> Laughing, Anonymous waves you off.
> "You don't have to give me that face. I guess it wouldn't do any real harm to have another pony hanging around for a while."
> "That will give us time to make final arrangements anyway. And-"
> There is no warning.
> On the screen, the door behind Shining's owner creeps open.
> "Master? Are you coming to bed soon?"
> That voice.
> Another voice you'd never thought you'd hear again.
> He seems to realize what is about to happen, and starts to turn in his chair.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-04 07:21:53 No. 32600224

> "Corona, go back-"
> No, no, no!
> Not now!
> "Who are you talking to, Master? Is that Shin-"
> It only takes a second.
> Just a second's glimpse of the screen for Corona's eyes to find Anonymous.
> And less than a second more for her question to turn into a shriek of unearthly terror.
> "NO! NOT YOU! Not you, I got away from you! I got away, you can't have me! I escaped! Nooo!"
> Shining's master stands, but half-turned as he is all that does is clear the camera's view on his end so that you can see what happens next in perfect clarity:
> Corona stumbles back, eyes wide and pupils shrunken to pinpoints of utter terror.
> "I won't go back. I can't go back. You can't have me! I can't go back, I got awaaaay!"
> Unfortunately, the door had closed behind her; Corona's retreat bumps her into it and turns into a stumbled collapse that leaves her a huddled ball on the floor:
> Shaking and whimpering, her head buried in her hooves.
> Amid the fog of panic, unable to realize that her retreat was not actually blocked.
> Her owner rises, going to collect the shaking mare into his arms.
> Unfortunately, he forgets the camera - leaving it on and providing you with an all-too-clear view of what is happening.
> Letting you see exactly how he kneels down and wraps his arms around her in a hug, how he pins her ears down to block out all voices but his own.
> The mare is just too caught up in her fear.
> "No! No, don't take me back! Master, please - don't take me back! I love you, Master, please don't send me back to him! He'll kill me, please!"
> Trying to bring Corona upright and get her from the room proves futile; even his efforts to move her set off a fresh wave of terrified, helpless wailing.
> The soft murmur is all you can manage right now without choking.
"Turn it off, Anonymous. Now."
> "No."
> It hadn't been he who answered, though, but Shining Armor.
> "Not yet. But, you-"
> A hoof is jabbed at Anonymous.
> "-you can get out of here."

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-04 07:22:55 No. 32600227

> For once, your Master does not argue.
> He simply stands and retreats from the camera's view, off to the side of the room where he sits down just beyond your reach.
> Even so, you extend a tentative wing towards him in offering.
> His hand rises to brush a few of its primaries.
> But you can still see the despondency on his face.
> Shining Armor, meanwhile, has leaned in closer to the camera to try and fill it with his own (albeit distorted) face.
> "Corona? Corona listen to me, it's going to be okay. You aren't going to go anywhere, Corona; you're safe."
> You hadn't thought it was possible for her expression to grow even more despondent.
> When she cracks an eye to peer at him it does just that:
> A fresh wave of horror sweeping across it.
> "No... not you, Shining. Not you too."
> "I'm safe too, Corona-"
> "Safe?! Nopony is safe there!"
> Again she buries her head against her owner's chest, though it does little to hide her whimpering.
> "I shouldn't ever have told you. Shouldn't have said a thing. Now you're there and Oh Celestia help me I sent you there-"
> Her owner strokes her mane back and makes soft comforting noises, but still her ear cocks toward the screen when Shining Armor speaks up again:
> "Corona! Look at me!"
> Changing tactics, Shining Armor retreats back - trying to fit all of himself in the camera's view.
> "Look at me. I'm not hurt, see? I'm not injured. He hasn't done anything too bad to me-"
> "Anything too bad? What the hell does that mean, Shiny?"
> Wincing at his owner's response to the slip-up, Shining opts instead to fall back on regularity.
> "I am fine. Corona. I'm safe, and I'm coming back. Soon. Okay? I'm coming back, and you aren't going anywhere."
> That tone is a classic Royal-Guard-officer one - authoritative, yet reassuring.
> Demanding, yet compassionate rather than cold.
> To some degree, you had found that most officers of the Royal Guard could muster it.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-04 07:23:58 No. 32600229

> Your Shining had always been better at it than many others.
> "C-Coming home?"
> "Yeah, Corona. I am. Because you're right - he can't have you. You did get away. He can't have me either, because I don't belong to him. We belong to-"
> "Master."
> Uttering the title with a surprising degree of reverence, she nuzzles the man again.
> He leans over to whisper something into her ear - repeating what Shining Armor had said, you presume - and finally Corona pulls her head far up enough to look.
> Her eyes roam over Shining:
> Taking in the expression of utter determination and certainty he wore both on his face and in his posture, the lack of any obvious signs of torture...
> "I'm here because I broke in, Corona. I went to see just like you said, and now I'm coming back."
> And just when she had begun to relax-
> Just then, her roaming eyes fall on you.
> Instantly they blossom with something far worse than terror:
> Not fear, for you had never taken part in her savage torment.
> Something far worse.
> Something you had hoped never to see in a pony, let alone one who had been a subject of yours:
> Hatred.
> Pure and unquestioning hatred.
> "You-"
> Corona boils up out of her Master's arms, advancing on the camera with teeth bared and ears pinned.
> "You sick whore. You filthy hoof-licking, Tirek-spawned, blood-crowned, demon-human-rutting TRAITOR!"
> Tail lashing whip-like and snorting angrily with each breath, she spears you with her words as fiercely as any blade.
> "Why can't you just roll over and die?! Do you even know what you did, or are you too - too busy being his good and faithful saddle-rat to think about that?!”
> On some level you thought you had been prepared for this.
> After hearing Anonymous admit what he had done.
> You were not ready.
> Falling back on your haunches, you let your head hang.
"Celestia forgive me, Corona, there's not a single day-"

!F9CBa509ak 2018-07-04 07:25:00 No. 32600230

> "Forgive you?! Celestia herself would banish you! To the furthest pit of Tartarus, without a thought!"
> You flinch - hard.
> The barb had struck deep in your heart, landing amid all the old fears.
> What would your adoptive aunt have thought of you?
> Raising your eyes, you look for some escape:
> They fall on Shining, but he is paralyzed with indecision as well:
> His own eyes flicking back and forth, nostrils flaring uncertainly as he tries to make a decision.
> Caught precariously between the mare he loves and the one he had seen scarred and crippled by a slaver's sadism.
> "Corona..."
> You quickly raise a wing to stop him before he is forced to take a side.

What do we do? Defend ourselves still? Beg forgiveness? Simply depart, as Shining had driven Anonymous to? Actually let Shining take a side in this, no matter which one he might take?
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