Twilight was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the train. Cadence had never been to Ponyville before, so she needed to visit it at least once before she use it as a point of reference for a teleport. Moonlight was there as well, acting as the Princess' guard until she headed to Canterlot.
The train slowed to a stop, and Twilight was practically bouncing on her hooves. Finally a Pegasus with a heart for a cutie mark came out.
"Cadence!" she squealed.
The two of them danced on their hooves, repeating their special phrase.
"Sunshine Sunshine, Ladybug's awake! Do a little dance and give a little shake!" they repeated laughing.
"Hello Cadence," said Moonlight politely.
"Hello Moonlight. So where is Dreamer?"
"She's waiting at the cottage with Storm. I thought it would be better for you and Twilight to have a chance to catch up first," said Moonlight.
Moonlight was actually part of the Lunar Guard, which was the reason why most of the time she was the only one protecting Princess Luna during the night. However she spent most of her time acting as Luna's secretary.
Hence why Cadence could get away with only having one pony to act as her 'guard' while she visited Ponyville. Anyone Princess Luna accepted as her personal guard had to be quite extraordinary in their ability to use magic and hoof-to-hoof combat.
Twilight and Cadence caught up while Moonlight kept half an eye for trouble. Not likely, this close to Canterlot, but it was still a possibility with the portals that came into their world. Not to mention the forest.
"Welcome to my humble home, Princess," said Moonlight opening the door.
Dreamer would have done a flying tackle had it not been for Moonlight's cough in warning.
"I thought there was only one new alicorn?" asked Cadence confused.
"It's my personal spell. A unicorn who has been exposed to Terran magic long enough can split themselves into two and absorb the memories with the counter. Dreamer here was a witch before she was an alicorn, so she can perform the full spell," explained Moonlight.
"I am the All and the world is the One," intoned Dreamer. The unicorn vanished into the pegasus, becoming an alicorn. Then Cadence noticed something odd next to the filly.
"What in Equestria is that?" she had to ask. It had the bill of a duck and the claws and tail of a beaver.
"Platypus. Turns out Fluttershy did in fact have one, and Dreamer fell in love with it. Storm said he would wait for Hedwig's eggs to hatch," said Moonlight with a shrug.
Hedwig had been courted by Twilight's owl Owlowiscious and had become broody until she laid five eggs. They were due to hatch in a month, and it would take a few weeks before they were able to fly.
Frankly Moonlight was glad Hedwig had found an owl worth her time.
"Dreamer, this is Princess Cadence. I suppose she would be your cousin in a sense," said Moonlight.
As far as she was aware, only Luna had ever become a mother who's children became alicorns. Celestia had a few children as well, but they generally became unicorns. There were only three...well now four, alicorns in Equestria at any time.
According to Celestia, Cadence had descended from Luna's daughter Princess Aria, the one in charge of the Crystal Kingdom which went missing after a major incident.
Moonlight had become fascinated with the Kingdom itself and was searching for any artifacts from that time.
"Anyway Cadence here will be your tutor in pony politics. Since you're still young and have no real control over your special talent, you don't have any duties, but it would be easier all around to have someone teaching you so you don't accidentally insult anyone by mistake," said Moonlight.
"And what about you?" asked Dreamer.
"I'm here as her personal bodyguard as well as yours. Twilight will likely stay here for a bit to spend time with Cadence and Storm?"
"I'll head over to Aunties. I sat through three Night Courts...I don't wanna stick around for more of that boring stuff."
"You could always hang out with the girls for a bit. Zecora is currently in Canterlot helping reform Snape."
Snape was currently still under probation after the removal of his dark mark. Part of that was acting as the resident potionsmaster for the Guard and brewing healing remedies to speed up recovery time.
Several guards actually liked him to a point because he could brew Skelegrow and knew the bone-mending spell from Pomphrey.
Moonlight honestly had no idea that Snape was an accredited Healer after he spent three years learning to improve his healing potions.
She shuddered at the idea of being at his tender care after one of her misadventures. Pomphrey was bad enough.
Storm cheered up and went to see Scootaloo for some fun. The girls had taken him into their little group since he still wasn't sure what his cutie mark was.
Moonlight had an ongoing bet with Applejack and Rarity as to which filly would fall for Storm first. If it was Sweetie Belle, then there was no way he was ever letting her cook. Seeing how she had ruined a simple recipe during the one time they had tried to cook in a way they still couldn't explain had been telling enough.
Storm was out of the house while Moonlight made a fresh pitcher of iced tea. This was going to be a long several hours. Thank Equestria Luna had given her the next few nights off.
Luna was finishing up another Night Court session when she looked at her apprentice/secretary. Moonlight was infinitely better than the last one Celestia had tried to lend her. For one thing she never complained of later hours and was an excellent multitasker.
(Her personal favorite thing about Moonlight was that she doubled as her personal Guard. No more stuffy guard ponies who couldn't look her in the eye while speaking to her!)
"I heard an antique shop in Manehatten has acquired a set of Guard pony armor from the Crystal Kingdom," said Luna conversationally.
"Really?" said Moonlight, perking up. Her next night off was in two days.
"It would be an absolute shame if it were to fall into some stuffy collector's treasure trove and frankly we were having trouble finding any armor that suited you."
Which was untrue. Luna had one commissioned, but since Moonlight wasn't like most other guards she had yet to give it to her.
The last thing Moonlight needed was her armor when she was acting as a secretary.
"Are you saying..."
"You can take tomorrow and the next three days off to find the Crystal Guard armor and see if the rumor was true. If it is I want you to get it before it become another museum piece," said Luna.
Since it was a good lesson for the kids, Moonlight took Dreamer, Storm and the Cutie Mark Crusaders on a trip to Manehatten with Rarity helping her chaperone in exchange for being allowed to hit some of the fabric stores later.
It took Moonlight a few hours to find the antique store she had heard about, and five seconds to realize that the 'Crystal Guard armor' was not as advertised.
It was made of special Crystals, but it wasn't Crystal Guard make. It was much more valuable.
"Excuse me, how much is that armor?" asked Moonlight.
"Fan of history are you?" asked the clerk with a smile.
"Pretty much," said Moonlight, neglecting to mention that Princess Luna had sent her.
"Well that is a rare set of armor, and even though it's missing a few pieces you won't find a more complete set anywhere. The entire set is twenty-thousand bits," said the clerk.
That was highway robbery, but the risk of losing the armor was far too great.
"Is bartering an option?" she asked.
"Always," said the clerk.
"The armor and that stack of books from Starswirl's time for twenty," she said.
Moonlight found some very rare fabric in the corner of the store, still in good condition and bought that as well.
"So how did it go?" asked Rarity.
"I had the armor sent to my cottage, and I picked up a present for Twilight and Hermione both. And this is for you, in thanks for helping me keep track of the foal patrol," said Moonlight.
The second Rarity saw the fabric she squealed in delight.
"That's genuine Manedarin fabric! Do you have any idea how rare it is to find such delicately woven and intricate fabrics outside of Manedarin China?" she said in happiness.
"I had a feeling you would like it. It was just sitting on a shelf and I got a really good deal on all the fabrics I found in there. Consider it a gift."
Rarity was practically dancing. This fabric was not only rare, but extremely expensive even when it was recent. The older the fabric, the more the price shot up.
And this particular set of fabric was very old indeed.
"How did it go?" asked Luna, crossing her front hooves.
"Great. Rarity loves the Manedarin fabric I bought her and the armor wasn't what it was advertised at all," said Moonlight.
"A fake then?" said Luna. She looked mildly disappointed.
"Actually no. It was Crystal-pony armor, just not the guard. I still bought it," said Moonlight, inwardly smirking. The shock alone would be worth the amount she paid for it.
"Really? What type of armor is it then?"
Moonlight was openly grinning now, and Dreamer had a magical camera ready to capture Luna's expression when she brought it out.
Moonlight levitated the armor out of the box it had been sent in, and Dreamer caught Luna's gobsmacked expression of shocked disbelief.
Luna was so surprised that she accidentally slipped into the Royal Canterlot Voice...fortunately Moonlight had anticipated that might happen so she had prepared accordingly.
"YOU FOUND THE ROYAL CRYSTAL ARMOR IN AN ANTIQUE SHOP?!" she all but shrieked.
Hearing her shriek, several guards burst into the room. Then they saw the armor and how Luna wasn't in danger and left. But word would spread that the Royal Crystal Armor, the basis for all Crystal armor, had been found entirely by accident in an antique shop. In Manehatten. For twenty thousand bits.
It was the stuff dreams were made of for collectors and historians. Several would kick themselves for not buying the curiosity when they had the chance as several had come to at least look at it, but had left it alone after they found pieces were missing.
It sparked a renewed interest in the Crystal Kingdom, and Celestia felt that this was the perfect time to release the true tale of what happened.
After what happened to Luna, most of the noble lines responsible for her transformation had either been wiped out by poverty or had been reduced to a few scant members...and no one was stupid enough to restart a fuss over something a thousand years in the past.
Moonlight kept the armor though, mostly because she wanted to try her hand at restoring it...and because she had paid for it with the wages she earned as Luna's secretary. Would have been a different story had Luna given her the bits to buy the armor directly.
The real historians consoled themselves that at least it was in the home of a pony who would appreciate it for the armor's historical value and the fact that the one who bought it recognized what it actually was without being told.
Had they known she planned to restore the armor in the hopes of wearing it they might have been less accepting.
"So there are caves beneath the Canterhorn full of crystals?" said Moonlight, perking up.
"Not the same quality as the ones in the Kingdom, but still good enough that the House of Ruby made sure to secure rights to it the first chance they got. At least before the incident that lost the Kingdom anyway," said Luna.
"Who owns it now?"
"Right now it's up for grabs, though the Palace controls the majority of it. I doubt anyone remembers that there is anything worth mining there. It's been abandoned for the better part of five centuries according to Celestia, after the last of Ruby died out."
"Hmm... spelunking is considered an interesting hobby..." said Moonlight.
"Spelunking?" asked Luna.
"Cave exploration and diving," explained Moonlight.
"Fascinating. I would recommend having wings out if you explore though...some of the areas are little more than chasms with sharp rocks and the only way anywhere is to fly."
"I'll keep that in mind."
"I'd join you if I could get away with it," said Luna. Night Court was dead boring.
"Why not? We could take a few hours before you have to raise the moon to explore the caves."
"Should we bring Storm and Dreamer?"
"Maybe later, once I'm certain they're safe for foal exploration first."
"Good thinking," said Luna.
Celestia brought up the subject of the caves during her lunch and Luna's breakfast.
"I hear that you and your apprentice are taking some time off court to explore the Canterhorn caves."
"She sounded interested in them and I needed the break," said Luna.
"I'm just surprised is all."
"You've been bothering me to get a hobby," said Luna irritated.
"I know, I'm just wondering why you told her about the caves after what happened."
"Moonlight is to be one of the new blood. Even you sensed that when you took her twin to be your apprentice. Tis better to lay a foundation that would allow her to see me as an ally now than to give her the chance to develop any ideas of overthrowing us," said Luna flatly.
Celestia winced, but conceded her point. Moonlight was one of the strongest unicorns alive right now...her sister had the power as well, but unlike her Moonlight wasn't indoctrinated towards serving another without a good reason. If she saw that confounded Dumbledore she wouldn't hesitate to have him hung for what he did.
He very nearly brought all out war through his actions.