To Dethrone A Princess

Just because the two sisters have led Equestria through thousands of years of peace doesn't mean there aren't those who think they can do better.
With a powerful artifact on their side, a group of rebels has sealed Celestia in her palace and stripped her of the majority of her powers. As the last of her guards fall, she hears the pounding on the throne room doors and knows the end is coming soon...

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1. Taking the Crown

The door to the throne room crashed open as a Royal Guard was thrown through, finally diverting Celestia's attention from the nearby window. Giving the coruscating red glow that now hung over her palace one final look, she turned to the crowd of armed and armored ponies marching in and raised one eyebrow.

“I do hope you've left at least some of my guards alive,” she said serenely. “It takes quite a long time to train them, you know.”

One pony made his way to the front of the group, a rugged, dark gray pegasus. The hair that could be seen under his helmet was blue, turning to gray, and his eyes were hard as he stared across the room at the princess before smirking.

“Don't worry, we've done our best to restrain them unharmed,” he said pleasantly. “After all, I'm still going to be requiring their services.”

“Oh dear me, is this all about personal power?” Celestia let her head hang down as she gave it a slow shake. “And you'd showed such promise, Iron Hammer. I'd hoped this was a benevolent takeover, one more about the good of all, rather than just finding a way to promote yourself above the rank of General.”

“Oh, but it is.” He began to pace back and forth in front of his soldiers. “You've been on the throne far longer than any pony has a right to be, even one that's a Goddess. It's time for the ponies, the real ponies, the everyday ponies, to take control of our land and our lives back from you. A hundred years as the leader of this country would simply make you a popular leader; a thousand years makes you a tyrant.”

“A 'tyrant' who has done nothing but lead with a benevolent hoof,” pointed out Celestia. “Thousands of years of relative peace and prosperity; is that what you are saving my little ponies from? Do you really think you can do better than an all-powerful sun Goddess who had generations upon generations of experience ruling before even your great-great-great-great-great-grandparents were born?”

“To rule ourselves, to be masters of our own destinies, is far better than to be stifled under your wings,” shot back Iron Hammer. “Besides, I think we've proven you are not so all-powerful, haven't we?”

“Yes, I must congratulate you on an well thought-out coup d'etat,” said Celestia, glancing again at the red glow shining through the windows. “Whatever artifact or spell you've found has done quite an efficient job at cutting me off from my sun. Without that connection, my magic is only slightly more powerful than the strongest unicorn's. And with the severance of my power, it will devolve to the other princesses–much as Luna's did to me following her banishment–which is an experience that will leave them confused and disoriented, unable to counter your attack. At least, not until well after you have secured your position.”

“Thank you, Your Highness,” said General Hammer with a mocking bow. “I like to think that the years I spent leading your armies has left me with some grasp of tactics.”

“Well then,” said Celestia, cocking an eyebrow. “It's off with my head now, I suppose?”

“Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you Princess?” said the general with a chuckle. “But that would immediately bring your sister–not to mention your niece, your protege, and the other element bearers–down on our own heads. No, you will be kept... safe, to ensure their cooperation and support.

“Now–relinquish your throne, please. You may still be stronger than any one of us, but you know as well as I that you wouldn't stand a chance against three dozen highly trained soldiers. So don't make us take the crown by force.”

There was a moment of silence, hanging heavy in the air as the two stared at each other. Finally, Celestia was the one to drop her gaze, with a long, tired sigh.

“This crown is... so heavy,” she said, reaching up with her hooves to remove it from her head. She stared down at the crown, cradling it gently in her forelegs. “You can feel the weight of it, of all it represents, the moment you place it upon your head. It only gets heavier each day that you wear it... and I've been wearing it for so very, very long.”

Standing up, she placed the crown upon the throne, then began to slowly remove the rest of her regalia.

“In a way,” she said quietly, “It would be a relief to be rid of this burden.”

She stood before them, no ornaments upon her body, and the soldiers shifted uncomfortably, some looking away. Clothing was rarely worn by ponies, but to see Celestia without her royal accoutrements didn't seem right. She looked... naked.

For a moment, Celestia considered the pony before her.

“General Iron Hammer...” she said musingly, half to herself. “Class of '34, correct? I believe I gave a few guest lectures back then, not to mention your commencement speech–”

“Save it,” growled the general. “Sympathy won't do you any good now, not when we've come this far.”

“Oh, perish the thought, General, perish the thought! I was merely reminiscing about days gone by. In fact, in honor of the old times, when I was something of a teacher to you, why don't I give you a little pop quiz?”

“Is this some kind of joke to you–” Iron Hammer began, and Celestia cut him off as though he wasn't even talking.

“Question one. And since this is the first question, I'll make it easy for you: true or false, alicorns have the powers of all three pony races, including the speed and agility of pegasi, the quick thinking and analytical abilities of unicorns, and the strength and stamina of earth ponies?”

Iron Hammer snorted. “True, of course, but if you're thinking of intimidating–”

“Correct!” beamed Celestia, interrupting the General again.

She leapt lightly from the dais upon which her throne sat. Her landing at its foot had all the grace and gentleness for which she was renowned, but still the marble flagstones shattered under her hooves, cracks racing out for yards in every direction.

“Question two: how old am I?” Celestia began to walk forward. Her gait was slow and unhurried, nearly lazy, but still the tiles under her hooves cracked, leaving a small crater behind with each step she took.

“Well, um...” The display was beginning to fluster the General, but he held his ground–though not without allowing himself to be sucked into Celestia's game. “We know when you banished Nightmare Moon, so I'd say at least a thousand years–”

Celestia stopped him with something that was dangerously close to a giggle, pausing her stride momentarily to cover her mouth with one hoof. “I'm sorry, General, but that was a little joke on my part. It's a trick question, because no one but Luna and I know our ages. I have not suppressed the information, but I have, let us say, allowed it to fade over time. I am far, far older than a mere one thousand years.”

She resumed her walk, and metal clanged softly throughout the room as the soldiers huddled closer together despite themselves.

“Question three: what kind of pony was I before I became an alicorn?”

Iron Hammer stared at her for a few seconds, now fully invested in the quiz, before saying, “This is another trick question, isn't it?”

Celestia positively tittered this time, nearly dancing in place, thus annihilating several more marble tiles.

“Correct! But, just between us, I was an earth pony. A 'rough and tumble' earth pony, I believe the phrase would be.” She waggled one hoof at roughly the height of her shoulder. “I did not posses quite the stature I have today, of course, but... well, if any of you have heard of a pony named Big Macintosh, let's just say I could have given him a run for his money.”

She took the last few steps and stopped, towering over the General and his soldiers. “Now, last question. This is the big one, but I feel confident that you know the answer. That is, assuming my army still prides itself on being able to trace its roots back to the Legions of old?”

“Of course we do!” snapped Iron Hammer, drawing himself up, pride in his profession and position overcoming the intimidation of the Princess's presence.

“Excellent! Then I'm sure you'll know the answer to question four: what was the ancient Romane word for 'brawler'?”

“Brawler, brawler... let's see...” the General muttered to himself as he tried to remember the language lessons from his old academy days. “Started with a 'K'... no, 'C'. Calasta? No... cel... celastiar? Yes, celastiar!”

His face froze as the bit dropped, and the military pony produced the closest sound to a squeak he was capable of. “Oh, no...”

“That's right General,” said Celestia, a broad smile on her face as she loomed over the pegasus. “They named it after me.

“Ah, Y-your Highness,” stammered Iron Hammer, starting to sweat, “We may have been... too hasty. I'm sure if we work together, there is some compromise that–”

“General?” interrupted Celestia softly, placing a gentle hoof upon his shoulder.

“Yes, Your Highness?” he replied, looking up, hope beginning to form on his face.

“Say goodnight, General.”

The crack! of her forehead impacting with his echoed loudly throughout the throne room, and she expertly caught him with one leg as he fell. That kindness was then made moot as she slung his unconscious body off to one side, where it slid and tumbled across the floor until striking the far wall.

The eyes of the soldiers that had been brave enough to to look away from Celestia to follow the body slowly came back to focus on the Princess. Her forehead was clearly unmarked, and as they watched she slowly twisted her head to one side, producing several loud popping sounds, before grinning at the soldiers in front of her. They all immediately clumped closer together again; that smile seemed to have far more teeth in it than any pony's mouth should rightly have.

“Alright, boys and girls,” said Celestia, and then suddenly she was above them, wings outspread and hooves drawn back to strike.

“TIME FOR A HISTORY LESSON!” she bellowed gleefully, the manic grin still on her face as she crashed down in the middle of their formation.

 

 

Luna carefully picked a path across the destroyed throne room, making her way to where Celestia sat sipping tea upon the throne, her regalia shining brightly in the sunlight streaming in through the broken windows.

“You are looking well, sister,” said Luna, coming to a halt at the foot of the throne. “I trust your power has been fully restored?”

“Indeed it has. In fact, having it back after even such a short time away makes it feel all the more precious to me. Having it gone, being so helpless...” She put a hoof to her forehead and threw her head back. “I never want to experience something like that again.”

“Uh-huh.” Luna seemed less than impressed by her older sister's theatrics. “Well, there is no need to worry about that. We found the artifact they used to cut off your magic–some kind of gem. We gave it to Twilight Sparkle to study, in the hopes that she may find a way for us to neutralize its powers if it is used against us again, or at least a way to destroy it.”

“And you will be sure to gently remind her in a few months that she is meant to destroy it, not allow the study of a unique magical artifact to consume her every waking moment?”

“A timed scroll has already been prepared.”

“Excellent.” Celestia paused for a moment to sip her tea. “Now, I assume you are here with the final damages report?”

“Correct.” A scroll floated out from under Luna's wing, held in her magic, and unfurled itself before her. “Casualties were extremely low, which we have the 'rebels', as they are calling themselves, to thank for. That's is also the reason why most ponies are calling for them to be simply exiled, rather than executed, as would normally befit traitors.”

“I must agree,” said Celestia graciously. “They never want to hurt anypony, they were simply acting as they saw best. It's just a shame they decided to do it outside of the proper channels. Exile it is.”

Luna nodded. “I agreed as well, and thought you might feel the same, which is why I ordered the formal processes begun before I came here.”

She paused for a moment to look over the scroll, then continued. “Damage to most of the castle is virtually nonexistent. A few barricades were built, a few doors broken down or windows smashed, nothing important. Everything should be repaired in a week or so.

“And that brings me to... the throne room.”

This time, the pause was to let the two Princesses consider their surroundings. One of the doors to the throne room hung askew, the other warped so badly it was unusable. A trail of broken flagstones led from the throne to the doors, and a number of frescoes on the walls were virtually destroyed, large craters and cracks obliterating their features. Most of the tapestries that hung upon the walls seemed to have been burned to ash, over half the windows in the hall were shattered beyond repair, and most of the sculptures, vases, and other assorted pieces of art that had been gifted to the Princesses over the centuries had been destroyed in some fashion.

“Now, we're having a hard time piecing together exactly what happened here. The ponies that were involved in the battle seem to have been so traumatized that they cannot recall exactly what happened. You yourself were the only pony found to still be conscious when the battle died down, in fact.”

“Yes, those brave guards fought so valiantly for me in my hour of need.” Celestia put a hoof over her chest, looking pridefully up into the air. “I can hardly tell you what happened here myself, save that a battle was indeed fought, and fought hard. It was all so violent and confusing, I hardly remember as well.”

“About those guards that fought for you... that would be the four royal guards we found here, unconscious?” Celestia nodded. “Four ponies, three of which were actually found outside the throne room and were in fact most likely unable to get inside due to the damage to the doors?” Celestia nodded again. “The same four guards that fought off, what was it, somewhere around three dozen armed soldiers?”

Celestia nodded a third time, then, feeling something else was required of her, said, “Our guards are highly skilled. It takes quite a long time to train them, you know.”

“Uh-huh.” Once again, something about Celestia's response seemed to be irritating her younger sister. “There are other oddities, as well, in regards to the damage done to this room.

“For example, a number of the rebels appear to have been bucked into the walls so hard they shattered the stone. However, the ponies themselves were not hurt due to the impact resistance enchantments that all guard armor has. In fact, they seem to have been hit with exactly enough force to crack stone and break the enchantment, as well as take the pony in question out of the fight, but yet not so hard as to permanently injure the pony. It was like whoever was doing the bucking knew the exact limits of the enchantment.”

“The guards do wear the same armor themselves,” pointed out Celestia.

“Well, yes,” replied Luna, “But I doubt any of them would have been capable of striking with such power. Not to mention that it seems the ponies who impacted the wall did so in such a manner as to destroy several frescoes. Frescoes I seem to recall you having said you hated. Five, in fact, seem to have hit that mural that you claimed had a carving where your butt looked big.”

“A coincidence, perhaps?” suggested Celestia innocently.

“Part of an overall pattern, though,” pressed Luna. “The floor of the throne room, which I believe you called 'outdated' recently, will now have to be completely replaced. Along with the stained glass windows and tapestries that have been completely destroyed. Although, I notice that the ones depicting you and your student–sorry, our newest Princess–seem to have survived intact. And a surprising number of the other pieces of art we keep in the throne room, which you have on numerous occasions mentioned your dislike for, have also been similarly destroyed. It is almost as though a tornado swept through the room and destroyed everything you hate about it.”

“No... no, there were no tornadoes,” said Celestia musingly. “The battle was chaotic, and hard to follow as I was trying to stay safely out of it, but I would have remembered a tornado.”

“That brings me to my last point, the damage to the doorway.” Luna gestured to the ruined aperture. “Given that we found the hinges and frame so badly damaged after the battle that we had to force them open, it is odd how all four of the guards could have been in here to protect you, seeing as three of them were out in the hall.”

“Well, clearly they must have gone out there before the doors were damaged,” replied Celestia calmly.

“The other funny thing about the damage to the doors is the manner in which it was caused,” continued Luna without acknowledging Celestia's reply. “Or rather, the ways. The damage to the frame and hinges seems to have come from inside the throne room, in one case melting a hinge into a useless lump of metal. The hinges could have just been replaced without needing to do the same to the bulk of the door; however, the actual doors themselves were damaged as well. That damage seems to have come from ponies beating on the inside of the doors, almost as if they had been trying to escape. To run away from... something.”

“I have no doubt that the rebels attempted to flee once they realized the ferocity of the guards who were protecting me,” said Celestia. “In fact, I am positive that's what happened. The doors being broken and unopenable was probably just an accident.”

Luna stared at her sister for a long moment, before finally sighing and tucking the scroll back under her wing. “Well, the important thing is that nopony was hurt, and everything can go back to normal now. I'm sure the response to this little attempted coup means we won't have to worry about anything like this again for some time.”

“Quite so, quite so,” agreed Celestia, nodding.

“Oh, there is one other thing on the report I forgot to mention,” said Luna, pretending to hold up a scroll in her hoofs and read it. “Yes, it says here that you are a reckless fool who should have known better than to try and handle the situation alone, and should have instead waited for the backup that you knew would be coming–specifically, your fellow Princesses who, with their full power at their disposal plus yours, would have been quite easily able to rescue you with no danger or risk to yourself.”

“Yes, well, sometimes even I need to be myself,” said Celestia, closing her eyes to take another sip of tea and smile happily.

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