Life, Love, and Death in the House of Path

The House of Path has grown to be an enormous influence in Equestria, Griffonia, and other nations, and has gained many unusual members. But with such a varied membership, comes some unusual circumstances. Free Agent stunned the hives with his deviant mutant nature, but can a normal changeling queen learn to love? When an alicorn's dearest friends die, how does she cope? What are the new generation like? How does a pony needs to learn how to deal with a destiny that he never expected? What lofty goals do they set for themselves?
These are highlights in the lives of the various House Path members, and all the love, fear, and hope that comes with such a family of beings. And maybe a little bit of sex in between.
This series follows after "Quantum Gallop" and is episodic, and the chapters might not be added in sequential order.


1. Destined Decrees

Destined Path still felt an air of unreality as he entered Canterlot’s throne room to hold court. It was just the third time that he had the duty since he had started taking instruction on how to perform princely duties from Princess Luna and Princess Celestia. While it was true that he had already learned a lot, he still felt totally inadequate compared to the two elder alicorns. Thankfully he still had advisors to help him perform his duties on these occasions, and tonight he had his father by his side.

Long Path sensed his son’s reluctance, and he gave the young alicorn a reassuring smile. “Stop worrying so much. Luna would not have given you this duty tonight if she felt that you could not handle it.”

“Easy for you to say, Dad – you’ve had decades of experience.”

“And just how much do you think I knew about being a lord and running a Noble House when I won the title from Ravenwing?”

“Good point. So why don’t I feel any better?”

“You won’t until you’ve done it enough times to become inured to it. So buck up and smile. Your subjects want to see a confident Prince Destined.”

Destined gave his father a smirk. “Actually they still expect to see an even more confident Princess Luna.”

“Well, that should make for a pleasant surprise when they see you instead,” Path replied with a cheerful grin.

The alicorn colt snorted. “Yeah, sure.” Destined came to a stop by the Sergeant-at-Arms. “Good evening, Brass Shield. Are we ready to start Night Court?”

Brass Shield gave Destined a short bow. “Ready when you are, Prince Destined.”

“Let’s get this show on the road then. You can let the audience in.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

As Brass headed for the large double doors to the room, Destined ascended the dais, nodding politely to the thestral Royal Guard stationed one level down and to his right. He made himself as comfortable as possible on the throne, feeling as always that he had not earned it as yet. The one change that had been made was a cushion in House Path colours replacing Luna’s more sombre midnight blue one. Path took his place at Destined’s left side and retrieved the list of supplicants for tonight’s session from his saddle bag. Although he had already reviewed them well before the court was due to begin, he refreshed his memory on the first. He gave Destined a summary as ponies, changelings, and a couple of griffons streamed into the throne room to take seats to witness the night’s events. It had amused Luna to notice that Night Court had become a source of entertainment for the night owls of Canterlot. For Destined though, they were witnesses to any potential mistakes he might make, and he tried not to think about them.

When the last of the audience was seated, the Sergeant-at-Arms called out, “All rise! Night Court is now in session – Prince Destined Path presiding!”

The audience rose from their seats, bowed politely, and then sat down again after Destined acknowledged them.

Brass Shield nodded to the Royal Guard standing by the door of an antechamber where the night’s supplicants awaited their turns. He called for the first petitioner from the waiting room, and the night’s proceedings began. The mare was momentarily surprised to see Destined on the throne rather than Luna as she had expected, but she gave him a big smile as she stopped before the throne and bowed.

“Good evening, Your Highness,” she said.

Destined smiled back, happy to start on a positive note. “Good evening, my little pony. How can I help you tonight?”

# # #

The evening was going quite well, with all the petitioners going away satisfied so far, and Destined felt more comfortable than on any of his previous occasions as the Royal in charge. It helped that all the staff were not only quite experienced, but they knew how to unobtrusively assist him whenever he encountered a minor problem. While his father and others served as his advisors, Brass Shield was in effect his teacher for a number of courtly procedures, and Destined had a lot of respect for his patience and wisdom. The thestral Royal Guard was a familiar friend – Leatherwing – Luna’s personal guard of many years who was acting as Destined’s for tonight at the request of the Moon Princess. More than anything else, these ponies helped put him at ease with the job of dealing with hopeful petitioners.

Destined’s good mood was soon shattered by the grumpy earth pony that was shown in next. The stallion scowled at Destined and asked, “Where’s Princess Luna?”

Destined was about to reply, but was stopped by a soft touch on his foreleg by Path’s hoof. He looked at his father who shook his head almost imperceptibly.

Brass Shield sternly said, “Citizen, you will bow and show respect to His Highness, Prince Destined Path.”

The stallion’s scowl deepened, but he gave the sketchiest of bows before once again asking, “So where’s the real royal? I need Princess Luna to sort out my problem.”

Again Brass Shield replied, “Citizen, Prince Destined is fourth in seniority in all of Equestria, and third highest authority in the Canterlot Court. He is also the Royal Alicorn presiding tonight and will be considering your petition. May I suggest that you mind your words and proceed with your business?” The Sergeant’s tone made it clear that his ‘suggestion’ was more like an iron-clad command.

Destined thought that it was time to step in. “What can I do for you, my little pony?” he asked the ritual formality.

The earth pony snorted contemptuously. “Little pony? I have two sons older than you!”

Destined was feeling more than a little irked by now. “As fascinating as that may be, you have come to make a petition, I believe? What is your name, citizen?”

The stallion sighed and replied in a manner that made it clear that he felt very imposed upon, “My name is Stony Structures, and I am a building developer. I’ve been contracted to build an extension to the Canterlot Grand Theatre, which will double the number of stages available, providing venues for more plays and concerts. This will not only be of great social benefit to the Canterlot community, but it will provide work to a lot more musicians and actors.”

Stony was obviously getting into the swing of his pitch now, for which Destined was grateful.

“Also, the project will provide employment to stonemasons, carpenters, plumbers, and so forth, further benefitting the economy. This is a major project with major advantages to Canterlot and its citizens, but the city council has refused to grant me a permit to build on the land that is needed for it. You must surely see that this is outrageous! Please overrule the council and grant the permit so that this great project may proceed.”

Destined looked towards his father who passed him a document. The alicorn looked it over carefully before saying, “Ah, yes, I see the problem. The land that you wish to build upon is part of the West Canterlot Recreational Reserve.” He down at Stony and frowned. “You wish to take away some prime parkland just to build a bigger theatre?”

Just a bigger theatre? No, the most magnificent theatre in Equestria! Surely that’s worth a bit of sacrifice of unused real estate?”

“First of all, it’s hardly unused. It is a very popular family recreation ground. Second of all, it’s the only open parkland in the immediate neighbourhood. Canterlot is built on the side of a mountain, and there is nowhere to create more parkland except on the plateau in Lower Canterlot, much further away.”

“I only require half the park. There will still be plenty of room for ponies to use.”

“Half is too much. Anything is too much. The city council was right to refuse your permit. Canterlot is not merely a place of buildings, one more magnificent than the other. It’s a community, and the aesthetics are important too. As the city continues to grow, that parkland will be needed more than ever for the citizens to enjoy, and as its name suggests, recreate.”

Destined could see that the stallion was starting to get very angry again. He headed off a tirade by speaking before Stony could. “However, I can propose a solution.”

Stony looked surprised. “What?” he asked suspiciously.

Destined held up the document in his hoof. “I see that it was the owner of the Canterlot Grand Theatre, Lord Goldbrick, who contracted you to do this extension. By coincidence, I see that his estate is directly adjacent to the theatre. I suggest that you ask him to donate the necessary land for the project.”

The earth pony stared at Destined as if he had gone mad. “Are you nuts? I can’t ask him to do that!”

Destined gave Stony a sly smile. “Why not? As you said, it is a project that will contribute many benefits to Canterlot and its citizens.”

Stony sputtered in anger and frustration. “This is bucking ridiculous! Get me a real Princess! I want this sorted out now!”

Brass Shield’s face was thunderous. “Citizen Structures – you will apologise to His Highness immediately!”

“What? This foal who’s pretending to be royalty? He’s not even a real Princess! How dare you foist a child upon us…”

ENOUGH!” Destined commanded in the Royal Canterlot Voice, cutting off Stony’s tirade. At the same time, he sent a small magic shockwave in Stony’s direction, making the earth pony stagger a little. “I’m tired of your bluster, Stony Structures. You sought to blindside me, and by extension, Princess Luna, with your self-serving plans to defraud the citizens of Canterlot of their priceless parkland. I might be young, but I am not stupid, and I have very wise people to advise me too. You have tried to deceive me, and you have continually insulted me. Your petition is rejected, your permit will never be issued, and you are hereby banned from this court for a period of no less than three months.”

“What?! You can’t do that to me!” Stony protested.

“I most certainly can. Be thankful that I don’t fine you also for Contempt of Court. Sergeant, please escort this pony from the castle forthwith.”

“With pleasure, Your Highness.”

Brass Shield’s horn lit up, and Stony Shield felt himself dragged away. He did not go quietly though. He got even more vociferous when Luna stepped into the throne room.

“Princess! Listen to me! That foal on the throne is making stupid decisions in your name. You have to overrule him!”

The Sergeant-at-Arms continued to try to eject the stubborn stallion, but Luna held up a hoof and stopped him. She gave Stony a cold stare. “It takes two alicorns to overrule a decree made by the third. Also, such things are done only for matters of great importance, and I will not be waking my sister for thy petty desires.”

“But he wants to ban me from the court. I need access for my petitions!”

“I did overhear – three months’ ban dost seem incommensurate with the offence.”

Stony flashed a smug grin at Destined. “Ha! Just as I said.”

“Make it a year,” Luna added. “Sergeant, I believe that thou hath a task to finish.”

Brass Shield nodded. “Of course, Your Highness.” He resumed dragging the dumbstruck stallion out.

Luna walked over to the dais, and Destined stepped down to meet her.

“Did you come here to check up on me, Princess?” Destined asked quietly.

Luna smiled. “Nay. I was taking a break from my task, and I thought that thou might wish to join me.”

Destined nodded. “I could do with one after that jerk.”

“We do not call our little ponies ‘jerks’ in public, Prince Destined.”

The alicorn stallion grimaced. “I still have a bit to learn.”

“Thou art doing fine,” Luna reassured him.

Brass Shield returned just then after passing on the responsibility of ejecting Stony Structures to another Royal Guard. Destined turned to him and said, “Sergeant, we’re taking a break for fifteen minutes.”

The Sergeant-at-Arms nodded. “Very well, Your Highness.” He turned to face the audience. “This court is now in recess!” he announced loudly.

Excited talk started up immediately as the audience members discussed the entertainment that Stony had ironically given them.

Path and Leatherwing joined Destined and Luna, exiting through the door at the rear of the throne.

Destined said, “I used the Royal Canterlot Voice tonight, Mama Luna. I surprised myself by pulling it off properly.”

Luna nodded. “I know; it was what drew my attention to the throne room. I heard what thou had to say to that insufferable fool.”

“Heard what you had to say,” Destined corrected. “You’re still slipping in the thees and thous too often.” While Luna had been teaching the young alicorn how to handle court matters, he in turn had been coaching Luna on proper modern idiom. Her habit of centuries was proving hard to break though.

Luna giggled. “It seems we both yet have much to learn, my son.”

# # # # # # # # #

Author's Note:

Just a little speed-bump I dreamed up regarding Destined progress towards being a confident and experienced co-leader of a nation.

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