>>29989186> Your stir in your throne, regarding the magnificent alicorn before you.> She held the deep bow she'd sunken into at the end of her plea, waiting for your reply.
"Rise, Your Highness."> Imploring eyes lift to fix on you; rising from your seat, you step down from its dias until you are face-to-face with the princess.
"...if it were my choice, I would gift you the funds without a thought. We would even march by your side for nothing but the friendship and fairness Equestria has always shown its allies. Unfortunately, we are not ponies but men; we cannot subsist on friendship alone."> Expression cracking, Celestia spreads her wings again.> "Please, Duke Anonymous! I beg you-"> A hand rises, silencing her.
"I did not say we would refuse. Only that we have to demand something meaningful in return - not from you, but something that can serve my subjects."> Fear flickers in her eyes; does she honestly expect you to demand something of her ponies?> "I will grant you whatever I can, Sir Anonymous, but I beg that you not place this burden on the backs of my little ponies."> Is she offering herself...?> Your eyes flick to the subtle curve of her haunches...
"Equestria has never been anything but a friend to me. I can no more place this burden on them than I can turn you away."> "Then what-"
"Your foes. Whatever territory we can seize, with a minimum of fifty percent. Starting..."> Turning aside, you walk to the enormous map hung from a nearby wall.
"...say, in the south and running north-east from there. Their populations will fall under my dominion, and the land be mine in perpetuity. Do this, and I will offer Equestria its funds... and an army to boot."> Celestia shivers - whether at your naked ambition, or the thought of what would happens should she refuse you do not know.
"Sir Anonymous, I..."