Hey everypony! Clueless writer Dawnscroll here. Normally I'd have something witty and clever to say here, but for the time being, I got squat. So in the meantime, just have this until the chapter after this, kay? MLP is obviously owned by Hasbro, and with moi being a fimfiction writer, I own zipdadoodle. Props go to the awesome Legacy and John Perry for being my prereaders and making this as least SEMI-Readable. Trust me, you didn't want to see the mess it was before. Cheers.
The Canterlot Palace, home to the equine deities Celestia and Luna, boasted the most luxurious dining hall in Equestria. Seats carved of precious cherry wood and linens filled with the finest down, sparkling crystal chandeliers that glittered like diamonds, and of course, solid gold silverware. Truly the most sensible use of Equestrian tax money.
It was this grand hall that had hosted any number of balls and galas, and should either of the Princesses ever wished to hold a feast, a long table capable of seating hundreds of nobles could be assembled in a manner of minutes. Princess Celestia, of course, had always sat at the head of the table.
She never used that room unless she absolutely had to. It was too big, too constricting, too… quiet.
Instead, the goddess of the sun had always chosen to dine in a small private dining room behind this massive hall. Here, she could sit in privacy and eat in peace.
Well, actually, privacy was a broad term if one included the presence of the waiters, the maids, and of course, the guards by the door, all of whom waited on her beck and call.
Still, it beat the social sniping game the nobility had set up for themselves. See a duchess twelve seats down with a hat you found ugly? Just make a snide remark to impress those sitting around you, take aim, and BOOM. Headshot. Ten points.
It was nice to get away from that once in awhile.
It was in this room that Celestia found herself staring dolefully at the lone stalk of green celery before her. She nudged it gently with her hoof, foolishly hoping the gesture could somehow magically make it appear more appetizing… or at least multiply.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t.
This was breakfast.
Celestia leaned back in her royal chair, her haunches settled on the plush satin cushion. There was none of her usual mirth on her face. This was serious business.
The goddess gave a hopeful look to Feather Duster, who stood attentively at her lady’s side.
“Can’t we start this tomorrow?” Celestia asked. She poked at the vegetable with her fork. “I mean, it’s not like I’m going to gain another five pounds overnight.”
Feather Duster sighed and nudged the plate closer to her.
“M’Lady, if we don’t start today, you’ll just keep pushing and pushing it off.” Feather Duster answered. Celestia groaned, knowing the maid spoke the truth. That had kind of been what she was looking for. “Besides, we can no longer dodge this. We need to act.”
“Do you know how ridiculous this is? I don’t have time for all this; I have things to do, ponies to meet. I have an entire country to run.”
“I have already moved around your schedule to accommodate the required time. You’ll be spending an hour in the afternoons with a personal trainer.” her maid answered proudly, magicking a schedule into existence. Celestia grabbed it, her eyes scanning over the times.
“You didn’t move anything around. You just cut an hour into my ‘Me Time’!”
“Yes. Now you’ll be spending an hour with a personal trainer. After all of your paperwork is completed.”
"Feather Duster, an hour is all I normally have! There's nothing left."
"Don't be silly your highness. You have some right before bed."
Celestia peered closely at the schedule, and squinted to see a tiny footnote wedged alongside the listed appointments.
~Princess Celestia's Leisure Time - 30 Seconds~
Celestia gave a look of disbelief to Feather Duster. “So let me get this straight. I’m going to wake up, raise the sun, step on that cursed scale, and proceed to be miserable until the second I close my eyes at night."
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t make any room in your schedule to be miserable. Would you like some?” Feather Duster peered over the paper, her quill at the ready. Celestia was unamused, and returned her displeasure back at the piece of celery in front of her.
She couldn’t exactly be mad at it of course, with it being a green stalky vegetable and all. Said vegetable would probably take no notice of her wrath. But being mad at it beat taking her unhappiness out on some hapless window-washer or butler who was just doing their job.
Maybe if she gave it life…. Yes, then it would cower before her. It would feel her pain as she bit down into nutritional body, her teeth ripping through stalk and leaf.
Celestia picked up half a lemon and crushed it between her hooves, squeezing the juice into her glass of water. Not fine Earl Grass tea. Not even milk. Just water.
Water and celery. Breakfast. Celestia should have probably been thrilled they had even given her the lemon.
She could give the celery a mouth too, just so she could hear it scream.
Celestia poked the it again with her fork.
Who in Equestria ever ate plain celery in this day and age? Okay, so maybe ranch dressing was out of the question, but would it have killed them to give her some peanut butter and raisins?
Celestia picked up the day’s newspaper, trying to prolong breakfast as long as she could. She could only hope that the Royal Kitchens weren’t getting too worked up over all of this…
Meanwhile, in the Royal Kitchens
AAOOOOGA! AAOOOOOGA! AAOOOOOGA!
“Yeah? ‘hink yer loud an' annoyin', eh? Well lemme tell ye, laddie, I’m stuck wi' these wet behin' th' ear whelps all day! I’ve dealt wi' cheese graters louder than ye!” Chef Ram Sea shouted, pointing an accusing hoof towards the flashing lights. “Infact, Ah can be jist as fancy as ye, ye half-watt excuse for a heart monitor! Och, look at me prancin' aboot on mah legs! Eh? How does it feel tae be stuck on th' ceilin'!?”
By now, things had returned moderately to normal in the kitchens. Cooking was once again underway in preparation of the day’s lunch, and it was the once again a whirr of activity in the kitchens. Chef Ram Sea was once again doing what he did best: belittling the thing that irritated him the most.
To the massive relief of most of the kitchen staff, said thing was the blaring alarm that hadn’t ceased since it was triggered. The royal unicorn maintenance crew had promised they’d fixed the problem as soon as they could.
That had been almost half an hour ago.
By now, most of the cooks had managed to get their hooves on sets of earplugs and learned to tune out the din. All but the Head Chef, who after disgustedly placing a piece of celery on a plate and giving a few choice words to the unlucky waiter, remained defiant, going tit for tat with the alarm system.
By now, hooves were exchanging bits as bets were being placed on if the Chef could outlast the machine.
AAOOOOGA! AAOOOOOGA! AAOOOOOGA!
“--Infact, Ah bit she doesn’t e'en need this diet! Ah bit it was ye bein' a useless broken hunk ay scrap metal 'at caused this! Did ye hear me, ye pimpled coopon backside of a goat turd? I’m callin' ye fat!”
Copper Kettle gave a low whistle of admiration as the chef launched into yet another tirade. There was something truly awe-inspiring about a pissed off sheep.
Next to him, his fellow cook Whisk was scribbling furiously in a notebook.
“I think Ram Sea was being nice to us before.” Copper Kettle said, with a twinge of dread in his gut.
“Are you kidding me? I’m getting all of this down. This is priceless.” Whisk said with veneration in his voice.
The two cooks suddenly froze as though a cockatrice was glaring at them. But it was worse… so much worse.
“An' whit are th' two of ye doin'?” Chef Ram Sea snarled. The pen dropped from Whisk’s magical grip and clattered to the floor. Both cooks turned to look at each other, terror stretched across their faces.
“N-nothing Head Chef!”
It was too late. While Copper Kettle made an admirable job of stomping on Whisk’s hoof and wrapping a hoof over his compatriot's mouth, he was a second too slow. The words had been said.
Chef Ram Sea’s beady eyes promised nothing more than pain and misery until the end of their days.
“Och, doin' nothin' eh? Lazin' aboot mah kitchen like a load of guid for nothin' slackers? Well, lemme tell ye somethin', laddies! Yoo’re both gonnae be peelin' taetters for th' next month… WI' PAPER CLIPS!”
AAOOOOGA! AAOOOOOGA! AAOOOOOGA!
“Don’t worry, Ah didn’t forgit aboot ye. Ah still have some choice words for ye, ye stoatin big-“
….yeah, Celestia couldn’t get that lucky.
She turned to the sports section of her newspaper. Oh, look at that. The New Yoke Giants had won the Super Trough last night. Part of Celestia regretted not seeing the game. It wasn’t that she actually liked hoofball… but those Clydesdales in the Buckweiser commercials were definitely worth sitting through the game for.
The door glowed a bright blue before swinging open, revealing the slouched form of Luna, who was dragging a blanket behind her.
“Good morning again, Luna.” Celestia pleasantly acknowledge to her sister as the blue alicorn plodded through the door. “What are you still doing up?”
“I find slumber doth elude me, sister.” Luna murmured as she sat down at the opposite end of the table. She made a brief dignified attempt of sitting up in her chair before quickly discovering that the table cloth was comfier to lay her head on. “It would appear that the curtains to mine room were removed to be cleaned. Also, the sun’s rays hast partaken a particular interest in mine bed.” She turned her head and rested it sideways on the linen surface as she cast a tired look at her sister.
“I have no idea what you’re implying.” Celestia raised her glass to her lips to hide the smirk that had stretched across her face took a sip of her water.
Revenge was a dish best served bright. Rest easy now Mister Scrubby.
Luna groaned and covered her eyes with her foreleg. “Servant. Juice. We require vitamins.” A servant hastily rushed to the night princess with a pitcher suspended next to him and topped off her glass.
Celestia unconsciously licked her lips at the sight of the sweet orange juice. Normally, she would have about five glasses of those in the morning.
She swore it tasted like liquid sunshine.
The alicorn took another sip of water and tried to imagine it was lemonade. Really, really watered down lemonade. She discreetly glanced around the table and- drat. No sugar packets to steal.
Celestia felt a tap on her side and turned her head to see Feather Duster looking at her anxiously, a pocket watch dangling from a chain held in her mouth.
“Forgive me your highness,” Feather Duster managed to annunciate, “But we’re running a bit behind schedule.” She managed to turn the watch around so it faced Celestia and held it up for her princess to see. “If you’d like me to, I can rewrite your time slots to-“
“Don’t touch that schedule!” Celestia cut her off suddenly, her voice louder than she intended. Luna raised an eyebrow in confusion at her. Celestia composed herself and offered Feather Duster a wary smile before turning back to her plate. “I mean… I’ll be finishing in just a moment.”
She’d chew her own hoof off before she’d give Feather Duster the chance to cut into her sleep time next.
Celestia offered her sister an apologetic smile. “You’ll have to forgive me again, Luna. I’m afraid I’ll have to finish up here and run. Hopefully we can have supper together.”
Luna gave her sister a tired wave and fought off another yawn. “I think I shall just indulge in an early morning snack before returning to mine room. It’s too early for mine presence here.” Celestia nodded and levitated her breakfast infront of her, just as Luna raised her own glass to her mouth.
Celestia bit down onto the celery with a hearty and audible crunch.
Luna’s drink had slipped from her magical grip and shattered against the table. A lake of orange juice flooded across the snowy-white plains of linen hilled by shards of glass as Luna stared at Celestia with an expression of abject horror. Celestia followed Luna’s flickering gaze between the half-eaten stick of celery in her mouth and the completely bare plate in front of her. Some of the servant ponies rushed over, cleaning rags in their mouth as they tried to clean up the accidental mess before it could spread.
“Luna, are you alright!?”
“Alright? Alright?” Luna managed to squeak out, her eyes transfixed on her sister’s empty plate. Before Celestia could even stand, Luna had already risen to her hooves, knocking her chair over in the process. “Y-yes… yes! Everything shalt be alright, Tia! We can still turn this around!” Celestia watched in bewilderment as her sister reared onto her hind legs and turned her voice up to the ceiling.
As the night princess galloped out of the door, Celestia could hear her sister’s repeating cries throughout the hallway, calling for guard and solider alike. The waiters and maids looked on the scene dumbfounded, the watch dropping from Feather Duster’s mouth with a loud ‘clink’ on the tiles.
Celestia chewed the last of her celery slowly, her molars pulverizing the stringy vegetable before swallowing. With the best poker face she could muster, she held her empty plate out to one of the servants.
“Look, if you want me to deal with this, I’m going to need some second helpings here.”
As the regent of the sun strode down the hallways of her own palace, she once again contemplated sending her dearly beloved sister to the moon.
Well… at least for a day.
With each step, the goddess could feel her precious snooze time slipping away, each minute meeting its end at the tip of Feather Duster's quill. She barely spared a glance at the servants and castle caretakers that were bowing and scraping as she walked past them. She had more important things on her mind than their usual appeasement.
She would have to deal with... well, whatever Luna was up to now before she could even start court and deal with the lovely job of reigning monarch. Then she would have to spend an hour doing whatever ponies in this day and age considered exercise. Oh boy, was she ever looking forward to that. This was merely yet another thing stacked onto her never ending plate.
Yes. Today was turning out to be a wonderful day.
There was, however, the one thing that had just about completely soured it for her.
"I can't believe it..." Celestia murmured to herself. "'No second helpings' my flank. It's celery! It has negative calories!"
"Umm... your majesty?" Celestia glanced back to see one of her ponies, a light pink colored filly, following her. "You seem a little distressed. Is there anything I can do to help?"
'Yes! Go fetch me more celery!'
"I'm looking for my sister. Has anypony seen her within the past hour?"
The filly practically beamed at Celestia and nodded her head eagerly, clearly happy she could help her Princess. "Yes your majesty! She's currently in the library holding War Council."
"War Council? Why would Luna be..." Celestia questioned before the impact of what the maid said clicked in her mind.