Dash, Rarity, and Pinkie should be here somewhere. It still wasn't clear exactly why Luna needed their help, but it was with something in Canterlot somewhere. Celestia said she wanted to talk to all of us soon in her letter, but she wouldn’t be free for some time. She said my friends would be waiting for us in my house, since it seemed a fine place to start. Fluttershy and Applejack had followed me to the house, and up to the tower library, but in retrospect checking it first was rather silly. So now we were in the elevator, and with a flash of my horn the smallish platform began to move.
"This is kinda a odd house, ain't it?"
"Maybe by Ponyville standards." I said "The elevator is a bit odd, but it allows for more space while still leaving the whole house connected. Some ponies have to go back outside and down the ramp to get to the front door."
"I guess that makes even less sense, and it's sure a nice enough place. This seems ta me like a fairly swanky part a town too."
Then the elevator stopped and I walked quickly through the hallway, which also had numerous filled bookshelves, though there were a few small statues or other objects mixed in here and there. Mom is probably right about me owning far too many books, but it's just so hard to some I don't need. Dash was on my couch, Ratiy searching the room, and I heard humming coming in the direction of the kitchen. Pinkie appeared with a tray of cookies a moment later. Directly behind me. I ended up in a pile with Applejack and Fluttershy, though I don't think AJ reacted at all. We quickly got to our hooves and untangled ourselves. Pinkie dumped the cookies on a plate then trotted in the direction of the kitchen.
"So, can we go home now?" said Dash
"We could, but the Princess wants to see us tomorrow so..." I smiled. "I was thinking sleepover, the princess herself suggested I show you around Canterlot."
"Oh that sounds lovely."
"Ah guess Big Mac can get on a day or so without me. Still, you sure your parents are okay with us all crashing here? Ah don't see them nowhere but…"
I gulped. "Oh, uh, this isn't their house."
"So what this is the library house or something?" Said Dash, waving a hoof about randomly. "Also why doesn't it have a sign?"
"Oh, no, that's not a library, well it is, but…" I sighed. "Girls. This is my house, all of it. All the books, all the furniture, everything."
"Even the scale cleaning kit?" asked Pinkie
I laughed. "Okay, that and a few other things are Spike's even if he bought less than half with his own money."
"Wait, do you pay that little guy or…"
"Not really, but I do have to provide housing, food, and though it hasn't come up much yet, instruction. The work itself provides the experience I'm supposed to give him."
Rarity suddenly turned away from me, ran over to the painting over the couch. It was of a starry sky, complete with galaxies and other features which couldn’t possibly be seen with the naked eye, or even all together like that at all. Despite the inaccuracy I do love all her night sky paintings. Rarity leaned in, looking at the corner with the signature in it. Some earth pony artists said putting something other than your cutie mark was just too weird, but unicorns could easily write out our name, so why not?
"They're all originals, aren't they? Not mere copies or prints, but original oil paintings."
"Uh, yes, they are."
"How rich are you exactly? I thought my family was well off, though new money obviously, but to have so many Twinkle originals, not to mention this house."
"I can explain both of those, though the house bit is a little more complicated."
"Well start with the dumb painting already. I mean it can't be that big of a deal."
"Really Rainbow, do you know nothing of fine art."
"Not a thing." Then she laughed.
"Twinkle is one of the greatest artists of our time. Her night sky paintings are her cheapest works as they are so numerous, but each has some value."
"Of course she makes so many because it's what she loves painting most of all."
"Wait, you know Twinkle personally?"
"I more than just know her."
Rarity took a step back. "Really Twilight? I didn't think you were that kind of mare."
"What do you mean by that. I meant…"
"She means…" Dash chuckled a bit "She thinks you and this Twinkle are all missy mare style kissy face and that's why you got all the free stuff."
"Eww, eww ewww, ewww."
I trotted around the room trying to get that horrible image out of my mind. It didn't help. Curse my traitorous imagination.
"Really Twilight. I didn't expect you were like that I thought you would be more tolerant of those with slightly different…"
"Twinkle is my mom Rarity." I shook my head. "Eww, eww, ew."
Applejack cringed. "Oh now why the hay did that image have to enter mah head."
"Oh my." Said Fluttershy, and blushed.
"I wonder if mom still tastes like rocks." Pinkie then shook her head. "Still, that's crazier than oatmeal."
Dash laughed. "You guys are so freaking out over nothing."
"Ah, yes. That explains…" Rarity shook her head. "Yes, that is a most distracting thought to be sure. So that is how you are able to afford this home?"
"Mostly. Mom and dad were tired of my books being everywhere anyway. Celestia built the house of course."
Rarity gasped. "I know you are her personal student but to have her labor as a common pony to help build a home? It's just unthinkable."
I smiled. "It isn't like that. Celestia finds construction comforting. She built this house, as well as almost every other building in Canterlot, and with her magic alone."
"Ah reckon I remember a story 'bout this. They say that Celestia built the whole a Canterlot in four days and four nights, all by her lonesome all them years ago. Pulling the rock from the mountain, and cutting and flying it around till she built the whole place."
"Yea, it's really amazing to watch. All of Canterlot is told so they can observe. Of course nowadays architects just send her the plans once it's been approved by the city commission, but the two palaces and a great deal of other buildings are still standing, and they set the overall look of the city."
"OOO. Plus I bet Celestia totally just did it all herself for you, right?"
I smiled. "Yes, we worked on it together for many nights before she built this place. She's so amazing. I'm still surprised how often recently she's admitted there are actually things she's not perfect at."
"Hmmmm." Pinkie put a hoof on her chin. "Does this mean you and Fluttershy can build your own cities if you want too?"
"Build…" Fluttershy shivered for a moment, then took a deep breath.
"Pinkie." I shook my head. "Stop exaggerating."
"I am?" Pinke then scratched her head with a hoof
"So every single block in this city really is placed by Celestia herself?" said Rarity
"No. She even let me help with this house. Also there are countless little things it just doesn't seem worth bothering your ruler about."
"Ah, like repair work and such, correct?"
"Well, not so much that. Rarity, I haven't been here since I left Canterlot. What do you think of that."
"But there is no dust, it's as clean as can be. Surely servants…"
I smiled. "The entire city is self cleaning."
Dash suddenly laughed. "Oh yea. Luna told me about this. You might think it's some show of luxury or power or whatever, but it's really just that Celestia wasn't fond of dusting, so just made the whole place clean itself."
"Woweee." Said Applejack "I guess when they say the magical city of Canterlot, they ain't kidding. That's mighty impressive."
"Indeed. But still, how much did this parcel of land cost, even if you did get a free house it must have been horrifically expensive."
Dash suddenly laughed. "Oh man, Twi, you totally got Celestia to make it super cheap before you got it right?"
"Dash, Celestia cannot simply…"
"No, that's about right." I said, then sighed. "As her personal student I get a large number of perks." I paused, since I was technically about to lie. "I get a ridiculous discount on any land owned by the crown. The former owner was sent to jail for some fiscal crime."
What I didn't say is while that was true enough, and the discount was a result of my position, simply being Celestia's student isn't why. Though I guess being her student was ultimately the reason, but it was still untrue. But I really hated telling ponies about the real reason, so I'd try to avoid mentioning it if at all possible.
"You mean he robbed a bank or something?" asked Dash
Rarity rolled her eyes. "I'm sure she means something along the lines of fraud, a pyramid scheme, or banking malfeasance."
I nodded. "Something like that. I'm not sure exactly. Thus the property came under the ownership of the crown to be sold off in an attempt to cover his debt. The house itself was teleported to some other property because Celestia thought that could get more money back for the ponies that lost money, and less the crown had to cover."
"Ugh, this is getting all boring. If we're going to get a tour lets go."
Dash was suddenly in the air, flying toward the door. Applejack grabbed her tail before she got very far. Dash didn’t say anything, just crossed her front hooves and turned around to glare at AJ.
"I think Dash is right. The day is wasting and we can talk while we walk."
"I have a few more questions about your parents and most especially about your mother. To think I had such a connection to the darling of the art world."
"How about we leave that until later. I am planning on taking you girls to meet both of them, once they wake up that is."
"What do you mean by that sugarcube?"
"Well dad works the royal observatory, and as I said mom likes to paint the night sky, even if she does add things most of the time."
Rarity laughed. "Ah yes, accuracy is very important, correct."
I laughed, blushing. "Sorry again Rarity. I was probably the worst, wasn't I?"
"In some ways. In truth…" Rarity stopped. "No, that matters not. Rainbow is right, lets begin this tour."
"Okay, first stop, is right next door." I smiled. "I think you'll like this Rarity."
"What do you mean?"
I smiled even wider. She's going to be surprised. I walked out the door confident my friends would be right behind me. We should have great fun, and with what I know about the history and inner workings of Canterlot, it will also be educational.
The second we hit the front gate Rarity had this odd look on her face. Now that we reached the door she was staring open mouthed. I figured there was a good chance it would be faster, but then realized she was in shock still.
"You live next door to Hoity Toity?"
I nodded. "Yes. Really, what makes more sense, Spike somehow just happened to become friends with some fashion designer when I care so little about fashion, or that our homes are in about the same price bracket."
"Hmmm, yes, it is surprisingly small, and more manor style than Canterlot, do you know why that is?"
"According to Spike he just likes it that way, and lives alone so he doesn't need a big place." I knocked on the door again. "Honestly if you want to know more you should talk to Spike. He knows him far better than I."
"Hmm, I may just do that."
I smiled. I think I just made my number one assistant very happy in the near future. Though I'm honestly surprised Spike didn't think to use his knowledge of Hoity Toity to his advantage before now.
"Hmm, thinking of it, we should just go." Said Rarity
I blinked, and joined everyone else staring at Rarity.
"He isn't here you see. He has a fashion show in Manehatten all this week. I was so excited I didn't even realize it until just now."
"Oh, sorry Rarity."
"No, no. It's quite alright. Besides, I am sure we could return and an introduction from his beloved neighbor would…"
I looked down. "Actually he's not fond of me. He doesn't hate me or anything, but Spike would be a much better choice. In fact based on the fashion show he's completely forgotten about me entirely."
"Ah. Well, what's next?"
"This really is quite the swanky neighborhood, ain't it?"
"Somewhat. This is considered upper class, but I'm probably the only pony in the neighborhood with a title. The noble houses are far more extravagant."
"Title?" said Rarity
Thankfully Dash saved me, taking to the air "Come on Twi, lets see something cool. I mean you were about to trap us in some boring conversation about fashion. Surely you can…"
Then Dash trailed off and slumped forward, but kept flying. Then she sighed. I glared at her.
"You think there isn't anything fun I know about in Canterlot, don't you?"
"Uh, I, wasn't going to…" Then she rolled her eyes. "Okay, fine. We all know you were still super boring friendless bookworm before us. You have to go out to find fun stuff."
"I did go out some Dash. I may have mostly ignored pony contact, but I do know this city. I was born and raised here. I may only realize how fun some things could have been in retrospect, but we can have fun today."
"Okay, okay. Then lets get going. Though please lets just avoid the fashion shops and stuff. I'm sure that would be great fun for one pony, but the rest of us would be bored to tears, okay."
"Sorry Rarity, but ah gotta agree with Dash here."
"I think it might be nice to just look at the dresses." Fluttershy then cringed ever so slightly. "Well, if it was okay with everypony else."
"It doesn't sound that fun to me either. I mean the fashion show was so neat." Pinkie then threw a hoof loosely around Rarity's neck. "I mean it was like this big party, and there even music and flashy lights, but just siting around in a store looking at dresses? I mean if we want to do that we can just do that at your store, and I bet…"
Applejack silenced Pinkie with a hoof. "I think she gets it sugarcube."
"I'm not even entirely sure where any such shops are. You could probably find them but maybe we should leave that for another day."
"Ponyville isn't so far away I've never been here before. In truth the fashion boutiques are one of the only things I am sure of in this city. It's so confusing."
"I don't think so, but I guess I am used to it, and lots of ponies say the same thing."
"So come on already." Dash said "We even agree. Today is not a day for pretty dresses. Now come on, lets do something fun."
I nodded, thinking of what is the closest from here. The palace was not too far away of course, but the way the sun quarter was built meant all the streets radiated out from there, so that only made sense. Then I thought of one stop that Dash might find fun, and it was pretty close. Somepony else might find the main guard barracks interesting, and it was on the way to somewhere I was sure Pinkie would like.
It was right there. The door was even open and I could smell the musty scent of old books wafting out. Not only that but the door was open because two young pegasus stallions were clearly taking packages from a cart marked with a book. It was delivery day. I shook my head and walked on. Maybe after the tour I could come back and browse a little. Dash laughed.
"Oh man, that was so funny."
"Rainbow, Twilight's obvious generosity is not to be scoffed at."
"Huh, how is not going in there generous?"
"Obviously she is being generous with her time."
"So, how did you like the tour girls?" I asked
"Twas okay I guess Twi. Sorta interesting to see how it all works, but that training yard was a might more empty than you implied."
"Sorry, there are usually are a lot more ponies there."
"While it was interesting to see such a clean facility, it was in a way too clean. No dirt, but no style whatsoever. I really must have words with…" Rarity paused. "Somepony."
"I think Celestia might be the only one to able to do anything, but…"
Applejack interrupted me. "It's the military you silly mare. It ain't about style, it's about practicality."
"You can do both. Luna clearly realizes this. I mean yes if the armor wasn't enchanted adding such detail would be foolish, but it is, so why not decorate to one's content?"
"It was pretty cool, but honestly Twi I've seen the Cloudsdale barracks plenty of times and other than it being more gray than white it isn't that different."
"It was boring." Pinkie shook her head. "I mean none the guards laughed at all, and there weren't very many ponies, and they stopped me when I tried to throw a party and…"
"We know Pinkie." Said AJ "Now don't fret none. It's just their duty to act like that as long as they're in that armor o theirs."
"I know, it's just I hate seeing ponies all frowny like that."
"The halberds were nice, but those ponies' form was way off. They should be ashamed they were performing so badly."
I turned to stare at Fluttershy. It then clicked into place how she would know. Fluttershy of course shrunk back, stopping in place. Dash laughed so hard it made her wobble in the air. She was flying very low, apparently remembering what I said about Canterlot's flight laws and keeping the upper airways clear if possible.
"Yea, Fluttershy picked up a bunch of stuff cause of her dad. Thanks to him I bet she knows more about weaponry and ancient wars than you do Twi."
"Warfare is a gap in my education in fact. Such books aren't too popular. Also magic has always been my main focus."
"While this is nice enough an' all, why don't we get going again? Canterlot is a big place and we shouldn’t be lazing about when we got somewhere ta be."
"AJ has a point." I said "I do have rough schedule planned, though I'm being somewhat spontaneous. I'm not writing it down and only scheduling to the hour rather 10 or 15 minute increments like usual."
Rainbow groaned. "Ugh, I should have known."
"So, where are we going next?"
"Nowhere. Stop right where you are criminal scum."
I got a huge smile on my face. My friends looked a little surprised before I turned around, but wasn't really playing much attention. Behind us was a full squad of unicorn ponies in royal guard uniforms. At the front was of course one in a fancier armor with purple accents. Rank had privileges, including a certain amount of customization of the armor. For one thing his armor didn't have the color changing spell because he didn't need it. Shiny had a really stern look on his face. I barely managed not to laugh.
"For your crimes you shall be punished severely."
"Oh no." I then laughed.
"Twilight dear, I know you are close to the Princess but I do not think you are not treating this situation with the proper respect."
"You should listen to you friends. After all, they are just as guilty as you are. In fact looking them over…" Then Shiny smiled. "I'd say they're even more guilty."
"Hey." I said glaring at him
He now had a smile on his face. "Yes, you are all terribly guilty of being cute."
"What?" said Dash and AJ at the same time
Then I gave Shinny a great big hug knocking off his helmet. I heard Rarity gasp. Shiny and I both giggled like idiots for a minute hugging. I think it would have gone on longer but one of the stallion behind him cleared his throat. Shinny then released me and we both focused on my friends. Rarity was just staring. I quickly looked away thinking I recognized that stare but not wanting to confirm Rarity was thinking about my brother like that. Fluttershy was just sitting there contentedly, and Pinkie jumping up and down excitedly, but AJ and Dash were blinking a lot.
"Pinkie, do you know Shiny."
"Uh huh. Once he really needed a cannon, so I got him one."
"Do I want to know?" I asked
"I doubt it Twilie. I remember that letter you sent about your frustrations about her and while the situation was very different, well…"
I sighed. "I get it."
"I don't." said Pinkie, then giggled
Fluttershy gasped. "Oh. My sister and he knew each so I met him but I didn't know you were Twilie. Well I sorta thought you might be but I wasn't really sure he was your brother and…"
"Now hold on just a minute thar. Yer saying this fellow is Twilight's brother?"
"Cool. I didn't know you had a brother." Dash then smiled
"Oh my Twilight." Rarity then shook her head. "Oh really where are my manners. Introductions all. I am Rartity, and you already know Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie, so that only leaves two."
"Mah name is Applejack."
Then there was a long pause broken only when Dash's tail was pulled by a blue glow. "Oh yea, Rainbow Dash, best flyer in Equestria. Pleased to meet you and stuff."
Rarity rolled her eyes, but said nothing.
"And I am Shinning Armor, captain of the royal guard."
Rarity smiled widely. "Oh my, so a literal knight in shining armor, how marvelous." Then Rarity shot me a brief glare before once again focusing on my brother. "I can't believe she didn't mention you sooner."
"Well it just didn't come up."
"Yes. I truly, can't believe…" She grit her teeth a moment before continuing. "That she would keep such a handsome brother from her friends. Sure a wonderful, gallant, almost princely knight from us. Yes I…"
"I have a marefriend already." Said Shiny. I couldn't help but snicker
Rarity pulled back, eyes wide. "Why ever would you think that of me?"
Everypony else sighed. Even Pinkie, but she giggled a little afterward. It was pretty obvious whatever terrible thing she thought we were accusing her of was in regards to what she was thinking at that moment. I really didn't want to know. I sighed again. Then my brother put his helmet back on and turned to me smiling.
"Well this has been nice but really I shouldn't have even stopped. There is a lot going on today for some reason. I had to leave a skeleton crew back at the barracks."
"As in you're on high alert?" I asked arching an eyebrow
"Uh, no." He smiled
"I do know the way this sort of thing. Also we're not the sort of ponies to panic."
Shinny laughed. "Oh really. What about…"
I shoved a hoof in his mouth. "Okay, mostly not the type to panic most of the time."
"I am." Added Fluttershy
"Really Twilie, it's…" he paused. "Okay, it's not nothing, but when I say a lot I just mean lots of little things going wrong. Lab subjects escaping, out of control spells, strange accidents. Only really odd so many of them happening at once."
"Oh. Sorry. It's just I thought…"
"We do say about the same thing to the public ot try to avoid panic, but it really is…"
"Geesh, we get it." Said Dash. "It's also why the barracks were so empty. You seem like a cool enough guy but this is not interesting."
"More to the point you did say you were busy." I smiled. "I suppose I should let you get back to it then. But I didn't know you had a marefriend."
Suddenly Shiny paled. It was hard to tell, but I could do it. Dad never could, but mom could too. He suddenly wouldn’t quite meet my eyes. I resisted the urge to sigh. He could lie far better than Applejack, but his poker face was arguably worse.
"What is it? Is there something wrong with her?"
"Oh no, nothing like that. It's, well…" He then kicked one of the ponies behind him with a back leg so he fell forward and smacked into him. "Oh, of course you're right soldier. Sorry Twilie, but we really need to get back to work."
Then Shiny galloped off and I sighed. His stallions followed after him soon after. Even the one that looked like he was going to cry for moment, but he restrained himself and walked off with only the slightest of limps. Maybe she was a class mate? Perhaps she looked more like me than he liked? It could be anything. Whatever the case the bravest pony in Canterlot is terrified to upset me, and is keeping his mouth shut. Shiny can be so ridiculous sometimes.
"Uh, Twi, what exactly was that all about."
"It really isn't worth talking about. I'm sure he'll tell me soon if it's serious. Come on, lets get going again. He probably really is very busy. He usually is."
"I still can't believe you didn't tell me about him. I mean is a hunk of 100% prime grade stallion. And did you see the way his muscles moved. Clearly in this day and age princes are just spoiled brats unlike that tasty…"
"Rarity." I spun around, glaring at her. "That's. My. Brother."
"Yea, what is it with you Rares?" Dash then smirked "You got some sorta family thing or something?"
"Ya know, like wanting to kiss your mother or sister. That sorta thing."
Rarity's mane ignited. "How dare you say something like that."
Dash shook her head. "That is still way too cool for you. I mean you barely use it. You don't appreciate it at all."
"Anyway, that's enough a Dash saying things she shouldn't. Ah say we get a move on. It was nice meeting your kin like that though."
"I totally didn't know you have a brother either though. How come you don't talk about him? He seems pretty chill."
"He's great, but it just hasn't come up I guess. It's not like I knew AJ's parents weren't actually dead, and until Sky showed up I didn't know Commander Steelwing was Fluttershy's father."
"Oh, you probably met him, didn't you?" Fluttershy nearly whispered
I nodded. "Yes. Not only did he come to speak to Celestia for one reason or another but obviously my brother would have dealings with him too."
Applejack then smiled. "Ah course some ponies go right out and try an hide their kin."
"It's not that exactly it's just that…" Rarity then sighed. "Fine, it is that exactly. Can the rest of you really have never been embarrassed my your parents?"
"No way. My mom is awesome." Dash had thrown her hooves wide in the air. Then she sagged. "Well I guess she embarrasses me sometimes, but not just by being her."
"I, just didn't feel like it was important. I didn't think anypony would care."
AJ shook her head. "Now look here sugarcube, ya really gotta try and stop that. We care about you, and everythin' ya gots to say, so just say it."
"Uh, I'll try."
"I don't talk about my parents too much because they're not that fun and they don't live around here anymore. I don't really know why Twilight didn't know about my sisters though, I talk about them all the time."
"Yea, but I bet only in the middle of nonsense. She probably blocked you out."
"Rainbow." Rarity glared up at her
"What. It's true."
I looked down. "It might be. I have to admit for my sanity I just have to stop really listening sometimes."
Pinkie frowned. "Why does everypony say stuff like that. I always make perfect sense." Then Pinkie blinked. "Oh, except for the times I don't, I always forget about those."
"So what about you Twi, You ain't really talked about your parents much either."
"I guess. There isn't a whole lot to tell. I could probably tell you a few stories, but as I said I plan to introduce you all later. Come on, lets go."
I'm sure my parents would love meeting them. They already said they were eager to meet the mares described in my letters. If we were lucky Shiny might even be able to slip away and they can get to know him better. I do have to wonder what sort of girl would be able to put up with him though. I mean he'd always be my BBBFF but when it came to other mares he was completely hopeless.
I was looking around. I knew it had to be close, but I clearly had forgotten exactly where. Then I saw it. It was a very pink building, vaguely looking like a giant cake. The effect wasn't quite as strong as Suguarcube Corner, but there was trim that looked like frosting, and the building was topped with a swirl of cement painted like chocolate. As expected Pinkie was quickly bouncing ahead of us, but surprisingly she stopped, turned around, and waited for us to catch up. She did this several more times as we went on.
"Come on, stop going so slow." Then Pinkie frowned "Oh no, this isn't where we're going, is it?"
"Ah course it is sugarcube, right Twi?"
I nodded. "Oh yes. I figure Pinkie may enjoy this place the most, but I was always very fond of Madame La flour's sweets."
Dash's yell surprised me, but Pinkie's reaction was more surprising. It was a long hard glare at Dash. Dash flew backwards, looking away.
"Now what exactly do you mean by that?" asked Rarity
"Oh, uh, just that I didn't think she was a real pony, just some name, like Ms. Butterworth." Dash then blinked "Though I guess that does sound like somepony's real name doesn't it?"
"Ohhhh." Said Pinkie, smiling. "Sorry Dashie, I was just being a silly willy Pinkie winkie. I thought you were about to tell a secret, and that’s the fastest way to…"
"…lose a friend." I then smiled
"Forever." Everypony echoed, then we all laughed.
Pinkie kept laughing until she let out a snort. "Come on, I didn't know the Madame started a chain of stores." She looked down. "You know, I really miss her sometimes. Its just France is so far away."
Dash rolled her eyes. "I still say France is a stupid name. I know Fluttershy and Rarity like the clothes and you love the food, but it just doesn't sound right."
Rarity shook her head. "Rainbow, you really have no appreciation of foreign culture at all, do you? It's supposed to sound foreign."
Rainbow then turned to Rarity and spoke something rapid fire. It was too fast for me to follow, and only in retrospect did I realize it was Olympian. Then I blinked. It wasn't even modern Olympian, but ancient Olympian. I blinked.
"Dash, why do you know an ancient language?"
"Mom is an archeologist. I picked up stuff."
Dash rolled her eyes. "Duh. Adventurer isn't a real job. It meant she was away a good bit, but she had the most awesome stories." Dash suddenly blinked and looked over at AJ "Not her books of course, but you know, just talking."
I rolled my eyes but said nothing.
"I know modern Olympian too. Even been there once."
"Really?" said Rarity, letting out a small gasp. "But its such a long journey, and over the ocean."
Dash laughed "Clouds are everywhere, and even when they aren't you can just make more. There is plenty of moisture over the ocean, even if it's way easier to just use the factory and kinda a pain."
"Do you know any more languages?"
"A few. It's no big deal though, just remembering a bunch of junk. But my point is there's foreign, then there's, France. So dumb."
Rarity sighed. "Clearly there is no changing your mind at least some of us…" Then Rarity blinked, and suddenly turned to Pinkie. "You know somepony in France?"
Pinkie nodded. "Duh. Of course I do."
"Oh Rarity, it's really easy. All you do is walk up to someone and introduce yourself. I thought you knew that?"
One of Rarity's eyes twitched. "I know how to make friends Pinkie, I mean why and how did you go to France?"
"Ohhhh. Why didn’t' you just say so?"
Rarity face hoofed. "Just tell me please. It surprises me only slightly you could appreciate French cuisine, but actually visiting there?"
"Oh I didn't visit, I lived there for like two years."
"Yea, I mean I said to myself…" Pinkie then flipped around facing where she had been standing a moment before. "Pinkie, you want to be the bestest party pony ever, right?"
Pinkie then switched back to nod, then back again.
"You know what that means right? You need to know how to make the bestest food for parties ever. You know where you have to go, right?"
She switched places again. "Great Braytin?"
"No." She was then glaring at the spot she just vacated. "France you silly filly, you need to go to France and study food."
"And then I said, oh, now I get, and so I went, and studied at Madame La Flour Sifter's School for the Culinarily Gifted, since it's the bestest."
Rarity went pale. "Wait, Flour Sifter, as in the Flour Sifter?"
Pinkie nodded. "Yea. She's such a silly mare. I mean I like cooking, but I mean she like loves cooking. She talks to the food all the time too. It's weird."
"Did you seriously just say that?" asked Dash
"So you're saying you've trained under the most prestigious Chef in the world?"
Pinkie nodded. "She always said I was her star pupil, but I graduated and I just had to come back to Equestria."
"Oh, does this mean you're the one that made that sign that ask about our fancy food special orders sign in Sugarcube corner?" asked Fluttershy
"But all this time I thought that just meant fancy decorating." whined Rarity "All this time I could have been ordering the best in French cuisine?"
Pinkie nodded. "Yea, though honestly most of the really fancy stuff seems sorta silly, and the portions are so small. I mean come on. Also it is a bakery silly, so it's not like I can just make non-bakery stuff."
"Actually there is no reason that…" I began, then realized what I was doing and how pointless is was. "Never mind, it's not important."
One of Rarity's ears twitched. "So only cakes, pastries, bread and delectable deserts sure to ruin any diet. Yes Pinkie, that makes me feel so much better."
"It does? I mean that's some of the best stuff."
Rarity face hooved, saying nothing more.
"So how about we go girls?"
Pinkke bounced. "Oooo, Ooo, I almost forgot. This should be so fun."
As she bounced forward I suddenly remembered something. While the food really was very good, and claimed to be French, the staff wasn't very French, and I didn't know what would make French cuisine authentic. Pinkie could be serious sometimes, and when she was, it could be scary. I suddenly curious if she might be less than pleased with the way her cooking mentor's name was being used.
Pinkie had been berating the shocked stallion in French for nearly ten minutes. Not a single personal attack, but still very harsh criticisms on just about everything about the place. I was reasonably certain she hadn't stopped to take a breath, but I was eating my own little ice cream delicacy so couldn’t keep my eyes focused on her. Based on the way Rarity cringed on every single insult, she was fluent as well. Dash and Fluttershy occasionally cringed, but I think it was clear they knew limited French. It was odd to think only AJ didn't know the language at all. Though obviously she would be the least likely to be interested in the wider world.
"Uh, Twi, is she really giving him a talking down like ah think?"
"Of course" said Rarity "And a surprisingly thorough one at that. To think, all this time she was the prodigy of a world famous chef."
"Why exactly did ya not know that? Ah mean Ah still don't get why that mare is such a big deal, but I've known that ever since Pinkie came to stay in Ponyville."
"Yea. Ya know she traveled the whole world." Said Dash "I mean her stories aren't half as awesome as my mom's, but they do tend to be funnier."
Pinkie glared down at the cowering stallion, who wouldn't meet her eyes. Then she turned and stomped off. She made those inexplicable little squeaking noises as she came over to us. She looked around the table, then smiled.
"You're all done, so we can leave. Whoo!"
"Uh, Pinkie considering…"
"What, I tasted the food. It's plenty good, it's just the Madame would have hat throttled the lot of these ponies for using her name like this. It's just not up to her standards."
"Hat throttle?" said AJ
Dash laughed. "I think she means she would take off her hat and hit ponies with it. This teacher of yours sounds kinda cool."
"Oh she is, we totally should all go see her one day."
"Maybe Pinkie, but we should probably focus on where to go next."
"Okie doki loki." Then Pinkie looked at me, face neutral. "But I really need to send the Madame a letter. She can't possibly know about this."
"Sugarcube, ah don't think ah've ever seen you like this."
"Huh, what you mean? I'm always like this."
"Ah mean so serious and the like."
Pinkie smiled. "Oh, silly AJ, I'm always serious." Then she laughed.
Applejack raised an eyebrow. I wasn't sure if that was on purpose or not, and Pinkie's normal blissful smile returning to her face only confused the issue. Nopony else said anything so I decided to follow suit.
"So, everypony did enjoy the food right?" I asked
Even Pinkie nodded.
"Okay, so I was thinking our next stop is the Canterlot History Museum. Now Dash I know what you're going to say but…"
The whoop and smile suggested I really didn't know what Dash was going to say at all. "Oh yea" a moment later was certainly not a reaction I'd ever hear coming from Dash of all ponies. This would be interesting I'm sure.
Of course after a few minutes Dash was bored. I wasn't sure exactly how long, but I should have known she'd be the type to rush though the exhibits. The fact she enjoyed them at all was still a shock. Eventually she started telling us all stories her mom had told her. Some were exaggerated slightly, but were historically accurate.
"So yea, some ponies would lose a whole leg or whatever. Is that hardcore or what?"
Rarity shook her head. "Rainbow, you do realize you have a strong tendency to focus on the grisly, do you not? I mean I know such things happen, but only outside Equestria, and most often in the distant past."
"Hey the world war wasn't that far in the past. I mean once Celestia and Zephyr decided to intervene that was it, but before that it was seriously intense."
I sighed. "It wasn't just King Zephyr, several other so called god kings and queens also intervened as well. Most notably the Jade Emperor of Long."
Dash rolled her eyes. "Oh whatever, it's not really important who else intervened, the lord of the sky and the sun would have been enough by themselves."
"Zephyr is the most powerful of the Olympian gods, though Celestia always hated the idea of being worshiped. Queen Gaia apparently agreed, and literally distancing herself from the rest of Europe is why she and her daughters found Equestria in the first place."
"Oh, and then the bad thing happened." Said Fluttershy
I nodded. "Yes. It's not clear what was going on exactly, but something destroyed or corrupted a great deal of the records in Equestria. The story of the founding persisted, and a few other key events, but then there is a large gap.
"And Luna and Celestia are in charge after defeating some terrible king. Mom said she figured out a few things about it, but Celestia found out and now she can't say. Course I just bugged her more, but she never said anything."
I sighed. I had bugged Celestia too. Eventually she told me one thing, and after seeing what that did to her I never asked again. Her mane was the same colors, but had turned into a raging inferno. It took nearly an hour to convince me she wasn't really angry with me. "It was Discord." It raised more questions than it answered. It could be the name of the king or simply the general state of things at the time. It's most often referred to as either the age of destruction or the age of insanity. As curious as I was, I didn't want to see Celestia like that again. There was suddenly a flash and I covered in confetti. I was not remotely surprised to see a smiling Pinkie in front of me when my vision cleared.
"Come on, wipe that frown away, this is just the sort of place you love, right Twi Twi?"
"You're right Pinkie. Lets move on to the King Tutencamel exhibit."
"Finally. Come on, I'll show you the best part."
I followed Dash as she zipped into the room. She really did fly just about everywhere recently. She was hovering in front of a large picture. I had seen it before many times, an old picture of the team that uncovered the tomb. Then I realized she was literally in front of it, motioning to another only somewhat smaller picture next to it. It was one I think I had seen once before. An even larger group of ponies standing in front of a room with bright paint. It was a truly amazing find. The preservation spells on the records room hadn't faded, even keeping the paint intact, as well as countless scrolls. It was all extremely dry information, but it painted such a clear portrait of the ancient camel kingdom. It was almost beyond belief the wealth of information that had been uncovered.
I was briefly confused why before Dash outright pointed to the newer color photograph, but then noticed something. In the center was a tan pegasus mare wearing a brown hat and a whip wrapped around her neck. Her cutie mark was a compass rose in a style similar to many old maps. Her mane was a full spectrum of greys, white at one end and black the other. Obviously I recognized her instantly. Then I saw there was a little filly on her back, waving to the camera. A very familiar sky blue filly with a rainbow mane. Who even that your had a familiar sort of smugness that erased any doubt that even if there was another pony with such a mane it could be anyone else.
"Your mother is Daring Do?"
"Omigosh. Omigosh, omigosh…"
Then I degenerated into incoherent schoolfilly giggling and tittering. After a few moments I realized I was bouncing and trotting about at random. I also realized my friends were all standing around me and staring. I stopped mid hop and blushed. Pinkie of course giggled at this.
"Sorry, it's just I had no idea and I'm such a fan of your mother's work."
Dash raised an eyebrow. "If you're really such a fan you should have at least eventually figured it out. I mean I'm in a few of her books. In one I even…"
Then Dash fell to the floor laughing and pointing. Rarity joined me in glaring at Dash, and eventually, so did Applejack.
"Now that's enough of that there Dash. That is more than a bit rude."
"But she's only read the…" She laughed again "She's only read the boring books. That's just priceless. Seriously have you even read any of the adventure books?"
"A few, but after that scene in the one book where she knocked out that sword wielding pony with a single crack of her whip I couldn't take the ridiculousness of it all."
"Oh mare, you totally missed my big entrance. I mean sure mom's stories make it seem about 62% cooler than it actually was, but it was still awesome."
"I'm in one of them briefly, well, sort of." Said Fluttershy
Dash laughed. "Yea, Flutter asked if she could hide her identity like some of the other ponies in her books, so mom made her a pink pegasus with blonde hair named Butter Rye with a butter churn cutie mark, but it's still obvious it's Flutter if you know her."
"I must say your mother's books are a bit too action packed for my usual tastes, but a little variety is good I suppose."
"Ah ain't finished more 'an two of em, but they're good when ah get the chance."
"I still say she should have called that one the temple of doom." Then Pinkie gasped. "Oh oh, but that makes the joke almost too obvious."
"What joke?" I turned to Dash "Is there some joke in one of the books that…"
"No, I don't know what she's talking about either." Then she laughed again. "I still can't get over you actually think mom is awesome because of the scientific junk."
I sighed. "So your mother clearly impressed the importance of history into you, but not the importance of the work to uncover it."
Dash rolled her eyes. "Oh she talked about that stuff way too much, so I know, but I just don't care. I mean it's so boring. Still, she does like that sort of boring stuff too, so I'm sure she'll love to meet you. I'll introduce you next time she's back in Equestria."
I smiled so hard it hurt. Then things got strange, and I felt really lightheaded. My last thought was "I'm going to meet Daring Do."
I was giggling along with Cadence. Then turned to see all my friends staring. Pinkie had a huge smile on her face, but the rest were wide eyed. I blushed. I guess that was a little embarrassing. I felt myself blush. I was just glad this garden outside the museum was so secluded.
"So, I guess that was a little silly."
"Way more than a little, but who the hay cares about that." Said Dash
"Ah'm pretty sure that ain't Luna or Celestia, but both the wings and horn look…"
"They are real, and it isn't either of them." Said Rarity
Pinkie hopped up and down. "Ooo, ooo. I know. It must be me from the future."
"What?" said Cadence
I sighed "No Pinkie. You all know there are more than just two alicorns in the world, right? Once again I am not counting Pinkie."
"Ooo, there are. Neat."
"I knew there had been but I got the impression they were dead or something." Said Dash
"Does that mean she really is royalty?"
"Ah would reckon it does, though I assumed from the getup at least that much was true."
"Well, I knew." Nearly whispered Fluttershy
I blinked. "But then why were you staring?"
Fluttershy blushed and looked down. I was about to ask her again but then I had it. She was just amazed to actually see one and now was embarrassed about staring. I chuckled. She could be so sensitive at times.
"Fluttershy, don't worry. Cadence is used to it."
Cadence laughed. "Yes, I get that sort of look all the time and I can't blame you."
I nodded. "Yes, while she isn't the only other alicorn to ever visit, or even live in Equestria, there aren't that many."
"Twilight that isn't what I meant. I meant…" Then she turned to look at Fluttershy. "Never mind. I think proper introductions are in order."
"Oh of course. Everypony, this is the best foalsitter ever, Princess Mi Amore Cadenza…"
"…former princess of Roam. But you can call me Cadence."
I gasped. "Former Princess?"
She nodded. "I always told you my willingness to…" she said the next in a mocking tone. "…mingle with the commoners, would get me in trouble. It did, though not quite the way I thought of course."
"Oh my, so you were disowned?" said Rarity
"Yes. Though I suppose in truth the one thing she left me is my title, even if there is no land or position remaining."
"So she really…"
Pinkie licked Cadence before I could finish my thought. The scream was quite loud, and we were all knocked back by some spell. Oddly it reminded me of my brother's shield spells. They were friends but I didn't know they spent enough time for him to teach her anything. Especially since she always says she isn't much of a mage and really does have trouble learning new spells. Maybe it was something else?
"Wow, that's a great taste." Pinkie then giggled. "Love has an awesome flavor."
Cadence laughed. "Uh, sorry everypony. Also, sorry for doubting you Twilight."
"It's okay. I understand all too well how unbelievable Pinkie can be."
"While grass stains aren't ideal I think…" There was a flash and then Rarity stood up. "Ah yes, cleaning spells, how I love thee. Now where was I?"
"You were right there." Pinkie pointed to a spot closer to Cadence.
Rarity sighed "Ah yes, I remember now. I am unhurt, and I am sure Applejack is the same."
"Sure enough." AJ then straitened her hat.
"I'm far too awesome to get hurt by something like that. Whatever it ya know, was."
"These flowers feel nice."
"And I can make my bones disappear and reappear now. It's fun."
Cadence blinked. "Is, that actually an answer?"
"I believe so, but I can't be sure." Said Rarity "No matter though, please, you must tell us more about yourself."
Everypony but Fluttershy was now standing in front of Cadence. She laughed. I guess the flowers were very comfy.
"Oh, uh, is it okay if I stay here?"
Cadence laughed again. "I don't mind. There really isn't much to tell. I'm the alicorn of love, and I used to babysit Twilight here, along with lots of other children that worked for one part of the government or another."
"And my dad works for the royal observatory, so I was lucky enough to have the most incredible foalsitter ever. Her magic is really amazing."
Cadence shook her head. "Not really. I suppose I have a few impressive tricks, but I'm not remotely as powerful as my aunts are. I don't have many spells either. Just like your average unicorn I can't do much beyond my talent."
"Love?" said Rarity "That is far from a minor thing."
She laughed. "Twilie..." She shook her head. "I mean Twilight says the same thing all the time."
I smiled. "This has really been a great day." Then I frowned. "Oh, sorry I forgot about the banishment and…"
Cadence shook her head. "I told you. I expected it eventually. Besides it was worth it."
"Ooo, can I throw you a, I got banished but I'm still happy party. I don't think I'll ever get a chance again."
"Sure, why not. Without any official duties I have plenty of time. Though Celestia keeps threatening to put me to work."
"Okie doki loki."
"So what were you saying Twilgiht?"
I smiled. "I was saying this has been a really great day. Thanks to Dash I'm going get to meet Daring Do. Can you believe she's Dash's mom?"
Cadence blinked. "You mean, you didn't know that? But she's in all those books. Have you really not read…"
Dash interrupted by laughing. "Yea, she hasn't. She's totally mainly a fan of the boring books."
"Archeology isn't boring." Cadence and I echoed.
Dash blinked "Duh, I know that, but the books are. Just like mom always said, research properly, but then get out there and find it."
I always knew the action oriented stories were based on reality to some extent, but never before had I considered it might be more than outside pressure that had her skip over those parts. That maybe Professor Do really wasn't fond of research. It would certainly make some sense that Dash's mom isn't really the studious type. Except I've read all her research papers, and even the released notes. She is a highly intelligent individual that seems nothing like the character in her adventure books. I wonder what she's really like.
"Yo, Twi, you got distracted again. Let me guess, besides showing us around the other great part is talking to your brother?"
I smiled, then nodded. "Yea, I did drift off a bit, then…"
"You talked to Shiny?" Cadence seemed very eager, wings erect, then she pulled back and forcibly relaxed. "I mean, you talked to your brother. About what exactly?"
"Nothing really. He apparently has a marefriend though. He didn't talk about her much."
"Just, marefreind you say?" Her eye began to twitch slightly, her ears sliding back. "He didn't say anything else. Like say slightly further along. Like I don't know engaged?"
"What? I'm pretty sure Shiny would have told me if he was engaged to somepony."
Cadence laughed. "Oh of course. Silly me." She turned away from me. "I mean that would just be the silliest thing wouldn’t it? I mean the very idea of your brave brother being so afraid of his own sister's reaction he would put off telling her until he was already engaged. You're right, that's completely ridiculous."
I stared. It didn't sound like that was sarcastic, her tone keeping level and calm throughout, but at the same time it was implying that's exactly what he had done. But she's right. There is no way Shinny would do something like that. Right? I then shook my head. Of course not. Still, maybe it is fairly serious. Everypony that knows her goes to Cadence for relationship advice, even a lot of ponies she dislikes. I know she likes him well enough, and even tried to help him once already. Somehow it ended badly, that doesn't usually happen, but he might at least talk to her about this kind of thing.
"Cadence, my brother…"
"I'm sorry Twilight. I have to go smack your bother in the head now. See you soon."
"Oh my, she's very good." Said Rarity
I blinked. Once again her tone had been completely even and unemotional. This time to a creepy affect. Cadence then took off, and flew away. I was very confused. She almost seemed personally involved somehow. I then saw Dash shaking her head.
"Mare, she is a terrible flyer."
"Rainbow." Rarity glared at Dash. "Just because not everypony has your natural talent doesn't mean that…"
"It's not that. Come on, back me up here Fluttershy."
"Uh, well, yes. I mean even I can tell what she's doing wrong. She probably only stays in the sky because she's an alicorn and has enough magic to support her."
"See, terrible. There is no way she should be that bad if she lives, or lived right next to the heart of pegasus civilization."
"I don't really see what Roam being near Olympia has to do with anything." I said
"I'm sure it is merely she has lived the sheltered life of a Princess."
"Sheltered like Celestia and Luna?" Dash then smirked
"Actually Rarity." I began "The equestrian royalty is all required to serve in the military. Most often briefly, and never in a position to see actual combat, but they are trained quite extensively. This includes flight training if you are a pegasus."
"But isn't most of the equestrian royalty actually still part of the platinum dynasty?"
Dash rolled her eyes. "So. It's not like it's all that mysterious. I mean my mom is like 43% sure my father was an earth pony."
"43%?" I asked
"Well yea. I mean she doesn't know if the list includes every stallion she could been with in the right time frame, but she's fairly sure she didn't forget anypony."
For a moment nopony said anything.
Rarity then cleared her throat. "Regardless of that, the point is that while it may not be right the nobles do attempt for a certain degree of purity."
"Maybe now, but at least around the founding there was a great deal of…" I paused. "Intermixing, in a show of togetherness. There have been pegasus and earth ponies ever since. Though I guess they always have been lower in status to some degree."
"Oh Twilight, I never really thought of it but you must have some truly juicy gossip."
"Come now darling. We simply must hear it."
"No we don't." said Dash "Come on, lets get going, and please, no talking about the lifestyles of the snobby and clueless."
I nodded. "I agree. Besides, I would have had to talk to ponies to learn any gossip, and, well…" I looked down. "Other than Celestia, Cadence and my family, I rarely did."
"Ah, yes. Well then. I agree with Dash. Let us move on."
Fluttershy was then in the air, flowers sticking to her coat. Her hair somehow still looked perfect. The flapping soon dissipated most of the flowers, but those in her hair. It was sometimes really obvious how the shyest pony I've ever met could be a model. She made it look so effortless too. It was amazing.
Dash's reaction to the art museum was closer to what I expected of her, though she didn't actually complain, just said it wouldn't take her long to be done and she could use a nap. We did indeed find her napping on a couch at the entrance as we were leaving, so it at least seemed to be true. She flew ahead of us early on, even though she wasn't moving any faster than us, just that she stopped at each painting or sculpture so briefly. Applejack looked a little bored at first, but then Rarity started talking about each painting. Clearly she remembered far more about art history than I did, and some things I never knew.
Rarity seemed to take the most joy in salacious little historic rumors that have never been confirmed, but also shared various other details suggesting a great love of art of all types, and not just dresses. Dash said she even enjoyed her solitary pass though the museum, as well as her nap. It would have been nicer if she's stayed with us, but I guess having her not speed though one museum is enough of an accomplishment by itself.
"So where are we going now?" asked Dash
"It's right up ahead. There are a few more museums we could visit in the solar district, but I'm thinking there is only one more museum we will be seeing today. Though the space museum in the moon quarter is interesting too."
"Oh come on, you do have other things planned besides…" Dash suddenly got a huge smile on her face. "Omigosh, the Wonderbolt Museuem is here, isn't it? I totally forgot the main one was on the ground so everypony could visit."
I nodded. "Yes, but that's in the wind quarter. First, is the mountain quarter."
Then every pony really looked where we were walking again. I marched forward confidently. The archway was dark, it was a tourism thing I think, but just enough you couldn't see too clearly what lay beyond, but still see the ground in front of you. Then I heard the ooos and ahhhs behind me as we emerged from the short section of darkness. It was a mess of walkways, giant support pillars, and lit storefronts. It was beautiful. The limited lights on the ceiling turned the cavern into a sort of permanent night time. The moon quarter was my favorite at night, but during the day, the mountain quarter was much more comforting.
"Oh my, this is really lovely. To think I missed this my first trip here."
"Ah gotta say Twi, ah get a bit annoyed having to deal with them city ponies, but ah've always loved this part of the city."
I smiled "Oh, I guess you would come here, wouldn’t you. You see every grocery store in Canterlot is in this cavern. In fact at one time that was all that was in here beyond the tunnels that connected the other districts."
"Now why is that?" asked Rarity
"Well this cave is just great for keeping things cool." Said AJ "Canterlot don't take too many ah my apples for some fool reason though, and the ponies that do the negotiating all got such attitudes. Worse is it almost seems like they're all working together."
I stopped, and turned to Applejack. "You don't know? They very likely are. Canterlot has a very strong grocers union. Luna is tying to fix it somehow, insure they can fight for their own interests, but not keep causing over inflated food prices."
Applejack stomped a hoof, cracking the stone beneath it. She looked down. "Oh dang it, I guess I still ain't get it all under control"
"That's not really possible. Magic is influenced by emotion." I added "In fact I'm beginning to believe limiting that to just pegasai magic is foolish, though there is a strong focus there, and earth might…"
Dash groaned. "Ugh, no more, please."
"Sorry Twilight, but I must agree." Rarity smiled slightly. "Maybe later."
"Yea, ferget all that magic stuff fer a bit. Now what about this here union?"
Rarity sighed. "Yes, the Canterlot unions are very strong because the nobles have meddled with them a great deal. Those involving fashion are not so bad in terms of pricing, but are very exclusive in who they do business with."
"This sounds like something ah oughta do something about mahself. Like maybe…"
I shook my head. "I think you should trust Luna to fix it. She said Celestia has been so busy she's missed a few little things like this. Personally I never even noticed until I moved to Ponyville and the food was so much cheaper."
"Well, ah guess you're right, though ah'm a might curious to how much they're marking up mah apples now."
"I don't think that's a good idea." I said
Dash laughed. "As cool as it might be to see you kick the flank of a bunch of ponies, I bet she's right. Though I don't get why they would only buy a few."
"I'm not sure either. Maybe to keep the prices up as a commodity? I've never seen any apples as labeled as from Sweet Apple Acres, but I have tasted some as good before. I assume they were from your farm."
"Okay, ah won't go do nothing yet, but this ain't over."
I tried to laugh a bit, but I didn't manage to make it sound very genuine. "Well, okay, just, talk to Luna first at least. Despite what I just said though I wasn't planing to show you anything involving food."
"So no farm museum?"
"Oh there is one, but it's not remotely good. It's not part of the Smithsongian museums at all. Even the Wonderbolt museum which is privately owned by a former member and isn't affiliated with the foundation has their stamp of approval."
"Is that really importan' Twi?"
I nodded. "It's not especially hard. The whole museum is mostly a way to make one pony's family look good, but I can't even remember whose."
"Ah'm sure it don't matter none. So what did ya be wanting to show us."
I smiled broadly. "Oh, there's so much to show you. I mean there are a ton of the most amazing shops in here."
"You mean most amazing bookstores, don't you?" said Dash
"I was never so far gone that…" I then paused and blushed. "Okay, so almost all the stores I regularly frequented were bookstores."
"I knew it."
"But there were some others. An electronics store, a computer shop, and a supply shop are just three examples."
Dash laughed. "Oh mare, it just never ends." Then she frowned. "Ugh, this is going to be mega boring, and that isn't funny."
"I did pass a variety of other shops Dash. I think we can find a few interesting places. Though I'm sorry Rarity but all the fashion shops…"
"Quite alright. Still, we simply must make a day of it sometime, just the three of us who appreciate the finer things. No offence of course."
"Ah can appreciate whatever, ah just don't care."
"The same I guess, but honestly I don't even know what that really means." Said Dash
"I like fine food. It's scrumdidlyumptious."
"Do you mean me?"
Rarity sighed at Fluttershy's question. Other than clothing the pegasus seemed to enjoy simple, and even then wasn't a tenth as focused on clothes as Rarity. Then it suddenly registered what she said and I smiled. I hoped it looked a little genuine at least. I really will never understand fashion. Maybe it won't be that bad.
We all laughed. Pinkie then stopped laughing and looked back at us. Apparently she didn't understand why what she said was so funny. She was wearing a jester cap and slowly her eyes narrowed.
"Hey, you don't think it's a cool hat, do you?"
"Oh it's not that." said Rarity "It's just that while it is cool in it's own way, it's mostly a funny hat. Such a thing has never really been in style."
"Awww, really, but it looks so awesome."
"Bwa, ha ha."
Dash pointed and wobbled in the air. I smiled. Despite what Dash said earlier she's the only one of us that bought any books. Granted the books were one on aerodynamics, a second on jets, and Soarin's biography, but I still found it amusing. AJ was currently carrying them in Rarity's saddlebags, along with Rarity's own purchase. She had bought a set of tools from the jeweler, as well as a lovely matching silver tiara and necklace. Applejack insisted she carry them once she bought a bunch of these odd painted stone figures. Said something about completing her granny's collection.
Dash of course just shoved her books in there without even asking, but AJ just glared for a few seconds, then walked on. I was impressed Rarity had no trouble summoning her saddlebags. Apparently it was close enough to being clothes it counted for her spell. I'm pretty sure I could do the same, but so far Fluttershy had only bought a small package of doilies. AJ had to practically order her to put them in the bag. Fluttershy said she didn't want to burden her anymore.
"So Twi, we about done with this here shopping trip?"
"Oh, you're not getting tired, are you?"
"Fluttershy, these days ah can only get to sleep every other day. It's a might weird truth be told, but ah sure can get a lot done."
I blinked. "Last time you mentioned something about this you said you could miss sleep, but now you literally can't get to sleep some days?"
AJ nodded. "Yea, but it ain't no big thing. Had a real nice conversation or so with Luna too. Apparently she likes to fly over the countryside at night."
I shook my head. "Anyway, onto our last stop."
I pointed down the street. "The exit to the wind quarter is right there."
The other ponies looked to the large column in front of us. Of course I then realized from this side you couldn't see the entrance for the staircase. It was still impressive of course, but they looked confused.
"There are some stairs going up inside, the entrance is on the other side."
"Ohhh, that's much easier." Pinkie then giggled "I thought we would need to go buy some mountain climbing equipment."
"So where is the last stop."
"Halfway around the stairs, come on."
I then led the girls into forward, and into the pet store. Because the mountain quarter was carved out over time, there was a great deal of variance in store size. The pet store was much larger than any of the surrounding stores. I didn't come here too often, but I got that reptile hygiene set here, and used to buy that reptile vitamin supplement. Then I found a book that confirmed that dragons can be perfectly healthy if they eat rocks, and getting the proper amount of gems is the only thing that can effect their health, and even then that's mostly just the shininess of their scales.
It was the normal chaotic noise at first. Dogs barking, cats meowing, birds chirping, hamster wheels squeaking, and countless other noises of animals shuffling about in cages or enclosures of other types. Then suddenly there was silence. I turned and sure enough it was just as Fluttershy entered. Then briefly it was worse than ever, but the second Fluttershy cringed it stopped again.
"What the hay was that?" said the counter pony.
Dash laughed. "Fluttershy here is really good with animals."
"That isn't a sensible answer."
I nodded. I had seen the green unicorn with brown hair before, but I didn't know her name. Really the only thing I knew about her was that she worked her and Spike liked to talk to her. She opened her mouth, then shook her head.
"Nevermind. Just tell me if you need anything, okay."
Fluttershy just nodded.
"Hmm, maybe I could get something cool for my fish."
I raised an eyebrow. "You have fish?"
"Yea. Nothing too delicate or whatever. They're still nice and colorful though."
"Oooo, what's that…"
Fluttershy nearly knocked me over to look at some animal in a small cage on one of the shelves. This store carried a wide variety of things, but specialized in exotic pets. So I was sure even if Fluttershy wasn't willing to buy a new friend, she would enjoy looking at all the animals here. Hopefully everyone else would be able to have some fun as well. The others began to spread out though the store.
Pinkie bounced up to a glass cube with no top full of puppies. She hopped up and down in front of them, smiling, and they started reacting. Slowly the noise had returned, but other than the now barking dogs most seemed somewhat quieter. Soon the dogs would jump at her in time with each bounce. I laughed, as did Applejack standing nearby in front of some shelves labeled as dog toys.
The wind was especially fierce today. I had a wind barrier spell up, but had barely mastered casting it on myself, much less others. Dash was actually flying, the wind somehow not seeming to phase her at all. Fluttershy was the same, but I was trying not to look her way so maybe she wasn't doing that great. Applejack had stuffed her hat in the bags and lost both her hair ties, but didn't seem to be bothered by the wind. Rarity had briefly complained a great deal, but now her hair was a steady purple flame blowing in the wind, and she said nothing else. On the other hoof she hadn't bothered with her tail for some strange reason. Maybe she was going to wait until after she was out of the wind? Pinkie kept falling over, but she laughed every time that happened.
"Well, ah see why they call it the wind quarter now. Who would live up here?"
"There are a few unicorns that like it, but mostly it's pegasai. The winds make it hard to take flight in some places, but they want to live this high."
"Still, this is just dreadful."
Dash laughed. "You're crazy. This is so awesome. I mean usually it's hard to find winds like this."
"The city below, and shape of the mountain funnel the wind up this way. There are some calm spots, but the main path is buffeted by the wind coming up."
"Still seem ah bit much ta me."
"Well it's usually not quite this bad. It almost seems to be getting worse too."
"By the way, how can there be no guardrails here?"
"Oh, you can't fall off the mountain that way. The winds will actually kick you higher up the mountain if you can even reach the edge. Or at least back on the path."
There were buildings behind us, small houses most likely, but built mostly into the rock. I think Fluttershy said something, but none of us had heard a word she's said since we started up this way. She was just too quiet. I turned back to briefly see her and her new pet. I'd never heard of a mango constrictor before, but I trusted the clerk to be knowledgeable, at least in that store. It wasn't a true constrictor of course, since it only ate fruit, but it did have strong muscles to easily climb trees, so it was erroneously classified as one.
Fluttershy was currently nuzzling the snake like it was one of her little bunnies, and not some terrifying creature wrapped all about her body. It was compared to a real constrictor relatively tiny, but it was still a big snake. However I'd slowly come to the conclusion that any animal smaller than a bear Fluttershy couldn’t even conceive of being any kind of threat. She thought bears are cute too of course, but at least realized we might be afraid of them. Of course to her they really weren't much of a threat, and becoming less of one with each passing day I think. I could deal with the snake if I had to really, and he wasn't likely to try anything, but it still really bothered me. I turned forward again.
"Come on, if we get high enough there are buildings on the other side of the path too. Though sometimes it curves so we're essentially being blown uphill."
"Rainbow, you really have no trouble flying?" asked Rarity
"Not really. I mean this wind could blow ten times as hard, and it wouldn’t change anything. I can keep steady in a tornado or a hurricane."
Then I heard a laugh. It was odd and I wasn't sure where exactly it came from, but it sounded male. Then the wind began to howl. I then realized to my horror the wind was now blowing away from the mountain and I couldn't keep my footing. I saw AJ grab Rarity by her tail, but then Pinkie flew off the side of the cliff. Dash went after her. Fluttershy was blown way off course, but stayed in the air. Which only left me being lifted into the air as I approached the cliff. Just as I reached the edge it suddenly stopped. The wind was now eerily calm.
"Twi, what just happened? Didn't ya say…"
"Oh, this is bad. The wind enchantments up here is a mesh of powerful interconnected spells with countless safeguards. There is no way that should have happened."
"Oh come on Twi, I'm sure its no big deal."
Pinkie then dropped in front of me, giggling as she landed. Her hair was for once strait, but only because it had been windblown to the right and for some reason stuck that way. Once she let out a laugh it poofed up again like normal. Rarity was walking right next to AJ, matching her pace exactly. Clearly she didn't want to risk being blown away again. Fluttershy was nearly back to the cliff.
"Dash you really don't understand. Short of Luna and Celestia I can't think of anypony who could have done this. Something is very, very wrong."
"It's just some wind going crazy. It's calm now so we're good."
"It being calm is even worse." Then I blinked. "Hmm, well maybe not. I think I might have read about one emergency procedure that should calm the winds on the top of the mountain entirely, but this is still very bad."
"Lets just get going to the Wonderbolts museum already. It's not like it's the end of the world or anything." Dash then threw her hooves out to her sides."
"Twilight Sparkle, Equestria is in grave danger, you and the rest of the elements of harmony must come with me to see the princess at once."
I wasn't sure I recognized the voice, but then Silent Sky flew up from below. This was soon followed by all three wings of pegasai under her command doing the same, Sweetsong, Blossomforth, and Dream Volt in the lead of their respective groups. This was followed by an even larger mass of golden armored pegasai behind that. Then there was a pair of flashes, unicorns appearing all around us, some in gold armor, some in Luna's black. One of them was of course my brother. As usual he was slightly dazed. He never really mastered teleporting for some reason, and almost never used it.
"Okay, that was really cool, but you can't be serious?"
Silent Sky raised an eyebrow. "Since when do I kid."
Firecracker spoke up. "Mam, he's not here any longer."
"The great and powerful Trixie can't detect him anymore either."
"Well, you heard them. Get moving."
Like that all the armored pegasai, wearing both gold and purple, flew off in all directions. Most of the unicorns vanished too. Only Sky, Trixie, and my brother remained. Trixie looked odd, wearing the dark armor of the guard, but also her hat and cape. Not wearing the helmet meant the color and general normalization charms didn't activate so it was still obviously her. Fluttershy landed and was shaking slightly. Sky then sighed and landed next to her sister, placing a wing over her side.
"Don't worry too much. Things are bad, but we have a plan. Luna is working to keep a lid on things while Celestia has been preparing a solution."
"So I'm guessing that nothing important earlier got worse."
"You have no idea." Shiny sighed. "Some of the reports we're getting are just plain insane. An entire town has been turned into gingerbread buildings."
"Ooo, that sounds tasty."
"I should probably go." Said Shiny. "Just, but careful Twilie, okay. I mean they had to knock me unconscious to keep me out of ponyville during the last summer sun celebration even though I was under orders."
"You brother's head is annoyingly thick." Said Sky "I had thought having the entire moon guard ordered to restrain him was just busy work to keep us away from the castle in case we had more loyalty to Luna than Equestria as a whole, but it really was necessary."
"I can't believe you expected me to just follow orders and not try to go help Twilie when I got the report. I mean your sister…"
Sky rolled her eyes. "I had faith in her abilities. You should have done the same."
"Now listen here you uptight…"
"The busy and hurried Trixie thinks we don't have time for this."
Sky nodded. "For once you're right. Trixie, you said you can manage the beacon spell, correct?"
"Of course the skilled and intelligent Trixie can manage such a simple spell. So are the over hyped six ready?"
"Really Trixie, that is most rude." Said Rarity
"Trixie is sorry, but she was not kidding about being rushed."
"We're ready." I said "Once you cast this what exactly…"
"Then the harried and apologetic Trixie shall cast."
Then we were in one end of a hallway. It was full of countless stained glass windows. Celestia smiled when she saw us, but it was clear how strained it was. It was hard to tell but there was a lot of tension around her eyes as well. What could possibly be going on?
"Thanks Princess, we won't let you down."
We were halfway down the hallway when I heard Discord laugh. I didn't stop, ignoring it. Then I suddenly heard him let out a strange yelp. I turned around to see what was going on, but didn't see anything. I also realized that included something I should be seeing. I sighed.
"Huh, ah dunno Twi, she was right behind me."
"She was, uh, in front of me." Uttered Fluttershy "At least at first."
"Stop that. How are you even doing this?"
I then turned to see Discord in one of the stained glass windows. Pinkie Pie was wrapped around his leg. She then licked his hand when he reached for her. I guess she really was in the mirror that one time. Part of me really wanted to freak out right now, but I just didn't have the time. I briefly activated my mage sight, but the result was little more than a headache and dizziness. It only makes sense Discord is fond of pure chaos magic. With him around there is no point in trying to analyze anything.
"Oh my. Are you alright Twilight?"
"Ooo, that hand tasted like butternut squash. It's so cool girls, each part tastes different."
"Pinkie, ah can think of at ten things wrong with what you're doing right now, and if ya give me a bit more time ah'm sure ah could think of more."
"Yes, and we really don't have time for this sort of thing darling."
I nodded in agreement. Discord was continuing to try and grab Pinkie, but failed. She would stop when in reach of each body part, give it a lick and continue. I couldn’t hear her that well but she would say something each time after she licked him. Probably the flavor. Then she stuck out her tongue and let out a protracted "EWWWWW" Discord finally caught her at this point, grabbing her in his clawed hand and holding her out some distance from himself.
"Not that I don't love the sheer randomness of your actions my dear, but as your king I simply can't have you treating me in such a manner."
"You sure as hay ain't mah king."
"And you're not mine either." Added Dash
"Ah, but that's where you're wrong. Weren't you listening? I used to rule, and then the celestial brats turned me to stone. I was and will always be lord of the land. We just have to wrap up a few details first."
"What do you mean by that?" I asked
"Oh you just never stop thinking do you? Can't you just give it a rest? It's not like it ever got you any friends. In the end Celestia had to hand you a few on a silver platter before you even had a chance."
Pinkie frowned. "Hey, that's not very nice."
"Yes, well neither is this."
He then threw Pinkie as hard as he could. She sailed though four windows, but when she hit the edge of the fifth, she bounced, then seemed to begin receding into the distance. Then she knocked over a statue outside that just happened to be where it had appeared the stained glass Pinkie had been a moment earlier. I think everyone, even Discord, was staring.
"Wow, I may have to rethink my long terms plans just bit. I mean that right there was some truly high quality chaos."
"Come on everypony, Pinkie might need our help."
"With how she's been lately ah doubt it sugarcube, but we should probably get going anyway. We need to get this done lickety split."
Dash then face hooved. "Duh. I mean we need all six of us together to use em, but I can just zip off right now, grab them all and Pinkie, and be back before you can blink."
Dash was then off in a flash. Discord snapped his fingers and suddenly something felt wrong. I then noticed Fluttershy's wings were just, gone. Rarity and Applejack looked the same, but I then reached up to feel around for my horn.
"Ahhhh. It's gone. It's gone."
"Losing your touch Discord?"
Celestia had walked up to us, and Discord was frowning. Celestia had a huge grin on her face. I was still trotting in place randomly but managed to stop when I heard her voice. Must remain calm.
"Just making things a bit more interesting. Now I'll pass this on to your wayward friends, but there are some rules to our little game. No magic. No Flying, and everypony plays, or I win. Now excuse me, I have a pegasus' wings to tie down."
With a flash he was gone. Something about the little speech sounded off. Like he had practiced it, but said it far too fast. I should know. I once got so nervous I gave a thirty minute speech in seven. That was not one of my better moments. Celestia was smiling broadly.
"Princess, what's going on?"
"Discord's magic failed him. It has never been entirely under his control, but there is no doubt he meant to remove both your horns and he did fail to remove Dash's wings."
"Oh. Well that's excellent news but…" I began
"I'm afraid you will have to play his game his way Twilight."
"Uh, Princess, ah don't mean to be rude, but seems to me like you could be a big help to us. Why don't you just come along."
"Because I can do nothing to truly stop him. Even with Luna helping we can only slow him down. Now I must be off. Discord himself may be here, but his mischief is all over the kingdom. Farewell my little ponies."
Then with a flash she was gone. This was worse than the poison joke. Not having a horn scared me like nothing else, but I had to lead. The elements were in the maze somewhere and we had to find them.
The second we entered something changed. Without my horn it was harder to tell, but some of my ability seemed to be intact, at least in reading magic and auras. I briefly wondered what this might mean for earth ponies in general, but then realized I had to focus. Discord was still far too chaotic to tell exactly what he did, but it was clear space had been warped in a major way. I had a feeling it was far more than that. I said we could do this, even with Dash's wings chained down like that and Raity wearing that strange helmet. Or is it more of a hat? Pinkie and Dash had both been waiting at the entrance of the maze, tied to a tree.
I also said together we could do anything, but then we all ended up alone. It ended up being that way for some time. I know I heard AJ's voice at one point, and then Discord yelling something, but they seemed to go away from me. I had seen a pink snake slither across the path in front of me a while ago, but I couldn't quite get close enough for Pinkie to hear me. Unless that was Fluttershy's new pet with it's color changed by Discord. Though we had left all our purchases, including the snake, with a helpful guard.
Then suddenly I turned a corner and there was Rarity with an enormous diamond on her back, wearing what looked like most of a wheel of swiss cheese made out of metal and pained yellow very badly. She had complained mostly about how hideous it was, but also mentioned how it made it hard for her to see.
"Oh thank goodness, I've been wandering this maze a while Rarity and…"
"You're staring at him. I can tell. I can't actually see you right now Twilight, but I know. I can hear you staring."
"Don't you lie to me Twilight. You can't have him. Tom is mine."
"Are you talking about the diamond?"
"What else would I possibly be discussing." There was then a hiss. "Oh, now I see. Playing dumb eh? Really Twilight, Rainbow Dash or Applejack might be able to pull it off, but not you. Except you know that. Wait, what's your game here?"
"Rarity, what is wrong with you?"
Then I realized something. Her coat wasn't half as white as it should have been, and her tail was even paler. Like the color was sucked right out of her. I know I heard that of a symptom of some negative magical effect, but I can't remember exactly what. I really hope this hasn't happened to all my friends.
"Time to be cruel."
Something suddenly shifted. There was some sudden great upswing of power that wasn't there before. Or maybe it was, but well hidden or restrained. It certainly wasn't restrained now whatever it was. For the thousandth time I desperately wished I had my horn. I wasn't sure it was a good idea but I galloped down a turn in the direction of the voice.
"Oh no you don't."
I blinked. Was that Fluttershy? The only time I had ever heard her that loud was at the gala. Then Discord flew over my head. Fluttershy was running along the top of the hedge as if it was the most solid path in the world, a huge flock of birds following in her wake. She was quickly past me along with the birds and I turned to see her still chasing Discord. I guess she decided he made a good target for her newfound cruelty.
I still hadn't figured this all out yet, but I was getting the idea well enough. Bait us into the maze, get us alone, then somehow reverse our elements entirely. My guess is Applejack went after him just like Fluttershy, and he just hadn't found or otherwise hasn't run into Pinkie and Dash. I've seen him out of the corner of my eyes watching me several times so I assume he's leaving me till last for some reason.
"You're after it too aren't you?"
"No." Pinkie then giggled. "It's just you look absolutely terrible and you're carrying around what has to be a worthless rock."
I spun around to see a very different Pinkie. She was wearing a bunch of odd black clothing covered in zippers. They seemed to belong to pockets mostly, but many of them made no sense whatsoever. There were also a few spikes and chains. Some of these I suddenly realized were in her ears. She had on heavy black eye makeup and had dyed her mane and tail black.
"What do you mean by that? Can't you see this is a big beautiful diamond."
"It sure looks that way, but why would Discord give you a diamond? Then again I guess it could be real, maybe he poisoned it instead, or it's going to explode?"
Rarity turned away. "No, you're just trying to trick me."
Despite all that, it was her mane being flat combined with her body's lack of color that bothered me most. Blinkie and Inky had informed me that her hair going flat on it's own is a very bad thing. Then suddenly I remembered why I was looking up color loss in the first place. I felt it was best not to bring up unless it recurred, but clearly there was something very wrong with Pinkie that day. She was even more grey now.
"Then again maybe it's glass and he figures you'll just be upset once it breaks."
"Oh Twilight, this is all just so horrible isn't it?" she then giggled. "Rarity is all grabby grabby, and Fluttershy looks mean, and Applejack told me she's not here even when it looks like she is."
Pinkie was smiling. She was talking in her normal upbeat voice, and smiling, but her tone in no way matched her words. I took a step back.
"Clearly you got it worst of all. I mean first of all he messed up your…" Then she gasped. "Oh, my gosh, that's even worse, you always looked like that didn't you?"
"Oh, uh, never mind. Still, you must be so terrified." She giggled again. "I mean you're soooo, useless right now. At least if Rarity gets off the cheese she'll be able to cast again. He could return it, but do you really think he would?"
"Oh." I looked down. "I hadn't even thought of that."
"Don't worry, I'm sure if losing your horn did any brain damage you won't even notice once Discord wins and all Equestria is even more of a pit of misery and pain."
I blinked. The opposite of laughter is misery, or sadness, or maybe just being an overall downer. This isn't going to get better is it? Wait, she' still Pinkie so that means that even if some of her personality is flipped she's not a completely different pony.
"Oh, and don't worry Rarity, the cheese and all that dirt doesn't make you look that much uglier. Also, just because every step you take with that thing on your back you get more tired meaning you'll inevitably have to drop it you don't have to worry."
"Ah ha." Rarity then pointed one wavering hoof at Pinkie
"No really, I'd never dream of taking it. I mean everypony knows wealth only brings more misery, so I sure wouldn’t want it. I'm sure everypony else agrees too so it's not like you have to be all paranoid about it either.
I groaned. She'd get back to me again soon wouldn’t she? Is there even a point of going on? If he reverses all of them, then AJ will be a liar, and Dash a betrayer. We'll never even find the elements.
It had failed miserably. I should have known it would. I don't know why I thought re-coloring spike to look more like Dash would help. Pinkie was right, there was no chance of it working and it was pointless to even try. In the end I pushed them to try anyway. The elements had been in the book that first alerted me to their existence. Where it all began just like he said. AJ and Fluttershy ran after him after it failed, but I doubt they'll catch him. Whatever stopped him from teleporting earlier clearly faded. Pinkie was still here, but I was actually glad Fluttershy muzzled her now.
"I clearly decided on a really lousy time to visit."
I blinked. I had started packing, but I didn't know were I could even go. I had just been laying on the bed, but now somepony was here. I sighed. I guess I could go talk to them. I don't really have any plans.
"Also, why the buck is there a baby dragon pained like one of your friends lying in a huge pile of scrolls groaning in pain."
I teleported downstairs to the back room. Spike had said he was going to sort the books back here, I guess Celestia kept asking him for progress reports or something. The pile was fairly huge. I think he was muttering something, but his throat was probably too sore by now to make much noise. If only he had been closer. I cast two spells. The first would temporarily shut off his use as a conduit, and the second put him to sleep. Hopefully that's all he needs.
"Wow, you look terrible. And grey. I can only imagine what overly sappy sort of thing that signifies."
I turned to see an ashen grey unicorn with a vibrant red mane. She had a pair of heavy looking saddlebags on the floor behind her. Her mane was amazingly untamed, with no style to speak of all, but also very full. Her cutie mark was a red symbol for PI with a single white orbit around that. It wasn't clear if it was supposed to represent an electron's orbit or a planetary one, but either fit her well. I smiled.
"Oh. Hello Moonfire. It's nice to meet you in pony finally."
"Even though it's clearly the end of the world or thereabouts." She sighed. "So anyway, why haven't you fixed this yet? You and your friends are the chosen ones right?"
"I guess, but, we lost."
"So you keep fighting. You kick and stomp until you can't kick no more."
I smiled. "That sounds like something AJ or Dash would say. But it doesn’t' work that way. Physical force…"
"Well I didn't necessarily mean it like that. Magic is good too."
"Only the elements can defeat him and…"
"Your maggufin failed, I get it. It's simple, either get a better one, supercharge the one you have, or fix the broken one."
I blinked. "That reminds me of something Pinkie would say."
"That does not surprise me. Still, using story theory on real life isn't that odd when real life is odd enough. Doesn't always work, but if it works it works, ya know."
"So what went wrong, or don't you know?"
"He corrupted all of them. AJ is a liar, Rarity a hoarder…"
She held up a hoof "Stop right there. I get the idea. Fix it."
"You're Twilight Sparkle. Celestia's student and by all evidence the most powerful unicorn on the planet. Also from our correspondence I know how smart you are. So you need to stop dwelling on one loss, get off your flank, and fix it."
"It isn't that simple. I don't know what's wrong. I don't know…"
"Well lets see if this helps. While talking to me for some reason some of the color came back in your tail. In two bursts by they way."
I blinked. Two bursts. I was reminded of my friends. Just in little ways, but that is the only thing I can think of that makes sense.
"I know the first step. Come on, I have a journal upstairs."
"Are you asking me to watch you read? Sorry but even I'm not that much of an egghead."
I laughed. It felt good. Memory was the key, and my friends, but the full scope of things was just beyond my reach. Maybe Moonfire was right, and there was a solution. Maybe things weren't over yet.
"You know these are kinda hokey, but really good."
Moonfire had apparently been reading the Princess' letters while I was upstairs. I don't think hokey is remotely the right term for anything Celestia has ever written, but she was in her own way a far odder a pony than Pinkie. Generally in a far more violent manner, yet also always more logical. She then trotted over to me.
"So you look ten kinds of better."
I nodded. "I know what to do. Come on, Pinkie is still in the front room correct?"
"She's hoof-cuffed to the railing on your stairs, she's not going anywhere."
I cringed. "Oh. I didn't know that. I guess Fluttershy decided to take things even further at some point. Or maybe Pinkie did it to herself."
Moonfire laughed. "Oh man, so many dirty jokes I don't know what to pick."
I sighed. "None of them would be preferred."
"Really?" She smiled. "I seem to remember you writing…"
"That's not the same thing."
I blushed furiously and nearly galloped over to the stairs leading down. With my magic and an unlock spell I quickly had her out of the cuffs and on the floor in front of me. I decided to leave the muzzle on. Her mouth was still moving, suggesting she might still be talking. The memory spell was complicated, but it was fast enough to cast, and didn't really require much in the way of power. I then blinked.
"She resisted it."
"You mean because she's been nega zapped?"
I shook my head. "No, it's something else. If all their resistances have increased in the same way I won't be able to cast it on any of them."
"Either you alter the spell somehow so it does work, or go analog."
"Uh, I'm not sure that makes sense here. I'm also fairly certain I'm the only one of my friends that might even know that word."
"Oh, yea. I keep forgetting computers are still a rare thing here. Anyway, you just read a book right? So you just have to remind the rest some other way."
"You mean you want me to lecture them?" I smiled. "I can do that. I'm good at that."
"Though with this one I think we can take a shortcut. I assume you didn't exaggerate when describing her, right?"
"Well yes, but I don't understand."
"Hey Pinkie, do you remember that time Twilight did that thing with the stuff and then you all laughed in the end."
Pinkie finally stopped trying to move her mouth and nodded.
"Then that one time that mare came to town. Oh, and the time you and your friends went to the place and talked to the stallion. Plus you remember that one mare in the hat, right? Oh, and that time with the thing in that odd place."
Pinkie looked a bit brighter, and nodded vigourously.
"Then there was the…thing, that… happened. And stuff went on. You laughed that one time. You also…"
Suddenly Pinkie's hair went all poofy and Pinkie shrunk down to the size of a foal. She also started talking so fast I could barely catch a word. I think I heard stuff, place, and girl a great deal however.
"…and then we all had cake. I remember everything, how could I forget all the good times like that and focus on the bad. That was like super silly of me."
"You speak Pinkie?"
"I didn't know what the buck I was saying. I just figured she is the sort to never let sense get in the way so I didn't have to actually know a thing about her."
"Ah hah. There you are."
We all turned to see Discord glaring at us. He then put his head right in Moonfire's face. She rolled her eyes.
"You're a freak with bad manners, not impressed."
"We'll see about that."
Then he stared into her eyes for a good long while. They seemed to be spinning. Nothing happened. Moonfire smiled. He pulled back, then grabbed her. A moment later he dropped her as if he had been burnt. She stood up and smiled even brighter.
"You are the least chaotic individual I have ever met. You have some potential but it's wrapped a veritable shield of pure order."
"You can't mess with my mind, and you can't kill me either."
Discord rolled his eyes. "Oh please. There is almost nothing less chaotic than death. Decomposition is a little interesting long term, but the only thing worse is being turned to stone. It's far more interesting watching living ponies squirm."
"So what? What are you going to do? You can't get rid of me and can't stop me from doing my best to help Twilight, and clearly I am of at least some small help."
"Yes, even just one sane pony to bounce ideas off of can be quite the help. Even if you certainly aren't that special." Then Discord smiled. "In fact, you really aren't, are you."
"Oh comeuppance, why do I so rarely see you coming?"
Then with a snap of his fingers Moonfire was a small grey bunny with a red cotton tail and little tuft of red fur on her head. She glared at Discord. He pointed and laughed.
"Oh yes, Ms high and mighty pony reduced to a bunny. Priceless. You're just a pathetic little rabbit, what can you do now?"
"Ooo, I think she has a plan." Said Pinkie
"I think so too."
If it wasn't for Angel I would have been completely surprised by the vicious attack on Discord's leg she launched. Still, Moonfire's aggression clearly was not exaggerated in her writing, but if anything undersold. On the other hoof maybe she was just really mad about being turned into a rabbit. Discord flailed about trying to shake her off, but nothing seemed to work. She only fell off when Discord happened to smack her against a bookcase, most likely by accident. At least his flying seemed far too random to be a conscious choice. With another snap she was in a very sturdy looking metal cage.
"Well now you're just being far more trouble than I expected. This is all rather annoying, so lets end this once and for all. I had planned to let you keep your horn, but you know what, I think you'll just be an annoyance if I don't take it."
"Wow, you made chocolate rain, but you're just a big meany, aren't you."
Then he just pulled off my horn like it was attached with cheap tape. I just stood there in shock a moment. Before I could recover he stuck it on his own forehead, and with a snap of his fingers a mirror appeared.
"Oh this was a great idea. It looks far better on me than it ever did you. Toodles."
Then with a wave and a snap he was gone. The mirror floating in the air fell to the ground and shattered. I barely mannaged to get out of the way of the broken glass flying through the air. Pinkie giggled. All the glass was embeded either in her mane or her new clothes. I'm pretty sure Pinkie was capable of moving out of the way, but just didn't. I really wanted to ask, but there were countless reasons not to, and with considerable effort I didn't. I immediately started pacing.
"Oh, this is bad. Bad bad bad. Even if I get my friends back, which without magic will be much, much harder I still don't have my horn."
There was a loud clang from Moonfire's cage.
"Ooo, she looks mad."
I turned stopped and looked down to see a bunny glaring at me. Again if not for Angel I would have been completely shocked a bunny could look so angry. I walked over to the cage, but there was no way to open it as far as I could tell. I looked down to see her still glaring. I sighed.
"Sorry, but there aren't any seams and without magic…"
Then the cage jumped forward when she slamed against it and popped me in the snout. I was about to say how mean that was, but then she shook her head.
"Wait, do you mean it's not about the cage?"
She nodded, then tapped one paw on her head.
"OOO, you want to be petted?" asked Pinkie
She shook her head then tried to re-angle her paw and repeated the gesture.
"Wait, are you trying to point at your head?"
She nodded vigorously.
I sighed. "Oh, let me guess. Think things though logically and don't panic. That's what you always say to me right?"
She waved her paw in a circle.
"Oh, and try not to jump to conclusions." I blushed. "I suppose that is a problem of mine. I think maybe I read an animal translation spell somewhere. I couldn't master it before but maybe…"
She shook her head.
"But clearly I need your help. I mean…"
She rolled her eyes, then shook her head.
"Come on Twilight, don't doubt yourself because all those silly willy things I said. No, you gotta believe in yourself. You can do this."
Moonfire nodded. I then did a double take. Pinkie looked completely normal again. I had only looked away for a moment. How could she possibly have gotten out of those clothes, not to mention the piercings. All the glass was gone too, even the pieces on the floor. It still wasn't the time to focus on that sort of thing, and honestly most likely never would be. I turned back to Moonfire.
"But what about the magic"
Moonfire then face hooved, or face pawed I guess.
"I'm not thinking clearly and missing the obvious, aren't I."
Again she nodded, then pointed at Pinkie.
"Huh, why are you pointing at me?"
"I don't understand. Is Pinkie somehow the answer?"
"I am. I'm pretty sure that can't be right. I mean I do have a twitch for Pinkie Pie is the solution to our problem you know."
Moonfire and I both just stared for a few moments. Then suddenly I had it. I then face hooved. I certainly shouldn't have missed that. Well missed two things actually, but I doubt either of us needed me to repeat what I just said about a memory spell not working. I guess she's right about magic being my first solution to every problem too. Moonfire really is an amazing mind.
"All ponies are magic and some things are immutable. Horn or not my cutie mark remains, and to some degree I'm still a unicorn. I can at the very least use the elements and just because I've failed miserably every time before now I might be able to use my hooves to cast something."
Moonfire nodded smiling.
"Okay, then no time to waste. Discord's rein of terror has to end."
"Are you okay being trapped it that itty bitty little cage. I mean rabbits are pretty itty bitty, but that cage is itty bitty even if you're…"
Mooonfire nodded vigorously until Pinkie finally stopped.
"Okie doki loki."
"We'll try to get you out as soon as we can. Come on Pinkie, lets go."
I then ran out the front door. I wondered if some of discord's magic was still lingering inside me, and for that matter how exactly it effected the mind in the first place. But it was all clear to me now. He wouldn’t win. There would be no more distractions. I will get my friends back and we will defeat him.
"Really darling I don't see why you're so surprised?"
We were on our way to Sweet Apple Acres, and only my strong desire to find AJ kept me moving instead of stopping to stare at Rarity. Pinkie was once again off sampling the chocolate rain, and cotton candy clouds. I hoped she'd be there when we really needed her, but once again cursed her ability to fly. Mostly because it still made no sense whatsoever, but now because the double treat of the clouds was twice as hard to resist as if she had still been land bound. Though I suddenly had the horrible thought that might not have stopped her wings or no wings.
"Come now Twilight, I thought I explained it clearly enough."
"Rarity I heard you, I just don't get it. Vanity should not lead to you breaking though Discord's curse and restoring your generosity."
"How rude." Rarity then turned up her snout a bit. "Really Twilight, just because looking in the mirror at my awful state is what snapped me out of it does not mean vanity has anything to do with it."
"Then what was it? I'm just trying to understand this."
"You don't question that your pen pal restored Pinkie with random gibberish, but you think somehow my shock at seeing my reflection is so unbelievable."
"But it's Pinkie. With her nonsense makes sense. There must be some reason. Something that you felt when looking in that mirror."
"It wasn't really a mirror per say…" Rarity laughed. "It really is an amazingly gorgeous stone. But there really isn't much to say. I looked, I was shocked, and couldn't help but think of how I was letting down all the ponies of ponyville allowing myself to look such a mess, then all the memories came flooding back and I realized what a foal I'd been."
I blinked. "Wait, that sort of sounds like…" I then looked around, but decided to take a chance anyway. "Pinkie!"
Pinkie fell from the sky and hit the ground with a wet splat. Then she reformed into a solid pony once again. This time I did stop, and Rarity and I both cringed.
"Well, did you want something? I was sorta busy."
"Pinkie, was there anything other than what Moonfire said. Was there something you felt at the time for example?"
"Well I thought it was real nice that even though you were being all, giving into the pointlessness of life, like I said, you still bothered to go see Moonfire, a mare you didn't know that well, and was still really pleasant to her."
I smiled broadly. "I have it. The words barely mattered. They aren't all gone. Generosity and kindness are things you still valued. Rarity in her own way was loyal to all of us. We may most clearly represent one element, but all of us are more than that, and we can use that to remind us of how we should be."
"She isn't at the farm ya know."
We all turned to see Rainbow Dash in a Wonderbolt costume. She had betrayed us outright, and I at least I had some idea for what now. After using the elements she showed up and demanded her payment. Discord said "Done." Then gave her directions somewhere. Right now she was being followed by a bunch of chickens and orange fillies in Wonderbolt costumes. As the got closer I realized all of them looked like Scootaloo. Then one of them clucked.
"Anyway, whammy me back to normal so I can get my vengeance on that creep. This isn't what I wanted at all."
"Are those the Wonderbolts?"
"Ah, but of course they are Twilight."
Discord was in front of us in a flash. He smiled broadly then frowned seeing Rarity. He then shook his head.
"You know I must say you are all being far more bothersome than I planned. I mean I still don't understand how you ended up with a real diamond. I'm surprised you left it unguarded. Let me guess, Twilight offered you more?"
"How dare you suggest such a thing you ruffian. I…"
I then shoved a hoof in Rarity's mouth. He couldn’t tell. It was obvious as could be to me but for some reason he couldn’t tell. I then nodded.
"You don't have to keep lying Rarity, he knows. I will fix them Discord. All of them. Just because I don't have it all figured out doesn't mean you'll win."
Discord laughed, then turned to Dash. "So my little turncoat, is being the captain of the Wonderbolts all you wanted. All you dreamed?"
"This isn't what I wanted at all. They're miserable. I can tell they are. I don't owe Twilight or anyone else anything, but you lied to me. Not even to get out of trouble or anything, but just to be mean. That isn't what I want."
Dash was suddenly already a bit more colorful. I then found myself in the air engulfed in a familiar blue glow. Oh yea, I should have pulled my hoof out by now. Then I thought of something. I think I knew how to fix Dash, but I didn't want to risk Discord still being around. He might not be able to tell something has already happened, but if we do it right in front of him he'll know for sure. Then Rairity dropped me on the ground. It wasn't a far drop, but clearly even if she understood why I did it she wasn't happy. I looked in her direction and gave a brief smile.
"Also I still don't get what's up with the scootachickens." Asked Dash. "I mean that's just outright dumb.
"Actually they were all supposed to be just normal chickens, but for some reason half of them ended up this way. Sometimes a little bonus chaos like that just happens."
I was now next to Pinkie and leaned close to her ear to whisper. "Pinkie I need you keep Discord distracted as long as you can."
"Okay Twilight." Pinkie yelled. "I'll keep him distracted as long as I can."
I face hooved. I should have seen it coming, but some how I didn't see her answering that loudly. Then Pinkie was a mostly pink draconequis. There was also a lot of blue and yellow, and a few other colors. Mostly she looked like Discord, but had a more feminine muzzle and her normal big poofy hair. Discord just stared, saying nothing. I decided that was as good as we were going to get, and ran back to town. I hoped Dash and Rarity were following behind me.
I wasn't sure whose house this was, but they didn't seem to be home. Possibly because the home had been bent in strange ways insuring there was no level surface in the house, and most likely none of those surfaces were parallel to any other.
"What are you talking about? I get you can't whammy me, but this is stupid. If Celestia hadn't promised to give me what Discord didn't I wouldn't even be here."
Rarity gasped. "You don't really care about revenge, do you?"
"No, I just ain't going to go do something for nothing if I can help it. Besides she says she can turn them back. She can fix them."
"Trust me Dash. Tell me your dream. In as much detail as possible, but not about the flying but what you want as the leader of the Wonderbolts."
She rolled her eyes. "Well now this sounds even stupider. Seriously, if there was a better offer I would so be gone. Gilda's right, you guys are so uncool."
"Rainbow Dash. Really now."
"Just tell us. Start with saying how you wanted it to be when you're captain."
She closed her eyes. "It would be great. Everypony would love me. I'd be center stage. I'd be flying with my heroes. You know one or the things I've always admired most about them, how close they are.
Dash's colors came back a little more.
"They're the best. Also they're so strait froward. I wish I could be as honest as them, but I mess up all the time. Sometimes a lie is just so much easier. And the way they treat their fans? They always have time."
"Yes, generosity with your time is still generosity." Said Rarity
"But most of all. They're loyal. They move as one, and they trust each other. I love showing off by myself, but most of the best Wonderbolt tricks only work because they have such confidence that everypony will be there when they're suppose to be and not before. They trust each other. Just like you girls."
Dash looked normal again. She then shook her head, and blinked rapidly for a few seconds. She then took off and was halfway out the door before she turned around looked at the chickens and scootachickens we'd placed in a makeshift pen in the house.
"I was going to say we need to go right now but…"
"Oh you are looking ever so much better Rainbow."
"I think they'll be fine Dash. At least for a while."
"Okay, then lets go fix Applejack and Fluttershy. Though I really wish you had your horn still. Come on, I know where he pinned down Applejack, and we're going to need her if we have a hope of taking on Fluttershy." Dash then laughed. "Mare, I never thought I would ever in a million years say that."
"I seem to remember her chasing after Discord."
"Yea, she got bored of that. I'd hate to think how bad things would be if she was even a little better at being mean."
"I really can't imagine the poor dear being that dangerous."
"You'll see. Now come on, I think Discord is trying to get AJ to go even more crazy like Fluttershy, so we should hurry."
Dash was out the door in a rainbow blur and I sighed. Hopefully she would be waiting for us outside or at least come back quickly.
It was a giant swarm of parasprites. AJ could buck and shout all she wanted, but even when she hit one there were tem more to fill its place. Every so often she would just try to run out of the mess, but she always ended up running in circles for some reason. I had the feeling that music wouldn’t effect them as they weren't exactly real, or at least didn't follow the normal rules of the creatures.
"So any ideas to get her out?" said Rarity
"I say you just let me rainboom them out of the way. That should work."
"I think we should leave them for now. We restore Applejack first, then get her out. That is if she can't get out on her own then."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"Just a feeling." I then looked up at Dash. "And now that I think of it it's obvious enough how to do it."
"I love you varmints so close like this. Please just crowd all around me even more."
"Applejack. You're chasing Discord because you know he's the cause of all this madness. Because you want to help us stop him. Because you want to be there for us."
"Oh, I get it." Said Dash
"No I ain't. Discord is the one following me. Also I ain't done nothing to him, and you're wrong about mah reasons too."
"No I'm not. Applejack, what is going on? Why are you turning away from the truth? You never did before."
"I ain't doing nothing like that. And you better stop implying Discord showed me some vision about us not being friends no more. I couldn't stand that. I couldn't stand losing you all. Even Dash."
Her color was coming back even faster than Dash's. "I just couldn't take it. I love you like mah own kin. We been though so much. If you were gone. If you…"
Then Applejack was crying. All her color came rushing back but it didn't look like she'd be moving anytime soon. I was about to ask the girls if they any ideas since AJ clearly couldn't save herself right now. Then a large needle with a trail of yarn shot though the air. Then another, and another, and another, filing the sky around the parasprites. Then they struck, sailing though the wings and only the wings, and soon the air was filled with long multicolored chains of the cute blight. Then all the needles came together and spun into a ring like handle that soon was hovering in front of Dash.
"Rainbow, be a dear and take those ill mannered beasts someplace out of the way. Hanging off the town hall seems like a good place."
I sat there clapping my hooves. "Amazing Rarity. Not only a flawless summoning of materials, but absolutely perfect control."
"Thank you darling."
"If I ever accuse you or sewing of not being awesome, remind me of this moment."
Then I frowned "Rarity, don't you think that might of hurt them?"
"Such uncouth insects deserve not our pity Twilight. Also I doubt music would work this time. Now if you'll excuse me I have a pony to comfort."
Dash looped a hoof through the ring and took of with the actually somewhat festive parasprite garlands. I stood there a moment, then galloped over to the crying Applejack. Rarity and I soon had her in a group hug. Not long after Dash joined us. The tears faded quickly.
A few things came to mind. First Fluttershy is actually very bad at being mean. Second she still had us all trapped in enormous vines, that she had clearly made sprout out of the middle of Mane Street. Also she was trying and with this much power she could do a great deal of damage, and eventually might. Rarity then screamed out in mortal terror. While spitting into ponies ears was mean, considering what Fluttershy could be doing this was still pretty silly. I once again struggled to break free.
"And this is why you're going to have to remind me about the thing with the parasprites a lot. It's not fun but come on, it's not that big of a deal."
"Not that bad? It's utterly disgusting, and I still can't believe Fluttershy of all ponies would do such a thing."
"Ya can't? He got you obsessed over something ya can make with a spell."
"That is not the same thing at all."
I sighed. "Actually all of your personalities were altered somewhat. While AJ's example isn't the best…"
"Now you just hold on right there Twi."
"Confusion and personality changes aren't the same thing. However in the end, we're all missing the point."
Rarity the screamed again, Fluttershy dumping garbage in a bucket on her. There had been a few other ponies here at first, but the vines seemed to loosen when Fluttershy lost interest, so they got away. We had all tried talking to Fluttershy, but so far nothing had worked. I think her color was a little brighter than when she caught us, but I wasn't sure. I was out of ideas.
"Super. Ultra." Pinkie was yelling form somewhere, but I couldn’t see her. "Hyper. Mega. Sugary. Hyper. Ultimate. Party. Hug boom blast."
Then a pink blur collided with Fluttershy and there was a suddenly explosion of glitter, balloons, confetti, streamers, and most of all cotton candy. I then realized at least the last I might actually have an explanation for. Not what or how exactly she moved the cotton candy clouds into place, but at least where that one element had come from. Then I heard Fluttershy laugh.
"Stop it Pinkie, you know I'm ticklish there."
Fluttershy laughed again. "Not there too. It's not fair you know me so well."
"But I do. For example. Do you know why the chicken crossed the road."
Fluttershy laughed again. "Why?"
"Because it wanted a hug silly."
Fluttershy broke into uproarious laughter. That isn't funny. Why would Fluttershy think it's funny? I wiped the cotton candy on my face off without thinking about it and realized the vines were gone or at least I had come loose. What I saw was a fully colored Fluttershy in the middle of a pink sea of cotton candy, party favors scattered about randomly. My friends were all free, albeit mostly covered in cotton candy. Unfortunately Discord was glowering down at us all.
"Oh, now I get it." I said "It's an inside joke. So only Fluttershy would get it."
"Oh my, what have I been doing?"
Pinkie patted her head. "Don't you worry about that none Flutters."
"Okay come on lets use the elements and…" Dash's face then fell. "Uh, Twilight, do you know where the elements are, because I don't."
"Oh that would be me." Then Discord laughed. "I decided it might be best to banish them to the far corners of the world, just to be safe. I wasn't going to do it, but then I decided, eh, why not, they're tacky anyway."
"Twilight, what do we do now?"
The girls had come over to my position, and all were looking to me with expectant glances. I could do this. I had to. The elements of harmony are the most powerful artifacts in this world and connected to us. Where the bulk of the power truly resided was under some debate, but Celestia and Luna agreed they were connected to us, and at least for now we needed them. Then I had it.
"I know what to do." Then I sighed. "I just really doubt I'm going to be able to do it."
"What ya mean Twi?"
"I mean I am still missing a horn and I have to cast a spell I've never actually cast before, use it in a way it isn't designed, and do so only with my hooves, which I've never managed in my entire life."
"Didn't ya say watching me helped ya?"
"Were you lying about my martial arts lessons helping?" Fluttershy looked down. "It's okay, I'll try harder next time."
"No Fluttershy, it was fine. Both helped, but I don't think it's enough."
"So what." Said Dash. "The sonic rainboom was supposed to be impossible, but I did it anyway. You're not quite as awesome as me, but magic for you is like flying is for me. You can do it."
"I believe in you." Said Fluttershy
"There is nothing you can't do with magic darling. So just get a move on and dazzle us."
Pinkie hopped in one place. "Ooo I bet it will be super flashy and cool. Come on, do it. Do it now. Now now now now now…" Pinkie continued repeating "Now."
"You can do this Twi. You may doubt yerself, but ah don't."
"Thank you girls."
"Aww, how touching. Still, it's utterly pointless. Do you have any idea the kind of power you'd need to pull of any spell that could possibly bring them here? That doesn't even bring into question the ability."
I closed my eyes and concentrated. I think the girls were saying something to Discord but I put everything else out of my mind. This time it worked. This time the world stilled and I could feel the pulse of magic that reverberated though the ground, and though me. The way Fluttershy described Ki was a little too unscientific for my tastes, but the idea was clear enough. Internal energy flowing through your body.
I don't know if it was because I lacked a horn, or something else entirely. But that didn't matter. I tapped one hoof on the ground and the first part of the spell took hold. I opened my eyes to perceive the bright glowing auras of my friends around me and ignored the mess of chaotic lights that was Discord. I could see threads matching the color of each gem leading from us to far off points.
"I know you've restored some of them. If it wasn't for the disturbance that horrible order pony I wouldn't have been paying any attention at all, but I am. You think they're all better don't you, but I know the truth. They can't be."
"What in tarnation are you talking about you varmint?"
"I mean my dear liar, that there is simply no way six normal ponies could ever truly overcome my magic. That you're working together at all again is impressive, but it won't be enough to use the elements. If you can even retrieve them."
Then he laughed. Time to give this a try. This spell is designed to bring back small lost items around the house. It also isn't an earth spell. Yet I'm going to try to make it work anyway, on items that could be anywhere. I brought up my front right hoof, and focused, and stomped it down. There was a flash that rippled across the ground, and then the elements popped out of the ground like somepony had thrown them out of an unseen hole. Discord and I both just stared for a while at the elements. I really did not think that was going to work.
"Uh Twi, we should probably get this show on the road, fore he does something else."
"Here darling. Let me."
Rarity quickly had the elements on our necks and in my case on my head. I put up a shield, but it felt oddly warped. Not in a bad way, more like I added some extra feature to my brother's spell without thinking of it. The ground below us looked normal. Discord held out a claw, but if he was expecting something to happen it sure didn't.
"Okay, yes that was certainly something, but you still can't possibly…"
I think I was less dizzy this time. I know I didn't pass out, but the last few minutes were a blur. Slowly the magic of the rainbow faded. This revealed Discord standing there blinking, and three familiar fillies that looked like they were still chewing something. I guess the crusaders might just be crazy enough to eat the mess of cotton candy covering the street. Other than Discord everything seemed to be back to normal. Discord then laughed.
"Oh so close. I was sure you got me for a second there, and you certainly cleared up all my lovely chaos, but I can start again. Now, where to start."
"Oh come on, after all that, it didn't work?" said AJ
"It sure felt like it did." Said Dash
"Yea, it was all wibbly sibbly woobly, just like last time."
"Uh, I really want to panic now. Are you girls sure I can't panic?"
"Please don't tell me he's going to change the road to that tacky pattern again?"
"Ah, I know. I'll turn the lot of you into some random animals. Specifically some that can't all survive in the same environment. Some octopi, an elemental fire salamander, some birds and a space cow will do I think."
"Ooo, what's a space cow?"
I sighed. "We failed."
Then he snapped his fingers and almost nothing happened. Pinkie did turn into a pink octopus, but the rest of us stayed the same. He then snapped his fingers again, and again, and then he did the same and pointed at me specifically. For some reason it was only then I realized my horn was back where it belonged. I absolutely had to do more study into casting with hooves, but I was ecstatic to have my horn back.
"It's gone? It's all gone? How? What did you do? Why?"
"I am curious too my little Ponies."
"SO ARE WE DEAR SISTER."
We all turned to see the royal sisters behind us, and bowed as they made their way over to Discord. He began quickly looking to the left and right. I smiled brightly. This certainly hadn't been what I expected, but it was clear enough. We did it. Discord was powerless now, no threat to anypony. I couldn't hold it in any longer and began hopping in place giggling. My horn back and against all odds we did it.
"Really Twilight, we are in the presence of royalty."
I instantly stopped, then bowed again. "I'm sorry princesses. I should have…"
"Neigh thee mind Twilight. There is only one here that deserves our wrath."
"You still can't kill me. I don't know what you did to my power, but I know that isn't gone. Also I know my powers aren't entirely out of reach."
Then with a snap of his fingers he was gone, and in the next moment had picked me up. I instantly teleported out of his grip. I noticed the crusaders were now hiding behind Luna. Celestia trotted up to Discord glaring the whole way. Luna's glare held even more anger than her sister's did.
"Sister, you see the same thing I do correct?" said Luna
"Yes Sunny, there is no doubt. His magic has been somehow sealed. I cannot tell where or how but there is no doubt he is no longer the one that controls his power, even though it remains within him."
"I am not completely powerless."
"Yes, thou has access to any spells you actually know much like any other mage. You are also fairly powerful, but thou are also far less powerful than Twilight Sparkle, and without a doubt weaker than us."
"Your reign of terror is over Discord, though in an unexpected way. My little ponies, what do you think of Discord?"
"I think he's like super fun, but he's a big meanie and shouldn’t have so much power. I was also thinking how we made Luna all better and maybe we could do the same thing again with Discord."
"It just seemed so mean to turn him to stone."
"Well, truth be told ah was rooting for turning him to stone. He ain't shown he got a lick o compassion, and it sounds ta me like he never did."
"He's a jerk that needed a beatdown, and we did that." Dash then punched the air with her front hooves a few times. "Oh yea, we beatdown a god. We are so awesome."
"I just thought about how he needed to be stopped. Well I was curious about his magic, but you don't think that affected anything, do you?"
"Luna, what do you think?
"I think being under the influence of the full power of the element of magic might be enough to analyze his magic, and do this. Though now that I look, the way his magic is sealed is not so simple as I thought, though that teleport of his is."
"Well I think I've heard all I need to know, so I'll just be going. I do hope you mind."
Then with a snap of his fingers he was gone. Luna and Celestia both sighed. The elements wouldn't let him roam free if he was still a danger, would they?
"Is it safe yet?" asked Applebloom
Scootaloo ran out from behind Luna. "Of course it's safe. Dash and the rest whupped him just like Nightmare Moon." Then she cringed and looked to Luna. "Sorry."
"We do not mind little one. As the Nightmare we deserved what we got and far worse."
"So it's really safe now?" asked Sweetie Belle
"Yes." Said Celestia "Though Discord will no doubt attempt to cause more chaos, he is no more capable than any other unicorn."
"You mean any other unkillable crazy unicorn who probably knows about all sorts of ancient nasty magic junk." Said Dash
Luna and Celestia sighed.
"We were aware of this." Said Luna "The elements have chosen this path, and we must walk it."
"Come Luna, we have preparations to make. I will see you all soon."
Then the princesses were gone. Applejack immediately marched up to Applebloom with a glare on her face, and Rarity did much the same to Sweetie Belle. Scootaloo then smiled.
"It's times like this I'm really glad my parents have no idea what I'm doing."
"Now why in the sam hill were you anywhere near Discord."
"There's a hill named Sam? That's a weird name." Pinkie then giggled
"And Sweetie Belle, I expected better of you."
"But we weren't even near Discord. We were just trying ta be cutie mark crusader cotton candy cloud wranglers."
"We kinda got stuck though."
"Yea, in retrospect that would be a pretty weird talent." Said Scootaloo
"But then suddenly we were in some huge mess and Discord was right there, and we tried our best to hide under the cotton candy."
"It was way tastier than tree sap." Said Scootaloo. "I'm sure we would have got ourselves free of that cloud if Discord hadn't done…" she paused. "Uh, whatever he did."
"Ah see." Applejack then turned to glare at Pinkie
"So you put my darling little sister in danger?" Rarity then joined AJ in glaring
"I didn't mean to. I mean Discord was chasing me down and I saw you girls were in trouble and Fluttershy was all frowny face so I had to do something. I didn't know there was a cotton candy cloud of crouching cutie mark crusaders."
Then Pinkie yelped, and began running around in a circle. She was shouting a garbled "My Tongue" over and over again is several variations. She then skid to a stop in front of me and stuck out her tongue. There was a literal knot in it.
"Hep me Twiwight. I'm tong thied."
I sighed and without bothering to try to figure out how she did it or if it was even possible, undid the knot. Then suddenly a horrible thought came to mind.
"Discord's power had to go somewhere." I said
"Right sugarcube. That makes sense even ta me."
"Well I just thought if I were the elements and needed to put nigh unlimited chaos magic I know what the first place that would come to mind is."
Everypony then took several steps away from Pinkie. She looked around, then scratched her head with one hoof.
"Huh? I don't get it."
I couldn't help but smile. Celestia and Luna had brought most of Ponyville here, and then proceeded to sit them in front of the nobles. I'm sure Blueblood and his cronies were seething at that. I still felt bad about not warning Rarity but I just assumed she had to be talking about somepony else. Of course by the time I realized it was far too late for me to do anything, and Rarity doesn’t like discussing him so thankfully it hasn't come up. The window was indeed beautiful. Then Celestia got a smirk on her face. Uh oh.
"Now while there are those who would suggest otherwise, I think its high time these brave mares are given a proper reward. Pinkie, Rainbow Dash, Applejack. Please step forward, and kneel."
Then Celestia drew the sword. It was a silver blade with a gold hilt encrusted with six gems of different colors, five around the grip, and a 6th on the hilt. Now the symbolism was obvious. Most would think it purely ceremonial but actually it was a very powerful spell focus. It was often lent to powerful unicorns to further enhance their abilities in times of crisis. It retrospect I wondered why she hadn't ever lent it to me. However right now the ceremonial use was far more important. The girls did as they were told of course. She passed the sword past Pinkie's head first.
"Rise as a royal knight Lady Pinkamena Diane Pie."
Pinkie did so, giggling, and then Celestia did the same motions for Dash
"Rise as a royal knight, Lady Rainbow Dash."
"Awesome." Said Dash as she rose.
Then she knighted AJ "Rise as a royal knight, Lady Applejack."
"Thank ya kindly."
The hall broke into thunderous applause, and I joined in, stomping my own hooves. This went on for some time. Eventually a slight frown crossed Celestia's face. Luna then came from her place to the side of Celestia and whispered something in her ear. Celestia nodded, then cast a spell that caused her ears to glow.
"WE KINDLY ASK FOR QUIET."
The hall fell instantly silent.
"I am not done my ponies. Now you three please stand aside, and let Fluttershy though."
They did so, Fluttershy slowly making her way to stand right in front of Celestia.
Fluttershy did so, shivering slightly. "Now due to a certain incident, there is a measure that unanimously passed restricting the gift of any new or unfilled titles to any pony unless they can personally do three great services to the kingdom."
There was a slight murmur from the back of the crowd. Most of the Ponyville ponies looked confused, and I was among them, even though I knew what incident she meant of course. Then suddenly an idea popped into my head and I smiled. Though then I frowned slightly unsure how much Fluttershy would actually enjoy it.
"First and second should be obvious to all with eyes to see the that which has been immortalized in glass."
There was murmuring, but mostly variations of yes and a lot of nodding.
"For the third, Fluttershy asked a dragon to leave Equestria in a forceful manner, and it did. For this…" Celestia knighted Fluttershy "I bestow upon her knighthood and the title Baroness of the Everfree."
There was a huge uproar. I think there was some shouting of complaint, but that was quickly drown out by the fervent stomping I quickly joined. Celestia left off the final command to rise, but it was clear enough why. Not only for the sake of the disruption, but because Fluttershy was pressed as close to the ground as possible, and most likely willing herself to become invisible. It wasn't working, but then a swarm of glowing pink butterflies surrounded her hiding her mostly from view.
Again the effect was instantaneous.
"Thank you again dear sister. Now Miss Rarity, it's your turn."
Rarity walked forward with a huge smile on her face. Fluttershy was very quickly hiding between Rainbow Dash and Pinkie. Pinkie's fur suddenly puffed out making her look like little more than a ball of pure pink fluff with eyes. Fluttershy moved closer to the better cover. I was somewhat surprised she made it as far as she did in a room with this many ponies. Rarity walked up to Celestia then swiftly knelt.
"As before your first two services are obvious to any who stand here. The third is the dress Luna commissioned for this previous Grand Galloping Gala. Though I did not wear it, I value it greatly and…"
Blueblood then shoved his way to the front of the crowd. The Ponyville ponies glared daggers at him when he finally emerged. Celestia looked serene as ever for the most part, except her hair was blowing more upwards now. Then I gasped, realizing another way to see it. If Blueblood isn't real careful he's going to regret this. Rarity on the other hand was already glaring at him with the full force of her wrath. He cringed. Then he shook his head and refocused on Celestia.
"Really auntie, once was enough. Obviously you can of course go against the nobles if you wish but I know my mother will not be happy and…"
"This dress has great personal significance to me. Why I will not say in public, but from my point of view it is a priceless treasure. A relic of the long forgotten."
"I'm sure it is a reasonably fashionable dress, but surely it is not worth a title, even if there is no land or power attached."
"While I cannot fathom myself why it would be so valuable to her, if Celestia says it so, how dare you doubt her." Said Rarity
"I'm sure it is just a meaningless bauble of no significance created by a second rate designer. In fact based on the horrible manners of the designer…"
"I have horrible manners?" Rarity's mane had turned to roaring flames
"I'm sure it's a gaudy little thing far beneath your station but you feel the need to be nice and are even rewarding her for crafting such in inferior…"
Then Blueblood did the only reasonable thing he could when he saw Celestia. She was glaring at him, her mane now also beginning to look a great deal like a flame, but not quite there yet. He then screamed an extremely high pitched scream that I would feel more likely to come from Sweetie Belle than a full grown stallion, and galloped out of the room as fast as he was able. Celstia's hair almost instantly settled, her face now curling into a slight smirk. Was that really sincere anger?
"That was odd. So, does anypony else have any objections?"
The silence that followed was only broken when several ponies gasped for breath. Clearly they decided it would be better to try and stop breathing rather than in any way suggest they objected. Rarity's hair slowly simmered down during this time, eventually returning to a solid mass. She then turned back to Celestia and once again kneeled. Celestia made the same motions, this whole time the floating sword effortlessly held in her magical grasp.
"For your service to Equestiria I bestow upon her knighthood and the title of Countess of Manehattan. Now Rise."
Rairty hopped to her hooves in a Pinkie like manner. "Manehatten? The Manehatten?"
"They are a more modern area and while…" I began "…the Dutchy of New Yoke is organized into counties, and in the case of Manehatten the five baronies, no pony has ever held any title corresponding to the area."
"But it is still is the Manehatten?"
Celestia nodded. "Yes my little pony. Though the crown can only offer you a very small plot of land as your holding there, we feel you will find some use for it."
"I own…" Rarity began, then began to waver. "Oh, I feel faint…"
A guard in gleaming armor caught her before she could even begin to tip. He hadn't been that close, but that didn't stop the pegasus from easily catching her.
"Sister, we think you have forgotten something. All of them should be granted land. Unlike the right to vote in the house of nobles we not only can, but must grant them that."
"Not true, we can simply have their current properties reclassified as such. That should be sufficient."
"So what, yer saying Sweet apple acres in now like some fancy manor house or something. That don't sound right."
"It is yours by right of crown yes."
"Which makes it incredibly hard to take away." I added.
"Ah guess ah can't argue wit that."
"OOO, does that mean the pie farm is the same way? Blinkie will like that."
"Uh, I don't even want any land." Said Dash
Celestia smiled. "Yes you do, but for now we'll leave that a surprise."
"And I just get my cottage, that's nice."
"No, you get slightly more than that. As nopony holds any deeds to the land of the Everfree with one small exception, your title grants you all of it."
"Oh. Uh, okay."
There was another chorus of stomping, but it died down relatively quickly this time. Truthfully the Everfree was anything but prime real estate, but it was a lot of land. Celestia then smiled broadly. Rarity was once again on her hooves.
"And now we are done here. Let us celebrate."
"Now wait just a minute there princess. Seems like you're forgetting somepony mighty important. Twilight did more than any of us, and not just once or twice but…"
"AJ, really it's okay. You really don't need to say anything."
"We do not understand? Is Twilight not already the Dutchess of Platinum Mountain?"
I sighed as Rarity fainted once again. I guess I couldn’t avoid it forever. Besides, with what just happened they might not freak out quite as much. Silent Sky was very suddenly beside her sister, silver armor glinting. She covered her with a wing and I think they began to talk, but I couldn’t hear them.
"Oh and one last thing. Since they are now all officially of the members of the court I can send them on ambassadorial missions without prior approval. Just so you know."
Oh, that's what the smirk really was. She was getting around a rule she didn't like by giving us a reward that some ponies may not like. But why does she think she needs us to visit other countries as ambassadors?
I sighed. Pinkie and Dash were being very silly. Silent Sky and Fluttershy were still talking in the corner, and Applejack was reading a book on royal property law that just so happened to be the only book in the room. It was a waiting room of some sort, a large window with a great view of Canterlot. Rarity was still unconscious on the couch. I think she had to fully understand what my title meant, and then of course blew it way out of proportion in her own mind.
"No, you first Lady Pinkie."
"No, I insist, you Lady Dash."
Then they both broke into laughter. Again. I don't think either of them had even a sip of their tea yet. Then I suddenly felt myself in a magical grip, and was spun around to face a very awake Rarity.
"You will explain in full. Now."
I sighed. "Its not that complicated. I haven't liked telling ponies for a while. Honestly I don't even think about it much, and everypony in Canterlot already knows. I don't get a vote and my estate consists entirely of my house. It's no big deal."
"No big deal? Even if the position has no power now it is still a terribly important position. Everypony knows that."
"I don't." said Dash
"Me neither, Countess Rarity." Pinkie then reared up and opened her mouth, twin fangs sticking out like a vampire." She then laughed as she flopped to the floor.
"Ah don't know neither by the way."
"I don't really either." Said Fluttershy
"I do of course, but I spent most of my time in an ancient library." Added Sky
"I see. Well then I will explain." Said Rarity "It is very simple. This mountain was named after one of the three founders of Equestria."
"Prior to Canterlot Platinum City sat upon the mountain." I added. "In the age of insanity, which the events of are now considerably more clear, the mountain ate the city. I used to think that was figurative, but under a literal interpretation the ruins found inside the mountain make considerably more sense."
"The important point is while the three tribes made peace, each created their own great city within a small distance from each other. Platinum Mountain eventually became the name of smallest duchy in the kingdom as it did define it most clearly."
"Yea, Cloudsdale was the Pegasai city, but we were so awesome we didn't build a new one, we just moved it all the way over here. Cool right?"
"Ooooo" added Pinkie
"And the last one was castle Everfree and it's surrounding village." I added
"What?" echoed everypony but Sky and Fluttershy.
"Obviously this was before Discord. Clearly the records during the age of insanity were corrupted because of him, but one thing was clear enough. Before Discord the castle and surrounding town were built on a relatively featureless plain. After there was a wild uncontrollable forest with only the castle remaining."
"That varmit probably dun messed up the ground too."
"Oh my." Said Fluttershy.
"It obviously became known as the castle of the pony sisters because it was the only appropriate structure still standing."
"Hmm, very interesting Twilight, but we believe you are trying to leave out the most important part on purpose."
I sighed. "Even then Equestria's government was an odd mix of the Unicorn's monarchy, the Pegasus Republic, and the Earth Pony Democracy. The Unicorns kept most of their titles and prestige, but their power was considerably reduced."
"You're still stalling. Tell them."
"Ultimately this means Equestria always had a queen, but in a effort to keep succession simple and the best candidate chosen, the next in line was always give a certain position. Though the post hasn't been filled for literal centuries, it still exists."
"And it is of course the Dutchess of Platinum Mountain." Said Rarity.
Now everypony but Rarity and Sky gasped.
"But it doesn’t mean anything." I said "If Celestia and Luna were gone yes I suppose I would be called to rule in absentia under the law, but in practice, it's meaningless. If they were gone the sun and the moon would fail to move. It wouldn’t matter."
Everypony looked down. It was a horrible thing to even think about. Then Celstia and Luna entered the room. They both looked around, smiles on their faces fading slightly.
"What is this."
I shook my head. "Nothing important. Just thinking about something that can never happen anyway, right girls."
"Oh yea, Duh." Said Pinkie
"Right." Echoed everypony else
"So have you yet told the tale of why Sunny gave thee your title?"
"Then I think I would prefer to tell it myself Twilight." Celestia smiled "You see young Twilight was a filly in a castle full of nobles but no title of her own."
"Ah think ah see where this is going."
"At first there were no problems, but eventually some nobles began to order her about because they realized she would not question them and do as they ask. Eventually it got so bad she would often be reduced to tears. Which she vainly tired to hide."
"I still don't understand how you knew every time they picked on me."
"I decided this simply could not continue. I asked for a list of vacant titles. I asked them to be complete as possible, and saw one even I had forgotten. On a lark I decided it would quite funny to grant her that title."
"Of course there were some rules about titles even then, but they weren't as strict."
Pinkie laughed. "Oh, I get it. You're why they changed them."
Celestia nodded. "Indeed. I granted Twilight her title for her great service to Equestria. Specifiacally her bringing me my tea up from the kitchens during any night study sessions."
"That's it?" asked Rarity
"I thought for a minute some were about to object, but for some reason the room remained quiet, no pony saying anything."
The room was silent for a moment then Pinkie burst into laughter. Rarity glared at her, but Celestia was still smiling, and soon everypony joined in. Then the door opened and Spike rushed across the room to hug me. He was still colored like Dash.
"What the hay." Said Dash
"Oh you know me, sometimes I'm not too great in a crisis."
"Twilight I was so scared."
"Don't worry Spike, everything is okay now."
"No, I mean her."
He then pointed at Moonfire as she trotted in the door. She looked at Luna and Celestia a brief moment, then walked over to me.
"How rude." Said Rarity
"Oh come on you big baby, it wasn't that bad." Then she blinked. "Oh, I guess you literally are a big baby, at least relatively speaking. Though taking into account the size of a full grown dragon you're unusually small but…"
"May I ask who you are?" asked Celestia
"Oh I'm Moonfire, Twilight's pen pal." She didn't bother to turn around
"Thy insolence does thee no favors. Twilight speaks highly of thine intellect, but clearly your manners are sup par at best." Luna lightly glared at her
"Neither of you have done anything to earn my respect, so I feel no need to offer you any extra respect in return. Simple as that."
I couldn’t keep my hooves still. What to do? "Oh she doesn't mean that princess. Really Moonfire is a nice pony she simply…"
Celestia held up a hoof and smiled. "There is no need Twilight. It is actually somewhat refreshing to meet a pony who isn't afraid of me."
"Yea. I mean why should I be. Even if you reduce me to ash I'll be fine. I mean I'm not looking to get an entire government angry at me, that's never fun, but just because you have power doesn't mean I should respect you."
"Well said." Added Celestia.
I let out a breath I wasn't aware I had been holding. Okay, so she managed to not get herself incinerated. That was a very good first step. It seemed like Celestia even liked her. Luna was still glaring a little but hopefully everything would be fine.
"Uh, what the hay do you mean by you'll be fine?"
"Also while we're at it, what did you do to poor spike?" asked Rarity
"Huh, oh, I just teleported him here. He didn't like it. You girls were already gone and he said he wanted to get here as quick as possible, and here we are."
"I'll never complain about your teleports ever again Twilight." Said Spike
"What about mah question?"
"Well that's a bit, complicated."
"I can help with that."
Silent Sky walked forward, Fluttershy behind her. Moonfire immediately glared at Sky, but then sighed and her face became more neutral.
"It's clear he wasn't exaggerating."
Moonfire sighed, hanging her head. "Let me guess, Dream Volt?"
"Yes. He is a lieutenant serving under me. Before you ask by royal order and for a good reason. As you can see my wings look somewhat different."
"Ah, so that stayed the same."
"Oh, I get it now." Said Fluttershy
I laughed. "So you're from a different universe? Why didn't you just say so? I knew you sounded a bit weird, but I could have suggested some books."
Moonfire blinked. "Wait, that's all you have to say? Just oh, now I get it?"
"So she is truly ignorant of the way of things here?" Said Luna
"Ah, so she literally was never taught proper manners."
Moonfire opened her mouth but I shoved a hoof in it before she could say anything. I knew she really did know how to act, she just had a problem with authority. We didn't talk about our lives too much, so I didn't realize how strongly she felt about it. She then sighed and said nothing, calmly removing my hoof from her mouth.
"Wait, she still ain't answered mah question."
"Before I came here I was a phoenix. Sort of. I literally can't explain exactly what I was because of the filter, but even though I'm mostly a normal unicorn I still retain one ability of a phoenix. I can die, but it's temporary."
"Oh, you mean if something horrible ever happened to Philomena even if she wasn't due to molt for some time she'd still be fine?" asked Fluttershy
Celestia nodded. "Yes. That is most certainly the case. It is a somewhat odd ability for a pony to possess, but far from the oddest I've ever heard of."
"Really? I have to admit this place is way more interesting than I thought it would be. If he just explained it right Dream wouldn’t have had to trick me into the portal at all."
"I think he will be quite eager to see you. Your majesties, may I?"
"Yes." Said Luna
"Of course. Unless you have something more to say."
"Not really. I guess I'll see you later Twilight."
"You mean you're staying?"
"Yea. I mean Dream is a huge dweeb, but he's my dweeb."
She then followed Sky out of the room. I decided a spell to fix Spike's colors now was probably a good idea. I was pretty sure what I must of used and sure enough with a flash the counterspell worked perfectly. He finally let go of me, but was still a little wobbly. He probably needs more rest.
"Oh, your majesty." Rarity then gave a very slight head bow and turned to Celestia. "Could you please say why you liked my dress so much."
"Because it greatly resembles one my mother made long ago. So greatly in fact that I did not wish to discuss it in public."
"But I've never see such a dress before. It was strangely easy to make, almost like a was simply making a variation on a dress but I assure you your majesty I didn't work form a picture of any kind or…"
"Of course not my little pony. There is no such record, of that we have no doubt."
I gasped. "She scryed the distant past, without even realizing it?"
"I am not sure that is entirely accurate. However I am more strongly convinced than ever Luna is right, and you are the elements made flesh. The ability to know what a pony truly wants and needs would fit generosity well I think."
Then the door opened and four guards entered. Two of Luna's moon guard, and two of Celestia's normal guards. They all saluted, and then one of the white pegasai spoke.
"Ah, perfect timing. Come now, we must be off sister."
Luna sighed. "Of course."
Then they left. Did Celestia really plan to be interrupted at just that moment? Rarity was just standing there, saying nothing. Everypony else seemed to agree with her. I certainly couldn’t think of anything.
The party was amazing. The great hall now looked almost as bad as during the Grand Galloping Gala, but only a few small statues were knocked over, various fabrics merely very dirty rather than torn, and nothing seemed to actually be broken. Though I think I was the only one of my friends to really see the aftermath. Celestia had amazingly teleported most of the ponies from Ponyville home, and my friends had all wandered off somewhere. Dash went off with the Wonderbolts, Fluttershy was outside in the garden, and Applejack left with some stallion with an apple on his flank that literally looked like it was made of gold and silver. I had no idea where Pinkie and Rarity had gone, but they didn't seem to be around either.
Celestia and Spike were the only two I knew still here. Luna had been here a while, but left rather early. A large number of worker ponies were clearing up the room as best they could, but they were avoiding Celestia and myself, despite us doing the same job. Though mostly we were just talking. Then Discord appeared in front of me right as I was casting a spell that should have reattached a table leg. The whole table was instead reduced to splinters.
"Oh, so sorry. I meant to insure at least some of it went in somepony's eyes."
"What are you doing here monster." Said Celestia
He rolled his eyes. "As if you don't know Cici. It had to be you that showed the brat how to make such an intricate spell to bind me to that stupid boring town."
"What do you mean bind?" I asked
"Oh don't play dumb with me." He then leaned in close. "I mean can't get too far away from the center of town or I get teleported back. You six count as part of the town in some way, but I can't get too far from you or the same happens. You're really just planning to torment me forever aren't you?"
"And your power is what's keeping the spell going?" asked Celestia
"Yes, again, very clever, but I'll figure a way out of it. Also locking even that tiny fraction of my power into the town itself wasn't smart." Then Discord smiled. "But I figured out why you took the risk. The rest is in town somewhere. And clearly mobile since at times I can almost feel it, but other times the distortion from the seal in the center of town is too much. You didn't plan for that, did you?"
Celestia and I both smiled at once.
"Really?" Then his face fell. "I just told you a great deal of things you didn't know since your fancy jewels are still not easy to control and you had no idea what they did."
Celestia nodded. "Absolutely."
"It doesn't matter. Once I know how you've sealed the bulk of my power I can get it back, it will only be a matter of time."
"Unless it was sealed in something alive. For that matter, when you say the town, are you sure it is the stone and wood, or something alive?"
"Or maybe something that's both." I said "The library is already laced with a ton of magic, and is in fact still alive. What if the spell was bound there."
Discord cringed. "Then I would be stuck forever."
"And…." Celestia smiled. "The great lord of chaos' power could be sealed in a handful of blades of grass."
There was a sudden loud buzzer sound. "Oh sorry, but no." Then he blinked. "Oh, I still have that, it's clearly a bit more random than Lulu thought."
"Because you know your own power." I said "And know it can't be sealed like that. It has to be something higher, at least an animal, but probably more."
Discord leaned in close to look at me with one eye. "Hmmm, Cici was always a little slow when it came to the really important stuff wasn't she, but you're a bit different somehow. Also there is something about you."
"I have my limits, but you are the one truly weak at seeing what truly is and what truly is not. From the first time I saw her I knew Twilight was special."
Discord pulled back. "Oh, and just for fun I'll even tell you you're absolutely right. If you wanted to lock up my power for good there is only one thing you could do that would really stick." He then smiled "Stick it in a pony."
"So some of the residents of Ponyville…" I began
"Yes, and while I don't have the power to alter their thoughts right now, as Cici well knows I can be very convincing."
Then he cackled and with a snap of his fingers was gone. I thought about tracking him down, but then realized that probably wouldn't help. Spike then stuck his head out from under a tablecloth that was still mostly on the table, unlike so many others.
"Is he gone?"
"Spike, you don't need to be afraid. His powers really are mostly gone."
"I wasn't afraid, I just really don't like looking at that guy. It makes me queasy."
"Do you think it has anything to do with the scroll overload from earlier?"
"Nah, it was before that too."
"Ah yes." Said Celestia "I would like those scrolls back."
"Back? But weren't they just you asking for a status report or the like?"
Celestia shook he head. "No, they were your friendship reports. I thought they would be helpful for you to recover yourself. Was that not a problem?"
"No, it was, but I have a book that automatically makes a copy of anything written with the quills I have Spike use. It's far better than having Spike make a second copy of all the letters I send you."
"You can say that again." Then Spike blinked "Wait, are you saying I went though all that for nothing?"
"It would appear so young dragon." Said Celestia
"Sorry Spike. If things had been just a little different it could have been downright vital, but with my book recording everything, it wasn't."
Spike suddenly went wide eyed. "Wait, everything I write?" Then he blushed.
"Yes, everything." I then blushed myself. "Halfway though I was concerned about having the talk with you, but by the end it was clear enough you had raided the anatomy books and Rarity's romance novels."
"Wait, is that why you gave me that lecture about quality literature?"
"Of course. I still don't see what Rairty sees in those books."
"Uh, Lady Diamond and Sir Scales didn't seem familiar to you or anything, did they?"
"Oh no Spike, not at all."
"Whew, good, I was worried there for a second. Uh, I'm going to go, uh, home, yea. I'm very tired and don't feel like going all the way back to Ponyville. My basket is still in your house here right?"
Then he ran off and I sighed. One day Spike might learn to recognize sarcasm, but it didn't seem like it would be anytime soon. Which was odd really. I may not think of it as one of my best traits, but I know I can be very sarcastic at times. Celestia smiled.
"Hmm, I think we should warn your friends. You talk to Fluttershy, I will have guards find and inform the rest."
"And Twilgiht, I would like not only the reports back, but a copy of that book of yours as well. Just box it all up and I'll have some guards come get it."
"Of course Princess."
It was only after she flew off that something suddenly came to mind.
"But if she has the reports, why does she need the book?"
It hadn't been bugging me at first, but now here I was in Canterlot in the middle of the night. The night court was well lit but currently empty. Luna sat upon the throne and laughed. I blinked. Silent Sky was to the right of her and Firecracker the left.
"Twilight Sparkle. The sun is going to raise in scant few hours. You came in just as court ended. Sister told me you kept odd hours at times but ponies not in my service up at this hour are a true rarity."
"Oh." I looked down. "Sorry for bothering you it's just…"
"I am busy, but I will always have time for you Twilight Sparkle. What concern of yours could not wait until my sister awakes?"
I laughed, still not meeting her eyes. "Heh, that sorta was my first thought, but really when I teleported here I wanted to see you."
I looked up to see a smile and this hopeful look in her eyes. Sky and Firecracker both sighed. Sometimes I still forget how right Celestia was about her sister being even more clueless about friendship than I was. One of the main differences Luna seems to crave it to an extent I never did, and still don't. Of course the eager look was soon gone, but that didn't really change anything. I smiled.
"Of course. You're without a doubt the expert here. You realized the truth before we did and while your conclusion is still debatable, Celestia seems to be leaning the same way."
"That you are the elements. So something about that is keeping you awake?"
"Yes. Specifically that I haven't changed."
"What do you mean exactly? We are not sure."
"I mean that my friends have all changed. In Fluttershy's case a great deal, Raity in small ways but physically and magically, Pinkie both and neither at the same time, and AJ and Dash's magic has altered in major ways."
"And you think you haven't?"
"Yes. I didn't think much of it at the time but Rarity's magic clearly has expanded in a way I don't even understand. She knew and..."
"In short you're saying there is no pattern?"
I sighed and hung my head. "I am a silly pony, aren't I?"
Luna laughed. "In a way. However just because none of you are taking quite the same path doesn't mean you aren't all moving forward. I doubt that will happen to any of you as long as you remain by each others sides."
I raised my head. "What do you mean?"
"I mean Twilight, you are not your friends. But you have changed. I could try to simply tell you, but I would prefer you answer a question for me first."
"Of course." I smiled
"What have you learned about magic recently."
I froze. I immediately teleported in several of my journals from Ponyville. I can't mess this up. It's far too important. I quickly sped through the floating journals trying to find the right pages, but wasn't really sure what pages those were.
"Twilight. Calm thyself."
I looked up. "But you said that…"
"I do not need the details, you have already given those to me. Well formatted as well, and various possible conclusions for that matter. I am looking for something more basic."
"A synopsis. An overview. This is not a test, it is meant to help illustrate an answer. So now tell me, what have you learned."
"I don't know where to begin."
"Emotions." Said Sky
"Hmm, yes, that will do I think."
"What?" Then I shook my head. "Wait I have this, I have this."
I was hyperventilating. Slowly I began counting prime numbers. Moonfire was right this did work better than just counting all integers in a row starting from one. Of course she used it when she was ready to hit a pony not panic attacks. I felt much more calm and focused. This is just like when Celestia asked me a question she already knew the answer to. It was a test, but more a teaching method. I took a deep breath.
"Okay. Emotion is generally taught as something to eliminate from spell casting. Focus and will, in that order. Pegasai magic seems fueled by it instead, but then I had an idea. Namely that emotion could drive all sorts of magic, even unicorn."
Luna nodded. "Go on."
"I tested this with my brother's shield. He was trained to restrict emotion as well since it can mess with proper spell casting, but when teaching me when thing he mentioned to me that I always thought was odd how thinking about who you're protecting helps."
"As in you and the rest of his family?" said Sky "Even if you were nowhere nearby."
I nodded and smiled. "Exactly. He was using emotion to strengthen his magic. It could do more than merely disrupt or cause loss of control. And I proved it. In fact…" I then paused. "But that isn't exactly about emotion and…."
"If it answers my question by all means continue."
"Well focus, will emotion, and…" I paused again. "Calm? I'm not really sure how to describe it. It's feeling the flow of magic in your own body. There might be another one or two factors as well but I'm not sure."
"Factors for what?" Asked Firecracker. "Spell casting?"
I nodded. "Obviously. I'd guess six since mystically speaking that number comes up an awful lot, but I'm not sure. The point is all the factors matter. Some types of magic and possibly casting methods seem to lend themselves to certain factors, but the others can't be ignored. In fact I think…"
"Yes, all of them matter." Said Luna "Flow is the term the hippocampi use of the last for obvious reasons. Symbology is a fifth."
I smiled widely. "Oh, of course. Like runes. But it's more than that. Symbols make the ethereal concrete. Love is a vague concept, but with a heart you can sum up the entire idea simply and make others understand. Or use it spellcraft."
"Whoa, you just blew my mind."
Sky shook her head. "You use that phrase so often it has become virtually meaningless."
"And it's in all magic somewhat isn't it? We don't even think about but…" Then I gasped. "Wait, words are symbols in this context too aren't they?"
"Wow, it exploded twice." Said Firecracker
Sky just sighed.
Luna nodded. "Of course. It's a simple concept, but one not often considered. Though conversely it rarely needs to be."
"But it's still important."
"If there is a sixth I don't know it, even if I may in fact make use of it. I have always strongly suspected there is, but cannot determine what it could possibly be. So, do you understand yet?"
I blinked. I wasn't sure what I was to understand. While this was all so fascinating it didn't seem to answer my question in any way. I hung my head.
"Do not despair. I did not think that would be enough, so my next question is how many spells do you know?"
"Okay, just give me a moment."
I focused on the journal in question. I then realized the other journals were still floating in front of me and sent them back. A simple ID rune made bringing the right book easy. With a flash it was in front of me. I flipped though it looking over the various subtotals, and the big total at the back on the book.
"Hmmm, I remember now, I started having trouble figuring it out."
I looked up to see Luna smiling. "Really."
"Geesh, I can see why."
I fell over. Firecracker had been standing next to me reading over my shoulder. I briefly thought she must be spending even more time with Pinkie than I thought to learn her tricks, but then realized I was reading. One time a rogue spell demolished the wall in front of me and I didn't even notice until someone took my book away. I got a little angry and then there was another wall to fix, but in my defense it was a really good book.
"Uh, where was I again?"
"You couldn't figure it out." Said Firecracker, still invading my personal space. "I don't even get this notation. I mean you've got like a billion variants in here and some seem to be listed as variants of more than one spell."
"They are. Actually it's starting to seem like every spell is just a variant of every other."
Firecracker rolled her eyes. "Wow, you've really been hitting the books to hard haven't you. I mean that's just silly."
"NEIGH." Luna then smiled. "It is anything but."
"What?" Firecracker then scoffed and let out a little snort. "That's totally bonkers. Magic doesn’t work that way. Fire spells will never be variants of ice.
I smiled "Oh but they are. Sure the effects aren't remotely similar, but all magic doesn't just share the same source, but similarity in the patterns when the spell is cast. In the case of fire and ice they are mostly inverted versions of each other, fire is a chemical reaction and ice water with a lack of temperature so they aren't exactly opposites but…"
"So her cold spell may actually make sense in some way after all?" asked Sky
I nodded. "Obviously. In fact it almost seems like there is a better way to teach magic than individual spells, the language of the patterns themselves, but I can't quite figure out how a pony could even do that."
Luna clapped her front hooves together. "Very good Twilight. Extraordinary in fact. Do you know how long it took me to figure that out?"
"Uh, a few years? It seems really basic actually. I don't know why I didn't see it sooner I guess I'm just…"
"Somewhere between 600 and 800 years."
I fell down, sprawled over the floor. "What?"
"Mam sure you are exaggerating slightly and…"
"No Sky. I am not. Though as I have said before some things are a touch scrambled."
"What do you mean scrambled?" I asked
"Unimportant. What is important is I am at least about right. Granted this was nearer to the beginning of history so I had considerably less resources than you do."
"It's still impressive I'm sure." Added Sky
"So now I ask you Twilight, can you tell me what I think has changed?"
I stared forward. "I'm…"
I stopped. I had an answer, but it just sounded so ridiculous. Except I have made more progress in my magical studies in the last month or so than the last few, and since I used the elements even with all the distractions of having friends I've mastered countless more spell than the rest of my entire life. I'd have to double check my magic journals and spell books but I had a strong feeling what I'd see if I did. I slowly stood up.
"I'm getting better? I was always considered a prodigy, but somehow my natural aptitude is still increasing. Magic ability always increased in an exponential manner, the more spells you know the easier it is to learn even more, but there is usually a ceiling, or at least a road bump. But I won't have that problem, will I?"
Luna nodded. "And thus you have changed and not changed at all. You are advancing at a steady, if accelerating pace. While your friends bursts of advancement are more impressive, it doesn't mean you aren't different too."
I smiled. It was so simple. Then a stray thought started to bug me. That all sounded perfectly reasonable, but suddenly one piece didn't fit.
"But knowledge doesn't come from nowhere."
"Well yes, and it isn't knowledge but…"
"No, that still doesn't make sense." I shook my head, frowning. "Talent is not some measurable number it is a function of personality intellect and maybe some other factors but it can't just go up directly."
"But there are spells that…" Luna then paused. "Wait, no increasing intellect is possible which can help but you're right. What does…"
"I believe I know." Sky then blinked and turned to Luna. "Sorry for interrupting."
"No, go ahead my captain. I am interested in what you have to say."
"The elements are connected. This is obvious. As Luna is right, this means the elements are now six living ponies. The source of magic is living things, and magical power is generated by their interactions."
I gasped. "Omigosh, that's why the rainboom jump started my magic. We were already connected in some small way but it strengthened the bond." I smiled. "You know I used to be an unusually weak spellcaster. I didn't even have any magic surges when younger. Usually that means poor magic when older. Which means…"
I laughed out loud. My friends were essentially the source of my power, and maybe even most of my talent. I loved magic so much and my cutie mark leaves no doubt, but none of that meant I had to be powerful or as talented as I am. Then suddenly I figured out where she was going with this and stared.
"But that doesn't answer my question. It's them. I haven't suddenly gotten so much better at air and earth magic just because I've been studying it, but because Dash and AJ are understanding their own magic better."
"I believe so." Said Sky "Nature is much the same, correct?"
I looked down. "Nature can be tricky, but I have been having better luck. I'm still having trouble with water but it does seem a little more sensible somehow suddenly."
I looked up to see Luna and Firecracker staring at Silent Sky. Sky blinked. Then she let out a short laugh.
"You know I take my job very seriously. Magic relates to all the greatest threats to Equestria in one way or another. Of course I've studied it extensively, and think about its nature often. Know thy enemy, including their magic."
"Yes. We are sorry good captain. We forget sometimes to true extent of your talents."
"Yea, sorry bossmare, but usually lacking a horn means you can't really get…"
I stepped forward. "But that's just it, she can. Unicorns have a major edge since our horn is specifically designed to not just focus, but also analyze magic. Sometimes I don't even have to think about it. I just know how the magic is around something."
"I guess that happens sometimes, but only with fire and junk."
I smiled. "So in the end I owe my friends almost everything. Without them…"
"HOLD." Luna then smiled when I stopped "While there is some logic to that conclusion, we believe you are missing the point."
"The rainboom awakened something in you, but trust that you were well and truly separated afterward again. You…"
"Wait, are you…" Then I gasped and hung my head. "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. Just…"
"No, finish your thought. We think it may make our assurances pointless, if no less accurate. Some of your power is your own and your skill, but that doesn't worry you, does it."
I smiled "Of course not. It's just one more thing I owe my friends. I guess you could say I really did have some friends in Canterlot, but I don't think my family, my babysitter and my mentor really count, no matter how amazing they are."
"Or how much they act like your friends since you feel as if they have a sort of duty to you and dismiss that connection." Luna then sighed. "You should never dismiss such a thing Twilight Sparkle, no matter where it comes from."
Then she smiled and looked at her two guards. As a princess most of the ponies you interact with daily work for you directly, and those that don't are still your subjects. Celestia is always friends with everypony, regardless of position. Even if there is some obligation there, that doesn't make it any less real. I smiled up at Luna.
"You're right of course. Even if I classified them as some other category I suppose they all sorta were my friends even your sister in a strange way."
"A strange way? What does thou mean by that. Thou art mine sister's only true…" Luna then suddenly stopped and sighed. "Never mind Twilight. It is not our place to speak of such things."
"We interrupted you. We believe you were about to make a point about your friends."
I was crying a little suddenly. "I almost lost them yesterday. Discord…" I sniffled and used a hoof to wipe away a few tears, then smiled. "But he didn't and that makes me happy. I don't mind owing them anything more, because it's like infinity. It doesn't matter how much more I owe them because everything is still everything."
Luna smiled. "I see. Still, they are not the only source of your power, even if it is more than significant."
"Also from what we know of the elements most likely you are also the source of their power, and this is true of all of you."
"All of us…"
My five best friends in the world are amazing, but they aren't the only friends I've made since coming to Ponyville. Lyra remembered me more than I remembered her, but since moving here we even taught each other a spell or two. Sugar Grape is the only really regular customer I get at the library and knows the fiction section better than I do. Derpy is a great mare to talk to and she finally seems to believe I accepted her apology. There are countless other friends too. Most I barely know more than their name, but we're still relatively pleasant to each other. I smiled.
"I bet just about anything if I had the data there would be a direct correlation to how many friends I have and my increase in ability. Furthermore I bet the more I know them the better the effect. Especially with the other elements."
Luna was staring wide eyed. "That, makes sense."
"Hmmm." Sky was looking up. I noticed lots of pegasai did that while thinking "You know your brother's shield spell correct?"
"Most variants of it even. Though he's probably figured out a few dozen more by now."
"And one of Cadence's spell's as well?"
"Her want it need it spell. She worries that I learned it, but it would only be really dangerous if it lasted longer or was more powerful. She mostly uses it to make the paparazzi fall in love with lamp posts and such so she can ditch them."
"And your mother and father?"
"Some basic stuff of course, but from dad I learned a night sky telemetry spell. From mom I learned a spell than changes the color of paint. She refuses to alter it when on the canvas though, which seems strange to me. I mean wouldn’t it be so much easier just to paint the canvas with whatever color and change it all to exactly the image you want?"
"That sounds really difficult." Said Firecracker.
"I believe that is missing the point." Added Sky
"Mom says the same thing. I still don't get it."
"So, what about Celestia?"
"Oh she's taught me so much I don't even know where I would begin. She's an amazing teacher. I can try a spell by myself countless times, but with her helping I get it pretty quickly." Then blinked. "Although…"
"It seems like she got even better with time?"
I nodded. "Yes. How did you guess?"
I was trying to figure out exactly what that meant when I heard a clunk. Luna was still staring, and now sprawled on the floor halfway down the steps leading to her throne. She quickly stood, and walked back up, quickly sitting down and shifting about to get comfortable again. What was that about?"
"Putting aside the matter of stealing away recently resumed jobs for the moment."
"What?" I said, blinking
"Though I guess the possibility isn't all bad. It's a difficult spell, so merely being an acquaintance is not enough. Good friends, maybe even best friends."
"I still don't understand what you're talking about."
"It is of little concern. You have your answer. Now I shall spirit you home."
With a flash of her horn I was back home standing next to my bed. I was still a little confused, about a few things actually but none of them seemed that important right now. I yawned. Well it looks like I can sleep now at least.
"Which is odd because there is so much to consider."
"Whu?" said weary voice from some distance
"Sorry Spike, just go back to bed."
I heard some inarticulate mumbling in reply. I then giggled, followed shortly by another yawn. It has been a hectic couple of days and it is really late. I can at least get a few hours of sleep then think about this more in the morning. I hadn't heard anything bad tonight, just strange, and mostly good. The second I hit the pillow I suddenly didn't have the energy to even pull up my blankets. I then realized I should just use my magic. I closed my eyes a few times before I got the blanket over me. That's comfy.
You've really aged terribly. I mean it seriously shouldn’t be possible for immortal beings to look that much worse over time. You just look amazingly terrible.
Also, you smell like dirty diapers.
By the way, today I learned that six mortal ponies are somehow way better than you at magic. That's just sad.
Kisses, the one true king of Equestira, Discord
PS. It could be worse. At least you're not Luna.
First, a quick listing of how the Discorded chapter names should read
Laugh on the wind
Stained Glass and Rules
Twilight, Rarity, and Tom
Flutterwrath and Downer Pie
Moonfire shows up (or something. Honestly I just threw two random words in there with her name)
Fight for my friends
Dash's honesty and stuff
AJ's loyalty and Rarity's awesomeness
Fluttershy's laughter and a fools defeat
Questions and Answers is long and sorta off. I may rewrite it, but I really want to get the last of the first 6 episodes up, so for now, it stays.
From the moment discord shows up if you haven't seen the two episodes in question you would be really confused, but I figure that's really unlikely. Especially if you're actually reading this. So anything I didn't retell happened about the same.
My greatest regret about this story is Twilight didn't have any good opportunities to be snarky. Maybe next time. Also, I think I got at least your daily recomended dose of adorkability in there.