Aunt Celestia decided to grace my tour of Canterlot with a beautiful summer morning, with thick puffy clouds scattered across a deep blue sky. It was warm, but not hot, with a gentle breeze that ruffled my long mane across my face. The weather was probably the Pegasi’s work and it wasn’t like I could really get my aunt to make it sunny for me, but I liked to think it was for my benefit.
I was so excited to finally be able to hang out with other ponies for the first time, especially my new friend, Shining Armor. He really was my friend now, and I couldn’t be happier. Twilight had been a nice, albeit mischievous little filly to play with, but the gallant colt was the first friend I had made who was in my age group. I may completely lose it around him, but at least he was somepony to talk to, and somepony who wanted to spend time with me. I was also really excited that he wanted to show me around the town, even if I had mostly explored it all on my own by now.
I still was scared to show Shining Armor my true origins and tried to hide my wings under a pretty little summer cape, hoping I didn’t run into any nobleponies who would recognize me that day. I fretted over my appearance, not sure if I should wear my mane tied up like I usually did, or leave it down. Would it be too hot to leave it down? Should I wear eye shadow? My mother didn’t really approve of me wearing makeup much, but I was sure she would understand. I wasn’t a princess that day after all, just a teen filly going out with friends.
I knew I had to tell Shining Armor the truth soon. I wasn’t going to keep my identity secret forever, I just wanted to feel like a normal unicorn a little longer. To walk around the town with my friends, and to not care what other ponies thought of me. That was my wish, and I would make it last for as long as I could.
I galloped into the busy square of Mane street where the beautifully marble-sculpted fountain of two alicorn sisters stood proud and tall in the middle of a cross street. I had taken too long getting ready and I was running late, so I saw the tall unicorn colt and little Twilight already waiting for me by the fountain. Not ten minutes into my first time out with a friend and I had already embarrassed myself.
“I’m so sorry I’m late.” I called, cantering the last steps and arriving breathlessly beside them.
“You really are no good at galloping.” Was the first thing impish Twilight said, and I raised my eyebrow at her.
“Hello to you too, Twilight.” I muttered, catching my breath.
“Twily, don’t be mean.” Shining Armor scolded, and I was happy to have somepony stand up for me for once.
“What? It’s just a fact.” The filly asked, genuinely confused.
“Quit torturing your foalsitter or you won’t get a piggyback ride later.” Shining Armor continued, playfully.
“Aww.” Twilight groaned then looked up at me. “Sorry Cadance…” she mumbled and I smirked.
“Hi Cadance. Don’t worry about being late, we weren’t waiting long.” The colt added, smiling at me so that his kind eyes sparkled.
“Yes we were.” Mumbled Twilight, and he swatted her softly. I think I needed him to be there for my foalsitting. It would save me a lot of headaches.
“So um, where to?” I offered, hoping to stop their slight bickering. The last thing I wanted to do was to cause a riff between them.
“Oh, well, that really depends on what you’ve seen already.” Shining Armor replied. “I’m no tour guide so I don’t exactly know where the best places are to go. I just thought it might be fun to have somepony to go sightseeing with.” He continued, apologetically. But I didn’t mind, I just wanted to have a friend to be with too.
“I know where we can go!” Twilight exclaimed.
“Not the library again, Twily.” The colt groaned, and I giggled, imagining the studious little unicorn dragged him there often.
“No, the art museum!” she cried. Her elder brother looked to me for confirmation and I smiled, encouragingly.
“Art museum it is.”
We spent the morning looking at the city sights, saving the more extravagant palace for the afternoon. The art museum was actually not all that interesting to me just because the region where I came from was well known for beautiful art by the most talented ponies in history. The Canterlot Art Museum didn’t really compare to the sculptures and buildings I could see just from walking through the streets of Roam. But Twilight loved it, which meant she ran around looking at things and I got a chance to talk to Shining Armor on my own.
He told me how he was working as a counselor at a camp for young colts interested in becoming a part of the royal guard academy, which I had already learned he was a student of. It was his first summer job and he was proud to have it. He asked me why I was stuck studying in the summer and I just shrugged it off as a summer exchange program. My summer job was watching his sister. I told him I was home-schooled so I didn’t get to meet many ponies and I was really happy to be able to hang out with him. It was mostly the truth and I found it easier to talk with him now. At least I didn’t stammer or blush so much anymore.
When we entered the palace gardens I became cautious and kept behind Shining Armor, praying no pony would recognize me. I wasn’t really that well known, especially with my wings hidden, and I still looked like just a regular pony, not having grown anywhere near as tall as my Aunt Celestia. I wondered when or if that day would actually come. Still, it was the inside guards I really had to worry about. They saw me wondering around the palace in the day, and were duty bound to protect me so they obviously knew exactly who I was. Fortunately, the serene and beautiful gardens were not a place of high security, and I didn’t see any of the familiar golden armoured pegasi or unicorns around.
We passed through the flower garden that was in full bloom, but Twilight kept trying to pick the flowers, which was going to get us in trouble, and that was the last thing I needed. So we entered the sculpture garden instead. I had been there a few times before, but as a filly the cold, stone monuments with their unseeing eyes used to scare me, so I hadn’t really had the chance to see the whole thing yet.
Obviously Twilight didn’t suffer from this problem as she was hopping around the garden trying to talk to the pony statues that represented different types of virtues that one could possess. She asked The Statue of Courage if it had fought a Manticore and demanded to know what exactly Prudence was and was not satisfied with the answer. I liked the statue of the pegasus representing Freedom since that was what I so dearly wished for and was experiencing now. The Statue of Love was also beautiful; depicting a mare and stallion unicorn touching horns with eyes closed in concentration. I wondered if it had something to do with the unicorn my aunt had said she had heard about in ancient times, who had a similar gift as me.
Most of the statues in the garden were of ponies and their virtues they represented, but one tall sculpture was of a creature I had never seen before. It kind of looked like a dragon, but its head was more equine shaped with two different horns, a serpentine body with an eagle’s claw and the paw of a lion. Even its wings, legs and tail were mismatched. It was standing in a strange pose also, as if it were singing a passionate musical number and had just finished to a round of applause. I didn’t understand it and had no idea what it was.
Shining Armor was explaining one of the virtuous statues to Twilight across from me as I looked up at the strange stone creature alone, and then, it started to hit me. I began to feel some sort of strong emotions coming from the statue. It wasn’t like the emotional sensitivity I had to angry or sad ponies, but more like what I felt looking at the moon. But it wasn’t loneliness or sadness coming from this tangled up figure; it was a sickening mixture of confusion, chaos and most of all evil. It was pure unadulterated evil.
The maliciousness that resonated from that creature left me faint, and worse off than any other reaction I had experienced. But it wasn’t so much how ill it made me, but the fear it left in my heart. I was so frightened, so very frightened. I had to get away from that statue no matter what, but I wasn’t sure my now wobbly legs could carry me. My heart pounded in my chest as I struggled to find enough strength to gallop as far away as possible. In my fight or flight state I even considered breaking out my wings so I could fly away, not caring if it revealed my identity. But I managed to make it over to where Shining Armor and Twilight stood, still admiring the sculptures, not having any idea of the malevolent force I could feel all around me.
The two ponies looked up as I approached breathlessly, wanting to tell them to get away from whatever evil force I was sensing, but I barely made it to Shining Armor before my knees went weak and I started to fall to the ground.
“Cadance, are you alright?” I was suddenly aware of the elder colt anxiously calling out to me, and I realized I wasn’t on the ground, but held up by his strong back. I had managed to stay conscious, but he had held me up as I fell. I might have been embarrassed if I had had the strength at the minute.
“Y-yeah...” I stammered, swallowing, but feeling a bit better just from being a little farther away from that dark creature. “I think I might have just gotten too much sun.” I didn’t like to let many ponies know about my sensitivity, especially this time, since it made me seem crazy to be frightened of a statue.
“You should sit down. You look pale. Let’s get you something to drink.” He said, concernedly. Even dismissive Twilight was looking up at me with worry. This was great.
“I’m OK, really.” I insisted, getting back to my hooves, but stumbling. There was nothing I could do to get better but leave the area since this wasn’t a case where I could just heal the problem with my magic, so I relented. “OK. I guess some rest wouldn’t hurt.”
I shakily left the gardens with Shining Armor staying by my side. It was sweet of him, but with every step I took away from the sculpture I grew stronger, and more aware of the embarrassment I had caused. I couldn’t go on like this. How was I supposed to interact with other ponies if I kept getting overwhelmed and almost passing out? It wasn’t fair, I didn’t want to be a weak pony; I wasn’t. I was a princess for crying out loud. Still, being held up by him was a little bit romantic.
We stopped at a small café where I was forced to sit down while Shining Armor got me a drink and left me with Twilight. His concern touched me, but I was feeling fine now that I was away from that horrible thing. Of course the filly had to bring the whole thing up again to humiliate me even more.
“Did you cast your spell on somepony? Is that why you got sick?” she asked, eagerly.
“No. I just got too much sun.” I assured her, wanting her to drop it.
She frowned, apparently expecting another big show from me as I had done with the Puddings. “But it’s not even hot out.”
“Well, maybe I just needed something to drink.” I retorted.
“But you fell over onto my brother. He had to catch you. You’re like a damsel in distress, Princess Cadance.” She teased.
“Twilight, please~” I groaned, and she giggled.
“Don’t worry, I won’t say anything.”
Just then Shining Armor came back holding three large, iced drinks in his magic. I blushed at his kindness.
“Are you feeling any better?” he asked with concern, setting the drink down beside me and taking a seat to my right, across from Twilight and not beside her. She didn’t seem amused. If she turned into a jealous sister I was screwed.
“I’m fine, really. I just needed to get out of the sun for a minute.” I smiled. “Thank you for helping me, and for your concern.” I added, gratefully, taking a sip of the drink which turned out to be lemon iced tea. My favourite.
“Good, I’m glad.” The colt said with genuine relief in his tone. “You looked really ill for awhile there, I didn’t know what to do.” He sounded as if he had been scared for me and my heart fluttered a bit, but I still felt ashamed.
“I’m sorry for scaring you.” I murmured, looking down.
“It’s not your fault. I’m just glad you’re OK.” Shining Armor insisted, and I looked back up at him.
“She’s fine, drop it already!” Twilight shouted, lifting her hooves up in exasperation. For once I was thankful for the bluntness of the filly, and I grinned a little as I concentrated on sipping the sweet tea. Shining Armor glared at his sister, who also grinned, innocently. Then he didn’t seem to know what else to say, so he handed Twilight her drink and started on his own.
We sipped our tea in silence for awhile, until a group of teenage colts trotted past us noisily laughing and teasing each other. I buried myself in my drink as I saw them approach, not used to the society of brash colts like these ones, and feeling shier then ever after all that had happened that day.To my horror one white pegasus colt suddenly stopped, and sauntered over to our table, motioning for his buddies to follow.
“Hey, check it out, Shiny’s got a marefriend.” Ugh, not this again, I thought, putting a hoof to my head.
“No way, not Mr. Knight in Shining Armor!” another larger unicorn colt snickered, and they batted Shining Armor on the back, making him grimace.
A second gruff looking pegasus showed up beside the unicorn and held Shining Armor around the neck, benignly, but he didn’t seem happy about it. “What’d you do, man, give her the ole ‘I’m a knight and I’ll protect you’ line? A little early for that don’t you think?” the pegasus laughed. I now noticed that these colts were bigger and probably Shining Armor’s upperclassman, which would explain why he was just taking their abuse.
“Lay off, guys, she’s just a friend.” He muttered, pushing the pegasus off him.
“Oh really, did you meet your friend at that gifted unicorns school? Those fillies will put out for anypony. And teach you some magic at the same time, if you know what I mean.” The unicorn winked lecherously at his pegasus friend and they all laughed. I felt sick, but not from any sensitivity. Just from hearing these colts disgrace my pride as a mare.
“Stop it. My little sister is here.” Shining Armor growled, becoming progressively angrier.
“Oooh, Shiny’s got his lil sis here. We better watch what we say, guys!” the pegasus chortled, mockingly, rewarded with more laughter from the others.
“Just leave.” The kind colt I had come to know muttered under his breath. I could feel his anger, and I wished the obnoxious group would leave too. They were upsetting me, but most of all they were really bothering him too and I didn’t like to see him like that.
Instead of complying, the unicorn smirked, mischievously then came over to me and gave me a once over with his eyes, like I was an object. I scooted away, angrily. “Seriously, Shining, where you been hiding her? She’s some hot flank!”
“Don’t you talk that way about her!” Shining Armor shouted, jumping up from the table, and before I could contemplate the offensiveness of the past remark, he lunged at the larger unicorn and whipped his hoof across his face.
The upperclassman was flung to the ground by the assault, and my gentle friend I had thought wouldn’t hurt a fly, braced himself to go after him again.
“Oh, you’re going to regret that, freshman.” The unicorn snarled, wiping the side of his mouth that was now bleeding, as he got up to face Shining Armor. But before he could attack he was held back by two of the other colts who seemed to have some sense in them.
“Don’t, man, his parents work for the princess. You could get expelled.” They warned as another held back Shining Armor too.
“Whatever. He started it.” The elder growled, shrugging off the colts.
“You and your friends were inappropriate around a young filly and insulted a mare. You have no sense of chivalry and you don’t deserve the title of knight, Lacoltmalle Tail.” Shining Armor shot back, struggling against the hooves that held him back. His anger reached me then, along with the upperclassman and I shrugged down in my seat. It was deeper than just this argument. It seemed that maybe he had been bullied by these older colts before and was only now finding the strength to confront them. It should have made me proud to be protected by him, but I just felt frightened and let down by his sudden violence, not to mention again being hit with waves of negative emotions after I had just recovered.
I glanced over to Twilight who had a dumbstruck expression, her mouth hanging open, and moaned. This was too much.
“You’re the one who attacked a senior cadet. It’s you who doesn’t deserve the title.” The unicorn I now knew was named Lacoltmalle Tail protested, angrily.
“Let’s just go, he’s not worth it.” The brash pegasus told his friend, pulling him away. The unicorn gave one last dangerous look, and then left with the group.
“Not even an apology. A real noble…” Shining Armor muttered, as he pushed off the colt holding him and trudged back over to us. Twilight still had the same expression, and I didn’t even want to look at him as he awkwardly approached us.
“Twily, Cadance I-“ He tried to say, but I interrupted him.
“I should go.” I declared, getting to my hooves, trying not to meet eyes with him. His already shameful expression wilted, and I grimaced from feeling his pain from my sudden betrayal. But I didn’t care. He had been wrong to use violence especially in front of myself and his little sister. I was embarrassed and weakened from my stupid sensitivity which he just made worse with his foalish fight, and I just wanted to go home.
“Thank you for the tour.” I continued, coldly, not really liking how I sounded, and then I trotted away without even saying goodbye.
A/N Oh the drama! Rarity would be proud. And they're not even together yet. Yes I have flawed Shining Armor. He is not the perfect knight, but a teenage colt who is bullied as a freshman and decides to kick some flank. If you think Cadence is being mean just re-read all the bad things that happened to her that day (including how Twilight treated her) and you'll see why she's so upset. She's a young filly, not used to how colts can act with their hormones running wild.
Also Lacoltmalle Tail is the ponified name of an actual Knight of the Round Table. I couldn’t think of a name for him so I looked up knight names and came across a Sir Lacotemale Taile. It was too perfect to resist. Our lecherous young unicorn one day matures to be a fine knight. I didn’t use a real Knight of the Round Table’s name in vain….
Next chapter- more drama! Shining Armor loves Princesses, Smarty Pants, and parental problems.
Thanks for reading :)