The Festivals of Equestria

by Gabriel LaVedier

The Legend of Ceresfest (Oktoberfest/Autumnal Equinox; Chapter by Kipakuta)

The roads that radiated out from the Crystal Palace, were lined with large brightly colored tents and booths bearing a variety of patterns and attractions. the main roads themselves were kept free of obstructions, allowing a clear view of the Crystal Heart. The fields between the roads had been designated for large scale attractions. One of the fields had a bandstand featuring some of the local bards who still played pre-interregnum instruments. The second field had been set aside for a few carnival rides. A third was cleared for a mock combat tournament. The fourth had animal pens for the small sheep that the Crystal Ponies harvested their wool from, as well as other animals indigenous to the cold climate. The fifth field was left as a place for fairgoers to rest.
In the aftermath of Sombras' defeat, the Crystal Ponies had taken celebrations like these seriously, committing themselves to fully enjoy the events. The foals were even more enthusiastic than their parents, since lines were short, and admission was free for locals. This meant that they got to play and ride more than visitors from other realms.
Princess Luna wandered along a row of game tents, exchanging pleasantries with others whenever they greeted her. Her young grand-niece, Flurryheart, rode on her back, marveling at the games, foodstands, and trinket displays. Luna had taken her niece on several of the carnval rides already, some of which Flurryheart had ridden twice. They had also participated in a few of the booth games, and Flurryheart had won a small plush version of Pinkie Pie from a 'Dunk Sombra' game.
"Midday approaches," Luna said as she passed through the central plaza, to head down another road. "What does her highness wish for her dinner?"
Flurryheart looked at one of the large signs displaying pictures of various food items. "The iron meal."
"The Iron Will meal?" Luna corrected. "A slice of deep fried pizza and 32 ounces of crystal berry root beer. Your mother would surely not approve." She grinned to Flurryheart. "As the young princess wishes, so shall it be." Flurryheart cheered. Luna cantered down the center of the road until she found the right booth.
"Welcome, your Majesties." The cook bowed as Luna approached.
"Greetings, fair citizen," Luna replied. "We shall have two Iron Will meals."
"And for Princess Flurry heart?" The cook took two slices of cheese pizza and dipped them in batter.
Luna blinked. "I meant 'we' in the sense of my niece and myself."
The cook nodded. "Yes, I just thought that it was your standard protocol." She dropped the slices into a fryer, then scooped some shaved ice into waxed cups. "No charge for her young highness, and it seems odd to seek your Majesties' coin."
"Art thou allowed to accept tips?"
"If your Majesty wishes to be generous with her bits, I am not one to object," The cook poured their drinks, then placed them on the table. Luna counted out the full price for their meals, then gave the coins to the cook. She swept the bits into a cashbox, then used a wide mesh spatula to scoop the pizzas into waxed paper trays. "Many thanks, and may you enjoy the rest of Ceresfest."
"Aye, that is our intent." Luna levitated the trays and drinks.
"Bye and thanks," Flurryheart waved to the cook as Luna headed to the rest area.
- - -
"Auntie Luna?" Flurryheart looked to her aunt after they had selected a spot and started eating. "Why aren't there more alicorns like me n you?"
"Do you mean like how Celestia and your mother seem to be too reserved. They are who they are."
"Nooooo," Flurryheart shook her head. "I mean ponies like us, who gots wings n horns."
"Aye," Luna rubbed her chin. "There are the fae, and know I of spells that can change ones form. But I take your meaning." She draped a wing over her niece. "You are a natural born alicorn, something that has never occurred before. I know this because I have a friend who knows a lot of what transpired before Discords' rampage."
Flurryheart tilted her head. "That was thousands of years ago, right?"
Luna laughed. "Yes. three millennia does fit the criteria for 'thousands,' But shall I tell you a story."
Flurryheart nuzzled Lunas' side. "I like stories."
"We start way back with the rise of the great empires. The four tribes: Merae, Earth Ponies, Pegasi, and Unicorns, spread out across the land and the oceans. The magics they had learned in the dawn of civilization had proven useful in forming communities around lakes, rivers, and beaches. Back in those days, we rarely ventured far from sources of water, and kept in contact with the fourth tribe."
"What about Alicorns, Crystal Ponies, and Breezies?" Flurryheart prodded.
"Patience, young one," Luna lit her horn and created a sequence of illusions. "With their communities growing and merging into grand cities, Ponykind began to experiment with their newfound abilities, discovering what they was capable of, and what the limitations were. Time and practice lead to new talents. Earth ponies developed the arts of mining and rock farming, pegasi perfected their control over weather, Unicorns, codified their magic into spell concepts that could be taught and shared, and the Merae refined their hydromancy. The ancient philosophers set to writing their ideas and discoveries, thus forming a basic understanding of 'magic.' before then, it was an unnamed power. This is what enabled pony ascension. The first of those who would meld the traits of all the tribes into their being. The Pterakorna."
"Terra corna?"
"The ancient words for wing and horn," Luna reached over and ruffled Flurryhearts mane. "What they call an alicorn, in other words. Every pony had the potential, but the process was kept as a secret. Never taught, only discovered, time and again. This kept their numbers low."
"Why didn't they want others to become pteracorns?"
"As they had magic of all the tribes, the Pterakorna were given great reverence. You have seen how ponies treat me, my sister, your mother, yourself and your sister. The alicorns of old reveled in this adoration. Few in number, given great power and influence, and not yet aware of the full responsibilities of their state of being, the Pterakorna were still ponies, and each had their own goals and dreams. They cooperated, they bickered, they were leaders, they were schemers, they gave favor, they took it away. Each held the interests of themselves and their own herds first."
"They sound like idiots," Flurryheart snorted.
Luna chuckled. "Short-sighted fools, maybe, but in no way could they be considered unintelligent."
"Why wouldn't they want other alicorns as company?" Flurryheart stood up, almost knocking her pizza tray over.
"Recall how you feel whenever ponies make a fuss over your younger sister."
"Skyla? I didn't like her at first, but she's family," Flurryheart sat down and lowered her voice. "And grandma says that ya can't choose your family."
"She is a wise mare," Luna smiled.
Yeah, I guess I can see what you mean. Everypony makes a fuss over Skyla, and I thought Mom and dad were gonna get rid of me, but now I know that's not true."
"You're very special to them." Luna gave Flurryheart a small embrace.
Flurryheart hugged in return. "Well what about Crystal Ponies?"
"Let us now turn our attention to Ipponia, on the northern shores of the Marediterranian," Luna created an illusory map, showing the location. "The many communities that had settled around the Neighdriatic gulf formed into a loose alliance, in four centuries they would become vassals of the Etrotscans."
"Auntie Luna?"
"Yes child?"
"You're stalling."
Luna blushed. "Apologies, but I merely wish to set the scene." She waved aside the current illusion and created a new one.
"This, is Hecate, Born and raised in the Illyrein mountains of Western Ipponia, Hecate knew them well. She had spent her youth studying both magic and jewelsmithing, eventually excelling in each. Much like her Unicorn parents, Hecate knew how to appraise gems and stone, often taking the best for herself, and imbuing them with enchantments. Thus decorating herself with these amulets, she would draw the attention of ponies. Many courted her, offering extravagant gifts and showering her with wealth."
"She sounds kinda like Auntie Rarity."
Luna leaned over. "While Rarity does revel in luxury and being the center of attention, she is also the Bearer of the Element of Generosity. Hecate was not. Indeed, the Harmonic Elements did not exist at that time."
Flurryheart thought for a moment. "Does she find the Crystal Ponies, or do they find her?"
"Neither. She is one of your ancestors."
Flurryheart blinked. "You serious? One of my great-great grandmas?"
"You, your mother, and every Crystal pony born in the Empire. Or so I've been told," Luna snickered. "My friend may keep a secret from time to time, but she does not tell you something that isn't true."
"I think I'd like to meet your friend someday." Flurryheart smiled.
"And someday you will. Shall I continue?"
"Oh, sorry." Flurryheart blushed and shivered.
"Are you cold?"
"A little."
Luna lowered her wing to cover Flurryheart, trapping a bubble of warmth around the filly. "With money freely given, Hecate would have new mines dug in the mountains around her family home, hiring ponies to grow and harvest gems and crystals. Under her guidance, these mines produced an abundance of valuable treasures, which were sold or enchanted. Her homestead expanded, as more mines were dug, and more mountains were brought under her control."
"The accumulation of wealth allowed Hecate to afford many luxuries: Perfumes, spices, fabrics, food, and more. Already having the affections of ponies who admired her beauty, Hecate parlayed the status of her ascension to influence the rulers of the cities of Western Ipponia. Though she had her choice of suitors, none measured up to her expectations and she remained unmarried. "
"Wait," Flurryheart held up a hoof. "If she doesn't get married, she can't have foals, but she had to have foals, cause we're here."
"Indeed, and that brings us to another," Luna created an illusion of another pony. "Born to Earth Pony farmers, Ceres developed an affinity for plants. She learned how to best till the soil, how to plant seeds, what each type of crop needed, and how to care for them. As a young mare, she would travel from farm to farm, helping with their plantings and harvests, advising on how to breed crops, and helping with the preparation of flour and fruits. Under her care, plants would sprout faster, grow stronger, and provide larger bounties than other ponies could entice from them."
"She sounds like Aunt Applejack."
"Given that ponykind has been around for ten thousand years, I suppose a duplication of personality traits is inevitable."
"Let that pass," Luna waved a hoof idly. "Let us return to the story. As Ceres' name became known among the various farms of Southern Ipponia, she drew the attention of the lands rulers. As she visited their palaces, she was asked to demonstrate her talent for them. The unicorns marveled at the crops that Ceres produced, and bade her to develop tastier versions of common crops. The creation of a wheat crop that made for a softer bread, lead to Ceres' ascension."
"Softer bread?" Flurryheart tilted her head.
"Yes, originally, bread loaves were dense and rigid, You could throw one like a discus, and cause injury with it."
"That's silly."
"Ask your aunt Pinkie about weaponized pastries sometime." Luna snickered.
Flurryheart giggled. "You think she'd like this?" She held out the stuffed toy.
"She may even throw a party for it. A 'Flurryheart won a stuffed toy me' party."
"She's fun."
"That she is," Luna agreed. "Now Ceres preferred tending her crops to ruling over ponies. Even after her ascension, she spent her days in the fields, practicing her talent with different plants. Other farmers came to work for her, which lead to her farm growing in size, which in turn lead to more fields for growing new crops. She took one such farmer as her husband, and had several foals."
"Is Ceres one of my great grandmas too?"
"She is. One stallion in particular is your great great grandfather. Though born as an earth pony, Proserpine had inherited part of his mothers talent. Small plants would sprout from his steps and bloom, only to wither away unless they were tended to."
"What kind of plants?"
"I would assume that they were flowers, ferns, and sprouts, since they were small," Luna glanced around. "Though grass and clover are possible as well."
"That's a good trick for when you're hungry," Flurryheart rolled onto her side, "You want something to eat, just step, and there you go."
"I have heard that some ponies have that talent. I do not know if they use it in such a manner."
"Did he become an alicorn too?"
Luna shook her head. "Proserpine spent his youthful days tending the fields with his mother. Though possessed of great strength, he knew how to be gentle, and animals would flock to him. Of all Ceres' children, it was thought that Proserpine had to most potential to ascend. This did not interest him, as he lacked ambition. He was content to toil in the fields, stopping occasionally to socialize."
"Why didn't he want to be an alicorn?"
"I would imagine that he saw how others made demands on his mothers' time, and didn't want the same treatment. It's a lot of responsibility to be an alicorn. There's more to the role than just having ponies dote on you. Much like being a princess."
"I just give orders, and ponies hafta do what I say."
Luna lowered her voice. "Wanna know a secret?"
"Yeah yeah." Flurryheart nodded.
"Not everyone is going to agree with you. What would you do if someone refuses one of your commands?"
"I don't know."
"Just something to think about," Luna returned to a normal speaking volume. "Eventually, Proserpine wanted a plot of land for himself. Ceres offered him the finest among her fields, but he chose to start anew elsewhere. With a small stipend, he headed to Western Ipponia. His hope was to make a name for himself, rather than rely on his Mothers' reputation and holdings."
"What's a stipend?"
"That is like an allowance, but you only get paid once."
"That's terrible," Flurryheart flailed a bit. "So his mom just gave him a few bits and that was all he had?"
"I do not recall what the currency was, but it was about a hundred bits worth."
Flurryhearts' eyes widened. "A whole hundred? That's a lot."
"It does seem like a huge amount to one who is still young."
"So what happened to Prospine?"
Luna recreated the image of Hecate. "Midway through her second century, Hecate had grown lonely. Pleasures that she had once enjoyed now seemed hollow. Though she was well known, and admired for her status and talents, Hecate wondered if anypony could see past that. Opting to travel alone, she began her search.
Near one of the cities on the plains, she chanced upon a stallion seeking land to call his own. He was strong of limb, and didn't fall groveling at her hooves, like so many had done before. His countenance attracted her attention, and Hecate could forgive him his mortality. She marveled at the way plants would spring up in his wake, and at his way with animals."
"So Hecate and Proserpine met and got married?" Flurryheart clapped her hooves.
"That did not happen right then," Luna paused to take a few sips of soda. "Hecate invited him into her home, to witness her wealth and holdings. He marveled at the intricate craftwork, and enchantments, but desired none for himself. She invited him to her table, but he found the food flavorless. She showed him her entourage of mares, which he declined as well. Finally, she offered him his choice of land, in exchange for his companionship."
"So then they got married?"
"Almost," Luna cleared her throat. "Half a year after her son had left, news reached Ceres' ear about her peers' upcoming wedding. Knowing Hecate to be rather particular in her desires, Ceres was curious as to who had finally touched her heart. Leaving her land in capable hooves, she traveled to Western Ipponia to meet with her fellow Pterakorne."
"Hecate didn't tell her?"
"Nay child, The Pterakorna did not tolerate each-others' company, as we do."
"That's stupid," Flurryheart stuck her tongue out.
"Indeed, many arguments between the Pterakorns often resulted in grand conflicts between empires. But that is not our concern."
"So what did Ceres do?"
"Upon entering the gilded halls of Hecates' palace, Ceres took notice of the new additions. Pots and terraces filled with plants of all types now lined the pathways, adding a warm ambience. Her special talent being agriculture, Ceres sensed a familiarity emanating from the plants, and her demeanor darkened.
Upon being confronted, Hecate was unapologetic. Hecate had told her of how the stallion was unique among the ones she had known, how he had declined her treasures, and saw past her facade to her true self. Ceres cursed Hecates' wealth, claiming that her own was greater. Hecate wondered if Ceres spoke the truth."
"That sorta sounds like Applejack having an argument with Rarity."
Luna burst into laughter, startling some of the nearby ponies. Flurryheart joined in.
Several minutes later, they had calmed down enough to speak. "I shall have to relay that one to Twilight," Luna said.
"Can we finish the story?"
"That is uncertain," Luna nuzzled her niece. "There have been many interruptions, and I may have lost my place."
"You were gonna mention the wedding."
"Ah yes. We must step back a space." She created another illusion. "Proserpine came to detest his bargain. While he had his farm, it was one of the few places where his magic worked. The hard rock of the mountain mines, and the glittering halls of the palace negated his special talent and he felt anguish. Still he worked to please his benefactor, giving her the fruits of his labour.
His heart filled with hope upon meeting with his mother again. Within her embrace, he felt warm and safe. He expressed his sorrow, and hoped that he could return to her domain. Ceres conceded that he could visit, but that his place with with Hecate. He resigned himself to the truth that she needed him and his talent.
Ceres told Proserpine about the bargain she made with Hecate. The elder Pterakorne had agreed to let Ceres host their wedding. Proserpine expressed joy at being able to return home, and told Ceres about how much he had missed the farms of Southern Ipponia. Hecate told him that she was curious about his mothers' empire, and wished to see it for herself.
Ceres toiled to make the final harvest the biggest of the season. As the guests of Honor, Hecate and Proserpine were forbidden from work, but were still allowed to watch. Seeing how the harvest worked, Hecate gained a new appreciation for her food. seeing how happy the field workers were in their labour, she gained a new appreciation for her servants. Seeing her betrothed smile, she gained a new appreciation for him.
The wedding was declared to take place at the end of a long festival, and attendees began arriving from all parts of Ipponia to witness. Many delicacies were prepared and offered, and Hecate partook of each. Many events occurred over the course of two weeks, and Hecate participated. On the final day, she conceded that Ceres had indeed spoken truth.
The wedding was one of the largest yet seen in Ipponia, with other Pterakorna witnessing it. Both Hecate and Proserpine admitted a love for each-other, and promised to remain true. Though mortal, Proserpine would always have a place in Hecates' heart, and he remained steadfast till his final days."
Flurryheart gave a sigh of contentment. "And they lived happily ever after." She looked to Luna. "That's such an awesome story."
Luna wrapped one leg around Flurryheart, pulled her close, and rubbed a hoof around her horn. "I did not say I was finished, Princess."
Flurryheart eeped, squirmed, and giggled. Luna let her go. "There's more?"
"Indeed. Did you never wonder from whence the Crystal Heart came?"
Flurryheart looked towards the hub, where the Crystal Heart rotated above its' pedestal. "I never thought about that."
"Hecate took one of the best jewels of that years harvest, and constructed her most elaborate talisman ever. Once she had it properly carved and enchanted, she helped Proserpine imbue it with his magic."
"So they created the Crystal Heart together?"
"Aye, It contains both of their essences."
"What about Crystal Ponies?"
Luna motioned about the area. "When Proserpine and Hecate combined their talents, it lead to a new type of magic. A merger of vitality and gemcraft. In addition to their descendants who became the Crystal Ponies, the Heart also enables the cultivation of crystal berries, and crystal sheep."
Flurryheart looked at herself. "So I'm part crystal? Wooow."
Luna nodded. "It would also explain how you are able to eat gems like dragons and Diamond Dogs."
"Speaking of gems, can I get a tourmaline truffle?"
"Only if you also get one for your mother."
Flurryheart crossed her front legs. "I guess I can do that."
Luna stood, took the empty cups and trays with her magic, then levitate Flurryheart onto her back. "Come, let us enjoy this festival in Ceres' name." She disposed of the used dishes, then to to the air.