A Holy Task
Deep within the crystal caverns beneath Canterlot, in a hidden room few knew even existed. In a location secreted away beneath the protections of hundreds of wards and spells, a group of ponies gathered to discuss the future of their fair kingdom, far away from the prying eyes of the Princesses.
Their hour was finally at hoof. After centuries of acting in the shadows, the sacred mission their Mistress had bestowed to their ancestors one thousand years ago was finally about to be accomplished. After millennia of devotion, this was to be the hour of their finest triumph, a moment of glorious celebration!
“This is madness! You would risk all our efforts for nothing!” that is, if they could agree about some minor last minute details regarding the final task needed to accomplish said goal, and managed to smooth over a few unimportant lingering issues first, of course.
“She is far too young for such a major ordeal! The whole integrity of the plan hinges upon the success of this task!” an orange colored earth pony firmly stated while hitting the table with his hoof for emphasis. “We cannot risk it all sending an inexperienced agent to do such a crucial mission! Its folly!”
“Her training speaks for itself, Secret Keeper, she will not fail,” a white coated pegasus calmly replied to the their fellow council member, hard eyes staring at the stallion as she slowly shook her head in disappointment at her fellow believer’s lack of faith.
“I’m aware of her training, Hidden Path. And while I’ll admit that her abilities are impressive, the point remains that she has never participated in any mission before,” Secret Keeper spoke while attempting to rein in his fraying temper. “She has no field experience whatsoever! No matter her training, to trust such a momentous undertaking to an untested mare? No matter how skilled she is, there are surely countless other, far older and more experienced, agents more than capable of taking her place!”
Sacred Oath, high leader of the council, took in the appearance of his fellow ponies, his fellow believers, the ones tasked with the Holy Task of keeping the mission of the Mistress alive. The ones entrusted to bring forth Her glorious vision into existence no matter what. He saw the doubt that Secret Keeper’s words were instilling into the group, the wavering of his fellow believers’ normally unbreakable will, no matter how small or momentary it was, that was slowly settling in.
This simply would not do.
“Yes, she is young, that’s true,” he calmly interjected as he silenced both the earth pony and the pegasus, his long bright pink mane swaying behind him as he nodded and the light of the crystals that illuminated the room flickered upon his long fluted horn. “Your concerns have been noted brother, but in the end they are irrelevant. For to accomplish this task is simply something she has to do.”
“But high leader! To risk the Celebration-” Secret Keeper attempted to say, only to grow suddenly quiet as Sacred Oath raised his hoof in a demand for silence.
“Do not doubt my commitment to our cause, brother,” he sternly stated as he held the gaze of his fellow believers. His words carried the weight of the many, many decades he had spent serving the Order, and his gaze showed to one and all how serious he took the entire situation. There could be no weakness, no doubt, not at this point of things. “The plan for the Celebration cannot fail, I’m perfectly aware of that, just as I’m aware that our agent remains untested. But her lack of experience is irrelevant.”
He rose from his seat, the fires of his belief so strong that an aura of magic seemed to seep out of his body and permeate the very air all around him, filling every nook and crevice of the ancient room with power and determination.
He was Sacred Oath, high leader of the Order! And with his Mistress as his witness, he would not allow doubt to plague his brothers and sisters in their moment of triumph! The Holy Task would be fulfilled! The Celebration would come to pass! No matter what!
“She is the one who needs to undertake this ordeal,” he fervently stated as his eyes firmly stared at the Sacred Symbol of their order hanging high above them all in fervent ecstasy, a symbol they all carried upon their cloaks as a sign of their devotion. “So demands her birthright.
“Remember your oaths, my dear friend. And while doing so, remember your faith as well. She will complete the task assigned to her regardless of her age and inexperience. And she will succeed. That is all there is to it, no more and no less,” he continued in the same fervent tone of voice, as if stating an immutable fact, a rule of the universe that simply could not be denied. “For that is her fate!”
Secret Keeper seemed like he wanted to protest for a moment longer, before his eyes landed upon the Sacred Symbol as well. He stared at it in silence for a long moment, before, with a long sigh, he finally nodded his head in agreement. His posture changing from confrontational to resigned as he took his hoof off the table.
“You are right, it is her birthright,” he grudgingly admitted with a final conciliatory nod. “I apologize for my outburst, brothers and sisters. I simply worry.”
“Your worry is understandable, my friend. After all, now, on the eve of our greatest accomplishment, our greatest conquest, it’s only natural to want everything to flow as smoothly as possible,” Sacred Oath readily agreed as his pink muzzle slowly lost its stern expression and allowed a large blinding smile to surface. “But you must have faith, brother. Remember, our Mistress works in mysterious ways.”
Looking at his fellow council members, who to the last mare and stallion were nodding their heads in agreement, Secret Keeper had to admit the truth of his companion’s words. The wisdom of their Mistress was as inscrutable as it was vast. It was not his place to doubt, nor his place to question, only to believe. And as he acknowledged that great truth, a small smile slowly grew on his muzzle as he felt his downtrodden and worried spirits being uplifted, his faith supplanting his doubt and fear in a heartbeat.
Seeing this Sacred Oath nodded once in happiness, his smile growing even larger as he did so, for he could no longer see a single trace of doubt in any of his fellow believers.
It was time.
It didn’t matter that their agent was young and inexperienced, for her actions were blessed by the Holy One Herself! She simply would not fail, could not fail! The task would be completed, for it was simply her destiny to do so! No more and no less!
“Good, now proceed with the plan, there is much to be done and little time to do it, for, by tomorrow first light, Princess Twilight Sparkle shall be reminded of the all encompassing power of our Mistress! Tomorrow we shall bestow the Holy One’s blessings upon the whole of Equestria!” he boisterously proclaimed as his fellow council members rose from their seats, now every bit as excited as their leader as they joined their shouts of agreement with him in celebration. “Mares and gentlecolts, we shall not fail! Nothing shall stop our Sacred Task! For the glory of the Holy One! Her Will, Be Done!”
“Her Will, Be Done!” All five council members solemnly shouted, large smiles firm on their expressions as they cheered for what was to come.
For the moment the sun rose tomorrow, the Celebration would be realized.
It was a calm and quiet night. Peace and tranquility all but permeated the very air as Princess Luna’s magnificent night sky bathed Equestria with its enchanting light. Most ponies were either peacefully sleeping in the comfort of their rooms or out and about appreciating the Moon Warden’s domain.
And yet, within the crystal halls of the Castle of Friendship, there was a pony that was neither sleeping nor intending on enjoying the pleasures of the dark hours of the day. For she had a task to fulfill this night, a holy duty entrusted to her by the head of her order himself.
She felt as if a leaden weight had been dropped in her stomach as she carefully bypassed a set of alarm wards. She felt every single bit of her inexperience as she silently unlocked a door and entered into another corridor. But despite her worry and fear, her will never faltered as she marched forth towards her duty.
A duty she fully intended to accomplish. The very concept of failure something that she refused to even consider, for it was a duty that was a part of her very bloodline, her very destiny.
She could not fail.
The mare swiftly moved from shadow to shadow, her form nothing but an indistinct blur only visible as she passed by the shining beams of moonlight coming from the stained glass windows of the castle. Not even the faintest of sounds or the barest whisper of wind betrayed the movement’s of her passing as she carefully bypassed the guards patrolling the corridors of the imposing structure and ventured deeper and deeper through its halls.
As she hid behind a pillar and carefully peeked across the corner, the mare watched and waited as another patrol passed by her hiding spot. Perfectly on time, exactly as the information her brothers and sisters had acquired in regards to the castle’s defenses had said the patrol routes would be.
Everything was already in place, every single one of fellow believers were already positioned where they were needed and ready to strike simultaneously throughout the whole of Equestria when the hour was reached. All that remained was her task, her mission. Should she fail then the whole plan would unravel at the seams. And that was something she simply refused to allow to happen.
She would not fail.
Determination permeating her very being she approached the large double doors to the throne room itself. And quiet as a ghost in the night she entered the room and closed the doors before any guards could notice her.
She cautiously took in her surroundings, the large round crystal table at the center and the many thrones all around it, as she searched for any remaining alarms or wards. And as she did so, the sight of a particular mark upon one of the thrones that was being bathed by a stray ray of moonlight drew her attention, a sight which filled her with joy as the mark shinnied as if in greeting to her presence.
A more propitious sign could not have been asked for.
Now with a skip in her step and a beaming smile on her muzzle, her initial apprehension well and truly gone, she proceeded to remove the necessary items from their hiding places within her mane and started to set things up as the plan demanded.
She didn’t have a moment to lose, for at tomorrow’s dawn the Celebration would begin.
The first light of dawn had just peeked past the eastern horizon but a few moments ago, and Princess Twilight Sparkle was already hurriedly trotting down the halls of her castle. Eyes glued on an official looking parchment that she held firm in her magic’s grip as she power-walked down the familiar path to her throne room even as she kept reading it.
“We will have to make sure the budget for the school is properly balanced later. Ink Blotch’s initial plan has at least three oversights that I can see already,” she said with a hint of tiredness to one of the three secretaries carrying rolls and rolls of documents trotting by her side. “Is there any free period we could devote to it today, Steady Quill?”
“I’m afraid not, Princess,” a burgundy coated unicorn apologetically stated as she fixed her small glasses atop her muzzle while going through the day’s appointments. “Today you have to hold court until one o’clock; have a quick lunch while we review the new trade deals with the gryphons; receive the head of Celestia’s school for Gifted Unicorns at two; the mayor of Ponyvile has marked an appointment with you at three; then you must review the ongoing exchange student program with the changelings at four; meet with the minotaur ambassador for tea at five; diner at six as we go through the new wave of complaints coming from Yakistan; a meeting with a thestral delegation at seven; and, finally, you had set aside an hour for self study in your personal laboratory at eight before you retired for the night.
“And I’m afraid the rest of the week is just as busy, your highness.” Steady Quill finished with a tired sigh as she went through several rolls of parchment as she reviewed if there was any scrap of free time that could be used for the assigned task, to no avail.
“Remove the hour of self study and replace it with reviewing the school’s budget then,” Twilight calmly stated, even as she inwardly sighed as well at the thought of having to let go of what would have probably been the only moment for herself and her hobbies she would have had this entire week.
“Is there anything else of note that I should be informed of before we start with today’s court?” the Princess of Friendship asked as they approached a set of double doors that led to the castle’s throne room and nodded in passing to the pair of guards saluting her at both sides of it.
“The Night Guard has noted slightly suspicious movements and behaviors of groups of ponies throughout several of Equestria’s cities and villages, but nothing of substance was yet found last I checked,” Steady Quill dutifully reported even as she nodded in thanks as the second secretary to her side gave her the guard’s report so she could refresh her memory of the subject. “There is suspicion that a cult may be somehow involved, since nearly all the suspected ponies seemed to carry the same symbol in their persons, but there is no concrete proof that is the case. Princess Luna and her Night Guard have started an investigation to gather the truth of it, but it is still at its initial stage as of right now.”
“Very well,” Twilight nodded her understanding, even as she fought back a pained groan upon hearing that a cult may be involved. Those were always a pain to deal with and invariably led to far more trouble than should be possible. At the very least with Luna and her guard dealing with it she could rest assured that things would hopefully solve themselves fairly quickly.
The Princess of Friendship entered into her large throne room, mentally preparing herself for several tiring hours of dealing with annoying nobles, ignoring fawning subjects, and helping to deal with a few actual problems that plagued her little ponies, the last part being the only reason why she and her fellow Princesses hadn’t gotten rid of the practice of holding public court centuries ago.
But the moment she entered the large crystal room, she stopped in her tracks and blinked in surprise at the sight standing right before her eyes, all thoughts about the dullness of public court swept out of her mind.
“Celestia, Luna, Cadence, Flurry Heart! What are you all doing here?” Twilight asked in honest confusion as she wondered why her fellow Princesses were inside her throne room uninvited. The fact that they very rarely managed to gather all of them together in the same place only added to that feeling.
“Is there a problem? Or an emergency?! Did something escape out of Tatarus!?!” she started to ask with ever increasing speed, as thought after thought of what possible crisis could have caused all Alicorns to gather with such short notice passed through her mind and stoked the flames of her growing panic. “Steady Quill, summon captain Steel Bulwark immediately! We must place the guard in high alert and-“
Only for her rapid fire speech to be brought to a close as a pale pink, nearly white, wing rested upon her shoulders and held her close.
“Some things never change, do they, Twilight?” Princess Celestia jokingly asked with a tiny chuckle as she hugged the purple Alicorn until she calmed down. “There is no threat or looming danger to our fair kingdom, at least as far as I am concerned. So do calm down a little, my former student.”
Twilight took a few deep breaths as she followed her mentor’s instructions, the familiar motions her foalsitter had taught her so many years ago to calm her anxiety working just as well as always.
“Same old Twilight,” Flurry Heart said with a good natured chuckle as she traded an amused look with Cadence. “Come on aunty! You go and call us with an urgent missive, making us hurry all the way from the Crystal Empire to get here, only to forget the time of the meeting? Did you forget your checklist or something?”
“What?” Twilight once again asked as she looked from one Princess to the other, now more than a little bewildered. “But I didn’t summon any of you here!”
“What do you mean, Twilight? Weren’t you the one to request our presences this morn?” Luna asked as she took a step closer, her earlier amusement being slowly replaced by a contemplative frown. “We did receive an urgent missive, containing both your magical signature and official seal, requesting our presence at this location and hour.”
“I assure you Luna, I didn’t send a single missive to any of you summoning you to my castle!” she repeated once more as she attempted to understand what was happening.
“That’s most definitely odd,” Celestia mused out loud as she pondered what could possibly be happening. “A forgery perhaps?”
“But what would be the point? To make even one fake missive good enough to fool one of us would be a massive undertaking, much less four of them!” Cadence added as she tilted her head to the side in confusion. “And all of it for what, gather us in the same place?”
They all thought about it for a moment as they sought the answer to this strange puzzle, even as the noise of the ever increasing throng of ponies waiting just outside of the throne room for court to start kept rising in volume.
Only for their time to run short.
A deafening explosion thundered across the room a moment later. A violent onslaught of both sound and light battered against Twilight unprepared senses, both blinding and deafening her completely to whatever else could be happening, leaving her completely defenseless to what was to come.
Before the startled Princess of Friendship could even think about erecting a barrier or casting a spell, she felt as if thousandths of small light particles moving at speed collided against her helplessly confused frame. All the while, at that very same moment, something was snugly wrapped around her horn before she could even think about reacting. The surprised exclamations that came from her fellow Princesses showed that the others were suffering a similar fate.
As swiftly as the onslaught had started, it suddenly ended.
An eerie silence permeated the room the moment the thunderous explosion was over. As Twilight opened her eyes, senses strained to the extreme to try and figure what had just happened and magic swirling around her horn ready to allow her power out to take down whatever it was that had attempted to attack her and her fellow Princesses, she was greeted by an unexpected sight.
A pair of large, baby blue, familiar, eyes stared straight at her from less than an inch away from her own muzzle.
“SURPRISE!!!” the pink coated and manned pegasus standing far too close to Twilight shouted at the top of her lungs as confetti and streamers all but exploded out of her form in a painfully nostalgic manner.
“Happy One Thousandth Ascension Day Anniversary!” the mare happily proclaimed to all and sundry as she kept all but bouncing into place due to her excitement. The movements making the dark hooded cloak she wore to flap up and down like a superhero cape with each motion. A hooded cloak kept closed by a broach in the form of three very familiar party balloons.
Only for another thunderous noise to make Twilight startle and spin around, making her remove her eyes from the sight of her old friend’s Cutie Mark.
“HAPPY ONE THOUSANDTH ASCENSION DAY ANNIVERSARY!” the hundreds of ponies who had been waiting outside for court to start shouted as one as confetti and streamers fell around them as if rain and they rushed into her throne room.
A throne room that somehow now sported several tables filled to bursting with scrumptious looking pastries and confections, several punch bowls, and quite a few party games scattered thought-out the normally empty spacious area. All of it framed by a continuous rain of confetti and streamers that didn’t seem to have a specific origin, no matter how much she searched the ceiling for one, and several cheerful party banners decorating the walls.
Though the search did allow her a very nice view of the very fancy looking and humongous banner that now occupied the near entirety of the room’s ceiling, extending from wall to wall as it cheerfully proclaiming it to be her ‘Happy One Thousandth Ascension Day Anniversary Party!’
“Were you surprised? Were you? Were you? Were you?” the pink party pony excitedly asked the Princess as she kept bouncing into place, a huge happy smile on her muzzle. “You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to get in here without you noticing to set this surprise party up, so I hope you were surprised! Or perhaps you would believe how hard it was; after all you made most of the alarm spells and defensive wards I had to bypass to do so! So I hope you are surprised, but even if you aren’t I hope even more that you enjoy your party!
“And you don’t have to worry about other ponies not managing to attend your party! For the Celebration is now in full swing! The rest of the Order made sure of that!” the mare kept speaking in a rapid fire manner without even pausing for breath. All the while Twilight confusedly realized that she was sporting a colorful party hat atop her horn. “As we speak every single village, town and city in Equestria is celebrating your ascension day! All according to the Holy One’s plan! Praise the Party, for it is good!
“I hope you enjoy the party! Now I got to go and welcome the other guests real quick! Meanwhile, here, have a cupcake!” the hyper enthusiastic mare babbled as she shoved said pastry at the very confused Princess who grabbed it more out of reflex than anything, before the party pony disappeared into the crowd in a blur of motion. “I’ll be right back!”
Twilight first looked to the cupcake in her hoof; then to her fellow, and equally confused and surprised looking, Princesses, whom she now noticed were also sporting brightly colored party hats atop their horns too; to the sea of happy looking ponies that were now occupying her heavily redecorated throne room that were enjoying the many, many assorted games and party foodstuffs all around said room, that most assuredly hadn’t been there a moment earlier; and finally to the unknown pegasus pony who was beaming at everypony as she greeted guest after guest with a huge smile she recognized from a certain dearly missed pink party pony.
She then looked towards one of the thrones around the large crystal table right in the middle of the room. A throne sporting the likeness of three party balloons, the same mark emblazoned upon the mare’s brooch. Three party balloons, that seemed to be shining with merriment, as if in silent laughter.
“Thanks, Pinkie,” she whispered under her breath as a small but heartfelt smile formed on her muzzle as she allowed the unknown mare, who had once again appeared at her side and whom Twilight was quite sure had to be a certain pink party pony’s descendant, to drag her towards the various games scattered throughout the room all the while she hyper excitedly babbled about everything and anything in a very nostalgic manner to the Princess of Friendship.
And as she happily took a bite from the cupcake the madly grinning mare had given her, Twilight hummed in contentment at the nearly forgotten yet still familiar taste before asking the party pony for her name.
After all, one could never have too many friends.
A thousand years earlier.
“I’m sorry Pinkie, but I am far too busy right now,” Twilight apologetically said to the pink mare as she followed Celestia and Luna into the Castle of Friendship’s throne room. “I simply don’t have the time for a party.”
“Silly Twilight, there is always time for a party!” Pinkie Pie happily replied as she bounced into the room just as a pair of guards closed the doors. “But if you insist, I can make your first ‘Happy Ascension Day Party’ tomorrow instead!”
“Pinkie,” Twilight attempted to interject, while the Alicorn sisters traded amused glances.
“And don’t worry, I’ll make sure that you will attend. After all, we can’t have the mare of honor being late to her own party!” the party pony cheerfully continued while not really noticing her friend’s attempted interjection. “Really Twilight, sometimes I feel like if not for me you wouldn’t even remember to go to the parties I planned for you!”
“Pinkie, really, I am-”
“Which is kinda worrying now that I think about it, since that would mean you would miss your parties if I were not around to remind you of them!” she continued unabated as she rested a chin upon her hoof in a thoughtful manner. “Which would end up turning you into a grumpy-pants due to too much work and not enough parties!”
A moment of silence follow that statement, a moment of silence that was shattered as Pinkie Pie swiftly turned around, grabbed Twilight with both fore-hooves, and shouted at the top of her lungs.
“Twilight! What about all those parties I had planned for you over the next several centuries! I know I won’t live that long, so how are you going to remember to go to them when I will not be there to remind you!” the pink pony shouted as she shook the Alicorn Princess side to side for a moment before letting her go and adopted a sudden look of realization. “Though, maybe my kids or something could continue my good work for me after I am gone and do it in my stead. That could work. But that would be a lot of work for only one or two ponies, wouldn’t it? And what if they were busy when a special date was about to happen! It would be really mean to make them drop everything in order to make you a party!”
“Pinkie!” Twilight strongly stated as she attempted to gather her friend’s attention, to no avail.
“I know! I could create a secret Sacred Order of party ponies whose duty would be to make sure you had all your parties! Wouldn’t that be neat!” the Pink One cheerfully exclaimed as she once again started to bounce into place, a huge smile now on her muzzle. “They could take care of everything long after I am gone and make sure you don’t turn into a grumpy-pants due to a lack of parties!
“Praise the Party, for it is good!” she loudly proclaimed, as if a preacher to her fellow believers, before she suddenly turned and stared Twilight straight into the eyes with a now serious look firm on her muzzle. “Also, Twilight, you better make sure that my funeral is a proper party!
“That way everypony can be happy during it! Because a funeral is normally more like a gathering of sad ponies, and I don’t like sad ponies, because it makes me really, really sad that everypony else is sad and my mane goes all droopy and everything! I mean, there was this one time when I thought Gummy had died because he was just sitting there lifelessly without moving or even blinking, and that made me really sad! But then I realized he was alive and that he always sits there like that! Who knew? I just petted him on the head and said, ‘Hey Gummy, want to make some cupcakes?’ and then we made cupcakes! And they were really tasty! I’m hungry now after all that cupcake talk, so who wants cupcakes?”
A few seconds of awkward silence followed that particular revelation.
“What?” Twilight finally asked, now completely befuddled.
“What, what? Pinkie Pie innocently replied.
“Yes, Twilight?” the pink pony asked as she tilted her head to the side, beaming smile firm on her muzzle. “What were we talking about again?”
Several more seconds of overly awkward silence then occurred.
“Oh right! Cupcakes! Be back in a jiffy!” The energetic party mare enthusiastically proclaimed before she jumped beneath the crystal table in the middle of the room and out of view.
Twilight knew it was a pointless endeavor, but she simply could not help herself. And so, she looked underneath the crystal structure, only to confirm that, yes, the pink party pony’s plump form was gone without a trace while nothing but polished, and very solid looking, crystal graced her eyes.
Rising back upwards she traded a bewildered look with her fellow Princesses as the group looked around the room in a vain attempt to locate the excitable pink pony. Only to confirm after a moment that she had indeed vanished without a trace. Despite the fact that the doors hadn’t been opened, and that the room’s windows didn’t open, and that the walls were still completely intact and were lined with several intricate wards and spells designed to block teleportation and other such kinds of transportation magic.
“The pink one is going to give us a migraine,” Luna tiredly sighed while massaging her brow with a hoof.
“That’s Pinkie Pie, sister. It’s best to simply accept it and let it go,” Celestia kindly suggested as she gently rested a hoof upon her the Moon Princess back and offered her a small smile.
Luna’s eye twitched. “Thou may be correct; it’s perhaps for the best.”
Remembering her own failed attempts at understanding her pink friend, and all the disastrous consequences that followed that particular bout of insanity, Twilight could only nod her head in agreement as she dismissed Pinkie’s ramblings from her mind. She would probably grow bored with the idea shortly afterwards and drop it for something else anyway.
And besides, it was only Pinkie Pie being Pinkie Pie. What was the worst that could happen?
And so, that day, the secret cult of the Pink Party Pony was born.
A Sacred Order bearing the Holy Task of making sure that Twilight Sparkle, the Princess of Friendship, would attend all parties planned for her by the Holy Saint Pinkie Pie.