(Note: This is part one of two, and it's my very first fanfic (in English). If the language sounds weird or if I made any grammar or spelling mistake, please remember that the brony community is a global phenomenon and that it's not all of us who speaks English as a first language. I will gladly chance something you point out about the story in the comments, if I find it relavent. And by the way, because of Fimfiction.net's selection of genres I couldn't find any genre that perfectly fits this story. The genre I would use to describe it is "mystery" - at lest for part one - and the story isn't 100 % comedy but there're elements in it that is supposed to be funny. Please enjoy the story and have a nice day.)
Because the universe keeps expanding in such a way that the relative distances between the galaxies stay the same, there is no way to define a center of the universe…
Twilight Sparkle turned a page in the book Advanced Astronomy. The wind blew in her mane refreshingly as she sat in the park, where foals played ball around her. It was a particularly warn day today. The sun was in zenith and the pegasus ponies had gotten up early to keep the clouds away. Twilight lay under an old apple tree, which provided plenty of shade in order for her to read the book. It was so comfortable lying on the grass that she almost fell asleep while trying to begin the next chapter. A well-known voice calling out her name got her back to reality.
“Twilight! Twilight…” Spike nearly tripped over a young unicorn pony. The filly got so scared that she used her unicorn power to hoist Spike seven feet up in the air. He landed close to Twilight.
“What is the hurry? You shouldn’t be running in his heat.” In the background a seemingly proud unicorn filly wandered off.
Spike got up. In his right hand he held a scroll with the familiar Cantorlot seal. Twilight opened it with her magic and read it: “My faithful student, Twilight Sparkle. I’m pleased to announce that you and your friends are invited to the Canterlot Games, which begin this Thursday, as spectators. The Games are a great way to meet other citizens of Equestria and to learn from one another. More importantly, the Canterlot Games are a fun and exiting experience, which I am sure you will all enjoy. You will stay in the Canterlot Castle, the capt. Hoof wing, room 22-27. Sincerely, Princess Celestia.”
The Canterlot Games? Twilight knew that it was an important and big event, which was only held once each decade. When the Games were hosted ten years ago, Twilight was too young to remember much of it. She understood, though, that the Games were one of the few occasions where ponies from all over Equestria were gathered, which meant that the Games were not so much an event for sports as much as it was for politics.
“Should we go? I have always wanted see the Canterlot Games.” Spike was rubbing his hands together as he often did when he wanted something from Twilight. She gave it some thought. It would be nice to get away from Ponyville for a few days. And meeting other ponies from other towns in Equestria definitely sounded like a good learning experience. She wasn’t interested in the Games themselves, though. Sport of any kind wasn’t Twilight’s cup of tea. And it would mean a long break in her studies. If she was lucky, however, this event might give her a chance to get an inside look at the political process of Equestria.
After a few minutes she made up her mind. “Okay. We’ll go to the Canterlot Games.” Spike made a victory-jump. “Although, if the Games are held this Thursday, we’ll need to board the train tonight in order to have some time at Cantorlot before the Games start. I could use this opportunity to speak with Celestia pony to pony, and she’ll probably be way to busy once the political figures from the other towns in Equestria arrive. That means we’ll have to tell everypony about the plan pronto.” Judging by the position of the sun, the other five of Twilight’s friends would have to be told right away if they wanted to catch the train that evening. She sighed. It was way too hot to be in a rush.
In all of Twilight’s time in Ponyville, she had found it particularly interesting how differently her friends reacted to news. Fluttershy was unsure about the idea at first, since there would be many ponies during the Games, but Twilight convinced her when she told her about the opportunity to learn about all sorts of rare animals in Equestria. Rainbow Dash had the opposite reaction. When she heard the news she began spinning in the sky, laughing and cheering. She couldn’t wait to meet all the famous athletes who were going to perform at the Games. Rarity’s big concern was that she impossibly could pack all the needed outfits, which were required at such a significant event in the required time. It seemed like Applejack didn’t need to pack anything at all. She was ready to leave two minutes after Twilight informed her about the trip. Lastly there was Pinkie Pie. She seemed as exited as Rainbow Dash but not from the same reason. Twilight told her that if there was going to be a party, it would be a formal event like the gala, but that didn’t change Pinkie’s mood. The six ponies and Spike were standing on the train station, awaiting the train.
“I can’t believe we’re going to the Canterlot Games!” Rainbow Dash cried out in enjoyment.
“There’s going to be so many important ponies there,” Rarity said.
“I just can’t wait for the rodeo competition! I’ve got cousins who would be dying to see that,” Applejack said.
“I just can’t wait for the after party!” Pinkie Pie was jumping up and down.
Twilight was reprimanding the other ponies. “Well, you know, this is the most important event we have ever been to. Everypony needs to act responsible. That means no irrational behaviors or inappropriate actions.”
“Don’t you think your packing is inappropriate?” Spike was carrying a heavy bag over his shoulder, which was filled with books.
“I need to keep pace with my studies, Spike. You know that.”
“Right. It’s just that … there’s a library in Cantorlot.”
“I know. But perhaps anypony else would want to read those books and I wouldn’t have any book to read.” Twilight was talking in a soft voice like she was explaining something to a child.
“Believe me, Twi. You’re the only one who’s going to be reading, when the Games are happening.” Rainbow was rolling her eyes.
“Am I, Rainbow Dash? Maybe you havn’t noticed, but the author of the Daring Do-series are releasing her lastest book in the series and there’s a book signing in one of the bookshops in Canterlot.”
“Oh. When is that?” Twilight could hear that Rainbow tried to hide her excitement beneath her voice.
“Friday. At noon.”
“What?! But-but-but, that’s when the 500-meter dash is held! And the Wonderbolts are going to perform!” Rainbow Dash threw herself on the ground burying her face with her front hooves.
The train ride to Cantorlot from Ponyville was no stranger to the six ponies, and when they woke up the following day the train had arrived. Other than a few extra guards, which were mandatory considering the occasion, and some banners reading “WELCOME TO THE CANTERLOT GAMES”, there was not much noticeable change to the train station in Canterlot. The city was a different story. There had always been crowded compared to Ponyville, but today there was definitely more ponies here than usual. Some ponies had weird accents that Twilight had never heard before. Others walked funny and some were just funny to look at. When they got to the castle it was clear that this event was a big deal. The castle itself looked like it was repainted. It seemed brighter somehow. Hundreds of flags were waving in the summer breeze. Most of them had the official Canterlot Games symbol on them, which pictured three ponies: a unicorn, pegasus, and earth pony. The earth pony was doing a running motion, five stripes were indicating that the unicorn’s horn was glowing, thus making it preform magic. The pegasus pony was flying above them through some rings. Other flags had the official Cantorlot seal on them. Over the castle a group of pegasus ponies were arranging the clouds to create courses and rings used in the flying competitions so that the ponies in the castle would get the best view.
The six ponies went to the castle gate, when a guard immediately stopped them. “Do you have permission to enter the castle?” They never needed permission before, but Twilight showed him the letter from princess Celestia. “Alright. Go right in.”
“What’s up this that?” Spike asked on Twilight’s back.
“There’ll be a lot a very important ponies staying in the castle these couple of days. It’s vital to have good security in this kind of situation.”
In the entrance hall they were greeted more respectfully. A white and tall unicorn came towards them with a smile. “Hello, Twilight Sparkle! You’re early.”
“Well, we couldn’t wait to be a part of Canterlot’s finest sporting event.”
The unicorn read something on a scroll and said: “Let’s get you all arranged.”
A group of guards took they luggage, and they were escorted up a bunch of stairs and through plenty of hallways before reaching a part of the castle that Twilight had never been in before. They came to a wide and tall hallway with doors on both sides. There seemed to be too few doors to such a big hall.
“Here we are.” The white unicorn opened one of the doors. The room it revealed was unbelievable. It was an enormous suite. The walls and ceiling were decorated with beautiful patterns in red and gold colors. Paintings showing historical ponies and gorgeous landscapes hang on the walls. The carpet felt soft and cozy beneath the hooves and the room itself was sky-high. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash got enough air under their wings to fly around.
“I could do a sonic rainboom inhere!” said Rainbow Dash.
There was just one problem.
“There’s only one bed.” Twilight looked at the white unicorn who chuckled.
“Of course! One of you will stay here while the others get a similar room down the hall.”
Suddenly Twilight remembered reading something about room 22-27 in Celestia’s letter, but she had never in her wildest imagination thought that the rooms would be of this size. It seemed awfully excessive considering that they had never been offered these kind of rooms when they stayed in the castle previously. Not to mention the fact that there would be hundreds, maybe thousands of guests staying in the castle the next couple of days. Some of which had great political importance to the country.
“Why would Celestia give us these rooms?” Twilight thought, while she was settling in her own suite. Maybe Celestia was planning for them to stay in the castle for a longer periode of time. Either that or she was just extra nice to them for some reason.
Twilight looked at the bed then at Spike condescendingly. “We are not sleeping in the same bed …”
“Well … where do you suppose I should sleep?”
“I don’t know.”
“Come on, Twilight. I don’t take up much space.”
“It’s not your size I’m worried about. I have heard your snore … and smelt it.”
Someone knocked on the door, and a familiar stallion walked in the room.
“Shining Armor!” Twilight ran towards her brother and gave him a hug.
“Hello, little sis. I heard you guys had already arrived.”
“I’m so glad to see you. How are you? How are the preparations going?”
“Well … the most recent big event in Canterlot was the wedding and that didn’t go very well security-wise. So we’re being extra careful this time.”
Twilight smiled. “I almost forgot. How’s Cadance doing?”
“She couldn’t be better.”
“And princess Celestia? Is she very busy lately or is it okay to go see her?”
Her brother made a deep exhalation. “It’s not that she’s busy, no. She just seems … distracted.”
“Why wouldn’t she? She’s hosting a major gathering.”
Shining Armor laughed. “Which she has done almost a hundred times before.”
“She’s probably just wondering if Spitfire is going to preform well this Friday.”
“It’s not that, Twilight.”
“I know. It was obviously a joke. Well, I guess I shouldn’t be bothering her, then.”
After a few minutes of talking, Shining Armor had to go to the Royal Guards’ headquarters. Twilight decided to go she her friends after she turned her head towards Spike. “You can sleep in the bed, but only if you’ll be facing the opposite direction as me. I wouldn’t want to wake up in the morning with a burnt mane.”
Out in the hall Rainbow Dash was talking to the white unicorn. “Have the athletes arrived yet? Where are they going to stay? In the castle?”
“Some of them have arrived, but not the ones from Los Pegasus and Manehatten that you’d probably be most interested in. And they are not staying at the castle. It’s not a place for sport-ponies. Only the more … formal ponies stay here,” said the unicorn looking at Rainbow suspiciously.
Rainbow Dash lost interest and said to Twilight: “We’re at Pinkie Pie’s. Come!”
In Pinkie’s suite the ponies were lying on the carpet, talking.
“Can you believe it? An entire suite to each of us! This Canterlot Games are going to be a marvelous experience, don’t you think?” Rarity was stroking her cat, which looked as bored as usual despite the circumstances.
“It’s weird, though. Why are we getting this luxury all of a sudden?”
“Lighting up, Twilight. We’re on a vacation. A well-deserved one.” Applejack was lying on her back admiring the delicate celling-decorations.
“Which sport event are you going to see, Twilight?” Fluttershy asked.
Twilight shrugged. “In contrary to some of you, I’m not that interested in sport. I’m going to try to socialize with the ponies from out of town. Getting to know the other cultures of Equestria. In my opinion the sport events are just an excuse for the powerful ponies of Equestria to be gathered in order to make one or two major decisions behind closed doors which will ultimately determine the future of the country.”
“Is that so?” Applejack said.
Twilight nodded. “Usually there will be a lot of journalists questioning and talking with the important ponies, but during the Games they can work in peace. Ten years ago a big law was passed which made it possible for unicorns to marry earth ponies and pegasi. 200 years ago it was decided that the currency of Equestria should be bits instead of gemstones. The decision to build Ponyville was actually made in this castle during a Canterlot Games. It’s a very important part of the political process in Equestria.”
Fluttershy was talking again. “Wauw. I wonder what decision will be made this time.”
“Even if that may be true, the Canterlot Games is not just a bunch of brutal sport-ponies combating like a group of animals,” Rarity said. “The Games also features competition in style and magic. I have never seen the magic competitions myself, of course, but I have heard delightful things about them. Only the best unicorns in Equestria will preform their magnificent magical abilities to the crowd. Please, Twilight. Promise me that you’ll join me in viewing such magical wonders.”
“Of course, Rarity.”
Two days later the opening ceremony was held. In front of the castle all the athletes, who were going to preform in the Games, were introduced to the public. Many ponies – more ponies than Twilight had ever seen in one place – were assembled in one big colorful group. Celestia held a speech using a spell that amplified her voice, which made it sound like an enormous echo was emerging from the ground. It was the first time since Twilight arrived at Canterlot that she saw Celestia. She had not been successful in her attempt to talk to the princess before the Games, which was disappointing. Every time she tried seeing her, she was told that the princess didn’t have time for visitors. Now Celestia would be too caught up with the more exotic ponies of Equestria that she would have no time left Twilight, who was looking forward to have a discussion with her mentor.
After the ceremony there was a party in the main hall. Twilight had heard from one of the other ponies that princess Celestia would be joining the party soon.
“Rainbow… Contain yourself,” Twilight murmured at Rainbow Dash, who was flying over the other guests, probably in an attempt to spot one of the famous athletes. Pinkie Pie was bouncing up and down, trying to dance to the classical music playing in the background. She couldn’t she her Rarity or her other friends. Twilight decided to take the opportunity to talk to the other ponies. Two pegasus ponies wearing sunglasses were standing next to each other. One of them had a tennis racket as his cutie mark, the other a film roll. “Hi,” Twilight said.
One of the pegesus ponies looked at her and smiled. “Hello, young filly.”
“So you’re from Los Pegasus? Welcome to Canterlot.”
The other pegasus raised his eyebrow. "How did you know?"
"Those sunglasses have the Los Pegasus' seal on their side."
“Wow. That's impressive observation skills. I’m Steven Coltgan and this is my traviling partner, Andrew Mareray.”
“I’m Twilight Sparkle.”
The stallions looked at her in astonishment. “You’re Twilight Sparkle?”
“Yeah … I am.”
One of the pegasi poked the other with his hoof. “Oh, I see. It’s just that … it’s a lovely name.” After about five seconds of awkward silence he continued, “well, we better get some punch. See you later.”
When Twilight tried to start a conversation with other ponies a similar situation occurred. Some of the ponies reacted with smiles and happiness others with grimaces and weird looks on their faces. What was with these ponies? They all acted strange once they heard her name.
“Hey, Applejack. Do these ponies seem a bit … odd to you?” Twilight was whispering to her friend, who had her mouth full.
“Applejack, it’s not appropriate to eat so many hors d'oeuvres.” Rarity was hissing.
“But I’m starving!”
Twilight wandered off, wondering when the princess would show up.
When the ruler of Equesteria entered the room, all the ponies formed a circle around her, desperate to get her attention. They all wanted to thank her, to comment her on her inspiring speech, and to do the usual flattering and praising of the most powerful being known to pony. Celestia made an announcement to all the guests, thanking them for coming and wished them a wonderful evening. Twilight tried to get close to her but the number of guests, who wanted to speak with Celestia was too big. Finally she managed to get within hearing-range or so she thought, because when Twilight spoke to her, Celestia didn’t respond. Apparently she couldn’t hear Twilight or was too busy talking to other ponies. Either that, or she ignored Twilight.
But after twenty minutes, as half the attending ponies had had a few words of conversation with Celestia, she walking pass Twilight whispering as she went by: “Meet me in the Throne Hall at sundown.” A second later Celestia announced her departure and disappeared.
It took a minute for Celestia’s message to sink in. She wanted to talk to Twilight privately. But why? To discuss something important, obviously. Twilight wasn’t exited to speak with her teacher, as she normally would have been. She was nervous. The way Celestia said that she wanted to see Twilight. It sounded urgently despite the otherwise casual tone she used when talking to the other guests. Twilight had to leave the party. Without speaking to anyone she wandered the hallways of Canterlot Castle, abruptly looking out the window at the sun, which was still hovering above the horizon. Could this meeting have something to do with why princess Celestia was so busy during the preparations? Or the way the guests were reacting to Twilight’s name? She simply could not wait for the answers to these questions, so see began walking towards the Throne Hall. Her mind was so full of questions that it felt like seconds before she reached her destination. She took a deep breath before she entered.
In the Throne Hall Celestia was already present. The room was tall and long. A big and magnificent throne dominated the inventory. On both side of the room, large mosaic windows from floor to celling displayed significant events from the history of Equestria. In-between them there were regular windows overlooking the orange colored gardens. Celestia stood by one of these windows. Her horn was not glowing.
“Is the moon rising by itself?” Twilight walked towards Celestia.
“I have preformed a spell that allow the sun and moon to rise by themselves for a limited time. It required a lot of energy. That way I’ll have more time focusing on the Games and my guests.”
Twilight was impressed with her teacher’s magical abilities. It was certain that she would never be able to preform magic in the same scale.
“There is something very important I want to ask you.” Celestia didn’t look at Twilight when she talked. “And the answer to what I’m about to ask means a lot to Equestria. I understand if you have trouble deciding what your answer should be. It was certainly a hard decision for me to make.” Celestia walked away from the window. “You are a great and powerful unicorn, Twilight. I don’t think I have met another pony than myself with your skills.”
“How about Luna? Cadence? My brother?”
“I’m not talking about your magical powers only. You possess a unique ability to remain calm and rational in difficult situations. You have a gift for leadership and looking at the big picture while still having an eye for details.”
Twilight was confused. “Thanks … but why did you call me here?”
Celestia sighed. She looked at Twilight for the first time. “How would you like to be my successor?”
Twilight’s mouth was wide open. She stared at Celestia not knowing what to say. “I … don’t … believe it.”
The princess nodded. “I told you it was a big deal. The council has already given their approval.”
“The council? What council?”
“The Equestrian Council consists of ponies with influence from all over Equestria. These representatives have to accept all major political decisions within the country. The Canterlot Games is one of the few times the council is gathered. Some of them are at the party downstairs. I told them not to tell anything to you about the offer, though. I figured you wanted to hear it from me rather than from somepony you don’t know. It took me some time to convince a few of the members about the idea. That’s why I have been busy doing the preparations.”
“See? I didn’t even know there was a council. How am I supposed to … rule the country?” Without noticing it Twilight was pacing the room, afraid that she was going to have a nervous breakdown right here in front of her mentor.
“Truth be told, you don’t have to know anything about the formalities. I have assistants and other staff members, whom I trust completely, to take care of everything. Equestria needs a leader, though. Somepony who can make the subjects feel safe.”
“And you think I can do that?”
“You saved Equestria twice. And you made the correct judgment at the wedding when others were too blind to see the danger.”
Twilight was getting sweaty. “I didn’t safe Equestria on my own. It was the Elements of Harmony that did the job. And Shining Armor was the one who defeated Chrysalis with the help of Cadence. I can’t take credit for all that.”
“You bring up a good point for why you should be the successor. You are the element of magic. With the Elements of Harmony secured in Canterlot you’ll have them in your possession if a potential threat is occurring. And I didn’t mean that you alone managed to rescue Equestria. It was your leadership that helped finding the Elements in the first place and it was your tireless spirit that defeated Discord. Leadership is an important thing to have as a ruler.” Celestia was walking towards the mosaic showing Twilight and her five friends using the Elements of Harmony to defeat Discord.
“I was lucky.” Twilight could feel her blood start pounding extra fast. “It doesn’t mean I can be the ruler of Equestria. There got to be somepony more qualified.”
“If there is, I nor any ponies of the council have met that pony.”
“But I don’t understand. Why are you asking me this now? Am I not too young to be the leader of the country?”
“Actually no. According to Equestrian law a pony of your age can be the ruler.”
“Again, I don’t now any of these things. I would make a terrible impression on any foreign visitors. Not to mention the citizens.”
“Which is why it’s a good thing you’re young. You’ll have time to exam the law and learn about the political process. It would mean extra study, though.”
That was the least of Twilight’s concerns.
“Announcing you as the successor now allows your reputation to be spread to all corners of Equestria before a possible shift in the Throne when you’re older. It would mean a less painful change to the monarchy if the subjects already know who you are. The citizens’ sense of stability in the government is important to the country. And keep in mind that it isn’t even certain nor likely that you’ll ever be in charge. I’ve lived for more than thousand years and not planning to resign any time soon. It’s comfortable to me and to the public to have a successor in case anything should happen. As much as Equestria needs a leader, it needs a successor.”
“Aha. But why don’t you have a successor already, then?”
“Because Luna is my closest relative, the law states that she would be in charge if anything happened to me.”
“So, why announce a new successor?”
Celestia sighed once more. “Even though I have forgiven my sister, there are a lot of ponies out there who still don’t believe her. Remember that the tale of Nightmare Moon was associated with a horror story you tell your children to scare them. Now that it’s clear to the public that Luna in fact was Nightmare Moon there is no way she can be the ruling princess. Even some of my staff members and guards don’t trust her, and Luna doesn’t trust them either. Trust is another important thing to both give and receive as a ruler.”
“Wouldn’t Luna be mad if I suddenly take her place as the successor?”
Celestia went to the window again, looking at the moon. “Between you and me, I don’t think Luna care much about what is going on in Equestria.”
“Oh … I see.”
“And your relationship with Luna is better than anypony else’s. She will be notified about the change, of course. While I’m still in command. You don’t have to fear Luna.”
Twilight had calmed down a bit. The shock had nearly vanished from her body, but there were still so many questions to ask. However, she couldn’t organize her mind enough to get them out of her mouth. The most important question was “how do you rule a country?” But she figured there was no simple answer to that. Another good question was “did she want to be the successor?” The short answer was no. It was a way too complicated task for her to handle. When she thought of Celestia she got the image of someone who could do absolutely anything without help from anyone. She could never be that pony…
But maybe she didn’t need to be. If the public viewed her as she viewed Celestia, maybe they would feel somewhat safer. Could Twilight do that? Gather the nation in a time of crisis? She was walking by the mosaic windows. All the great ponies of Equestria doing remarkable things, and in the end … Twilight and her friends together. Suddenly the idea didn’t feel so insane. Celestia’s logic was beginning to sink in. Trust and leadership. Maybe Twilight could pull it of. Like Celestia said, it wasn’t likely that Twilight was really going to be in charge. Just the successor. As much as Equestria needs a leader, it needs a successor.
“Maybe you should read the form first,” Celestia said.
Celestia’s horn was glowing and a scroll appeared out of the thin air. “These are the rules regarding your role as the successor.”
The scroll was unrolled: a ten feet long piece of paper. Twilight began reading. The princess sat quietly on the floor. The sun was gone, but the purple light from Twilight’s horn produced enough light to read. The text was in formal, complicated writing, but she understood every word. When she reached the end she saw a bunch of signatures at the button of the page. A blank space had been left out. That was where Twilight was supposed to write her name. Sealing the deal.
“It says here that I will immediately be the leader of Equestria if you have ‘unannounced absence in a longer period of time as specified by the law’ or if you’re ‘in a condition that makes it impossible for the current monarch to preform her or his royal duties’. So if you were – hypothetically – gone or incapable of doing your royal duties tomorrow, I would be the ruler of Equestria just like that? Without anypony’s approval or interference?”
Celestria looked at Twilight with a straight face. “Yes … hypothetically.” A quell and ink materialized. “But remember it’s very improbable that you’re actually going to rule the country. I have had other successors come and go over the time. You should, however, understand the consequences of this contract before you sign it.”
Twilight walked around the room, clearing her thoughts. She still hadn’t entirely made up her mind. She wondered why Celestia chose this room to have their meeting in. Did she think that Twilight would find the massive throne inviting, thus making her want to be the successor? If that was the case, she was incorrect. Twilight didn’t want to be the successor nor the ruler because of the privileges. She could see the logic in Celestia’s arguments, and Twilight had never hesitated to do the things that were good for the country. She had never hesitated to do anything her teacher asked her before either. Maybe once when she first came to Ponyville and ignored the fact that she should be making friends like Celestia told her. Making friends was the thing that ended up saving Equestria from eternal night. Back then Celestia made the correct judgment. Maybe she did that now as well.
If Twilight could choose freely, she would be in Ponyville reading her books under the apple tree on a hot summer’s day for the rest of her life. “Can I stay in Ponyville?” she asked.
Celestia nodded. “Although protocol demands that a handful of Royal Guards have to stay near you at all times. But don’t worry. I can just install a few guards at the edge of the town. You won’t even know they are there.”
Without further questions Twilight walked towards Celestia. The most reasonable thing to do would be to wait a couple of days, discuss it with her friends, evaluate the pros and cons. Instead she took the ink and quill and wrote down her name at the bottom of the page.
Celestia made the scroll disappear. “Thank you, Twilight. You are a worthy successor.”
Did she do it to please Celestia? Or did she really believe it was for the best of the country? Twilight didn’t get much sleep that night. She kept thinking about the decision she just made and tried telling herself that it wasn’t going to change anything radically. Celestia promised she would live long into the future. Even after Twilight was gone. But why would she want a successor now anyway? How old was Celestia? Was she dying and in need of a replacement? No, Twilight couldn’t bear thinking like that. That would mean Celestia lied to her, and the princess would never do that. Even though she wouldn’t be the ruler, being the successor was still a big deal, right? How would other ponies react to Twilight now? She remembered how the guests at the party acted around Celestia. How reverent they were. The completely shallow things they talked about, trying to impress her. Would they do that to Twilight as well? How would Twilight’s friends react once their heard the news?
When she woke up the next day she hoped everything about Celestia’s offer was just a dream, but she knew it was true. Twilight decided to tell her friends about the news as quickly as possible.
When the six ponies and Spike were having breakfast outside a Café in Canterlot the mood was hectic. It was the first day of the Canterlot Games and everybody talked loudly so Twilight couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Rainbow Dash was the only one except Twilight, who wasn’t in a joyful mood. She kept muttering: “Daring Doo or the Wonderbolts … Daring Doo or the Wonderbolts…?” It was still early, so there wasn’t many ponies around them.
Twilight spoke up: “I have something important to tell you all.” Only a few of her friends turn their head towards her, but when Twilight said, “I am going to be the princess’ successor,” everybody stopped talking. They all looking as ridicules – wide open mouth and eyes that were close to pop out off the face – as Twilight probably did in front of her teacher, when she got the offer last night. “Is not that it’s going to change anything, though …”
“You’re leaving us?” Pinkie Pie said.
“What? No. I can still stay in Ponyville.”
The ponies all made a relieved exhalation. “That’s … a very big honor,” Applejack said.
“An honor? It’s not an honor at all. It’s a huge responsibility!” Twilight could feel her anxiety from yesterday returning. She tried calming herself down. “It’s just that … Princess Celestia reassured me that I’m probably never going to rule the country… I am just uncertain … what it means. How will ponies view me? I’m just a unicorn from Ponyville. Not a royalist.”
It was Rarity’s turn to speak now. “To us, you’ll always be our friend from Ponyville. We will never think of you differently.”
The other ponies agreed. “I always knew you’ve going to do great things. We’re proud of you.” Applejack smiled at Twilight, who felt a little better.
“It doesn’t matter to us whether you’re a successor, a princess, or …” Fluttershy started.
“Are you going to be a princess? Like a real princess? You know, if Celestria is no longer around?” Rainbow was at the edge of her seat.
Twilight wasn’t sure. She knew you could be born as a princess but didn’t know if you could be selected as one. Probably. Though she didn’t care for the title of the job. It was the job itself that worried her.
“Let’s hope that Celestia will always be around, and that my position as successor won’t have any real effect… Though I am required to step in if something happens to Celestia.”
“So what? I’m sure you’re going to do a great job,” Spike said. “You have amazing organizing skills.”
“Yeah, in organizing a library. Not the entire country.”
Everybody around the table was quite. Not even the wind made a sound. “Nothing will happen to Celestia, you hear?” Applejack tried to comfort Twilight, but she wasn’t as sure as Applejack appeared. “Have you told your brother the good news?”
“Not yet. I should probably go do that now.”
It took some time for Twilight to find her brother. There was extra crowded in the castle today and every guard she ask just pointed towards the east end of the city. Finally she saw her brother walking on a pavement. When their eyes met, he ran towards her. With his hooves around her shoulders he congratulated her. He had just received the information. They walked side by side as they talked. “Well, I guess we know why Celestia was so busy doing the preparations. It took time for the council to pick a new successor. But that’s not because you weren’t the obvious choice. There’s always a lot of paperwork involved. In my opinion they couldn’t have found a more qualified successor.”
Twilight blushed. It was the first time she felt proud regarding her new role. She couldn’t wait to tell her mom and dad. Then a thought was acing in her head. “You said Celestia wasn’t busy. You told me she was distracted, but not busy.”
Shining Armor looked away. “Busy. Distracted. What's the difference?”
“Right. I guess I’m overthinking.” As they walked alongside a park another thing was bugging her. “Do you think there’s going to be an official announcement?”
Her brother was thinking. “If you’re thinking of a you-on-podium-while-thousands-of-ponies-are-watching kind of announcement then no, I don’t think so. The councilmembers will bring the news to their individual area of Equestria, while Celestia do the same here. The members will spread the word of your reputation. They have probably received a lot of information about you.”
Twilight blushed again, which was silly. Being with her brother made the burton of being the successor less hard to lift. She took comfort in knowing that he would always be around to lift it with her.
“I’m sorry, but I better be going now. I have a tight schedule. Aren’t you going to see some of the sport events today?”
“I promised Rarity I would watch the magic competitions with her.”
“You better hurry, then.”
The magic competitions were held in the Canterlot gardens. It was nice for Twilight to get her mind of things for a while, and the repetition of the competitors’ magic acts was relaxing to watch. There were ponies who could transform rocks into detailed objects such as a time glass or even a decorated tea table. Other unicorns fired lasers from their horns, hitting a target with incredible accuracy. Some of the ponies made a show using come-to-live-spells on objects while adding light and sound effects using only magic. While she was watching the performances, Twilight got more and more conscious about her own magical powers. She used to think she was rather good at performing spells, but it was clear that she was nothing compared to these unicorns. And then she once again doubted her role as the successor. Wouldn’t one of these ponies be better? She brushed the thought aside quickly. The Royal Guards were hired to protect the kingdom, and they had to do the actual magic in case of emergency. Twilight said to herself that she had to stop worrying so much. If she kept upsetting herself with every little detail about her qualifications for the rest of her life, she would go insane. Celestia believed in her, and so should she. That was not an easy task, though.
In the evening when the ponies were gathered in one of their rooms, Rainbow Dash explained with a smile on her face how her day went. “I was at the book store really early, but they didn’t open until five minutes past twelve and the arena where the 500-meter dash was held is not visible from the book store…”
“They probably reckon ponies who like reading books wouldn’t be interested in sport,” Applejack said.
Though Rainbow tried her best to ignore the comment, she had to send Applejack a slight scowl. “Once I got the book – with signature – I immediately flew so fast my wings would allow. I was flying and flying … and suddenly, I accidentally made a sonic rainboom! The athletes at the arena thought it was the signal to being the race… It caused a lot of confusing and in the end the race got postponed! So I managed to see the whole race from start to finish.”
The ponies were laughing and Twilight was finally somewhat comfortable about her new situation. She promised herself that she would try to enjoy the Games and stop worrying.
The routine of the following days was simple. At daytime the ponies were busy watching the Games, which was containing all sorts of activities and sports that were sure to provide the ponies with plenty of things to see. At night they shared experiences and stories. Twilight did some thinking, though. Celestia mentioned something about Twilight having to be taught in law and the political process of Equestria. She wondered when that was going to be. Was it supposed to be right away or after the Games? Spike was kept with her all day in case the princess would contact her regarding the issue. She wasn’t meant to learn it by herself, was she? She should probably read a couple of books about the topic. Another question was: How many ponies knew about Twilight’s role at this point? Celestia would have to announce it somehow. Did she rely on the fact that the word would spread by itself? No, that would be too sloppy. There would probably be an article in the newspaper shortly.
Much too quickly the day arrived when the Canterlot Games were over. Twilight was tired but relieved. It would be nice to return to Ponyville. To the library and her studies, to live a normal life. At the opening ceremonies there were thousands of ponies gathered in expectations of the upcoming Games. Now, only a few hundred ponies were waiting for princess Celestia and her speech, which would end this decade’s Canterlot Games. The victorious athletes had already received their medals and had returned home to celebrate their victories. The athletes, who didn’t win anything, had also returned home to train for the next Canterlot Games. The political ponies were busy so most of them had also left the capitol. As the faithful student Twilight was, her and her friends stayed in Canterlot to watch the princess’ speech. All their packing was gone and a train to Ponyville was waiting for them. Now they just waited for the princess. They waited. A lot.
The sun was setting. The moon was rising. It wasn’t like Celestia to be late. A mild form of confusing started among the audience, which escaladed quicker and quicker as time went by. The conversations arouse among the crowd. Some ponies discussed why Celestia was taking so long; others fear that something had happened to her. Twilight was probably the most scared pony in the crowd, though.
A group of guards in a heated debate were standing in a circle at the edge of the podium. Twilight walked slowly towards them, interested in hearing the conversation, when a comforting voice was cutting through the thick atmosphere. “Twilight. Follow me.” Shining Armor was walking towards the castle. She quickly followed him. She was walking as if in a dream – or a nightmare – not fully recognizing the surroundings, the sounds, or the surface under her hooves. Her brother led her up some stairs and through the corridors of the empty castle. They ended up in the Throne Hall.
Inside there were more guards assembled in one place than Twilight had ever seen. They were all yelling, arguing loudly with one another, or shaking their heads in disbelieve. It was downright terrifying to see these otherwise disciplined and silent ponies provide such a chaotic atmosphere. “Gentlemen!” Shining Armor spoke up with all the dominance he could achieve. The room got a little bit quieter. “Has the castle been fully searched?”
A light blue bespectacled pony with a scroll as his cutie mark appeared from the crowd. He wasn’t a guard, Twilight’s instinct told her. “She’s not in the castle, that’s for sure. Nopony in the city have seen her either.”
“Who saw her last?”
“Me. During the sunset yesterday.”
“That’s more than 24 hours …”
One of the guards spoke. “So what? She’s gone from the castle all the time. She probably forgot to mention it.”
“She wouldn’t forget that she’s hosting the closing ceremony.”
“Come on!” A guard from the other side of the room exclaimed. “That law was passed hundreds of years ago. When there was war in this country. In peacetime we don’t actually need a princess to keep Equestria going nor to protect it. Let’s search for her first and then decide to change the monarchy!”
Some of the guards nodded while others yelled in disagreement. “In the public's eyes, Equestria needs a ruling princess. No matter what her name is!”
“It’s not our duty to interpret the law. We have all sworn to follow it.” Shining Armor was walking towards the throne.
“You’re only saying that because it’s your sister. If Luna was the successor …”
“But she isn’t!”
“It’s still too early to change the throne. If Celestia comes back tomorrow morning we would look like fools!”
“Are we fools for following the law?” Shining Armor was strutting about. “I think it’s pretty simple what needs to be done.” For the first time today he looked into Twilight’s eyes. All the guards’ stares were pointing at her. Some bitter. Others resigned. “Come forward, Twilight Sparkle.” He was not speaking to her as her brother anymore, but as the captain of the Royal Guards. She never felt lonelier when he walked towards the center of the room. Towards the center of power. The center of Equestria. Shining Armor’s horn was glowing and pointed at Twilight. A light flashed. A few seconds later all the guards bowed. One after one. She could feel something heavy on her head. The weight of a crowd that didn’t fit her head. “Twilight Sparkle. From this day forth, you are the new ruler of Equestria.”