To think, it all started so simply.
For my part in vanquishing the Spelleater, however minor, I was made a peer of the realm, given the newly created title "Knight of Laughter." I cared little for the honor, but I was able to get a few bookings for royal birthday parties out of it.
It was during one of these that I achieved enlightenment. I was exploring Castle Canterlot, seeing if any party supplies had been left abandoned in a forgotten storage room over the centuries, when I came upon a vault. All it took was a vault, and I was on the other side. After all, anything kept in there must have been dangerously fun, the sort of thing that only the truly foolish might employ. But I was a professional party pony. I didn't just dare to be stupid, I was paid for it.
Instead of fireworks or favors, I found the tool of my ascension. It wasn't as stylish as a good bow tie, and it could use a few party-grade polka dots, but it still appealed to me on some visceral level. Besides, the alicorn design was perfect, given the birthday filly. Of course I put it on.
At that moment, realization struck. The Dull Sun had grown fat and complacent from countless years of peace and prosperity. When strife returned to the land, she'd ceded initiative to a successor. Her wishes were clear, though she could never express them aloud. When better to fulfill them than her birthday?
All it took was a cake recipe I'd discovered years ago, a Tartaran's-food variant that, while incredibly delicious, had a nasty delayed interaction with high levels of magic. Baking it was perilous as I myself grew in power, but again, I was a professional. Her eating it? That didn't go nearly as well. The first sign was her mane going crazy, but a bad hair day was the least of her worries. She was forced to seal herself in her sun to recuperate.
The reactions of the others astonished me. Couldn't they see this was what she wanted? Time off, away from her responsibilities? Sure, the excuse couldn't have been fun on her end, but now she had a few years to herself.
But no. They wailed. They gnashed their teeth. Those wearing garments rent them. Even worse was the Shouting Moon, accusing me of regicide. The nerve! I give her sister the present she wanted most, and I get accused of murder? Well, there was one clear way to fix that, and that was an apology party.
She was leery. I couldn't blame her. Still, she was hardly one to deny second chances, so she allowed it. Oh, there was much greater scrutiny on me. Guards watched my every move, examined every invoice and itinerary for the slightest possible risk. Turns out there are a lot of food scientists on royal retainer.
Still, nopony saw the moon shot coming. Of course, that's why I call it the Cannonball Surprise. In any case, the Shouting Moon would no doubt appreciate some time on her satellite that wasn't spent sealed within it, especially if it would help her understand her sister's enjoyment. As an added benefit, both sisters spending time in their respective celestial spheres meant that the sun and moon began moving under their own power, exactly as the Amulet had told me. Everypony won!
And yet, for some reason, providing these vacations had gotten me declared an enemy of the state. Still, the state was in a state of disarray. They couldn't send many guards at me while the nation teetered on the edge of anarchy. My Sense alerted me to what few there were, and I hid where they couldn't follow. I slipped between moments, between frames, escaping down the corridors of Tindalos. I've always been a dog pony, and a good scratch behind angular ears goes a long way.
The God of Chaos pursued me, but did so hesitantly. He admitted that he wasn't sure whether he should flay my soul or shake my hoof. I didn't even know that souls had skin.
Anyway, I explained my thought process to him, and he nodded in understanding. Finally, somedraconequus with a lick of sense! He suggested I extend the same courtesy to the other princesses. It was a fantastic idea. I didn't know why I hadn't thought of it myself. Still, I couldn't exactly throw parties for either of them.
He explained how I could, and once again, it made so much sense.
I traveled north. Well, generally north. Along the way, I popped into every seedy salt lick, every shadowed alley, every wretched hive of scum and villainy. I'm going to have to spray for those at some point.
At the time, though, I needed help, the sort of help the more respectable sort of pony wouldn't be able to provide. Nor could pegasi or unicorns; they didn't have what I needed. I went to my fellow earth ponies and taught them the secrets of the party pony. I helped them walk the path that only those without horn or wings can travel, the five steps of transcendence: awareness, flexibility, realization, extrapolation, and acceptance.
Many weren't ready for the final step. Some weren't even ready for the first. But every good party pony's gone a little off the deep end. I would guide them through the growing pains as they came into their new power. The suffering was temporary. The greater good, the greater joy that would come of so many awakened to their full hilarious potential, that would last.
When I finally reached the Crystal Empire, demesne of the Burnt Heart, it was at the head of a grand herd, each of whom had looked outward and inward, everywhere and nowhere. Each of whom could look through, and saw the truth of the world. I was so very proud of them.
We swept in, as unstoppable and implacable as a song stuck in your head. No wall in our path could hold us back. No spear raised against us could find its mark. The Crystal Heart shone with the hope and fury of thousands, but not even its ultra-high frequency emotional broadcast could reach us when we darted elsewhere to wait it out.
I gave the Empire a minute to celebrate before we returned. Despair rippled through their ranks, and it hurt to see, but I assured them that it would not last. Smiles would come again. I would make sure of it.
Then came the Burnt Heart herself. Furious as a mother bear, heedless as a besotted filly. She didn't see me. She saw love-eaters, shadow lords, rapacious demons, all the things that had broken her time and again. She was scarred in ways that might never truly heal, and she was prepared to wield her pain like a second horn.
I offered her a pie, served a la palooza, in the manner of the party pony. In other words, I threw it in her face.
She was stunned for only a moment, but a moment was all my students needed. Half a dozen took hold and dragged her out of sight, off of the stage of the world. She didn't have a convenient celestial object to serve as a vacation home, but outside of conventional reality, she would at last have the perspective needed to see the humor of the situation. In 4-D, no less!
The prince-emperor was easily assuaged. Slipping inside his shields was foal's play. His mind was still soft from the ministrations of a dark queen, and so he was readily convinced that his love would return, happier than ever. I left him with grateful tears in his eyes.
As promised, I brought joy back to the Empire. Compulsorily. Frowns were not tolerated, but the Legion of Fun made short work of anypony's long face. In their ecstasy, the crystal ponies were happy to lend their aid. Their craftsponies and inventors produced partillery on par with the Crystal Express, imposing wonders of quartz and confetti.
My return to Equestria was a glorious one, but I made a bit of a miscalculation. The Nattering Star had been given time to plan, to think way too much and confirm her own biases that my rule would somehow be a bad thing. She and her allies were garbed for war, their powers augmented and their colors absurd. It was six against an army, and even I knew the odds favored the half-dozen.
Meanwhile, the God of Chaos, prodded by his minders, challenged me to a contest of wit and madness. We topped one another time and time again, jape after jape, folly after folly. At last, the god seemed poised to win, as he knew he would… but I had one final trick. I produced the Burnt Heart from her sanctuary beyond the world, her scars healed, her mind soothed, her countenance merry.
The god looked upon her, and he confessed that he did not know whether to laugh or weep. He bowed to me and admitted a grateful, graceful defeat. True surprise was rare and precious to him, and this was nothing if not truly surprising. In his gratitude, he told me of the Alpacalypse, prophesied by llama lamas in their mountain monasteries, a foretold time of devastation and revelation. He believed me to be the instrument of this eschaton. I was honored, and I knew what I had to do.
My forces had done better than I'd dare hope, but the Star's were nearly as mighty as she, and together, they had routed my Legion. It was up to me, but I had destiny on my side. I galloped to the clash and stood tall and noble and proud, crying challenge.
The Rapturous One, the Uplifting Joy, beheld me, and her resolve wavered, and with it the unity that was their incredible strength.
The others tried to rally her back to their misguided cause, but the remaining festival batteries unloaded, and they were struck down. They were unharmed, of course, but the bombardment of streamers and pie filling had broken their focus, and with it their flamboyant fury.
The Uplifting Joy deflated somewhat, reverting to her usual breathtaking beauty. She looked at me with tears in her eyes, and told me her fears. She said that I had gone mad. That I had forgotten the meaning of fun and the purpose of parties. That I had stopped calling ponies by their names and was using weird, often mildly insulting nicknames.
I had no idea what she was talking about.
I took her in my forelegs and whispered the secrets of my own heart. That all of this was for her. Without her, I wouldn't have the courage to run with scissors or even dare to eat a peach. The end goal of all of this havoc and upheaval was a world remade to her vision, a Partopia of endless joy and cupcakes and punch and laughter, a pony's face blowing into a noisemaker - forever.
She looked at me, her eyes wide with understanding, and she spoke from her heart of hearts, saying, "Cheesy? Cheeeesy."
Cheese Sandwich jolted out of his reverie. "Wha? Oh!" He beamed, coughed, affected nonchalance, realized that was dumb, and went back to the wide smile. "Hi, Pinkie."
Pinkie Pie looked around the… guest room? She wasn't sure if the same term applied when the room was in a palace, especially not a shiny, magical crystal-palace-tree thing they still hadn't even named. Anyway, she tilted her head as she asked, "What are you doing up here?"
"Oh, admiring the view." Cheese blinked, grimaced, and whipped his head to look out the window. "You know, because it really is a great view of the whole town. Of Ponyville. From here. Which is high. And I'm rambling."
"Yup!" Pinkie pronked to his side. Something off registered in her peripheral vision. She turned and noticed an odd dark collar peeking out under Cheese's shirt. "What's that?"
"Huh? Oh." He pushed it up to better visibility. It was a black and grey torc styled with a horned pony's head and spread wings framing a red jewel, glowing with malice.
Pinkie gasped and backed away. "Cheese, you gotta take that off right now! That's the Alicorn Amulet! It makes you all nasty and mean and crazy and I don't want my mouth put in the trash again!"
This only got laughter. Not evil, wheel-hating laughter. The nice, happy kind of laughter. Still, even Pinkie thought this was no laughing matter. "Please, Cheesy?" She pouted, her eyes wide and watery.
"Oh. Uh." Cheese coughed into a fetlock. Definitely not to cover a blush, no sir. "Well, you see, this is awkward. It's not actually the Alicorn Amulet." He undid the clasp.
The tearing sound convinced Pinkie. Last she checked, the magic clasp of the Alicorn Amulet, which could only be opened by the wearer, didn't use Velcro. "Huh?"
"See, ever since Princess Just Twilight put out that autobiography, novelty makers have been going nuts. This one seemed pretty neat."
Pinkie examined the imitation Amulet. Plastic, dyed cloth, and an LED—a light-evoking dwoemer—which came together into a surprisingly good facsimile of the real deal. It might even be a facmetaphor. Still… "I hope you haven't been wearing this around town. It may look neat, but nopony's forgotten the Dark and Terrible Trixie."
"No, no, it's just…" Cheese scrunched up his muzzle in thought. "Well, you know how this is…" He trailed off and just waved a hoof in a direction that only Pinkie could follow.
She shrugged. "Yeah, so?"
"Well… maybe it's a stallion thing."
She frowned a bit. "So you were scratching yourself and belching without caring?"
"No, I was, well…" Cheese didn't bother trying to hide or deny the blush this time.
Pinkie smiled, rolled her eyes, and looked up. After a few moments, she looked back. To Cheese's immense relief, the smile was still there. "Well, as long as you don't actually plan on conquering the world through the fourth wall to offer me a shiny new Hosstralia, then it's fine." She grabbed him in a tight hug. "Besides, you don't need to. We have a derstanding."
Cheese returned the embrace. "Yeah." They did have an understanding, but not even they understood what that understanding actually was. As such, it was an un-understanding, or simply a derstanding, as per the principle of double negatives. This made perfect sense to them, and that was all that mattered. "Thanks." His eyes snapped open in realization. "Wait, what time is it?"
"Um, a bit after two? You've been up here for a while."
"Venezuelan Beaver Cheese! I'm way behind schedule!" He gave Pinkie another squeeze, then zipped out the door.
She watched him go and shook her head. Silly Cheesy. Only he would insist on organizing the party that would celebrate his own knighthood.
The discarded Amulet caught her eye. She looked around for anyone watching, besides the obvious, then smiled. Maybe it wasn't a stallion thing. Now, how did it go? Oh yes.
To think, it all started so simply...