An Age Long Since Passed

by Zealous Shift

The Last Embers

As per his daily routine, Prince Blueblood sat idly on a cushion in his personal study. A stack of old newspapers sat next to him. Some were already opened prior while others remained closed, all of which were caked with a fine layer of dust. Under normal circumstances, the Unicornian Prince would have opened a good book, perhaps had a glass of aged cider, but things weren’t as normal as they used to be.

Taking the first three newspapers off the top of the stack with his magic, he was able to see that all of them had identical pictures on the front page. While the titles and following pages were no doubt different, the portrait of ‘Princess’ Twilight Sparkle indefinitely remained. It wasn’t just the top three papers either, the same picture lined every single one in the stack. For three straight weeks it was all that the news would talk about, how a simple unicorn became an alicorn, her history as a national hero, how she was a shining example for all of Equestria.

Blueblood disdainfully remembered Twilight Sparkle from his younger years, before he ascended to sole heir of the Unicornian dynasty, not that he had much choice in the matter. She was always in the shadow of his aunt, Princess Celestia, never leaving it for a moment whenever he was around. She never spoke, never looked anypony in the eye when begin spoken to, the exception being Princess Celestia, and constantly proved to be a nuisance around the palace. Oh yes, Celestia found her quite endearing, but none of the nobles thought it as such when their monarch was pulled away for hours on end because a brat wanted to learn about levitation. If anypony had told Blueblood back then that Twilight Sparkle was going to grow up to be a princess and national hero, he would have punctured a lung from all the laughing.

Imagine his horror when one day, idly speaking to his personal guard, Shining Armor, that his best friend and worst nightmare were brother and sister! He still remembered his confusion when Shining pointed out that fact, leaving him speechless for several minutes. How the two of them could possibly be related, Blueblood had no idea. Even after so many years, he still had not a clue.

Shining was tall, strong, bold, outgoing, sociable, everything that would have been expected of royalty. Even before he became Captain of the Royal Guard, he was respected and admired by the entirety of Canterlot. It was fitting, even inspiring, to see him become Prince of Crystolis. How he could possibly share the same gene pool with Twilight, a small, pampered, nosy, passive, anti-social ingrate, was well beyond the minds of any a scholar.

He threw the newspaper off to the side, landing squarely into the burning fireplace that he had lit when he had walked in. Just reading it made him feel sick - how overly positive and cringeworthy the event was made out to be. It was infuriating, how she of all ponies would become an alicorn, out of all the population. It wasn’t jealousy, though Blueblood did admit wings would look quite nice on him, but the principle of the thing. Twilight Sparkle, using a spell from one of Equestria’s brightest individuals, long since passed from the world, manipulated her own magical being to force an ascension to alicornhood, all out of a mistake derived from her great stupidity. Despite how insanely idiotic it sounded, the first issue of the “Canterlot Gossip” described it as the heralding of a golden age.

Reading the details brought back a particularly painful memory from Blueblood’s youth, going back to when he was just getting out of his toddler years. Back then, with his parents still alive and him barely understanding the meaning of responsibility, he had asked his Aunt why she was so tall, why she had both a horn and wings, in total, we she was an alicorn. He remembered Celestia telling him that she was born like that, that she had always been that way. Of course he followed up with the question of how to become an alicorn, his naïve, young mind not quite understanding genetics. Celestia told him that it was impossible, that not even her magic could perform such a feat. She had lied to him, as from what he heard from her and Aunty Luna was that she had planned for Twilight's ascension ever since meeting her.

Luna of course, was another lie that Celestia told him. She said that she had no brothers or sisters in the palace. She said that the Mare in the Moon was just an old tale. She said that the laughter he heard in the Royal Garden was just the wind. She said that Changelings had died out long ago. She said that the roads heading north were for explorers and nothing more. She said his marefriend had simply moved away with her family to Manehattan, when it was in fact quite far from the truth. Celestia had said a lot of things, and, as time moved on, he had only started to realize just how much of it was false.

Ash slowly began to fall on the floor, a small breeze blowing it away from the fireplace, the first of many papers nearly burned to a crisp. Blueblood didn’t even finish reading the second one before throwing it in with the former. Much to his temper, it was even more saccharine than the first, going into details about her “heroics” and how she saved Equestria so many times.

While he wasn’t suicidal enough to put down the importance of the Elements of Harmony, he didn’t find their use to be incredibly heroic. If Friendship was supposedly Magic, then it would stand to reason that the Element of Magic only required that one would somewhat like the other Element bearers. Either that or the Element of Magic could be used by any magical being, which literally came down to every living thing in existence. Nearly every one of her ‘victories’ came down to sheer luck and massive assistance from her bothersome compatriots. Even her admittedly impressive battle against the centaur Tirek, it came down to the powers given to her by the other alicorns and the Tree of Harmony.

What kind of leader was that? On her own, Twilight Sparkle was a wreck. Blueblood still shuddered to think of the Want-it-Need-it incident, even after a decade since its original use, and the news that she had repeated it in Ponyville only brought back uncomfortable memories. The breakdowns, the paranoia and the obsessive need for perfection were traits given to tyrants, not to Equestrian leaders. How funny that he had to go out of his way to even find someone who even remembered the Want-it-Need-it report in the paper after the coronation, when only a year earlier it had been going around like wildfire. Then there was her complete lack of education regarding the Equestrian government.

-Oh no, don’t teach her about politics, world news, the intricacies of the monarchy, social issues or economics, learning how to befriend country hicks in a backwater town is what is truly important for an aspiring leader.-

While Blueblood understood that being able to communicate with the population was important - he had travelled to several frontier towns just for that fact - but making friends was not something that a leader necessarily needed to do. Twilight Sparkle was soft, undisciplined and overall unprepared for her responsibilities. Part of leadership was knowing how to make hard choices and she didn’t have any experience with those. When he suggested putting heavier taxation on the nobles, Blueblood couldn’t show his face around Canterlot for nearly a month, but it needed to be done to help pay for the repairs after the Changeling Invasion. It was a hard decision to make, and it made him some enemies, but when it came down to it he gave up half of his own personal treasury for the relief efforts. What did Twilight Sparkle do? She sang a song, had a slice of cake then went on her way back to undamaged Ponyville, free of guilt or obligation.

What was even worse was that no one even knew about how she lost her crown just a week after the coronation. Her crown, which was also the Element of Magic, was stolen from her, in her room, in the middle of the Crystal Citadel. Blueblood himself wouldn’t have known about the incident if he wasn’t speaking to Shining Armor the following days. To his greater surprise, he was dumbfounded to hear who the perpetrator was. Sunset Shimmer, a close friend from his childhood days, was none other than the thief. He never heard about the end result and every time he asked Celestia about it, he was immediately shut down.

Sunset, he thought, would have been a much better princess than Twilight. Ambitious, powerful, cunning and more than anything, prepared. He remembered fondly the duels that they used to have back in the day, the spars that would last hours on end. He could never be sure how it would end, which attack she’d throw at him and from which angle. It was exciting and adventurous to be certain, which was practically the opposite of his duels with Twilight.

Granted, he and the purple menace had only dueled thrice, but they were all the same. That was the problem. The moves were all to predictable, the attacks telegraphed so obviously he barely had to defend himself. Too much power was put into each strike, like trying to use a sledge hammer to attack a housefly. From his reports, she still had not improved as it was effectively the same strategy used against Tirek, albeit with flashier teleportation tricks.

His frustration boiling over, Blueblood couldn’t even get past the first of the page of the third paper. Throwing the entire stack into the fire place, he gingerly massaged his forehead. It had been three months since the original coronation. Three long months of his humiliation being shown to all the world.

Ever since he was but a colt, his father had told him that the stallion makes the title, not the other way around. For years, he was in the shadow of his dynasty, building himself up so that he may be unique, that he may one day contribute to the Equestrian nation like his forefathers and mothers. That was all he knew, be the best that he could be, so Equestria could be the best that it could be. Then out of the blue, came a contender to everything that he had worked towards. His entire life, he had been scolded saying that the title of prince doesn’t make him any greater than anypony else. Yet, with her own castle, sat Twilight Sparkle, hailed as the dawn of a new age for being a princess. The irony was so thick, Blueblood could practically choke on it.

Getting up from his cushion, Blueblood began to pace back and forth across his study. He just couldn’t understand it, not one single bit of it. How had all that he had done gone unnoticed while Twilight’s fame rose higher and higher every day? It was a paradox that had haunted him for months, yet he was no closer to solving it than the day he began.

Perhaps, he thought, the change was needed. Even if he didn’t agree with her praise, he himself had never helped save Equestria. Maybe he simply didn’t have what it took to be a leader? It was a question that he had avoided for many years, but he never had to really think on it until the coronation. When he became sole blood heir of the Platinum Dynasty, why was it brushed over so lightly? Was his blood, his title, worth so little in the minds of the public that they no longer cared what he did? The possibilities and questions that filled his mind were maddening, but after minutes of internal debate he was left with only one persistent thought.

Twilight Sparkle was, regardless of his protests, a member of the Royal Family. She wielded great power, even greater than his, both political and with her ascension magically as well. She was the most popular being in Equestria, ever present in the minds of everypony and was the rising star on the throne. His moment of fame had passed him, as it had so cruelly passed for Fleur de Lis and her family. The ponies of Equestria no longer cared for what he did, and based on the amount of attention he received after returning from a diplomatic envoy to Griffonia, they no longer cared for him at all. How could he be a prince in such a state? All this combined became one simple question.

If Prince Blueblood is no longer a prince, then what is he, if anything?