Later on, following the attack of the rock troll and the display of awesome power by the Emperor’s Gem, young Declan found himself riding with Twilight and Spike in the Friendship Express as it made its way to Canterlot, where they hoped to get some answers from its resident Princess.
As they rode in the purplish-pink train, Declan looked out the window and gazed at the beautiful scenery around them, including a far off shot of Ponyville which his eyes widened to.
“Wow…” he breathed.
Twilight, who was sitting with Spike on a seat next to him, noticed his awestruck face and smiled. “Like what you see?” she asked. Declan answered with a nod. “So what do you think of Equestria so far?”
“Well… aside from the freaky creatures that want to demolish you… it’s like no place I’ve ever seen…” he admitted. “And I can’t believe you have trains here!”
“Of course, we have lots of ways of getting from place to place here in Equestria.” Twilight beamed.
“Yeah, we got… balloons, carriages, wagons, ships... all kinds!” Spike added.
“Mind… blown!” Declan remarked, stunned.
Twilight smiled at him sweetly before she turned and noticed a unicorn stallion approaching with a cart full of food.
“Oh look, our food trolley here!” she said, pleased.
Declan’s ears perked up at this while adjusting his glasses again. “Food trolley?”
“Yeah, you hungry?” Spike asked, eagerly.
Declan nodded, smiling and licking his lips a bit. “You bet I am!”
The stallion pushing the food trolley soon stops in-between them, carrying an assortment of food such as apples, cider, bits of candy, what appear to be wrapped up burgers and a small bucket of gems.
“So, what’ll it be Princess?” The stallion asked Twilight.
“I don’t know…” Twilight said as she turned to Declan. “What do you think, Declan? Want a burger?”
“No way, you got burgers in Equestria!? Yes!” Declan said, excited. “I love burgers!”
“Great! Two burgers please.” Twilight asked, politely.
“Coming right up!” The stallion said before he levitated two burgers to Twilight and Declan. “And a few gems for our scaly friend here, good thing you told us ahead of time that you were coming, Princess.”
Spike licked his lips and smiled as the small bucket of gems levitated over to him, he grabbed it and stuffed his face inside as he dug in. Everypony else laughed at this. The stallion then looked at Declan.
“And… what are you, young fella?” he asked.
“Uh…” Declan responded, not sure what to say.
“Just… a very hungry boy who wants to eat, that’s all.” Twilight said, smiling nervously.
“Ooh, speaking of eating…” Declan said as he unraveled the burger a bite and took a bite. He seemed to enjoy it for a bit, then he tasted what was really inside and his eyes widened before he quickly spat it right out the open window. “Blah! What’s in this thing?”
“Hay.” Twilight replied.
“Hey what?” Declan asked, not getting it.
“No, I mean actual hay, look.” Twilight said as she showed him her burger, he was surprised to see that there really was hay inside of it. It was a Hayburger.
“What!? You mean I ate hay?” Declan exclaimed before he started wiping his tongue.
“Yeah, what’s wrong? Don’t humans eat hayburgers?” Twilight asked, innocently.
“No! We eat like…” Declan began he stopped himself, he knew equines were herbivores so they didn’t eat meat at all, but he didn’t want Twilight or anypony else to get the wrong idea about him so he chose his words carefully. “Well, we don’t eat exactly the same foods you do, let’s put this way. You know, different species.”
“Oh, right! Sorry!” Twilight apologized.
“It’s ok, I should have told you sooner.” Declan stated. He then spotted the candies and apples. “Ooh! But we do eat sweets and apples! Yes! Can I have some of that, Twilight?”
“Of course! Some candy and apples please!” Twilight requested.
“Sure, anything for the Princess.” The pony with the trolley cart nodded as he levitated a lollipop and an apple into Declan’s hand, who smiled while the stallion left.
“Too bad he didn’t have any candy apples, huh?” Spike smirked.
“Yeah, really.” Declan chuckled before taking a large bite out of the apple in his hand. He smiled, appearing to enjoy it. “Yum! This apple’s juicy!”
“It should, it was grown and sold by my friend Applejack, she runs an Apple Farm called Sweet Apple Acres, also in Ponyville.” Twilight said.
“Whoa, a farm that sells Apples? Cool.” Declan remarked. “And I can’t wait to meet this Applejack friend of yours.”
“Me too. You know… she’s a lot like you Declan; stubborn, adventurous and straightforward.” Twilight admitted.
“Thanks.” Declan smiled, as he tossed the lollipop into the air and caught it in his mouth. “So… anything else you can tell me about this place? Like… what you guys have done lately?”
“I can… though it’ll take a while.” Twilight confessed.
“A long while.” Spike added before Twilight glared at him.
“Well, we got time, so tell away.” Declan encouraged her.
Twilight smiled, excited to give her own history lecture to an unknown being from another world, while Spike rolled his eyes and groaned a bit.
“Alright, well it starts off with me and Spike first coming to Ponyville to inspect the preparations for the annual Summer Sun Celebration…” Twilight said as she began to recount Equestria’s recent history to Dillon.
By the time the train had started to arrive in Canterlot and slowly come to a stop, Twilight had just told Declan everything that had happened in Equestria in the recent years, which fascinated him greatly as he was practically on the edge of his seat.
“…And that is the story of all the major things we’ve done since coming to Ponyville.” Twilight concluded.
“Up until today that is, but you already know what happened today.” Spike shrugged.
Declan nodded. “Yep. And boy… it sounds like you guys have been on quite a lot of adventures… which is awesome!”
Twilight and Spike were a bit surprised and intrigued. “Awesome?” The alicorn echoed.
“Yeah, all those battles and the fact that you saved this place like what… 6 times already?” Declan inquired.
Spike counted his claws. “Uh… yeah, I think that’s it.”
“Right, anyways it must have been real fun!” Declan smiled.
“Fun…” Twilight repeated with an amused chuckle. “Now that’s a word we rarely use in those kind of adventures.”
“Twilight’s right, we’ve nearly lost some of those times.” Spike added.
“Yeah, I know it’s scary and dangerous, obviously, but to someone else’s perspective I’ll bet it was cool to watch you guys win!” Declan beamed.
“I suppose so…” Twilight admitted. “I do hear some ponies talking about our past achievements and how amazing they were, but only rarely, which fine by me, personally. I’m not one for attention myself, Rainbow Dash on the other hoof…”
“Hey, speaking of past achievements; do you want to hear about Equestria’s early history?” Spike asked, eagerly.
“Would I?” Declan asked, excited before they began to hear the sound of the train wheels screeching to a halt.
“Oh! We’re here!” Twilight Sparkle informed them.
Declan turned to the window. “Already? Cool.”
“Alright, follow me.” Twilight said as she began to lead them out of their seats and towards the train’s nearest exit. “I can’t wait for you to meet the Princess, she’s one of the kindest and wisest ponies there is and my mentor for a long time.”
“You really look up to her, don’t you?” Declan remarked.
Twilight nodded. “Yeah, and I would just hate to let her down on… well… anything really,” she said, getting a bit upset just by thinking of failing her beloved Princess.
Declan lowered his head a bit. “Yeah… I know that feeling well…”
“What?” Twilight asked, not hearing that last bit.
“Huh? Oh… never mind…” Declan said, trying to fake a smile. “Shall we get going then?”
“Sure.” Twilight nodded as they continued to walk.
They soon stepped off the train and onto the station before it left then began to make their way towards the path that would lead them into the city and eventually the castle itself. Then, once Declan got a good look of the place his eyes were wide with amazement.
As they walked, Declan, who still had the lollipop in his mouth, gazed at all the buildings around them with wide eyes. The buildings were beautifully made, the nature purer then he anything he had seem. The city featured many places like coffee shops, a high-class restaurant, a racetrack, a theater, and an art gallery. Ponies of all kinds, mainly unicorns who were wearing fancy clothes, looked at him with the wide eyed stares and gawked him, making him a bit uncomfortable, especially when they started muttering quietly about him, though some did greet him nicely and smile, it was obvious they were surprised and fascinated by something like him. Some just carried on and ignored him with arrogant huff and quiet but snide remarks about his clothing, though he didn’t really care.
“So this is Canterlot… fancy!” Declan remarked. “And you used to live here?”
“Yeah, with my brother and my parents.” Twilight confirmed. “It’s always nice coming back here every now and then.”
“I’ll say.” Spike agreed.
Declan spotted another group of ponies staring at him with wonder, another with suspicion and another just looked at him with a snobbish glance.
“Ugh, I feel like such a minority…” Declan bemoaned.
“How do you think I feel?” Spike pointed out.
“Point taken, sorry, but still…” Declan said.
“Oh, it’s not that bad…” Twilight tried to assure him.
“Almost every pony we pass by takes time out of their busy schedules to gawk at me or insult my clothes, what’s wrong with my clothes anyway?” Declan questioned, a bit annoyed.
“Ah, those nobles are all a bunch of snobs, don’t listen to them.” Spike told him.
“Declan, while I understand that a bunch of ponies staring at you is not at all fun, you must understand that nopony has ever seen something like you before, in fact, you may be the first ‘human’ to step foot in Equestria, you should honored!” Twilight said, with a smile.
“Yeah… I think I’d be more honored if I was… oh I don’t know… a five-year old girl.” Declan stated, in a deadpan tone. Twilight gave him a glare. “Sorry… just a little on edge…”
“Like I said, I understand, just promise me you’ll be on your best behavior when we meet the Princess’. Ok?” Twilight said to him.
“Whatever you say.” Declan said with a smirk and a two finger wave that made Twilight giggle a bit.
She then looked up ahead. “Ok, the castle is just up ahead of us.”
Declan looked toward what was in front of them and spotted a very large caste, which seemed to be part of the large mountain itself, along with a large part of the city. The spires of Canterlot, protruding from the mountain, looked like they could be seen all the way from Ponyville and probably could.
“Whoa! I’ve never been a castle like this before… hmm, come to think of it, I’ve never been in a castle period.” Declan realized.
“Does your world have any castles?” Twilight inquired.
“Yeah, but they're mostly pretty empty and used for tours, like the one where I’m from called Hatley Castle.” Declan explained. “See royal figures used to be a big deal in my world but not anymore, they're more like… figureheads, who mostly smile and wave and stuff.”
“Oh, I’ve been there…” Twilight muttered to herself.
“Nothing!” Twilight said, quickly and smiling nervously. “Let’s just go inside, shall we?”
Declan nodded. “Sure thing,” he said as they continued to walk forward.
They soon reached a pair of large golden doors with two Pegasi ponies in gold armor each standing by it and holding up two spears. They acknowledged Twilight’s presence with a nod.
“Greetings Princess Twilight, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna are expecting you.” One guard said.
Twilight nodded, thankfully. “Thank you, sirs,” she said. She turned to the two boys near her. “Ok boys, let’s go and…”
She stopped when she saw that Declan was currently drawing glasses and a mustache on the other guard, with a marker that Spike lent him, who continued to stay perfectly still, much to his amusement.
“Hey, these guys just like my world’s British Guards; no matter what you do… they don’t move!” he laughed while making a scary face at the guard, again he didn’t flinch.
Twilight looked at him, deadpan. “Something tells me you and Rainbow Dash would get along well,” she muttered as the doors opened and they proceeded inside.
As they walked in, Declan couldn’t help but notice the stain glass images on the wall next to them, each one showing a different event like Nightmare Moon’s first and second defeat, Discord, Spike saving the Crystal Empire and Twilight’s coronation.
“Whoa, wicked! Hey, Twi is that really you?” Declan asked as he gestured to the image of her.
“It sure is!” Spike nodded, proudly.
“Well… I personally don’t see the big deal about it, but it was nice.” Twilight admitted.
“Did you know you’re too modest for your own good?” Declan asked her.
“Constantly I’m afraid.” Twilight blushed, embarrassed.
“Shocker.” Declan remarked, sarcastically but with a friendly smile that Twilight returned.
“Modesty is an important thing…”
They all turned toward the one who said those words, it was Princess Celestia alongside Princess Luna and Declan’s eyes widened when he saw them approaching the three of them with warm smiles.
“Of course one should always take pride in the accomplishments that they have, especially if they involve helping other ponies find their way.” The Princess of the Sun finished.
“Princess Celestia! Princess Luna! Your highnesses!” Spike gasped as he bowed, Declan saw this and quickly bowed as well along with Twilight, which made Celestia chuckle.
“Twilight, you know that there is no need for that now.” Princess Celestia reminded her.
“Sorry, force of habit…” Twilight said, sheepishly.
Celestia giggled. “No need to apologize.”
“Yes, we know you are still… adjusting to being a Princess so it’s understandable that some habits before then remain.” Luna added.
“Thank you.” Twilight nodded.
Declan leaned toward Spike. “So… those are the Princess’?” he asked.
Spike nodded. “Yeah, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, they raise the sun and the moon respectively.”
“Wow… they’re really beautiful…” Declan said, in awe.
Celestia, overhearing what Declan said, giggled. “Why thank you.”
Dillon’s eyes widen when he realized she heard him. “Oh! I uh… I didn’t mean… uh…”
“It’s alright, it’s alright, I am flattered.” Celestia assured him.
“Oh… ok.” Declan nodded. Twilight and Spike both sighed with relief.
“So… you’re the creature Twilight told us about in her letter.” Princess Luna observed.
“Yep… that’s me.” Declan confirmed. “It’s uh… it’s an honor… to meet you both.”
“Oh, the honor is all ours.” Princess Celestia smiled. “What is your name, dear?”
“D-Declan, Declan Shay, Celestia… I mean, Princess… I mean, your majesty…” Declan stuttered.
Celestia let out a soft chuckle. “Oh, no need to be so formal, Declan,” she told him. “We are only a Princess’ of Ponies. You are a human being. We are not royalty to you.”
“So please, call us Celestia and Luna.” Her younger sister added.
“Ok… well um, thanks… Celestia, Luna.” Declan smiled, sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his head.
“Thank you, Declan.” Celestia nodded. “Now, can you tell us how exactly you got here again?”
“Well, to put it simply…” Declan began before holding up the Emperor’s Gem for them to see. “It’s because of this.”
The Princess’ eyes both widened when they saw the gem and gasped.
“Is that…?” Celestia began.
“The Emperor’s Gem…” Luna finished.
Declan looked surprised. “Oh? You’ve seen it before?”
“Yes. But only in stories, seeing it before our very eyes is… shocking.” Princess Luna admitted. “Where did you get it?”
“My grandfather.” Declan answered. “Said it was a family heirloom that’s been passed down for over a thousand years.”
“Around the same time it disappeared…” Princess Luna mused.
“Say what?” Declan said, surprised.
“A thousand years ago, a powerful demon named Sibrella used that very gem to create chaos and disharmony.” Celestia explained. “She nearly destroyed Equestria.”
“But luckily, Starswirl the Bearded and six other powerful unicorns managed to defeat Sibrella and seal her away deep beneath the Earth.” Luna added.
“And the gem?” Declan inquired.
“Well its master vanquished, the Emperor’s Gem disappeared and was never seen again… until now.” Celestia stated.
“So… this Sibrella… she still sealed?” Declan asked.
“We believe so.” Luna began.
“But given the recent attack on Ponyville that may not be the case anymore, at least we are not fully sure that it is.” Her sister finished.
“You knew about that?” Declan questioned, surprised. “Why didn’t you…?”
“We had faith that Princess Twilight was ready to face the challenge without us, and we were right.” Celestia nodded with a proud look on her face. Twilight blushed.
“Oh, ok, I guess that makes sense.” Declan admitted.
“Now, any other questions?” Luna inquired.
“Yeah, like… why did this thing bring me here? And how do I get home?” Declan questioned. “Please, you gotta help me.”
“Calm yourself, Declan. While do not know why the Emperor’s Gem chose to bring you here and how to bring you back to your world, I can tell, from the bottom of my heart, that you have something very special inside.” Princess Celestia told him as she leaned closer to him.
Declan was surprised. “Me? But… I’m just a kid from Vancouver, just a normal, regular kid…” he confessed.
Princess Celestia smiled and shook her head. “No my child, I feeling you much more than you claim to be and deep down… you know it to.”
Declan felt honored to hear the Princess say such kind words to him, it was like he was talking to his mother and thinking of her made him grip the gem tightly. “So… what exactly can this thing do?”
“Well, it’s bonded to you, which means it will protect you… and all others near you from harm, it can also heal others if you wish it.” Princess Luna explained.
“Yeah… it did that before… when that giant rock troll attacked, it shielded us…” Declan realized.
“And healed my wing!” Twilight added as she flexed her formerly injured wing to make sure it was fine, and it was. “But when the troll tried to take it, it’s like the gem repealed it back…”
“The gem is also capable of protecting itself as well as you, it won’t allow anypony else but you to take it.” Princess Celestia told Declan. “Anypony who tries will be badly hurt, so be careful.”
Declan nodded. “I will, Princess.”
Spike thought for a bit. “So… why did it bring him to Twilight’s new castle anyway?”
“Because dear Spike, that gem used to be part of the Tree of Harmony itself.” Luna explained.
“The Tree of Harmony?” Twilight gasped, surprised.
“The thing where the Elements of Harmony come from?” Declan guessed. The Princess’ stared at him. “Twilight told me about all the recent events on the way.”
“Ah, yes, good. Now I imagine that because the castle came from the Tree of Harmony, it must have a certain connection to it as well.” Princess Celestia deduced.
“Wow…” The human, the alicorn and the dragon all breathed as they exchanged stunned glances.
The Princess looked him at him even closer, as if she was inspecting him, making him flinch and look fearful. “Hmm, it seems its power is also keeping you in your original form,” she noted, surprising everypony.
“Hold on, you’re saying that I would become something else if it wasn’t with me when I came here?” Declan questioned. “I would have become…”
Luna nodded. “Yes, a pony, just like us. What kind of Pony you are, we are not sure.”
“Uh-huh…” Declan remarked. “Well, until I get I think I’m gonna keep it on if that’s ok.”
“It’s alright, it already seems like the Emperor’s Gem has found its home, it is an honor not to be taken lightly, my young friend.” Celestia told him.
Declan nodded. “Yeah, I understand Princess. Don’t worry, I won’t let you down… I can’t,” he said. Twilight noticed his fist tightening and trembling a bit, he seemed to be deeply worried but was keeping it bottled up. She looked concerned for him but decided not to comment on it just yet. Then Spike spoke up.
“So… until we can get Declan back home… where’s he gonna stay?” he asked.
“I suppose he could stay with you and Twilight, if that’s alright of course.” Celestia said to Twilight.
“Of course! You can stay as long as you’d like, you can even meet some of my friends.” Twilight smiled, sweetly.
“Aw, sweet, I’d like that.” Declan said, nodding. “Thanks, Twi.”
“My pleasure.” Twilight nodded back, still smiling.
“Do no worry young Declan, we will find a way to return you to your world.” Princess Luna assured him.
“In the meantime, enjoy all Equestria has to offer, and who knows? You just might learn something.” Princess Celestia said, sagely which made Declan ponder a bit. “Now you better run along, you don’t want to miss your next train back to Ponyville.”
“Ok, thank you, Princess.” Twilight nodded. She turned and then began to leave. “Come on guys, let’s get going.”
“Right behind ya!” Spike said as he quickly raced after her.
Declan began to follow them but something in the window catches his eye; a strange shadow of a red haired woman, who quickly vanished from sight, confusing him greatly as he blinked at the window.
“Declan! Come on!” he heard Twilight call out to him.
“Uh… right! Coming!” Declan called back as he ran off to catch with them. The Princess’ behind him noticed his strange behavior and exchange glances.