House Rules

by AppleJack_Wack

Chapter 3: Royal Duties (Twilight Sparkle)

12:00 p.m.

The beam of light shining in from the one open window reflected the dust in a narrow beam. I didn't need to be reminded of how stuffy the castle was. It used to be so overwhelming I had to go outside every few hours. It certainly wasn't helping that I was opening every old tome put in front of my muzzle. Over time, however, I had grown accustomed to it, perhaps even started to take comfort in it. I closed the window and the blinds, so that it didn't distract me from my task. I sat at a long wooden desk, its drawers filled to the brim with paperwork, ledgers, and other documents. My quills and ink were all lined up nicely on the left side, while the papers I wasn't currently looking at were stacked on the right side. I created a ball of light and levitated it in the air, to compensate for the light lost by closing the window.

As I was reading some ledgers from Appleloosa's fund, my stomach convulsed like milk in a butter churn. I glanced over at the clock hanging above my desk, it was exactly noon, when Spike and I normally eat our afternoon meal. I knew he was across the hallway in his room, probably reading graphic novels or some such.

“Spike! Are you making lunch for us this time?” I yelled. I turned away from my desk, still cluttered with papers and scrolls of all sorts. I stood up from my chair to stretch my aching legs.

He yelled back, “When do I not make the meals for us?” I rolled my eyes because I knew I could come up with plenty of times.

“Hey, I make the meals sometimes too.”

“Ya, name a time in the past week,” the little purple dragon said as he walked into my room. He carried his little blanky and his Rarity doll which I’m still not sure how he obtained.

“Well, uh, there was, um…” I guess I couldn’t come up with as many times as I thought. I put my hoof behind my head, embarrassed to not have an answer to the question.

“Exactly, don’t worry, I'll get right on it.” He threw down his blanket and little Rarity doll in his room and shut the door. I started to walk back to my desk from the doorway. It felt good to get up and walk around every once in a while, even if only for a minute or two.

I always thought it was a little weird, Spike’s crush on Rarity, I mean. It seems so illogical. At the time he barely knew the pony and he just decided, he likes her? I pondered it for a moment. Putting my hoof to my chin and looked towards the ceiling of my room. Maybe I knew more than I was comprehending, with Flash Sentry and all. That boy had a nice mechanical transporter back in the human world, my human friends called it a “Camaro.”

“Anyway, better get back to work.” I turned back to my desk, looking at the mound of work ahead of me. It was actually quite exhausting being a princess. My friends think I can just sit around and have servants carry out my every whim. However, I specifically asked for my only servant to be Spike. Although I consider him more of an assistant if that makes a difference. Moreover, the important documents, like town taxes and budget, can only be handled by people of proper authority, which are mostly me and the mayor. I tapped the quill on my chin as I read some of the documents as I sat down. I wasn’t looking forward to spending a lot of time in this chair again. I sighed and instead of actually examining the Appleloosa ledger, I just felt the paper for a while.

My papers always seemed to be thinner at the corners, like I wear them down as habit when I’m thinking. I remembered when I was still Celestia’s student living in Canterlot. I would read a new book every day. Its paper stiff from being pushed together so long. Its scent of fresh parchment as I opened each book was better than a garden of roses. But those days are long past, and I had to help the mayor with these documents.

Another thing that people misinterpret is that the mayor’s job is obsolete. However, that is simply not the case, without the mayor I'd be swimming in all of Ponyville's files, but I have to deal with the whole of Equestria. Princess Celestia doesn’t just rule Canterlot, now does she?

At the moment, the princesses are asking me to find something to cut from Appleloosa’s budget and divert it to Canterlot, because Canterlot Ponies are where a large portion of our capital comes from. But that’s just not possible, growing communities need all the money they can get, and although I used to live in Canterlot, I don’t feel sorry for those snobby business ponies. I threw down the quill, then picked it back up and placed it next to the other quills just right.

I'll figure that out later. I was sure Spike had created something delicious. Everything I make turns into a black heap at some point during the process. I walked downstairs, almost tripping on the last step. I think it's because that last step is an inch or so longer than the rest. I guess even the Tree of Harmony isn't perfect. I'll have to get that fixed one of these days.

I walked into the Dining area, and slowly inhaled the sweet scent of Spike's cooking. He is so much better than I am at cooking anything. I never admit it to him of course, no need to feed his ego. The ceiling was as high as the hallways. It was about twenty feet up, with the same crystalline pattern of purple with dark blue accents. My friends had decorated the place to make it feel more like a home. Rarity did most of the kitchen and dining room, as they weren't separated by anything more than a low counter. So of course, it was filled with fancy drapes, and silk adornments. The dining room table had a heavy red tablecloth over it, with a unicorn sculpture in the middle. She must have set up white pillars, as they were not made of crystal, but a marble. She had placed plastic flowers on the top of each of them.

I then made my way to the kitchen area, where Spike was currently working on the meal. The kitchen had three counters, and one bare wall where the door to the hallway was, as well as a storage area for a plethora of cooking supplies. The door to the hallway led under the stairs, probably so the "workers" could get out unnoticed. I didn't have any hired help, so that door was almost obsolete.

On the opposite wall of the kitchen, there were the stoves and stovetops. There was one long stove in the middle, with two smaller stoves on the sides. The wall furthest from the dining room had cupboards and refrigerators filled with spices, fruits, vegetables, and whatever else you need for cooking. The wall closest to the dining area wasn't much of a wall, as it was only waste height, and only went about two-thirds across the floor. It was only a counter made of crystal, nothing special. It did, however have a panel that could be put up so that the dining area was no longer in direct view. It was another feature that was almost never used in the castle.

I continued walking and saw Spike in his Kiss the Cook apron. I giggled a bit when I saw it. He noticed me, causing him to smirk and respond in his usual humorous way.

“Well now that you’ve noticed it, why don’t you give me a little something?” he joked as he pointed to his cheek.

“No thank you, I'll save those for Rarity,” I said as I waved my hooves. He blushed a red as bright as the setting sun. He must have been finished cooking, as he was now setting the table for a meal fit for many more ponies than were present. He filled the table with salads, vegetable burgers, hay fries, and many more tasty food items.

“Now why would we possibly need this much food for the two of us?” I asked. I pointed to the food, and looked at him like he was crazy.

“I took the liberty of inviting our friends over, Fluttershy won't come obviously,” he said. The mood dropped right then. It's amazing how quickly the mood of a room can change with just one sentence. Apparently, one of Fluttershy’s animals perished in some kind of accident involving Rainbow Dash. I didn’t get a lot more information than that, because Fluttershy came in, grabbed a few books, and left. I’d hardly call it a conversation, it was so rushed.

I sighed a deep sigh, but reluctantly spoke, “Yeah, we are going to have to deal with that later,” I insisted.

“You'll have to deal with that later, you’re the Princess of Friendship after all,” he said pointing his spatula at me.

I rolled my eyes at his dry humor. “Ya, ya, work on your act.” I smirked at him, and he smirked back, shrugging it off and continuing the conversation.

“Rainbow Dash didn’t respond back. Applejack said she was coming over anyway, probably to talk about finances.”

“You know about that?” I look at him, confused, as I thought I was the only one besides Applejack herself to know about that.

“I'm your one and only assistant Twilight, of course I do. Anyway, Pinkie and Rarity should be arriving shortly.” He said that not a moment too soon.

“Well, speak of Tirek and he shall appear,” I said as Rarity came into the door with the usual bit of elegance in her step, and Pinkie came bouncing in with a cake on her back.

“Hey Twilight, guess what I brought?” asked Pinkie.

“Is it that cake, maybe?” I answered. I could never tell if Pinkie was actually being serious with her questions or just striking up conversations.

“Oh my gosh, how’d you guess,” Pinkie Pie asked. Rarity rolled her eyes and shook her head at Pinkie Pie.

“Spike, now’s your chance,” I nodded towards Rarity, and he blushed a bright pink. Rarity saw his apron and gave him a peck on the cheek. It could barely be considered a kiss, but he looked like he could die happy right that moment.

“Alright, enough chatter, let's eat,” said Pinkie. We all agreed and sat down. We had conversations about our everyday lives. Rarity had more business than ever. Pinkie had the same amount of business as usual, but was still equally as excited. Then Rarity brought up the topic I’d been dreading.

“So, it seems our lives are great, but a certain pony’s is not nearly so,” Rarity said. I had hoped this topic wouldn’t come up until later, but I guessed it was inevitable. I used the napkin to wipe off any leftovers on my cheek, wiped my hooves, and looked at Rarity as I spoke.

“You’re talking about Fluttershy... yes, I know, but I don’t want to point blame until we have heard Rainbow’s side of the story,” I said. Rainbow Dash's side didn't look to good right now, but I wanted to believe it truly wasn’t her fault. I decided not to make any assumptions until the circle was complete.

“Rainbow Dash? I bet it will be the usual, her arrogance got her ‘carried away`, and it was all a big accident, whatever happened” Rarity was much more narrow minded about this than she usually is about these types of situations. I wonder what has her all worked up about it.

“None of us are perfect Rarity. I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation,” I rebutted.

Spike spoke up, “Says the Alicorn Princess.”

I was quick to defend myself, “Spike! You of all beings should know I am far from perfect.”

“Yeah, you're right, you’re not very good at cooking,” he joked. Everyone except me burst out laughing. I crossed my hooves and frowned as everyone else at the table was laughing their heads off. Although I have to admit, it was a decent burn.

Right at that moment, everyone stopped laughing, and there was just the sound of hooves walking down a long hallway, the hallway right outside the dining area in fact. My muscles tensed, my heart started racing. I didn’t know why, it could be Applejack, just a little late. I gulped as I waited for whomever it was to make it to the dining room.

As trouble always finds a way of doing, it walked right up to my doorstep. It took the form of Rainbow Dash, as she menacingly entered and stopped dead. Rarity and Spike both looked at me with a sense of worry, and looked back at Rainbow Dash.

“Glad you could join us Rainbow Dash, we were just talking,” said Pinkie Pie as Rainbow Dash walked through the doorway. I was at the furthest seat from the door, so I couldn’t see what Rarity and Spike were worried about until now.

Her eyes had a spirit behind them. I could see conviction, a conviction that couldn’t have been with good motives behind it. She walked as if she owned the castle, like a king walking down a row of military grunts. My eyes stayed on her, locked to her eyes as hers were to mine.

“Please Rainbow Dash, take a seat,” I insisted with a hoof offering any seat. She sat at the seat right across from me, the “Head” of the table so to speak, while I sat at the opposite end, closest to the wall.

She put both her elbows on the table, holding her head up with her hooves intently. She then spoke, “I’d be honored, princess. I feel we have a lot of things to talk about.”