The first rays of sunlight began to bathe the valley, the chill in the air finally beginning to dissipate from the cold night before. Though the day had barely started, the Pegasus Weather Squad was already hard at work, prepping the skies for the day’s forecast. Sunny with passing clouds, giving way to a clear sky later that evening.
While they tirelessly worked, the town below slowly began to rise from its slumber. The few stores had begun to open for the day, workers continued their work on the many houses and buildings yet to be constructed, and colts and fillies began their morning by getting ready for school.
A shrill beeping resounded in one of the houses, sending a pegasus colt tumbling out of bed in a tangle of his own sheets onto the floor. He wiggled his head free and glared at the black box resting on his window sill. “Turn it off!”
“Of course, sir,” the box responded. The ringing ceased its assault on the colt’s ears. Falling back into the bundle of sheets, he began to feel the sweet, sweet grip of sleep begin to take him again. “Sir, if you don’t get ready for school, your aunt will send Pearl and Bracket in to finish my job for me.”
The blue pegasus’ eyes snapped open in panic. “Alright, alright, I’m up, I’m up!” Windchaser said as he wiggled his way free from the sheets. He stretched his forehooves and wings out, hearing the groans and cracks of his joints waking up along with him. He never liked mornings. Not one bit. He yawned and smacked his lips as he looked out the window from his room. The sun was hanging lazily above the horizon, the glare blinding his still half-lidded eyes.
Bringing his hoof to his eyes to shield them from the sunlight, he turned and trotted to his door and down the upstairs hall to the bathroom to take a quick and soothing shower to wake him up. After he felt clean enough, he toweled himself off the best he could, shaking the rest of the moisture off by whipping his head around. He rose up to the sink and took a mouthful of the oppressively minty mouthwash and swished it around in his mouth.
He looked at his own reflection while he was busy with the mouthwash. His white mane was frizzy from the shower still, but still reflected the light from the window impressively enough. His sky blue coat was smooth all across his body. He flicked his white tail, whipping the last of the water across the bathroom wall. He smiled to himself sheepishly and spit out the mouthwash, whispering “Sorry...”
Trotting back into his own room clean and refreshed, Windchaser began tucking his books into his saddlebags. “Hey SyRE, what time is it?”
“About 8:23. Homeroom starts in seventeen minutes, sir,” the computer responded.
Windchaser nodded and tossed his bags onto his back. He slowly and calmly walked from his room downstairs to the kitchen, where his family sat waiting for breakfast.
“Morning, Windchaser!” Pearl and Bracket echoed simultaneously. The pink and grey pegasus twins somehow manage to coordinate all of their speech and actions with each other, creeping Windchaser out a little bit. They were a few years younger than him, and they were just barely getting the hang of flying.
“Good morning, Pearl, good morning, Bracket. Aunt Sunny, what’s for breakfast?” Windchaser asked, feeling his stomach grumble. The yellow pegasus at the counter picked up a plate in her mouth and carried it over to the kitchen table, setting it down gently.
“Good morning, Windchaser. I’ve got some cinnamon toast here for everypony. Dig in!” The plate was stacked high with slices of toast, each glistening with a layer of sugar and cinnamon with a light coat of butter underneath. The twins both grabbed one each, nibbling on the corners. Windchaser’s uncle, Bullseye, grabbed a pair of slices and placed them on his plate. He leafed through the newspaper as he began chewing on one of his slices.
“Looks like the new district should be done by the end of the week, honey. I think I heard that we’re getting a good amount of ponies moving in here when it’s done.”
Sunny Days smiled at her husband and kissed him on his cheek. “Oh, good! It’ll be nice seeing more faces in town. It was wonderful of the Princesses to get us this house here in the first wave of construction, but the town was so empty aside from all the workers. I still can’t believe they wanted to build us a mansion of all things!”
Bullseye chuckled. “Yeah.” Switching his attention, Bullseye looked over to the blue pegasus, who was finishing his last slice of toast. “Say, shouldn’t you be on your way to school, young colt?” Bullseye said as he patted Windchaser’s back. His wings flared up in surprise at the impact, making him almost choke on his toast.
Fighting down his coughs, Windchaser put on a smile. “I was just about to head out!” Without giving any time for his aunt or uncle to say another word, he was out the door and in the sky.
“I swear. That colt is too much sometimes.” Sunny took a seat at the table, starting on the last slice of toast herself.
“He sure has changed in the last year. I thought he’d never get over what happened...” Bullseye said, solemnly.
“But he has. And I couldn’t be happier to see him smile again,” Sunny said as a speck of light reflected off the tear forming in her eye. She wiped it away with her hoof and took another bite of her toast.
Windchaser glided over the town as it was still waking up. He could see more and more colts and fillies slowly making their way towards the single school in the town as he flew, even recognizing a few of them. At first, Windchaser really didn’t like school, which seemed to be a common feeling among his classmates. All the boring homework and assignments never interested him in the slightest. During recess, he would often fly up, find a nice cloud, and take a short nap since all the ones he tried to take in class would get interrupted by the teacher.
One day a few months back, he saw a unicorn he recognized from his class getting harassed by some of the bullies from the grade above them. He swooped down to help the colt, but instead got his flank handed to him by the bullies. The unicorn attempted to help Windchaser out, but was left with a few bruises and some cuts on his legs as a result.
Rising to his hooves, the unicorn shook the dust from his coat and began chuckling. “That was fun!”
“Huh?” Windchaser stretched out his wings, checking to see if any of his feathers got torn out during the scuffle. They were ruffled, but all still accounted for. “Yeah, I suppose it was kinda fun.”
The red unicorn laughed and held out his hoof. “The name’s Nova. Next time, you should come in from above and take one of them by surprise, instead of going in from the front. Make it more of an even fight instead of being outnumbered,” Nova suggested.
“Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. Oh, I’m Windchaser by the way.”
Nova was Windchaser’s first friend from school. They got together every few days after school, playing around and wrestling with each other, as well as figuring out creative ways to get back at the bullies that bothered them so much.
“Maybe I can make their lunches explode while they’re trying to eat them!” Nova said, his eyes lighting up in glee.
“How in Equestria would you do that?” Windchaser asked, puzzled.
Nova’s brow dropped as he held a hoof towards his horn. “Duh.”
Windchaser brought a hoof to his forehead and sighed. “Right.”
Windchaser snapped back to reality, feeling the wind beneath his wings again. He scanned the small crowd of fillies and colts as he slowly descended, keeping his eyes out for Nova. Suddenly, Windchaser felt himself get pushed forward into the dirt from the air. He was quickly back on his hooves, and whirled his head left and right, his eyes looking for the faintest hint of red or orange in the group of ponies staring at him.
“Hya!” a voice called out from behind him. He beat his wings once, pushing himself forward a few feet as he heard the body crash into the dirt where he had just been standing. Windchaser turned around to see a red unicorn picking himself up from the ground.
“Maybe I should be quieter from now on,” Nova murmured as he walked up alongside the pegasus. Some of the ponies were still staring at the two of them, wondering what had just transpired.
“I could hear your hoofsteps even before you tried to tackle me,” Windchaser said, poking Nova’s belly with his hoof.
“H-Hey! I’ve been working with my dad with the construction! I’ve been losing weight!” Nova replied, defensively.
“Don’t listen to that featherbrain, Nova. You look just fine.”
“Oh, hey North Star. Thanks.” The dark blue unicorn trotted up between the two colts and glared at Windchaser.
“You should stop teasing Nova so much, Chaser. Who knows... one day you might be so chubby you couldn’t fly anymore,” North Star joked. Windchaser gulped nervously.
He and Nova met North Star a few weeks after the two of them finally got back at the bullies during lunch time. Nova’s spell worked perfectly, sending chunks of sandwich all over the lunchroom, drawing the laughs of everypony around. Unfortunately, the principal had seen Nova casting his spell, so they were both punished immediately when Windchaser tried to shift the blame for the idea on himself.
They were both sentenced to two weeks of detention each, to stay inside during recess. During their last day of detention, a unicorn was sharing the room with them. She had been trying to protect another filly from the same bullies that had been harassing Nova and Windchaser before they got their revenge. North Star had ended up hurting one of them pretty bad with an overpowered spell, earning her detention along with the two colts already there.
Windchaser and Nova promised to keep an eye on the bullies while North Star was in detention, making sure none of the younger ponies got hurt or harassed by them. Needless to say, they ended up in detention for another two week period the very next day.
The trio finally arrived at their classroom, each taking their respective seats. North Star sat behind Windchaser, and Nova sat next to her. They were roughly situated in the middle of the room among the rest of the desks. As the final colt took his seat, the teacher finally walked in through the door.
“Good morning, class!” she sang. Her students either had their eyes closed and trying to sleep, or were talking amongst themselves. “AHEM!” she said, clearing her throat loud enough to quiet the rest of the class. “I said ‘good morning’, and what do you say back to somepony when they say that to you? Hm?”
The class collectively groaned and responded in a staggered unison: “Good morning, Mrs. Feather.”
“That’s better!” the lavender mare said with satisfaction. “Well, class, today we are getting a new teacher for the school! He’s going to be teaching your science and history classes from this point on. You can come in now, Mr. Quill!”
Windchaser looked towards the door to see a dark green earth pony trot into the room. His mane was a pitch black, and was somewhat disheveled despite evidence of combing in parts of it. He placed his saddlebags beside the desk.
“Good mornin’, class. My name’s Inked Quill, an’ I’ll be teaching you lot science an’ human history.” His voice had a bit of an accent to it, drawing giggles from North Star.
“Your voice sounds funny!” she managed to say.
Mr. Quill smiled as he looked towards the filly. “An’ you have a funny voice yourself, missy.” It seemed like he was about to say something more as his mouth hung open, but he slowly closed it and shook his head briefly. His eyes jumped from North Star to Nova, then to Windchaser. “Nah...” he whispered to himself, before beginning his lecture.
“That was weird!” Nova whispered to both Windchaser and North Star. The two nodded in unison.
Windchaser sat in his chair and listened to Mr. Quill begin talking about Human History. “About thirty years ago, this planet was filled not with ponies, but with big monkey men.” The class giggled from the remark. “Oy! I was one of those ‘monkey men’ once. An’ so were most of your parents. Anyway, before the Princesses brought Equestria to Earth, it was a much different place back then.”
“Oy, uh,” Mr. Quill paused as he checked the roster on his desk. “Windchaser! Can you see me before you leave? I’d like to ask you something.” Windchaser looked to his two friends as they were leaving.
“Oh, uh, my parents wanted me home right after school anyway, Chaser. Gotta help my dad with some more construction! Bye!” Nova said before dashing off down the hallway.
“I’ll see you later Windchaser. I don’t think you did anything today to get another detention, so it’s probably nothing. Take care!” North Star trotted off down the hall in Nova’s wake. Windchaser watched as she walked out from the doors, barely catching himself from eyeing his friend.
“Ahem.” Mr. Quill stood at his desk, stuffing papers and books into his saddlebags as the pegasus walked to the desk.
“Am I in trouble?” he asked.
“Oh. Oh, no, nothing like that! I just wanted to ask you a quick question.” Mr. Quill paused for a second as he dropped his gaze to the floor. Picking it up again, he asked, “what’s your dad’s name?” Mr. Quill asked with a hint of nervousness.
Windchaser felt it in his throat. He felt it in his eyes, in his head, in his heart. He had no idea why somepony would ask about his dad, let alone his new teacher. He was having such a great day, and now it all came crashing down at this simple question. “My... dad... h-his name was Isaac.” Windchaser was struggling to hold his composure, keeping his tears firmly behind his eyes.
“You’re...! So Isaac made it out okay! Haha! Well I’ll be damned! It’s, me! Quincy! Isaac’s old friend! I knew you and your dad when you were still a foal!” Windchaser stared at the earth pony in confusion. “Did... did he not mention me? At all?” the pegasus shook his head. “Nothing about me or Will or Roxy?” Another shake of his head. “Alright. Well where is that bloke, nowadays? I haven’t seen him in years!”
Windchaser dreaded this. he was hoping so hard that Mr. Quill- Quincy- wouldn’t ask this. Mustering up every mote of courage he held Windchaser steadied his voice. “He’s gone. H-He stayed b-behind during t-t-the P-Purification.”
“What?! Why in the hell... Oh... Oh damn...” Quincy stopped himself as soon as he saw the colt physically trembling in place, his eyes firmly locked on the floor. “I-I’m so sorry, Windchaser. I didn’t mean to bring something this painful. Why don’t you get going. I shouldn’t have brought this up. I’m so terribly sorry.”
“I... I need to go.” Windchaser turned towards the door. He was losing the fight against the tears, and he didn’t want to break down in front of his new teacher, let alone a friend of his father.
“Do you think someday you can tell me about him? About Isaac? Everything you can remember? I’d like to know how he did. If it’s okay with you.” Quincy looked at the poor pegasus, who stood in the doorway.
Windchaser galloped down the hallway before he could respond, leaving Quincy in the classroom by himself. He cursed to himself and tossed his bags on his back.
“You just had to fucking do that, didn’t ya, Quincy? Gah. The poor kid probably hates me now. I gotta go make this right.”
Windchaser flew as fast as he could through the skies above town, hoping that nopony could see or hear him as he sped overhead. He was crying again. Crying harder than he had in months. He could have sworn he had gotten over this in the past. He had finally gotten over the death of his father, and now somepony comes in and reminds him all about it!
The colt breached the town’s border and flew further out along the forest. The massive sea of green stretched out in all directions around him. It was so unlike the forest he lived by when he was very young, living with just his dad and SyRE... the forest there was dark and scary. When he would sleep at night he could sometimes hear howls of the monsters who lived in the forest. He would snuggle closer to his dad for protection, who was always there to provide it for him.
“Dammit!” the colt screamed. He could feel his wings starting to cramp up, but through the blur the tears created in his eyes, he could make out his destination: a singular mountain rising above the sea of trees around it. There were trees up the back of the mountain, but the side facing Windchaser was a shear cliff of grey rock. On top of the mountain, there was a small grassy field, the forest staying clear and ending a short way before the peak.
Except for one tree.
A few weeks after the Purification, Windchaser had been incessantly pleading SyRE for where his dad was before he died. Eventually, SyRE gave him the coordinates where Isaac was to aid in his emotional recovery. The coordinates led him to the top of the very mountain just outside of his new town.
Windchaser dropped to his hooves on the soft grass on the peak, and fell further onto the ground. His chest was tight from the exertion, sweat trickled down from his mane onto the grass. After taking a few more moments to catch his breath, he dropped his saddlebags onto the grass and walked up next to the lone tree rooted on the summit.
When Windchaser had finally reached the mountain for the first time, he saw this exact scene: a singular oak tree standing on the very top of the mountain that his dad died on when the world was cured and rejuvenated. Windchaser was absolutely convinced that his dad, somehow, was that tree. It rose at least a hundred feet from the peak, reaching towards the clouds above.
“I... needed to see you again. I met somepony today, who said he knew you. He said his name was Quincy. He’s my new teacher at school. He asked me about you. I...” Windchaser began choking on his words. He sidled up next to the tree and sat down on the cool grass in the oak tree’s shadow and rested the side of his head against the bark. “I miss you so much, dad.
“I was finally getting better, too! I wasn’t crying every night like I used to, I didn’t need to come here every day just to get by without breaking down. I mean, I love coming here to see you!” the colt said, hastily. “Don’t get the wrong idea, I love seeing you! It was... just bad that I needed to see you every day to get by. I... I’m just glad I’ve had you to talk to all this time, whether you can hear me or not.”
Windchaser sat next to the oak tree in silence. “Nova and I finally convinced the teachers the other day to give those bullies detention after they saw them hurting a filly! North Star didn’t like letting the filly get hurt, but she was able to help heal some of her scratches with her magic after the bullies were taken to the Principal's office. It only took us a few months, but we got them!” Windchaser laughed as he thought of his two friends... but mostly about North Star.
“I... I wish you could help me out, dad... I think I like my friend, North Star. Like... i like her like her. She’s really pretty, she’s nice, and we get along... well, pretty well. She likes to make fun of me a bunch though... but I make fun of her too!” Windchaser broke into a silly grin thinking about her. “I remember seeing in some of those movies you and I watched about how human kids had crushes on each other... I wonder if it’s the same for ponies... I’ll have to ask Uncle Bullseye! He’d know!” Windchaser's spirits lifted more. He smiled and rested his head against the tree for a while, watching the clouds tenuously chug past. After a while, the clouds began taking on a yellower hue as the sun began to approach the horizon.
Windchaser rose to his hooves and stretched his limbs and wings out. He was well rested enough to make it back home without any breaks, and it was starting to get dark. Aunt Sunny would start getting worried if he didn’t leave for home soon. “I’m gonna get going, dad. I think I’m feeling a bit better, now that I got to talk to you again.” Pausing for a second, he continued, “and I think I'll talk to Quincy about what we did. Well, as much as I can remember, at least. He sure seems nice enough, even with his funny accent!”
Windchaser walked back to where he collapsed when he arrived and picked up his saddlebags, setting them in place. With a few beats of his wings, he rose in the air and hovered over the ledge of the cliff.
“Thanks for listening, dad. I’ll come back soon to see you again, I promise!” Windchaser smiled and tossed himself off the cliff. He felt the rushing of wind through his mane and tail as he hurtled down the cliff face, watching the trees rushing ever closer to meet him at full speed. At the last minute, he unfurled his wings, catching the speeding wind under them and rising up just above the canopy at an amazing speed. He steadily rose higher and higher above the trees and looked back at the mountain. A gust of wind must have been blowing, because it looked like the oak tree was waving all of it’s branches at him as he left.
Windchaser gently glided down to the front of his family’s house right as the sun was setting. The orange rays of the sun made his mane look a lot like Nova’s, making Windchaser chuckle a bit. He walked to the front door and nudged it open with his head, entering his house. Not a single light was on, giving the room a spooky darkness amidst the twilight.
“Hello? Anypony here?”
“SURPRISE!!” Windchaser was knocked to his rump from the sudden assault of light, color, nose, and not to mention the two winged bullets that crashed into his chest, knocking him back onto his rump.
“Happy birthday, Windchaser!” Pearl said.
“Happy birthday, Windchaser!” Bracket said.
“Wha- What’s going on?!” Windchaser muttered. He rose to his hooves, looking around at all the ponies gathered in the living room, all wearing party hats. He recognized them all as his classmates from school, and they were all smiling at him for the first time he could remember.
“Duh! It’s your birthday!” Nova said from behind him. Windchaser turned around to see his red friend wearing one of the hats himself. “Dude, you forgot it was your birthday?”
Windchaser brought his hoof up to his forehead so hard that it almost hurt. “I... guess I did?” he responded with a sheepish grin on his face.
“Happy birthday, Windchaser! I invited all of your friends for your birthday party! You’re sixteen today! You need to have an awesome birthday party when you’re sixteen!” Sunny said, wrapping her neck around the colt in an embrace.
“But... but I-”
“And where have you been? We were expecting you home an hour ago!" Sunny brought her head back with her brow furrowed in worry. "Oh, no matter! You’re here, everypony else is here, let’s have a good time! I have a cake to finish!” Windchaser’s aunt rushed back into the kitchen, almost knocking over a stack of pots and pans on the counter.
“This... was a surprise.” Windchaser said to himself.
“Well, isn’t that the general idea?” North Star trotted up behind Windchaser, smiling. “My birthday was a few weeks ago, but my parents didn’t do anything like this for me! I’m pretty jealous,” she joked.
"T-Thanks for coming, Star. I really mean it. Thanks." Windchaser gave the filly a smile. She looked over his shoulder, focusing on something behind him. Her horn started to glow with a blue light as he felt something placed on his head. He reached up to feel it, finding one of the party hats that his friends were all wearing.
“It's not a party without party hats!" North Star said, pausing for a moment. "Well, that's what my mom says. She's a party organizer in town. She helped your aunt with everything, but your aunt insisted on doing the cake herself," North Star giggled. "My mom says that she's been working on it all day, since you left for school, at least!" North Star burst into another fit of giggles, Windchaser joining her. As they both calmed back down, North Star looked at the ground and rubbed one of her hooves against her other leg. "A-And it certainly isn't a party without presents... a-and as for your present... I couldn’t find anything in town that I thought y-you’d like... so I... um...”
Before another word was said, North Star leaned over and gave a quick, gently kiss on Windchaser’s cheek. The colt felt his heart skip about ten beats, his cheeks burn with heat, and his head swim with a combination of surprise, joy, confusion, as well as a plethora of other indescribable thoughts and emotions. Her cheeks were a bright violet even under her dark blue coat.
“That was for helping me get those bullies at school... and, um, because... I... I kinda...” Before she could finish what she was about to say, she ran off into the crowd, disappearing from sight.
A massive wave of emotion crashed into the young colt. He felt his legs get replaced with jelly, threatening to fall out beneath him, should he try to move. He only just noticed, but his wings were stiffened on his back. He had no idea when they had gotten like that. Windchaser just wanted to collapse. He was suffering from far too much emotion all at once. But first, he needed to get something to drink.
He lazily walked over to the table with the drinks on it, trying desperately not to fall over from his still trembling legs. Windchaser opened his mouth to pick up one of the paper cups filled with juice, but paused for a moment to let his jaw stop shaking. When he felt the trembling cease, he picked up the cup with his teeth and arched his neck back, draining the sweet tasting juice in a few gulps. He dropped the red-stained cup in the garbage can next to the table and sunk into one of the cushions on the couch nearby.
“Du-u-u-u-ude!” Nova said as he took a seat next to him. “That was awesome! Nice going! You handled it real smooth. Like a pro.” Windchaser looked up at his friend, his mind still high from the experience. “Well, not really. But whatever! I’ll have you know, she’s had her eye on you for a good few weeks now.”
“What?!” Windchaser said, finally able to form a word with his mouth.
“Yeah. I sometimes catch her staring at you during class, during detention, between classes. Nothing creepy, just a few glances at you. More than just casual glances, I might add.” Windchaser stared at his friend, completely dumbfounded. “Yeah, just like that," Nova said, nodding. After a few moments, his smile faded, replaced by a frown. "Okay, now you’re overdoing it. Cut it out.” Nova pushed WIndchaser’s muzzle away, turning his head and bringing his consciousness back.
“Oh, sorry. I’m... kinda... in a strange place right now. Sorry.”
“Oh, it’s no prob. Hey! Enjoy the party! It’s for you! Oh, and the present with the red and white polka dot wrapping is from me... my mom didn’t have any other kind of paper for it. But you’ll like what’s inside, I’m sure of it.” Nova hopped off from the couch and walked off into the crowd. Windchaser sat still for a few minutes, milling over what had been happening in his mind.
“Mind if I take a seat, Windchaser?” Quincy sat down next to the colt, much to his surprise.
“Don’t worry. I went to your house after you left the school, wanting to apologize. I met your aunt and introduced myself as one of Isaac's friends. Once she knew who I was, Isaac having mentioned me in the past, so she invited for me to stay for your party.” Quincy rested his back against the cushion and took a deep breath.
“It’s okay. I forgive you. About earlier.” Windchaser smiled up at the stallion. “And I’ll talk to you about me and my dad someday soon, I promise. I’ll bring along SyRE, so he can tell you the stuff I forgot.”
“Isaac’s AI is still kicking, eh? Good thing he hated them in the first place, otherwise he wouldn’t have gotten the damn thing. How about this weekend? My house is just on the other side of town. We can sit down and talk. How does that sound?”
“That sounds great. I’d love to hear more about my dad!” Windchaser smiled. Quincy smiled and excused himself from the couch, leaving Windchaser by himself once more.
“Windchaser! There’s somepony at the door for you!” Sunny shouted over the crowd of fillies and colts.
Windchaser hopped from the couch and weaved through all of the party-goers towards the front door. His aunt was standing in the doorway, holding the door open for him. Outside stood two unicorns: one, with a white coat and an icy blue mane, and the other with a maroon coat and an orange mane. It took a few moments for it to register, but Windchaser’s jaw suddenly dropped as he remembered who these mares actually were.
“Do you mind, miss Sunny Days? My sister and I would like to have a private word with your nephew, if that would be okay,” the white mare asked in a pure, song-like voice.
“Why of course. Come back in when you’re done, Windchaser. Cake and presents should be happening soon!” Sunny closed the door behind her.
“P-P-Princess Celestia! Princess Luna! What-” he began in a hushed voice still filled with astonishment. The white unicorn brought a hoof to his mouth, cutting him off mid-sentence.
“Shh, shh. We can’t have anypony knowing we’re here, young Windchaser,” Celestia said. “We are merely here to wish you a happy birthday and offer you gifts for such a joyous occasion. Will you accept them?”
Windchaser’s jaw hung open once again. He was getting birthday presents from the immortal goddesses themselves? It would be sacrilege if he declined! Standing up straight, he puffed out his chest, trying to look as impressive as he could for the Princesses.
“Of course I will accept your gifts, your majesties.” Windchaser tried as hard as he could to sound dignified and respectful when he spoke.
A faint glow emanated from Celestia’s horn and a small spark fell to the ground. A bright flash formed where it landed. When the light faded, a small white box adorned with the golden sun insignia sat where the spark landed. “I offer this gift to you, Windchaser. I wish for many long years ahead of you and good fortune to meet you along them.” Celestia stepped back, letting Luna step forward in her place.
The maroon unicorn smiled as she stepped before Windchaser. “You’ve gotten bigger since I last saw you! Have you been practicing your flying?” Luna asked, playfully.
“Of course, your highness. Every day!” Windchaser allowed himself a proud smile as he flourished his wings for her.
Another spark formed at Luna’s horn this time, falling in a similar fashion that Celestia’s did. When the indigo light faded, a purple box decorated with a silver moon insignia sat next to the gift from her sister.
“Make sure you enjoy it, Windchaser. Happy birthday!” Luna levitated the two gifts and balanced them on Windchaser’s back, where his saddlebags usually sat. Luna stepped back and joined her sister. The white mare smiled and nodded at her sister.
“Goodbye, Windchaser. Enjoy the evening.” In a blinding flash of light, the two disguised princesses disappeared.
The door burst open behind the young colt, surprising him. Ponies stuck their heads out the open door and through the windows, trying to catch a glimpse of what just happened. “What happened?! We saw a flash of light out here! Are you okay?!” Bullseye asked, rushing over to Windchaser.
“It’s okay, Uncle. It was just... some friends of my dad’s.” Windchaser walked back into the house and past all the staring ponies. He reached over and grabbed each gift with his mouth, placing each on the table with the rest of his gifts. There were quite a few, more than Windchaser had ever expected.
“Why don’t you go ahead and open some of them? Your aunt is almost done with the cake. Go ahead, it’s okay,” Bullseye said, patting the colt on the back.
Windchaser decided to look for Nova’s present first. He found it immediately: red and white polka-dots. He ripped the wrapping paper off with his teeth, holding the box in place with his hooves. After he got the paper off and the box opened, he pulled out a small comic book entitled ‘Grognak: The Barbarian’.
“My dad used to collect comics when he was a human. He said this one was the pinnacle of his collection, and that it’s one of the two copies he brought with him to Equestria. He gave both to me, so I decided to give this one to you! I hope you like it!” Nova nodded at Windchaser, wearing a smile.
“Thanks a lot, Nova. It means a lot to me,” Windchaser said, giving his friend a hoof-bump. Windchaser placed the comic book on the table as his uncle trotted up next to him with something resting around his neck.
“Here you go, Chaser. This one is from me. I know it’s not much, but it served me tremendously well in the past.” Bullseye handed Windchaser a tough brown satchel. It was old, but the faded emblem of the Equestrian Mail Service was still visible. He opened the flap and peered inside. The bag was very spacious, as it needed to be so for the deliveries his uncle needed to do. “Happy Birthday, kiddo.”
Windchaser went through most of the rest of the presents, thanking his classmates for each of the gifts. Before long, only three remained. The first was the one from Princess Celestia. Opening the top of the box, Windchaser looked inside and pulled out a letter adorned on a regal parchment scroll.
Clearing his throat, Windchaser read it out loud: “I, Princess Celestia of Equestria, hereby honor Isaac Hamilton, father of the pegasus Windchaser, with this Medal of Valor. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to not just stare one’s own demise in it’s eye, but to be forced to leave behind the one you love without reservation could break any human or pony. May Isaac’s son wear it with pride, knowing he is and always will be the son of his father.”
Not a single pony spoke. They all just stared at the blue colt in amazement at the honor he had just received. Not even Nova could say anything, which Windchaser joked to himself that it was the first time the unicorn stopped talking for any extended period of time.
Windchaser opened the small blue case sitting inside the white box, revealing a shining medal hanging from a golden ribbon. The medal itself was in the shape of a blazing sun, and indeed gave off its own glow in the dim light of the room. Windchaser closed the box, not wanting to dirty the honor presented to him for his father. He was certain to treasure both the letter and the medal for as long as he lived.
Windchaser placed the scroll and medal case back in the box they came in, gently placing the lid back on. He pulled the other box closer to him, inspecting the contents as he opened the lid. There was a sealed envelope and another scroll inside Luna’s box. Repeating the process that he used for Celestia’s gift, he read Princess Luna’s letter aloud:
“Dear Windchaser: While my sister has granted you and your father the highest honor that either of us can grant a human or pony, I give these to you: first is five tickets to the Wonderbolts show in Canterlot this year for the annual Grand Galloping Gala. The second is a private three day training camp I arranged for you personally with the three leaders of the Wonderbolts; Spitfire, Soarin, and Rainbow Dash. I hope you enjoy these gifts. Yours truly, Princess Luna.”
Windchaser felt his head almost float away in a dizzying high when he finally understood what he had read out loud. While they were more directly useful than Celestia’s gifts, they both were absolutely amazing in terms of what they were.
Silence befell the group as Windchaser reached over for the last gift. It was unmarked, no name for who it was from on the box. Regardless, Windchaser opened the plain box and saw only two things inside. The first was a pair of goggles; authentic Wonderbolts goggles! He had wanted a pair for as long as he could remember!
The second was a short note. All it read was this:
fly as fast as that comet!
Windchaser felt the tears returning in full force. And there was no use in stopping them. He let the emotions overflow and consume him as he fell into wracking sobs, the kind of which he hadn’t felt since the day his father was taken from him. He held the goggles close to his chest, cradling them there as the memories that he and his father shared all came surging back to him. The words they shared the night he earned his cutie mark:
“About a million miles an hour. It’s pretty fast.”
“Then you know what?”
“What’s that, Windchaser?”
“I’m gonna learn how to fly faster than a comet!!”
But before he could release his emotions any more, the lights in the room dimmed to almost darkness. A deafening silence fell in the room. Slowly and quietly, the ponies around him all joined in song.
“Happy birthday to you...”
His aunt Sunny was pushing out a small cart with a cake sitting on top. Several glowing candles were lit, offering the only light for the room. Shadows danced along the walls in a bewitching pattern as the cart rolled closer.
“... happy birthday to you...”
Windchaser felt somepony move in and stand next to him on his left. It was his best friend Nova, grinning like a maniac.
“... happy birthday, dear Windchaser...”
Another body stood next to him. He felt the warmth as it rested against the side of his body and his wing. He looked to his right to see the luminous smile of North Star. Windchaser leaned his body a bit closer to her, feeling more of their bodies in contact. His heart was fluttering again, but not so much that his mind was lost to it.
“... happy birthday to you!”
Cheers erupted throughout the room as the cart was placed before the colt. He looked down at the cake, reading the message written in icing:
Happy Birthday Windchaser
The room faded once more to silence.
Windchaser took a deep breath. He knew he had a wish. But he also knew that the one wish he had could never fully come true. His father was gone, and there wasn’t anything changing that.
So he thought about what he wanted.
He had a loving family in Sunny Days, Bullseye, Pearl, and Bracket. They loved him without hesitation, welcoming him into their family.
He had his best friend, Nova, who would stick with him through thick and thin.
He had the one filly he cared deeply for and wanted to keep close to his heart for as long as he could imagine, North Star.
So he made another wish. One that he knew for a fact that he was sure he wanted. He spoke it to himself in his mind and was happy with what it was. And he blew out the candles, repeating the wish in his head.