• Published 6th Feb 2014
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The Demesne of the Reluctant Twilight Sparkle - MrNumbers

When Luna gifts Twilight the town of Ponyville and its surrounding countryside as her demesne she's initially confused. Then, after double checking her dictionary, more than a little concerned.

  • ...

Chapter One: Where There's the Presence of Presents

It was a beautiful day in Ponyville, the weather team having excelled in their duties without a hitch, and the sun shone brightly on my local branch library’s, err, branches. The birds chirped and trilled loud and melodically enough to brighten the spirits but not so loud as to prevent, say, a hungover Berry Punch from rolling over and going back to sleep.

Essentially it was a perfect day in Ponyville where absolutely nothing seemed like it could possibly go wrong.

Twilight Sparkle – which is to say, I – scowled out my bedroom window and waited for the bit to drop.

Ponyville is a wonderful place to live, certainly, and its denizens make up the majority of my best friends and treasured acquaintances. I want to make absolutely clear that that's on the record, first, because otherwise you'd think that I think this town is nothing but a maliciously-cursed festering pile of ponyfeathers intent on systematically messing with me and driving me into more of a neurotic mess than my friends suspect I am.

Because it is. It really, absolutely is, which is why when a day goes absolutely, spectacularly well I just know something really, really bad is about to happen to compensate for it.

One time, one time, I let my guard down and allow myself to think maybe, maybe, this town doesn't have it in for me after all. That maybe it's all in my head. Bam! My friends have their destinies scrambled and I transcend mortality itself.

Or, as Rainbow Dash aptly put it, I "set a whole new record for popping a wingie".

I'm still not entirely sure how to respond to that. Or how, exactly, I didn't feel entirely new bone, muscle and feather erupt out of my spinal column.

Call me cynical but I suspect the next time I let my guard down so easily on a day where Ponyville is so evidently baiting me won't be quite so painless.

"Wonderful day today, isn't it Spike?"

Spike rolls over in his basket and blinks at the warm sunlight gently pressing itself into the room, yawning amiably.

"Morning already? Can't I just sleep for five... more..." He trails off. I turn around, expecting to see the little guy back asleep in his basket.

Instead he's staring at me with the same gnawing anxiety I'm feeling.

"Twilight... I don't feel like going back to sleep." He mutters. "That's not right."

I feel the pit of my stomach fall to the icy depths, only to be brought back up by the oppressive wonderfulness of the morning. "Why don't you take a nap? Take the morning off?"

"I... Twilight I feel chipper." His eyes widen in shock, "like I'm ready to get up and take just about anything the world could throw at me. It's like today's too good to just waste. So why does that give me a really bad feeling?"

I feel a warm, glowing sense of pride. "I've trained you well, number one assistant. Either that or we have a Pavlovian fear response to really nice days in Ponyville. On a scale of one to bliss how do you feel?"

"Deep satisfaction with a lingering sense of eager perkiness."

"I'm feeling existential fulfillment with overtones of cheery optimism. Well, I was, before I realized it."

"Maybe we're just thinking about this too hard. Maybe... maybe it's just a nice day and that's all it is?"

"I wish I could believe that Spike, I really do, but the last time I felt like this-"

"-You became Alicorn Princess Sparkle and Applejack tried to make dresses. Also, watching Pinkie Pie try to buck apples was actually physically painful. Like, I'm pretty sure even for Pinkie, legs should not bend like that."

I wince sympathetically. Even for a vocabulary as large as mine - I'm not bragging, I just read a lot of books - all I could think of was 'ow'. A lot of times, really. Ow, ow ow ow, ow, and an 'owch' for good measure.

"Agreed. Think, what were we doing when we got the invitation that dragged us into a Changeling invasion?"

"You girls were having a picnic and talking about what a great day it was and I'd just found some awesome old comic books hiding behind some shelves in the library." Spike gulps. "Ones that we hadn't even seen on library reshelving day."

"Spike, please tell me that something terrible isn't going to happen just because today seems to be, for lack of a better term, absolutely perfect?"

"Today is going to be just fine, Twilight."

My eyes widen. He realizes, what, exactly, he's just said, and promptly rams a fist into his mouth and bites down on it.

"It's even worse than I thought..."

"Oh come on, Twilight," he's trying to convince himself just as much as me, I can hear it in his desperate, pleading voice, "Maybe it is just the Pavlovian thing. What would we have to do if it's that one?"

I gulp, hard. The consequences of that train of thought are just too much to bear...

"Seek immediate psychiatric attention, Spike." Wincing, I look away in shame, "Probably have to see Ms. Softheart again, and I don't think I could face her without Ms Smartypants."

Spike relaxes visibly, unfurling himself from his makeshift bed, and plods over to me in that hypnotic, bipedal way of his, wrapping around my left foreleg in a hug. I nuzzle the top of his big, scaly head.

"Hey, we can do that, right? We just need to go get her off Big Mac."

"I don't know if I could do that to him! I mean, he... I..." My cheeks flush, "It's complicated. He wouldn't want to give her back, so I can't just ask Applejack, I'd have to go and talk to him. On purpose. "

"Yeah, and, what's complicated about that?"

"Stuff! Things!" I not-at-all hastily but totally nonchalantly and smoothly answer. Spike looks at me and totally buys it, I think. Probably.

He doesn't follow up on it, so I'm calling that a win, darn it!

"Okay then..." my adorable, trusting assistant moves on, "so, therapy. Oh, man, Rarity would never let me live that one down, it's so uncool." Note to self: Stop letting Rainbow Dash be any influence on Spike at all for the foreseeable future.

"What about me, then, huh?"

"Oh, Rarity already tried to get me to recommend you to a specialist she knows, but I didn't think you'd take it well." I grit my teeth. Rarity, you and I are going to be having a little talk about... how you only care about me and want what's best for me and my well being and health and okay, okay, Twilight, she meant well. "Rainbow Dash just said you only need to get laid."

Darn it, I thought I'd gotten that eye tic under control. Apparently not.

"I mean," Spike continues, looking up at the ceiling and counting on his claws, oblivious to my impressive death-staring, "I asked Pinkie Pie what that meant, because I thought it was, like, an egg or something. So Pinkie Pie just said she still had that chicken costume so if you needed to get laid she was sure that she could help. Then Rainbow just laughed even harder." Spike glanced up and saw in my expression... well, I must have looked how I felt, judging by his reaction, "I don't think Pinkie Pie understood either, if that helps..." Spike trailed off, nervously scratching the back of his head with a claw in what appeared to be thought.

"Spike, you are forbidden to ask anypony else what those words mean or why Rainbow Dash thought that was funny."


"Furthermore," I grit my teeth hard enough to crush diamonds, "you are to hide from me all magical spellbooks that may potentially be used for evil until I no longer wish to eradicate Rainbow Dash from existence."

"I... How long is that going to take?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you look really mad, so I'm sort of wondering do you want me to spend extra time finding a good hiding space or just get to it immediately. What's the priority here?"

I couldn't help but imagine Pinkie Pie wiggling at me in that stupid, tight Nightmare Night costume of hers. Great, I'd probably be dreaming about that, later, through no fault of my own. It's sort of like when somepony tells you that elephant penises are prehensile so you can't help but imagine how that works and then you find the textbooks with the pictures but Celestia walks in on you to see how your studies are going and-

Darn it, I really, really hate this eye tic.

"Hey Twilight..."

"What?" I shake my head, clearing out the mental cobwebs.

"Today doesn't seem so great after all huh? Maybe this was the bad thing. Therapy and dealing with, err, gossip right?"

I blink.

I blink again.

I crack the biggest, broadest, toothiest, dumbest smile and scoop Spike up in a big hug.

"Spike, you're a genius! Now I don't have to spend the rest of this lovely day wondering just what bad thing is going to happen! It's already come and gone!"


"Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!"


"Unless..." I drop Spike, who immediately starts panting. Wow, if that's all it takes to tucker him out, maybe he should get more exercise... he is a growing dragon, after all.

"Unless?" He gasps.

"Unless that was merely a distraction to get my guard down! The real disaster is yet to come but because I was prepared for it, it threw out some smaller stuff to make me feel like I'm fine, and then bam!" I smack my hooves together, "Out come the big guns. Celestia drops me as a student. Some eldritch abomination returns and we can't defeat it with the Elements of Harmony. Somepony," eugh, I grip my head and feel physically ill, "somepony breaks my horn and I can... I can... never do magic again."

"Okay, now you're just being paranoid, and ridiculous, and... and...."

He's making gagging gestures at me. Of all the rude, inconsiderate...

"And what, Spike? Come on, spit it out already!"

He does. In a charred eruption of green flame and the familiar smell of charcoal and sulphur out pops a familiar piece of dragon mail. Spike breaks the seal and starts reading, eyebrows raised.

"Urgent meeting in Canterlot with Princess Luna, immediate summons. A chariot will arrive any second."

He pauses. I pause. The library is as silent as a library should be, but it's still unnerving.

"Huh." Spike coughs politely into a balled claw, "Sorry I doubted you, I guess."

I sink my face into my hooves and moan deeply because, really, what else can I do? "I really hate this town, sometimes, Spike."

"You gotta admit though, at least today is a lovely day." He’s trying to look reassuring. He’s trying very hard. It’s not working, but at least I give him an A for effort, which apparently makes bad grades hurt less. In theory. Personally I feel like it’s taking an aspirin for a direct hit from a fireball, but hey. Who would throw a fireball at me on such a lovely day?

I sigh and, without looking up from the comfort of my hooves, moan, "Yes it is Spike. Yes, it most certainly is."

It's a short walk to the throne room. I fight to keep my wings down, my head thrown back regally and my posture completely stoic and-

-and in the process stub my hoof on the cobblestones and am sent tail over tea-kettle.

I try to flap my new wings to regain my upright and not-tumbling status but all the stupid feathering feathered things do is push me faster into a roll, barrelling me dizzyingly down the hall in a royally painful somersault.

I feel like Pinkie Pie trying to buck apples, only with my whole body.

Hello, funny lights and colours. Please go away. Blink, blink, blink, begone. Curse you, funny lights and colours, I'm trying to work out where I am.

Unfortunately my eyes have decided to split up to investigate rather than team up.

Let's see... Mmm hmm, I'm very familiar with this part of the castle... I recognize this rug and that portion of ceiling, clearly. Can I go for a wall, or perhaps- no? No, now left eye and right eye appear to want to mutually confirm the other's findings.

Clearly what they lack in the magic of friendship they make up for in the scientific method and inducing nausea. I make a mental note and feel new respect for my mailmare.

Hrrmm... Yes, this tapestry... this mosaic... of course! I'm in the throne room!

"Oh dear, I'm in the throne room."

"It would appear so, my little pony." Luna croons above... forward... oh, I don't even know. She's chuckling, I suspect it's at me.

The world spins and the ringing in my ears hangs up. I jump to my hooves desperately, fluffing my wings, as if nothing had just happened. Because it hadn't. No, no it had not.

Suppressing a wild flurry of emotions as Princess Celestia, my mentor, ruler, icon, hero and living avatar of the sun itself bows her head respectfully at me. A sick sense of undeserved pride and joy and happiness and joy fills me. She's treating me like an equal! Me! Why?! I just know I'm about to disappoint her, I just know I'm about to disappoint her and-

Oh ponyfeathers I just did, didn't I? What the heck was I thinking, tumbling over like that?!

Obviously I wasn't, so now would be a good time to-

"Are you alright, Twilight Sparkle?" Celestia looks concerned... oh no, oh no, maybe she's worked out she's all wrong about me and- "That looked like a rather painful altercation you've had with the ground."

Oh. Or that. Ha! Ha ha! "No, no, I'm fine! Except the bruising, I mean." Like the ones to my ego... "You summoned me, Princesses? What is it this time? Fell beasts from beyond the stars? Bipedal monsters wielding steel wands that spit flame and lead? Somepony breaching the royal cake vaults?" I stand stoic, only sagging a little on my more bruised left side, but I doubt it's very detrimental to the effect. I hope. Oh, geeze...

"Oh good!" Luna's clapping her front hooves in delight, "so you did get that science fiction collection I sent thee- You." She winces a little, and I smile sympathetically at her. Formal settings bring with them a powerful force of habit, I suppose. Anypony who has suffered through Rarity's etiquette classes still cringes a little when they see somepony use a dessert spoon for soup...

"Actually, my once faithful student," Celestia smiles warmly, “ Still faithful, though no longer a student, it seems. Luna and I have been discussing ascension presents in honour of your greatest achievement, and have decided to each grant you a-"

"Most wondrous boon, our newest alicorn sister!" Luna booms, grinning wide, "One most befitting your new title, Princess Sparkle."

I gulp. Warm light filters in through stained glass and grants the room a suitable air for something suitably historic. The effect is awe inspiring, really, and it wouldn't have been possible had it not been such a lovely day.

The Princess- err, Celestia - waves a hoof and the wide doors open once more. Two rather handsome, stern faced guards carry to me what appears to be-

Oh, my.

I tuck my tail a little and fight the urge to drool in front of the princesses.

Oh, my.

It's a leatherbound book, a material coveted for its ludicrous rarity, made from the skin of cows who volunteer themselves to the tanning process. To be done posthumously, of course, I mean. Whilst many cows do so, embracing the opportunity to be immortalized as something beautiful, it's always in short supply. I wonder if Rarity and Applejack-

Wait. Wait.

On the cover is a brass plate, and on that is engraved my name.

This book, positively a tome, begging to become dusty and ancient, has my name on it and a significant number of letters after that.

I look up at Princess Celestia with eyes as wide as saucers. Frankly, it's hurting my eye sockets, but that's the cost of my anatomy not being able to handle the sheers levels of emotion I guess.

"This is the master copy, to be kept in the Royal Archives for, hopefully, centuries to come. Copies are being printed as we speak." She smiles beatifically at me, her voice as soft and gentle and nurturing as I've ever heard it, even when I was a filly! "Your most brilliant, and I do not use that term lightly, papers and letters have all undergone peer review with flying colours, enough to give even your friend Dash pause, I suspect." There's something in her eye, something- Is she sad? That doesn't make any sense! Still, she looks deeply... something. Is she crying? She’s-

Luna is giving her sister a sidelong glance. She looks quite underwhelmed actually. Even a bit miffed? Now, what- Wait. Wait, book? Book!

Book! My book?

"With this publication, Twilight, is a collection of your notes on friendship, magic, the sciences outside of the arcane as well... apparently what is contained in this book is not only about to completely revolutionize everything from mining to medicine but herald entirely new scientific branches, and I do suspect my advisers are being quite modest in their forecast." She smiles that same, strange smile and pauses for a moment. Oh no, she is crying. Oh, she's crying, she is, it's-

"I'm not crying, Twily, it's just liquid pride." My heart stops.

Oh dear, I'm blushing aren't I?

"There is no debate, especially in my own mind, that you have earned this, Doctor Twilight Sparkle. There is no field we could find that you did not meet the qualifications of, but for friendship, for there is truly always more to learn."

There are tears in my own eyes now. Doctor Sparkle? Doctor Twilight? Doctor Twilight Sparkle? All of those sounded wonderful, none of them I deserved. Or did I? There, in print, was supposed evidence of everything I had accomplished... It's more than I could have ever imagined.

"Sister, I am confused? That is it? That is all?"

Wait, what? I glance at the Princess, Celestia, that one, and she seems to be reacting the same way. Surprise. Shock. Indignation. I think she must be hiding it better though, because whilst her face was merely a flicker, a flash of the eyes and a slackening of the jaw, my butt hurts where I just fell flat upon it.

Smooth, Twilight.

"All? Luna-”

"Don't you Luna me, dearest Sister," Luna almost snaps, snaps, right in front of me! "Your most favoured protege in hundreds of years, so you tell me," Really? "The one whose pride and admiration you sing the praises of endless nights?" Really?! "The one who, once the cider and sparkling wine hits, you lament the fact that you could never be with as you wish, as a romantic coupling?"


I look at Celestia for the first time since Luna's started ranting and oh ho ho she's redder than Big Mac with a sunburn. I can't tell whether it's out of rage, embarrassment, or both. Then she starts spluttering and I really can't tell.

Time to intervene! Twilight to the rescue! "I-"

Luna holds up a hoof to silence me, still addressing Princess- other princess. The white one.. "Publishing works that you should have long ago? This publication is only required because of the sheer backlog of brilliance dear Twilight has accumulated under your watchful eye. It is of her own merits that this is published, not to be given by you as a gift!"

Princess Celestia’s not hiding her hurt well at all, now. "But-" Hoof raises higher. Luna’s on a roll, it seems.

"And furthermore, dear sister, you realize that the title of doctor is far, far superseded by her status as Princess. Normally the sentimentality of the offering would far outweigh the slight implied by the bequeathing, certainly, but thou honestly thinkst that thou can besmirch our saviour, the pony who did cleanse us of the evil that resided within us, by celebrating her ascension with the granting of a lesser title, as if to say that she is not our equal?"

Celestia and I stare at Luna stunned. I'm not possibly going to believe- I mean, she can't possibly be-

Wait, I just thought of Celestia without her honorific. Oh, horseapples.

Celestia stares at Luna. I stare at Celestia. Luna stares skyward, eyes closed, fuming silently.

"Do you see the truth in my words, Twilight Sparkle?" Luna asks archly. Celestia is just staring at me as if from very, very far away, melancholy.

I think about it. I really, truly do. It hurts me, like an icy papercut to the heart, and I usually like thinking, but I realize that a fundamental part of what Luna is trying to convey is that Celestia doesn't see me as an equal, can't see me as an equal. I don't see myself as an equal, either.

Then again, what was that about wanting to be romantically-

Focus Twilight.

"I think..." I sigh, a sad and little thing, such a small gesture that lands like a mighty slap upon Celestia, "I think that Luna is right, in a way. I love the gesture, truly!" I mean that, too, from the bottom of my hammering heart. Why did they have to put me on the spot like this? "But, I mean, this gift is more for Twilight Sparkle, Celestia's student, not a gift for Princess Twilight Sparkle, Ruler of Equestria. Which, from what you inferred, seemed to be the point, and I don't think I can act in an official capacity, or even feel like I have one, if you don't see me in it." Am I rambling now? I think I'm rambling.

Oh, well, the only way to get out of this is to keep swimming through word soup until I emerge on the other side.

"I mean, sure, it’s not like anypony asked if I wanted this, at any point, or whether I wanted to celebrate it or not, but, since I am, and we are, Luna is right." Celestia and Luna both nod, Celestia out of resignation and Luna out of encouragement. “Even if,” I grumble a bit more quietly, “I’d probably much rather have the book than these dumb wings.”

"Besides," I crack a hopeful grin, "Doctor Princess Sparkle just sounds silly."

That's what I say out loud at least. Inside I'm still dancing around like a little filly about how awesome, thank you Dash, that sounds. Hello, I'm Doctor Princess Twilight Sparkle, but you can just call me Doctor Princess.

Since that's not what I'm allowed to say aloud, Celestia sighs and nods gently. "There is much wisdom in your words, my faithful s-" She pauses, catching herself, "Princess." I watch her turn to Luna, and I see some little bit of light die in her eyes, and another little part of me twists at the sight of it, "What did you plan on gifting our blooming ascendant, sister?" Celestia asks as diplomatically as possible.

"Princess Twilight Sparkle," Luna intones solemnly, causing me to feel compelled to kneel, like I've seen in pictures of knights of yonder and yore, "Ender of the Nightmare, Vanquisher of Discord, Bearer of the Element of Magic, Saviour of Ponyville from Ursa and dam breakage alike and, let it go on record, a most dedicated librarian and maker of daisy sandwiches, let it henceforth be noted that thy boon is yon Ponyville, granted to thee as a boon for services rendered to Equestria and its crown, of which you now represent. Ponyville shall hence forth be the demesne of Twilight Sparkle."

"WHAT?!" Celestia leaps out of her throne, staring at Luna like she would if Nightmare Moon, Discord, Sombra and Chrysalis all were assisted by Pinkie Pie to play a prank on her.

Luna remains passive, if somewhat confused, as I watch in a sick combination of fascination and horror, apparently two great tastes that taste great together, because I couldn’t look away if somepony tried to force me to.

"I sense dubiousness on thy part, sister?" Oh, wow, really? I hadn't noticed, myself. "Has the practice of demesne fallen into disuse? When I filled out all the relevant documentation and miscellanea I was informed that everything was perfectly in order by our legal ponies."

Celestia was turning rather vivid shades of purple and what I guessed to be burgundy. It would be almost hypnotic to watch, were it not so disconcerting. Okay, it’s still pretty hypnotic. I take a step back just in case. I didn't know if Celestia could literally explode, but I suspected now would be the time I would find out.

"Yes! It took centuries of work! Nobles and barons refusing to let the old laws die! I could never repeal them outright! They just had to..." Celestia falls back onto the throne, massaging her temples and sighing. "There are still so many feudal lords around, dearest Luna, that merely don't realize that they are. It's a mockery to democracy."

"Ah." Luna replied simply. Turning to me, she grins a little sheepishly. "I suppose that my sister and I both need to practice the art of gift giving, yes?"

I, meanwhile, had been rifling through my impressively magniloquent lexicon to try and ascertain what, exactly, a demesne was. Based on the context of Celestia's statements...

Oh, horseapples.

"Did you just make me complete overlord and despot of Ponyville?"

"And its surrounding area, yes, falls under your bailiwick." Luna nodded.

"Oh." Well. Huh. That sure is a thing that is happening and has happened. Yes, yes it certainly is.


'I'm sorry Celestia, I should really head back to Ponyville and talk to Mayor Mare about this. Please rectify this situation for me, Luna, as soon as equinely possible, as well intentioned as your gift was. I hope you understand that I refuse it humbly, and not out of malice, as being the overlord of your friends tends to be a bit of a faux pas.'

"I need to get the buck back to Ponyville and figure this out before they tar my ponyfeathers and lynch me for this!"

"Twilight!" Celestia gasps, hoof to heart, snapping her attention back to me from Luna.

Wait what- Oh.

"I just said the in-my-head-thing out loud and the out-loud thing in my head, didn't I?"

Celestia's just nodding dumbly. Oh. Huh. Well. Err.

"I... Well. It's still true I suppose."

"I am inclined to agree, though I do wish you had cut back on the vulgarity." Celestia nods gravely. "Knowing my sister, surveyors are already scouting the border of your new domain." I look to Luna, who just nods sheepishly. Oh, horseapples.

My eyes widen and I run out of the room as fast as my new earth pony powered legs can push. It's still not fast enough for me to not catch a little snippet of conversation behind me.

"Admit it, dear sister, hearing such profanities from your sweet, innocent Twilight excited you, did it not?"

I barely heard that. I could easily hear the resulting blast.


Turns out I could run even faster...

And that Celestia could literally explode, presumably.