• Published 15th Dec 2013
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Prompt-A-Day Collection - Admiral Biscuit

A collection of random stories from the Prompt-A-Day group's challenges

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9: Gotta Go Fast

Gotta Go Fast
Admiral Biscuit

The streets of Canterlot are mostly deserted, which is a blessing.

Her hoofbeats ring out in the still night air. She wishes she could muffle them, but she cannot. Perhaps it is for the best, as it gives warning of her passage to other ponies—ponies who might be trampled underhoof if they were to cross the street unaware.

Still, deserted does not equal empty. She is forced to detour around a small cluster of unicorn laborers, who look open-mouthed as she passes. One of them drops a brick, and the others snap their heads around at the loud crash it makes as it breaks on the cobbles.

She skids around a corner, gains a little bit of speed on a long downhill straightaway—only to be cut off by a deliverypony with a wagonload of barrels. He stops right in the middle of the street, forcing her to make a hard choice—ease her pace and go around him, or jump the wagon?

But it really isn’t a choice. She’s already late—far later than she should be—and she simply cannot miss her appointment. She adjusts her stride, and leaps over the wagon.

Down a side street, and then into a park. She knows it’s a little bit quicker, and there won’t be anypony in the park to impede her passage this early in the morning.

The dirt paths are more comfortable under her hooves. There’s something honest about dirt that the unicorns who built Canterlot have forgotten. She kicks up clods of earth as she passes, and mutters a silent apology to the poor pony who will have to rake the path smooth in the morning.

A small trail branches off the main path, and she turns down it. It will allow her to bypass the new fountain that is the centerpiece of the park. The moonlight makes the trees look strange and sinister, but she has no fear of them. There are no living monsters in Canterlot anymore.

The path ends at a low stone wall, which she clears easily. She is now in the high-class business district of Canterlot. Darkened jewelery stores and fashion stores line both sides of the street. The soft glow of the crystal streetlights illuminates some of the display cases, sending rainbow flashes across her vision.

Around a corner, and she’s back on the main street. There’s a proposal in the Nobles’ Council to change the name of the street, but she’s always been partial to ‘Castle Way.’ Simple and to the point. Banners in honor of the Summer Sun Celebration hang high overhead, strung by pegasi between the buildings. Yesterday, there was a parade which went all the way to the castle steps. Her heart had swelled with pride as rank after rank of guards marched through the streets, bookended by two marching bands. Showmares had done tricks for the crowd, and earth ponies had passed out candies. In the afternoon, a group of pegasi had performed stunts over the city.

She gallops down the street, a one-mare parade. There is no marching band in front of her.

She takes the steps into the castle courtyard two at a time. As soon as she reaches the top, she turns to the east, rushing through the statue garden without a moment’s hesitation. There are some who remember why there’s a statue of a draconequus in the garden and who think it’s foolhardy to have it there—so close to the castle. So close to the Princess.

She thinks it’s better to have it under watchful eyes than hidden away.

The hedge maze isn’t her first choice of destination, but the large open field alongside the castle is filling up with ponies, all waiting for the sunrise. They will delay her, and she cannot afford to be delayed.

She keeps close to the neat-trimmed outer wall of the maze. It blurs by her as she moves, almost as fast as the wind. This is the fastest she’s run in many years, and it’s a liberating feeling. She can dimly hear the noise of the gathered ponies, talking among themselves. They don’t know what to expect, as this is the first time Celestia will raise the summer sun—but they all expect something wonderful, and a small part of her wishes she could be with them, watching with the same wide-eyed wonder they are. But she cannot.

She finally clears the maze and rushes through one of the many flower gardens that surround the castle. A pegasus gardener watches in amazement as she pauses under a small raincloud to rinse off her coat. She smiles up at him pleasantly. She does so love the gardens, and it’s nice to see that they are well cared-for. It was not so many years ago that pegasi and earth ponies weren’t welcome in Canterlot, but that has changed. Many things have changed, most of them for the better.

She covers the final stretch easily. A screen of trees hides her from the massive crowd, which is good. She’s grateful that she’d planned for that from the beginning.

She finally reaches her destination. It’s not much to look at: a set of hastily-constructed wooden stairs, rising up the hillside to a wooden platform. Temporary bracing is visible even in the moonlight, and the wood’s still green. Nevertheless, the treads are smooth and splinter-free, which is a blessing.

She steps lightly up the stairs and onto the small platform.

She is not late. She is, in fact, precisely on time. She allows herself a moment to gather her thoughts before stepping forward.

She is just behind a stage flat, nestled between two diagonal braces. She’s completely hidden from the crowd. She can hear them all out there, and wonders just how many ponies came to see the Princess raise the sun.

She takes a deep breath, lights her horn and stretches her wings and rises above the flats.

And she raises the sun.

Author's Note:

You've got fifteen minutes to get to the other side of town before you miss [blank] forever. Go!