• Published 24th Jun 2016
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The Incredibly Crazy Days of a Little Sparkle - BronyWriter

Midnight Sparkle, Twilight's distant ancestor, travels forward in time.

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Apologies of the Unconvincing Sort

Midnight’s continued scowl as the other fillies left the room didn’t give me a lot of hope that we’d be able to just talk this out in a rational way. I already knew that it would be a little difficult to get her to understand that dueling wasn’t how we did things now, but she would definitely see herself in the right when it came to the fact that Diamond was bullying the five of them. I waited until the rest of the fillies were out of the room before I started.

“So Midnight, it’s like I was saying: ponies don’t duel for honor anymore, especially not for something like what Diamond was doing. I’m not saying that she was in the right at all, but--”

“My new friends already made it quite clear that your impotent attempts at resolving the issue yourselves have been laughably unsuccessful,” Midnight growled, her scowl deepening. “In fact, t’was she who initiated the physical aggression. She tapped mine horn. How else should I have dealt with such disrespect?”

Ah, that actually explained a few things. Back in Midnight’s day, touching a unicorn’s horn during an argument would have been seen as the height of aggression. If somepony had done that to Sunbeam, they’d be met with instant, um... death.

Still, I needed to try and make her understand that things were done differently in modern times. “I realize that you didn’t like her touching your horn, but these days we don’t—” I was interrupted by a knock on the door. I suppressed a groan as I went to the door. “Give me a sec to deal with this.”

I opened the door and found just about the last pony I wanted to talk to at that moment. Filthy Rich glowered as he stood opposite of me. “Princess Twilight, I heard that my daughter was here. There was apparently some incident between her and some of the other children?”

My smile probably looked as genuine as it felt right at that moment. I had wanted to straighten things out with Midnight before having to deal with Mr. Rich, but it seemed it hadn’t taken him long to find out something had happened and then come here.

“Yes, they had a bit of a fight.” My eyes flicked in Midnight’s direction, who seemed content to glower in our direction. “From what I was told Midnight--my cousin and the Cutie Mark Crusaders were being picked on by Silver Spoon and your daughter, she touched Midnight's horn, which she’s really sensitive about, and Midnight ended up casting a spell on Diamond Tiara.”

Rich’s eyes widened. “She did what?”

“She’s fine!” I was quick to say. “She just needs a bit of time to recover, is all.” Probably best if I didn’t tell him what sort of spell she got hit by. That would just add fuel to a fire I was having more than enough time controlling.

Rich sighed and rubbed his brow. “Would it be okay if I saw her?”

“Of course, she’s laying down right upstairs.”

Rich’s smile was about as sincere as mine. “Thank you, Your Highness. I trust you’ll be taking care of everything on your end with your cousin?” His eyes darted meaningfully in Midnight’s direction.

“I was just talking with her when you knocked,” I assured him. “I was explaining to her that it’s not appropriate to cast spells on ponies like she did.”

He nodded. “Good. I’ll talk with Diamond about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior for a young lady. If you’ll excuse me for a moment, Your Highness...” I stood aside and let him go upstairs to see his daughter.

“That did not sound like an apology for his daughter’s ill behavior,” Midnight said as soon as he was out of earshot.

“He probably wants to get Diamond’s side of the story before he makes a decision,” I told her.

Midnight crossed her arms over her chest. “Likely she will just lie to him. She is a foul creature like that.”

“Midnight!” I scolded. “You can at least give her the chance to do the right thing.”

“I did. She had the chance to walk away before I cast a spell on her, but then she touched my horn, as I have already explained.”

This conversation was getting nowhere. It felt like I was talking to a brick wall. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Midnight’s head tilted to the side. “I never suggested such a thing. Such is foolish logic. Otherwise Diamond Tiara would have committed several rights through misdeeds, which would make no sense.”

Of course that saying went right over her head. Or maybe she was just being stubborn and intentionally misinterpreted what I meant. It was hard to say with Midnight. “What I mean is that these days it’s taboo to attack ponies, even if they might be in the wrong.”

“And we can see how well that works with my friends,” Midnight said, digging in her hooves. “I would think that obvious by now.”

Before I could think of a different approach, Mr. Rich came down the stairs with Diamond Tiara on his back. He cleared his throat before addressing us. “I’ve talked with my daughter, and it strikes me that this was just a case where some kids let an argument get out of control and it resulted in a fight. I think it best that we make them apologize to one another, and try and put this unpleasant incident behind us.”

I nodded, relief washing over me. I’d worried that this might explode into some big incident, but it seemed that we could do damage control on this. “That seems like the best was to deal with this to me too.”

Rich looked back to address his daughter with a firm, fatherly tone. “So then, what do you say to Midnight?” Diamond Tiara looked at the floor as she mumbled something unintelligible. Her father’s eyes narrowed and his tone took on a harsher tone. “What was that? I don’t think any of us heard that.”

“I’m sorry,” Diamond Tiara said barely above a whisper, still not looking at any of us.

Rich frowned at the lackluster apology, but it seemed good enough for him to turn to Midnight. “And is there anything you want to say, Midnight?”

In a fashion, Midnight did not disappoint. She jutted out her jaw and spoke with shere bullheaded stubbornness. “I am not going to apologize for anything. She wronged me and my friends, and I regret nothing.”

Rich’s eyebrows raised. “Excuse me?”

I groaned and rubbed my face. “Like I said, I’m still talking with her about what she did.”

“And I found her arguments less than compelling.” Midnight nodded firmly. “I gave Diamond Tiara every opportunity to apologize and back away from her foul behavior, and she proceeded to do nothing but provoke me. Worst still, she is now only apologizing to avoid your displeasure instead of out of any desire to do what is right. Therefore I am in the right, and her in the wrong.”

Rich’s mouth worked wordlessly for a few moments as he tried to react. This was way off script from how these discussions were supposed to go, but he eventually managed to recover. “That’s not how a young lady should be acting.”

Midnight narrowed her eyes. “Considering how your daughter acts, I am not convinced you are an expert on the conduct of young ladies.”

Rich blinked as though he’d just been slapped, and I quickly stepped in between them before this could get any worse. “Mr. Rich, I really need to talk with Midnight about how she’s acting. If you don’t mind, I can talk her into apologizing later.”

“That will not be happening,” Midnight insisted in her typical dull monotone.

Dammit, Midnight...

Rich’s nostrils flared and her turned away from us. “If you say so, Your Highness. By your leave...” He stormed out of the library, leaving me alone with my very, very stubborn many times over great grandmother who was pretending to be my cousin.

I took a deep breath as I turned to face Midnight. “You could have tried to apologize.”

“I could have, but I did not wish to.”

I rubbed my brow as I felt a headache come on. “I mean you could have made an attempt to try and mend bridges with Diamond Tiara and try and be friendly with her.”

Midnight pressed her lips together in a frown. “Why would I wish to be friends with somepony who is so cruel with my friends?”

I wasn't making any progress with her trying to appeal to logic. Part of me was happy that Midnight had made friends and was willing to stand up for them, but this hadn’t been what I’d intended when I’d made a play date with Crusaders. I thought of what my parents might do in a situation like this. “Well for not even making the attempt to try and fix things with Diamond and disrespecting an adult you’re grounded for the rest of the day.”

Midnight stared at me for several moments before her head tilted to the side. “But I am already grounded. I have no means by which to fly on mine own, and I do not have any pony who would fly me around at my beck and call.”

“No I mean...” I took a deep breath as I found myself running headlong into the brick wall of Midnight's literalness and nine centuries worth of cultural differences. This was going to be a long evening.

I really needed to send a letter to my mom asking how to deal with misbehaving children. As I realized halfway into the evening of the previous day, grounding somepony who had little desire to go outside and play wasn’t much of a punishment. That and I suspected Midnight would bear most punishments as a worthwhile expense to maintain her pride and honor. Midnight was from a culture where duels were regularly fought over matters of honor, and being perceived as having a lack of honor could have dire consequences for your social standing. The only thing she had seemed to be disappointed about was that she wouldn’t get to play with her friends again that afternoon. Unfortunately a couple of books I’d consulted on how to deal with misbehaving children weren’t of the best help in this exact situation. Perhaps I could ask Princess Celestia what to do about this? She lived all throughout that period of time, and knew Midnight. Maybe she would have some good suggestions. Thought that might be an admission that I might be in over my head...

But as I waffled on what to do, worked on a series of plans for how I could deal with problems like these in the future, the next day came and the Crusaders came around asking if Midnight was around to play. Though I was somewhat reluctant to let Midnight go, in the end I relented. I was trying to help Midnight make friends, after all. Hopefully the Crusaders and Midnight would just avoid Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon until I could figure out how to deal with that thorny problem. There was clearly a longstanding problem there, but I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with it. It might be something to ask Applejack or Rarity about later.

An hour after Midnight left with the Crusaders I was surprised to see Apple Bloom and Scootaloo return to the library. Curious about what was going on, I asked, “Hey there girls. Is everything going alright?”

Scootaloo flashed me a smile that was brittle along the edges. “Oh! Yes! Everything’s going great.”

“Middy, Dinky, and Sweetie wanted to play tea party, but we weren’t very interested in playin’,” Apple Bloom announced with a hint of stiffness. “So we decided to head to the library all on our own. You know, to get some books. To read.”

Scootaloo bobbed her head. “Right, and what better place to get books than the library? It’s what libraries are for, right?”

“Of course.” I raised an eyebrow, because something seemed off here. The girls were acting oddly, there was a hint of nervousness as their eyes darted to one another. Sometimes Apple Bloom came to the library to get a book, but it was pretty rare to see Scootaloo in the library unless it was for one of my lessons or research to do for school. Though perhaps I was reading too much into things. It might just be that they were nervous that I was still upset about what happened with Diamond Tiara. That would explain why they were reluctant to come to the library for a book. But I wasn’t about to shirk my responsibilities as a librarian, even if Midnight’s words about how it was ridiculous for a princess was also running a small town library echoed in the back of my mind.

“So what were you looking for?” I asked.

The two of them briefly looked at each other before Apple Bloom took the lead. “Um, we were just plannin’ on lookin’ around if it’s all the same. You know, to see if anything leaps out at us.”

“That’s fine,” I told them. “Just ask if you need any help.” I went to the central table to start writing a letter to Princess Celestia. I wanted to update on how things were going with Midnight and ask for some advice. Thing was that I didn’t want to sound desperate or that I couldn’t handle everything either. This was going to require some careful wording.

I was in the middle of writing a rough draft when Apple Bloom and Scootaloo dropped a pile of books in front of me. “Here ya go, we’re ready to check out.” Apple Bloom flashed me a smile, though once again it seemed a bit strained at the edges.

“Looks like you’ve got quite the selection here,” I observed. “Good to see.”

Scootaloo shuffled in place. “Yeah, well, we didn’t know what we wanted, so we just grabbed some stuff that looked like it might be good.”

“Okay then. Nother wrong with trying out new things and seeing how they work out.” I started the process of checking out each book. “So then, one The Adventures of Young Daring Do: A Short Story Compilation, Escape From Freeport, and...” I raised an eyebrow when I got to the third book in the pile. “Advanced Algorithmic Arcana by Archmagus Aerial Aurora?” I peered over the boom to find the both of their faces spread with unnatural smiles.

“Um, the title just leap out at me,” Scootaloo tried to explain. “Seemed like it might be an interesting read.”

I wasn’t convinced by that explanation. “If you want to learn about magic then I can point you to some better picks to help introduce you to magic. No offense, but this is more for advanced students than somepony who needs to learn the basics. Trust me, I’ve read this book cover to cover.”

“Maybe Sweetie could learn something from it?” Apple Bloom suggested. “She’s been learning about magic from you.”

“Yeeesss, but nothing this advanced. I know where her skill level is, and this isn’t really what she needs to be covering yet. We’re still need build up her basics before we dive into more advanced skills.” Suspecting what was up, I placed the book to the side. “What’s this about, girls?”

“What’s up?” Scootaloo’s darted from side to side. “What do you mean?”

Apple Bloom raised a leg and held it up for some reason. “There’s nothing wrong with us just checking out a book, right?”

“No, not as long as you just want to learn, but there’s more efficient ways to go about that then just jumping into the deep end when you’re not likely to understand what you’re reading,” I said. “Also, why are you holding your leg up? We’re not in a classroom right now.”

“Oh, um, Ah’m just stretching is all.” Apple Bloom started waving her leg more enthusiastically. “Just a bit sore from my chores on the farm. You know how it is.”

Before I could press the issue I heard the thumpathumpathump of hooves on the floor racing towards me. My head started turning towards the noise, but then I felt something collide with my side and wrap its furry arms around me. Looking down, Dinky stared up at me with a wide smile. “Hiya Miss Twilight! I wanted to surprise you with a surprise hug.” She squeezed me and nuzzled my side. “Did it work?!”

I blinked, this hadn’t been something I expected to suddenly happen. Not that seeing Dinky didn’t immediately melt my heart. It was certainly a big stress reliever after a rough couple of days. “Um, you sure did.”

“Yay!” Dinky nuzzled again. “Because I like hugging you.”

Apple Bloom cleared her throat and started scooping up the books with near indecent haste as I was distracted by Dinky. “Well looks like yer busy. So how about we just mosey on out of here and—”

I quickly snatched the copy of Advanced Algorithmic Arcana with my magic before the two of them could bolt. “Whoa, wait up there! We’re not done here.”

Scootaloo scowled. “What’s the big deal? It’s just some books, this is a library, and you’re supposed to let us check out some books.”

My eyes narrowed in suspicion. “I think you know exactly what’s up. How about you just come clean with me about—” My ear twitched as I heard just more hoofsteps inside the library. I looked but didn’t see anypony there. Strange. As an alicorn my hearing had become a lot better, and I knew I had heard somepony new entering the room, even if they had suddenly stopped walking when I’d looked for them.

“What’s the matter, Miss Twilight?” asked Dinky.

Scootaloo tried grabbing the book, but it failed to move as it remained suspended in my magic field. “Yeah, can we just go now?”

“Now just slow down for one moment.” As soon as I turned my attention back to the others I heard the hoofsteps start up once again, a pair of hoofsteps I noted. A quick magic detection spell confirmed what I suspected: an invisibility spell. It was a basic one, but it did its job. And I had a pretty good feeling exactly who was under that veil, and what those mischievous fillies were up to. Part of me was tempted to call them out on what they were doing, but then another idea stuck me.

I levitated a beginners’ guide to magic off a shelf and replaced it with its much more advanced cousin. “How about you start with this and then tell me what you think?”

“Um, okay then.” Scootaloo scowled we she examined the book, and while she wanted to argue the point, no good counter argument came to her.

In the periphery of my vision another book slid off the shelf and then disappeared into nothingness. Under the cover of levitating the Crusaders’ books, I cast a series of spells, the first one to allow me to penetrate the invisibility spell. Another spell allowed me to see through the sneaking fillies’ bag to see that they had taken another book of advanced magic from the shelf. It took another spell to allow me to retrieve a book from my personal collection upstairs, and then replace it with the magic book with a teleportation spell. That done, everything was set.

Finished checking out all the books, I gave them to Apple Bloom and Scootaloo. They flashed each other a smile. “Thanks Twilight! We’ll be goin’ now,” Apple Bloom said. “Come on Dinky. We’re gonna, um, check these books out!”

“Sure!” Dinky gave me a quick squeeze before scampering to her friends’ side. “Thanks Miss Twilight, I'll give ya somemore hugs later. ‘Kay?”

“That sounds great,” I said as I waved them all off. “Enjoy your books, girls.”

Soon they were all gone—including the fillies who had snuck in. Wanting to see how all of this was going to turn out, I head down into the basement and found my crystal ball. I normally didn’t like spying on ponies with scrying magic, but it had its uses now and again. It wasn’t long before I had the crystal ball glowing and showing an image of the Crusaders gathering not far from the library. It only took a couple of minutes before Midnight and Sweetie suddenly appeared as Midnight dispelled her invisibility spell.

Sweetie looked herself over as she confirmed she was indeed visible again. “You really need to teach me how to do that later. That could have helped keep me out of trouble a few times.”

“We can do that later,” Midnight said. “But first I would like to see how successful our quest was.”

Scootaloo smiled mischievously. “We didn’t sneak the advanced what-do-you-call-it book past Twilight, but we managed to distracted her while you did your thing.”

“Aye, at the end of the day thy objective was to hold Her Highness’ attention,” Midnight mused. “T’would have been well and good if you had gotten the other book as well, but that was but a secondary objective.”

Dinky nodded vigorously. “I liked the part where I got to hug Miss Twilight. I thought that was the best part.”

“Aye, thy adorableness served its purpose well this day,” Midnight announced with great solemness. “You all did well in playing your parts.”

Apple Bloom beamed. “Darn tootin’ we did. Cutie Mark Crusaders Spy Masters was a success!”

“Did we get our cutie marks in spying?” Sweetie looked at her flank, quickly followed by the others. But alas, their flanks were still blank, much to the disappointment of the others.

Part of me was happy that Midnight was getting along with the Crusaders, even if getting them all to help her steal a book from the library wasn’t what I envision them doing. But then, Midnight seemed to have profound deficiencies is normality. I probably should have foreseen that one of the things she would do upon making friends was to use them to achieve her various goals, given what she became a master manipulator when she grew up.

Scootaloo sighed. “Aw, it would have been cool to have spy cutie marks. I really thought we were onto something this time.”

Apple Bloom double checked to make sure there was indeed no cutie mark on her flank. “Right? We managed to get the book and everything.”

“As I did warn all of you, there was only a remote chance this would result in you getting cutie marks. Such things cannot be forced, near as I know. Still, I am happy we managed to procure a magic book.” Midnight pulled out the book from Sweetie’s bag and then scowled as she examined. “Or perhaps not.”

“What’s the matter, Middy?” Apple Bloom asked. “Didn’t ya grab the book you wanted?”

Midnight glared at the book I’d given her as though it had personally wronged her. “I thought I had, but it seems we have been made the fools in this.”

“Huh, what do you mean?” Sweetie craned her neck as she tried to get a better look at the book Midnight was holding.

“I believe Her Highness has just sent us a message.” Midnight held up the book so that the others could see its title: Slumber 101: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Slumber Parties But Were Afraid to Ask.

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