• Published 14th Apr 2018
  • 5,633 Views, 308 Comments

The Maker's Reject - Albi

Every pony has a destiny—a reason for being. Sunset Shimmer has no cutie mark, and struggles just to feel like she belongs in this reality. But the price to find her purpose might be one too high to pay.

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11. Fuel for the Fires

The Royal Family Portrait hung in the entrance hall, set at the top of the main stairs. Admittedly, I averted my eyes every time I walked past it. I hated seeing my empty expression.

The photo shoot went much better. Thirty minutes of me sitting up straight and smiling while the photographer caught me from every angle. He showed me the photographs later; unlike the portrait, I looked alive and vibrant.

The picture selected for the posters was a three quarter headshot. I had a pleasant smile on my face, and the way my ears poked out of my mane was admittedly very cute.

The narcissism of putting posters of myself around the city reared its head as I left the shooting room. Was this a bit desperate? Of course, I was desperate. But walking around outside and seeing myself everywhere seemed strange. Would it even work? Would any of my plans work? I was trying to defy the Maker and her machinations of reality.

But isn't it worth trying? You deserve to be remembered. Sometimes you have to be forceful to get what you want.

My brow furrowed. I had to at least try. If Armonía was so determined to ignore me, then I would do everything to make sure the world noticed me. If my face was going up on every street corner, I would just have to own it.

With my photoshoot over, I made my way to the throne room. Mom and I were scheduled to go over the resources she had compiled for the Grand Galloping Gala. Because it was an ‘official' audience with her, I had to wait my turn in the antechamber.

Just as large and opulent as the throne room, the long waiting hall boasted stained glass windows of famous ponies and tall marble columns painted with stars and spirals. Long couches were placed in between them, along with small tables set with magazines.

I sat as close to the door as I could get, third in line. The newest issue of Magic Monthly was out, so I decided to take a peak. Unsurprisingly, they had already gotten out a full length article on Nightmare Moon and Luna, detailing what had happened in Ponyville. Also included was speculation on the Elements of Harmony, how the banishing spell on Luna worked, and a gossip column about what Nightmare Moon did on the moon.

I seriously doubted she chucked rocks at Celestia from orbit, funny as it sounded.

In front of me was a well-dressed stallion with a stack of papers floating next to him, and two earth ponies who looked like farmers having a heated discussion under theirs breaths. I only caught a hooffull of words like, “your fault” and “you started it.”

The throne doors opened, and two nobles walked out, noses in the air as they passed us waiting in line. The dapper pony with the papers walked in after they left, and the doors swung shut again. If not for the arguing pair in front of me, the hall would have been quiet. Despite their murmuring, their voices carried and bounced around the room. I buried my snout into my magazine to drown them out.

You’re a liar and you know it!” one of them bellowed.

I held back an agitated sigh and lowered my magazine. If I was going to be a princess, diplomacy was a skill I needed to work on. Plus, maybe if I helped them sort this out, they would remember me for doing a good deed for them.

The two stallions grew louder trying to talk over one another and didn’t bat an eye as I drew close to them. One was red with a messy brown mane, and the other purple with a short green cut. I cleared my throat, but of course, they didn’t look.

“Excuse me!” I said loudly. That got them to turn their heads.

“Who are you?” the green one asked tersely.

I straightened up to my full height and did my best to look proud. “Hi. Sunset Shimmer, daughter of Princess Celestia, nice to meet you.”

The two shared a brief confused look before focusing on me again. “The Princess has a daughter?”

“I couldn’t help but overhear your little dispute,” I said, staunchly ignoring what would likely become a frequently asked question. “Since my mother is currently busy, perhaps I could provide some council?”

The red one snorted. “We’re supposed to take advice from some filly claiming to be Her Majesty’s daughter? Please.”

“She’s probably here so someone can check her for delusions of grandeur,” the green one said. They both broke out into loud laughter while my cheeks began to burn. I really wished I had one of my posters to shove into their faces.

“I’m just trying to help!” I shouted, their laughter subsiding.

“We don’t need help from you, kid,” the red one said. “We’re here to see Princess Celestia, not… whatever you said your name was.”

It’s Sunset Shimmer!” I bellowed. “And I swear, someday, you will remember who I am!”

They didn’t flinch at my outburst, in fact, they looked ready to laugh again. I was fully ready to blast them if they did. Before they could, the doors opened once more, and the dapper pony walked out, looking pleased. The guards called the pair next, leaving me to steam.

Offer compassion only to be rewarded with scorn. How disgusting.

My tail gave an agitated flick. Royalty or not, they could have at least heard me out. Truly, the only way to be respected was to be an alicorn. All of this was just more fuel for the fire. They would remember me, they would respect me, and I would live forever.

Half an hour later, the two stallions exited, neither sparing a glance at me as they passed.

“Would the next guest please step forward.”

A pony behind me made to stand, but I moved quickly past the threshold and into the throne room. The guard closed the door behind me, and my lips curled into a satisfactory smirk.

“Ah, there you are, Sunset,” Mother said, her voice carrying across the hall. With a flash of her horn, a large, worn binder appeared.

As I neared, she opened her mouth to speak, paused, then frowned. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing!” I said quickly. I guess the dismal from earlier was still etched somewhere on my face.

Mother stood and walked down the ramp to meet me at the base of the dais, her soft eyes searching over me. They settled onto my own eyes, and I knew she could read every emotion in them.

I turned my head away. “I tried to help those two ponies who were here before me and they laughed in my face.”

“Oh, Sunset, I’m so sorry.”

One of my bangs fell over my eye and I blew it back into place. “If they don’t want my help, then fine, I won’t give it to them,” I said with far more pout than intended.

A soft hoof touched my shoulder. “I love that you were willing to try, Sunset. You have a big heart. And I promise, in time, ponies will flock to you for your wisdom. And hopefully, this will be the first step.” The binder floated in front of me.

“Right. Yeah.” I took hold of the binder and opened it, releasing a light layer of dust.

Mom blew it away. “Sorry, I haven’t had to take this out in a while. I’ve organized the Gala so many times, I can do it by heart.”

“Well this year, you get to take a break,” I said, perking up. “I’ll handle everything and make it the most memorable gala ever.”

She smiled. “I’m certainly looking forward to it. Try to add a little flair to it this year. The celebration has grown a bit stale over time. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, just different.”

I flipped through the binder and found a blank piece of paper. “Different but not dramatic, got it.” I jotted it down and flipped back to the first page: a detailed guest list.

“Oh, that reminds me,” Mom said, “I should send Twilight a few tickets in case she wants to bring a friend. I’m sure Miss Rarity would love to come.”

We sat down and started preliminary discussions of decorations, catering, and music. During my birthday, I learned that Pinkie planned parties for a living. I didn’t think much of it but as it turned out, planning a gala took more thought than I expected. It was mostly due to me making sure it would live up to the standards of Canterlot’s noble elite.

I could see why Mother found the Gala growing stale. She had used the same catering and decoration theme for the last five years. They were both the best Canterlot had to offer, and we both knew the nobles wouldn't accept anything but the best.

“What about a sort of cosmic theme? You know, to kinda tie into Equestria having both its sun and moon princesses back?”

“Hmmm. I like the idea. What would the execution look like?”

I tapped a pencil against my horn. “Well, we could enchant the ceiling and make it look like outer space. Fill it with stars and planets and comets! Maybe we could make the carpet look like clouds, so everyone’s standing between the sky and the heavens!”

“Oh, that certainly is something!”

By the end of our session, I had several idea down that all sounded promising. Canterlot nobles were so ingrained in tradition, you could have mistaken them for earth ponies; but even one of these ideas had to tickle their fancy. I would have to run these ideas by the Entertainment Board first before I could carry through with anything though. That’s where my first test would be.

I left the throne room as Mother prepared a letter to Twilight. She still hadn’t responded to mine yet. Had she already forgotten me?

A sigh built in my throat, but I kept it down. What had I even planned to accomplish by telling Twilight of my predicament and subsequent attempt to correct it? What could she even do? I suppose I had just wanted somepony to confide in, but Cadence kind of filled that role now.

Still, Twilight was smart and analytical. It would have been nice to hear her theories on existentialism and my lack thereof.

Waiting for me in front of my bedroom door was Platina, stalwart as ever. She gave a salute and a smile as I neared. “Good afternoon, My Lady.”

“Good afternoon, Platina. How are you?”

“Very well, thank you for asking.” Her horn lit up, and a letter slipped out from her breastplate. “The Royal Courier asked that I gave this to you.”

“Twilight responded?” I dropped the binder and hastily grabbed the letter, seeing Twilight’s tidy horn writing on the front. “Twilight responded!”

Platina smartly stepped aside as I charged into my room and jumped onto the bed. I tore the letter open and unfolded it, heart racing.

Dear Sunset,

Of course I remember you, why wouldn’t I? Thank you for writing to me though. I like my new friends, but it’s nice to hear from a more familiar face.

Spike and I are still adjusting to Ponyville; it’s so different from the capitol. But, we get to live in the town library! There’s so many books here I haven’t read yet! They need to be re-alphabetized first, so that’s going to take a few days of work. I’m so excited!

Anyways, I would love to hear more about this project of yours. I admit, I’ll be a little busy with my new duties as the town librarian (can you believe it? Me, a librarian!) and spending time with my new friends, but I promise I’ll make time for you, too!

Write back soon! I can’t wait to hear from you again!

Your friend,

Twilight Sparkle

I rolled onto my back and hugged the letter to my chest. She hadn’t forgotten about me! She wanted to help! I lifted the letter and read through it again and again. Twilight’s words fueled my heart with indescribable hope. I knew Celestia was my anchor to the world, but this felt like proof. Proof that friendship could overcome time and distance. All my interactions had indeed left a strong implant on Twilight’s mind. Of course she remembered me!

Grinning from ear to ear, I jumped off my bed and ran to my desk, grabbing a fresh sheet of paper, a quill, and some ink.

Dear Twilight,

I paused. How could I explain all of this succinctly? I had done it outloud with Cadence, but I felt like I needed to be more detailed with Twilight. She would no doubt have several questions, and I wanted to answer them all so we could move on to making hypotheses and solutions.

Of course, there were only so many solutions I could think of to solve this existential denial from a goddess of creation. One solution did involve punching her in the face. Repeatedly. But, Twilight was one of the smartest ponies I knew. If anyone could think of a solution to this, it would be her.

And it gave me an excuse to keep correspondence with her. She was one of my only friends, and that was something I didn’t want to lose.

So, for the next few hours, I drafted a few responses, finding the best way to summarize my situation. The Maker Armonía wasn’t something ponies regularly talked about. Ponies would sometimes pray to her, give thanks for the land we knew and loved, but she was often thought of as more of a concept than an actual being.

And when you had Celestia, beauty and grace incarnate who moved the heavens everyday, you tend not to look for higher deities. Telling Twilight that Armonía did in fact exist and she apparently hated my very existence would no doubt be a bombshell.

In the end, I had two long pages rolled up and ready to go. Twilight would still probably have questions, but I could answer them as they came. When I finally lifted my head from my desk, the sun had nearly set. My stomach caught up to the time and rumbled like a late alarm clock.

Picking up my letter, I stepped out into the corridor. Platina was still standing guard, stalwart as ever. I floated the letter over to her.

“Mailroom?” she asked.

“Yes, please.”

She tucked into her breastplate and followed after me to the dining hall. “I was about to knock and ask if you were hungry. Thought you were on another study binge and had forgotten about food.”

It had been a few days since my last hardcore study session. The portrait painting had demanded I get plenty of sleep to look my best. And I still hadn’t found the spells to remove the need for eating and sleeping.

“Yeah, guess I was a little hyper focused on my letter. But, that’s why I have you, Platina.”

“Glad to be of service,” she said with a wry smile.

She turned down the hall toward the mail room while I pressed on into the dining room. The first stars of the evening decorated the arched windows. I watched as they glittered over the Unicorn Range like fireflies. Framed by satin curtains, you could have mistaken the scene for a detailed portrait.

The room was empty tonight, save for a single servant pony standing by the door to the kitchen. I took my seat on the right side of the head of the table and cleared my throat.

The pony didn’t move.

Why do I bother? I know what the outcome is! I stood up and moved in front of his face, waving a hoof.

He jumped, breaking his professional stoicism for just a moment. “Oh, Lady Sunset! What would you like for dinner?”

Repressing a disgruntled sigh, I said, “Vegetable medley over rice, please. And cheesecake for dessert.”

He bowed and backed into the kitchen. “Right away, ma’am.”

I returned to my seat and dropped my cheek into my hoof. Before I had time to sulk, Mother trotted in, a tired smile on her face.

“Oh hello, little sun! How was the rest of your day?” The second she sat down, the servant pony materialized by her shoulder.

I eased off my cheek and forced myself to smile while she placed her order. “It was fine. I spent most of it drafting a letter to Twilight. How was yours?”

“The same as always. But redundancy means the country is running fine.” She opened her mouth to say more, but a scroll popped into existence next to her head.

She caught and unfurled it, watching two golden tickets unstick themselves from the inside and drift down.

As they settled on the table, I said, “Aren’t those tickets to the Gala?”

“Indeed they are,” Mother said with a jovial smile. Her eyes scanned the letter and she let out a mirthful laugh. “Oh dear. It seems Twilight had a little incident today regarding the tickets. All of her friends wanted to go and gave her a rather trying time in deciding who would come. She decided if they all couldn’t go then none of them would.”

“How very altruistic,” I said with just a hint of sardonicism. She had known these girls, what, two weeks? Yet she was acting like they were lifelong friends who had to do everything together.

Then again, it was the Gala, Equestria’s premier event. Any pony would be a little envious knowing their friends were going without them. Still, this was a display of saccharine sweetness I would never have expected from Twilight.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect anyone other than Rarity to be interested,” Mother continued. She now smiled like she knew the punchline of some unspoken joke. “Would you object if I gave out a few more tickets?”

I shook my head. Twilight’s new friends seemed like good ponies. I still had reservations about Pinkie Pie, but the rest were fine.

Mother poofed a scroll and four extra tickets from midair, rolled them up, and sent them on their way. “There, now everypony should be happy.”

“Did you remember Spike?”

She blinked then chuckled. “Goodness, you’re right. If Twilight is going, he’ll certainly want to come too.”

I couldn’t help but smile as well. With everyone coming to the Gala, it was sure to be a night to remember.

Author's Note:

Oh geez, I haven't updated anything in six months. Forgive me if anything seems off, getting back into the swing of things.

Thank you for waiting patiently though. Updates will continue to follow my erratic schedule, but, there will be updates!

Next chapter: adventure!