• Published 23rd Dec 2016
  • 3,353 Views, 196 Comments

The Remainders Of The Day - Estee



After avoiding the last two annual events, Twilight is finally going to hold her first library sale. Or else. And when compared to selling off books, 'or else' may be starting to look pretty good.

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To Your Well-Organized Collations Go

There were times when she wondered if they were called patrons because it took so much effort to keep from patronizing them.

In many ways, the daily operation of Ponyville's public library had very little in common with Twilight's previous custody of the Ancient History department in the Canterlot Archives, and most of those differences centered around the use of the facility. When she'd reigned over the tower -- well, realistically, after she'd been kicked up the ramp into the single most isolated position available just so everypony else wouldn't have to deal with her trying to reorganize their departments every other week -- the maximum number of visitors she'd ever had to deal with in a single day was two. The books themselves never left her section: she'd stood watch over some of Equestria's most precious texts, and so it was understood that any research done would be conducted on the premises. Also that the standing of watch was going to be rather on the literal side, for Twilight would find a place where she could keep an eye on things and then do exactly that, because the books were precious indeed and nothing was going to happen to her charges if she could prevent it. A maximum of two visitors per day, and as her reputation had spread throughout the academic community, the duration of those visits became progressively shorter, for it seemed as if many ponies had trouble taking notes while a small, exceptionally slender unicorn mare unblinkingly stared at them from a mere three body lengths away.

It had taken more than a little time for Twilight to recognize the errors she'd made, and all of those realizations had come after she'd moved to Ponyville. To allow ordinary books free departure after their borrowers had made the loan official... it had taken some getting used to, although the first accusation of stalking had done a lot to encourage a quicker learning process. The idea that she had to acquire the newest texts instead of having the Archives automatically order everything under Sun and Moon -- that was something she was still struggling with, especially when it came to the limitations inherent to her budget and the fact that any books which were only going to be read by her would be paid for the same way. It kept her purchasing down -- somewhat, or at least had led into a slow, steady redistribution from salary to order catalog, for some things could not be passed up by any researcher who wished to retain the title, no matter what the damage to her savings. Just learning how to (occasionally) wait for second printings had been hard enough.

Getting books back when that borrowing had gone over the time limit? It was something she was still struggling with. There were too many times when she spent more on stamps for late fee notifications than she could ever hope to recover through the fees themselves. Letting Ponyville know that she was willing to substitute participation in what she insisted were harmless experiments for those payments did a lot to encourage a speedier return process (along with keeping a few ponies out of the library entirely), but still... there were a number of repeat offenders whose ink tally had gone so far into the red as to require a new color on the left of the spectrum. Twilight tried not to take it too personally and, after one particularly offensive account had led to what the police had viewed as a rather more debris-strewn category of accusations, also tried not to make any recovery attempts in person, because she also couldn't get back in late fees what she'd personally paid out in damages and really, it was almost as if Mr. Waddle had held onto the thing on purpose just to see if he could get her into his residence in the first place: following that up by basically telling her she had to find the thing and all he could remember was that it was under one of the heaviest objects in the house. And the expression on his face as he'd watched her beginning to lift had been -- odd, and after she'd confronted him on that strangeness, things had gotten... confusing. Loud. And eventually, legal.

Regardless of Chief Miranda Rights' rather strident opinion and the court-mandated position of that one never-expired restraining order, Twilight felt she would be better at that kind of recovery now. Certainly more controlled. It had taken time to learn how to manage a library, and much of that time had been spent in dealing with other ponies. A busy day could see dozens of patrons trotting through the tree and in her first moons of residency, there would be just about that same number of straightenings performed in their wake. But it had forced her to interact with ponies on a casual basis, every day the library was open. To have contact with those who weren't friends or families or book warehouse custodians who'd sworn they were going to ship two moons ago, and that particular restraining order had another four moons to go. It had forced her to -- socialize, if only on that most basic level, and since it was a level she had to reluctantly admit to never having understood before...

Becoming a true librarian -- admittedly, one who was still working on creating a true library, but that plan was in progress -- had ultimately been good for Twilight's emotional health. She was willing to admit that now, even if it had taken nearly thirty moons before she'd told the Princess about that particular lesson. The job was frustrating, especially in some of the ways she had to deal with the library's patrons. It could be stressful, and seldom more so than when the late fee notices came around again. But once she got past all of that -- once she'd dealt with it -- it had helped. She assisted her patrons and, after some rather rushed advice from Rarity, had mostly learned when to stop helping them. There were little joys to be found in matching pony to book, and few things were better than seeing the shine in a pony's eyes when they realized that reading was something more than assigned chore, recognizing a lifetime of love about to bloom -- and spotting that look on Rainbow's face remained one of the best moments of Twilight's life.

It was a hard job, yes, especially since there were so many things to manage and she'd also learned to stop passing most of the gruntwork onto Spike. It was harder than she'd ever expected it could be, and she'd finally taken a trip to the Archives and apologized to the department heads whose realms she had once so casually tried to overturn. But it was her job, and it had eventually become a job she mostly enjoyed --

-- right up until a few of the more hapless patrons became involved.

Honestly, she didn't want to talk down to them. It was just that some of them seemed to be completely incapable of doing anything on their own. She'd made so much progress, could look back at the pony who had existed prior to stepping off the air carriage and wonder just how that unicorn had ever made those decisions -- but those who seemed as if they were being willfully stupid still offended her. Those who displayed the intellect of infants made it feel as if they were justifying treating them as newborn foals. And so there were times when she would -- slip. Just a little.

Idiocy offended her. Interruptions didn't help.

"Excuse me?"

The automatic pause in her field's movement of the quill allowed a blot of ink to run down it, fully obscuring the last two words while occupying all the space she would have required for the next six.

Twilight didn't manage to repress the entire sigh. Yes, she'd only lost her sixth draft of the proposal. It was just that she'd been on her sixth draft, and that was for the eventual ninth follow-up letter being sent to Town Hall. She was starting to wonder if any of her previous missives had actually been read.

It's working. I just have to hold onto that. It's working and I know it. Eventually, she's going to understand the need, and once she sees that...

But the latest stage of her careful plan had to be momentarily reined in again, and so Twilight reluctantly looked up from the ruined text. "Yes?"

"I need Volume Twelve of the Encyclopedia Equestria," the pearl earth pony teenager said, with every word seeming to emerge on a rising tide of incomprehensible caution. "Please."

Twilight looked at the young mare, whom she knew had been in the library more than a few times before. Turned her head towards the very obvious, precisely-lettered Reference sign which hung over the appropriate section, which admittedly meant crossing over a few recent barriers along the way. Nodded once.

"I know where it's supposed to be," the teen said.

"Did somepony move it?" She was pretty much always willing to assist in a book hunt, especially since patrons could do long-term damage during their searches. And for a reference text, one which was truly never supposed to leave the tree...

The young mare's face worked in odd ways. Nostrils widened, then narrowed again. "I'm... not sure that's... no. They didn't move it. The book is -- right there."

And there it was. The book was right there, in the proper location, and the patron still wanted Twilight's assistance in acquiring it. Honestly, when it came to the most basic acts of intellect --

-- wait. "Did you need a specific version of Volume Twelve?" Because thanks to some rather stupid policies enforced by the previous librarian, the tree's collection was something less than complete. Well, Twilight was well on her way to fixing that -- but while it was all going according to plan, the mistakes of the past hadn't exactly been corrected yet.

This time, the expression quickly settled on confusion. "The -- latest one?"

A moment was used to despair over the research standards accepted by the teachers outside the Gifted School. (Honestly, it wasn't as if she hadn't tried talking to Cheerilee about guest-hosting a class on source attribution.)

"So you know where it's supposed to be," Twilight carefully said, starting to feel as if she was speaking to a kindergartner (which had to ignore the fact that the teen was taller than her). "And which edition. Of the proper volume. Which is in its proper place."

It got her an oddly fretful "Yes."

The next Summer Sun Celebration would mark Twilight's three-year anniversary in Ponyville. Place her next to the mare who'd been greeted with the loudest GASP! of anypony's life and the only true similarity would be in appearance. But still... sometimes, the words just slipped out.

"I'm really not sure how I'm supposed to help with that," Twilight said, and instantly wanted to kick herself.

The teen pranced in place a little.

"It's... on the bottom..."

And then Twilight understood.

"Oh!" The smile was almost instant, and the beaming expression included more than a little pride in her patron. "Thank you for asking me! Just give me a moment..." Her field exerted, stoppered the inkwell and put the quill away. "You did the right thing, coming to me. So let's just get you that volume!"

She got off her bench, trotted towards the Reference section and after a moment, the teen followed. The distance between them, however, was something less than constant. Twilight was small for a unicorn mare, the teen was on the large side for an earth pony, and -- well, it created certain difficulties in direct pursuit. Plans had their temporary price, and Twilight had to adjust a few things along the way.

"You'd be amazed how many ponies have just been taking things," Twilight said, now taking a little pride in her own hard-acquired skill at small talk. "And honestly, it's like they think they're doing a party trick! Just move quickly enough and -- well, thank you." Her smile was widening a little more with every hoofstep.

"I just -- couldn't..." The teen's words faltered and as she tried to follow in Twilight's wake, so did something else.

"Oh!" Twilight's corona ignited, and the developing problem was quickly nullified. "Careful..."

The teen managed a nod, which was just barely visible within the myriad of ominous looming shadows.

"It's a little narrow there," Twilight admitted. "You know, I recently read this really interesting article in one of the psychological journals. It said that ultimately, most ponies define 'normal' solely by themselves. And they usually don't even know they're doing it."

Another one of those barely-nods, just spotted during a quick glance backwards.

"So when I redid the aisles to accommodate -- well, to accommodate -- I guess I subconsciously -- based the requirements on myself."

Again.

"I should fix that," Twilight decided. "After closing: it's too many moving objects for operating hours. So here we are... yes, this year's are the green covers -- and there's Volume Twelve -- and --"

Her field exerted. All it took was a casual effort.

Admittedly, even with her field strength, it seemed to be somewhat less casual than usual. But she'd recognized that as a unavoidable side effect of the plan.

"-- here you go!" She floated the volume over to the teen. "Now just bring it up to the desk when you're done, and I'll put it back for you."

"...okay."

"Don't try it yourself. The last pony who tried to -- well, they're okay." Supposedly still jumping a little at loud noises, but really, when you got down to it, that kind of reaction to sudden sounds was just common sense. "But it's best to let me do it." The biggest smile of all. "You understand."

"...okay," the teen repeated, which really didn't feel like a good response. Maybe there was another problem to deal with.

"Is there anything else? If this is for a school assignment, I can suggest some additional reading once I know what the topic is. And if you need any help attributing your sources --"

"...I'm -- okay," the teen replied in the best inadvertent Fluttershy imitation Twilight had heard all moon.

Twilight tried to find the right response for that.

"Well, let me know if you need anything else!" she beamed. "I'm here to help!"

The teenager, moving in the semi-concussed gait so common to those unfortunate enough to deal with Twilight when she was in the middle of a brilliant plan, took up the volume between her teeth and staggered away, veering just a little too much to the left.

Twilight's corona ignited in time, and a certain amount of resorting took place. The teen made it to a study table with nothing more than a touch of potential phobia and Twilight returned to her desk, ready for the seventh draft.

'And in order to truly and finally provide the settled zone with a proper library...' Maybe she should underline 'proper'. Three lines might do the trick. Eventually, she was going to get through. It wasn't as if the older mare could just ignore her forever, especially since reports of Twilight's improvements had to have reached Town Hall by now. The building's staff used the library, along with their families and children -- really, the tree, for all its flaws, put Twilight at the center of so much activity, even if that level of activity had diminished somewhat as her plan began to take hold.

It was quiet in the library now, with the teen as the lone patron to be reading, carefully taking notes, and occasionally pausing to fearfully glance up and shudder. With Spike outside, playing with some of the other children, it made things peaceful. Admittedly, she really needed to tweak the lighting a little because all the new shadows falling across the desk weren't doing the paper any favors, but other than that, it was a perfectly lovely atmosphere for a beautiful late afternoon in the middle of spring.

Few things were simpler than becoming wrapped up in her writing, especially while resting in a shaft of mostly-blocked sunlight and actively considering the words which would make the letter's recipient finally stop being able to perform the miracle of ignoring bursts of missive-carrying dragon flame going off in front of her snout. And so the library itself slowly faded back into background awareness, its custodian lost within vocabulary and the comforting scent of old paper and plan, right up until the moment the target of everything she'd so carefully done trotted right up to her desk.

"Miss Sparkle."

The voice, at least when it spoke directly to her, had a way of being oddly formal. That same voice, announcing the start of holiday festivities, parades, concerts, and just about anything else where the settled zone's residents might wind up with an effective day off, tended to be jovial. Relaxed, although that was something which seemed to have lessened over the years. And cordial? Just about always -- when dealing with the majority of her constituents. But when those tones were turned towards Twilight, they became formal. And, more often than not, somewhat... edged.

Twilight understood. Running the settled zone which hosted the Bearers came with certain stresses, none of which had exactly dropped in intensity since the extended night when the Elements had been rediscovered. And during any number of interactions, she would try to respect the pressure which the older mare lived under, do whatever she could to avoid adding to it -- excepting those occasions when Twilight was right. This happened to be one of them and so while Twilight blinked, it was only once, for the voice's owner had come to her. She was on her own ground, or at least flooring. And if the mare was here...

"Mayor," she smiled as she looked up. "It's good to see you! I was actually just in the middle of writing you!" And it wasn't as if the elected official could just ignore her when they were face to face, so... "I wanted to talk about the library! I know you're about to write up the summer budget, and --"

"-- what a pleasant coincidence," the mayor smiled back.

Twilight looked at that smile. There didn't seem to be any actual happiness in it. Truth was somewhat lacking. Intensity, however, was currently registering at eleven out of a possible ten.

"Mayor?"

"I wanted to talk about the same thing," the mayor continued to smile and Twilight, looking through the lenses into those grey eyes, found herself momentarily resisting the urge to shiver. "Trot with me?"

It's okay. Everything's going as planned. This is just Step Seven on the checklist: finally speak to the mayor about the library. She's just -- not happy because... she knows I won. She read the letters and she's realized she has to agree with me. And she's not happy about that for some reason, but once she understands how much better things are going to be...

Still, there were Rules to consider.

"I can't leave right now," Twilight told the older mare. "Not with a patron in the building and Spike outside --"

"-- oh, we're not going anywhere, really," the mayor falsely reassured her. "We are going to talk about the library. And so we're going to trot around the library. Keeping the setting appropriate. If you would?"

Twilight, starting to feel as if her increasing dizziness was coming from something other than the rush of victory, got up and came around the desk. "All right..."

The mayor, moving carefully, led the way, heading towards that recently-used Reference section. Twilight, searching for the right opening overture, followed.

"I haven't visited in some time," the mayor said. "I really should have. Usually, it's so much easier to send my staff when we need to consult a volume, and for my own reading... well, I don't do as much of that as I'd like, not when it comes to reading for pleasure, but my husband picks up and returns what I do get to peruse. You've met him, of course." (Twilight, who hadn't retained much of an impression regarding the stallion other than his thankful ability to bring books back on time, nodded.) "But it means I don't get to see the little changes you've been making over time, not gradually. I get them -- all at once. Like the International section I went through on the way in. You've expanded that somewhat, yes? I don't recall seeing so many foreign languages before."

Oh, so they were going to start with the little things. "There's some demand," Twilight admitted, "and I've been trying to accommodate it. Also, sometimes it's easier to just order in the original language than to wait moons to years for the translation, especially for some of the most distant nations, and ever since Cranky moved here -- do you know how many languages he speaks? He can just look at a page for just about anything and rattle it off in Equestrian! It's really made story time special, Mayor, having him read all those new tales to the kids, and if he just spoke Ancient Crystalia --"

"-- Mr. Doodle," the mayor casually interrupted, "has his talents, yes. And with the number of ponies and others who've moved here over the last few years, I can see how we would have some increase in requests for those texts. Quite understandable. And those rotating racks in Periodicals. Also new?"

"I didn't want to go vertical at first," Twilight admitted. "But it provides a central hub for the most recent issues of just about everything. I just wish I could keep the metal from notching the page edges --"

"-- vertical," the mayor cut her off. "Yes. Which I believe would rather happily bring us to those." She gestured her left foreleg towards the nearest one of those. No contact was made, and so swaying (or worse) did not occur. (The teen, watching from the study table, still twitched.) "Also new, I believe. And old. Oddly so."

The conversation seemed to be at the place Twilight needed it to occupy, and so she didn't understand why having arrived at the destination was starting to feel like the worst possible thing. "Mayor?"

The older mare stood still for a little while as Twilight's mind frantically searched for the right words, dyed mane further greyed by recently-arrived shadows.

"Miss Sparkle," the mayor said, "it is spring. Just about the heart of it. The Weather Bureau grants us warmth throughout the day and just a bit of chill at night, while Miss Dash occasionally manages to fulfill their schedule on time. In spring, certain things take place in Ponyville and other settled zones throughout the realm. Ponies like to clean in spring, getting rid of clutter which might have seemed insulating during the winter. Windows are flung open. Gardens are freshened, houses and barns acquire fresh coats of paint. There tends to be a lot of stable sales in the spring, and I know you're aware of that because I see you frequenting a number of them."

"You wouldn't believe some of the books ponies just let go for a tenth-bit!" The exclamation was just about equal parts excitement and offense. "I've never had a real find, not something which would have to go into Rare Documents or anything for my private shelves, but when it comes to just stretching out my acquisition budget..." She had learned to let Rarity do the bulk-rate negotiating, and the sellers had accordingly learned how to hide under their own tables.

"And in spring," the mayor went on, starting to trot again, "the library, under the previous custodian, would have an annual event. I came to speak with you about that. Because under the old calendar, that event would be five days from now. And in the time since you were assigned to replace our retired prior librarian, you have not held that event. At all. I believe the town has been missing it. I know there have been consequences. In five days, I expect you to revive the custom, in all its glory. Or -- hmm." Thoughtfully, "How should I put this? Or -- else. Yes, that feels appropriate. Or else, Miss Sparkle."

The smile had never faded, nor had any degree of true mirth ever appeared.

Twilight tried to find comfort in the plan, and discovered swallowing hard didn't seem to have been any part of the checklist. "Mayor, you didn't say what you wanted." Five days... she'd looked at the library's original event calendar the day after formally taking custody: for an annual event, five days from now would have been --

-- oh no.

The mayor had stopped next to the encyclopedias.

"Ah," she said. "The secondary student's best friend. And here I see a generational descendant of my fond acquaintance: Volume Seven. Containing information on the political processes observed across the world. In my youth, I was studying a copy of that volume, Miss Sparkle, and I felt the words resonating within me. My mark manifested right here in the library, did you know? I read those entries, I knew what I wanted to do with my life, and my magic followed suit. It's made me somewhat fond of the Encyclopedia as a whole, and no volume holds a dearer place in my heart than number Seven." Her left foreleg came up, and the hoof gently rubbed against the book's spine -- or rather, tried to, as the older mare couldn't quite reach. "That's not my specific volume, of course: too many years have passed. But in a way, there it is. Volume Seven. May it equally inspire my eventual successor."

None of which seemed to be giving Twilight a chance to talk her way out of it. "Mayor?"

"And there it is again," the mayor mused.

"...sorry?"

"Volume Seven. Right there. And right there. Also, right there. And I could go on for a while. I count six copies, Miss Sparkle. Two from each of the last three editions. Six rather thick, extremely heavy copies, carefully stacked on top of each other as part of a vertical column of encyclopedias which reaches up to, oh, call it seven times your height. Why?"

And there they were: at the best possible staring position for the race to what Twilight had seen as victory. She searched her mind for the right words.

"I ran out of shelf space."

Twilight's mind, as allies went, was somewhat unreliable.

"Yes," the mayor carefully said. "I can see that. Having six copies of each volume would tend to overwhelm the assigned area. But why do you have that many to begin with?"

Which brought them to the necessary organization of a proper library, and Twilight's thoughts went back to pretending they'd been with her all along. "Well," she began, preparing to quote the letters which she was now convinced the mayor had never read, "for starters, there's school assignments. I know the teachers try to spread things out a little when it comes to topics, but there are still times when just about every filly and colt in Ponyville winds up researching the same thing during one moon. Having just a single copy of the current edition leads to lines." And in her first year, fights, but that had mostly ended once the settled zone learned just how quickly Twilight could break them up. "And too long a line leads to missed deadlines, failing grades... Truthfully, Mayor, we need multiple copies just to keep everypony's average up."

"So at least two of each current volume," the mayor seemed to agree. "To keep things flowing. Understandable."

Twilight nodded. "But honestly, after seeing the traffic we get around midterms, I was thinking we should be going to --"

"-- and the other four? From the previous two years?"

"Well, some articles are updated between editions," Twilight explained. "A really well-written paper would check every printing and then talk about how public knowledge had changed. So as I was saying, at least six copies per current edition would put the study traffic in order. And I know it's not enough for real standards, especially when there's so much which I'd still have to find or order, but when you project it all forward --" the excitement was beginning to build in her words, it was taking so much not to just prance where she stood -- "-- we'd have at least the seed of a true Reference section, and that brings us to what I've been writing you about --"

"Miss. Sparkle."

The punctuation had come from the stomping of hooves, two furious slams into the floor, each with all of the earth pony's strength behind them. Columns vibrated. The teenager twitched. And Twilight stopped talking.

"Good," the mayor breathed. "Nothing fell over. Even with so many choices of potential disaster. Miss Sparkle, I see a column of encyclopedias on my left. Another is behind me. Several more can be found to the front. You have books on top of books, around books, over books, possibly within books. I am aware that a common nickname for the Canterlot Archives is 'the stacks.' I didn't realize that was literal. Trying to maneuver around the library is like trying to swim around the sea stacks off the coast of San Dineighgo, only with somewhat more risk of bringing the whole thing down. I understand that you have had to prevent several falls in mid-cascade. A few ponies required unearthing. At least one is still considering therapy. This building, when figured for allowing ponies to move through in what they would normally and reasonably expect as safety, has a maximum book capacity. You have overwhelmed it."

And Twilight felt the warmth of her internal smile, because the plan was still on track.

"Ponyville needs," she stated, "a proper library. A proper library has books, Mayor -- more than we had when I first arrived. And yes, books need space. So as I was saying in my letters, since the summer budget is coming up, all you have to do is authorize the planting, hire an earth pony team to accelerate the growth a little, and we can start working on the first branch facility. Once it's reached the right size, I'll move some of the books over to that, and by then, maybe we'll be ready for --"

"There are books on the ramp."

"Yes."

"Why aren't they sliding?"

"Friction spell. Just on the ramp. I tried it on the books to make the columns more stable, but ponies were having a hard time getting the covers apart. So I had to keep the ramp section down to a single layer."

"And under the study tables?"

"That's the new Medical section."

"Ah. I see. And there is the sign saying so."

"Yes."

"You have rather exacting fieldwriting."

"...thank you?"

"In five days," the mayor said, "under the previous custodian, the library would have an annual event. You will revive that tradition, on time, and bring the book population of the tree down to a reasonable number. One which fits entirely on the shelves. And the rotating racks, of course: I expect you to keep those. Five days, Miss Sparkle, and every last column of the eighty-two I counted before reaching your desk will be gone. Or -- yes, this still seems to fit -- or else."

The tree did not catch fire. No part of the air surged into a whirlwind. Lightning didn't strike, the earth neglected to heave, and every part of the environment failed to appropriately respond to the sheer level of blasphemy. A proper reaction was thus left entirely to Twilight, whose corona ignited, with the field's borders immediately beginning to spike.

"You want me," Twilight checked, tones low, "to get rid of books."

The mayor didn't move. Not a single tail strand twitched. "Also magazines, if anypony will take them. Possibly journals. Basically, if it is paper and no longer useful, I expect it to be gone."

And now the notes had shifted into the music of rising danger. "A proper library would never --"

"-- no. The Archives would never," the mayor fearlessly corrected. "The Archives which, as I understand it, currently occupy twenty-seven separate buildings within Canterlot, with four more under construction. Ponyville is a small settled zone, Miss Sparkle, or was: our population has increased somewhat over the last few years, and I expect we'll be at moderate status in another two. Perhaps we'll eventually need a larger library, in a generation or three. But for now, we are a small settled zone, with facilities appropriate to that status. You had to leave the Archives, yes. I'm sure some part of you still considers that a loss, not having immediate access to their resources. But if you need them, they are but a gallop and day away, Miss Sparkle. You will not recreate them here. You live in a small town, one which has a small town library. And as the librarian, you will run this facility appropriately. Five days, Miss Sparkle. Or else."

It was beyond blasphemy, and she could feel her corona surging from the sheer level of cosmic insult. "Or else," she repeated in a half-hiss. "Oh, no. You can't get me this time, Mayor, and there's no way you're going over my mane. You can't threaten to write my mother or the Princess again." Was Twilight bluffing on that? She wasn't sure, and no part of her cared. Her tail was lashing, the edges of her eyes were starting to fade into white... "Because this is my library. My domain. They have no right to tell me how to operate it."

(She'd just said the Princess didn't have any right to tell her how to do something. A tiny part of her enraged brain examined the statement, then hid in a corner and prayed nothing would notice it.)

"It is," the mayor steadily replied, "the town library. You are simply its custodian. And if I need to order you into doing something necessary, I will."

"I'm the librarian," Twilight valiantly ignored her, corona now starting to approach a heavily-spiking double, a sight which had sent the teenager into an attempt to hide under the study table and now on top of everything else, the hematology texts were going to need resorting. "Who are you to tell me what to do?"

The older pony visibly thought it over.

"I believe," Mayor Marigold Mare said, "I'm the pony who sets your purchase budget."

Twilight's field winked out at the exact same moment her hind legs collapsed, sending her tail splaying across the floor.

"And that," the mayor told her, "would be the 'else'." She turned, began to trot away -- then paused, glanced back over her shoulder. "Five days, Miss Sparkle. The library will resume the tradition of an annual remaindered sale in five days. Or -- well, you have the idea, I'm sure. See you among the tables..."

She left. It took twelve seconds for the echoes of her self-satisfied departure to fade, plus two minutes before Twilight could move again.

A remaindered sale. Selling. Off. Books.

Not on my watch.

Twilight forced herself to her hooves, angrily spun so she could trot to her desk, start working on a counter-plan and in doing so, lost track of where the nearest column was right up until the moment her right hip slammed into it.

Gravity happened.