• Published 27th Feb 2017
  • 3,404 Views, 46 Comments

Habits of the Equestrian Phoenix - Novel-Idea

Sunset's looking forward to a relaxing afternoon in the West Gardens. Philomena has other plans.

  • ...

Felonious Felicitous Fellowships

“This is all your fault,” Sunset growled at Philomena.

The phoenix huffed and turned her back on Sunset, which suited Sunset just fine.

They’d been sitting in Celestia’s study for little over an hour now. Normally, Sunset would have been reading in a situation such as this. After all, Celestia’s private study was probably one of her favorite places in all of Equestria. But, at the moment, the idea of going through any of Celestia’s books didn’t seem all that appealing.

“Moon Dancer is never going to let me live this down,” Sunset groaned as she buried her face in a pillow on the floor. “And it’ll take about fifteen seconds for her to tell everypony else and I’ll be hearing about this for months.”

She was exhausted. Her body ached from the workout she’d given it by galloping through half the castle. Even her magic hurt a little to use, showing that once again, she’d overcharged her spell and drawn too much power from the sun.

I really need to get better at that, Sunset thought. One of these days, I’ll probably need the precision.

Oh yeah, and half of her tail was gone. Every time she looked at her tail, she was tempted to dump the bowl of water in the corner onto that damn bird.

But she was pretty sure starting a water fight in Celestia’s study was a bad call.

“Why do you pick on me so much, anyway?” Sunset demanded, not for the first time.

Philomena, as she had every other time, ignored her.

Sunset growled again, but didn’t pursue the issue any further. Not much point. Philomena wasn’t the best of conversationalists even on a good day.

She stared at the hourglass on the table as the grains of sand hissed steadily, dropping into the lower bulb. She wasn’t about to complain on how long the Princess was taking. Today, the Princess was mediating a session between Diamond Dogs and the Buffalo tribes about a recent border skirmish between the two races.

Of all the days that bird decides to be a terrible little… ugh... troll… she picks a day when the Princess is in sensitive diplomatic talks.

Philomena perked up. Sunset immediately craned her ears, listening carefully to the hoofsteps that could only belong to one pony. Her suspicions were confirmed a few moments later when golden magic wrapped around the doors.

When they swung open, Celestia was there.

Her face was completely impassive. It could have been carved from stone. She took a few steps inside, turned, nodded to the exhausted-looking stallion who had held the shield and closed the doors behind her.

Sunset opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She shared a glance with Philomena. Philomena didn’t look much better than Sunset felt at the moment.

“I believe I informed you about my itinerary for the day, Sunset Shimmer,” Princess Celestia said, not moving from her spot by the door. “Did you forget that I was to be in the middle of negotiations between two races with a rather unfriendly history?”

“No, Princess,” Sunset squeaked, hating her voice and her inability to do anything about it. “I didn’t forget.”

“And yet, I receive a message from Raven shortly after negotiations are concluded that there has been a… shall we say… fracas throughout the castle involving my pet phoenix and my prized pupil. I find this most interesting.”

Sunset stared at her hooves, but forced herself not to slump to the floor, even though she could still feel the cool gaze of Celestia upon her.

“I must say… I’m quite disappointed in you.”

Those words were like a buck to the chest and Sunset felt a claw of ice wrap around her heart. She’d heard it in plays and read it in stories before… but disappointment really was so much worse than anger.

“After all, young lady, I asked you to befriend Sunset, not antagonize her.”

Sunset blinked and her head shot up.

Celestia wasn’t looking at her.

She was looking at the bird.

And the bird was practically hiding behind her wing, looking for all the world like a filly who had gotten caught with her hoof in the cookie jar. How a phoenix pulled off this particular look, Sunset had no idea, but it was the best analogy she could come up with.

Celestia sighed, trotted over to the largest pillow in the study and settled herself down.

“I must apologize, Sunset,” Celestia said, her eyes never leaving her pet. “I know you and Philomena have never truly gotten along. So, as I was occupied for most of the day, I asked Philomena to spend some time with you. The goal was to help the two of you form a bond. After all, you have quite a lot in common.”

“Princess?” Sunset asked, a dozen questions contained within one word.

“Oh stop it, Sunset.” Celestia rolled her eyes. “You’re not about to be flogged. Come over here and sit beside me.”

Sunset slowly and carefully crept toward the Princess, but now a small smile graced Celestia’s lips instead of that horrifyingly stoney expression she’d worn before. Celestia nodded toward the pillow closest to her. It still took some effort, but Sunset managed to get herself to sit down beside the Princess. To Sunset’s surprise, the Princess wrapped one of her great white wings around her.

It’s been a while since she’s done that…

“Settle yourself,” the Princess said gently. “While it would have been nice if you hadn’t decided to go racing through the hallways of the castle, no harm was done, despite what Blueblood claims.”

“Blueblood?” Sunset sputtered. “What does he have to do with this?”

Celestia’s smile grew. “You didn’t even notice him, did you?”

Sunset shook her head.

“When you passed through the hallway on the south side overlooking the castle foyer, you apparently upset one of the servants returning with a refilled water dish for Philomena. The servant spilled the water over the edge. It just so happened my ‘nephew’ was, shall we say, ‘in the line of fire?’”

Sunset couldn’t help herself. She dissolved into giggles, hating the fact that she hadn’t been able to see that stuck-up mule get doused with freezing water. Celestia joined in with a chuckle.

Sunset opened her mouth to ask a question, but Celestia cut her off.

“No, I still won’t explain ‘The Blueblood Mystery,’ as you call it.”

“Aww,” Sunset pouted.

They both chuckled just a little bit more.

Sunset forgot how much she enjoyed spending time just being with the Princess. There was such comfort and strength in her wings. It was almost more relaxing than a good book in the garden.


“I’m sorry about today, Sunset. I know the last few weeks have been very long for you,” Celestia admitted after a long silence. “And while I can’t give you the relaxing day you wanted… tell me… did you have fun?”

Sunset turned her eyes toward Philomena, who was still cowering behind a wing. For a second, Sunset saw the phoenix peeking over the wing, her expression unreadable.

She surprised herself with her answer.

“Yeah. Actually, I did,” Sunset admitted. “Even if Philomena was being a little brat.”

“Mischievous little Philomena has learned some bad habits from me over the years,” Celestia confessed. “Though in truth I may have also learned a few things from her. She is not entirely to blame. Only mostly.”

Philomena’s head ducked back behind her wing once more.

“Stop pouting, Philomena. Come over here and say you’re sorry.”

Philomena didn’t move.

“Philomena?” Celestia said in a voice that would have sent courtiers and servants scattering. “Come here.”

The bird still didn’t move.

Celestia let out something that sounded like a long-suffering sigh. Finally, she leaned down and whispered something in Sunset’s ear. Something that Sunset couldn’t quite believe.

“Are you sure, Princess?”

Celestia nodded.

“Well, I can’t refuse a royal order, can I?” Sunset said in her best attempt at a serious tone. She managed to stifle the giggle as she cast the spell.

“Last chance, Philomena. Apologize.”

The bird huffed.

“It’s on your head then,” Celestia said with a shrug.

The bird caught sight of it a second too late as the water dish Sunset held in her magic suddenly upended itself atop Philomena’s head. The phoenix sputtered and squawked indignantly as once again, her magic fire vanished under the deluge. The Princess provided another spell to prevent even a single drop of water from hitting the floor, the books, or anything else of importance in the study.

Both Sunset and Celestia watched the soaked bird as it glowered at the two of them for a good minute before her fire magic once again ignited. The phoenix instantly took flight. For a moment, Sunset was worried about some sort of retaliation. Instead, Philomena just landed in front of Sunset and bowed her head.

Sunset couldn’t help herself. She laughed.

“Okay,” Sunset sighed. “I forgive you. Though I’m still not happy with you setting my tail on fire.”

Philomena squawked in protest, putting her wings on her sides.

“She said next time, you shouldn’t startle a phoenix in flight,” Celestia commented dryly.

Sunset rolled her eyes and met the phoenix’s gaze, wondering just what to do about the bird. In the end though… there was only one thing she could do.

“Why don’t we call it even?” Sunset offered.

To Sunset’s surprise, Philomena nodded emphatically.

“Well, I’m glad that’s taken care of!” Celestia declared. “Because that brings us to your punishments.”

Sunset blinked and glanced up at the Princess. “Punishments? Plural?”

“Oh yes,” Celestia said with a nod. “Since both of you seemed to enjoy taking on the entire Royal Guard, who spent the better part of fifteen minutes chasing you, I’ve decided that both of you will be training with them three times a week to help improve castle security.”

Sunset stared at the Princess.

“You’re serious aren’t you?”


Sunset looked at Philomena.

Philomena looked at Sunset.

“Fine,” Sunset said, knowing she was speaking for the both of them. “You win.”

“Wonderful! You start an hour before dawn tomorrow.”

Sunset knew better than to protest that little detail.

“And there’s one more thing,” Celestia said as her horn burned with golden magic and she lifted something out of one of Sunset’s saddlebags by the balcony doors. “I would like you to start a new research project. It has come to my attention there’s an area of study that seems to have a few holes in its knowledge base.”

“And what’s that, Princess?” Sunset asked warily.

Celestia’s levitation field dropped and a book fell between Philomena and Sunset.

Sunset glanced at it and barely stopped herself from facehoofing.

“I’d like your thoughts on an appendix or perhaps even a new version of Habits of the Equestrian Phoenix by the end of the month. Philomena here will be your direct source and assistant. So, as the two of you will be working closely on this project, I expect you two to play nice.”

Once again, Sunset exchanged gazes with the bird. For once, she knew exactly what Philomena was thinking.

After all, it wasn’t like they had many options.

“I think we might be able to do that.”

“I’m delighted to hear that,” Celestia said. “Though I admit if I had gotten this notice during the negotiations, I would have been rather more annoyed.”

“You would have?” Sunset asked, forcing her voice not to squeak this time.

“Indeed. In fact, I likely would not have done this, if that had been the case.”

There was a flare of magic behind Sunset and when Celestia retracted her wing, Sunset was thrilled to see her tail whole once more. She smiled at the Princess, who just winked at her in return.

“So, I’d like to propose new rules of engagement between the two of you,” Celestia declared. “Philomena, no more burning off my student’s tail.”

The bird saluted and Sunset couldn’t help but giggle.

“Sunset, no more dropping bowls of water on my phoenix.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Until further notice, only I’m allowed to do that.”

Sunset blinked and looked up at the same time as Philomena.

Two globes of water hung above their heads.

Sunset sighed.

Philomena sighed.

And the icy water doused the both of them.

Author's Note:

Well, I do hope you've enjoyed my latest short story starring Sunset Shimmer. This little piece was written in the course of two days as part of a challenge to myself to try doing more short stories. I wanted to have a little bit of fun with Sunny and Philomena, because my next story with Philomena is a very, very different tale.

For those wondering, yes, this is indeed part of the Wavelengths Timeline. It's set a little over two years after the events of Grading on a Bell Curve, though it was expressly written so that you didn't need to have any knowledge of the rest of the Wavelengths Timeline to enjoy it. Indeed, there's only one reference to any of the other stories and that's of Sunset bemoaning Moon Dancer's discovery of this fiasco. Because Sunny's right. Moon Dancer would never let her live it down. :pinkiehappy:

Since this is such a short piece, I'm going to skip my normal Retrospective. There's not a lot to say, though I'm going to be very interested to see what you think when The Cycle of Flame comes out in a month or so, because Philomena plays a major role in both.

And yes, this is the explanation for two of the Noodle Incidents that are mentioned in Princess Celestia: A Brief History. Namely how Sunset became friends with Philomena only after the phoenix burned her tail off and the time when Sunset dumped a bowl of water on Philomena's head.

Let's be honest. She had it coming.

Oh, and for the record, Celestia hasn't explained "the Blueblood mystery" to me either. And I wrote the line for pony's sake!

If you enjoyed this, it's a great way to enter the Wavelengths Timeline, the ongoing series of stories set in a timeline where the Sonic Rainboom never happened. Below, you'll find a full chronology of the story. I usually recommend starting with the first, The The Alchemy of Chemistry and proceeding from there. Alternatively, you could start with the "original trilogy" with The Application of Unified Harmony Magics if you're looking for something a bit lighter.

Don't worry, after my entry to Scribblefest 2017, The Cycle of Flame, is complete, we're finally going to get cracking on editing How Not To Use Your Royal Prerogative. And that's while I continue to pound away at A Study on Chaos Theory and we begin to wrap up SunLight Sliders!

As usual, a special thanks to the Wavelengths Editing Team. Namely, Ebon Quill, Little Tinker, Beltorn and Painted Heart. Without them, these stories would be a pale shadow of what they are now.

Until next time, this has been Novel Idea! Enjoy!

If you come across any errors, please let me know by PM!

Comments ( 33 )

I really need to get better at that, Sunset thought. One of these days, I’ll probably need the precision.

For when you TAKE OVER THE WORL--Er... Assist your friends with...stuff! Yeah! That's what I meant.

Fun comedy break from the super intense emotional pieces. Awesome as always! :pinkiehappy:

> sees notification
> clicks story
> sees it has 0 likes
> clicks the like button
> sees it has 10 likes
Welp, that was fast.

Oh please, it's not like taking over Equestria is all that hard. Really, you just have to get moderately powerful and sit back for a while. Twilight already became the de facto ruler of the realm by simple process of elimination more than once in the show. :derpytongue2:

7983933 You spoiler'd it fast. You're good. Now I kinda wanna write that scene though.
7983968 :trixieshiftright: Exactly! And this is more proof to myself that not everything I write needs to be dramatic. :twilightoops:

7984007 Mean I'm doing somethin' right! :pinkiehappy:

7984071 Yeah, I came up with that idea shortly after Applications. I even renamed the entire universe to fit the motif. So yes, the title of each story is a book you'll see at some point during the story. What can I say? I like themes. :raritywink:

And if it's only almost cruel, I'm not working hard enough. :moustache:

7984112 You know, that's true. Twilight could easily just say "Nah, they can get themselves out of it this time" = New undisputed ruler. :moustache:

My memory isn't that good, so I don't remember if its been brought up before that Sunset could draw on the sun for more power. I've sometimes wondered if she had the aptitude for it, given her name and cutie mark and all, as well as serving as another way to link her and Celestia (for better or worse).

Nice to see Philomena get some of her comeuppance, I hate that annoying phoenix. Not sure if Sunset could call her a fine feathered friend after their punishment, but at least an understanding. Wonder how long it took you to come up with such alliterative chapter titles.

The chase, the little taunts Philomena plays on Sunset and how it ends for them strongly remind me of older cartoons, i watched as a kid.
And all those tricks Philomena uses on Sunset definitively asked for some sort of retribution with a capital R. And what better way than a good dousing with water against a phoenix? And of course the usually gentle owner scolding her pet?
Though, pet, might be too simplistic a concept for their relationship. All the antics Philomena performs, clearly mark her as quite intelligent, proud to a fault and with overly developed sense of humor. So, i guess, she is more of a companion to Celestia.
And then one might remember the implications of the fact that Philomena is a phoenix and Celestia is Alicorn of the Sun.:twilightoops:

More importantly, the ending is what makes the heart of this story for me. Sunset, now having some experience with friendship, tries it again and it proves its reliability.
Celestia, retains her perfect characterization of a gentle trickster mentor and shrewd practical-minded ruler. The punishments are rather creative and awesome . Captain Rook will be pleased.

All in all, a fun little story and an enjoyable reading. My first thought when i finished it was - will there be an Epilogue? Come on, they are a team now, Philomena and Sunset should be pranking half the castle during that next month. "All part of their research into highly complex behavior of phoenixes" of course.

Highly amusing! I have to agree that the ending really makes the story. :twilightsmile:

Also did you intentionally name the Captain of the Guard after another bird to go with the bird-theme of the story?

Philomena the Phoenix. Raven. Stalwart Rook. Sunset ShimPigeonmer.

I don't quite remember... was "Tactics of Snowbound Unicorns" actually a book title? That seems a little too silly even for ponies.

A fine text on cold weather threat management, penned by a brilliant Earth pony from Stalliongrad.

Military history is a fascinating thing uncovered by highly meticulous people.:twilightsmile:
Err, ponies that is.:twilightsheepish:

Bird pun, and a powerful chess piece. Multilayered meta-for the win!

Not much I can say except superb work on this truly entertaining two-shot. :-D Definitely some great humor throughout the story, complete with, as other reviewers already mentioned, a chase scene worthy of Tom and Jerry. I particularly liked the appropriate comeuppance at the end. :-D I'll definitely be looking forward to the next story in the series, but am quite willing to be patient, because I KNOW real life must come first.

That was an interesting story. I might want to give this timeline a closer look.

As much as I am enjoying the Wavelenght AU, this story was kinda boring... And a bit predictable. Say, are all stories of this AU going to be like this? Some lesson of Celestia to Sunset that allows a "guest character" to have fun with the fiery unicorn?

I am aware that you've written one or two stories that are not like this for this AU... But it's getting kinda boring.

7984157 Very good catch. :pinkiehappy: You are quite right. This is the first time we've seen Sunset's special talent in action in the Wavelengths Timeline. Bet you didn't expect that in a silly little phoenix-chasing short story, did you? :duck:

As for the chapters, the first I did from the get go. The second I did have to use the thesaurus a bit for.

7984208 Well, considering that's used in the first (and to date, only) episode where we see Philomena... I think that would do nicely. :twilightsmile:

I couldn't figure out how to write that doorway scene though...

7984362 Maybe they are. Maybe Philomena's special. Maybe you'll find out more in a future story... :duck:

7984388 Tactics of the Snowbound Unicorn is a classical military treatise by General Thorn, written during the pre-Unification Period as a tactical guide to fighting pegasi in winter conditions.

Yes, actually. I had planned that beforehand. Though 7984544's version is entertaining as well.

7984374 Can we pretend yes? :twilightsheepish:

7984886 Hopefully, you like the rest just as much. :pinkiehappy:

Silly troublemaking bird.

This story has given a possible prompt for a story. Sunset and philomena become best friends and when she eventually leaves what kind of impact would it have on the Phoenix

That was fun, I may have to look further into this series.

Comment posted by Code-Name99 deleted Feb 28th, 2017

You are getting aggravating, Allan. And frankly, this pretty much is harassment in my eyes.
I suggest you move on. There are better things to do, than stalk others

One of these days Sunset is going to realize the correlation of a book with a heavily descriptive title and all her plans being thrown out the window. Though, it would be hilarious to see her react to the wrong book title in one of these.

This was a cute little story. I'm glad I read it right before bedtime like this. :twilightsmile:

I wanted to have a little bit of fun with Sunny and Philomena,

Alternate title for the story: It's Always Sunny And Philomena :ajsmug:

And the bird was practically hiding behind her wing, looking for all the world like a filly who had gotten caught with her hoof in the cookie jar. How a phoenix pulled off this particular look, Sunset had no idea, but it was the best analogy she could come up with.

I suspect that birb is good at take cookie. *nods sagely*

Sunset opened her mouth to ask a question, but Celestia cut her off.
“No, I still won’t explain ‘The Blueblood Mystery,’ as you call it.”

What is The Blueblood Mystery? It sounds like something iisaw would write. :trollestia:

A delightful little romp. Honestly, I would've liked to have seen a bit more of the shared punishment detail, but this works quite well as is. Definitely looking forward to the next installment. Thank you for this one. :twilightsmile:

7987950 yep the feels in that comic are real


Alternate title for the story: It's Always Sunny And Philomena :ajsmug:


I suspect that birb is good at take cookie. *nods sagely*


What is The Blueblood Mystery? It sounds like something iisaw would write. :trollestia:

...dammit, it is, isn't it? And actually... I have no idea what it is. I haven't come up with any explanation for Blueblood save for Sunset pretty much loathes him... even before she came back from the Dark Side.


Honestly, I would've liked to have seen a bit more of the shared punishment detail, but this works quite well as is. Definitely looking forward to the next installment.

Okay! Okay! You people, I swear. Let me get the hamsters in my brain to see if they can come up with a sequel. Yeesh! :moustache:

7988805 Real right in the freakin' face. Still makes me tear up. Not fair.

7996859 An effective summary, to be sure. :twilightsheepish:

I haven't come up with any explanation for Blueblood save for Sunset pretty much loathes him... even before she came back from the Dark Side.

I have some ideas.

I imagine the Blueblood Mystery is along the lines of “Why in Equestria would Celestia give that brat the title of ‘Prince’?”

Excellent wee story, Novel. Philomena embracing her role as a wind-up merchant's always great fun, and her interpreting her orders from Celestia in the most mischievous way possible's entirely fitting.

That ending is so Celestia. She could be best princess, were it not for two things:
One, she's not Princess Cadance.
Two, she's not Princess Luna.
And to think, she used to be second. Way back before the S2 finale.

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