• Published 19th Jul 2012
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The Best of All Possible Worlds - McPoodle



The philosopher Voltaire finds himself in the most-frustrating place imaginable: Equestria

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Chapter 21

The Best of All Possible Worlds

Chapter 21


The Bridle & Saddle Inn, Canterlot
57 Summer 6764

My dearest friend,

After an exhausting flight, I am finally arrived safe in Canterlot. Unfortunately, it appears that I will be here longer than we anticipated, for reasons you will soon discover.

I arrived in the city late last night, and managed to get the last good room at the Bridle & Saddle Inn. Innkeeper Blanket remembers you fondly from our last visit, and sends his regards.

I was also able to secure a good spot in the pre-dawn line to air grievances before the Day Court, but that was the last of the good luck I was to experience.

The first thing I noticed was the shouting. The ponies here are protesting the griffons. It’s like it was in Stalliongrad, but even worse. The ponies, most of them earth ponies (sorry, Dear, but it’s true), were shouting out their hatred of the whole griffon race, as if all of them were responsible for the present madness. I tried to share my experiences, but was shouted down for my trouble. I do not know what the Princess will do about this, but I hope she does something, and soon.

Then there was the sunrise, which I’m sure everypony in Equestria noticed. Unlike some of the less experienced of the supplicants, I knew to look at my shadow rather than the sun, and so managed to retain my sense of sight, but even when doing that, it was obvious that the shining orb wobbled significantly in its rising.

Chancellor Blueblood himself emerged from the palace to calm the populace, but managed to botch it in the most spectacular way possible. “Mares and gentleponies,” he told us, “do not upset yourselves over the sunrise you just witnessed. Our beloved Princess was merely battling off the evil emotions being directed at her by those wretched griffon revolutionaries while she was trying to raise the sun.

“Oh, and in a completely unrelated development, the Princess will be unable to see anypony today. Come back tomorrow.” And then he had the nerve to turn around and walk into the palace, completely ignoring the cries of distress by all us ponies in line.

Two noblemares stood to one side watching this, close enough for me to overhear. “Who does he expect to believe that ridiculous excuse?” the first noblemare said to the second.

“Well he had to say something,” explained the second noblemare. “After all, none of them are enlightened.”

That last word caught my attention—I had never heard it applied to a pony before. I took a good look at those two, and I noticed two things out of the ordinary: they weren’t wearing the traditional Celestia wigs, and they each had a bright blue scroll sticking out of their satchels. I was later to find that this was the general pattern: nopony but the Princess wore her hair like her anymore, and between a quarter and a third of all Canterlot ponies had that identical blue scroll prominently placed upon their persons. The simultaneous timing of these two changes is most suspicious.

Meanwhile, the clerk had the good sense to wait outside and take down the names and complaints of all of the ponies in line, in several cases offering what advice she could to deal with their problems. Sadly, most of these ponies would probably never get their problems addressed by the Princess—they could only afford to take a single day off from their farms or other place of employment, and needed to set out for the long trip back to their homes almost immediately.

Having the luxury of being able to stay in Canterlot for as long as necessary, I had no such worries. Also, if the Chancellor’s story was anything close to the truth. I was confident that I wouldn’t even have to wait until tomorrow.

“Name?” the unicorn clerk asked me when it was my turn.

“Mayor Wheatstraw of...” I started to answer, but the pony behind me interrupted before I could finish.

“What kind of pegasus name is ‘Wheatstraw’?” he demanded. It was a unicorn noblestallion, a high and mighty citizen of Canterlot who had probably never left the sheltered bounds of the city in his entire life.

He then used this as an excuse to cut in front of me.

Now I know what you’re thinking, dear husband, so let me say this right off: I did not turn my intimidation against that silly little colt. I merely applied the power of sarcasm.

Excuse me,” I addressed him. “I would just like to ask, I mean, if it’s not too terribly bothersome of you, if you could please return to your rightful place in line? I mean, if you’d like to.”

...Alright, perhaps a slight touch of intimidation was used. But no more than a smidgen.

The noblestallion obediently returned to his place in line. And only whimpered once.

“I chose to take my husband’s name when I married,” I explained to nopony in particular. “It is a proud and noble earth pony lineage.”

“Yes, I’m sure that is the case,” said the clerk, feeling rather uncomfortable. She then asked me the name of the town I was mayor of.

“Trottingham,” I replied simply.

You could have heard a pin drop.

The clerk immediately pulled out a different piece of paper, and got down the name of the inn I was staying at, and a promise that I would not leave before the Council was able to see me.

Can you believe it? The Royal Council wants to see me!

I was so giddy, I almost failed to see the group of forty or fifty bone-tired unicorns trudging past us into the palace, led by the Sparkle sisters.

“The Princess honestly can’t see anypony right now. You will be informed when the Council is ready to hear your report,” the clerk told me.

So that’s why I’m stuck here. I wanted to get this letter off before the departure of the northern mail delivery team.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on everything that happens.

Thinking always of you, your beloved,

B.


Blueblood woke his daughter up an hour after sunrise.

“Can’t I sleep in?” Blue Belle asked in a drone. “After all, I don’t have to go to school anymore.”

Blueblood snorted imperiously at her. “No daughter of mine is going to slack on her studies simply because she was suspended,” he told her. “I will be taking over your education personally, starting right now. Get a notebook, ink and quill together—I’m taking you to the Council meeting.”

Voltaire’s on the Council. This thought caused Blue Belle to spring out of bed.

~ ~ ~

“...and the Purple Clan’s apparent sympathy for Equestria in the Third Triangular Crisis was in fact caused by the chief of the clan sponsoring his younger son’s attempted takeover of the Yellow Clan, which was firmly aligned against the Orange Clan due to the Affair of the Mango Tiara,” Blueblood explained patiently to his daughter as they made their way to the council chamber.

Blue Belle’s jaw wasn’t open, because she was trying to be a proper lady, but she was none the less astonished. In the last five minutes she had learned more about the true motivations of the dragons than she had picked up in years of schooling and close observation. The Blueblood walking beside her bore no resemblance to the fool that everypony (including even herself at times) saw on a daily basis.

Just then Voltaire walked up to them. “And who do we have h...oh, it’s you,” he said as he attempted to greet Blue Belle before recognizing her. “Have you decided to apprentice your daughter, Blueblood?” he asked her father, as he turned to address him.

“That’s Prince Blueblood, you buffoon!” Blueblood exclaimed. “And considering that this session will prove to be yet another triumph against your obstructionist tactics, I considered today the perfect occasion for the formal introduction of my eventual successor!”

And...he’s back to being a jerk again, thought Blue Belle glumly. Is that what I’m going to turn into when I grow up? “Were you planning on telling me that you were going to make this announcement before you went ahead and did it?” she asked him.

“Surely you know about your destiny,” Blueblood replied in a hurt tone. “I have informed you of it on multiple occasions.”

“That’s not the point,” said Blue Belle with a pout. “Having power is one thing. Wasting time in pointless ceremonies is quite another.”

Blueblood gave her a penetrating look. “In my opinion, those so-called ‘pointless ceremonies’ are how you keep your power. Remember this well, Daughter: perception is reality. If everypony thinks you are powerful, then you are powerful.”

This gave the human pause. “You may be ever so slightly less dim than I thought, Prince Blueblood,” he said finally.

~ ~ ~

“The words allegedly said by the Princess are just that: words. Hearsay. Until I hear otherwise from a responsible pony, my order stands.”

Blueblood was facing off against half of the Council. With the Princess incapacitated, his control of the government of Equestria was absolute, but it was certainly not universally accepted, even in the Council chamber. Three ponies wore the official symbols of the Wig Party, and if Blue Belle was any judge of character, the party would be gaining a fifth member after today (Ambassador Botvinnik didn’t count).

Counterbalancing that was Blue Belle herself, hastily added as a “junior member in good standing” of the Council. Even to her, this sounded ridiculous—her father must really be desperate for supporters. And he was doing nothing to hold their loyalty, with this talk of denying the Princess’s wish to admit the griffon aristocracy into Equestrian sanctuary.

“We have the word of a griffon courier,” replied Morningstar. “Which is admissible as unimpeachable testimony in any Equestrian court of law.”

“I said responsible pony, you ignorant cow!” exclaimed the Prince. “In the wake of their recent actions, no griffon is deserving of our trust!” He spat out the word “griffon” like it was a curse word.

Morningstar’s eyes boggled.

...and that’s two new wigs to hand out today, Blue Belle thought to herself, taking all of this in with wide eyes.

“Blueblood, not even you are so stupid as to...” Voltaire began to say, but then he suddenly stopped, and his eyes grew wider and wider. “No,” he whispered, “you actually play that game, too?” He resumed addressing the Prince, by saying, “very well, I’m willing to play my part. I think that the problem with your recent actions is that they lack a policy to guide them together. You ban the griffons from entering Equestria, but what about the ones who are already here? What about the dragons?”

“I’m glad you asked that, you wigged-out cretin,” Blueblood replied with an absurdly-wide smile. “The griffons are a threat to the Equestrian Way of Life. That is my policy in a nutshell. All griffons in Equestria are to be forcibly removed in one week’s time, and all of their possessions in Equestria are to become the property of the State.”

“And where will you eject them to?” Voltaire asked.

He’s calm! Blue Belle observed of Voltaire’s tone with mounting panic. Too, too calm!

“That is not my concern,” Blueblood said, inspecting his hoofacure. “The griffons’ failed state can have them, if they wish, or they can become the dragons’ problem. I do not care one way or the other.”

“Of course, Chancellor, of course,” Voltaire said, his words placid, but his eyes boiling over with rage. “But may I make a suggestion regarding this order of banishment?”

“What do you have in mind, Human?”

“I propose doing nothing for one week,” Voltaire said. “No announcements. That way, when the devastating blow strikes, it will be completely unsuspected. No chance for the griffons you’re subjecting to a death sentence to take time to think of a way to fight back. And, if the Princess just so happens to recover in that time, you can get her advice on the best way to carry out your clever little scheme.”

It’s obviously a ploy to hold the madpony at bay, Blue Belle deduced, in hopes that the Princess would fix everything without the truth getting out.

“I like that!” Blueblood exclaimed. “I’ll make a loyal Blueblood out of you yet!”

“Dear God I hope not,” Voltaire replied.

~ ~ ~

“Now you mustn’t think that unicorns are completely oblivious about the plights of the other breeds,” Blueblood said to Blue Belle as they exited the palace, smoothly taking up his political instruction right where it left off. “The key is to give them concessions at precisely the moment before you’ve gone too far. The way to see this point is...”

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!” Blue Belle shouted in his face. “How many ponies are running around in that head of yours, anyway?”

Hail Prince Blueblood!” exclaimed a brown earth pony from several ponylengths distant.

Blue Belle looked upon the speaker with disdain. Several ponies had gathered before the palace as soon as the news of the Griffish Revolution had broken. By their shouted racist slogans, they were trying to persuade Princess Celestia to solve the problem in ways rather similar to her father’s so-called “policy”. The voice of this brown pony in particular had been the loudest.

“Well met, good pony!” Blueblood exclaimed, turning his path to meet up with the protesters. His daughter followed with extreme reluctance. “I take it you are the leader of this worthy group of petitioners?”

The earth pony bowed deeply. “I am, Your Highness.”

“And what is your name, earthy pony?”

The pony glanced up at him briefly from his bow before replying. “Jack, Your Highness.”

“Jack,” Blueblood repeated with a laugh. “What a very ‘jacky’ name! Jack, Jack, Jack!”

Blue Belle wondered, if she kept this look of incredulousness on her face for much longer, if it would stick there forever.

“Err...yes. Would you mind terribly if I stood now...Your Highness?”

“Go ahead, by all means! You got the abject bowing, and the title down, so I think it’s alright to stand now. Don’t look me in the eyes, though.”

“Oh, I would never think of such a thing, Your Highness.”

Another ‘Your Highness’!” exclaimed Blueblood. “I love those! Especially considering that I actually am so much taller than the lot of you. So, dirt ponies, I hear you’re mad at the griffons. Astute bit of observational work. Oh, sorry about using the big words on you. I mean to say that you see well, with those eyes of yours. Yes, the griffons are just no good, no good at all. I’ve got a plan, see, a plan to put them in their place!”

“I...um...yes,” Jack said, looking very uncertain.

“These griffons are a problem, a most-definite problem! You don’t know any griffons, Jack, do you?”

“Not...not personally, Your Highness.”

“Lucky you! I have to deal with them on a daily basis. They smell. Like...salt, and oil, and dirt and...what’s that other thing? It’s wet, and they get it on their haunches when they’ve been working too hard...”

“Sweat, Your Highness?” ventured Jack.

“Yes! Sweat, that’s the thing,” replied Blueblood. “Nasty stuff, that. Ponies don’t have any of that. Some of us excrete perfume, but that was just a silly unicorn experiment gone wrong! Anyway, I’m going to be replacing all of that nasty sweat with blood.”

“W...what?!” Jack exclaimed. Behind him, all of the other earth ponies listening in were in similar states of shock.

“Well of course, dear fellows!” the Prince exclaimed. “Surely you see that is the only logical endpoint of your...of our grand plans for the griffons! I have heard your slogans, after all! They’ve stolen our jobs (although I don’t recall them doing much that a pony can’t do better—they must be stealing our jobs somehow!) and our mares (although, again, I don’t remember a single case of that happening, particularly without the consent of the mare), so that means they have to go! They are different, just as the breeds differ from each other, and so their blood must be shed! Who is with me? Hello? Hello? Huh. Where did they all go? I thought I had a nice crowd here listening to me just a moment ago.”

Blue Belle felt like her brains were dribbling out of her ears.


Voltaire opened the insistent knocking at his door. He looked around, to see nobody. Then he remembered he was a giant among pygmies, and looked down, to see Blue Belle walking boldly into his room.

“What are you...?” he began.

“You promised me a private audience,” she told him curtly. “Well, here I am.”

“Well...I...shouldn’t you have a chaperone?”

The unicorn filly ignored the question as she turned to face him. “At the Council meeting today, you said you figured out what game my father is playing. I want to know what that game is.”

Voltaire said nothing for several seconds. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said finally.

“Liar. What is my father doing?” she asked. “He refuses to tell me, but you seem to know everything, so I came here to get the answer out of you.”

“He’s just an air-headed imbecile,” the human tossed off, “too full of himself to realize what he’s saying.”

“No,” Blue Belle replied, backing him into the door until he forced it closed. “It’s an act, I know it now. Everything he says and does in public is all fake. Now you’re going to tell me why he’s doing it.”

“I...I can’t,” Voltaire said, looking away. “You’re so young!”

It’s about being the Prince,” Blue Belle realized. “Our family is the only one allowed to have the same title as the Princess. And he’s training me, he’s been training me my entire life, so I’d end up like him. Well I want a choice in the matter! I want to know why my father is the biggest jerk in the history of Equestria, and you’re going to tell me!

Voltaire turned and opened the door. “You really need a chaperone, young lady,” he told her, “or ponies are going to start to tell the most awful stories about me! Now come back with an adult, preferably one without a pain-inducing horn on their head...”

Oh you want to see what kind of pain a unicorn horn can dish out?!

And with that, the door slammed itself shut.

Mommy!

~ ~ ~

A few minutes later, the door to Voltaire’s room was magically opened, and a stunned Blue Belle staggered out. A pony periwig floated out behind her. “I...I’m joining your political party, Human, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me!” The words sort of fell out of her lips rather than being spoken by her with any degree of force.

“You...you might as well,” a weary Voltaire said. He was clinging on to the doorjamb like it was the only thing keeping him from falling down. His right eye was rapidly swelling, and would make for a swell magically-induced black eye in the morning. “You’ll note that your behavior is proof positive of my thesis!”


Blueblood was waiting for Blue Belle at their apartment in the palace. He immediately noticed the wig on her head.

“Well,” he said calmly, “it’s about time. Most ponies rebel against their parents in their teenage years, but we Bluebloods have always been ahead of the curve! Are you going to tell me more about how I’m destroying Equestria?”

Blue Belle sighed deeply and sat down. “You were telling me about how the unicorns could tell when the earth ponies and pegasi were on the brink of revolt.”

Blueblood eyed his daughter strangely. “Yes,” he said. “Well it isn’t just a matter of demonstrations like the one we saw earlier today. It’s useful to keep an eye on the newspapers and pamphlets being put out. Most of them are the work of idle cranks, but if you track the circulation numbers...”


Eveningstar opened the door of her apartment, to see Blue Belle standing there quietly looking up at her. “Could you give this to Zody, please?” she asked. She used her magic to present a long wooden tube, the kind used to hold artwork.

For a moment, Eveningstar was tempted to slam the door in Blue Belle’s face. After what her father had said at the Council meeting, and after what this filly had done to that poor donkey...but then she saw the wig planted firmly on the filly’s head, a wig identical to one she had been wearing for the past three days. “Alright,” she said, and accepted the present. She closed the door as the filly turned away.

Within a matter of seconds, Blue Belle’s retreating form was met by Zody. Held in his magical clutches was Blue Belle’s gift, a reproduction of Genevieve’s drawing of the Summer Sun Celebration, the original drawing, that Blue Belle had incinerated. It wasn’t the actual drawing, but Blue Belle’s memory of it transferred to paper. Zody had one of these himself, based on his own memory, so he knew from experience how hard it was to accomplish this spell. He had needed his mother’s power feeding into him to pull it off, and he was confident that Blue Belle had done hers with no help from her father. And yet her version looked so much better, so much closer to Genevieve’s style than Zody’s.

“You really liked it, didn’t you?” he asked her.

Blue Belle looked down. “I have a habit of destroying what I love,” she said sadly. “I’m sorry about what I did, Zody. I’m really, really sorry. I thought she was taking you away from me. I thought that I owned you. I was such a fool. I still am. I...I won’t take up any more of your time.”

“Belle,” Zody said gently, holding out a hoof to stop her. “First you get my frog drawing accepted by Voltaire, then you get yourself suspended with that ‘Fisby Lives’ stunt. The old Blue Belle, the one that so casually tried to crush Geneveive beneath her hooves, would never have done either of those. What happened to you?”

“I had to live with the consequences of my actions, for once,” she told him. “And I was forced to learn what I really am, what it means to be a Blueblood, and not a Sparkle or a Nightingale.”

“And what does that mean?” he asked, sitting down beside her.

Kings, queens and princesses (the voice of Voltaire echoed in her head), even the kind who aren’t thought to be gods, are nevertheless required to be infallible. Doubting your monarch is the sure path to treason against the country that monarch rules. So when something goes wrong, it is never their fault. Instead, the same excuse is trotted out time and again: they were misled, by evil councilors.

For a country to succeed, for Equestria to succeed, you’ve got to have somepony willing to take the fall. Somepony willing to force a fall if necessary. If the country is going to tear itself up with riots, then you need somepony to prove how stupid the wrong side is. You need a Blueblood who’s willing to do whatever it takes to lose, to lose with no sympathizers on his side.

“It means I have to be a jerk,” Blue Belle replied to Zody. “It’s in the constitution. But I’ve got an escape clause. For a few years at least, I’m allowed to be a jerk to my father instead of a jerk to the world. And...and I’d really like a friend or two in that time, before I have to be alone again.” She looked away from the colt beside her. “I’ve been watching the mages working on that portal to get Genevieve back, and they’re all a bunch of idiots.” She reached back into her saddlebags and removed a packet of notes. “Now I’ve been doing some research, and I think I’ve uncovered a few new avenues I’m going to suggest to them. I’m telling you this, so that you’d be more willing to put up with my abrasive and annoying pers—”

“Belle!” Zody interrupted, gently using his magic to pull her head around to face him.

“Yes, Zody,” she said.

“You’re trying to buy my friendship,” he told her calmly.

“Yes,” she said, bowing her head.

He used a hoof to raise it. “Friendship doesn’t work that way.”

“I’ll buy you lunch!” she blurted out.

Zody sighed. “We’ll split lunch,” he told her. “And we’ll talk, and we’ll see how it goes after that.”


The Bridle & Saddle Inn, Canterlot
59 Summer 6764

My dearest friend,

Something extraordinary has happened with the mobs that were out for griffon blood—overnight, they are now out for Blueblood’s blood instead! A more perfect example of a pony nailing himself in the hoof has never been imagined.

Enclosed you will find one of the blue scrolls I saw everypony carrying around. It contains a fanciful tale invented by the strange bipedal creature that arrived in Canterlot a week or two ago.

It was an enjoyable enough story, but I fail to see why it is held so reverently by some.

Thanks to waving the silly thing around like the Sword of the Ancients, I was admitted entrance this morning to the Raising of the Sun Ceremony. It was set in the Royal Gardens, and I think I saw the most marvelous bird that ever existed—it looked like it was made out of purest fire!

There were also about a dozen rabbits, and they all started following me everywhere I went. Now I know what you’re thinking, Dearest. You never believe me when I tell you these animal stories, but I swear that it is true!

I learned a great deal by milling about among this crowd of so-called “enlightened ponies”. From what I was able to overhear, the Princess is not dealing with “evil griffon emotions,” and instead is recovering from the shock of learning what the griffons had done.

I fail to see why this simple truth needed to be concealed by Prince Blueblood. Of course, if this letter fails to reach you, I suppose I will have to take that as proof that this really was a truth worth hiding.

Nopony should be surprised that the Princess reacted as She did. She did not create the ponies, but, by raising Thunderwing, She did create the griffons, or at least the griffons as we know them now. What loving goddess would not grieve at their fate under the circumstances? Let Her take as long as She needs to recover. I can wait.

Since She is recovering, the task of raising and lowering the sun had to be taken over by dozens and dozens of the unicorns of Canterlot. That they were responsible for this in the distant past is a well-known part of our history, but I never thought I would live to see the day when I could witness it with my own eyes. It was a stunning sight to see, and proof of the immense power which She wields.

Also, they did a much better job than yesterday, as I’m sure you noticed. Maybe, like the frogs in the story, the unicorns can eventually let the Princess take a day off now and then, so that she might—

Oh. Oh my.

This changes everything...and nothing, I suppose. I suddenly understand an offer made to me while I was watching the sunrise. As soon as I finish this letter, I need to visit the royal kiln...

I hope you don’t think I’ve taken leave of my senses.

Read the story on the blue scroll. I dare not say any more.

Your bewildered and “enlightened” wife,

B.


Gradually, ever so gradually, the world began to knit itself back together for Princess Celestia.

She heard sounds, infinitely distant sounds, of hooves walking on carpet. Smells, musty old smells, of a room that had never been slept in. No, as a matter fact it had been slept in, more than once but less than a dozen times over the course of several hundred years, but never more than for a single night at a time, and always by a pair of...

Oh my!

Celestia threw aside the sheets she found atop her, and stood up on a bed. She found herself in a deep but somehow comforting blackness, blacker than she ever remembered experiencing in the palace.

I am in the palace, right?

She reached out with her magic, and confirmed that she was indeed still in the palace. There was only one possible place where she could possibly be, and lighting her horn she confirmed it: she was in Luna’s bedroom.

Since the room had been built after her banishment, Luna’s room had been faithfully maintained by servants (somewhat randy servants...). It was designed to keep out both light and sound, so that the once and future Princess of the Night could comfortably sleep through Celestia’s day.

It was, she realized, the only possible place to put a catatonic princess until she wanted to wake up.

Voltaire’s Prince Friedrich had lost his senses for three whole days after whatever his father did to that one poor friend of his.

How long have I been out? she asked herself. Who had been taking care of the celestial cycle while I was asleep? Had it been night or day when I collapsed? Is Equestria freezing, or broiling?

Celestia rushed to the heavy curtains, and roughly shoved them aside to step out onto a patio and look around.

Equestria looked normal for a late afternoon. The sun was in its expected place in the sky, and the ponies below her went about their daily activities, seemingly nonplussed.

But what of the griffons? What is to be done about the revolution? Will that idiot Blueblood let power completely go to his head? How is Trottingham handling the influx? What can I do to help? Did the ponies completely lose their minds when they learned of my moment of weakness? What do I do? What do I do?

She stepped forward, intending to launch herself into the sky and fly around to find somepony she could get a report from.

Ribbit!

She stopped suddenly and looked down. Her hoof had brushed against something ceramic, triggering a simple sound spell.

The spell had been emitted from the mouth of a tiny little clay frog. It was sculpted so its eyes were gazing up at her, and its mouth was open in a joyous song.

Ribbit! Ribbit! Ribbit!

There were dozens of these little singing frogs, arranged in a semicircle around the patio door. Some of them had had their spells set off by the frog she had touched, and were now delivering their message to her. She levitated the frogs into the air around her, and saw that each one was unique. Some looked well made, while others were obviously the works of ponies who had never touched clay in their lives. Her little ponies understood, and they had done all this, for her!

Celestia heard the tinkling of joyful laughter, filling the air like silver chimes. It took a few seconds for her to realize that she was the one doing the laughing.

And that was how Canterlot learned that their Princess had returned to them.