• Published 26th May 2020
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Tales from Everfree City - LoyalLiar

Princess Platinum and Celestia's first student face changelings, a magical curse, the specter of war with the griffons, and the threat of arranged marriage in early Equestria.

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The Queen

The ponies of Equestria gave me a wide berth as we moved into the throne room, but their whispers would have been audible even to the deaf, and maybe even the dead. “Coil the Immortal?” some of them asked, remembering my introduction to the court. Was it true? Could the barely adult colt really not be killed? Others spoke in scandal, that I was the Princess’ secret lover—remembering when she had flagrantly pleasured my horn in open court, with dramatic success in her twin goals offending her mother and distracting the court enough to save my life from a false accusation when my logic couldn’t save me. Still others wondered about my relationship to Celestia, and whether I deserved her favor over somepony more deserving—meaning, of course, somepony with pure blood from a well-bred and well-established family.

Queen Platinum I loathed all of it, and she made it known by glaring out of the corner of her eye whenever our gazes met. I found myself standing ever so subtly closer to Celestia’s side in nervousness, though I had no real reason to believe the Queen could do anything to me that Halo had failed to.

That self-confidence, incidentally, would be proven to be a massive lack of imagination on my part, but that’s another Tale.

Queen Platinum had meant for all eyes to stay on Gale that day, and I had ruined her perfect plan. For that, I had become an enemy. But even by literally killing a pony and resurrecting him in front of the entire upper echelon of Equestrian society, I still could not command public attention like the Queen.

She sat in the central of the three Equestrian thrones, a position she had no doubt won by being both Hurricane and Puddinghead’s superior in the great game of politics by just as great a gap as the one separating myself from Count Halo in the art of magical battle. Commander Typhoon sat to her right, comfortably filling the throne built for her father, and on the Queen’s left, Puddinghead, likewise reclined; the earth pony leader was clearly more focused on his plate of snacks than the proceedings.

Queen Platinum’s horn briefly lit, and let off a small spark; the sort of small tell of a failed spell. Truly, if I hadn’t spent so much of my youth struggling with my overgrooved horn, I doubt I would have noticed or recognized it for what it was, and I doubt anypony else in the room could say the same. Regardless, the Queen leaned over to Gale, and after sharing a few whispered words, Gale’s horn ignited; her magical aura briefly wrapped around the Queen’s throat. I wondered what she had said to offend her daughter that flagrantly, before Platinum spoke up, and her magically amplified voice revealed that her daughter was not, in fact, choking her.

“Gentlestallions and Noblemares, honored guests, family, and friends; thank you for joining us on this, the celebration of my daughter’s eighteenth birthday.” A small polite round of applause swept the room. “I understand you’ve been enjoying your meals and some music and dancing and company… amongst other pastimes…” She shot a glance at me, and the room issued a polite chuckle. “But,” the Queen continued, “I wanted to share a few words. Most of you will remember three years ago, when we gathered to recognize Princess Platinum the Third as the rightful heir to this throne.”

The Queen slowly tapped the chair, and over how silent the room grew, that metallic tink of a hoof on literal platinum rang like a bell. “And though like all teenagers, my beloved daughter tests my patience at times, I have no doubt that she has a heart that truly cares for Equestria and for the unicorns.” Queen Platinum shot a small smile to her daughter, although Gale wore a stony expression that gave barely so much as a glance in response.

“Twenty two long years ago I lost my first foal to the Scourge of Kings. Princess Platinum the Second, may her soul rest in the Summer Lands, was taken by the disease that runs in the blood of my family. It was nothing short of a miracle that when my beloved Commander Hurricane returned in the company of the Divine Sisters, we found ourselves fond of one another’s company. I know there has been some controversy around my marrying a pegasus, even one as selfless in his work to sustain our new nation as Hurricane, but he has given me the ultimate gift in my daughter; an heir free of the Scourge, and of my fear in losing another foal.”

Queen Platinum’s voice hitched, and as we all watched, she struggled to swallow. “Knowing another Princess Platinum is turning eighteen now brings hard memories for me; I was my daughter’s age when Cyclone’s rebellion took the life of my father, King Lapis the Fourth. And though I will always be grateful for the lessons he taught me before I took the throne, I sorely wish I had been able to learn more from him before he was gone. I am still in good health, and though I’m sure I’ve offended one or two of you in the past, I don’t think anypony has a wish on my life.” A small chuckle swept the room. “But still,” the Queen continued, “I want my daughter to be able to have that experience that I never had; not only for her own good, but for the good of Equestria, I would not have her find herself suddenly burdened by the crown, struggling to find her footing.

“Which is why, effectively immediately, I am stepping away from the throne and announcing my daughter’s regency.”

Gasps like thunder echoed on palatial stone. Even Gale’s head snapped toward her mother in blatant shock. Queen Platinum merely steepled her hooves, waiting for silence, as the whispers began. And seeing her looking out, obviously waiting, the noise that rose up quickly died again, as ponies looked to their… now former monarch, for some clarification.

“My daughter is, of course, a busy mare; I understand she has seven… six suitors in her consideration, and I have no desire to steal her youth from her completely. So, at her wishes, I will still be filling the throne to allow her time she needs for personal affairs. And on those days when Her Majesty is present, I will be present to offer her my wisdom whenever she seeks it. So please, dear mares and gentlestallions, please understand that this is not intended to be some great shock to Equestria. I assure you, life will proceed much as it has before today.” Then the Queen-Mother, as she had suddenly titled herself even without saying the term, swallowed again, and leaned forward in the throne to command the attention of the room. “Lady Celestia, would you please join us here on the dais?”

As Celestia stepped away from my side, leaving me feeling very much naked and exposed in the crowded throne room, Queen Platinum the First rose from the throne and took her place at its hoof, facing the now empty seat. “Princess Platinum, the throne is yours.”

Gale nervously glanced to her Celestia, and then to her mother; the latter nodded firmly once. It was amazing how different the act of swallowing could be between the two mares; for Platinum, it had been a sign of emotion, of focusing her will. For Gale, it was clearly a display of nervousness, of hesitance. Nevertheless, she stepped in front of her mother, and slowly lowered herself into the throne.

It took a few moments for Celestia to reach mother and daughter, but when she did, she took the surprising position of standing directly behind the throne. Its tall back covered up most of her torso, but her massive height meant that her head and neck rose above the throne. When she spread her wings wide, the display similarly gave the effect of those powerful white limbs emerging from the throne—an endorsement of Gale’s rule by a far more literal divine right than any of the hundreds of monarchs before her in her bloodline had held.

“Princess Platinum, the third of that name, you are already recognized by this court as the rightful heir to the crown of the diamond kingdoms.” The words were obviously rehearsed, not only because they sounded nothing like Celestia’s usual vocabulary but because of how forced she sounded in delivering them. Still, that slightly stilted pronunciation when delivered with forceful enunciation from the head of an immortal alicorn towering over the throne carried a sort of weight that few other ponies could manage. “Now the crown is offered to you as Queen-Regent. Remember your oaths: that you will rule for the good of your subjects above yourself, that you will offer your life in recompense if your rule leads them to ruin, that you will give the throne an heir to continue the line of kings, that you will yield the throne if you lose the favor of…” Celestia hesitated for a moment, before awkwardly concluding “...your gods. And that you will not seek to prolong your rule beyond the years allotted to you. Will you accept this yoke now, until death releases you or you lay it down to another willing?”

Gale swallowed. “I…” The Queen looked up from her place in front of her daughter and silently nodded. “I will.”

Celestia’s golden magic surrounded the crown on Queen Platinum’s brow and lifted it up from the silvery hairs of the elder monarch’s mane. “Then I, and Equestria, now recognize you as Queen-Regent of the unicorns, and co-monarch of the Equestrian ponies.” With just as much delicate care, the crown came to rest on Gale’s head, completing a look the Queen had obviously intended for its placement, judging by Gale’s manecut having a perfect place for the metal crest to rest. For all Gale hated being so dressed up, I had to admit the Queen’s plan had worked; Gale was glorious.

And then to add another heart-stopping shock to the already stunned room, the white wings behind the throne lowered. Celestia walked around to the front of the throne and took her place beside the elder Queen Platinum. Together the two mares slowly lowered themselves, until their horns touched the steps leading up to the thrones. “My Queen,” they said, first Platinum and then Celestia.

For the Queen to make such a demonstration was an obvious vote of confidence in her daughter. But for Celestia, the living breathing goddess of Equestria to lower herself in allegiance to Gale… well, to say that it broke the ponies in the room would be an understatement. Some ponies were so shocked that for a moment, they failed to recognize the prompt to bow, even as the rest of the room lowered themselves in recognition of the new ruler.

I had no such qualms. And when I said “My Queen”, for the first time, I felt I could call myself an Equestrian. In case I have not made the point obvious, I had no great love for Platinum. But for Gale, I had no hesitance in offering my loyalty.

I have made no secret that this collection, these Tales, are not really my story; this is why. I know many history books one can find in modern Equestria remember Queen Platinum III. Rare is the classroom syllabus that lacks a few paragraphs on the Warrior-Queen, founder of the Royal Guard, Equestria’s first true monarch…

But before she was all those things, she was my Gale; a strong-hearted, strong-headed, rebellious, nervous young mare who had just found herself pushed off the edge of a very tall cliff by her mother and told to spread her wings and fly. And though Queen Platinum would be proven right about her daughter’s heart, amongst many other things, it was these first two years that would define the mare who would come to define our nation.

If only I had known just how much those early years for Equestria would cost us.

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