• Published 30th Aug 2012
  • 6,732 Views, 156 Comments

Guiding Light - archonix



Calamity befalls the royalty of Equestria and, in lieu of plans that took decades to create and moments to ruin, control of the cosmos is bequeathed to the only pony Celestia had time to empower.

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Proclamation

Proclamation

"The House recognises the honourable member for Trottingham East."

"Mister Speaker, if it please the House, for obvious reasons the question of the royal succession is one that has not been considered for many centuries prior to the existence of this House or indeed the existence of this great nation. It has been Tori policy for many decades that such a contingency should be put in place, to guarantee a smooth transfer of power should the unforeseeable arise, and yet the honourable gentlecolt has repeatedly refused to address the need for such a contingency in all his years as leader of the government. In this time of great turmoil, has the honourable gentlecolt decided to lower his horn against this House once again, or will he accept the need to plough a new furrow?"

"The First Minister!"

"Mister Speaker, if the honourable gentlecolt—"

"—shame—"

"—sit down—"

"—another day of this—"

"—please, if the honourable—"

"—where's the sun ya bastard—"

"The House shall come to order!"

"If the honourable gentlecolt and his party wish to make party-political hay out of a constitutional and indeed existential crisis then they are free to do so, but mister Speaker, neither this party nor this government feel now is the time to raise the issue of the restoration of the Unicorn Throne, nor—"

"—raise a frost tax why don't you—"

"I will have order!"

"—nor do we consider the issue one for debate at this time! The House has already accepted the necessity for the emergency reading of these Proclamations. Mister Speaker, the government submits to the will of the House on this matter and I hope the right honourable gentlecolt opposite can do likewise."

"At this time the House shall entertain formal requests for emergency recess. The House recognises the honourable member for Canterlot North."

"Mister Speaker, the committee of the Back Stalls now petitions to permit the reading of the Proclamations and to formally request emergency recess to fully assemble."

"The House accepts the petition and declares recess, to assemble again in one hour."

* * *

"I've never been in Parliament before," Twilight mused.

Stood atop the stranger's gallery as she was, Twilight could see down the entire length of the main hall and its several ranks of severe wooden stalls, each lined with thick green pillows. Most were empty. Magically enhanced candles burned in every chandelier to ward off the persistent darkness beyond the great stained-glass windows lining the upper reaches of the chamber. A few Members remained, either chatting to one another, contemplating some issue of government – at least she hoped – or, in one notable case, fast asleep.

"That's my MP," Sparkler muttered. She glared at the snoozing mare and shook her head. "This talking shop never did anything worthwhile, why did the Princess ever bother with it?"

"Because she didn't want to run the entire country herself, I suppose."

"They don't run the country either!"

Sparkler turned from the gallery and walked out a little way to the lobby with her head held high, already slipping into the role of a noble's daughter. Twilight could see the pain in her eyes even so. The young mare was getting a crash-course in all the worst aspects of Equestrian politics, on top of all the other burdens she already carried, burdens that were somehow far worse for how domestic they appeared compared to Twilight's own. All she had to do was teach the new Princess how to raise the sun...

It had been night for the better part of two days. Nearly thirty hours of constant, moonless night with just the stars for company. It was cold, though the steady wind that had sprung up from the west carried enough warmth to stave off the frosts in most places. Already there were complaints of crops dying off, merely unobservant panic and hyperbole of course, but the panic would become very real if she couldn't help the new Princess overcome her inability. And yet here she was, stuck in Parliament because of some legal arcana that required her to be there. Twilight sighed and shook her head, trying to force her mane into a more presentable shape. It didn't work.

She followed Sparkler to the lobby. A pair of maids from the palace were there, playing a simple game of catch with Dinky. The filly was larger than Twilight remembered, but still at that age where they could bounce back from nearly anything. Anything except her mother suddenly changing size, it seemed.

"Sparkler."

The mare shot her another angry glare, but quickly tempered it. And that was another issue. She still blamed Twilight for this, though they both knew it wasn't fair. Yet Twilight blamed herself too. How could she not?

"I'd like you to come and stand with me. I think... I don't know, but I think they need to see something to make them realise who they're dealing with now."

"Dinky?"

"No. It wouldn't be fair. And I know it's not fair to you either," Twilight added before Sparkler could say anything. "But you're an adult and you can refuse if I ask. She's just a filly."

Sparkler narrowed her eyes at Twilight, then turned to watch her little sister playing and giggling with the maids. Everything was different. Nothing could go back. "Okay. But not because you asked. Mom needs us to be strong for her."

"Thank you."

Twilight fluffed her robes around herself and walked to the far end of the lobby, where a guard waited to escort them to the inner chambers. She paused a moment to be sure Sparkler followed and then nodded to the guard, who opened the door and led them through into a dim, broad corridor.

The building was ancient, built on pre-classical lines, a maze of thick stone pillars infilled with wooden panelling, rendered almost black by polish and time. Most of the walls were decorated with arched and geometric motifs, rendered in exquisite detail, interspersed with occasional frescoes depicting key moments from Equestria's history. Most of them seemed inordinately focussed on unicorns.

They walked in silence until they reached another small lobby. A few senior civil servants waited, along with the First Minister and the Speaker of the House, who were conversing quietly over their drinks. The Speaker turned slightly as they entered.

"Ah, Archmage Sparkle. And... who is your companion?"

"The eldest daughter," one of the civil servants muttered in his ear. "Lady Sparkler, I believe."

"Yes, yes, thank you, Sir Huphrey. Welcome! Would anypony care for refreshment? Sadly we cannot countenance anything other than tea at the moment, one of those odd little rules of the House, but we have a very wide selection." He smiled between the pair, looking at each in turn but neither answered. "No? Oh well, there'll be plenty of time afterwards. Won't there, Alabast?"

The First Minister grunted a half-hearted assent. He placed his drink on a nearby table and turned to face them pair. "Sparkler. Nothing else?"

"Doo," Sparkler replied, evasively. "Or Hooves. Depends who you ask."

"I understand you were adopted?"

Twilight stepped forward and raised her hoof. "Perhaps, gentlecolts, there would be a better time and place."

Both stallions looked at her closely. The First Minister raised his eyebrows and glanced at the Speaker.

"Been in a fight, Lady Twilight?"

"What? Oh... uh, just— just a slight mishap at the University." Twilight stroked her mane a little and forced herself not to look at Sparkler. She hadn't realised the bruise was still so noticeable. It only surprised her that she hadn't thought to emplace a healing spell, but there wasn't any time for that now. "I don't believe anyone will be paying attention to my face after this."

Twilight flourished a copy of the Proclamations and held it aloft for the group to see. All present fell silent as they saw the Great Seal hanging from one corner of the scrolled document. It was impossible to fake, sealed not merely with wax and gold but a magical imprint that was obvious as the moon in the night sky. The Speaker regarded the seal for a few moments, reluctance and envy battling for control of his features.

"Who gets the honour?"

"As the most senior member of the court, that particular role falls to me," Twilight said. She lowered her head just a little, trying to hide the sudden feeling of loss and abandonment. "I..."

"It's all right, m'dear, everyone will understand if you want to pass the—"

"No! No, I just— I just miss her."

"We all do," another of the civil servants replied. Twilight recognised him as an occasional parliamentary liaison to the palace. He'd spent a lot of time with Luna over the last few years. Perhaps there had been something more to it than merely professional courtesy.

A bell rang, interrupting their thoughts. The Speaker rolled his eyes to the ceiling and put down his drink. "Duty calls. Fillies, gentlecolts..."

He bowed fractionally and ascended a short flight of steps out of the room. The roar of voices echoed back momentarily as he opened the door to his dais, then cut off again moments later. Twilight took a breath and glanced at the First Minister before turning to Sparkler. "This way."

She led the other unicorn to another door and another flight of stairs. This led to the Royal Balcony, the traditional throne set aside for the Princess on the rare occasions she had addressed parliament. Now it would be for her. Just for one day.

The roar resumed as they stepped out onto the balcony, with the Speaker already shouting for order and having trouble making himself heard above the mob. Twilight ascended the final steps to the throne and then hesitated. She couldn't sit there. It wasn't right. She glanced at Sparkler and shook her head fractionally before descending to the balcony rail.

The rumbling crowd began to settle down, silence spreading more rapidly as they spied the Archmage and an unknown unicorn stood before the empty throne – the breach of protocol alone was enough to quiet most tongues. Twilight put on the face she'd learned from Celestia so long ago, the serene smile, the very image of detached calm, and somehow it seemed to calm her spirit.

"The House recognises Archmage Twilight Sparkle," the Speaker intoned, before seating himself.

Clearing her throat, Twilight unfurled the scroll. She hadn't read it before coming and suddenly she panicked, terrified that she'd picked the wrong one. But no, Celestia had written her a little note at the top to re-assure her it was indeed the right document. A tear squeezed out of her eye as she saw the familiar writing and that signature, assured and calm.

Good luck, she'd added. I believe in you.

She snuffled and cleared her throat again, trying to clear the lump she suddenly found there.

"Mister Speaker, members of the House, mares and gentlecolts, it is with a heavy heart that I read to you these, the very last proclamations of her Highness, Celestia, Princess of Equestria, Regent of the Sun, and of Luna, Princess of the Night, Regent of the Moon." Twilight paused to look over the assembled throng. They were staring at her. One or two glanced at Sparkler, frowning. None dared speak. She took a breath.

"Now let it be known before heaven and earth that I, Celestia, do proclaim that the events that shall shortly transpire are the work of nature alone, and that no faction shall attempt to use these events to further any cause against the unity of Equestria or against the unity of our ponies, or the throne.

"I, Celestia, do hereby declare first my successor and invest upon her all privileges, rights, powers and responsibilities of the office of Princess, Ruler of Equestria, Regent of the Sun, etcetera etcetera, to commence from the moment I am no longer able to hold office.

"We name hence the pegasus, Ditzy Doo of Ponyville, lately known by Derpy, Derpy Hooves and Ditzy Hooves, to succeed the Celestial and Lunar thrones, hereafter to reign as Princess De Raptura, by her own assent.

"We hereby bequeath all royal estates, titles, treasures, holdings and covenants to Princess De Raptura, henceforth and until such time as she chooses to relinquish such title.

"We hereby dissolve the House Blueblood, from which no issue has been presented, and strip all claim of said House upon the Seat of Canterlot and the Duchy thereof, and deny any right for petition of claim over said Seat or Duchy to any House, Family or Individual.

"We raise the unicorn Amethyst Sparkler Star, and grant unto her and her issue in perpetuity the Duchy of Canterlot, and such rights and privileges as become her new station."

Twilight glanced at Sparkler, looking for a reaction. The newly minted Duchess stared off into the distance and seemed completely and utterly lost. Not such a surprise really.

"We establish the Duchy of Ponyville immediately upon the reading of this proclamation and detail its status, boundaries and responsibilities as lodged with the Royal Cartographer's Office, to include the Everfree Forest, Whitetail, the town of Ponyville and environs.

"We hereby raise the unicorn Dinky Doo, daughter of De Raptura, and grant unto her and her issue in perpetuity the Duchy of Ponyville, to be administered by crown proxy until she is of age to assume her responsibilities.

"I, Celestia, do now abdicate in favour of De Raptura, who shall assume the throne the following midnight from the reading of this proclamation to Parliament.

"I, Luna, Princess of the Night Sky, Regent of the Moon, Duchess of Hesperia and the Bit Islands, do hereby abdicate in favour of Re Raptura and further appoint Her Grace the Duchess Amethyst of Canterlot to assume whichever duties of the Night Court to which she is willing, or require that a suitable proxy be appointed.

"Let none challenge the authenticity of this proclamation. By order of..." Twilight paused at the signature. It would be the last time she'd see it written fresh. "C-Celestia, Princess, on behalf of the Crown and the State."

* * *

"Well that should keep those Tori idiots quiet, at least," First Minister Alabast grumbled, pouring himself a fresh cup of tea. "You could practically see the Platinum Crown reflected in their eyes..."

"I say, steady on old chap, I happen to be one of those 'idiots'."

"Oh. Of course, Lanceroth. My apologies."

"You can't deny the need for some sort of contingency after the last few days events." Lanceroth tugged at his robe collar and rolled his eyes. "Blasted thing. Anyway, we're more than happy the monarchy has retained its stability, even if the sun is still... well. Your lot would have us a republic the first chance you got."

"And your issue with that would be...?"

"Well. Tradition for one thing."

"You realise the irony of an earth pony chewing off a unicorn's ear over 'tradition' yes?"

Lanceroth smiled and raised his cup in mock salute. "I may not be old blood like you, Alabast, but we Earth Ponies have our traditions too y'know. And I'm sure the Archmage agrees that the stability of our system of government is paramount, what?"

Twilight Sparkle blinked as both stallions turned their attention to her. Lanceroth winked.

"Oh, er... well. The impartial oversight of an independent monarchy is what united our ancestors and ended centuries of conflict. And besides, I can hardly argue against a system that I'm so deeply part of, can I?"

"Partial," the First Minister muttered.

"Well-placed to understand," Lanceroth shot back. Then they both laughed, much to Twilight's confusion. "Forgive our game, Archmage. Politics may require us to oppose one another but we're all part of the same big happy family in the end. And I understand that you know the new Princess from, where was it, Ponyville?"

"Yes. She was the— I spent a little while training her daughter before I was appointed to my current post. Hard to believe it's not even been a year."

"That who was with you on the balcony?"

"No, that was Sparkler. Um... Her Grace Amethyst of Canterlot, I suppose. Celestia help her when—" Twilight closed her eyes and shook her head. She lowered her drink. "Excuse me, I..."

Lanceroth gave her a sad smile and gently patted her shoulder. "It's all right, young Twilight. Your relationship was closer than most, you're allowed a few slips."

Her tight smile as he trailed off said as much as they needed to know. Twilight nodded to both stallions and turned, looking for Sparkler. Except Sparkler was back at the palace, having been rushed away rather unceremoniously by a squad of guards after a slight breakdown in the lobby. Dinky had returned with her. Twilight had remained, partly because of duty, partly because she wanted to avoid the inevitable task that faced her tonight.

The moon would not rise for a while, of that she was sure, but the sun... the sun didn't have much choice. And that meant Twilight didn't have much choice. She'd avoided her duties long enough.

"Quite a flighty one," the First Minister intoned, oblivious to her internal torment. He peered at Twilight's face again, tilted his head and smiled. "And she appears to have a rather mean left hook too."

Twilight snorted. "I'd better get back to the palace. I have to attend the Princess."

"She must be a remarkable mare to have beaten you to the punch," Lanceroth said, smiling broadly. The First Minister grunted and muttered something under his breath. Twilight's jaw tightened, but she managed to smile.

"Remarkable doesn't even begin to cover it," she replied.