• Published 15th Sep 2012
  • 1,486 Views, 75 Comments

An Old Mare's Tale - realbrickwall

What really happened one thousand years ago

  • ...

Chapter 3

"For the last time, no, the Crown will NOT sponsor a Royal Dressmaker's Academy without Senatorial approval." Celestia was doing her best to keep her voice calm. There was no law in Equestria that forced any member of the royalty to hold public court for petitioners, but she insisted on doing so anyway, for she wanted to hear the voice of the people. At least, that was the intent. Ever since the upper quarter had been cordoned off, however, almost all the petitioners who came in without making special appointment were aristocrats. Mostly, self-interested aristocrats.

"Your Highness," said the white unicorn in front of her, affecting an upper-class accent that Celestia herself avoided ever slipping into, "with all due respect, the Senate mostly holds representatives from the more," she coughed, "common class. Those ponies simply don't have any perspective on what is good for Equestria."

"The 'common class' IS Equestria, Karat-"

"Lady Karat," the unicorn corrected her with a dismissive sneer. Celestia barely kept herself from snarling.

"AND you would do well to remember it," Celestia attempted to assert her conversational authority. "You know that the founding of any such school would receive many tax reliefs and incentives, due to the laws that the Senate has already passed. Your endeavor already has plenty support, and I'm sure that if you were to build in the lower quarter-"

"Good heavens!"

"IF you built anywhere other than Everfree's upper quarter, even, you would have no problem getting a land grant. But there's nothing that I, or anyone, can do about the land up here. It's all privately owned. Now, I will hear no more of this, unless somepony is acting in an illegal manner. And I mean a TRULY illegal manner, not violating some fine print that Senator Blueblood managed to slip in the latest bill. Are we clear?" Celestia realized that she had started leaning forward and spreading her wings, towering over the mortal pony. She retreated to a more regal posture.

"Yes, of course, Princess." The unicorn hardly sounded sincere, but Celestia wasn't willing to press the issue. She was already too tired to deal with any more aristocrats. She watched the unicorn trot away, and peered into the distance. "Lieutenant, you can send the next one in."

"Nopony else here, Your Highness," came a voice from the entryway.

"Oh, thank goodness." Celestia stepped down from her throne and closed her eyes. She allowed thoughts to float freely through her head. Though her usual petitioners were tiresome, she remembered that they were the most ambitious and petty of the upper class. Many ponies who were true of heart, such as Flash Burn and Amaranth, were also born and raised in the upper quarter. She had absolutely nothing against the rich ponies of the world. If only the nice ones would come to talk to her.

"Good afternoon, Princess," came a familiar voice from just beside her. Celestia opened her eyes to see the green pony that had run off in the morning.

"Oh, Amaranth. I'm glad you could make it back. Where did you get off to?"

"I." The green pony stared at the floor and shyly kicked a single hoof.


"I ran into a wall."

"What?" Celestia took a step back.

"When Miss Glory surprised me, and I went running, I ran into the first corner I came across. I woke up to one of the guards checking if I had a concussion." Amaranth shrank a little.

"Goodness, are you alright?"

"Yes, I'm fine."

"Well, how about I get you lunch. I confess, I played a bit of a prank on you. I didn't mean for you to get hurt." Celestia bumped the earth pony's head affectionately.

"Oh, that's all right, Princess. I could tell that you were up to something. It's my fault I fell for it."

Celestia stepped back again. "You could?"

"Sure. Whenever you play a trick, you squint your eyes because your're trying not to grin. Princess Luna does it too. I think it's adorable." Celestia blinked. How many centuries of life had she gone without noticing that? Maybe it was new. Ponies change, after all, even immortal ones. Surely, in a thousand years, that tell would be completely gone.

"Still, I think I owe you. Besides, I could use the company of somepony who isn't conniving."

"Oh, of course, Princess. I don't even know how to connive." The Princess rolled her eyes. It was true: Amaranth was just about the least underhoofed pony in the entire city. However, he seemed to lack understanding of when that wasn't precisely a good thing.

"Well, where would you like to go?"

"Oh, I thought we would just eat here. Madamoiselle Gateau is just waiting for an excuse to use those strawberries that came in yesterday."

"My chef won't be in for another hour, I'm afraid, and she'll need the time to start on dinner."

"Oh. Where do you normally eat lunch, then?"

"Anywhere I like!" Celestia giggled a bit at her own joke. There wasn't a public eating establishment in Everfree that she hadn't been to at least once. She noticed that Amaranth was looking at her with confusion. "No, really, we can go anywhere. How about Zebraville? You haven't lived until you've had traditional zebra food."

"But there are restaurants with zebra cuisine all over Everfree."

"REAL zebra food."

"You mean they're all fake?" Amaranth looked positively aghast, even though most ponies knew that it was now common practice to serve more nativized food based on zebra dishes, rather than the more exotic fare that zebras were used to.

"Oh, come on, you." Celestia unfurled her wings and took to the sky. She only got a couple stories high before she remembered that Amaranth couldn't fly. She stopped. "Oh, sorry. Let me call for a carriage." She was about to whistle, when she heard a crackling sound behind her. She beat her wings just in time to dodge the streak of black cloud that had almost hit her. "That was clo-"

She did not dodge the blaze that was following it, and was met with the full force of Flash Burn colliding into her side. They both went tumbling to the ground, and the princess found Flash Burn struggling to stand on top of her.

"You idiot! I almost had him! What were you doing flying so high-ay-ayYOUR MAJESTY!" The guard pony sprung back and flattened herself to the ground. "I'm so sorry, Your Majesty! Please don't throw me into the dungeon, Your Majesty! I-"

"It's all right, Flash. Stand up, and tell me what happened."

Flash Burn stood up weakly. "Well, I went down to the lens shop exactly like you said, Your Majesty, but when I left, I saw Dark Blur leaving a...a house of ill repute. I raced to follow him, Your Majesty, but he must have seen me. I've been chasing him for hours, Your Majesty"

"You don't have to say 'Your Majesty' all the time, Captain," piped up Amaranth from beside the pair.

"I don't! Shut up!" Flash Burn was blushing furiously.

"Well, Flash, did you find out anything interesting at the glassworks?"

"Yeah. Twilight Sage has a fillyfriend," Flash Burn muttered more to herself than the princess.

Celestia giggled, "I meant something important to your investigation."

"Oh." The pegasus blushed even harder. "Well, whatever he may have been doing in that public house, Your Majesty, he probably lives near there, Your Majesty. Or maybe even in there, Your Majesty."

"Good work, Captain Flash. I think you deserve a break. Care to join us for lunch?"

"Can she order from the waitress without continually calling her 'Your Hospitality'?" Amaranth chuckled. Flash Burn shot him a glare that Celestia swore might actually set him on fire.

"I'm sorry, Your Majesty, but I should really get back to pursue leads. Enjoy your lunch, Your Majesty." With that, Flash Burn took off. Celestia turned to Amaranth.

"I know you were just trying to be funny, but that was a little mean."

"So was you sending her off to meet her crush's fillyfriend without warning her about it." Celestia looked aside guiltily.

"I know. But it's not good for her to be pining for a colt that she can't have, and I thought that would stop it fastest."

"There's no way of knowing." The two shared a silent moment.

"Why don't I go get a carriage? There are plenty more cheerful things that we can discuss."

"Okay." Celestia went to fetch the royal carriage, hoping she hadn't made a big mistake.

Morning Glory was wiping the tables in preparation for the lunch rush when a black cloud once again burst through the front door. Her brother fell to the ground panting.

"I hope you're out of breath because you've been very hard at work at a job you happened upon just after I sent you out."

Hurricane put his hooves on her shoulders. "You won't believe what happened! The instant you kicked me out, I looked behind me and I saw the Day Guard captain chasing me. I didn't even get a chance to put my hooves to the ground." He tried his best to look pathetic, but Morning Glory was having none of it.

"Did she see you leave here?"

"I…I don't know. Probably." Morning Glory smacked Hurricane across the face.

"Do you see what you've done now? Now the Guard is going to find you, you'll be arrested, and they'll find out that I'm related to a criminal. My reputation will be ruined!" There was a brief moment of silence.

"No, it won't."

"What do you mean? Of course it will. That's what happens to anypony who associates with criminals."

"I mean, they won't find me, because I won't be here. I didn't want to do this, but there's no choice. I have to leave Everfree."

Morning Glory stammered. "But…you can't! You don't have enough money for a passport. You won't be able to enter any walled city, or use a highway, and if they catch you flying-"

"I'll be banished. I will be sent outside Equestria and my face will be on a poster in every guard station. But they won't know who I am. Or that I'm your brother. And you'll be able to keep helping the little ponies, those who the rich want to keep down. That's what we've been fighting for this whole time. I can't let that go by." Hurricane started towards the door.

"Hurricane, you stay right here! We need to talk about this."

"No, we don't."

"But what will I tell dad? What will I tell your mother?"

"Exactly what I told you. They'll understand."

"But-" Morning Glory was about to raise a futher point, when the door opened right in Hurricane's face, causing him to reel back slightly. As he opened his eyes again, he stared directly into the orange inferno of Day Guard Captain Flash Burn's glare.

"Aww, horseapples."

"They really serve that here?"

"They do." Celestia wasn't even looking at her menu. She was well enough acquainted with zebra cuisine to know what to order.

"I've just never heard of anypony eating tree bark."

"It's a special kind of tree bark. Of course, it's not for the faint of heart, or weak of tooth."

"I'm just not sure." Amaranth was looking at the menu with a very dismayed expression. Though he was not unfamiliar with the plant names, being a hard-working gardener, it was not common practice to nibble on the Royal Garden (well, not for a pony, at least).

Celestia smiled. "Take your time."

"But I've already taken so long."

"Oh, it hasn't been that long."

"Wanna bet?" Celestia jumped at the voice from behind her.

"Luna? What are you doing out of bed?"

"I woke up, duh." Luna dragged a chair from another table and sat herself down. "It happens sometimes, you know?"

"I'm sorry, it's just that you can't have been asleep very long."

"Sis, do you know what time it is?"

"Well, of course, it's-" Celestia cut herself off. "How is it already two o'clock?! I thought I finished with court before noon."

"You did," replied Amaranth.

"But we came here right after, didn't we?"

"We did."

"…Amaranth, pick something to eat already." Celestia heard her sister giggle. "Oh, come on, so I lost track of time a little. I don't know how."

"It's 'cause you're too patient for your own good." Luna stuck out her tongue.

"Well, aren't we in a cheerful mood," Celestia said, faking being offended.

"Sleeping during the day is waaaay more rejuvenating," Luna replied while stretching. "Honestly, I think everypony would be happier if they took afternoon naps and stayed up late to work instead."

"Gardening at night is pretty much impossible, though. So's farming." Amaranth was hardly looking up from his menu as he said this. Luna pouted and stuck her tongue out again.

"I think plenty of ponies would agree with you, Luna."

"Yeah, I just haven't met any." Luna folded up her legs and sunk her head down.

"Dear sister, if you insist on being so down, I'm going to have to tickle you."

"Wait, what?" Luna pulled her head from the table.

"You heard me." Celestia's narrowed her eyes menacingly.

"You wouldn't. Not in public."

"Wanna bet?" She got off her seat and began advancing around the table. Luna retreated.

"No. Nonono." They both sped up. "NononononononoNOOOOOOO!" The younger princess took off instantly.

"Oh, I'm gonna getcha!" screamed Celestia as she shot off in pursuit. They both disappeared into the sky.

A male zebra with an apron walked up to the table. "Have you decided, yet, sir?"

Amaranth slammed a hoof down delicately. "Oh, I just can't make up my mind! Princess, tell me what I should order." The green pony looked up to see both seats opposite him were empty.