• Published 15th Oct 2012
  • 2,479 Views, 93 Comments

The Masterpiece - McPoodle

Twilight must step in to prevent Pinkie Pie's mental disintegration

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Chapter 3: Cover Story

The Masterpiece

Chapter 3: Cover Story

Twilight Sparkle stood on her balcony as the sun was setting, her telescope trained on Canterlot. She had caught sight of Princess Luna’s chariot, and was tracking its progress towards Ponyville.

“Where is she going?” she asked herself as she swung the telescope around to follow the chariot. “She’s not heading to the Library at all!”

“Well what about the cover story?” Spike asked from behind her.

“Cover story?” asked Twilight, before her memory caught up to her. “That’s right! In her letter, Princess Luna said she wanted to avoid ponies asking why she was visiting me so often. So she’s going to claim she’s here to inspect Ponyville’s preparations for the Summer Sun Ceremony, something legitimately in her duties as princess. Of course, she can only use that excuse for the next two nights.”

Using her magic, Twilight quickly secured the telescope. “To the Town Hall!” she proclaimed, before turning to her assistant. “And you: to bed!”

“Aww, but it’s early!” protested Spike.

“You’re going to be up all night tomorrow waiting for the Summer Celebration with the rest of us. There’s no way you’re going to make it if you don’t go to bed right now!”

Spike sulked. “Oh all right,” he muttered. “But you’re not allowed to have fun with Princess Luna without me.”

“Only boring psychological talk,” said Twilight with a grin. “I promise.”

~ ~ ~

“Alright, red streamers on the north wall, and purple streamers on the south wall. No, no, wider apart, wider! They need to look like they were randomly thrown at the wall, and magically stuck. Yes, just like that!”

“Last delivery of the day, Miss Pie. It’s a square table.”

Without even looking, Pinkie Pie pointed one hoof at the southwest corner. “That’s for the punch bowl. Put it in the gap between the two treat tables, rotated at a 52-degree angle...perfect! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Crafty! Everything is going perfectly!”

Watching the scene, Twilight Sparkle shook her head in wonderment. For a pony that so loved spontaneity, it was always strange to see how focused Pinkie Pie became when planning her parties.

Beside her, the Princess was methodically examining every feature of this room. For a cover story, she’s sure taking her inspection seriously, thought Twilight. It’s like she’s comparing this setup to some perfect party she’s seen before.

As Twilight watched, the party pony walked up to a dignified gray earth pony who was playing random notes on a cello, then listening carefully for the echoes each note produced.

“It’s after sundown, Octavia,” said Pinkie Pie. “They’re probably going to kick us out of the hall any minute now.”

Octavia waved her bow at Pinkie. “I’ve just about settled on the perfect location for the Ensemble,” she said. “I’ll leave when I am asked, never you fear.”

“Okey dokie,” replied Pinkie, before turning and hopping over towards the two watching ponies. “Hi, Twilight! Hi, Princess.” Twilight noticed her eyes briefly widen as she greeted Luna, but after that she was instantly back to her usual exuberant self. “Did you come here for some cake? Because Sugarcube Corner’s closed for the night.”

“My sister told me you were planning quite the celebration,” said Luna cautiously.

“You bet!” exclaimed Pinkie. “It’s the anniversary of the most important day in the history of Ponyville, and easily the second-best day in my life! It was the day when the six of us became the bestest friends in all of Equestria!”

“Is that all?” Luna asked with a smirk, “I seem to also remember it to be the day when a certain pony was freed from the Nightmare. And for that, I will be forever grateful.”

“Well of course it was the day we helped you, Luna,” said Pinkie incredulously. “I mean you were there—don’t you remember it?”

Twilight sighed. “She was being facetious, Pinkie.”

“Fa-what now?” Pinkie asked with a disarming grin. “So have you seen enough, or do you need the Grand Tour?”

“I’ll inspect things for myself, if you don’t mind,” said Princess Luna.

“OK!” exclaimed Pinkie Pie. “I can stay up tonight with you, or...”

“That won’t be necessary, Pinkie Pie,” Luna replied. “I’d like to spread out my inspection over the next couple of nights.”

“Oh,” said Pinkie, sounding strangely disappointed. “So...will you be in Ponyville during the Celebration?”

“No,” replied the alicorn, “I would much prefer to be in Fillydelphia, celebrating beside my sister. You don’t need me to be here during the Celebration, do you?”

“No, of course not!” protested the pink pony. “I was worried before because you might be throwing away a chance to be with your sister on a night that means so much to the two of you! You can visit Ponyville any day you’d like, since we’re a hop, skip and a jump away from Canterlot, but your sister’s extra-special day only happens once a year, right?”

“Indeed, Pinkie Pie,” agreed the Princess. “Nevertheless, I’m glad I came here tonight.” She gestured around her. “What you have here is quite an ambitious setup, one that I just had to see for myself. But now that I’ve seen it, I have to ask: why is it so big? You just said that you know that Princess Celestia won’t be visiting.”

“Oh, this party is not for Princess Celestia,” said Pinkie, waving wildly at Octavia as she walked by on her way out.

Unnoticed by Pinkie, Octavia stopped on hearing this explanation, and stayed to hear the rest of it.

“Well,” the party planner quickly back-pedaled. “I mean that of course the party is for Princess Celestia, like all Summer Sun Celebrations are. But she’s not here personally, so she’s not the one I’m trying to impress.”

“Who are you trying to impress?” asked Twilight.

“My father,” Pinkie said in a low voice. “When I left home for Ponyville, he promised me that he would visit on the first Summer Sun Celebration after my maturity, and well, that’s this year, so I really want to make a good impression on him. It’ll be the first time that I’ve seen him since then.”

“Well that sounds great!” exclaimed Twilight.

“No it does not!” interrupted Octavia, butting into the conversation. “Why are you allowing that monster to come to Ponyville?”

“Octavia!” exclaimed Twilight in shock.

“No, it’s alright,” Pinkie Pie said, lowering her head. “Every pony’s entitled to an opinion.”

“Well if you’re bringing that tyrant to the Celebration,” answered the musician, “then I feel I have no choice but to pull out of my obligation to play for it. I swore I would never meet Clyde Pie again for as long as I lived, and that is a vow I do not intend to break. I will willingly pay you the amount you were going to pay me in compensation to get out of this commitment.”

“No...no, that’s alright,” said Pinkie Pie, clearly shaken. “You don’t have to pay me anything. I’ll...I’ll find somepony else.”

Octavia looked compassionately at the pink pony. “Pinkie...some day you need to find the strength to break free from that stallion’s spell over you.” Without another word, she turned and walked out of the building.

“Will you excuse me?” Pinkie asked Twilight and Luna in an uncharacteristically quiet tone of voice. “I need to go home now. I’m tired.”

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” Twilight said as she and the Princess exited the hall. “That is not like Octavia at all.”

“No, it is not,” said Princess Luna. “Octavia is one of the most-professional and level-headed ponies I have ever met. If she felt that she could not play for Pinkie’s father, then her reasons must have been substantial.”

Her attention was drawn to a loud ticking sound coming from above her. “You there,” she said, addressing a tan earth pony with an hourglass cutie mark who was working on a complicated mechanism set into the upper part of the building. “Time pony! What are you doing?”

The use of the words “time pony” caused the pony in question to panic and drop the instrument he had been working with. It tumbled end over end before embedding itself into the dirt at Luna’s hooves. From the part that was visible, it looked like a rather fat screwdriver.

Before she had much of a chance to examine it, the object’s owner had raced downstairs and had retrieved it. “I...ah, yes, how may I help you, Your Highness?” the earth pony managed to say with a Trottingham accent. A moment later, he remembered his manners, and bowed.

“I was asking what you were doing up there that required such a loud repetitive sound,” she replied.

“The clock? Oh, well I noticed how badly the Ponyville Winter Wrap-Up went last time”—he failed to notice Twilight Sparkle wincing at these words—“and so I thought that things might be more efficient around here with a good clock. This one came straight from Manehatten, the second one of its kind in existence, in fact! Right now it’s being calibrated to count down the seconds until the Summer Sun Celebration, but I think it can be used for all sorts of purposes. Yup, after this baby’s in place, there will be no reason for anypony to ask what I’m really up to—‘time pony’ means I work on clocks, right? Right? Of course!” He noticed the increasingly bewildered looks the two mares were giving him. “Right! Now I’ll be getting back to work. Not suspicious at all!”

Twilight shook her head and began leading the Princess back to the Library. “Never mind him,” she said told her. “Every pony in this town is crazy.”

“That must be why you live here,” the Princess said with a smirk.

“I am not crazy!” exclaimed Twilight.

“I never said you were,” objected Luna. “I was merely referring to your interest in pony psychology.”

“Oh yes! That! Err...I hope you don’t think I study the residents of this town like they were all test subjects, Princess.”

“Of course not, Twilight,” said Luna. “Based on your Friendship Reports, I had the impression that you were a force of order in this town.”

Twilight winced a bit. “I suppose that’s one way to put it.”

“And yet I see that you are not involved in the preparations for this celebration, despite your most prominent role last year. May I ask why that is?”

“Ah, well as a matter of fact, Pinkie Pie insisted that she handle all the details of this party herself. Even after Mr. and Mrs. Cake had to go to the hospital to deal with the complications of the Cakes’ pregnancy, Pinkie refused to allow anypony to help with either the upcoming celebration or the daily duties at Sugarcube Corner.”

“And this worries you?” asked the Princess.

“Well of course it worries me,” replied Twilight. “I mean, I can understand if Pinkie might think that I am less than good at organizing parties”—a brief memory of the time she tried to organize Pinkie Pie’s surprise birthday party caused her to wince once more—“but this is looking dangerously close to an Applebuck Season scenario. I wish I knew what I could do to convince her that she needs help.”

You and me both, thought Luna.

“I wish I knew why she was so obsessed,” added Twilight.

“Oh, I think I can help you there,” commented the Princess. “After all, Pinkie Pie told us that she reached her age of maturity.”

Twilight had to think for a minute to recall the definition of the outdated term. “Yes, she turned eighteen a few months ago.” And yet another reminder of that party.

“Well there you have it. She is preparing her masterpiece for her father’s inspection. Since her occupation is ‘party planner’, that masterpiece will take the form of a spectacular party.”

“Wait, you mean the Classical Era definition of the word ‘masterpiece’, right?” asked Twilight. “The work that a journeypony completes to prove her worthiness of becoming a master of her profession? I didn’t think anypony did that anymore.”

“If Pinkie Pie and her father both know what the age of maturity is,” said Princess Luna, “and plan a special occasion around it, it stands to reason that she would belong to an extremely old-fashioned family. The practice was starting to die out back when Nightmare Moon was first banished.”

Twilight noted how calmly Luna referred to her villainous alter ego, a good sign of how well she had recovered from her tartaric experience. Only once that was clear did she feel comfortable continuing. “But I still don’t understand,” she said. “Clyde Pie is not a party planner. According to Pinkie, he’s a ‘rock farmer’, although I’ve never been able to figure out how that actually works.”

“Hmm...” pondered Princess Luna. “Then perhaps you’ll just have to ask your friend Pinkie why she is acting the way she is. Oh look, we have arrived at your place of residence.”