• Published 16th Oct 2012
  • 7,991 Views, 247 Comments

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When you're a ruler of a major country, you don't have much time for yourself.

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A Change in House

She waited a full five minutes before realizing something was wrong. Normally she would have been treated to much pomp and circumstance as the King tried to impress her, but nobody even opened the door. Wonderful. Maybe the King was so arrogant he now considered himself above the mere Sun God.

Sighing, Celestia opened the door, and stepped in. Here we go again, she thought to herself.

Then she noticed the interior

What? How-

Empty. No large gold statues, no jewels set in cases, no armada of servants dressed in silk. The chandeliers had been replaced with simple, small lamps suspended from cables. No portraits of past kings on the walls. The rug had even been removed, revealing the hard wood flooring underneath. The entire place was completely different.

Celestia's horn lit up. This could be some sort of trap. It would not succeed, of course – She was the God of the Sun, after all. Still, it would be smart to proceed with caution.

Celestia walked the length of the hallway and opened the door to the throne room, prepared to disintegrate anything inside.

To her surprise, it was almost entirely empty. There was a griffon sitting on the throne, but he looked much younger – and friendlier – then the old king. A few feet in front of him sat two smaller chairs, both of which had the odd look to them furniture purchased at a discount store always had. Besides that, there was only a single servant holding a tray with two full glasses on it, presumably filled with champagne, and empty space. It was very different from the flashy throne room she was used to.

“Ah, there you are, your highness. Please, take a seat.”

He gestured to one of the seats, then hopped off his own throne and paced to the other, sitting down. Skeptically, Celestia sat down in the seat opposite him.

“Allow me to introduce myself. I am Avery, the current king of the Griffon kingdom. Pleasure to meet you, your highness.”

He dipped his head a bit, as if bowing. Celestia was taken aback. The old king had been so arrogant he had always insisted to be referred to by his full title, but this newcomer was evidently fine with his given name. Not only that, but he evidently considered Celestia to be a higher power then him, judging by how he referred to her.

“And you,” she responded, still taken aback. “I must have missed your coronation.”

“Oh, I did not have any sort of formal reception. I don't care much for fancy things of that sort.”

“...Right.”

This was... New. Extremely new.

“I did not receive news of king-”

What was his name again? I never actually used it...

“Yorke,” Avery provided, understandingly

“Yorke, that's right. I did not receive news of his death.”

“Oh, he did not die. The griffon people decided to expel him from power and installed me instead.”

“A rebellion?”

“If you can call it that. There was no violence. Nobody tried to stop it from happening. It only took a few hours. This all happened around three weeks ago, of course.”

Celestia knew that they didn't receive news from this area of the world very often, but this seemed like something she should have been informed of.

“And why was I not told? The only message I have received from our embassies was of some sort of urgent 'trade disagreement.' I should have been informed immediately.”

“Well, that is why I called you here. I wanted to tell you the news in person, especially since this will mean a major change in the relationship of our nations.”

And here it was. The stinger. With her current luck, they'd invented some sort of superweapon and were going to destroy Equestria if she didn't give into their demands. She lit up her horn, hopefully not enough for Avery to notice, just in case.

“And what would this change be?” Although she tried to hide it, there was an edge to her voice.

“Well, if I recall correctly, we currently import over fifty billion bits worth of luxuries a year from your nation, correct?”

“It varies, but in that general area,” Celestia responded. Yorke had had a taste for expensive things, and was more than willing to tax his citizens to satisfy it. The Griffon Kingdom wasn't even near Equestria's biggest destination of exports, but it certainly purchased a lot for such a small nation.

“Well, that number will be decreasing. Most of it was spent on the wealth in this very palace, and, as you can see...”

Avery gestured to the empty spots where large statues once stood.

“There wasn't much here I felt I needed. My country needed it more, especially with our poverty rates. So I sold most of it to various other countries. I'm currently using the money to provide for those who had been asking for help. Hopefully, I can satisfy them.”

Celestia blinked. This was certainly a new development. It wasn't the strangest thing she had dealt with over her career, but that didn't make it any more unexpected.

“I... See. Well, it certainly is noble of you.”

“I suppose. My father was extremely poor, and died when I was young. I swore on his grave I would provide for those in situations like my family's if I ever managed to make it big. And, well, I did.”

The servant tipped her tray towards Celestia, offering a drink, but she shook her head. She never drank anything but water in negotiations. She turned back to Avery.

“I see.”

“It might be rather surprising, I know. Yorke was... Well, he was quite different from me. I imagine you had trouble dealing with him. He always seemed to be in a viscous race to make himself more impressive.”

Celestia nodded. He was quite a pain to deal with.

“Me, well, I don't feel a need to impress others, or even seem like I care about material things in the way the old king did. I do not care much about my image. I simply need four walls and some sort of roof over my head, and this palace certainly has four falls and a roof. Even if I miss the adobe slats of my own home, this is a proper house.”

Celestia thought about it for a moment. His casual language showed that he was either inexperienced in how these meetings usually went – Which would fit in with this story – Or he was a very good actor. Then again, she was inclined to believe him. They had received reports of civil unrest in the area before, after all, and she got almost all of her news about the nation from the embassies. If this new king had prevented them from sending messages, then it would be feasible she wouldn't hear of a rebellion. And she was sure she had heard Avery's name before, now that she thought about it. She would be sure to investigate further, but for now, she only had one major question.

“Why did they choose you to be the new ruler?”

“I ran a few charities in the area. Yorke's taxes were extremely high, but I managed to make a decent amount of money by increasing the efficiency of quick-cloud machines. I suppose the people thought I was the best griffon for the job.”

That's where she had his name. Equestria did not import much from the Griffons, but the more efficient quick-cloud machines had become extremely popular. She must have read his name in the report before she decided to buy some.

“Ah, yes. I knew I'd heard of you from somewhere.”

“I do not know if I am qualified to rule a whole country, but I will certainly try my best.”

“We shall see. Although, a change of this magnitude will certainly have repercussions – for both us and you. Hopefully they are mostly good. But, back to business. What is your timeframe for diminishing imports?”

“I have already sent my financial advisers to Equestria, and they should be arriving shortly. They know more specifics then I do, but rest assured it will be gradual enough to lessen the effect on your economy. I mostly called this meeting to make you aware of the change in a manner more personal than receiving a report.”

Celestia nodded. Normally she wouldn't accept this story so easily, but she had many other things on her mind at the moment. She would investigate much more later.

“Thank you for taking the time to tell me in person. I'm sure you are very busy with adjusting the nation to the new situation.”

“I image you are even more busy then me, your highness. Do you have any further questions?”

“Not at the moment. I will discuss with my advisers and get back to you.”

“As you wish.”

Within half an hour, Celestia was flying back to Equestria. In total, she had met with the griffon for about an hour, much shorter then her usual meetings. She wasn't angry, though. For such a small period of time, it had major implications for relations between the countries. It was the kind of news she liked to receive in person. Hopefully things would progress well, although they almost never did in this business.

The new situation provided Celestia with a nice distraction. However, she still thought about other things – the dancer, the flowers, and the odd feeling she now got when she imaged – Well, it was a silly idea, of course. She had much more important things to deal with.

But something in her chest seemed to slam the notion back into her head with every life-giving beat.