by Alaborn

First published

Blue Seas wants to swim for Ponyville in the Equestria Games. But even more than that, he wants to learn about the mother who gave him up for adoption. He could never anticipate the truth about his heritage!

Blue Seas wants to swim for Ponyville in the Equestria Games. But even more than that, he wants to learn about the mother who gave him up for adoption. He could never anticipate the truth about his heritage!

Chapter 1: The Meet

View Online


By Alaborn

Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.

Chapter 1: The Meet

The unicorn colt cut through the water of the swimming pool, his four legs working in tandem. With practiced and powerful strokes, he propelled himself down the lane. Years of practice told him he was nearing the edge of the pool. He reached out with his right foreleg, feeling the hoof contact the concrete lip of the pool.

One more kick with his hind legs, and he placed his left foreleg on the edge of the pool. He lifted his body out of the pool, resting his barrel on the edge, gasping for breath. Before he pulled himself completely out of the water, he put a hoof to his horn and peeled off the accursed horn blocker. Sensing magic using only his body was akin to trying to see in a thick fog, and he hated the sensation. While he understood the need to guard against using magic to cheat, that didn’t mean he wanted to spend one additional second without the use of his horn.

The colt lifted his hind legs out of the water and stood up. Water dripped from his pale silver coat, and he used a hoof to push his gold and green mane away from his eyes. He looked at the clock, and then looked at the clocks over the other lanes. He smiled.

He beat his target by a full five seconds. He qualified. It wasn’t enough to know his special talent was swimming. The colt wanted to prove himself on the biggest stage, this year’s Equestria Games in Baltimare, and qualifying for the regional competition in Fillydelphia was the first step.

“All right! Way to go, Blue Seas!”

“Thanks, Coach,” Blue Seas replied, shaking the orange mare’s hoof. Scootaloo was just a volunteer coach for pretty much everything in Ponyville, but her encouragement and tips for facing a competition were invaluable for young Blue Seas.

Blue Seas scanned the crowd, quickly finding his family. They had all taken time away from the farm to cheer him on. He trotted over to his family, wanting to embrace his parents. But a small blue ball of energy beat him to it, nearly knocking him off his hooves as she collided with him.

“You did it, big brother!” the filly said.

“Thanks, Cirrus,” Blue Seas told her. The youngest of five foals, Cirrus didn't have her cutie mark, but if hers didn’t have something to do with flying, Blue Seas would be shocked.

“I’m proud of you, son,” his mother said, embracing him.

“Ever since the day I first took you to the swimming hole, I knew you’d make it,” his father added.

“Thanks for being there for me, even when it meant I couldn’t do my chores,” Blue Seas said.

“You come back with a medal, I won’t even ask you to make up your missed chores,” his father replied.

Blue Seas shared hugs and hoofshakes with his three other siblings. Juniper and Junebug, his brother and sister, were three years younger than him, twin earth ponies with reversed coloration, he with a forest green coat and reddish brown mane, she with the green mane and brown coat. Red Streak was a red pegasus colt five years younger than him, but in recent months he had been trying to be the mature one. Where he would once cheer loudly for Blue Seas, he now offered a serious nod and a hoofshake.

“Thanks, guys,” Blue Seas said. “But there’s somepony else I want to share this moment with.”

Cirrus smirked and made kissing noises.

“Oh, can it, Cirrus.”

Blue Seas had asked his marefriend to meet him under the bleachers after the swim meet was over. He had been drawn to Pumpkin Cake, even though she was two years older than him, because of their similar background, being unicorns raised in earth pony homes. That, and she was easy on the eyes.

The colt picked up his saddlebags from his locker and headed behind the bleachers. Peering through the wood and metal framework, he spotted Pumpkin Cake. They walked to meet each other and embraced.

“That was some really good swimming!” Pumpkin Cake said.


“So why did you want to meet here? Normally, when a colt asks a filly here, it’s because he wants a secluded place to smooch. But none of our parents mind,” she said.

“It’s, well... I want your help to cast a spell.” Blue Seas pulled a spellbook out of his saddlebags and opened it to the page marked by a silk bookmark. “I can’t do it myself.”

“A heritage spell? Are you sure?” Pumpkin Cake asked.

“Yes. I want to know who my mother is... my birth mother.”

“If you use this spell, there’s no going back. Again, is this what you want?”

“Mom and Dad were always honest about me being adopted. From when I was old enough to ask why I had a horn and they didn’t, they told me they chose to make me part of their family. But they don’t know anything more about my birth mother, and the one pony who does isn’t talking.”

“Why me? I’m sure there are more skilled unicorns in town,” Pumpkin Cake said.

“Because you’ve worked with this kind of magic before.”

“Now, why would you think that?”

“This is a library book, and it doesn’t get checked out a lot,” Blue Seas said. He opened the front cover, where the paperboard glued to it listed a small number of names. Pumpkin Cake recognized her own signature from when she checked out the book a year prior.

“Were you wondering about your father?” Blue Seas asked quietly. Pumpkin Cake stayed silent. “Your father is a great stallion, no matter what some spell says. And Pumpkin Cake, I’m the last pony that could criticize you for wanting to know.”

“The spell confirmed he is my natural father. My parents needed to use fertility magic, and I’ve read that it makes a foal more likely to be a different type than her parents. But I still feel bad for doubting.”

Blue Seas hugged Pumpkin Cake. “Don’t feel bad. You love your parents, and that’s what’s most important. Now, do you think you can help me?”

Pumpkin Cake pored over the spell. “This is not an easy spell. Not like the one I cast, which just analyzed the similarities between my hair and my father’s. Are you sure you don’t want someone more qualified to attempt it? Like the Princess?”

“Princess Twilight Sparkle is the pony who knows who my mother is. Apparently, she’s a distant relative of hers. I’ve asked her to tell me more, but she refuses. So no, I can’t ask her.”

Pumpkin Cake read over the spell a third time, though more to give her time to think. “I’ll try,” she said. She calmed her breathing, focused, and started shaping the arcane patterns of the spell. Her horn glowed brightly, finally culminating in a shimmering glow appearing in front of her. She kept concentrating, focusing on the image, but nothing changed. Finally, she released the magic, gasping.

“What happened?”

“The spell didn’t work,” Pumpkin Cake said.

“What does that mean? Is my mother dead?” Blue Seas asked.

“No. The spell should still have presented an image of her cutie mark. That wouldn’t change if your mother has already passed.”

“Then what does it mean?”

“I think it means I’m not a strong enough spellcaster.” She hugged her coltfriend. “Sorry, Blue Seas.”

“Thanks for trying, sweetie.”

It is said that Ponyville is an earth pony town. But the town’s proportions pale in comparison to the presence of earth ponies in a high level athletic competition. In the air, pegasi practice their own competitions. But on the ground, almost all the athletes are earth ponies.

That wasn’t going to stop Blue Seas from competing in the regional competition. The pool here in Fillydelphia was just as long as the one in Ponyville. The races were the same length. The styles of swimming were the same. He was just going to be racing against ponies older and stronger than him. The prospect was daunting. Fortunately, he just needed to be in the top three of the much smaller contingent of swimmers from Ponyville.

Blue Seas surveyed the athletic field, feeling nerves even though he wouldn’t be competing until tomorrow. He wandered through the large crowd. A volunteer found him, and helped Blue Seas register and sign up for a time to practice. He chose to practice early. After changing and dropping off his belongings in a locker, he headed to the pool.

In an unfamiliar pool, he found familiarity in his standard practice routine. Five laps, with no particular stroke, to loosen up. Then ten laps with each standard stroke, followed by five more laps to cool down. From there, he mentally reviewed his performance, deciding which part of his repertoire needed additional work in his remaining practice time. He went back to the backstroke, focusing carefully on his form.

Blue Seas felt like he was being watched as he left the pool. As he looked around, he heard somepony shout, “Hey, rookie!” He looked, and found a group of four stallions, three unicorns and one earth pony. They appeared a few years older than him, and while they didn’t look related to each other, each of them had a mane with two colors blended together.

He had never met another pony with a mane like his own. And now, there were four others.

“Uh, hello,” Blue Seas said. “Is it that obvious?”

“Pretty much,” one of the unicorns said. “I’m Wave Crasher, from Fillydelphia. My teammates, Azure Spark and Roller,” he continued, motioning to one of the other unicorns and the earth pony. “And that’s Sea Star. He’s from Baltimare, but we don’t hold it against him.”

“Blue Seas. Um, from Ponyville.”

“Ponyville? Isn’t that kind of far?” Wave Crasher asked.

“The train ride wasn’t that bad, I guess,” Blue Seas said.

An announcer barked the names of Sea Star and Azure Spark. “Sorry, two of us have to go, and I’m scheduled to practice right after them. I can’t wait to see your moves tomorrow,” Wave Crasher said.

“Likewise,” Blue Seas replied.

Blue Seas took a seat in the stands, and watched the two unicorns swim. He found himself impressed. They had a clear affinity for the water. Ponies had told him he was a natural, but this was his first chance to watch another gifted swimmer.

And after watching all four stallions practice, Blue Seas figured he would need a lot more practice to have a shot of winning a medal in the Equestrian Games.

Blue Seas didn’t have much time to think about his fellow swimmers. He found himself being herded around after practice, first to a meet and greet, then to dinner, then a meeting discussing the next day’s schedule. He was grouped in with the rest of the athletes from Ponyville, and each city’s ponies were encouraged to stick together by their respective coordinators. He wished that Scootaloo had made the trip; the mare wouldn’t tolerate being cooped up like that.

The next day found Blue Seas rising at his normal early hour. He started with calisthenics, and swam laps in one of the practice pools. At ten o’clock, he proceeded to the pool for the trials. Blue Seas was in the first group for the first event, the sprint. He secured his mane in a swim cap and donned his horn blocker.

The whistle sounded. Everything but the water in his lane disappeared as Blue Seas focused on the race. His legs kicked, perfect strokes propelling him through the water. His mental count told him the wall was approaching before he noticed the subtle difference in the water. He touched the wall, twisted, and kicked off. Three more laps followed before he pulled himself out of the water.

Anticipation helped keep up the quick pace of his heart as he waited for the official times. He smiled when his time was revealed. It was close to his best, and hopefully fast enough to qualify for the Ponyville team.

Blue Seas paced nervously in the stands as the other swimmers raced. The competition here was so much stronger than back home. The stallions from the previous day were particularly good. He held his breath as the result of each trial involving one of his Ponyville competitors was revealed.

He breathed a sigh of relief as the final trial finished. He would be going to the Equestrian Games in at least one event. But realistically, he knew he’d need a few more years of practice, and growth, to compete on this level.

The second race was announced. Blue Seas headed back to the pool. “Just four more events,” he told himself.

“Hey, rookie! You didn’t disappoint.”

Blue Seas was sharing dinner with a group of Ponyville athletes when he heard Wave Crasher call to him. He looked up; Wave Crasher wasn’t with his other friends this time. “Thanks, Wave Crasher. But I really don’t have a chance, do I?”

Wave Crasher slapped him on the withers. “Don’t get yourself down, kid. You’re what, fifteen? You’re only going to get better. You don’t have to worry that you’ve peaked, like I do.”

“Peaked? I’d be kind of surprised if you didn’t medal,” Blue Seas replied.

“The competition’s really strong this year,” Wave Crasher responded. “But I didn’t come to talk about that. How would you feel about a real race?”

“What do you mean?”

“An ocean swim. Open water. No requirements on strokes. No restrictions on magic. Just ponies, swimming to the best of all of their abilities.”

“I don’t know,” Blue Seas replied. He wanted to do it, but this sounded like hazing... or worse.

“I’ll be there to keep you safe, kid. And I also want to see what you’ve got.” Blue Seas looked up to see an older earth pony stallion, violet with a more normal two-tone blue and green mane. “Name’s Open Water. You have my word, kid.”

“It’s an honor, sir,” Blue Seas said nervously. Open Water was a legend in the swimming world; he earned dozens of medals as a swimmer and was the coach for a number of champion swimmers over the last ten years.

“I’ll be taking Wave Crasher and the others to Sandy Point; it’s less than half a mile from here,” Open Water said. “And we all want to see you there.”

“I’ll do it,” Blue Seas said.

An hour after dinner, Open Water led the five ponies to the beach. The setting sun reflected off the choppy ocean waters, oranges and reds highlighting the greenish water. Off in the distance, a small island, little more than a sandbar, caught Blue Seas’ attention. The island was perhaps a half mile away. As the other ponies stretched on the damp sand, they also watched the island.

Open Water departed, and soon returned with a rowboat balanced on his back. He shrugged, dropping the craft into the shallow water near the shore, placing one hoof on it to keep it from drifting off. “I know most of you have heard this before, but pay attention,” he said. He waited until everypony was looking at him.

“Okay. Let’s go over the safety procedures,” Open Water announced. He picked up a bulky orange vest, draping it over a foreleg. “This is a life jacket. You’re going to be in the open ocean. On your swim today, you shouldn’t have to worry about riptides, but the ocean is always unpredictable. If you are in any trouble, cross your forelegs over your head. I will take the boat to you and give you a life jacket. Nopony will think less of you for wanting to live to see tomorrow.”

He then held up a thin cylinder. “This is a signal flare. It will float on the water. When it’s lit, you can’t miss its light. If you see it, you start swimming back to shore immediately. No exceptions. Understood?” Everypony nodded.

“Good. I’ll be taking the boat out to the midpoint. When I give the signal, swim to that island.”

Open Water pushed the boat into the water and hopped in. As he rowed, the five swimmers walked out until the ocean water was up to their barrels.

The coach stopped rowing and turned the boat. Once it came to a stop, he held up his foreleg. He dropped it. The ponies surged into the ocean.

Blue Seas kicked his legs, his horn glowing. His magic flowed through his body and into the water around him. It could best be thought of as willing the water to work with him. He always felt his magic was particularly attuned to the water, a connection he sadly couldn’t explore in the realm of competitive swimming. But in this race, he could. It was as if his body and spirit were perfectly formed to swim.

With the full use of his magic, Blue Seas knew he was swimming far faster than his normal speed. His hind legs worked in perfect synchronization, propelling him along the surface of the ocean. His forelegs felt like they were commanding the ocean currents.

Yet it still wasn’t enough. The others were in their element as well. Wave Crasher was far ahead of him, with Azure Spark close behind him. Sea Star and Roller lagged them. As they approached the island, Blue Seas noticed Roller beginning to fade. He hoped he could beat at least one of the other swimmers. Blue Seas reached into himself, willing all his physical and magical energy to come forward.

In the end, the race turned out to be just a bit too short. Blue Seas had almost closed the gap with Roller, but the earth pony placed his forehoof on the sandbar just seconds before Blue Seas. Roller pulled himself onto shore. Blue Seas did the same, only to stop when he saw something very unusual. Roller’s hind legs were gone, replaced by a giant fish tail. He flipped onto his back, stretching his hindquarters. Yes, definitely a fish tail.

He looked around. All the others had fish tails, too. Blue Seas realized he was staring, his mouth agape. He shook his head and looked away. There would be time to ask questions. He finished pulling himself onto the shore. Or, rather, he tried to. His hind legs weren’t working. This wasn’t normal exhaustion. It was like his legs weren’t responding to his commands.

He looked down, and saw his own fish tail.

“One of us! One of us!” the other ponies chorused.

Blue Seas screamed.

They looked at him oddly. “What’s wrong?” Azure Spark asked.

“What did you do to me?” Blue Seas yelled.

“Huh?” they all said. Roller pulled himself closer to Blue Seas.

“Get away from me!” Blue Seas screamed.

“You heard him,” Open Water said. The coach rowed his boat until it beached itself on the sandbar. “I’ll talk to Blue Seas. The rest of you, swim back to shore.”

The others, still looking confused, listened to the coach. Blue Seas watched with morbid fascination as the four ponies’ fish halves twisted, pushing themselves into the water.

Open Water hopped out of the rowboat and sat in the sand next to Blue Seas. “What’s wrong?” he asked the young swimmer?”

“What happened to me?” Blue Seas asked. The fear in his voice worried Open Water.

“Is there something wrong with your seapony magic?”

“I’m not a seapony,” Blue Seas stated.

“I know; you’re half-seapony,” Open Water said. There was a look of disbelief in the young pony’s eyes. “Didn’t your mother or father teach you how to transform?”

“I’m adopted,” Blue Seas said. “I just thought I was a unicorn.”

“Well, ah... hmmm. That’s a new one for me.” Open Water paused. “I’m just an earth pony, but I’ve met a lot of half-seaponies in my years of competitive swimming. They have a natural affinity for the water, as you might guess. And they all can take seapony form, just like you did tonight, even the ones without unicorn or narwhal heritage. If I had to guess, your desire to swim as fast as possible tapped into your seapony magic and triggered this power.”

“How do I change back?”

“I think you just will it. Are you feeling okay? Do you want a ride back, Blue Seas?”

“Let me swim back. I think I need the time to clear my mind.”

With Open Water paddling behind him, Blue Seas slowly swam back. He focused on the movements of his seapony form. It was obviously designed to swim, but after a lifetime of swimming like a pony, it felt strange to use a giant, muscular tail to swim.

Blue Seas was physically fine, but mentally exhausted, when he reached shore. Open Water rested a hoof on his withers. “I’ll go explain to the others,” he said quietly.

Blue Seas didn’t know how long Open Water talked to the others. He was too busy trying to change back into his normal form. It took some time before he felt a feeling akin to stretching his hind legs during squats. There was a flash of light and a brief warm sensation, and he felt the ocean breeze again tickling the hairs of his hind legs.

Walking back to the camp on four legs now felt weird.

Blue Seas stood on the platform, waiting for the train home. The Fillydelphia train station was packed with athletes, many of them excited about their recent successes. Even those who ended the trials disappointed were supporting their friends and fellow athletes.

He saw Wave Crasher pick his way through the crowd. He stood by Blue Seas, shuffling his hooves awkwardly. “I just wanted to say, we’re all sorry for the way we acted the other night,” he said. “There aren’t many half-seaponies, and we got so excited to meet another that we never thought it possible that you, well....”

“That I was totally clueless?” Blue Seas offered

“Yeah. I mean, we were clueless too. When you said you were from Ponyville, we should have known. We live on the coast, so we can visit with both sides of our families, so with you living in the heart of Equestria, we really should have known.” He pulled an envelope out of his bag. “Here are all of our addresses. If you have any questions about swimming, or seaponies, or anything, write us.”

“Thanks,” Blue Seas said. He quickly rummaged through his own bag, finding a piece of paper and a quill, and scrawled his contact information on it. “And here’s my address.”

“I’m looking forward to swimming with you again, whether in Baltimare at the Games or in the ocean.”

“Me too. And one day, I’ll be as fast as you.”

Wave Crasher smiled. “Of that, I have no doubt.”

A train’s whistle sounded. “All aboard for Canterlot, Ponyville, and Dodge Junction!” the conductor called.

“That’s my train,” Blue Seas said. “Take care.”

“You too!”

Blue Seas boarded the train, taking a seat by the window. As the train started to roll, he stared blankly, his mind focused on the events of the week. He had learned something surprising about his heritage. But it was incomplete. He still wanted to know more about his mother.

Chapter 2: The Road to the Equestria Games

View Online


By Alaborn

Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.

Chapter 2: The Road to the Equestria Games

Blue Seas was practicing swimming in the family’s pond when he noticed a small shadow on the surface. He looked up and spotted his little sister flitting above.

“Hi, Cirrus!” he called.

“Hi, Blue Seas! Are you swimming fast?”

“I’m focusing on swimming fast and in proper form,” he replied. He stopped swimming and paddled to shore. “Don’t you have chores to do?”

“Nope! All done!”

“Don’t you have my chores to do?”

“Nope! I beat Juniper at a game of Battleclouds, and now he has to do them!”

“You’d think he’d have learned by now.” Blue Seas was back at home, with less than a month to practice for the Equestria Games. He spent almost every waking hour swimming, in the Ponyville pool when it was open, and here at the pond when it wasn’t.

He still hadn’t talked to his family about what he learned about his heritage. He wasn’t sure what to say. But maybe he could show them?

“Hey, Cirrus?” he called. “There’s something I want to show everypony. Some new magic.”

“New magic? What is it?” She zoomed down, hovering right by his face.

“But, I’m not sure it’s going to work. Can you stand on the ground, behind that tree? And no peeking!”

Cirrus frowned, but flew over to where Blue Seas said to go. Blue Seas concentrated, reaching out to the seapony magic living inside him. He thought about the water, about the desire to swim as fast as possible. He felt the magic collecting in him, but instead of being focused through his horn, it flowed across his body, accumulating in his hind legs. Then he felt it. The transformation wasn’t painful at all; in fact, it felt a lot like a sudden muscle cramp. He looked down, and saw his seapony tail.

He looked over to Cirrus. He wasn’t surprised to find her peeking. But by sending her away from the water, she wouldn’t be able to see his change.

“Okay, Cirrus. I’m done. Could you ask everypony in the family to come here? Tell them it’s important.”

“Important. Got it!” Cirrus zipped away.

Blue Skies swam a few laps with his tail, relishing the power and control the appendage offered him. He could feel the ambient magic in the water much more strongly, to the point of sensing changes in the motion of the water at all depths at once. He only swam for a short while, as he wanted his tail concealed when his family showed up.

A few minutes later, his parents and four siblings approached. “What’s up, son?” Golden Harvest asked.

“When I was at the meet in Fillydelphia, I met some other swimmers. They had manes that looked like mine, and I was like them in another way. They all have a seapony parent, and... well, so do I.” Blue Seas twisted, floating on his back, revealing his seapony tail.

They all stared for a while. Finally, Golden Grain broke the silence. “Well, isn’t that something.”

“Guess that explains why you’re a natural swimmer,” Red Streak said.

“I think this is a wonderful surprise!” Golden Harvest said. “You’ve always been special to us, Blue Seas.”

“Where was your tail hiding?” Junebug asked.

“I had to use some kind of transformation magic,” Blue Seas said. “It uses some innate power that I didn’t know I had until my swimming friends in Fillydelphia helped me unlock it. All I know is it’s not normal unicorn magic.”

Cirrus flew up to him, poking his tail curiously. She then glomped onto his tail, wrapping all four legs around it. “Look, Daddy! I caught the fish! I’m a fisherpony just like you!”

Blue Seas laughed. “You haven’t caught me yet!” He swished his tail and splashed the surface, drenching Cirrus. But she gamely held on.

“Looks like you caught a fighter!” Golden Grain said.

Blue Seas swam around the pond, being careful to stay near the shore. Cirrus giggled as she fought being dislodged. Eventually, she was laughing too hard to keep her grip, and plunged into the water. Blue Seas picked her up and took her back to shore.

“Dinner’s about to be ready,” Golden Harvest said. “Why don’t you two clean up and head inside?”

“Okay!” Cirrus chirped.

“Okay, Mom,” Blue Seas said. He frowned. “Just as soon as I figure out how to get my legs back.”

There was somepony else he wanted to share his heritage with. Two days later, Blue Seas took some time to visit Pumpkin Cake. He met her at Sugarcube Corner, after the young mare was finishing her shift at the bakery. Pumpkin Cake was halfway in one of the ovens, scrubbing it. She finally finished, crawling out and brushing the soot off her hooves. She peeled off her dirty apron and the headband that had been securing her mane, dropping both in a nearby hamper. That left her mane all askew, partially plastered to her head with sweat. Blue Seas couldn’t help but find that cute.

“How’s the swimming going?” Pumpkin Cake asked.

Blue Seas dropped his saddlebags on the floor. “I’m practicing ten hours a day on most days. I have to schedule things like this just to force myself away from the water.” He opened one of his saddlebags, retrieving a bunch of flowers. “Since I’ve been spending so much time by the pond, I picked some wildflowers.”

“Thanks! I love those!” Pumpkin Cake levitated the bouquet over to her, and took a bite of the sweet flowers. The succulent blooms melted on her tongue. She took another bite, and then offered the bouquet to Blue Seas.

“Thanks,” he said, and then took a bite. He left the rest for Pumpkin Cake; she actually liked the stems.

“So you’ve been swimming, and I’ve been baking. Anything else new?” Pumpkin Cake asked.

“When I was in Fillydelphia, I learned one of my birth parents was a seapony.”

“But that doesn’t make any sense.” Pumpkin Cake looked at him skeptically. “Did Pinkie put you up to this?”

“No. It’s true! Watch this.” Blue Seas concentrated, and he touched the reserve of seapony magic within him. He felt the change, and then fell to the floor, his seapony tail hitting the wooden surface with a heavy thud.

Pumpkin Cake stared for a moment. “I guess you weren’t joking.” She watched Blue Skies expectantly. “Aren’t you going to change back?”

“It’s going to take me a while to change back. I’m not really good at this magic,” Blue Seas admitted. He laughed. “I didn’t really think this through, did I?”

Pumpkin Cake shook her head. “Let’s get you into the bathtub.” She concentrated, and he felt her magic lifting his seapony tail. With the counteracting force, he was able to walk awkwardly on his forelegs. It was a lot like foals playing wheelbarrow.

After awkwardly traversing the stairs, Blue Seas was more than happy to flop into the bathtub. “Do you want water?”

“Sure, I guess.” Blue Seas realized he didn’t know much about this form. Would his tail start itching if he spent time out of water? In any case, the cool water was welcome. He must have gotten some dirt or flour under his scales when he fell to the ground, as he felt relief when the water washed over his tail. But the tub made him feel restless. He couldn’t swim, and the sensations from his tail were making him feel slightly claustrophobic.

“Sorry I doubted you, Blue Seas,” Pumpkin Cake said. “It’s just that Pinkie Pie’s been trying to prank me recently, and since I know all her tricks, I was afraid she’d gotten to you.”

“Don’t worry about it, sweetie.”

“So, uh... a seapony.”

“Yeah. I guess, looking back, it makes sense, but it’s still a surprise.”

“How did you find out?”

Blue Seas recounted his experiences at the meet in Fillydelphia, about how he met other swimmers that shared his mane style and the race that caused him to transform for the first time. “And they’d never heard of somepony not knowing about their seapony heritage.”

“Does that mean Princess Twilight Sparkle is related to seaponies?”

“More likely, the seapony is my father.” Blue Seas idly flicked at the water in the tub with his fins. “I’m just trying to figure out how my mother and father met.”

“What about the other half-seaponies? How did their parents meet?” Pumpkin Cake asked.

“I didn’t really ask them. I gathered they all knew both sides of their families, so I guess it was some lonely sailor meeting a seapony, and falling in love. And love makes them do silly things, like marrying somepony you can only see when one of you is using magic. Except in my case, that love didn’t last, and my mother gave me up for adoption.”

“How do you know it was your mother? We’re talking about seaponies. Maybe it was your father who gave you up. Remember that section in health class?”

“Yeah.” Blue Seas chuckled. The health class section on reproduction was an awkward experience. Nopony really wanted to be there, not even the teacher. The lessons included details specific to the three kinds of ponies, various other equines, and other races that ponies could be fertile with, including griffons and seaponies. And the bland textbook description of how seapony stallions carry the foal to term triggered titters from the fillies and uncomfortable looks from the colts. “I really hope this doesn’t mean I have to bear a foal.”

“And what do you have against bearing foals?” Pumpkin Cake asked crossly.

“Nothing, it’s just, you know, stallions aren’t supposed to....” Blue Seas trailed off. “Wait a minute!” He tried to get out of the tub, but then remembered he was missing two legs still. “Pumpkin Cake, would you get my saddlebags from downstairs?”

“What is it?”

“Just go, and hurry!”

Though confused, Pumpkin Cake left the bathroom, soon returning with Blue Seas’s saddlebags. He opened it with his magic, searching until he pulled out a paper scroll.

“I wrote down the heritage spell you tried to cast before I returned the book to the library,” Blue Seas explained. “I want to see something about it.”

Blue Seas unrolled the scroll, placing it where he and Pumpkin Cake could see it. The scroll was covered with the arcane pictographs used to record unicorn magic, each symbol representing a magical motion used in shaping the spell. But each phrase of several symbols also held a meaning, one that could be translated into basic Equestrian.

“So if I translate this spell, I get something like ‘Search through the connections of heritage and reveal the soul of the mare that carried the subject.’ Right?” Blue Seas said.

“Yes, I think so,” Pumpkin Cake replied.

“This phrase, it means mare, specifically, right? It’s not used in a generic sense for all ponies, or all adult ponies?”

“Right. Stallion would have a clockwise flourish instead of a counterclockwise one in that symbol.”

“So if the spell is designed to reveal the mare who bore me, but it wasn’t a mare who bore me, the spell wouldn’t work, right?”

“It would probably return a null response. Like the one I got!” Pumpkin Cake said excitedly.

Blue Seas grasped Pumpkin Cake’s foreleg. “So could you try the spell again? Except, this time, looking for a stallion?”

“Okay. I’ll try.” Even though the spell was being changed in the simplest of manners, one that unicorns learned while still foals, Pumpkin Cake still felt nervous. She took a deep breath, steadying herself before attempting the complex spell. She focused her magic on Blue Seas, shaping the energies in her mind to follow the pathways of heritage.

Like when she first attempted the spell, a glowing patch appeared. This time, the glow brightened. Colors appeared, mist formed definite shape, and soon, a cutie mark appeared.

“You did it!” Blue Seas exclaimed. “But what is it? A magic star?”

“No, there’s eight points, not six. And it looks more like two shapes overlaid.”

“It looks kind of nautical.”

“I know! It’s a compass rose,” Pumpkin Cake said. “Kind of like the one Daring Do has, but not as detailed.”

“A compass rose? Like, an explorer? That actually makes sense.”

“So what are you going to do with this information?”

“I’m not sure,” Blue Seas admitted. “An explorer could be living anywhere, or he could be retired by now. But seaponies are insular. I can’t imagine there are that many ponies who visit the seapony waters.”

“So you’re kind of in the same place as before?”

“Yeah, I guess. If Princess Twilight Sparkle won’t talk....”

The bathroom was quiet for a while. “Have you heard from those other half-seaponies?” Pumpkin Cake asked.

“I got a letter from one of them, but it was more advice on the Equestria Games. Like, pay attention to the official communications, what to do at the athletes’ village, and bring an extra trunk.”

“An extra trunk?”

“Yeah. Apparently, we’ll get a lot of free things, and I’ll be coming home with a lot more than what I brought with me.” He splashed his tail in the tub. “But I think my questions about this are better asked in person.”

“Do you think you’re ready to change back yet?” Pumpkin Cake asked.

Blue Seas closed his eyes, feeling for his magic. Not experiencing that exhausted sensation that came immediately after he changed, he focused. Again, he felt the strange stretching as his seapony tail split into two legs.

Pumpkin Cake held a towel in her telekinetic aura. “Come on, let’s get you toweled off.”

Blue Seas dried off. “So, how about a nice, normal walk around Ponyville?” he suggested.

“That sounds good to me.”

Three weeks later, Blue Seas stood with his family, Pumpkin Cake, and Scootaloo on the platform of the Ponyville train station. Two trunks rested on the ground near him. All around, ponies were embarking and disembarking.

“Good luck, son. We’ll be there for the opening ceremonies,” Golden Grain said.

“We’ll all be cheering for you!” his mother added.

“Don’t forget to stretch!” Scootaloo cautioned. “If you’re going to injure yourself, do it in an awesome way!”

Blue Seas laughed. “I’ll stretch, drink plenty of water, and turn in early. I promise!”

Cirrus flew up and hugged him. She was soon joined by the rest of his family.

Once that hug ended, Pumpkin Cake sneaked in and gave Blue Seas a quick peck. “For good luck.”

“Thanks.” Remembering the skill of the other swimmers he met, he mentally added “I’ll need it.”

“All aboard for Baltimare!” the conductor announced.

Blue Seas had one last hug for his mother. “I’ll be looking for you in the crowd during the opening ceremonies.” He picked up his trunks and boarded the train. Taking a seat by the window, he smiled at his family. As the train started moving, he waved. They waved back, with Cirrus even following after the train until its speed was too much for the young pegasus.

Blue Seas sighed and looked out the window. The train car held only a few ponies, a situation that would soon change as spectators headed to Equestria’s nautical capital for the quadrennial Equestria Games. He wondered if anypony else on the train was an athlete. But for now, it was just Blue Seas, his thoughts, and the rhythmic sound of the train.

It was a rather boring train trip. The train stopped at a number of towns even smaller than Ponyville. Blue Seas managed to doze off at some point. It at least made the six hour trip go by faster.

When the train arrived, Blue Seas grabbed his trunks and disembarked. He looked around, noticing a large banner.

Equestria Games Athletes – Check In

Below the banner, a mare waited at a booth. Blue Seas approached. “I’m here for the Games,” he said.

“Welcome to Baltimare. Can I have your name and home town?” the mare replied.

“Blue Seas. Ponyville.”

She checked a list, and then took a pencil in her mouth and marked her list. “Do you have your luggage?”

“I do.”

“Good. Please have a seat over there. Once everypony is off the train, our carriage will take you to the athletes’ village.”

Five minutes later, the same mare came by. “Looks like it’s just you,” she said.

Blue Seas nodded and rose. He followed her to the entrance of the station, where a number of carriages were waiting. “Hey, Porter, one for the village.”

A burly earth pony stallion behind a two-pony carriage tipped his hat. “Right away. Need any help with your luggage, sir?”

“No, I’m fine,” Blue Seas replied. With each trunk only half full, he had no problem lifting them with his telekinesis. He loaded them into the rear of the carriage, and took one of the seats.

Porter released the brake and started pulling the carriage, pulling out onto the street. The train station was near the docks. Towering ships could be seen over the roofs of the warehouses. The smell of the ocean was even more prominent than Fillydelphia.

The stallion expertly maneuvered through traffic. He darted around slower wagons and took shortcuts through alleys and side streets.

“Is this your first visit to Baltimare?”

Blue Seas was impressed. Despite his physical exertion, Porter sounded like he was making normal conversation. “Yes, it is,” he replied. Living on a farm means one doesn’t often get away.

“Everypony in Baltimare is proud to be hosting the games. See those buildings up there?”

Blue Seas looked up. There in the sky were a number of cloud buildings. “Uh-huh.”

“Those are temporary cloud hotels. The pegasi from Covert built them to host our visitors. And they’ll be disassembled afterward.”


Porter was rather talkative, narrating Blue Seas’s trip. He pointed out landmarks and several of the facilities that would be used during the Games. Finally, they arrived at Royal Baltimare University. “I’ll drop you off at the dorms,” Porter said.

Once out of the carriage, Blue Seas was immediately met by another volunteer. She wore a blue collar. Now that he thought about it, that mare at the train station wore one too. “Do all the volunteers wear those collars?”

“That’s right. If you have any questions, talk to one of us, and we’ll help you. You’re in room 213. There’s an orientation meeting in the cafeteria every evening at 5:00. There’s a schedule on the wall of carriages to the various practice facilities. Again, if you have any questions, ask one of us.”

“Thanks.” Blue Seas took his trunks to his room, a standard dormitory room with two beds. The room was currently unoccupied, but judging by the bags in the room, his roommate was already here.

Blue Seas headed back downstairs and wandered around the athletes’ village. All around him were young ponies, all at the peak of physical fitness and most quite attractive. If he didn’t have a marefriend at home....

“Like what you see?”

Blue Seas looked to see the speaker. It was definitely one of the half-seaponies he had met at the trials. His mane was a blend of violet and magenta, contrasting with his midnight blue coat. Blue Seas remembered it was the stallion from Baltimare. “Sea Star, right?”

“That’s me. How are you feeling, Blue Seas?”

“Well, the surprise has worn off. But there’s so much I don’t know about myself.”

“I thought you might have some questions. Fortunately, we’re roommates, so you’ll have plenty of time to ask them.”

“What?” Blue Seas exclaimed.

Sea Star smiled. “I knew one of the volunteers in charge of housing. I asked for a favor. I figure, it’s the least I could do after how we treated you.”

“You don’t need to apologize. There’s no way you could have known.”

“Let’s sit together for dinner. I’ll leave you to your pony watching.” Sea Star placed a hoof on Blue Seas’s withers and leaned in close. “And if you need the room to yourself, put a hanger on the door.”

A moment later, Blue Seas figured out what Sea Star meant, and he blushed.

Blue Seas was surprised at how friendly his fellow athletes were. Certainly, the athletes he knew locally were good ponies, but he was afraid that, at this higher level, competitiveness would make them unfriendly. But even the ponies who directly competed on the field were cordial to each other.

He was content with making small talk, even when sharing a table in the dining hall with Sea Star. Because of that, he wasn’t surprised when Sea Star spoke to him that night, as they were getting ready for bed. “I take it you didn’t want to talk about your heritage in public?”

“Yeah. ‘Hi. I’m Blue Seas, and sometimes I have a fish tail.’ How do you even start?”

“Normally? I don’t. If I say I’m going to spend the week with my father’s family, most ponies will assume that my parents are divorced, not that my father lives underwater,” Sea Star said.

“You live with your mother?”

“Yes. Well, lived. I’m on my own now.”

“What was that like?”

“Let’s see.” Sea Star thought for a moment. “My best friend growing up spent most of his time living with one parent. His father was a traveling salespony, and he only saw him a couple times a month. So when they were together, they made the most of that time. It was the same for me. We worked at staying together as a family.”

“How did your parents meet?” Blue Seas asked.

“Dad was a trader. Not a lot of seaponies are comfortable in dry space, even if almost all can transform, so he was always busy trading with the surface. Mom ran a seaside resort. They say it was love at first sight. And judging by the way they still act all nauseatingly cute around each other, I’m inclined to believe them.”

“I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that. My parents have, I don’t know, an intense familiarity, if that makes sense.”

“I think I get what you’re saying. So my parents made sacrifices to make their relationship work. There was all that time apart. Relationships with landponies are still considered strange in the seapony world, so my father had to deal with that. Plus, he wouldn’t know the joys of fatherhood. Uh, you know about that, right?”

“You mean pregnancy? Yes, we had that lesson in health class.” Something hit Blue Seas. “Do we have to worry about becoming pregnant?”

Sea Star laughed. “No. Not unless you’re with a full-blooded seapony. Our unicorn heritage dominates for purposes like that.”

“That’s a relief.” Blue Seas reflected for a moment. “What is a seapony city like?”

“Smaller. Mariana—that’s where my father is from—only has a few thousand seaponies. Everything looks more organic, built from coral and stone and shaped by magic. Instead of roads, we have currents, and we can have doors at any level of our buildings. But really? You’ll be surprised about how much is the same.”

“I think I’d like to travel there sometime. Maybe I’ll meet my birth mother.”

“I’d recommend visiting the capital of Atlantis, which is near Fillydelphia. Maybe one of the others could take you there; their families are all from Atlantis.”

“That would be very nice,” Blue Seas said. “I’d have to talk to my parents about it first, though.”

“Yeah,” Sea Star replied. “Wait a minute. You said you might meet your birth mother. Why do you think your mother is a seapony?”

“I used a heritage spell. It identified that a stallion bore me. A stallion with a compass rose cutie mark. I’d probably have better luck finding out his identity by going to Atlantis, right?”

“What do you mean?” Sea Star asked.

“There are a lot more ponies than seaponies, right?”

“By orders of magnitude.”

“But the number of ponies who visit the seapony cities has to be even smaller. So hopefully, someone would remember an explorer who visited.”

“Maybe not,” Sea Star cautioned. “Your father could be a sailor, maybe a ship’s navigator. They might have, uh, trysted on the surface.”

“Oh,” Blue Seas uttered. He was so sure he knew something about his father, but Sea Star had another idea. And he had to admit Sea Star’s idea made more sense.

“What do your parents do?” Sea Star asked.

Blue Seas was grateful he changed the subject. “They’re farmers. Carrots and wheat, mostly.”

“Do you work on the farm?”

“I have chores, but not so much related to growing things. I have a brother and sister—earth ponies—who can use their magic to help with the growing, but their special talents are going to take them away from the farm And two other siblings, both pegasi. We’re all adopted.”

“Wow. I’m an only child. So are the other guys. It comes with the territory of having families like ours.”

“When you have younger siblings, there are many days you wish you were an only child,” Blue Seas said with a laugh.

“I guess that’s why I get along with the swimmers from Fillydelphia. They’re the brothers I never had. And I think I speak for all of us that’s it’s nice to welcome a long-lost brother.”

“Thanks. I really mean it,” Blue Seas said.

“The others are arriving tomorrow. Let’s all practice together, and at dinner, you can ask them about Atlantis. I know they like to visit after big tournaments, so maybe you could join them.”

“I’d like that. I’ll need to talk to my parents, of course.”

“Blue Seas, it sounds like you get along well with your adoptive parents. Are you sure you want to go looking for your birth parents?”

“I am.” He paused. “It’s hard to explain. I have loving parents, great friends, and a friendly community, but even after all of this, there’s this hole in my soul that comes from not knowing. I’d love to build a relationship with my birth parents. But even if I can only meet my birth parents once, it will make me feel complete. I know it might be painful to meet them, but it might also be wonderful, and it hurts not to know which it is.”

“It’s your decision. But no matter what, we’ll all be there to help you learn about your seapony heritage. Tomorrow. I think I need to get to sleep.”

“All right. Good night, Sea Star.”

“Good night, Blue Seas.”

Blue Seas closed his eyes and reflected on the day. He didn’t know what to expect when he arrived in Baltimare. Thoughts about his heritage could have been a huge distraction, one he didn’t need right now. But after talking to Sea Star, he now felt a lot more comfortable in his skin.

Even the part with scales attached.

Chapter 3: The Equestria Games

View Online


By Alaborn

Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.

Chapter 3: The Equestria Games

Blue Seas and Sea Star headed to the pool after a light breakfast. Though not far past dawn, three others were already in the pool, the trio of half-seaponies from Fillydelphia.

“I thought you said they weren’t coming in until today?” Blue Seas asked.

“That’s right.” He called out to them. “Hey, guys!”

The three ponies finished their laps and pulled themselves out of the pool. “Hi, Sea Star. Good to see you again, Blue Seas,” Wave Crasher said. “By the way, you might want to step back.”

“Huh?” Blue Seas replied, just before finding himself getting soaked. He was in range as Roller, the tall earth pony, shook the water off his coat.

“That’s lesson one in swimming with us,” Azure Spark said with a laugh.

Blue Seas wiped the water off his face. “When did you get here?”

“About five thirty,” Azure Spark replied.

“And you came straight here? Off an overnight train?”

“There’s no better way to freshen up,” Roller commented.

“Yeah, we came here,” Wave Crasher said. “All except Coach, who whined about wanting to shower first.”

“I snagged his whistle and watch,” Azure Spark said.

“How about a little race?” Sea Star suggested. “Backstroke, 200m. Since you’re equipped, Azure Spark, you get to time us.”

“Fine,” he said.

Blue Seas took his position on the starting block along with the other three. He focused on Roller and Wave Crasher. They had just gotten off an overnight train, an experience that would leave anypony feeling tired. Maybe he would have a chance this morning.

The whistle sounded, and Blue Seas dived off the starting block, twisting his body into the proper form. As the momentum from his jump faded, the first stroke of his legs propelled him through the water. He mentally tracked his pace and counted his strokes. He tapped the wall and turned into the second lap.

After the final lap, Blue Seas pulled himself out of the pool. He looked, and his heart sank. He came in last.

“Cheer up, Blue Seas,” Azure Spark said. “You swam well.”

“I lost,” he muttered.

“No, you swam better than almost everypony in Equestria could. Do you want my honest assessment?” Seeing Blue Seas nod, he continued. “You’re a natural in the water. Your form was excellent, and you executed the turns perfectly. The only thing I noticed this race is you were a little slow off the block.

“Blue Seas, you will medal in the Equestria Games. It may not be this year, but you will. If you swim to the best of your ability, everypony watching you will be proud. And you should be proud as well.”

“Enough with the sappy speeches,” Roller interrupted. “How about some more swimming, and then some lunch?”

As the Fillydelphia ponies hadn't had much for breakfast, they broke for an early lunch. Though still late in the morning, the cafeteria was filled with hungry ponies. Quite a few were coming off their own morning training. Blue Seas wasn’t attacking his sandwiches and salad with the same vigor as the athletes around him. He kept thinking back to the results of the morning’s practice.

A hoof on his withers interrupted his thoughts. He looked up to see who it was, recognizing Open Water. “Hey, Coach,” he said, without much enthusiasm.

“Good to see you again, Blue Seas. How’s the training going?”

“Okay, I guess,” he replied.

“Look. Sea Star talked to me, and.... Well, I’m taking a group of my current and former swimmers to the pool after lunch for drills. I’d like you to join them. They need the competition, and I’m sure Sea Star and the others will be fine on their own.”

“I guess.”

“Let’s walk to the pool together,” Open Water urged.

Once away from cafeteria, Open Water addressed Blue Seas. “How have you handled learning about your heritage?” he asked.

“Actually, I haven’t had much of a chance to deal with it,” Blue Seas said. “I’ve told a few ponies, and they’ve been really supportive, but I can’t explore my heritage when I’m practicing for the Equestria Games.”

“That’s a common complaint among the half-seaponies I’ve coached,” he replied. “It’s worse for those who live in the ocean, and have to move to dry land to practice.” He paused. “Blue Seas, you know you’re a good swimmer, right?”

“I found out I was the best in Ponyville, but....”

“You do realize that Wave Crasher is the best swimmer I’ve ever seen? Azure Spark, Sea Star, and Roller are in the top twenty. They’ve told me that you will grow to be better than them. And from what I’ve seen, I agree with them. When you’re practicing today, I hope you’ll see that.”

Blue Seas hadn’t felt good going into lunch, but after resting and talking with Open Water, he felt refreshed. The smell of chlorine as he approached the pool further urged him on. The ponies now at the pool, mostly earth ponies, were unfamiliar to him; Blue Seas thought he recognized some from the trials in Fillydelphia, or perhaps from the dormitory.

“Good afternoon, everypony,” Open Water announced. “This is Blue Seas; he’ll be joining the practice. Make sure you give him a challenge!

“Since most of you just got back from lunch, take some time to limber up, and then we’ll do some short races, starting with the 100m freestyle.”

Blue Seas stretched and swam a few practice laps. When Open Water was ready, he blew his whistle. Ponies lines up at the starting block, Blue Seas among them, with a second group queuing up behind them. With another blast of the whistle, he dove into the water.

It was the shortest race length in the Equestria Games, just one trip down the lane and back. Blue Seas sprinted the length of the pool, tapped the wall, and swam back. He pulled himself out once he made it back to the start. Looking around, he saw that he finished third.

Throughout the afternoon, Blue Seas practiced with this larger group of ponies. He did much better than when he raced against his fellow half-seaponies; he even came in first on some of the drills. There was also plenty of time to socialize, and Blue Seas found it easy to get along with his fellow swimmers. They all looked happy to be here, and he realized he was back to feeling happy himself.

Blue Seas trotted over to one of the other swimmers, another unicorn. He finished last in the drill he had watched, and Blue Seas remembered that he was normally one of the slowest swimmers. Yet he was always smiling and laughing, and had just clapped hooves together with Open Water after his last race. “You seem pretty happy,” Blue Seas said to him.

“That was my fastest time yet,” he replied. “I’m Glint, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you, Glint by the way,” Blue Seas joked. “Blue Seas, from Ponyville. What city are you representing?”

“Appleloosa, if you’d believe it.”

“You don’t mind when you, uh....”

“Don’t win? Hey, someone has to lose, right? I love the water, and being a unicorn from Appleloosa, I’m doubly out of place. This has been the best week of my life! And even if I place last in every event, I get to watch my little sister carry the flag for Appleloosa.”

“That’s great,” Blue Seas said. “Unfortunately, I can’t say the same. My youngest sister tried out for flag carrier, but somepony else won.”

“Will she be watching you from the stands?”

“Yeah. My entire family is coming, along with half of Ponyville.”

“Then make your little sister happy and be the best swimmer you can be,” Glint said.

“I will. Thanks for giving me some perspective, Glint,” Blue Seas said.

Following dinner, Blue Seas again joined the other half-seaponies at the pool. His relative performance wasn’t any better, but Blue Seas tried to put it out of his mind. His efforts weren’t successful, but he continued to smile as he drilled in preparation for the Games.

Afterward, Blue Seas and Sea Star headed back to the dormitory. “I’m glad to see you’re in a better mood,” the older pony told Blue Seas.

“I’m still bothered about swimming against you, but at least I can compete,” Blue Seas said.

“Every time you swim, you’re competing against somepony, even if it’s just yourself. And if you’re ever upset, just think back to that time when you were swimming, and realized it was your special talent.”

“That’s pretty deep,” Blue Seas replied. “No pun intended, of course.”

Sea Star laughed. “Thanks, but I can’t take credit for that. It’s what Open Water told me when I was your age. It took me years to medal, you know.”

“I think it’s time to turn in,” Blue Seas said.

“You nervous about tomorrow?”

“Not really. I mean, the first swimming event is not for another two days.”

“But you’ll be stepping into the arena for the first time tomorrow. Trust me, you don’t forget your first opening ceremonies. The pageantry, the crowds, it’s something.”

“Really? Do you have any advice, then?”

“Drink some water before, but not too much. Trust me on that one.”

The next morning, every athlete gathered on the university quad. Scores of volunteers in their blue collars worked to organize them.

“Attention, attention everypony! Please gather around the volunteer holding your city’s flag,” one unicorn announced, his voice magically enhanced to carry over the murmuring of the crowd. “You will be given two numbers. The first is for the carriage that will take you to the stadium. The second is your row number.”

Blue Seas moved through the crowd, finding the pony with the Ponyville flag. As the waiting time increased, the murmuring of the crowd grew louder.

An image appeared in the air, showing a rough floor plan. Everypony looked up, though many continued to chat with their neighbors. “When the opening ceremonies begin, squads will enter by city, in alphabetical order within groups,” the same unicorn instructed. “You will enter thirty seconds after the flag carriers. Equestrian cities, except for Baltimare, will be first, and will gather in the two large areas marked in red. A low row number means you will be closer to the center of the stadium. Following the Equestrian cities will be the cities in the deer, donkey, zebra, griffon, llama, camel, and horse lands; you will go to the center area in green. Pony cities from nations beyond Equestria will then enter, filling in behind them in the area marked in blue. Finally, the athletes from Baltimare will enter, standing in the front center area marked in orange. Again, please stay with the volunteer with your city flag at all times. They will give the signal when your group will enter.”

The line for the carriages was long, but moved quickly. Blue Seas boarded one with five other athletes from Ponyville. He knew them mostly by reputation; they were competing in other events. Nopony was very talkative; nerves and excitement led them to focus on looking out the windows, watching as they neared the stadium.

Once he arrived, Blue Seas looked for where the Ponyville contingent was gathering. The first thing he noticed was the trio of rambunctious colts, the flag carriers for Ponyville. They were already roughhousing, and Blue Seas wondered how long it would be until they started scuffling. One of the other Ponyvillains wisely held the flag while they waited.

The volunteer urged the town’s athletes to stand in order. “There are thirty-seven of you, so you will take up an area of five columns by eight rows. I want you to enter by row number when your town is called.”

The athletes formed up, but the formation quickly lost cohesion as they continued to wait. Finally, they noticed the contingent from Appleloosa walk through the front gates of the stadium.

This is it. It’s finally happening.

Blue Seas shuffled around, shifting from one hoof to another, as he waited the twelve minutes for Ponyville to be called. He fell in line, walking into the dark interior of the stadium. Just when he got used to the darkness, he walked through the massive interior gate, into the bowl of the stadium. He had a hard time focusing on walking to his destination as he beheld the sight of tens of thousands of ponies in the stand.

He watched the flag carriers perform their routine, ending with the three colts balancing atop each other, the pegasus at the top of the pile waving the Ponyville flag. He walked to his place in the second row, and once everypony from Ponyville was present, he looked up.

So many ponies. He tried to find his family in the crowd. Blue Seas knew they would be cheering for him and waving, but so was everypony else in the stands. The only ponies who could be clearly identified were the five princesses. There were other large boxes in front of them, with what looked like foreign dignitaries. But beyond that, there were ponies, too many ponies.

Blue Seas didn’t have to worry about being rushed. He searched the entire stadium, in vain, because he had plenty of time to do so. First, all the other athletes had to enter the stadium. Then came the speeches. The mayor of Baltimare started, with a long-winded speech praising his city and the many ponies who contributed to running the games. Some unicorn prince from Canterlot came next, praising the athletes and calling good sportsmareship a shining example of the harmony of Equestria. Most of the athletes around Blue Seas looked rather bored. A few others shifted back and forth, looking like they wanted nothing more to run to the bathroom.

He was glad he had listened to Sea Star’s advice.

Finally, the older athletes started to murmur in approval as an elderly mare took the stage. Blue Seas recognized Miss Harshwhinny, the head of the Equestria Games, and from the orientation meeting, he remembered that she would be announcing the start of the game. It seemed everypony else remembered, too, as they all started cheering loudly.

“Greetings, athletes, volunteers, Princesses, dignitaries, and ponies and beings from Equestria and beyond. Welcome to the 1492 Equestria Games. Baltimare and all of Equestria welcome you in the name of friendship and harmony. Let us battle this week, not as enemies, not as adversaries, but as competitors, united in sportsmareship.

“And now, to light the torch, three time gold medalist from Baltimare, Red Arrow.”

A brick red pegasus stallion stepped forward, accompanied by a volunteer, a unicorn mare. The stallion carried a bow in his mouth. He stood at the edge of the stage and braced the bow, like the ice archers he had seen practice. The unicorn passed him an arrow, the tip wrapped in cloth. Red Arrow nocked the arrow and drew back. With a spark of her horn, the unicorn lit the arrow on fire. Red Arrow steadied himself, pulled, and released.

The arrow sailed through the air in a gentle arc, landing in the center of the torch. Flames erupted, and ponies cheered.

“Let the games begin!” Harshwhinny cheered.

Most of the athletes departed following the opening ceremonies. A few had events at other venues in town. But most, including Blue Seas, had nothing to do but practice. He returned to the practice pool with a large contingent of other swimmers. After enduring the lengthy speeches from the two blowhard politicians, it was unbelievably refreshing to get back in the water.

“How did you enjoy your first opening ceremonies?” Sea Star asked him.

“It was incredible, but long. Five minutes into the mayor’s speech, I was wishing I were here instead,” Blue Seas commented. “And thanks for the advice about not drinking too much.”

“You’re welcome. That advice came from my personal experience at the Games in San Caballo four years ago.”

“Ready to practice again?”

“You’re on.”

Blue Seas returned to the athletes’ village for dinner. It was clear from watching the crowd who had done well in their events today. It was even clearer who had done poorly. He sat with the Ponyville athletes, offering encouragement to Silver Spirit, a hurdler who failed to qualify in his first race.

Blue Seas finished his meal and walked around the campus. He noticed moods had improved noticeably following dinner, and many ponies were heading away from the athletes’ village. He spotted Sea Star; the stallion, who Blue Seas had always seen looking like he just stepped out of the water, had his mane combed and was wearing a collar. “Why are you dressed up?” Blue Seas asked him.

“Party.” Upon seeing Blue Seas’s confused expression, he elaborated. “There are small events every night, hosted by the various nobles, dignitaries, and companies that support the Equestria Games. They invite the athletes to meet with their guests. If you haven’t checked our room, you’ll find some invitations waiting for you.”

“Wow. I had no idea there’d be anything like that going on!”

“It’s one of the perks of being an athlete in the Games. And, frankly, you should go. We all need something to decompress. Just don’t overdo it, and don’t stay out too late. If you do, you’ll regret it tomorrow.”

“Thanks. I’ll look into it,” Blue Seas said.

Sure enough, there were three envelopes in the box outside the door to Blue Seas’s room. He opened the invitations and read them. One caught his eye. “Barnyard Bargains?” he said to himself. The well-known retailer headquartered in Ponyville was hosting a party in one of the nearby hotels. It included a personalized letter, inviting him to join all the athletes from Ponyville in celebrating the town.

The invitation indicated the party would run from 7:00 to 11:00, and since it was already past seven, Blue Seas hurried. He quickly brushed his mane and threw on a collar, and dashed to the carriages. Blue Seas joined the steady stream of ponies departing the village.

The Baltimare Hayatt hotel was a lot larger than any inn in Ponyville. Even as the town grew, it avoided massive buildings like this one. It was even taller than the Princess’s palace! The hotel was well-organized, and Blue Seas had no trouble finding the ballroom.

Blue Seas stepped into the ballroom. A worker checked his invitation, and passed it to an elderly earth pony stallion. The stallion shook his hoof. “Filthy Rich. Nice to meet you, Blue Seas. How have you fared so far in your swimming events?”

“My first one is tomorrow. I’m ready to give a good showing,” Blue Seas replied.

“Go out and make Ponyville proud!” he said encouragingly.

Blue Seas nodded and headed inside, but not before being given a gift bag. He saw many of the town’s athletes mingling with the crowd. He recognized a few celebrities. The other guests were mostly unfamiliar; Blue Seas suspected they were top Barnyard Bargains employees from across Equestria and key business partners.

“Hey, Blue Seas!” a voice called.

“Hi, Long Stride,” Blue Seas replied. The earth pony marathon runner was around his age, and he remembered him from school before seeing him again at the Games. “Did Silver Spirit make it?”

“He decided to get in some more practice.”

Blue Seas nodded. He suspected the hurdler was more upset about his race. “I think I’ll look for a party like this one tomorrow, no matter how I do. Somepony who’s been here before told me about the importance of decompressing.”

“Hear, hear!” Long Stride replied, lifting his glass into the air.

Blue Seas’s eyes widened. “Is that what I think it is?”

“Cider from Sweet Apple Acres,” he replied with a smile. “You can get a glass over there. There’s nothing better than sipping cider and pony-watching.”

Although Blue Seas’s family had an unofficial rivalry with the Apples, they were there in line, like everypony else in town, when cider season rolled around. He accepted a glass and sipped it; it tasted as fresh as the day it was made. It took some magic, and a lot more willpower, to keep Sweet Apple Acres cider on ice for ten months.

He took his glass, and a small plate of appetizers, and rejoined Long Stride. Together, they pointed out prominent ponies in attendance as they spotted them. The town’s most important resident, Princess Twilight Sparkle, wasn’t there, but there were plenty of other big names. Diamond Tiara, Filthy Rich’s daughter and Ponyville’s most eligible bachelorette, attracted attention wherever she walked. The mayor and the captain of the Dusk Guard were both working the crowd. Rainbow Dash, Wonderbolt and former Element, and apparently well into the keg of alcoholic cider, was loudly telling everypony about how she led Ponyville to the total medal championship in the 1476 Games.

Later in the party, everypony’s attention was drawn to the door of the ballroom. Several ponies were carefully carrying an enormous cake into the room. Blue Seas had never seen a cake like it before, but he knew exactly what it was. “It’s the MMMM!” he whispered.

“The what?” Long Stride replied.

“The Marzipan Mascarpone Meringue Madness cake. It’s a legendary cake from Sugarcube Corner!”

“Cool. Filthy Rich must be going all out in bringing the best of Ponyville to this party!”

Blue Seas was so intently focused on the cake that he didn’t notice somepony slip behind him and put her hooves over his eyes. “Guess who?” she said. “Here’s a hint.” He felt a kiss on his cheek.

Blue Seas spun around. “Pumpkin Cake!” He embraced his marefriend and shared a kiss. “You came to see me?”

“I came to the Games to watch you compete,” she replied. “I came to this party, at the request of Filthy Rich, to save you all from awful hotel cake.”

He gazed up at the delectable cake. “You made this all by yourself?”

“Yes. I’ve helped Mom and Dad make the cake before, but it’s the first time I’ve done it solo.”

“It looks delicious,” Blue Seas said, struggling not to drool.

“Then get in line. I’ll be cutting it soon.”

Blue Seas turned, and saw that almost everypony in Ponyville was in line for dessert. He hurried to secure his place. Even though Sea Star warned him not to overindulge, he wasn’t going to miss a chance to have a slice of MMMM. The guests from across Equestria were going to have to wait.

Filthy Rich tapped his glass with a spoon. The crowd quieted and turned to him. “Thank you all for coming to this celebration of Ponyville,” Filthy Rich began. “We’ve brought a selection of the local goods we showcase at each of our Barnyard Bargains locations, plus a few special foods you can’t find anywhere else. And now, we have a very special treat, and it’s quite appropriate for this party. For our athletes who will be winning many medals this week, we have a five time medal-winning cake, straight from Sugarcube Corner, the Marzipan Mascarpone Meringue Madness cake!”

The crowd stomped their hooves in applause. Pumpkin Cake blushed and cut the first piece. She passed it to Filthy Rich, who offered it to the first pony in line.

Five minutes later, Blue Seas experienced true bliss as he bit into his slice of cake. Sweet meringue, tart mascarpone, chewy marzipan, and fluffy yellow cake played across his taste buds. The room grew quieter as more and more ponies tried the cake, and found themselves speechless.

Blue Seas finished his slice, and was able to focus on a wonderful sight—Pumpkin Cake, smiling as she watched ponies enjoying her cake. It was heartwarming to see his marefriend enjoying what she was born to do. Was she feeling like he felt every time he swam?

“Want another slice?” Blue Seas was jolted out of his reverie with Pumpkin Cake’s words. She was holding her knife and spatula in her aura expectantly.

“No, thanks. I don’t dare eat another slice when I’m swimming tomorrow morning. But do you think you could sneak some cake back to my family?” Blue Seas requested. “I don’t know about Mom and Dad, but I think Cirrus and the others have never tried this cake.”

Pumpkin Cake smiled. “I sure can. We’re in the same hotel, you know.”

“Really? That’s lucky. Say hi to them for me.”

Pumpkin Cake sliced a chunk of cake, wrapped it, and set it aside. “Will do.”

“It was great seeing you. But I’m going to have to get some rest soon,” Blue Seas said.

Pumpkin Cake looked over to the stage, where a string quartet was setting up. “Do you have time for one dance?”

“I can think of no better way to end the evening.”

While Blue Seas regretted only spending a short time with his marefriend, waking up early the next day, refreshed, was more important. He spent two hours on drills before breakfast, and then headed to the natatorium. The building housing the swimming pools wasn’t as large as the main stadium, but there were still three thousand ponies in the stands.

He scanned the crowd, looking for his family. With ponies of so many colors, it was hard to spot the coats of his family, until he noticed a little blue bundle hovering in the air, waving. He smiled and returned Cirrus’ wave, and spotted the rest of his family near her.

The first event of the morning was the 100m freestyle, and Blue Seas was swimming. He headed to the board, looking to see what heat he drew—the first heat.

A horn sounded, and ponies trotted to the pool. He took his spot in Lane 6 and donned his horn blocker. He glanced over and nodded to Roller, in position in Lane 7. The announcer’s magically amplified voice identified the race details for the viewers.

Blue Seas’s heart pounded. First race, first heat. No pressure; it would only set the tone for his entire Games. He repeated the mantra. The pool is the same size. The race is the same form. He’d done this many times before. He could, no, he would swim well.

The next thing Blue Seas noticed, he had jumped into the pool. While he was thinking, the whistle had blown. Getting off the block was mostly instinct by now, but he briefly cursed himself for not paying more attention. It might only be a fraction of a second, but the lost time could mean the difference between advancing and not.

But he stopped thinking about what-ifs, and focused on the race. The water, the strokes, the form. Three more strokes, two, one, touch. Twist, turn, and stroke. He poured all his energy into the home stretch, legs kicking, his body pushing through the water. He placed one hoof on the wall, hooked his other foreleg over the edge of the pool, and pulled himself out of the water.

A panel on the starting block showed the four digits that would define his fate. 50.83. The number of seconds it took him to complete the race. To his left, he saw 48.55 in Roller’s lane. The well-toned earth pony came over and shook his hoof, following it with a fraternal embrace.

“Good job,” Roller said.

“I could have done better,” Blue Seas replied.

“Fortunately, you only needed to do good this time. You have the semifinals to do better.”

“Do you think my time is good enough?” Blue Seas asked. He watched as the times for the eight racers in the first heat were posted on a large board. Despite magic being used to time the swimmers, this step was still done manually. Blue Seas was third of the eight, and he needed to be among the top sixteen to advance to the semifinals.

“It should be good enough,” Roller observed. “You need to swim well to qualify for the semifinals. Then you need to swim better to make the finals. And in the finals, you need to swim even better.”

“I don’t think I’ll have a chance of beating you,” Blue Seas said.

“Don’t get yourself down. This is my best event. My earth pony heritage really shines here.”

Roller and Blue Seas stepped to the sidelines as ponies gathered for the second heat. In less than a minute, each of the ponies finished their race. But that minute felt a lot longer.

“Are you feeling nervous?” Roller asked.

“Yeah. You?”

“Always. Even when I’m in the top slot, I worry.”

Blue Seas couldn’t see the times of the swimmers from where he stood, but he had a clear view of the board with the results. He watched as the results from the second heat were posted. His own ranking slid from third to fifth.

The swimmer from Ponyville started pacing nervously. With each heat completing, he dreaded seeing the results. But he couldn’t turn away.

After the seventh heat, Blue Seas was in thirteenth place. The final heat included only six swimmers, but one of them was Azure Spark. Roller, Sea Star, and Wave Crasher jumped to their hooves, cheering and shouting encouragements to their friend.

He stood up as well. “Go for it, Azure Spark!” he cheered.

Azure Spark made short work of his competition. As soon as he was out of the water, he tore off his horn blocker and trotted over to his friends. “How’d you do?” Roller asked him.

“You’ll see,” he replied with a smile. Roller was still atop the standings, but for now, only Azure Spark knew if he swam faster.

The results from the final heat were posted. Azure Spark’s name was placed second; Roller smirked. Blue Seas watched as his name was moved to the fourteenth slot. The scorekeeper had another name marker in his hoof. He moved it to the board, and put it in the sixteenth slot.

“Results for the first round of the 100m freestyle swimming race are now final,” the announcer called.

Blue Seas released the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.

“Are you doing anything tonight?” Sea Star asked.

Blue Seas shook his head. “I need the rest.” He stretched out on his bed and flipped through a notebook. A glass of water rested on the nightstand, amidst a sea of souvenirs and gift bags.

“Agreed,” Sea Star replied.

It was the evening of the fifth day of the Equestria Games. Tomorrow was the finals for all the swimming events, and Blue Seas had made the finals of two events.

“What are you looking over?” Sea Star asked.

“It’s a logbook of all my times from the Games, practice as well as events. I’m trying to see if I even have a chance.”

“Of course you have a chance,” Sea Star said. “We don’t just give out medals, we swim first.”

Blue Seas just sighed and flipped a page.

“Let me try again,” Sea Star said. “You came into the Games thinking you couldn’t beat me, right?”

Blue Seas nodded.

“Well, I’m in the finals of six events tomorrow. That means I’ll be watching from the sidelines for six other events that I competed in. And that includes the 200m breaststroke.”

Blue Seas nodded. That was one of his two finals tomorrow.

“I fell out of rhythm in the semifinals, and I was punished for it. Tomorrow, I’ll remember to not lose focus. Just remember, nothing is guaranteed. Except for Fillydelphia in the relay tomorrow.”

Blue Seas chuckled. The Fillydelphia relay team, which featured Wave Crasher, Azure Spark, Roller, and an earth pony swimmer who was impressive in his own right, had an insurmountable time advantage over their nearest competitor in their first race.

“I’ll need to be my best,” Blue Seas said. “Maybe better than that. I swam a personal best in the 100m butterfly, and still didn’t make the semifinals.”

Sea Star looked over Blue Seas’s withers, checking out the times he had recorded. “Your best time was about six seconds slower than your best time in the freestyle?”

Blue Seas checked the numbers. “Yeah.”

“That’s a differential you should be able to close with practice. Try for three to four seconds.”

“I will. Problem is, I need to work with an experienced swimming coach.”

“Open Water. I’m sure you can work with him.”

“Yeah.” Blue Seas started thinking about the details. Would Open Water be available for lessons? Could he find the time, with all his work at home? Could he afford it?

“Just do your best tomorrow. I’ll be cheering for you when I’m not racing you,” Sea Star said.

“Likewise,” Blue Seas said.

“And try to get some rest.”

As chance had it, Blue Seas’s finals were the first and last event of the day. The 200m freestyle didn’t go well for him. He was slow off the block and lost focus before the third turn. The only reason he finished seventh is because one of the other swimmers withdrew with an injury.

Throughout the day, Blue Seas cheered on his fellow swimmers. He watched as his fellow half-seaponies collected several medals, and by the fourth race, he could hum along with the Fillydelphia anthem.

Finally, the final event was announced. Blue Seas trotted over and checked his draw—Lane 6. He took it as a sign; he advanced to his first semifinals in this lane. He watched the competition. Azure Spark was in Lane 2, Wave Crasher was in Lane 3, and their relay teammate was in Lane 8. And while he had only met them in passing, Blue Seas recognized the other four to be talented swimmers.

Focus. He imagined the perfect dive into the pool. He would start with a smooth entry into the water and kick, breaking the surface. He pictured the movements of his legs, the rules that must be observed to avoid disqualification. Through muscle and will, he would fight the drag of his body in the water and reach the opposite wall. He envisioned the perfect turn.

The announcer spoke, and Blue Seas focused. He heard the whistle, and dove into the pool.

Everything went perfectly. He quickly traversed the length of the pool, turned, and returned. His lungs burned. He adjusted his speed for the third leg so as not to wear himself down. He wanted to go all out on the last leg.

Focusing only on his own lane, Blue Seas tapped the wall and turned into the final leg. He kicked his legs in the froglike movement of the breaststroke. He poured as much speed as he could into his legs. The wall approached. One more kick, and he slammed his front hooves onto the wall.

Blue Seas pulled himself out of the water and looked around. Wave Crasher and Azure Spark had both bested him, but there were two others who had exited the pool at around the same time. He checked his time. 2:14.58. It was his best time by three seconds. But looking over at the other lanes, there were four times faster than his.

He went over and shook hooves with Wave Crasher. “Congratulations.” He turned to Azure Spark. “You too.”

“You as well,” Azure Spark replied. “You did very good. I have no doubt you’ll win soon.”

“Yeah. Maybe I’ll get the gold later, but you’ve earned it today. Go on.”

For the last time that day, Blue Seas watched from the sidelines. The routine was familiar. At the far end of the natatorium were the risers. The three swimmers walked over and climbed into position. The flags were hoisted. The anthem played. The dignitary arrived with the medals. The unicorn prince levitated the medals onto the victors’ necks, and nodded in approval.

At this distance, he couldn’t make out any details. But he could picture himself standing there one day.

“Where are your medals, Sea Star?”

Back at the room, Blue Seas noticed something absent. There was no sign of the gold medal and two bronze medals Sea Star had earned.

“The ones we were given are temporary. We go offstage, so to speak, and return them. The real medals come later, with your name and the event inscribed on them.”

“Oh.” Now that he mentioned it, Blue Seas recalled something like that from orientation. “I’m beat.”

“Agreed. I’m going to sleep twelve hours tonight. But tomorrow.... Do you have your formal wear?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, I have a tuxedo that Rarity made me,” Blue Seas said.

“Rarity? Isn’t that a big name designer?”

“Yes, but she’s still one of Ponyville’s seamstresses. And when she learned that, for some reason, athletes needed formal wear, she insisted on giving me a tuxedo.” He shrugged. “Seems like a waste. Next year, I won’t be able to fit in it.”

“Giving?” Sea Star sputtered.

“Yeah. Even after passing on her Element, she’s still generous to a fault.”

“Mine’s rented,” Sea Star mentioned, motioning to his closet. “Have you been wondering why you brought it?”

“Now that you mention it, yes. There were all those little parties, but none of them were very formal.”

“Tomorrow’s the best day of the Equestria Games,” Sea Star said. “There’s just the one event, the marathon. Then there are the closing ceremonies, and after that, we’re free to mingle with the crowds. And then, in the evening, there’s the real party.”

“I’ve heard ponies talking about it. What’s it like?”

“It’s awesome. Very fancy, like the Grand Galloping Gala. Great food and drink. Every athlete is invited, and there’s a very select guest list. And since no one’s competing the next day, you can party all night.”

“I guess that’s why my train home leaves at 2:00 PM, right?” Blue Seas said with a laugh.

The morning sun shined gently over the stadium on the final day of the Equestria Games. Blue Seas stood with the other athletes from Ponyville, positioned much like they stood during the opening ceremonies. But this time, they flanked the finish line of the marathon.

The stadium was filled nearly to capacity. The crowd murmured in anticipation. Finally, the pegasus spotters flew into the stadium, signaling the arrival of the runners. The crowd cheered. Blue Seas joined his fellow athletes in stomping their hooves.

Blue Seas craned his neck, looking out the stadium’s gate. Soon, the first runners could be seen running up the road, a pair of exhausted-looking earth ponies. They might have been ready to collapse, but they refused to do so before crossing the finish line. They strained, giving it their all, but one of the stallions crept ahead. He was the one to feel the ribbon cross his chest. A third runner approached, ahead of the rest of the pack, to claim third.

After several minutes of cheering and stomping, the crowd was growing tired. But they resumed whenever one of the remaining runners neared. It took nearly an hour for the last marathon runner to cross the finish line, and everypony supported him as loudly as the victor.

The final medals were delivered, and the total medal counts were revealed. Cloudsdale took first for the third time in the last six Games, their domination of the aerial events continuing. Fillydelphia was second, largely thanks to the efforts of Wave Crasher and friends. Vanhoover claimed third.

Next time, Blue Seas would help Ponyville earn one of the top three spots.

The closing ceremonies started with a few more speeches, but soon gave way to something worth watching. Performances by a dance troupe and a popular Baltimare band were followed by an artistic aerial display by a squadron of pegasi, their contrails augmented with unicorn magic. It was a fitting spectacle to conclude the best Equestria Games yet.

Once the applause died down, the crowds began to depart. On the stadium’s surface, volunteers were moving among the athletes, giving directions. “Carriages to the athletes’ village are available outside the south gate. If you want to meet the public, we are asking you to gather in the designated spot for your town. Look for your flag. There are also maps here and here that will direct you.”

Blue Seas joined the exodus, and searched the air for the familiar flag with two ponies rampant surrounding a heart. He spotted it, and he also spotted his little sister, hovering in the air and keeping watch for him.

He waved, and she flew straight for him. He embraced Cirrus, and she didn’t let go. He awkwardly walked on three legs to join the rest of his family.

“Congratulations,” Golden Harvest said.

“You did well, son,” Golden Grain added.

“But I didn’t get a medal,” Blue Seas protested.

“Did you swim your best?” his father asked.

“Of course.”

“Did you cheer the other swimmers and congratulate the winners?”

“Well, yeah, but....”

“Then you’ve won in my book.”

“Thanks, Dad.” There was no reason to continue protesting when he had a family to greet. A large family meant plenty of hugs to go around.

“Are you heading back today?” Blue Seas asked.

“Yes, dear. My carrots miss me,” his mother said.

“A week away from the farm is a lot, but it was worth it,” his father added.

“I’ll be back late tomorrow. Guess I’ll have a lot of chores to catch up on.”

“Don’t be silly, son,” Golden Grain replied. “We’ll give you at least a few hours to rest once you get back.”

“There’s something else,” Blue Seas said. “I’ve been talking with the other swimmers I met, and I think I might want to visit them one day. Go under the water with them. Just for a visit.”

“Maybe some time in winter,” his mother suggested hesitantly.

“I understand,” Blue Seas replied.

He saw Pumpkin Cake approach. He met her with a quick nuzzle. “Are you heading home too?”

“Yeah,” she replied. “I’m so glad I got to see you swim.”

“And I’m happy you came. And also happy I got to try your MMMM cake.

“Yeah! That was the best cake ever!” Cirrus interjected.

“Cirrus!” Blue Seas yelled.

“Cirrus, stop eavesdropping on your brother,” Golden Harvest warned. “But you’re right. That was the best cake ever.”

Blue Seas smiled. “You should make that cake more often.”

“Make it your wedding cake!” Cirrus suggested.


Golden Grain pulled his daughter out of the air and away from the two unicorns. Pumpkin Cake smiled. “She sure is energetic!”

“Yeah. And a total hoofful. I’ll be back tomorrow evening. See you at the train station?”

Pumpkin Cake kissed him. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Dressed in his new tuxedo, Blue Seas had to admit he looked sharp. Rarity’s expert tailoring accented his physique and drew the eye to his toned barrel. He finished brushing his mane and looked over to his roommate.

“Are you finally done?” Sea Star asked. “I never thought somepony who lived on a farm could take that long to get dressed.”

“We’ve still got.....” Blue Seas glanced at the clock. “One minute. Let’s go!”

They had planned to meet Wave Crasher and the others at 6:30 to catch a carriage. The three of them were waiting, along with the earth pony who made up the fourth member of the Fillydelphia relay team.

“Wellspring, this is Sea Star, from Baltimare, and Blue Seas, from Ponyville,” Wave Crasher said.

“Nice to meet you,” Wellspring said.

Blue Seas looked at the swimmer; he was not much older than him. “Was this your first Equestria Games?”

“Yes. And it showed. I did terribly except when these guys carried me.”

“You earned your place on the relay team, Wellspring, and you didn’t let us down,” Roller said.

“Let’s get going,” Azure Spark urged.

The six of them hopped into one of the larger carriages, pulled by two ponies. It was a long trip; the tall buildings of Baltimare faded into the distance as they headed to a more sparsely settled part of the region. Blue Seas also noticed to smell of the ocean growing more prominent.

Soon, the road wandered up a hill. The carriage paused at a gatehouse; a wrought iron fence stretched in both directions. From where they sat, no home was visible.

“This place has got to be huge!” Roller commented.

After the pony at the gate checked them in, they proceeded. They finally saw an enormous estate appear. Four stories tall in places and broad, the estate easily dwarfed the largest home in Ponyville, the Rich manor. Several pavilion tents were set up on the front lawn of the estate. To the right, the road led down to the shore and a boathouse; several yachts were moored there.

“Sometimes they have these parties in a hotel, and that’s boring,” Wave Crasher said. “It’s a lot more fun when it’s held in some noble’s or rich businesspony’s home.”

“Whose place do you think this is?” Blue Seas asked.

“I love what you’ve done with the place,” Prince Blueblood told Full Sail.

“Thanks,” Full Sail replied. “Father is enjoying retirement, sailing his yacht around the Mareibbean Sea. And as soon as he gave me the estate, I decided to remodel to suit more modern tastes.” The filly at Prince Blueblood’s side snorted; the mare flanking her gave her a look. “But we can do the grand tour after introductions.”

Full Sail took his visitors to a private parlor, where a sturdy earth pony mare, dressed in an elegant aqua gown, waited. Blueblood recalled Full Sail’s wife from their wedding, but he hadn’t seen her since.

“Marina, you remember my good friend, Prince Blueblood, and his wife, Lady Capella. And this is their daughter, Princess Bluebell. Blueblood, Lady Capella, Princess, my wife Marina.”

“Charmed,” Marina replied.

“It is lovely to see you again,” Capella said.

“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Bluebell replied formally. She turned to her father. “I wish to mingle, and let you two catch up with your friends. Father, may I be excused?”

“Of course, dear,” Blueblood said.

Bluebell bowed and departed. Once out of earshot, Blueblood spoke to Full Sail. “She’s getting to the age where she likes to challenge me. And to make matters worse, she’s starting to notice colts. Can you make sure your servants keep an eye on her, and keep her out of trouble?”

“Of course,” Full Sail replied.

“I’d like to thank you again for hosting this celebration,” Blueblood said to his friend. “I say this in both my official capacity as nobles’ representative to the Equestria Games and as your friend.”

“Since you decided to start caring about something beyond your own house, supporting athletics was an excellent choice. I do recall how poorly the average noble family in Canterlot regards sports. And as an athlete myself, I’m happy to lend a hoof. Did I ever tell you about the time I scored four goals in the Academy hoofball championship?”

Blueblood rolled his eyes. “Only every chance you get.”

“There I was, representing Canterlot Academy against our arch-rival, The Manehattan School. Manehattan’s star defender towered above anypony on the field....” Full Sail stopped when he felt everypony in the room glaring at him. “Yes. Well, I suppose you’ve heard the story.”

“How is business going?” Blueblood asked.

“Splendidly. Trade with Bitaly, Prance, and the Bittish Isles continues to be the bread and butter of High Seas Trading. But we’ve recently opened trade routes with the camels of Mareocco. The rug you’re standing on? A hoofmade Mareoccan rug.”

“Lovely,” Capella said. “But I prefer the styles of the Zebrican lands.”

“If you convince enough of your noble friends to create a demand, then perhaps we shall sail there,” Full Sail replied.

“So how about the grand tour?” Marina offered.

“This place is incredible!” Blue Seas said.

“Stunning,” Azure Spark agreed.

“I believe we are in the home of the richest stallion in Baltimare,” Sea Star noted.

The wealth of the estate’s owner was ostentatiously displayed on its walls. The artifacts on the wall were exotic; Blue Seas did not recognize the style, but they were clearly from beyond Equestria’s shores.

“He’s not a noble, right?” Blue Seas asked.

“No, just obscenely wealthy,” Sea Star said.

“You guys can keep gawking. I’m hungry,” Roller said.

No matter where one stood in the large ballroom, some station with food or drink was visible. Small tables were positioned through the room, encouraging ponies to gather and chat over drinks and appetizers. Blue Seas spotted sandwiches and salads, but he went looking for something different. He took a plate in his magical aura and started browsing.

From one table, Blue Seas found something that was called a salad, but was just a thick slab of tomato topped with mozzarella cheese and basil. He added a potato puff and a fruit tart.

He noticed a lacquered screen set up near one corner of the room, blocking something from easy view. He trotted over, and first spotted a leonine tail. Several griffon athletes were in this corner, and a griffon wearing a chef’s toque stood, knife and fork in his talons. On this station was a food Blue Seas had never seen before. But he was positive it was chicken.

“They really do have everything here,” he muttered, heading to a table near where he had separated from the others.

The half-seaponies gathered. Sea Star was the last to return; he was smiling. “They have everything here! Come on!”

“What? What did you find?” Wave Crasher asked.

“Just come on! You too, Blue Seas.”

Curious, Blue Seas followed his friends. Sea Star pointed to a table with plates of something he didn’t recognize. The food items were small rectangles with two layers. The bottom looked like rice. The top was... pink. The whole thing was wrapped with a thin slice of something deep green.

“What is it?” Blue Seas asked.

“Sushi,” Sea Star mumbled around the two pieces he had popped into his mouth.

“It’s a Neighponese dish made with rice, seaweed, and any of a number of other ingredients,” Azure Spark explained.

“What is the pink stuff?” Blue Seas asked.

“Looks like tuna,” Roller said. He popped a piece into his mouth. “Yes, tuna.”

“Tuna? Isn’t that a fish?”

“Yeah,” Roller replied.

Blue Seas felt a little queasy, just like when he spotted the chicken.

“Blue Seas, just what do you think seaponies eat?” Wave Crasher said.

“Um, seaweed?”

“We do eat some kelp and seaweed, but most of our diet is fish and other marine animals,” Wave Crasher said. “If you want to visit the seapony lands, you’re either going to eat fish, or you’re going to starve.”

Azure Spark levitated a piece of sushi onto Blue Seas’s plate. “Try it.”

Blue Seas stared at the mystery food. It had an off smell to it, like the ocean, but wrong.

“You don’t need to be a seapony to enjoy sushi. Ponies from Neighpon eat it all the time,” Azure Spark said. “Look.”

Blue Seas followed where Azure Spark was pointing. A group of ponies was gathered around one table, happily eating fish. They spoke in an unfamiliar language, and possessed cutie marks that were black pictographs, rather than pictures.

“A swimmer like you couldn’t possibly be afraid of a little fish, could you?” Roller taunted. He tapped a hoof on Blue Seas’s plate.

“Try it,” the others chorused.

Blue Seas gulped and picked up the piece of sushi in his telekinetic aura. He closed his eyes and moved it into his mouth. He took a deep breath, and bit down on the strange food.

It tasted like... not much. He mostly noticed the textures. The rice was a sticky mass, but otherwise felt like cooked rice. The tuna was soft but held together, something like an overcooked mushroom. It felt strange when ground between his molars.

“So?” Roller asked.

“It was... not bad.”

The others cheered. “Your first seapony meal!” And before he could react, Blue Seas’s plate was loaded with many more varieties of sushi.

“I can’t believe I ate all of that,” Blue Seas moaned. A dozen plates littered the small table, along with a number of small ceramic cups that once held warm rice wine. Blue Seas couldn’t even get through a small piece of chocolate cake after his meal.

“At least you can say you’ve sampled most of the fish eaten in Atlantis,” Wave Crasher said.

“What was that one that felt like chewing rubber?”

“Squid? Yeah, you really want seapony teeth before eating that,” Wave Crasher noted.

“Now what?” Roller asked.

“Looks like dancing,” Sea Spark said. A band, more than a string quartet but not a full orchestra, was setting up their instruments on stage.

“I say we go to the tent outside,” Azure Spark suggested. “I spotted a DJ booth there.”

Blue Seas’s stomach rumbled. “I’ll join you later. I’ve got something else to attend to.”

“Take your time,” Wave Crasher said with a laugh.

Blue Seas felt bad about using the facilities in the palatial estate. Sure, it was what they were designed for, but everything was so clean and beautiful and... and large! He hated to upset the scent of perfume and fresh flowers. But some matters just couldn’t wait.

By the time he finished, the band was close to performing. He spotted two couples working the crowd, one earth pony and one unicorn. The unicorn couple was closer. He recognized the white coat and blond mane of the stallion; it was the prince who was working with the Games. He was dressed in a fine tuxedo, with a distinctive red rose boutonniere. He spoke briefly with the athletes, getting their name and city, and thanking them for representing their hometown in the Equestria Games.

There was something familiar about this stallion. Now that he was closer, his eyes were drawn to his muzzle. The angles were familiar.

Blue Seas saw them in the mirror every day.

The stallion approached him and offered his hoof. “A good evening to you, young stallion. What is your name, and from where do you hail?”

Blue Seas held his breath as he looked at the stallion’s cutie mark. It was something he had seen only in an image, but that image was burned into his mind. A compass rose.

Blue Seas gasped. “Father?”

The stallion’s eyes widened. “Blue Seas?”

Chapter 4: Father and Son

View Online


By Alaborn

Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.

Chapter 4: Father and Son

Prince Blueblood stared at the young stallion who looked so much like him, and saw the tiny colt he gave away fifteen years earlier. In the time since, he had worked to make himself a better pony, one worthy of being called a prince, a noble, a stallion, a father. Yet he could never forget his son.

He had known exactly where to find Blue Seas. He had arranged for the foal to be adopted by the Goldens in Ponyville, a loving family unable to have foals of their own. But he never visited. He recognized that he was in no position to be a good father when Blue Seas was born. And afterward, he knew that he had a real family, one that loved him dearly.

Still, he often thought that one day, he might see the kind of stallion his son had become.

He just didn’t expect it to be this day.

His musings were interrupted by a sharp pain in his ear. It was a sensation any pony with a unicorn mother had experienced. He moved his head in the direction of the telekinetic tug, and saw his wife staring at him furiously, a faint coating of magic on her horn.

“Now,” she whispered.

Prince Blueblood grabbed the nearest servant. “Take this young stallion to Full Sail immediately,” he ordered. “Once he introduces himself, he will know why.”

The poor waiter looked stunned, but weakly nodded.

Capella pulled Prince Blueblood into a nearby sitting room and closed the door. She looked like she wanted to slam the door, but she understood very well the importance of not making a scene.

“What was that?” she hissed.

“That was... my son. From before our marriage.”

Blueblood gauged his wife’s reaction. Her piercing glare told him she wasn’t satisfied. “Capella, I told you about my youthful dalliances before we married, and that I might have any number of foals,” he continued. “I know it didn’t make you happy, but you accepted it.”

“You also told me you did not have contact with any of these mares. You lied to me!”

“I assure you, I did not lie. I have not been in contact with any of these mares from the past, nor their foals,” Blueblood stated.

“You knew his name, Blueblood! That is only possible if you kept in contact,” Capella said.

“Dear, listen to me. I have not been in contact with the colt, nor his mother, after our night together. But I know his name. Think about how that is possible.”

Capella’s foul expression faded, replaced by a determined one. Capella was brilliant, far smarter than Prince Blueblood. And one thing she couldn’t refuse was a riddle. “It’s impossible. The foal’s name doesn’t come to the mother until she gives birth.” She stared intently at Blueblood, looking for some clue, as she pondered the conundrum.

Blueblood maintained a neutral expression, one practiced in many meetings with rival nobles and foreign visitors. After a minute, he saw her eyes open wide.

Then she started laughing. Capella laughed so hard that she had to sit down, bracing herself against the arm of her chair.

Prince Blueblood hated seeing his wife angry at him. He had thought that was the worst possible feeling. But now, seeing her laugh at him, feeling emasculated, he revised that assessment.

“Are you just about done, dear?” Blueblood said.

Capella sat up and brushed the tears from her eyes with one fetlock. “Yes. But I can’t help but laugh. Motherhood is such a joyous occasion.”

“Yes, quite,” Blueblood deadpanned.

“You know, all while I was pregnant, I thought I was the luckiest mare in the world to have such an understanding husband. But now I know why! I have to know, though; how in the world did you get knocked up by a seapony?”

“She was a diplomat’s daughter, I think. But to me, she was just an exotic conquest. I didn’t even need to woo her; she was ready to go.”

“And you didn’t use protection? How could you forget such a basic lesson?” Capella asked.

“At the time, I was an arrogant ass. I was Prince of the Unicorns, and so it was barely worth my time to learn about pegasi and earth ponies. And other races? Totally unnecessary to learn. I might be the only pony in history to be so stupid.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Capella said. “On one of my expeditions to Maredagascar, one foolish stallion had to endure the shame of being sent home with one of our supply ships. We have no fraternization policies for a reason. But only after that happened did ponies actually listen.”

“That doesn’t make me feel much better.”

Capella paused. She realized that laughter was just what she needed to feel better about this situation. “Look, Blueblood. You and I are going to have a long talk later,” Capella said. “But for now, I want you to talk to your son.”

Azure Spark was dancing very energetically to the beat of the DJ’s music. The others were dancing at a somewhat slower pace while occasionally stealing glances at their friend’s embarrassing display.

“He really needs to get out of the water more,” Wave Crasher commented.

“Let him make a fool of himself,” Roller said.

“Say, has anypony seen Blue Seas?” Sea Star asked.

They glanced around, and then shook their heads.

“He knows where we are,” Wave Crasher said. “He’ll find us.”

“If she doesn’t get to him first,” Roller replied, motioning with his body.

Over in one corner, a young unicorn mare was watching them, enraptured by their group. Too young to be an athlete, too old to be a flag carrier, she was in that awkward place between filly and mare.

“Ugh, I hate young crushes,” Sea Star said.

Blue Seas was still in shock when the stallion he thought to be his natural father was pulled away. One of the servants nudged him, catching his attention. “The master of the house will see to you,” he whispered.

“But I need to talk to him!” he protested, pointing to Blueblood.

At this point, a trim earth pony stallion, probably a bit younger than his father, was brought to him. He still had a champagne flute in one hoof. “Let us find someplace quieter to talk. May I have your name?” He sipped his champagne.

“It’s Blue Seas, sir,” he replied.

The stallion nearly choked on his champagne, but recovered. “I see. Let’s definitely find a quiet parlor.”

Blue Seas followed Full Sail to a small alcove. Bookshelves overflowing with books lined two walls. Several overstuffed chairs and small tables were arranged around the room. They sat down in seats near each other.

“I imagine you’re wondering why you’re talking to me,” Full Sail said.

“Yes, sir. I mean, I met the stallion who I think is my father, and then he got pulled away.” Blue Seas fidgeted nervously in his chair.

“Don’t worry. I will make sure you speak to him tonight. As for me, my name is Full Sail. I am one of Prince Blueblood’s oldest friends, and one of a very small number of ponies who knows your name. And judging by what we witnessed at the party, his wife was not one of those ponies.”

“You know my name, and, uh, anything else?” Blue Seas said hesitantly.

“I know how Blueblood got to experience the joys of motherhood firsthoof. And when I’m alone with him, I make sure he never forgets. It’s a best friend’s privilege.” He paused. “Other than that, all I know is your name, and that you were left with a family in Ponyville. And Blueblood hoped you would have a good life.”

“It’s just.... I don’t know. There’s so much I want to know,” Blue Seas said.

“I’ll go find Blueblood.”

Blue Seas waited alone in the sitting room. Perhaps it was a parlor, or a small library. He couldn’t decide. To further distract himself, he inspected the books on the shelves. They looked old, being bound in fabric, and many books discussed sailing and the seas. He wondered if there were any accounts of seaponies in the library. After all, there was a seapony city nearby. But before he could answer that question, the door opened.

Prince Blueblood entered cautiously. He stood, allowing Blue Seas to get a better look at him. Again, he was struck by their physical similarities. He also noted Blueblood’s build. Many of the unicorns he had seen this weekend among the guests, the noble class and such, were either so thin as to appear breakable, or soft around the middle. Blueblood, on the other hoof, was fit and muscular. He wouldn’t be mistaken for somepony who worked on a farm, but he kept in shape.

Blueblood took a seat on a chair facing him. “Hello, Blue Seas,” he said.

“Hello,” he replied. Blue Seas had long wanted to meet his birth parents. The idea had been in his thoughts for years. But now, seeing his father, his tongue was betraying him. He couldn’t find the words.

“You seemed confident I was your father. Why was that?” Blueblood inquired.

“I, uh, used a heritage spell. So I knew the cutie mark of my father.” He saw that Blueblood looked relieved when he said that. “How did you know?”

“I cradled you in my forelegs after you were born. There is no way I could forget that connection.”

Blue Seas stared at his father solemnly. Finally, one word came to him. “Why?”

Blueblood sighed and started. “I spent years concerned only about myself. Anypony I met could be classified by how useful they were to me. And for the young mares, I was only concerned about my own pleasure. My name, my title, my looks... because of those things, they were eager to go along. I cared not for any consequences.

“But then I shared an evening with a seapony mare. I didn’t see it at the time, but she was exactly like me. And it wasn’t until I experienced the... consequences of my behavior, that I realized how bad of a pony I had been. I knew I had to learn how to be a pony before I could earn the title of father.

“Meanwhile, there was a fine young couple in Ponyville, the Goldens. They loved each other and their town. They were everything a family should be, but I suspected they were unable to have foals of their own. And so I asked Twilight Sparkle, just recently made a princess, to give you to this family, one that could raise you much better than I.”

“Why didn’t you want me to know about you?” Blue Seas asked.

“Canterlot society is... unpleasant, in so many ways. The way the nobility treats commoners is reprehensible. The way they treat each other is worse. But the worst is how they deal with bastard foals. Once acknowledged, a foal becomes many things. A subject of rumors, a political pawn, a reason for blackmail. But never is the well-being of the foal considered.

“I could have opened you to this treatment. But I chose to give you to a good family, where you could have a normal life. And I already see something to be proud of. Fifteen years old, and an athlete in the Equestria Games?”

“Not a very good one,” Blue Seas said.

“Nonsense. You are in rare company just being here,” Blueblood said. “You are a swimmer, right?”

Blue Seas nodded. His cutie mark made that obvious.

“I rather enjoy swimming myself. Though I suppose your talent comes from your seapony heritage.”

“Who is my mother?” Blue Seas asked.

Blueblood frowned. “I suppose that question was inevitable. I would prefer you not ask it.”

“I just want to know,” Blue Seas implored.

Blueblood sighed. “Her name is Melodia Starsea. She was, if I recall correctly, the daughter of a diplomat. She spent about two years in Canterlot, and then, I assume, went home.”

Blue Seas waited expectantly. When Blueblood remained silent, he asked “What was her special talent?”

“I don’t know. I don’t recall her cutie mark, or where she lived, or really anything about her. We didn’t care about each other, except for an evening’s fling. She was just one of many mares I treated like an object, rather than treating like a pony. It is a mistake I now regret.” He paused. “Knowing how ponies like that are, I think it would be a mistake to seek her. But you are an adult, Blue Seas. If you wish to pursue her, you are free to do so, even if it is a mistake.”

“I... now I’m not sure,” Blue Seas said. He had had visions of a vague family reunion, like having two different happy families. But now, he realized how unrealistic that was. “But can I, you know, keep in touch with you?”

Blueblood gulped. “I... I want to get to know you more. I want to know how your parents are doing. But I have a family, and duties in Canterlot, and....” He looked at the sorrowful eyes of his son. He had only seen that look once before, the time he pushed him away, into the magical grasp of Princess Twilight Sparkle. It was an image that still haunted his memories.

Prince Blueblood looked Blue Seas in the eyes. “I’ll do whatever it takes to stay in touch with you,” he stated. He levitated a calling card out of his tuxedo pocket and placed it in Blue Seas’s. He then stood up, and raised a foreleg.

Blue Seas stood up and walked over to Blueblood. His father reached out and pulled him into a tight hug. Blue Seas returned the embrace.

“Keep making your parents proud, Blue Seas,” Blueblood whispered.

Blue Seas wandered the tent in a daze. He barely noticed the flashing lights and bass beat of the music as he maneuvered through the dancing ponies. He finally bumped into somepony, who placed a hoof on his shoulder.

“Blue Seas? Is something the matter?” Wave Crasher asked.

“I just met my father,” he replied. “My birth father.”

“Do you need to talk?”

“I need a drink,” Blue Seas replied.

A drink helped a little to calm Blue Seas’s nerves. He headed to the dance floor, but his heart wasn’t into dancing. His thoughts kept turning to the stallion who had given him life. He turned down offers from his half-seapony friends to depart early, replying that there would be plenty of time to talk after the party.

Still, he tried to enjoy the evening. Out on the dance floor, he was just another young pony, enjoying the music and the company of friends and fellow ponies. Nopony cared about his unusual family history.

The crowd thinned as the night wore on. Couples and groups of ponies departed, to spend one last night together before returning home. A few of his new friends headed off on their own, but Blue Seas had one constant companion. Sea Star was always at his side.

Late in the evening, Blue Seas was sitting at the bar, drinking from a tall glass of water. He was tired and sweaty from an evening of dancing, and he didn’t dare think about the condition of his new tuxedo. The crowd’s energy was noticeably lessened, and many other ponies shared Blue Seas’s desire for rest.

Sea Star took a seat next to him. “Has the dance floor finally defeated you?”

“Yeah. I don’t get a lot of practice at home. Unless you count square dancing.”

Sea Star laughed. “That’s got to be embarrassing.”

“Family traditions, you know?” Blue Seas thought about the dancing going on inside the manor, waltzes and the like. He had never done any formal dancing. Had he instead been raised by his natural father, he would no doubt have learned to dance.

Blue Seas looked up when Sea Star rested a hoof on his withers. “You’re staring off again. Want to head back to the village?”

“Yeah,” Blue Seas said.

The waltz ended, and Prince Blueblood and Capella stepped off the dance floor. They walked over and joined the host and hostess at their table. “It’s amazing how familiar this feels,” he told Full Sail.

“Not quite as ancient as a normal Canterlot party, but close,” Full Sail replied.

Blueblood nodded as he surveyed the remaining crowd. Once everypony had a chance to eat and meet, the younger crowd, the athletes and coaches, migrated to the tents outside. That left various older dignitaries inside. It really could have been any Canterlot ball.

“I do believe it is time to turn in,” Blueblood said. Capella nodded.

“I will have my staff take you to the guest quarters,” Full Sail said.

“And we will catch up over breakfast tomorrow,” Marina added.

“Again, we thank you for your hospitality,” Capella said.

“What kind of friend would I be if I let you stay in a five star hotel?” Full Sail said with a laugh. The earth pony stallion motioned with his foreleg, bringing over two members of his staff. He sent one off with orders, and then communicated with the other.

“Bluebell is still dancing in the tent outside,” Full Sail said.

“If you can call that dancing,” Blueblood muttered.

“Let her have her fun, dear,” Capella said. “There will be plenty of time for formal dance practice.”

“Be that as it may, she also needs her rest. I’ll go get her,” Blueblood said.

Blueblood left the mansion and trotted down the path. He saw a long line of carriages waiting to take the departing guests back to town. He looked again. Was that Blue Seas stepping into that carriage?

He shook his head. Blue Seas had his own life, his own family. He did the right thing, protecting him from the troubles of Canterlot, from the embarrassment over the circumstances of his birth.

It was so much easier for him to believe that before he met his now-grown son.

He entered the large tent, now sparsely occupied by guests. He spotted Bluebell on the sidelines, obviously worn down from the long night.

“Come along, sweetie. It’s time we all retired for the evening,” Blueblood said.

“But I’m not tired,” Bluebell protested.

Blueblood gave her a look. “That’s right. You’re not tired. You’re exhausted.”

Bluebell pouted, but followed as her father departed. The walk back to the mansion was slightly uphill, and she found herself leaning into her father for support. “Maybe it is time to retire,” she admitted.

“Did you have a good time?”

“Oh, yes. It was so much more enjoyable than the normal Canterlot soiree. And the guests were such good company.”

“Mm-hmm,” Blueblood muttered.

“And there were these colts with the cutest manes, all blended together!” she recalled with a smile.

Blueblood froze. “No!” he sputtered. “I mean, you shouldn’t be talking about colts until you’re older. Like, thirty years old.”

Prince Blueblood sincerely hoped that his daughter’s reaction was a passing crush. There was one conversation he did not want to have.

Blue Seas lay sprawled on his bed in his dormitory room. He felt his gut rumble as it dealt with the consequences of his unusual meal. But it was more his mind that was preventing him from resting.

Sea Star finished packing away his tuxedo. “Thinking about your father?” he asked.


“You know, Blue Seas, you mentioned meeting your father, but you didn’t say who he was,” he said.

“I think you met him during the Equestria Games. Prince Blueblood.”

“Your father’s somepony famous?”

“I guess. I really don’t know how the Canterlot nobility works.” Blue Seas knew only that his father wasn’t a prince in the same way that Twilight Sparkle was a princess. He would have to learn more.

“Are you happy you met him? Was it everything you expected?”

“I don’t know. I still don’t know what I was expecting,” Blue Seas said.

Sea Star hopped on his own bed. “Try starting at the beginning. Why were you looking in the first place?”

“I guess... it was a feeling that something was missing, you know? I have my family, but a part of me came from a different family, and I just wanted to see them.”

“And what did you think you’d see?” Sea Star asked.

Blue Seas thought about his question for a moment. “A family. Another happy family, like mine. But instead, it felt... awkward. I soon realized how foolish I was.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Blue Seas nodded. He recounted the details of his brief meeting with his father.

“Do you think he’ll be willing to talk to you in the future?” Sea Star asked.

“I think so. I have his calling card. All night, I’ve been thinking of things I’d like to ask him. But I don’t know if his wife would approve. She looked... upset.”

“I don’t know what kind of advice I can offer here. I think you should go home and talk to your parents, the ones who raised you, first.”

Blue Seas stared at the ceiling. “Yeah. I could use their advice.”

Sea Star turned out the light. “That’s what family is for.”

Chapter 5: Home

View Online


By Alaborn

Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.

Chapter 5: Home

The passengers on the train from Baltimare to Ponyville consisted mostly of returning athletes. They chatted about the games, medals earned, and the big parade awaiting them all back home. Blue Seas noted new friendships and closer relationships among the ponies on the train. It was a natural consequence of spending so much time together. He realized that, by spending time with his fellow half-seaponies, he hadn’t grown closer to anypony from Ponyville. He chatted briefly with some of the athletes on the train, and exchanged greetings with others, but for the most part he had the trip to himself.

Blue Seas stared out the window at the passing countryside, catching his own reflection in the glass. His thoughts turned to the older stallion who shared his face. Prince Blueblood, too, was unprepared for their meeting. He was hesitant to speak with him, concerned about his own family and noble station, but in the end expressed a desire to know him more. Blueblood was torn between two worlds.

Blue Seas certainly understood the feeling.

“Keep making your parents proud.” Those were Blueblood’s words. It sounded like he was familiar with his parents. He knew them, but he couldn’t fathom how. Blue Seas had certainly never seen the prince around Ponyville, nor had he heard his parents talk about him.

And certainly, Blueblood hadn’t told them he was his father. All his life, he thought he was distantly related to Twilight Sparkle. He hadn’t heard anything about the princess being related to the prince, or to a seapony.

Blue Seas still had a lot he didn’t understand about his heritage.

He felt the train slow. The countryside was gone, replaced by the familiar shape of Ponyville’s outlying neighborhoods. Neat subdivisions of small homes were soon replaced by offices and businesses. The train’s brakes squealed as the train pulled into the Ponyville train station.

The platform was packed by ponies, friends and family of the athletes. He gathered his trunks, lifting one then the other onto his back. Once the crowd had thinned a bit, he disembarked.

Blue Seas soon was surrounded by a crush of siblings, congratulating him, while his parents took his trunks off his back. Once they were safely removed, Cirrus zipped up to him and embraced him.

“Not so tight!” he gasped, as he tried to extricate himself from his sister’s surprisingly strong grasp.

“Welcome home, son,” Golden Grain said, punctuated with a firm slap on his withers.

“Thanks, Dad,” Blue Seas replied.

He looked and saw another welcome face. “Pumpkin Cake!” he shouted.

She trotted up and nuzzled him. “Welcome back, champ,” she said.

“Well, not really....” Blue Seas stared at his hooves.

“Something the matter, son?” Golden Harvest asked. “Something other than not coming home with any medals?”

“Yeah. Can we talk about it, at home? Pumpkin Cake, I want you to hear this too.”

Everypony nodded. The family headed home, staying mostly quiet as they walked. Ponyville was quiet, with most ponies indoors for dinner. The crystal castle of Princess Twilight Sparkle gleamed orange, and cast a shadow over the town. Soon the town was left behind, and they passed the familiar apple orchards en route to home.

After being in the dormitory for so long, the scent of his own home seemed unfamiliar to Blue Seas. But soon he detected a welcome aroma. A carrot and potato stew was simmering on the stove, and a fresh loaf of honey wheat bread cooled in the oven.

The kitchen was a flurry of activity as everypony served up dinner. Bowls of stew were set out, bread and butter brought out, and soon eight ponies crowded onto the benches of a too small table.

At least that part wasn’t too different from the cafeteria at the Games!

“Eat up!” Golden Harvest encouraged Pumpkin Cake, giving the young mare another ladle of stew. “There’s plenty for everypony!”

Blue Seas set down his spoon. “I guess I should tell you the news now,” he said. The table fell silent; everypony looked to him. “Last night, at a party, I met my father... my birth father.”

The table was silent for a few moments. “Well. That is big news,” Golden Grain said.

“How did you meet him?” Juniper asked.

“What was he like?” Junebug wondered.

“How did you know?” Red Streak asked.

“One at a time!” Blue Seas interjected. “As for that question, we used a spell to learn his cutie mark.” He looked over to Pumpkin Cake, who nodded. “But it was obvious. I really look like him.” He paused. “As for the rest... I’m really not sure. I saw him as he was mingling in the ballroom. We went off to a parlor. I only spoke to him briefly. I really didn’t know what to say.”

“Is your daddy somepony famous?” Cirrus asked.

“Actually, yes. His name is Blueblood... Prince Blueblood.”

That caught the attention of his parents. “Really? Of all the ponies, him?” Golden Harvest said.

“Did you know him?” Blue Seas asked.

“A little. He was living in Ponyville for a while, not long before we adopted you,” Golden Grain said.

“He kept to himself at first, but eventually he came to appreciate what Ponyville had to offer. Helped out with the Running of the Leaves and Winter Wrap-Up,” Golden Harvest added.

“I even got him to go fishing a couple of times,” his father recalled. “Too bad he left; he was actually pretty good at it.”

“It sounded like he remembered you,” Blue Seas said. “And I think he chose you to adopt me, in secret.”

“That was very nice of him,” his mother said. “But he didn’t need to keep it a secret, you know?”

“He... had his reasons.” Blue Seas took a deep breath. “I have Blueblood’s address, and I’d like to write. I want to know more about my birth father.”

Blue Seas waited with bated breath. He watched his parents’ expressions, trying to gauge their reaction. He exhaled once he saw both of them smile warmly.

“Go right ahead, son,” his father said. “Just because you learn about your father, it won’t change that I’m your father, and you’re my son.”

“We’ll always love you,” his mother added. “But could you just call Blueblood your father? I think we can figure out which is which, and birth father just sounds so weird, you know?”

“Okay.” Blue Seas gave a knowing look to Pumpkin Cake.

“Thank you for the meal,” Pumpkin Cake said. “I’m afraid my parents are waiting for me.”

“Of course,” Golden Harvest said. “Have a good night!”

“Let me walk you to the door,” Blue Seas volunteered.

They stepped outside, closing the door behind him. “Do they not know?” Pumpkin Cake asked.

“That whole birth father thing? I’m not sure,” Blue Seas replied. “Maybe they think it’s a weird thing to talk about, and they don’t want to embarrass me. Or maybe they just haven’t figured it out.”

“I’d like to see the expression on their faces when they do,” she said.

“I’d better say goodbye before Cirrus starts peeking.” Blue Seas leaned in, and they shared a brief kiss. “Have a good evening, Pumpkin Cake!”

She added a nuzzle. “You too!”

The Castle of Friendship was the most distinctive structure in Ponyville, an exotic creation and symbol of the magic of friendship. But unlike the castle in Canterlot, it was frequently used by the ponies of Ponyville. At the time the castle was formed, Ponyville needed a new library, and Princess Twilight Sparkle obliged, converting the bottom floor of the castle into a library.

Today, Blue Seas searched the shelves for a book that might shed some light on his father. The section on pony nobility was surprisingly large, with most of the books focusing on Canterlot nobility. Some books focused on individual families, other on ancient history. He lifted books off the shelf, scanning them briefly and replacing them. Finally, he found one that described the role of the modern Canterlot nobility.

The book was a bit dry, more like an encyclopedia article than a rousing story. Prince Blueblood’s house followed only the entries on the alicorns. Formally the House of Platinum, Blueblood was the current duke of the noble house that traced its lineage to the last unicorn ruler pre-unification. They held the title Prince of the Unicorns, which was considered important in unicorn and noble circles despite not having any actual power. The book then discussed, in the most diplomatic terms possible, the claimed familial tie to Princess Celestia, referring to the relationship as that of a distant aunt.

Blue Seas recalled what his parents had been told, how he was supposed to be a “distant relative” of Princess Twilight Sparkle. That had to be a reference to Blueblood. Just how distant was that relationship? Probably about as distant as his relationship to Princess Celestia, he mused.

Beyond that, there wasn’t much to learn. The House of Platinum had the largest land holdings in Canterlot, and its members frequently served as advisers to the princesses, but there was nothing much in there about Blueblood himself.

Blue Seas departed the library. If he wanted to learn more about his father, he would have to ask him.

Blue Seas sat at his desk. Another long day of work was complete. Farm work allowed him plenty of time to think, and Blue Seas thought about everything he wanted to ask Blueblood. What would be best, he thought, was for Blueblood to visit, just like a distant relative; free of demands on his time, and the need to be seen, they could talk until they had nothing left to say. But the way Blueblood spoke, with the constant intrigue of Canterlot, such a meeting would be difficult.

And there was zero chance of him visiting if he hadn’t worked things out with his wife.

He stared at the blank paper in front of him. Collecting his thoughts one more time, he picked up a quill in his magic, dipped it in the inkwell, and started writing.

Blue Seas
Golden Farms
Two Orchard Way
Ponyville, P.E.

Blueblood, Prince of the Unicorns, Duke of House Platinum
Platinum Estate
One Platinum Court
Canterlot, P.E.

August 15, 1492 AC

Dear Prince Blueblood,

I have returned home, and I am getting back into the swing of things on the farm. Although my magic is not suited for much of the work I do, I assist where I can. Harvest will begin in earnest late next month. In the meantime, I will be helping my father as he distills his latest batch of carrot vodka.

I mentioned our chance meeting to my parents, and they recalled fondly your past time in Ponyville. My father, in particular, was hopeful you’d be interested in another bottle of our vodka. But because that visit was before my times, I find myself wanting to know more. I hope you would answer my questions.

First, what brought you to Ponyville that year? I understand there wasn’t much of a royal presence in town back then.

I understand that in your duties, you would meet many ponies. How did you come to know my parents well? What did you think of them? Did you know about the family’s plans for the future?

I was honored to meet you at the Equestria Games. It is good to know that such a prominent noble is championing athletics and athletes. But I do find myself wondering how you came across that role. Is it in addition to other duties in Canterlot?

Finally, I wish to know more about your noble house. In Ponyville, we have a princess, but she, of course, is unique amongst the nobility. So I don’t see the influence of centuries of history. It is a topic that is barely touched upon in school. Perhaps you could share your insight?

I speak for my family when I say we would be honored if you would visit, should your duties again take you to Ponyville.


Blue Seas

Blue Seas reviewed the letter. Should it fall into the wrong hooves, it would be rather difficult for the reader to surmise their connection.

Well, there is the issue of the similarity of their names. Just to be safe, Blue Seas left his name off the envelope, just leaving the Golden Farms name.

Eight days later, Blue Seas received a reply. The letter came on elegant and expensive stationery, but judging by the quality of the penmanship, it was written by Blueblood’s horn.

Blueblood, Prince of the Unicorns, Duke of House Platinum
Platinum Estate
One Platinum Court
Canterlot, P.E.

Blue Seas
Golden Farms
Two Orchard Way
Ponyville, P.E.

August 20, 1492 AC

Dear Blue Seas,

First, let me thank you for your discretion. Your prose, whether intentional or not, reminded me of typical noble correspondence. With some practice, you could match the inimitable style of ponies who use one hundred words to express an idea that could be represented in ten, all the while insinuating something that wasn’t put into words at all.

Do know that I trust my staff, and their discretion, completely. And the postal service is secure. Do not fear speaking frankly about our relationship, and please address me in familiar terms.

It was autumn of 1476 when I arrived in Ponyville, where I was to do a job I was not looking forward to. As a young stallion, I quite frequently upset Princess Celestia with my behavior. And when I found myself in an unexpected situation, I reacted poorly. Princess Celestia, in a move I now see as very wise, sent me away, far from the prying eyes of Canterlot. By sending me to Ponyville, I was able to shield myself from notice for my condition.

My job in Ponyville was to survey the town, and then create a plan for the town’s future growth and development. I approached the job as an annoyance, and chose to spend much of my time outside work in solitude. I stayed with Twilight Sparkle, after she had become a princess but before she had her castle. We did not get along well. But somehow, she convinced me to mingle with the ponies of Ponyville. I participated in the Running of the Leaves and Winter Wrap-Up, among other events.

I consider this a true testament to her worthiness to hold the title Princess of Friendship.

To this day I do not understand why Ponyville chooses to shun Princess Celestia’s offer to bring in spring. And taking part in Winter Wrap-Up failed to enlighten me. As I recall, I was officially the assistant organizer, but I joined in the physical labor. I pushed a plow and planted seeds. And at that evening’s celebrations, I found I could appreciate a Ponyville party. I still think music you like to play is atrocious, but the heart of the party, friendship with other ponies, is the same.

At the party the Goldens hosted, I got to know them a little better. Soon, I found myself spending more time with them. Your father even taught me how to fish. But more importantly, they showed me that a relationship built on love was what I was missing in my life.

And I am happy to have given them what was missing in their life, a foal.

I find the subject of sports to be a much happier one. I attended Canterlot Academy, a school with a sizable number of pegasi and earth ponies, and athletics was a cornerstone of the curriculum. I enjoyed the competition, and grew to appreciate being fit and active. I continued to exercise as an adult, enjoying swimming in particular.

I simply fell into my role as nobles’ representative to the Equestria Games and chair of Princess Celestia’s council on athletics. Few nobles appreciate athletics like I do. And with a toddler at home, I needed a role that wouldn’t force me to leave town as much. Fortunately, this role opened, and I’ve been happily involved since. Though I really wish Canterlot would field better teams for the Games.

I would be happy to talk about my house, but what I want to talk about, you’ve certainly picked up from history books. The House of Platinum is descended from Princess Platinum, and her royal line from the time before unification, and as such seeks to be the representative of all unicorns. It champions unicorn history and all the traits unicorns are known for. That is not just magic. There is leadership, diplomacy, oratory, debate, scholarship, fine art, and craftsmareship. We also serve to remind unicorns of their past ties to the heavens, and while we may no longer move the sun and paint the night sky, we should always remember to look skyward.

When I was younger, I was a poor scion of the house. My time in Ponyville matured me in the way no formal education could. I finally learned the lesson that Princess Platinum had to learn from Clover the Clever, that we are all stronger when we live in harmony.

There is more to being a noble than a title and a royal heritage, though. It is a full time job, in a way, and one of the least pleasant jobs in Equestria. Everything one does must be considered for its costs and benefits. One must carefully build and maintain alliances. It is a part of my life that I couldn’t avoid, even when I was staying in Ponyville. And it is not a life I would recommend to anypony. I do sometimes wish I had the freedom of your Princess Twilight Sparkle, a noble rank born of alicorn blood that can never be disputed.

I have spoken to my wife, and we have reached an agreement. She understands our special bond, one that she knows well with our daughter. And she supports our continued relationship. However, because of my position, I must consider appearances. Should our paths cross again, I would desire to spend more time together. But I lack the freedom to simply travel where I want. Let us remain in contact, and we will find a time when my duties as athletic representative will bring us together again.

With love,


Blue Seas carefully folded his father’s letter and stored it in his desk. He was saddened by the realization that he wasn’t going to come for a visit anytime soon. The next large swimming competition wouldn’t be until next year. There was so much to enjoy in Ponyville. Well, at least after the harvest. While Blueblood was not likely to be interested in helping with the harvest, there was cider season immediately afterward, and Ponyville’s Nightmare Night celebration was one of the best in Equestria.

His eyes drifted to the framed photograph on his desk, a portrait of his family from two years ago, right after the harvest. They were all standing proudly, surrounded by bushels of wheat and baskets of carrots. They were tired, muddy, and sweaty, but happy nonetheless.

This was the family with which he shared cider season and Nightmare Night.

“Another good day in the market,” Red Streak said.

Blue Seas nodded. The cart they had brought to the market that morning had been laden with plump carrots, freshly harvested from their fields. Now, all that was left was bits of soil and some stray green carrot tops. The chest of bits clinked as they closed up the wagon.

“All right, let’s get in,” Blue Seas said.

Blue Seas and Red Streak hitched themselves to the two-pony harness, struggling to pull the cart. His mother wouldn’t have had a problem pulling the cart by herself, even when it was full.

They headed out of the marketplace, passing the tall posts that marked its entrance. The posts were, like always, covered with signs and posters, advertising local businesses and public events. Nightmare Night was a popular theme. Then Blue Seas paused as he noticed a new poster.

The wagon smacked into his rear. “Watch it, Blue Seas,” Red Streak said.

“Sorry. Got distracted by something,” Blue Seas replied. He pulled against the harness again, but his mind was thinking about a certain upcoming event in Ponyville.

On his next afternoon off, Blue Seas visited the library. He looked for something interesting, eventually picking up a book called Platinum Intrigue, a bit of historical fiction set in the unicorn lands before unification. It wasn’t his favorite subject, but his birth father’s words were fresh in his mind. He had reread his first letter, as well as their following correspondence, before coming to the library.

Blue Seas settled down on one of the library’s couches and started reading. The story was interesting, although he was pretty sure he figured out the identity of the villain after only three chapters. But the book wasn’t his main reason for being here today. He knew that a certain alicorn often visited the library after she concluded her afternoon court.

The sound of metal echoing off marble attracted Blue Seas’s attention. He looked and saw the imposing figure of Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship. She stood a head taller than the largest stallion he knew, his neighbor McIntosh. She possessed the unearthly gracefulness of all the alicorns, but Blue Seas had seen her kick as strongly as any earth pony on those days when she helped with a harvest or the changing of seasons. She smiled warmly at Blue Seas.

Blue Seas rose and bowed. “Good afternoon, Princess Twilight Sparkle,” he said.

“Please, Blue Seas. When you’re in the library, there’s no need for bowing, and you can call me Twilight Sparkle, or Twilight if you prefer.”

“Sorry, Twilight,” Blue Seas replied. “But I do have a friendship problem, one that I’m hoping you can help me with. Help my parents, too.”

“What is it?”

“Well, a long time ago, before I was born, my parents got to know a visiting pony from Canterlot. He’s a noble with a lot of demands on his time, so he’s not free to visit Ponyville, at least not without attracting a lot of attention to himself. But you can request a royal visit. The Running of the Leaves is coming up. Do you think you could invite the chair of Princess Celestia’s council on athletics as a visitor for this year’s race? I think he’d enjoy the visit.”

“Blue Seas, I don’t like to abuse my power. I can request he comes, but it will be that, a request. If he wants to come, then I’ll see about getting him to visit your parents during his trip.” She raised a hoof to her chin. “But I don’t know the name of this stallion.”

“It is Prince Blueblood.”

Twilight Sparkle stared at Blue Seas. Her smile faded. She looked to be thinking, wanting to say something but unsure how to say it. Blue Seas had felt the same way when he was sitting across from his father.

Blue Seas finally broke the silence. “I know he’s my birth father. I spoke to him at a party after the Equestria Games.” He shuffled his hooves. “I think we could get some welcome closure if he could sit down with me and my parents. And that’s only going to happen if he comes to Ponyville, ostensibly at the request of one of Equestria’s princesses.”

“Well.” Twilight Sparkle pawed the ground. “Well. Of all the ways I expected this knowledge to get out, I wasn’t expecting you to be the one to figure it out.”

“I confirmed it with a spell before I met him. Your library was helpful.” He looked up at her. “Would you please help me restore this friendship?”

Twilight Sparkle nodded. “I will make the request. But it will be a request, not a royal command. I need you to promise not to do anything rash if he is unable to come.”

“Of course. When have I ever done anything rash?”

“Need I remind you about the waterslide incident?”

“That was one time,” Blue Seas growled. “You already made me Pinkie Promise not to take Scootaloo’s advice on anything except athletics.”

“Just saying.” Twilight Sparkle rested a hoof on Blue Seas’s withers. “Just between you and me, I hope Blueblood accepts.”

“So do I, Princess.” He bowed again. “Thank you.”

Blue Seas left the library. He gazed off towards distant Canterlot, and was reminded of his father’s words, to always remember to look skyward. “Please come,” he whispered.

Chapter 6: The Running of the Leaves

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By Alaborn

Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.

Chapter 6: The Running of the Leaves

Blue Seas sat at a corner table in Sugarcube Corner. His plate had been empty for a while, but he pushed the crumbs around with his fork. He fidgeted with his hooves as he did.

“Let me take that for you,” Pumpkin Cake offered. She levitated the plate and fork away from him. “Nervous?”

“Yeah,” Blue Seas admitted. “I’m afraid that my father might not show up. And if he does come, my two fathers are going to be meeting each other.”

“I thought you said they knew each other way back when.”

“They did, but that was so long ago.”

Pumpkin Cake walked back to his table and embraced him. “Don’t worry so much. I think your family reunion is going to be wonderful.”

The bell above the door rang, and the town’s most prominent resident entered. “Welcome, Twilight Sparkle!” Pumpkin Cake said. “Looking for a late snack?”

“Actually, I’m looking for Blue Seas,” she replied. She turned to him. “Your parents thought I would find you here. I wanted to let you know that Prince Blueblood is arriving via carriage at 4:00 this afternoon. There’s an official reception immediately after, but I’ve let him know that he’ll be enjoying dinner as a guest of your family.”

“Okay. Thanks for letting me know, Princess.”

“It’s just Twilight Sparkle, Blue Seas,” she chided. “Why don’t you come by the palace and watch your father’s arrival? In fact, I think you both should come.”

“Really?” Pumpkin Cake asked.

“Yes. Princess’s orders. Now, I must be off.” Twilight Sparkle departed.

“This is really happening,” Blue Seas said.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be there to support you,” Pumpkin Cake said encouragingly.

A small crowd gathered in two groups outside the Castle of Friendship. The Dusk Guard stood at attention, flanking the waiting princess. Nopony was really sure what was happening, but seeing the guard gathered had the immediate effect of drawing ponies’ attention.

Blue Seas and Pumpkin Cake stood in the front of one of the two groups. He was the first to notice the speck in the sky. “There he is!” he said, pointing.

The carriage soon came into view. An ornate affair, even gaudier than Princess Twilight Sparkle’s own carriage, it was pulled by four pegasus guards while another guard, in more ornate armor and carrying a spear, flew ahead.

The carriage came in for a perfect landing, right in front of the castle. The lead pegasus bowed; the pegasi attached to the carriage followed as best they could. All rose, and the crowd fell silent.

Blue Seas looked to the carriage; he could not see his father, as the curtains were drawn. He glanced over to Pumpkin Cake. She was looking at one of the four pegasi. And he was looking at her.

The Dusk Guard herald blew a horn. “Announcing the arrival of Blueblood, Prince of the Unicorns, Duke of House Platinum.” Another guard opened the door to the carriage.

Prince Blueblood strode out of the carriage. Rather than the formal attire Blue Seas had expected to see, the prince was wearing sportswear. It resembled the clothes many of the athletes in the dormitories had worn, but on first glance, they were both less worn and more expensive. Blueblood surveyed the crowd. He locked eyes briefly with Blue Seas, and smiled.

Blueblood bowed before Princess Twilight Sparkle, and then rose. “Princess, it is an honor to be invited to an athletic event as old as Ponyville itself. Physical fitness is an important component of everypony’s health, and I am glad to see everypony from the Princess to young foals encouraged to run. Come tomorrow, I shall see you all on the starting line!”

The crowd responded with polite applause. Princess Twilight Sparkle headed inside the castle, followed by her guards. Blueblood waved to the crowd, and then followed.

The lead guard of Blueblood’s escort addressed his company. “All right, stallions. Park the carriage, and then you are dismissed until 1400 hours tomorrow.” The other four guards saluted and flew the carriage behind the castle.

Pumpkin Cake was watching for the guardsponies to return. When she did, she again had her eye on one of them. Blue Seas was about to say something, when that pegasus pulled off his helmet. The illusion faded, revealing a young stallion with a beige coat and brown mane.

Pumpkin Cake smiled and bounded forward. “Pound!”

“Pumpkin!” he replied. They met with a big hug.

“Ugh. This armor does not make for comfortable hugs,” Pumpkin Cake protested.

“Hey there, Blue Seas,” Pound Cake said with a smirk.

“Hi. Um, welcome back. I guess you two want to catch up?”

“And you’ve got a dinner to get ready for,” Pumpkin Cake replied.

“Are you going to run tomorrow?” Blue Seas asked.

“No way,” Pumpkin Cake replied. “Are you, Pound?”

“The lieutenant is encouraging it. That means yes,” he said.

“I’ll cheer both of you on,” she said.

His meeting concluded, Prince Blueblood thanked the mayor, who departed. He then turned to Twilight Sparkle. “And I hope I’ll see you on the racecourse tomorrow.”

“I’ll be there,” she said. “Like every year, I run with a big group of foals. I want to teach them to appreciate the beauty of the woods as well as the value of exercise.”

“Oh?” Blueblood replied, raising an eyebrow. “I was hoping to face off against you. I may be older, but I’m in the best shape of my life.”

“That’s okay. I’m happy with what I do, even if it means stopping while some fillies jump into a pile of leaves.”

“Very well, Princess,” Blueblood said. “If you’re afraid of losing, I won’t press the matter.”

Twilight Sparkle frowned. “Are you really still upset that I beat you that one time I ran against you?” she asked crossly

Blueblood stepped back. “I, uh, remember doing worse than I wanted.”

“Look. The reason I run with the foals is because if I competed in the main race, I would win,” Twilight Sparkle stated. “And that’s not fair to everypony else.”

“I’m not sure why you’re so certain...” Blueblood started.

“Maybe it would be best just to show you. Race you to the Goldens’ farm?”

“You’re on.”

Blueblood and Twilight Sparkle stretched and got in position outside the door to her castle.

“Okay, it’s pretty simple,” Twilight Sparkle said. “We’re going to race down this road, turn right at the marketplace, and follow the road until it becomes a dirt trail through the apple orchard. Our destination is the house with the giant carrot.”

“Got it.” Blueblood ignored the smirks of the two Dusk Guards. He was fit and ready to run.

“On your mark, get set, go!” one guard said.

Twilight Sparkle took off while Blueblood was still processing the guard’s words. He quickly collected himself and sprinted after her. He caught up to the princess and paced her. Twilight Sparkle smiled and continued to run.

Blueblood was sure Twilight Sparkle was slowly increasing her speed as she ran. Either that, or he wasn’t in as good of shape as he thought. Already he was winded, and his muscles ached.

They turned at the marketplace, and the road soon passed through a gate, becoming dirt afterward. “This is the road, okay?” Twilight Sparkle said.

Blueblood only nodded. He was breathing too hard to speak.

At that moment, Twilight Sparkle galloped away, running at a sprinter’s pace. Even as he told his body to ignore the pain, Blueblood found himself falling more and more behind Twilight Sparkle.

Blueblood knew he was defeated, but his pride didn’t allow him to just give up. He was determined to finish the race in the best time he could, without risking hurting himself. The great orange carrot came into view. He ran up to the farmhouse, where Twilight Sparkle was waiting.

Once there, Blueblood started pacing slowly. It took all his will to simply not collapse right there.

“Are you okay?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

“I’ll be fine,” he gasped through ragged breaths. He looked at Twilight Sparkle. She wasn’t even breathing hard.

“Now do you see why I don’t race in the Running of the Leaves?”

“Where did you learn to run like that?” he asked.

“Okay. Let’s talk about this race. Applejack and Rainbow Dash are still neck and neck every year. Their times are around 29 minutes. The best time was recorded by a visitor to town, an earth pony stallion with a special talent in running. He finished in just over 26 minutes.

“Three years ago, after the race was over, I ran the course by myself. I wanted to test myself, and focused the whole of my magical core through my earth pony magic. I ran the entire course for the Running of the Leaves in 21 minutes. After watching the Equestria Games, I’m sure you can appreciate how unfair it would be for me to run.”

Blueblood gasped. “Five minutes faster?” He congratulated several ponies for breaking world records by seconds. To be that much faster....

“So, yes, it wouldn’t be fair for me to run. If you want to race, why don’t you run against your son?” She motioned to the door. “Go on, Blueblood.” And with that, Twilight Sparkle teleported away.

Prince Blueblood stared at the door to the Goldens’ house. He told himself he just needed to catch his breath. By now, he was fully recovered from his run, yet he still couldn’t raise his hoof.

“You are a prince,” he told himself. He raised his foreleg, and held it for nearly a minute before lowering it again.

He shook his head. “You have done far harder things, Blueblood.” He looked again at the closed door. He raised his foreleg again. He looked away from the door, and knocked. Or he tried to. His hoof hit something that was far too soft to be a door.

Blueblood turned and looked. He saw the door open, and Golden Grain rubbing his muzzle. “Oh. Sorry,” he said.

“Thought I heard something,” Golden Grain said. “Come in. Dinner’s ready.”

Blueblood followed Golden Grain into the quaint farmhouse. He was glad he wasn’t claustrophobic. The rooms were small, the hallways narrow. Yet he felt welcome.

Perhaps it was the smell. Whatever the Goldens were cooking smelled delicious, and he could smell it from the front door. He never visited the kitchen in his own home, so he wasn’t used to smelling his food until the serving staff lifted the cloche from over his plate.

And speaking of kitchens, that was where Blueblood was brought. A small table with benches was at its center, and a large number of ponies were frantically setting the table.

“Everypony, our guest is here,” Golden Grain announced. “Prince Blueblood, you remember my wife. And that’s Red Streak, Junebug, Juniper, and Cirrus.”

“Thank you for welcoming me into your home,” Blueblood said.

“And thank you for coming,” Blue Seas said. The young stallion walked up to his natural father, and the two ponies shared an embrace.

“Wow. You really do look just like him,” Golden Harvest said. “Enough talking. Let’s eat!”

Somehow, all eight ponies in the room fit at the small table. The table was crowded with plates, utensils, cups, and serving dishes. The main course was a carrot and potato stew, accompanied by green beans, salad, and honey wheat bread. It was a lot of food, and everypony wasted no time in loading up their plates.

Blueblood realized he was staring at the spectacle. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen ponies eating like that.

“Aren’t you going to eat?” Golden Harvest asked.

“Oh. Yes, of course.” Blueblood put half a ladle of the carrot stew into his bowl. He sniffed and lifted a spoonful of the peasant fare. His eyes widened. “This is really good!” he exclaimed. He noticed a knowing smile on Golden Harvest’s face.

“Eat up. We have plenty,” Golden Grain said.

The food may not have been fancy. It may have lacked in presentation, and it was free from the sauces and garnishes that graced each of his meals at home. But Blueblood followed Golden Grain’s order and ate up. He listened to the pleasant chatter around the dinner table, mostly the family talking about their days.

His stomach full, Blueblood leaned back. “I couldn’t eat another bite,” he said, just before Golden Harvest dropped a large cake, covered in cream cheese frosting, on the table.

“You can’t miss Mom’s carrot cake,” Blue Seas said.

“He’s right,” Golden Harvest said. A large slice of cake was placed in front of Prince Blueblood.

He lifted one forkful of the cake into his mouth. He tasted carrots, raisins, apples, and spices. His eyes widened, and his mouth watered. He then decided he had room for dessert.

“I think he likes it, Mom!” Cirrus said.

The cake having been dispatched, Golden Harvest rose from the table. “Your dad and I, and Blue Seas, need to talk to our guest. Cirrus, I want you to go to your room. The rest of you, clean the kitchen.”

“Aw, Mom, why isn’t Cirrus helping?” Juniper protested.

“Because I said so. Now go!”

Blue Seas let Blueblood to the living room, where the older stallion sat on one of the couches. He groaned. “I really didn’t need that slice of cake,” he said.

“But it was good, right?” Blue Seas said.

“Yes. Everything was delicious.”

“Those are all our family’s special dishes. Mom’s carrot stew, Dad’s bread, Mom’s carrot cake. That’s what they made for me when I got back from the Equestria Games. Do you have a special food?”

“No,” he replied. “I don’t think my mother or father ever cooked.”

“That’s too bad,” Blue Seas said.

His mother and father joined them in the living room, his father carrying a tray with two glasses and an unlabeled bottle on his back. “I know just the way to settle your stomach after a big dinner!” Golden Grain said. He lowered the tray to the table. The ice in the two glasses clinked.

“Is that your carrot vodka?” Blueblood asked.

“It is,” Golden Grain replied. “Blue Seas and Juniper helped with this batch. I think Juniper has a real talent for distilling.”

“Yeah, it was more him than me,” Blue Seas said.

“But before you drink, we have something for you,” Golden Harvest said.

The earth pony couple grabbed Prince Blueblood in a tight hug. “Thank you so very much for giving us our son,” Golden Harvest said.

“You don’t know how much he means to us,” Golden Grain added.

Blue Seas looked away, embarrassed. “I’m sorry, Father,” he said.

“I think I can accept a... more informal greeting when I’m away from Canterlot,” Blueblood replied. He poured himself a glass of the carrot vodka and took a sip. “Golden Grain, I met you, got to know you, and wanted you to be happy. So I did the one thing I could do to help Blue Seas and to help you. As much as it hurt me to give him away, I did what was best for somepony other than me, perhaps for the first time in my life.”

“And thank you again,” Golden Harvest said. “But how did you convince Blue Seas’s mother to agree to this?”

“Mom? Do you really not know?” Blue Seas interjected.


“My mother was a seapony.”

“Yes, you told us,” she replied.

Blue Seas stared at his parent. “And seapony parents are different, remember?”

His parents looked at each other. Then they looked at Prince Blueblood. And then they laughed, loud and long.

Blue Seas levitated over the bottle of carrot vodka. “Do you need another, Father?”

“Just leave the bottle.”

Prince Blueblood finished off another glass before the Goldens collected themselves. “There’s a reason why I don’t talk about this,” he said once they were quiet.

“How in the world did you hide it?” Golden Grain asked.

“I always wore a long jacket, and when that wasn’t enough, I used an illusion spell that Twilight—Princess Twilight Sparkle taught me. But mostly, I relied on the fact that nopony was thinking that a stallion could be pregnant.”

“And I want to thank you again,” Golden Harvest said. “Your sacrifice reminded us that there are foals in need, and let us see that we could make a family even when nature said no.”

“You have quite the diverse family,” Blueblood said.

“Just because a foal doesn’t look like us, doesn’t mean he can’t be part of our family,” Golden Grain said.

Blueblood sighed. “You have freedoms I could only dream of, Golden Grain. I am forced by my heritage to be the representative of all unicorns.”

“Can you tell me about this heritage?” Blue Seas asked.

“What do you mean?” Blueblood replied.

“Well, what does the House of Platinum mean to you?”

“I wrote to you about how my house represents all the great unicorn traditions. We are skilled in many, but truly great in few, mostly diplomacy. But there are a few unicorns I am proud to call my ancestors.”

Prince Blueblood spoke warmly about several of his predecessors. A general in the army who fought against Nightmare Moon. The architect who helped build Canterlot. The musician who composed the Equestrian national anthem. And his great-grandfather, who served as ambassador to the pony nations across the ocean.

“I’m seeing something about all these great ponies,” Blue Seas observed. “They all became great when they were working with all types of ponies.”

“That’s right,” Blueblood said. “Blue Seas, you could be like these ponies, much easier than my daughter. Think about it. You have unicorn and seapony heritage, earth pony parents, and a nosy pegasus for a sister.”

Golden Harvest looked upstairs. Cirrus was poking her head through the railing surrounding the landing. “I told you to stay in your room!” Golden Harvest yelled. “Sorry,” she said to Blueblood.

“It’s all right. It looks like she cares about you, Blue Seas.” He sighed. “Another experience I fear my daughter will miss.”

“I was kind of hoping you would have brought your wife and daughter, Father,” Blue Seas said.

“Yes. Well. Just because Capella understands my desire to know you, doesn’t mean she’s happy. And Bluebell....”

“You haven’t told her?” Golden Grain asked.

“I don’t know if she’s ready to share my affection,” Blueblood said. “Being raised in Canterlot tends to give one a twisted understanding of the magic of friendship.”

“If that’s what you’re worried about, why not send her down here for a while?” Golden Harvest suggested.

“That’s... actually, that’s a good idea,” Blueblood said. “I know I learned a lot from Equestria’s newest princess in my time here.” He turned to Blue Seas. “But I’m here to spend time with you. Is there anything you want to do?”

Blue Seas thought for a while. Here he was, catching up with his father, his parents reunited with an old friend. It was much like meeting a distant member of the Golden family, of which there were many. “I think this is what I wanted.”

“And there’s one thing I want to ask of you, son,” Blueblood said. “Will you race me tomorrow?”


Blueblood, Blue Seas, and the Goldens talked for another hour, now joined by the rest of the family. Coffee and tea were shared. Golden Grain talked about the fishing hole, Golden Harvest gossiped about Ponyville, and Blueblood shared tales from the Equestria Games. It really was like a visit from a distant relative.

Golden Harvest offered the spare bed, but Blueblood politely declined. The princess was expecting him, after all. He also turned down an offer to fish the next morning. Blueblood did need to mingle with the runners before the race.

Blue Seas rose early the next morning, and headed with his mother to the edge of the Whitetail Wood. The early risers were of two groups, the officials and volunteers that helped organize, and the most eager runners. Golden Harvest was in the latter group, and Blue Seas watched his mother gather with Shoeshine and Bon Bon. No doubt they were wagering their respective products on the results of the race.

Blue Seas spotted many other rivals: Applejack and Rainbow Dash, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, Thunderlane and most of the weather team, Rumble and Archer. Prince Blueblood was deftly moving around the crowd, introducing himself and saying a few words to each racer. Other than the outdoor venue and the distinctly less formal attire, it could have been Blueblood at the party back in Baltimare.

Finally, Blueblood came over to Blue Seas. “Do you run the race every year?” he asked.

“I used to, before I got my cutie mark,” Blue Seas said. “I ran with Princess Twilight Sparkle. But after I got my cutie mark, it felt like I was betraying my talent.”

“I encourage you to run,” Blueblood said. “Fitness is a worthy goal, even in an activity that’s not your talent. As a future champion athlete, foals will look up to you, and I encourage you to set a good example.”

“Shall I start by outracing the chair of Princess Celestia’s council of athletics?”

“You can try,” Blueblood said with a smile. “I must move on. Perhaps we’ll talk on the trail, assuming you’re not too out of breath.”

Blue Seas just nodded. Silently, he was assessing his father’s chances. “I got this,” he thought.

Blue Seas wandered around. He saw the entire Cake family approaching. Pound Cake was in his armor, but without the helmet. “Interesting choice in racing gear,” Blue Seas quipped.

“The lieutenant said it’s good practice,” Pound Cake replied. “He has a funny concept of leave.”

“Then your best response is to run faster than him,” Blue Seas said. “How about you, Pumpkin? Are you sure you’re not going to run?”

“No. I’m here to cheer on my favorite athlete.” She nuzzled Blue Seas. “And my favorite brother. And help my parents sell drinks.” Cup Cake and Carrot Cake had already set up a cart, with hot chocolate, steamed milk, and spiced carrot-pumpkin juice ready for sale.

“Everypony racing, line up to get your numbers!” somepony called over the megaphone.

“That’s my cue,” Blue Seas said.

Blue Seas joined the queue. Dedicated racers lined up to get their official numbers. A few of the younger runners, imitating parents or older siblings, joined them. The volunteers gave them their own numbers with a smile. Blue Seas, for his own part, stood as the number 66 was placed over both his cutie marks. The material holding the cloth numbers to his coat itched like a burr under a saddle.

“Form up by groups!”

The racers stood up front, followed by the casual runners, distinguished by the lack of numbers. The five stallions in guard armor stood at attention behind them. Further back, the princess was trying to herd a group of excited foals, including Cirrus. The mayor gave her usual introductory speech about how the race was run to prepare the Whitetail Wood for winter. Then, Blueblood took the stage.

“I’d like to thank Princess Twilight Sparkle for the invitation, the mayor for her warm welcome, and everypony who has come out to race or support the racers. Preparing one’s town for the change of seasons is part of one’s civic duty. And staying fit should be part of everypony’s daily regimen. I am glad to see Ponyville combine these goals into one wonderful fall tradition.

“And to sweeten this year’s race, I am personally contributing a 100 bit prize for first place, 50 bits for second, and 10 bits down through tenth place. Now let’s get ready to run. These leaves aren’t going to fall off the trees by themselves!”

Blueblood joined the racers, taking a position two ponies away from Blue Seas. He glanced at his son and smiled. Blue Seas returned the smile, and then looked over at his mother.

The horn sounded, and three members of Blue Seas’s unusual family took off running.

Blue Seas’s hooves crunched through fallen leaves. Despite his best efforts to keep up, he fell behind the leading group of ponies. Applejack and Rainbow Dash were the first to break away, and a minute later, he lost sight of his mother amidst the trunks and branches. At least his father was still trailing him.

He felt the pains of overexertion, and slowed his pace. Blue Seas may have spent ten or more hours swimming on some days, but he never swam for over thirty minutes without stopping. The techniques he learned to maximize his speed while swimming weren’t usable here. As he ran at a slower pace, he recalled the lessons he learned from Princess Twilight Sparkle. “Take time to appreciate the beauty of the forest. Look at the vibrant colors. Listen for the animals that share these woods. And think of all that these woods provide ponies. Lumber. Herbs and flowers. Maple syrup.”

A maple walnut muffin from Sugarcube Corner sure sounded good.

The sound of hoofsteps alerted Blue Seas to somepony catching up to him. He glanced back and saw Prince Blueblood. “Hi, Father,” he huffed.

“You won’t win if you treat this as a sprint, Blue Seas,” Blueblood said.

“I know.”

“Let us pace each other.”

Blue Seas nodded and continued his slower pace. With each step, more of the multicolored leaves fell from the trees in the Whitetail Wood.

“It is beautiful,” Blueblood said. “A lesson I failed to learn on my previous race.”

“I can’t ever forget that lesson,” Blue Seas said. “The princess is insistent.”

“Ponyville is a special place,” Blueblood said. “Feeling better?”

Blue Seas nodded.

Blueblood smiled and increased his pace. Blue Seas grunted and increased his own speed.

They were running too fast to converse now, but Blue Seas didn’t mind. He was happy to be evenly matched against his father. Blueblood was breathing heavily as well. Sweat covered his sides and soaked the collar of his sportswear. Blue Seas didn’t want to think about how bad he himself looked.

Ahead, Blue Seas spotted one of the other racers, Bon Bon, moving at a slower trot. As he got closer, he noticed she was stepping tenderly with one of her legs. He moved to help her.

She waved him off. “I can make it back,” Bon Bon said. “You go finish the race.”

Blue Seas nodded and focused on the trail ahead. If his count was accurate, there were now eight racers ahead of him and his father. He thought a top ten finish would be wonderful. But he couldn’t rest. He heard at least two ponies behind him, making their final move.

The arrow sign ahead, painted red and marked with a 9, pointed out the final leg of the race. He glanced over at his father, who nodded. And with that, they both dug into their energy reserves and galloped as fast as possible.

Blue Seas narrowed his vision. He pictured himself in the pool. There was only him, only his lane. Don’t even think about the ponies racing you. Focus on yourself, the movement of your body. Once you’re out of the pool, then you can watch the competition.

Unlike swimming, though, he could hear the cheers of the ponies in the crowd. The cheers were growing louder. He saw the banner of the finish line ahead. His peripheral vision picked up somepony trying to beat him. It was now or never.

Blue Seas lowered his head and charged, not stopping until his hooves crossed the white chalk of the finish line. He slowed to a trot to cool down. One volunteer took the numbers off his coat, while another offered water. Blue Seas gladly accepted.

Of the ponies who had crossed the finish line around the same time as Blue Seas, he couldn’t determine who had placed where. So Blue Seas looked to the board. It might not have been as fancy as the ones used at the Equestria Games, but it served the same purpose. There were ten rows and two columns, with eight rows filled with numbers and times. He watched as somepony wrote a time in the ninth position, and then posted a number, not his own, to the board.

A tenth time was then added to the board, just slower than the previous time. And the last space on the board was filled by his own number 66.

It wasn’t a swim event at the Equestria Games, but Blue Seas was thrilled by his placing.

A victory that was interrupted, moments later, by somepony yelling “Oh, come on!” Blueblood was talking to a volunteer while looking at the board.

Blue Seas trotted over. “What’s the matter, Prince Blueblood?”

“I finished the race one second slower than you. One second. I missed finishing in the top ten by one second!”

“A valiant effort, you know, for a Canterlot noble,” Blue Seas replied with a smile. “Look at it this way; you have the fastest time for a visitor to town.”

“Given that the competitors for that title are all wearing armor, that’s not saying much.”

After sufficiently recovering from the run, Blue Seas joined the crowd in cheering for the other racers. After a half hour, the last of the adult racers had finished, and the trees were almost completely devoid of leaves. After another half hour, the squeals of delighted foals could be heard over the approaching thunder of a hundred small hooves. A minute later, they emerged from the woods. All of them, even Princess Twilight Sparkle, were covered in leaves, and some in tree sap.

With the princess’s encouragement, the colts and fillies ran to rejoin their parents. Golden Harvest hugged Cirrus, and then started fussing over her, picking leaves out of her mane and wings.

Blue Seas looked to Blueblood and smiled. “Mothers.”

“They’re the same everywhere,” Blueblood said.

The mayor took the stage. Twilight Sparkle and Blueblood followed her, the former carrying this year’s medals. The mayor thanked everypony, and then called the winners to stage. Applejack and Rainbow Dash took their customary first and second. Blue Seas watched his mother collect the fourth place medal. And once the medals were gone, two more ponies were called to stage. Blue Seas was one of them.

Blueblood spoke to the ninth and tenth place finishers. “I understand quite well that there are only medals given for the top eight competitors, but here is a small token of acknowledgment.” Blueblood levitated over small pouches of bits.

Blue Seas grabbed the pouch with his own aura and turned. But then he heard his father say his name softly. He turned back.

“Blue Seas. The one thing I try to emphasize in my position is that athletics is a worthy pursuit for all ponies. Look at the crowd. And look at the racers. Today, you’re a role model. Make everypony as excited about athletics as you are.”

Blue Seas nodded and joined the rest of the winners. Looking over them, two facts were obvious. He was the youngest pony on stage, and the only unicorn. Back when he was a colt, when athletics was more like playing, all kinds of ponies participated. But as he grew older, as he participated in all those teams that Scootaloo organized, he saw fewer pegasi and even fewer unicorns. It was much like the Equestria Games, even though this race is one almost anypony could do.

He ended his musing and rejoined his family. They were standing with the Cakes, who were enjoying the rare chance to be with both of their foals. “Are you going to the party?” Blue Seas asked everypony.

“Of course,” Golden Harvest said.

“We’ll be there, once we see little Pound off,” Cup Cake said.

“My big colt’s going back on duty,” Carrot Cake added.

“Mom, Daaaad,” Pound Cake protested.

Blue Seas couldn’t help but chuckle. If there was one thing parents were good at, it was embarrassing their foals.

“Well, once you open your shop, I think some treats are in order,” Blue Seas said. He looked to his family and held up his prize.

That received nods of approval and an ambush hug from Cirrus.

“Son, do you want to see off our town’s guest?” Golden Grain asked.

He looked to the stage, where Prince Blueblood was mingling with the princess, mayor, and other prominent townsfolk. “No, I’m good.”

“You sure?”

“We had an entire evening to talk to him, and then I ran with him on the trail. I feel like I understand our relationship now.” Blue Seas recalled his original thought about it feeling like meeting a distant relative from out of town. He was glad to have learned more about another branch of his family, but his family was here, all around him.

“I’m glad to hear that, son,” Golden Grain said. “Now let’s get going.”

“Do you think he’ll send his daughter to Ponyville?” Golden Harvest asked.

“That would be something,” Red Streak said.

“It sure would,” Blue Seas said.

Chapter 7: Under the Sea

View Online


By Alaborn

Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.

Chapter 7: Under the Sea

Azure Spark
114 Harborside Way, Apartment 4B
Fillydelphia, P.E.

Blue Seas
Golden Farms
Two Orchard Way
Ponyville, P.E.

September 24, 1492 AC

Dear Blue Seas,

I hope this letter finds you well, and you remain enthusiastic about swimming. Although we are in the normal lull for competition, I make sure to visit the pool, or in my case ocean, every day.

As I mentioned when we met at the Equestria Games, I live and work in Atlantis part of the year. From October through February, I work with my father in building and maintaining currents in Atlantis. It’s kind of hard to describe to somepony who’s only lived on the surface, but it’s an important type of civil engineering.

My offer to you, to visit the home of the seaponies, still stands. You have the enthusiastic support of my parents, who made sure I could feel at home both on land and under the sea. If you just wish to visit, we can plan a visit. If you’d like to stay longer, you could learn our family trade. We can teach you what you need to know. If you choose this route, however, I recommend mastering High Tide’s Elements of Water Magic first. I would expect water magic to come easily to you, thanks to your heritage.

Please talk with your parents and write back when you’ve made a decision.

Your friend of two worlds,

Azure Spark

Blue Seas refolded the letter. He had originally mentioned the letter when he had received it, but he knew that, with the harvest season coming, his parents had more important things to worry about.

But now, he knew what he wanted to do. He set aside the copy of Elements of Water Magic and headed downstairs. He found his parents in the living room, relaxing after a hard day’s work.

“Mom, Dad, can we talk?”

“Of course, dear,” Golden Harvest said.

“You know I have that offer to visit the seapony kingdom, and even stay and work there.” He paused. “I want to take up Azure Spark’s offer, and live with him this winter.”

“For how long?” his father asked.

“Maybe two months. December and January. I’ll need to coordinate with Azure Spark, but I wanted to talk to you first. Make sure I’m not letting down the farm.”

“You know you won’t let us down, son,” Golden Grain said. “You’re going to leave home someday. We know your destiny isn’t on this farm.”

“Still, are you sure you want to miss Hearth’s Warming?” Golden Harvest said.

“I don’t want to miss it, but I think it’s best for the farm to be gone for these two months. I promise to think of you, Mom, Dad,” Blue Seas said.

“Okay, son,” Golden Grain said. “Remember that no matter where you go in life, you will always have a home here.”

Two weeks later, Blue Seas had finalized plans with Azure Spark. That left another three weeks of anticipation. He worked hard around the home, preparing the year’s harvest for winter storage and helping with repairs.

On the arranged day, Blue Seas endured a teary farewell on the platform of the Ponyville train station. Many hugs were exchanged, with Cirrus hanging on to him as he boarded the train. He took his seat and waved as the train departed for Fillydelphia.

It brought back memories of his train ride to Baltimare. That was the first time he was away from Ponyville for more than three days. Now, not only was he going to be away from home, he was also going to be on his own, responsible for himself.

He was glad he had a friend for support.

The train trip was long, and Blue Seas wished he had something to do. But it wasn’t like he could bring a book where he was going. In fact, for a two month trip, he only had one small bag, mostly personal grooming items that Azure Spark had suggested he bring. He dozed off, meeting family and friends again in his dreams.

An overcast sky greeted Blue Seas when he arrived in Fillydelphia. He disembarked, his bag on his back, a letter with directions in his magical aura. He hadn’t managed to see much of Fillydelphia on his prior trip. Now, walking along its streets, he could appreciate one of Equestria’s largest and oldest cities. Tall brick buildings and narrow and twisting streets were in stark contrast to the open spaces of Ponyville. The streets were packed with ponies, moving faster and with greater purpose.

A delicious aroma greeted Blue Seas, and his stomach reminded him he hadn’t eaten on the train. Vendors on the street sold the famous Filly cheese hay sandwich, and if this was going to be his last pony meal, it might as well be something new and tasty. The sandwich was delicious, but weighed heavily on his stomach as he continued his journey.

Blue Seas’s destination was a six story apartment building, not far from the ocean. A building like that probably held more apartments than all of Ponyville, yet it was a small building for Fillydelphia. He walked up the stairs and found Azure Spark’s apartment.

His knock was swiftly answered by a middle-aged unicorn mare with a cherry red coat and a blue and yellow mane. “Oh, you must be Blue Seas,” she said. “Azure Spark has told me so much about you!” Before Blue Seas could react, she grabbed him in a hug.

Azure Spark trotted into the hallway, and mouthed “Sorry.”

Blue Seas extracted himself from the affectionate mare, and uttered “Nice to meet you.”

“Blue Seas, this is my mother, Red Tide. She’s an oceanographer.”

“Is that how you met Azure Spark’s father?” Blue Seas asked.

Red Tide nodded. “It is. Of course, I had to drag him to that bar on the shore to get him to loosen up.”

Azure Spark facehoofed. “Mom!”

“I’m sorry,” she said. “My son doesn’t like it when I tell these stories.”

“It’s like you want to embarrass me, Mom!”

“Um, can I talk to Azure Spark alone?” Blue Seas interrupted. “I have some questions.”

“Okay, dear,” she replied.

The two half-seaponies retreated to Azure Spark’s bedroom. It was sparsely furnished and decorated. “Thanks,” Azure Spark said, taking a seat on the bed.

“I can empathize,” Blue Seas said. “My mom’s not that bad, but there are many times I’ve felt embarrassed by my parents. But I thought it would get better when you’re older.”

“Well, I’m nineteen, and it’s only gotten worse as Mom’s gotten older. I’m kind of stuck with it. As long as I’m splitting time between the sea and the surface, I can’t realistically move out.”

“I still don’t know what I’m going to do, other than swim,” Blue Seas said. “I don’t even know where I belong. I’m hoping these next two months will help me figure that out.”

“You said you had questions?”

“Honestly, I just wanted to get us away from your mother. But, well, let me think.” He paused. “Do I need anything else before we go?”

“Did you master the water breathing spell?”

“I did. Spend an hour underwater with it.”

“Good. I asked you to learn the spell for emergencies, if you transform back. And you’ll want to carry this emergency water breathing potion around your neck at all times.” Azure Spark levitated over a luminescent violet flask. “Something my dad drilled into me. You can’t go overboard when it comes to being able to breathe.”

Blue Seas lifted the flask around his neck. “Anything else?”

“Here are some clams,” Azure Spark said, presenting another pouch.

“What do I need clams for?”

“Not the sea creature. Seapony money. It’s made out of shells. This is an advance on your wages.”

“I didn’t know that.” Blue Seas shook his head. “I’m going to be so lost down there.”

“I’ll be there to help you fit in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Now, do you need to store anything here?”

“One thing. I’ll just leave the bag here with it.” Blue Seas said. “I didn’t bring anything else that I couldn’t take underwater. Well, I guess I can leave my pouch of bits behind, too.”

“Okay. Ready?”

Blue Seas nodded.

“Then let’s go!”

After the laborious process of saying goodbye to his mother, Azure Spark took Blue Seas to the ocean shore. He stepped into the water until it was up to his barrel. “Ready?” he asked Blue Seas.

Blue Seas followed him into the chilly water. “Ready.”

Blue Seas concentrated as if he were casting a spell, but his horn didn’t light. Rather, the magic flowed from within him, pouring into his rear legs. He felt a pressure like a muscle cramp, and then relief. His rear half slumped into the water, his seapony tail resting on the sand. With a few test kicks, he felt everything working. “How far is the trip?” he asked.

“About an hour by fin,” Azure Spark replied. “Follow me, but if you get lost, the glowing yellow rocks will lead you to Atlantis.” He turned and dove under water, the fins of his tail splashing Blue Seas.

Blue Seas followed him under the surface. For the first time while in this form, he felt in his element. Blue Seas began to appreciate this form and its inherent magic. His eyes adjusted to the darkness, and he could see as well as on the surface. He no longer felt the chill of the water. And when Azure Spark motioned and said “This way”, he could hear his words clearly.

About half an hour later, Blue Seas saw his first seapony. A lone stallion was swimming through a patch of kelp, inspecting the orderly rows. Growing up on a farm, he recognized the sight of cultivated fields.

Continuing on, Blue Seas started to see structures. At first, they looked like interesting formations in the rocky surface, but then he noticed signs that they had been worked. Windows and doors in irregular shapes were visible, once he knew what to look for.

The seafloor sloped down, and Blue Seas gasped as he looked over the edge. The city of Atlantis loomed beneath him, tall spires of rock and crystal, twinkling with lights of yellow, blue, and violet. And swimming in all directions were what must have been thousands of seaponies.

“Impressive, isn’t it?” Azure Spark said.

“Yeah. I... I don’t even know what to say.”

“We’ll keep you busy, but you should have time to see it all. Let’s go. I know where our first stop should be.”

As he neared the bustling city, Blue Seas caught himself picking up subtle shifts in temperature and current. Instincts told him to follow the stream. As he did, he noticed seaponies swimming along the same stream. “So this is like a road?” he asked.

“Yeah. It’s called a current, and keeping them flowing is going to be our job. Now, get ready to dive out. We’re heading there.”

Blue Seas followed Azure Spark to the seafloor. They were surrounded by buildings, but their destination was outside, a single seapony mare with a cart. The shape of the cart was different, but Blue Seas recognized a food vendor.

“Two,” Azure Spark ordered. “You’re going to like this Atlantis roll,” he told Blue Seas. “Trust me.”

The vendor opened a compartment. Bubbles escaped, and Blue Seas felt a bit of warmth come from it. She passed over two mystery items, cylindrical rolls of something wrapped in seaweed, about the size of a sandwich.

“Fish?” Blue Seas asked.

Azure Spark nodded and took a bite.

Blue Seas inspected the food. It felt warm in his hooves; just how seaponies cooked was another question he had to ask. He couldn’t really smell the roll, at least not in the pony sense, but he picked up savory notes in the nearby water that whetted his appetite. He glanced at Azure Spark, who was already half finished, and greatly enjoying it. He put the roll into his mouth and took a small bite.

Blue Seas’s incisors, now pointed like a seapony’s, had no problem cutting the roll, and he chewed the mystery food. A flood of alien tastes bombarded him. Half of him wanted to push it away, but the other half found the new taste appealing. The texture was different, but not unfamiliar; he experienced it when he ate fish back in Baltimare.

He decided he wanted more.

Blue Seas sighed after he swallowed the last bite of the roll. He worked his tongue over his teeth, trying to dislodge errant pieces of seaweed. He noticed his molars felt familiar, unchanged. “Are my teeth right?” he asked.

“You mean keeping some pony teeth? I have the same thing. I don’t know why it doesn’t change all the way. That, and our ears.”

“What?” Blue Seas raised a hoof to his ear; it felt unchanged. He looked over at the vendor, whose ears were similar, but tipped with small fins. She looked bemused about the whole situation.

“Let’s go, Blue Seas. We can talk more once we get home.”

“Can you at least tell me what I ate?” Blue Seas said.

“Sea bass, stuffed with lobster, and wrapped in seaweed. Why? Did you like it?”

“I think I did.”

Azure Spark and Blue Seas stopped outside one of many identical buildings, if that term could be used. For some reason, the rounded shapes reminded Blue Seas of a beehive. He tried desperately to remember landmarks, but everything looked the same to him.

“Your best bet is to remember the cutie mark,” Azure Spark said, pounding a hoof on the wall. The mark was three wavy lines, in blue, violet, and red. “Or ask for Split-Fin’s home.”

“Is that your father’s name?”

“Yes. Come on in.”

Azure Spark opened the door and swam in. He was soon met by an older seapony stallion. “Son!” he called. They greeted each other with a brief stallion hug: embrace, two pats, and then break.

“Dad, this is my friend, Blue Seas. Blue Seas, my father, Split-Fin.”

“Nice to meet you, sir,” Blue Seas said. He swam up, and they shook hooves. The stallion had a violet coat and shimmering silver mane, with scales of a duller silver. Looking at his father and remembering his mother, Blue Seas could see where Azure Spark had gotten his magenta coat and silver and blue mane.

“Azure Spark told me about you. Is it true this is your first trip to Atlantis?” Split-Fin said.

“First trip underwater at all. I didn’t even know I was part seapony until a few months ago.”

“That’s... that’s rough,” he replied. “We’ll both do our best to make sure you learn about your heritage while you’re here.”

“Thanks,” Blue Seas said.

“Let me take you to our room,” Azure Spark volunteered.

Blue Seas followed Azure Spark into a curiously-shaped passage. Down they went, and then they curved upward. For some reason, Blue Seas thought of the pipe underneath his kitchen sink.

The water up above now looked different; he soon found out why, when he surfaced. This room was filled with air; a strange kind of seaweed clung to the wall. Azure Spark pulled himself into a seated position at the edge of the tunnel, his tail comfortably covered by the water.

Blue Seas imitated Azure Spark and took a seat. Looking around, he was intrigued by the design of the room. Most of the room was at a higher level, completely out of the water, but the lower level where they now sat could allow seaponies to visit and not have to change forms. In the dry space were two piles of bedding, woven from seaweed.

“So you sleep in pony form?” Blue Seas asked.

“You don’t want to change back while you’re sleeping,” Azure Spark explained. “So you sleep in a lodge room like this.”

Blue Seas splashed the water with his tail. “Like a beaver lodge?”


“How does this work?”

“Magic holds the bubble in shape. And the skyweed there keeps the air fresh,” Azure Spark said.

The skyweed pulsed. “Looks creepy,” Blue Seas said.

“It is,” Azure Spark replied with a laugh.

“So, uh, sorry for having to share your room,” Blue Seas said.

“Don’t worry about it. This room is big enough. Besides, it will be nice to have that whole brother experience.”

“I’ll be sure to tell you all the problems with being a brother. Starting with sharing a room.” Blue Seas’s stomach rumbled. “I’m not sure my first seapony meal is agreeing with me.”

“It does take time to get used to, even for me.”

“I think I need to....” Blue Seas paused and looked around.

Azure Spark looked at Blue Seas. “What’s wrong?”

“I just realized that I have no idea how to use the bathroom with this body.”

“Well. Huh. Yeah.” Azure Spark swished his tail idly. “I mean, everything works normally, but you don’t want to do your business in the middle of Atlantis. You need to go to the shell room.”

“Shell room?”

“No baths, you know? Many seaponies will know what you mean if you ask for the bathroom, but many have never been to the surface. So, um, it’s probably easiest to show you.”

Blue Seas followed Azure Spark out of their room, and to a door that looked like any other. It opened to reveal an empty room, about the size of a closet. He entered and closed the door behind him. At that moment, water started flowing upward. He had to gently swim to hover in place. Noticing a handle, he wrapped his forelegs around it.

It helped for Blue Seas to picture himself using the facilities at home. And when he finished, he saw nothing left, the waste disappearing through a hole in the roof.

He swam out of the shell room. “So why is it called a shell room?” he asked Azure Spark.

“The main kind of grooming seaponies need to do is to slake off old scales. And they normally do this by scraping their tails with a shell. Do it in the shell room, because nopony likes to swim through discarded scales. You and I don’t have to do it as often, since we’ll be in our normal forms while we sleep, but you should find a shell at some point.”

“So, what now?” Blue Seas asked. “Are we going to work today?”

“Not today, but I was thinking of showing you what we’re working on.” He looked down the hall. “Hey, Dad?”

“In here,” he replied.

The two half-seaponies swam into what resembled a workshop. Split-Fin was puttering around, much like Blue Seas’s father was wont to do.

“You up for a swim to the vent?” Azure Spark asked.

“Sounds good to me. How about you, Blue Seas?”

“I’m not sure what it is, but sure.”

“It’s an impressive sight, that’s for sure,” Split-Fin said.

The three ponies swam, leaving Atlantis behind, traveling further from shore. Blue Seas noticed their path followed a current of warm water; whenever he felt the water cool, they corrected their course. After half an hour, he noticed a warm glow ahead. Then he saw seaponies at work, obviously construction workers. Despite the underwater environment, the similarities were obvious. Both seaponies and narwhals were working the stone in the area.

They soon reached the source of the glow. A large vent in the seafloor generated light and heat. By now, the nearby water was the temperature of bathwater. “This is... wow,” Blue Seas said.

“This steam vent is the source of the heat and magical energy that powers Atlantis,” Split-Fin explained. “The workers we passed are creating a new flow, letting the city grow.”

“The warmth allows the kelp beds to flourish, and will attract fish,” Azure Spark added. “And more importantly for our work, they affect the currents through Atlantis.”

“Our job is to adjust the currents, and then build new ones,” Split-Fin said. “And I recommend getting a good night’s sleep tonight, because tomorrow is going to be busy.”

The next morning, following a light breakfast of some kind of whitefish, Blue Seas departed for his first day on the job. He and Azure Spark were two of six ponies working under the guidance of Split-Fin. He gave orders to the others, who split off in pairs, and then he led them to someplace in Atlantis.

“So here’s an example. This current is running too warm,” Split-Fin said. “So we need to fix it.”

“How do you know?” Blue Seas asked.

“I know, but for you, I recommend using a thermometer.” He pulled out a temperature gauge and passed it to Blue Seas, and then spread out what looked like blueprints, but on a paper made of kelp and inked with some phosphorescent substance. “As you can see, it’s supposed to be two degrees cooler.”

“So then what do we do next?” Blue Seas asked.

“We adjust the seafloor outside Atlantis, making both physical and magical changes, until the warm and cool waters are mixed like they should be.”

“Dad’s already engineered the changes. We’re here to build them,” Azure Spark added.

“Come on,” Split-Fin urged.

They headed to a spot outside town. Split-Fin used what looked like the underwater equivalent of a surveyor’s tool to check his distance, and then marked two X’s in the seafloor with his hoof. “I’ll build the ridge here, and then you create the eddy there,” he explained.

Blue Seas watched with fascination as Split-Fin pressed his tail to the seafloor. Using his inherent seapony magic, he pulled sand and stone together, reshaping the seafloor over the course of several minutes.

“Let’s go,” Azure Spark said. “We’re going to be working with Swiftwater’s Fourth Current Spell.”

“The one that creates a whirlpool when it goes out of control?”

“Yes, but we have nowhere near that kind of magical strength.”

Visions of Princess Twilight Sparkle casting the spell filled Blue Seas’s head. He shuddered and focused on the ritual. Placing his hoof against Azure Spark’s, they cast the spell together, relying on each other to balance the spell’s energy demands and even its output. While Blue Seas wasn’t certain about the intended impact of the spell, he felt the water’s change in his tail

“Now what?” Blue Seas asked.

“We do the same thing elsewhere, following the blueprint. Afterward, we go back and check the results.”

“Then if there’s a problem, we adjust the spell?”

“Right. I’m pretty good at reviewing the problem, but I always check with Dad first.”

For the first half of the day, Blue Seas and Azure Spark followed his father’s plans. They broke for lunch; Split-Fin passed out cold fish rolls. Blue Seas found the meal to be filling but nothing special, rather like the common daisy sandwich on the surface. Then, going back in the direction of their first construction site, they checked on the currents.

The first check revealed a temperature slightly off; after conversing with Split-Fin, they strengthened their spell slightly. The second check revealed another problem, which Split-Fin fixed with an adjustment to the seafloor.

The third check also revealed a problem. “Is this normal?” Blue Seas asked.

“Very much so. But note we’ve only needed to make small adjustments. We haven’t had to cast a different spell. So that’s success, as far as I’m concerned.”

“It still feels like we’re duplicating effort.”

“It’s not the most fun kind of work, but you’ll be happy once you’re swimming through Atlantis.”

Blue Seas felt tired after his first day of underwater work, more tired than after a day on the farm. Back home, he watched with curiosity as Azure Spark prepared dinner. Watching a fish being prepared for consumption was a bit disconcerting at first, but he reminded himself he had already eaten fish multiple times. And then there was the cooking. Azure Spark opened a small door and put the fish into a cubbyhole that shone with a warm orange glow.

“Is that like an oven? I’m guessing it’s magic,” Blue Seas said.

“Yes to both,” Azure Spark replied. “That vent we visited? This oven is made from the stone in that area. It can hold magic for a long time, generating heat.”

“I didn’t really think it was possible to cook underwater.”

“It’s not necessary to cook fish, but I prefer the taste. What I really wish is for there to be some way of making bread down here.”

Blue Seas thought about all the delicious baked goods back in Ponyville. “Please don’t remind me.”

“How did you like your first week down here?” Azure Spark asked.

“It was surprisingly ordinary,” Blue Seas replied. “Work, taking care of the home, cooking, reading, grooming. There are a few big differences in function, but otherwise it’s been very ordinary.”

“And now we’re shopping.”

Blue Seas nodded. “This marketplace looks a lot like Ponyville’s.”

“I’d like to see that. Back in Fillydelphia, I’m used to established storefronts.”

“Really? You’d want to visit Ponyville?” Blue Seas asked incredulously.

“Of course! The town has its own castle and princess, and a rather large number of famous ponies.”

“I guess that’s nothing out of the ordinary to me,” Blue Seas mused. “If you ever do visit, I’ll be happy to show you around.”

Azure Spark noticed Blue Seas staring off into the depths. “Thinking of home?” he asked.

“Yeah. If I were home, I’d probably be getting ready to go to a party right now.”

“We could do that,” Azure Spark said. “A friend of mine mentioned a little get-together going down. Just young stallions like us. And mares, of course.”

“I think I’d like that,” Blue Seas said. “I’m learning a lot from your father, but I’d like to spend some time, you know....”

“With ponies our age. Yeah.”

Blue Seas and Azure Spark headed out following dinner. Swimming through Atlantis, Blue Seas was able to appreciate what the city looked like at night. It was dark out, or at least that’s what his seapony eyes told him, but the city made up for the lack of natural light with sparkles of artificial color. Stones glowed with the energy of the underwater vents. Carefully tended patches of phosphorescent algae glowed dimly. And the lights from hundreds of residences shone through windows. It wasn’t a common sight in Ponyville, but he recalled Baltimare looking like this at night.

The party was held outdoors, so to speak, in an area that reminded Blue Seas of one of Ponyville’s parks. He guessed there were about thirty ponies there, ranging from his age to mid-twenties. A two-pony band played music, one using a variety of rocks as percussion instruments, the other blowing on a variety of shells. The vibrations he picked up with his seapony ears translated to something akin to horns. And the omnipresent food vendors had set up here as well.

Blue Seas wasn’t feeling that hungry, but he had hard-earned clams in his pouch, and the skewers of shrimp sure “smelled” good. He swam over and ordered a skewer. As he paid, he felt something brush the fin at the end of his tail. Blue Seas turned and noticed a mare. She smiled as she swam away, twisting her tail in a way he couldn’t help but notice.

Blue Seas returned the smile, but swam off in another direction. He stopped and ate, watching seaponies swim around each other in an aquatic display that resembled dancing. And then he felt another brush along his tail. It was a different mare this time.

Unsure of the situation, he found Azure Spark and swam over to him. “So, um, when a mare brushes your tail, is that what I think it is?”

“Yes. That’s a kind of flirting.”

“So far, I’ve had two mares do that,” Blue Seas said.

“Lucky stallion.”

“But why me? I’m nothing special.”

“I remember feeling the same way the first time I came down here, Blue Seas. Why me? But look around. The reason why is obvious. We’re exotic.”

Blue Seas looked over the crowd, seeing the blues, greens, violets, and silvers of the seaponies’ coats. He thought of his own coat as silver, but it was far lighter than anypony else. In fact, the only pony who stood out more than him was Azure Spark.

Azure Spark motioned to the crowd. “Go out there and enjoy the attention.”

Blue Seas rubbed his hooves together. “But I have a marefriend back home, and I, I mean we....”

“I, uh, understand,” Azure Spark said. “It wasn’t that long ago that I was in your horseshoes. So, I guess my big brother advice is, don’t do anything you don’t want to do.” His horn glowed, and he pulled a small sealed item out of his pouch. “But carry this, in case you change your mind.”

Blue Seas blushed, and quickly made the item disappear into his own pouch. “Thanks,” he mumbled.

“Now go out there and have fun.”

Blue Seas swam up to a small group of chatting seaponies and introduced himself. He thought back to meeting his fellow athletes at the Equestria Games, and hoped things would go as smoothly. Fortunately, they did. Throughout the night, he found seaponies eager to talk to him. He told his story several times that evening, and they found the strangest details to be fascinating. Being from Ponyville and living on a farm were crazy and unique things to a group of ponies who had never even traveled halfway across Fillydelphia. And mentioning that he had met Princess Twilight Sparkle got a lot of oohs and ahhs. He gathered that the lord of Atlantis wasn’t as friendly a pony.

Blue Seas swam and “danced” with the locals. He was having such a good time that he had no idea how late it had gotten. The party eventually slowed down, and Azure Spark swam over to him. “Did you have a good time?” he asked.

“This was fun. Are there more parties like this?”

“Bigger events like this only happen once or twice a month. This was sort of a Hearth’s Warming party. But I get together with several of the ponies here frequently. We get lunch, race and play aquaball, or just hang out.”

“What’s aquaball?” Blue Seas asked.

“It’s a game with two teams, trying to score in each other’s goal, with the ball only manipulated by your tail. So, something between hoofball and lacrosse,” Azure Spark explained.

“Sounds like fun.”

“I’ll try to get a game together.”

“So seaponies celebrate Hearth’s Warming too?”

“It’s called Unity Day, but it celebrates the same thing. The seaponies and narwhals came together, and brought forth the warmth from the earth. And that was said to be the founding of Atlantis.”

“There are a lot of similarities here,” Blue Seas observed.

“Land or sea, we’re all ponies.”

“Are you ready to go?” Azure Spark said.

“Hold on, I need to finish grooming,” Blue Seas replied. In the shell room, he was scraping his tail with a scallop shell. He had discovered that not taking care of his tail made swimming irritating, like getting a rock stuck in one’s hoof. And since he had a long swim ahead of him, he went over his tail one more time.

Hearth’s Warming was approaching, and the three seaponies were returning to the surface for two days, to spend the holiday with Red Tide.

Blue Seas gave his tail one last shake to dislodge any remaining loose scales. “Okay, ready.”

The swim back to Fillydelphia was uneventful. The water grew colder as they left the area controlled by the seaponies. After all, it was the time of year when, even with his love of swimming, Blue Seas only swam indoors.

Blue Seas breached the surface and breathed in the crisp winter air. He pressed his forehooves into the wet sand and stood up on his front legs. He concentrated, and his seapony tail split and reformed into his hind legs. He stepped forward, and promptly fell, getting a muzzle full of wet sand.

“Careful. You need to get used to walking on four legs again,” Azure Spark said.

Blue Seas stood and shook himself off. He tried moving each leg individually until he got used to his normal body again. Split-Fin was doing the same. His transformed form was a muscular earth pony with a muted violet coat.

The weather in Fillydelphia was clear and cold. The sun did little to fight the biting wind. Blue Seas was glad they didn’t have far to walk. Soon, they were inside the apartment building. They headed upstairs and knocked.

Red Tide answered the door, and promptly grabbed Split-Fin. They embraced and kissed like two ponies who hadn’t seen each other for months. Which they were, Blue Seas noted.

Azure Spark motioned for them to go around his parents. “They’ll be like that for a while.”

Red Tide’s apartment was warm and inviting. A wonderful aroma greeted them, and Blue Seas started to drool. “Cookies?” he wondered.

“Mom always welcomes us home with cookies,” Azure Spark said.

Azure Spark and Blue Seas headed to the kitchen. Holiday cookies cooled on wire racks. Blue Seas stared at them hungrily. And they waited.

Red Tide and Split-Fin finally joined them in the kitchen a few minutes later. She hugged her son. “Welcome home, dear,” she said. “You too, Blue Seas.”

“Thanks,” Blue Seas replied.

“Can we have the cookies now?” Azure Spark asked.

“Of course, sweetie.” She levitated the cookies onto a platter, and then moved the platter to the table.

Blue Seas snagged a cookie and took a bite. “Wow, these cookies are really sweet!” he said.

“No, it’s more like you haven’t had anything sweet for the last month,” Azure Spark said.

Blue Seas nodded. The meals he had eaten as a seapony had a variety of savory flavors, ones that were hard to compare to pony food, but nothing that could be called sweet.

He grabbed a second cookie. If this was his one chance to eat dessert for a two month period, he wasn’t going to pass it up!

“What’s our plan, Mom?” Azure Spark asked.

“Your father and I are going to go shopping, and look at the Hearth’s Warming decorations around town,” she replied. “Then we’ll make the holiday meal. Did you two want to come?”

“I think we’ll be fine here,” Azure Spark said.

“Then have fun, you two. We’ll be back this afternoon.”

After the parents headed out, Blue Seas spoke. “So I take it that means you don’t need to shop for a gift?”

“Yes, I picked up some things in Baltimare for my family. You?”

“I did bring something from Ponyville for your family. It feels weird, only buying one gift.”

“You have a large family, right?”

“Two brothers, two sisters.” Blue Seas sighed. “Feels strange not to be with them.”

“Then let them know you’re thinking of them.”

“You’re right. I’ll write a letter.”

Blue Seas sat at the desk in Azure Spark’s room. He picked up the quill and started to write.

Dear family,

It’s the day before Hearth’s Warming as I write this letter. It feels so strange to be in a quiet house on this day. It’s the first time I’m away from home on this day, and I’m thinking about you. I’m thinking about Mom’s candied carrots, and Dad’s holiday rolls. I’m thinking about the old Hearth’s Warming decorations that still smell like cinnamon after all these years. But most of all, I’m thinking about you. My thoughts are with you always. But don’t worry about me; I’m with a friend this Hearth’s Warming.

By the time you get this letter, I’ll be back underwater. I really can’t put into words what it’s like down there. So many things are similar, but every so often there’s something that surprises me completely. It’s been nice to experience this part of my heritage. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it when I get home in five weeks.


Blue Seas

P.S. Cirrus, no touching the candy Mom and Dad got for me.

That evening, Blue Seas joined Azure Spark’s family for the holiday meal. He watched with interest as Red Tide revealed her family’s stew. The scent of tomatoes and spices greeted him.

Blue Seas looked at his bowl, seeing something that didn’t resemble a vegetable. “Does this have fish?”

“Yes, it’s made with cod,” Red Tide said. “This stew represents our unique blended family.”

“That’s interesting, you eating fish at all.”

“Well, at first I thought it... distasteful,” Red Tide said. “And then I got pregnant.”

“I had to keep going into the ocean to feed her cravings,” Split-Fin said.

“I realized that it actually tasted good. Not that I eat it often, but I always make fish for the few meals I share with my husband.”

“And I love every one of them,” Split-Fin said.

Following dinner, they exchanged gifts. Blue Seas brought out the gift he had left in the apartment before they departed, a large bottle.

“Cider,” Split-Fin said.

“Sweet Apple Acres cider,” Blue Seas said. “Best in Equestria. My neighbor makes it.”

“Let’s be the judge of that,” Red Tide said as she levitated in four glasses from the kitchen.

“And we have something for you,” Azure Spark said. He passed over something cylindrical

Blue Seas recognized the item was seapony-made. He opened it, seeing one of the scrolls they used in place of books. He pulled it out and unrolled it.

“It’s the tale of unification,” Split-Fin said. “Someday, you’ll have foals, and you can tell them about your heritage, and how the lesson of friendship and harmony is universal.”

“Thanks. That’s a very thoughtful gift,” Blue Seas said.

Food, family, gifts, and the warmth of the hearth. Even away from home, Blue Seas enjoyed the holiday. But something still weighed on his mind as he got ready for bed. He stretched out on the cot in Azure Spark’s bedroom. Azure Spark entered; he cast a spell, and the room felt quieter.

“What was that?” Blue Seas asked.

“Silence spell. The bed in my parents’ bedroom squeaks.”

“I know the feeling. I normally just put a pillow over my ears.”

“Is something bothering you?” Azure Spark asked. “If you want to go home, I’m sure my father would understand.”

“It’s not that. It’s.... Well, I had this idea that, down in Atlantis, I’d see my natural mother. And there’d be this connection, and we’d meet, and there’d be this happy reunion.”

“I know you met your father like that, but it’s still unlikely. Atlantis is a pretty big city, after all.”

“Maybe I should ask around town,” Blue Seas said.

“But you don’t know her,” Azure Spark said.

“I have her name. Melodia Starsea.”

“Melodia’s a pony name, Blue Seas.”

“What do you mean?”

“Haven’t you noticed how seapony names are physical characteristics?”

Blue Seas thought about it. Split-Fin, Blue Scale, Long Tail... he had been so focused on the names, he hadn’t thought about what they meant. “So then, even if they knew her, they would know her by a different name?”

“Right. And Starsea only helps a little. It’s like a clan name, but it’s shared by maybe one-third of narwhals.”


Azure Spark pondered. “Maybe there’s a chance of finding her, if you swim in the right school. The political class is pretty insular, but if there’s a chance of meeting them, I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thanks, Azure Spark.”

Blue Seas tried to not dwell on his natural mother, rather focusing on his unique opportunity to live as a seapony. Returning to the sea, he continued to work, and joined in Azure Spark’s circle of friends for swimming races and aquaball. He was really getting into the seapony sport. A little too into it.

“How’s your foreleg feel?” Azure Spark asked.

“Still a bit sore,” he replied. Blue Seas had executed a powerful “kick” in the previous day’s game, one accomplished by swimming in a complete loop first to build up speed. But he lost control, and jammed his foreleg against the seabed. It only hurt when he tried to turn suddenly while swimming.

“Dad thinks you’re ready to learn seabed manipulation. You’ll want to know both kinds of magic if you want to make this a career.”

“Okay. Sounds good.” Although he certainly used his seapony magic when racing, conscious casting using his tail was something he hadn’t had a chance to practice.

Split-Fin took the two half-seaponies to an empty field, or the seafloor equivalent, to practice. “First, physical contact is necessary to establish the connection,” he explained. “When you’re connected to the seabed, you’ll feel a warmth, an affinity. Only then do you use your magic. Urge the sand and rock to shape to your desires.”

“It’s a similar feeling to shaping water with a spell,” Azure Spark added.

Blue Seas nodded, and pressed his tail to the seafloor. He opened his magical core and focused through his tail. He patiently waited until he felt a spark, a bit of fire in his soul. He focused on the channel, building the connection until he felt ready to act. He willed the seafloor to rise. Finally, he felt it shift beneath him.

“How’d I do?” Blue Seas asked.

The others snickered. He looked, and saw a barely noticeable shift in the seabed.

“Well, it’s a start,” Split-Fin said.

With some more practice, Blue Seas was able to move the earth with greater effect. Azure Spark joined him in practicing. “The next project is a big one,” he said. “And it’s mostly shaping.”

“We’re constructing a new current,” Split-Fin said.

“I can’t wait to see the blueprint,” Blue Seas said.

Sure enough, the design was impressive, a monolith of rock with a hole in it. Split-Fin explained that the natural flow of the water from the vent would be focused through the hole to form a warmer current. And miles away, the flow of water would form a new “street” through an area of Atlantis under construction.

“This is the main construction that needs to be completed before anything can be built closer to Atlantis,” Split-Fin said. He spread out the blueprints, showing multiple stages of the build. It started as a U shape, not connecting to form the loop until later. “And for this first step, it’s best done by drawing up the spires at the same time. That’s where you two come in. I’ll stabilize it.”

Azure Spark and Blue Seas took their positions, about ten pony lengths apart. They focused, and slowly pulled up the seafloor.

“Slow and steady,” Split-Fin urged, his own tail pressed to the seafloor. “If you’re feeling drained, call for a break.”

The spires of rock rose in fits and starts, with a low rumbling spreading through the water. It was tiring work, even more draining than hours of sprints.

“Are you okay, Blue Seas?” Split-Fin asked.

“I think I can get this up another step,” Blue Seas said. He paused and rested his forelegs on the spire.

“You don’t want to do that,” Split-Fin warned.

The warning came too late. Blue Seas’s hoof was caught in the next shift of the spire, and his foreleg moved at an unnatural angle before his body was dislodged from the spire. He hissed in pain.

Split-Fin waved to Azure Spark to get him to stop, and then swam over to Blue Seas. Fortunately, the injury didn’t look serious to the seapony. “Can you move your leg?” he asked him.

Blue Seas moved his leg slightly, and winced. “It hurts.”

“Better safe than sorry. We’re taking you to the hospital.”

Split-Fin and Azure Spark steadied Blue Seas as he swam. “I’m just glad I didn’t hurt my tail,” Blue Seas said.

“Actually, if you hurt your tail, you can just transform and transform back,” Azure Spark said.

“That works?”

“It’s fixed me the couple of times I’ve hurt myself. I don’t recommend testing it yourself, though.”


Throughout his stay in Atlantis, Blue Seas had noted the many similarities between seapony and pony cultures. And the hospital was another. The rooms of the hospital had the organic design of all seapony buildings, and the staff didn’t wear uniforms, instead apparently using necklaces to identify themselves. But other than that, everything was familiar. Medical equipment, stretchers, the nurse station, the waiting room.

The waiting.

It was hard not to move his injured foreleg as he waited patiently to be seen. Finally, a nurse called his name.

Blue Seas swam to the examination room, where a narwhal doctor greeted him. “We don’t see many half-seaponies below the surface,” he observed.

“We don’t see many above the surface, either,” Blue Seas quipped.

The doctor examined a seaweed scroll. “You have an injured right leg, a possible sprain. Or should I say foreleg?”

“Say what you want. It hurts either way.”

“Can you describe how you injured it?”

Blue Seas recounted the circumstances of his injury as the doctor gave his foreleg a physical examination. The doctor then used his magic to scan the limb.

“The good news is it’s only a sprain. There’s no tissue or bone damage. But you’ll want to keep the limb immobilized for a week,” the doctor said.


Blue Seas sat as the doctor and a nurse immobilized his foreleg in a sling. Feeling a bit chagrined, he headed back to the waiting room, where Azure Spark and Split-Fin were waiting.

“How is it?” Azure Spark asked.

“Just a sprain. I have to keep it immobilized for a week.”

“Well, that’s good. As one athlete to another, be sure to listen to the doctor.”

“I will.”

“And best of all, your injury isn’t bad enough to stop you from working,” Split-Fin said.

Blue Seas groaned as they departed. He paused as he saw a new patient swim into the waiting room. A seapony stallion, well along in his pregnancy, came in, supported by his wife.

“Ugh. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing that,” Blue Seas said.

“You know, if you fall in love and stay here, that could be you some day,” Azure Spark said.

“I’ve never been happier to say I have a marefriend. A unicorn marefriend.”

Near the end of January, Blue Seas and Azure Spark joined Split-Fin at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The ribbon was seaweed, of course, and the politician in charge, something like a deputy mayor, cut it with his teeth. With that, a throng of seaponies cheered the opening of a new neighborhood. Blue Seas felt the flow of the current around him, the current he had helped build.

“I have good news,” Split-Fin said. “There’s a party within the Coral Palace grounds celebrating this grand opening tonight. And since I was one of the project leaders, I secured us invitations.”

“This is probably your best chance to discover who your mother is,” Azure Spark added.

“I know. I kind of gave up hope. Now this gives me a slim hope.” He paused. “What’s this party like?”

“Boring,” both Split-Fin and Azure Spark replied.

“Very much akin to that party after the Equestria Games,” Azure Spark added. “There’s the equivalent of formal dancing, music that will put you to sleep, and ostentatious displays of food.”

“But there’s always a crowd of influential seaponies,” Split-Fin said.

“I’ll go,” Blue Seas stated. “But I have nothing to wear.”

“We’ve got you covered,” Azure Spark said.

That evening, Azure Spark introduced Blue Seas to what seaponies considered formal wear.

“Necklaces and bracelets?” Blue Seas said.

“The heavier the better,” Azure Spark said. “Gives the message, ‘I don’t have to swim under my own power.’”

“You know, I haven’t noticed carriages.”

“They’re much rarer than on the surface, but they exist. Red Crest, Lord of Atlantis, has a huge one.”

Blue Seas examined a chunky bracelet. “Is this, you know....”

“Yes, it’s the style for stallions. Mares’ bracelets are even worse.”

“Guess I’ll have to get used to it.”

The three ponies departed, swimming to the heart of Atlantis. In his time in the city, Blue Seas had only seen the Coral Palace at a distance. The seat of the seapony government was, as its name implied, a palace fashioned out of colorful living coral. It was decorated with stones and phosphorescent lights. The design of the building did remind Blue Seas of a castle he had seen, but not the one in Canterlot. And then it hit him; it reminded him of the Palace of the Royal Pony Sisters, which had been under restoration all his life.

Two seapony guards with tridents stood outside the entrance to the palace grounds while an official checked invitations. He nodded after examining their invitations, and they entered. Blue Seas gawked at the magnificent architecture as they swam by the buildings.

Finally, they reached the ballroom. Other than the seaponies, it looked very much like the ballroom in that Baltimare mansion.

“They have rectangular rooms!” Blue Seas said with amazement.

“You’re right. Hmm. I never noticed that,” Split-Fin said.

They swam in, and Azure Spark took Blue Seas to the side. “Good luck, Blue Seas. Do you know what you’ll do if you see her?”

“No,” Blue Seas admitted. “I’m hoping that, like there was with my father, we would each feel that connection. And then we could talk in private.”

“Yeah. Just be sure to try and avoid doing anything that would get you sent to the dungeon.”

“Always good advice. I’ll meet up with you later, Azure Spark.”

Blue Seas swam slowly through the series of ballrooms, stopping to pick up a plate of hors d’oeuvres. He pictured in his mind what his mother possibly looked like. A narwhal mare, that was certain. No younger than 35, probably not older than 45. Given his own coloration, she probably had a silver coat and some amount of green in her mane.

It didn’t really help much. Seaponies lacked the variety of colors of ponies on the surface.

The party also skewed older. He didn’t find any fast friendships, like he did with Azure Spark’s friends. The seaponies certainly recognized he was from the surface, but that only elicited a few polite questions. So Blue Seas remained an observer, watching the stiff swim strokes of seapony formal dancing.

One aspect of the architecture caught his attention. One of the rooms featured an enormous doorway, guarded by two seapony and two narwhal guards, the largest he had ever seen. The crest on the door was familiar to him, that of Red Crest, Lord of Atlantis. A seapony swam up to the guards, presenting a different invitation; the guards nodded and opened the door, just enough for the seapony to enter.

Blue Seas asked Azure Spark about it the next time he swam by him. “Yes, there’s something more exclusive than an invitation to the Coral Palace. An invitation to the Grand Hall,” Azure Spark said. “That’s the only place a seapony can meet the lord.”

“So if my mother is somepony important, she could be in there? And I couldn’t see her?”

“Unfortunately, yes. But there’s always the chance she leaves early.”

“And still the chance she’s not here at all,” Blue Seas said morosely.

“And if she isn’t? Remember the ponies who are here for you.”

Blue Seas nodded and swam away to enjoy the party. But his eyes never strayed long from the giant doors. Infrequently, seaponies entered or left the Grand Hall. But none looked like his mother. None felt like his mother.

“Chin up, Blue Seas.”

Blue Seas looked over to Split-Fin, who had swum up to him. “I’m trying.”

“Look. It’s not like you’re never going to come here again. You’ve been a good worker over the last two months, and you’re welcome to work here anytime you want.” He gazed off to the entrance to the Grand Hall. “I work with a lot of seaponies, including a bunch in the government. I’ll ask around, maybe figure out who this mare is. Okay?”

“Okay, Split-Fin.”

“Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of this affair.”

Blue Seas and Split-Fin met up with Azure Spark, and the trio departed. Blue Seas cast one last look on the party, wondering one last time about the mother he never knew.

“Got everything you need?” Azure Spark asked

Blue Seas nodded. He had spent some of his earnings on seapony wares, gifts for his family and Pumpkin Cake. He also picked up an aquaball for himself, and idly wondered if it could be adapted to any surface games. And so, he hefted a mesh bag with his souvenirs, his personal supplies, and the rest of the clams he had earned. “I guess it’s back to the surface, pick up my bag at your mother’s place, stop by the bank to convert these clams to bits, and then buy a train ticket home.”

“Don’t forget to write,” Azure Spark said. “And I’ll see you at the next swim competition.”

“I’m looking forward to it.”

“Take care, Blue Seas,” Split-Fin said.

Blue Seas shook hooves with Split-Fin and Azure Spark. He swam away with a final wave. And following the currents, Blue Seas swam along the road home.

Four hours later, Blue Seas was seated on the bench of a train bound for Ponyville. His foremost desire for this trip had gone unmet. But as he thought about it, he realized how much he had accomplished. He learned more about his heritage. He learned a trade that could support him anytime he visited the seapony lands. He made new friends, and grew closer to a good friend and competitor. And finally, he had a sizable bag of bits, something he could use to support himself as he trained for the next swimming competition.

His thoughts turned to Ponyville, to home. It would always be his home, no matter what his heritage. He looked forward to seeing his family and Pumpkin Cake. He wondered what he missed during his two months under the sea.

It probably wasn’t anything special.

Chapter 8: A Ponyville Sojourn

View Online


By Alaborn

Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.

Chapter 8: A Ponyville Sojourn

An ornate carriage crossed the sky of Ponyville, the four pegasus guards pulling it flapping their wings in perfect synchronization. A few ponies noticed the carriage as it approached the Castle of Friendship, but on the ground, nopony paid attention. No formation stood at the ready outside the castle; in fact, nothing had been announced at all.

As the carriage landed, one of its passengers, a filly of twelve years, noticed. “Where are the guards? The heralds?” she asked.

“Bluebell, you have had enough of that treatment in Canterlot,” Prince Blueblood replied. “I fear you have learned the wrong lessons I once learned. You need to learn true friendship, and you should be thrilled that the Princess of Friendship is willing to take you under her wing.”

Princess Bluebell pouted and crossed her forelegs over her chest.

“Look, Bluebell, I came to Ponyville because I needed to become a better pony,” Blueblood said.

“No, you came because you needed to hide for eleven months!” she countered.

“Well, yes, but we’re not going to talk about that, are we? The truth is, I needed to become a better pony, but nopony was willing to tell me that. Now, come on. The princess is waiting for us.”

As if on cue, the guard opened the door to the carriage. Bluebell stepped out into the chill winter air.

And promptly sank in the snow up to her fetlocks.

“Ugh. Don’t they take care of this town?” Bluebell complained.

Blueblood followed her out of the carriage, ignoring the cold snow around his hooves. “Ponyville operates differently than Canterlot. You have six months to learn to appreciate it.”

Bluebell grumbled as they walked through the door of the castle. A guardspony finally met then, and led them silently through the crystal halls. They passed the grand throne room, which stood empty, and instead headed through a simple door.

The small room beyond was lined by bookshelves, overflowing with books. Several sofas and chairs were arranged around a rug of Mareoccan design. In the back of the room, Princess Twilight Sparkle stood, dusting a bookshelf with a duster held in her magical aura.

“Princess. Your guests have arrived,” the guardspony announced.

Twilight Sparkle turned around and smiled as the duster winked out of existence. “Blueblood! Bluebell! So nice to see you. Thank you, lieutenant.”

The guardspony nodded and departed, closing the door behind him.

Blueblood and Bluebell gave slight bows. “On behalf of House Platinum, I wish to thank you for extending your hospitality, Princess,” Bluebell said.

“You’re very welcome. And please, call me Twilight Sparkle. There’s no need for titles when we’re in my personal quarters.”

“Still not big on formalities, Twilight Sparkle?” Blueblood said.

“Not at all. Please, have a seat,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Tea? Coffee?”

“I think a tea service would be wonderful,” Blueblood said.


“That’s fine,” she said unenthusiastically.

Twilight Sparkle disappeared into the kitchen, and returned with a teapot in far less time than it would take to boil water by mundane means.

“This is much appreciated, Twilight Sparkle. The carriage just does not stay warm on long trips.”

“That’s why I prefer the train,” she replied. “Or teleportation, but that’s not really an option for most ponies.” She turned to Bluebell. “And how are you, Bluebell?”

“Fine,” she replied.

“Bluebell, this is not a punishment,” Blueblood said. “Ponyville is different than Canterlot, and it took me months to appreciate the town for what it is. I’m asking you to open your eyes, and open your heart, and appreciate the magic of friendship. It will do you well to understand it as Princess of the Unicorns.”

“I know, Father. You told me that on the carriage ride here. And yesterday. And when you first told me I should come here.”

“I will cease telling you once you understand,” Blueblood said.

“Now, you two, starting the day with an argument is not a good way to learn the magic of friendship,” Twilight Sparkle interrupted. “Bluebell, I’d like you to start by focusing on one positive thing.”

“Like what?” she said.

“For example, you will be spending the next six months away from your parents, and in the care of a princess who can get quite busy with her duties.”

“I didn’t think about that.” Bluebell smiled. “Thank you again for this opportunity, Princess.”

“I shouldn’t keep the carriage waiting much longer,” Blueblood said. He rose and embraced his daughter. “Be good. I expect to not see your name in the Canterlot newspapers for the next six months, Bluebell.”

“No promises,” she said, returning the hug.

Blueblood opened the door, and a pair of guards escorted him out of the palace. That left Bluebell and Twilight Sparkle, sitting quietly.

“More tea?” Twilight Sparkle said.

“I’m fine,” she replied.

“The castle staff should have collected your trunks by now. Do you want to see your room?”


Upon arriving, Princess Bluebell surveyed her chambers. The guest bedroom was small, but at least the bed looked comfortable. The décor was surprisingly appealing, much more modern than her ancestral home. The artwork... not so much. Bluebell guessed it was the work of local artists, ones whose true genius would not be appreciated for years, if at all.

“If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask. The palace is at your disposal,” Twilight Sparkle said. “But I recommend getting a good night’s sleep. You have school tomorrow.”

Princess Bluebell groaned.

The next morning, Princess Bluebell rose with the morning sun. She briefly wondered if the bathroom attached to her room was created with the castle, or added by magic. Fortunately, the crystal here was opaque. She lay out her selection of soaps and shampoos. Though the bath was small, the water was hot and invigorating, and she was smiling when she left the bathroom.

Bluebell frowned, however, when she found her dress not laid out for her. But with her hoofmaiden back in Canterlot, she would just have to choose her own outfit. For just a normal day in Ponyville, she passed on her finest dresses, the latest designs from some of Canterlot’s and Manehattan’s trendiest designers. Rather, a sleek dress, in the violet and platinum colors of her house, would serve to introduce her to her temporary home.

Then she frowned again. While she didn’t have her hoofmaiden, there was no excuse for her horseshoes to still be dirty from the previous day’s tromp through the snow. She left her room, horseshoes suspended in her magical aura, looking for somepony.

The only other pony around was Twilight Sparkle, who was in the kitchen, preparing Prench toast for breakfast. “Good morning, Bluebell!” she greeted her.

“Good morning, Twilight Sparkle,” she replied unenthusiastically.

“You know, you remind me of your father,” Twilight Sparkle said.


“I remember your father wondering why somepony didn’t clean up after him while he slept. Granted, I was still living in the library at the time, and not a castle, but still, I thought you would have noticed the lack of staff.”

“You have nopony to clean this entire castle?” Bluebell asked.

“No, I do hire ponies to care for the public areas of the castle, but for my personal quarters, I clean them myself,” Twilight Sparkle explained. “I may be a princess now, but I’m a pony like any other.”

Princess Bluebell just stared. The mare in front of her was clearly not a pony like any other. Like four others, maybe. A life growing up among the Canterlot elite did not give her any idea how to respond to such a statement.

“Do you need me to teach you a cleaning spell?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

“No!” Bluebell quickly said. She noticed that, in her silence, she hadn’t moved her horseshoes, which were still floating in the air.

Bluebell concentrated, forming the arcane syllables that directed the simple cleaning spell. After a few seconds, her horseshoes were clean, but lacked the sparkle they had when hoof-polished by the castle staff.

“Ponyville is all grass and earthen paths, Bluebell,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Try going out without horseshoes. It feels good. And I doubt anypony at school will be wearing clothes.”

“I’m perfectly capable of deciding how to attire myself, Princess,” Bluebell said.

“Sorry. I just want to help you fit in. Ponyville is different from Canterlot.”

“Believe me, I know,” Bluebell grumbled.

“Now, how about breakfast?”

Bluebell sat down as Twilight Sparkle levitated two plates to the table. She sniffed at the dish. She liked Prench toast, but this looked like a poor rendition of it.

“I know this isn’t as good as you’re used to,” Twilight Sparkle said.

“It’s okay,” Bluebell said. It was hard to ruin Prench toast, especially once one added enough maple syrup.

“If you want, I can recommend some local restaurants, but you’ll need to get up earlier. And speaking of that, you’ll probably want to be leaving very soon.”

Bluebell glanced up at the clock, and her eyes widened. She quickly finished off her breakfast, grabbed her saddlebags, and ran out the door.

Princess Bluebell already knew she would be without the use of the family’s carriages, so she would have to get used to walking. Fortunately, Ponyville was rather... compact. It took a good ten minutes by carriage to reach the edge of the House Platinum estates. Princess Twilight Sparkle’s castle was right in the middle of Ponyville, not that far from Bluebell’s destination, the school.

She was shocked at what her new school looked like: a one room schoolhouse. Bluebell thought those only existed in history books. When she got closer, she realized it was an illusion; it was a larger building, probably with a dozen rooms, built like the classic schoolhouse. But it was still a single building.

In Canterlot, Bluebell attended an exclusive private school, which was much larger, and modeled on the campus style of Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns and Royal Canterlot University. Buildings with their unique architectural styles, tree-lined paths, a grassy quad at the heart of the campus—those were the hallmarks of a proper school. She sniffed and headed on.

Bluebell was met by a middle-aged earth pony mare. “You must be Princess Bluebell,” she said.

Bluebell nodded. “Yes, that is me.”

“I am Mrs. Cheerilee, your teacher, and I’d like to welcome you historic Ponyville Elementary.”

“Historic?” Bluebell questioned.

“It’s one of Ponyville’s oldest public buildings, and educated two of the Elements of Harmony,” Cheerilee said. “But I suppose it isn’t quite as historic as Canterlot.”

“There are some truly grand structures in Canterlot,” she replied diplomatically. That was a debate that would not likely endear her to her new teacher.

“The bell’s about to ring. Come with me, and you can introduce yourself.”

Being the new student standing at the front of the class was another experience Bluebell had only read about. There was no need for such introductions at her old school; the students’ families traveled in the same social circles, so she knew her fellow students, or at least knew of them.

“Settle down, class,” Cheerilee said after the bell rang. “We have a new student this semester. Princess Bluebell, would you please introduce yourself?”

“I am Princess Bluebell. I have come to Ponyville to study friendship with Princess Twilight Sparkle, and so I will be a student here for the semester,” Bluebell said. “And please call me Bluebell.”

“Thank you, Bluebell,” Cheerilee said. “Does anypony have any questions for our new classmate?” A chunky colt raised a hoof. “Yes, Rocky?”

“If you’re a princess, where are your wings?” he asked.

Bluebell scowled. “I am the heir to House Platinum and the title of Princess of the Unicorns, which predates the founding of Equestria.”

“Oh. Cool!” he replied.

“Bluebell, please take the empty seat in the fourth row,” Cheerilee said.

Bluebell’s scowl faded as she walked to her seat. Every other time somepony at school had said “where are your wings”, they knew very well why she was a princess, and were needling her for not being a “real” princess. And being a princess, she couldn’t dignify them with a response, as much as she wanted to deliver one, preferably with her hoof. Maybe the ponies of Ponyville actually were nicer.

Bluebell’s desk was old, worn smooth by years of use, but just as uncomfortable as the newer desks at her old school. The classroom, though smaller and plainer, had all the same features. And one other thing was constant, the foals in the classroom. Just like her old school, there were some with their cutie marks, and others, like her, without.

“Now, class, I know you all have grown up in Ponyville with Princess Twilight Sparkle, but there have been many princes and princesses in Equestria’s past, and not all of them were alicorns.” Cheerilee began. “We will be covering the early post-unification period in history this semester. That’s the period between unification and the first rise of Discord. And I want you to pay particular attention, as this month, you will be doing a group project on a pony from that period. You can choose anypony except for Princesses Celestia and Luna or the ponies you know from the tale of Hearth’s Warming.”

Bluebell sighed. She had studied that subject last year. At least history would be an easy A.

Lunch arrived, and Princess Bluebell joined her new classmates in heading out into the crisp winter air. She carried a lunchbox that Twilight Sparkle had provided. She wondered what was in it. In her haste to get to school, she hadn’t even considered minor details like food.

She sat down at a picnic table and opened her lunchbox. She found a daisy sandwich, carrots, and a bottle of apple juice. Bluebell did prefer a light lunch, but normally she had something a little more... flavorful.

She would have time to discuss lunch options later, she mused as she chewed on her sandwich. But her lunchtime solitude was interrupted as two of her classmates approached her table. Bluebell assessed them. A colt and filly, both earth ponies. The shape of their muzzles and complementary colors suggested they were related, probably twins.

“Can we join you?” the colt said.

“Sure. May I have the pleasure of your acquaintance?”

“Juniper,” the colt said.

“Junebug,” said the filly.

“We’d like to work with you on the group project,” Juniper said.

“And learn more about somepony from your family,” Junebug added.

“What, looking for an easy A?” Bluebell said.

“No, it’s not that,” Junebug said.

“We want to learn more about your family,” Juniper said.

“It’s for our brother,” Junebug said.

Bluebell nodded. Their brother? That was a statement that didn’t make much sense; why would their brother care about House Platinum?

Oh. She recalled that awkward conversation her father had with her.

“Is this brother of yours named Blue Seas?” Bluebell said.

The twins nodded.

Bluebell sighed. “Father told me about... your brother. I suppose I should meet him. Perhaps after class today?”

“You can’t meet him,” Juniper said.

“At least not today,” Junebug continued.

“He’s in Atlantis for the rest of the month.”

“Wait, Atlantis? As in the underwater city, Atlantis?” Bluebell asked.

The twins nodded again. Bluebell noted how they nodded in perfect time, in exactly the same manner.

“Well, that’s certainly going to be an interesting story,” she said.

“Yeah. I’m looking forward to hearing about the seapony world,” Junebug said.

“So, do you want to work with us?” Juniper asked.


“Do you know who you’d like to cover?” Juniper said.

“I’ll have to think about it,” Bluebell said.

“Can you pick up some books from the library next time you’re there?” Junebug asked her brother.

“Yeah.” He turned to Bluebell. “And thanks again, Bluebell.”

Left to her meal, Bluebell thought about her family line. She really wanted to speak about the real Princess Platinum. Generations of ponies only knew about her closed-mindedness from the Hearth’s Warming tale, and not all she did for her ponies in a time of great need. But with Cheerilee nixing that idea, she was left with a decision to make. She had hundreds of years to consider, and contrary to what the twins may have thought, she didn’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of all her ancestors.

She’d have to look for a book to refresh her memory. Fortunately, she was practically living in a library.

Princess Bluebell spent some time after school exploring her temporary home town. After school, a lot of the foals headed to a garishly decorated bakery. She couldn’t fathom a building like that anywhere in Canterlot, and she certainly couldn’t see herself eating in there.

And then she caught the aroma from the bakery.

Maybe she could stop by. Later.

Bluebell was surprised by the design of Ponyville. A number of the buildings were small shops with a home in back, selling a variety of goods, often in pairs. Others were just homes. There was no consistency in the architecture, no broad boulevards to encourage movement through town. And she saw little that could be described as culture.

She returned to Twilight Sparkle’s castle. From the sound of it, court wasn’t in session, so she expected to find the princess in her quarters.

What she didn’t expect was Twilight Sparkle hosting four foals, including one she recognized.

“Hi, Bluebell,” Juniper said. The colt was monitoring a potion as it was being heated.

“What’s going on here?” Bluebell asked.

Twilight Sparkle strode forward. “This is what I like to call Twilight Time. I’m helping these foals discover their special talent.”


“Yes, really,” Twilight Sparkle said. “I’ve been doing this ever since I became a princess. It started with these three fillies whose special talents were pretty clear, yet they were having trouble realizing them. So I started this program, to help nudge them toward their special talents. And after that, I realized I liked being a mentor.”

“That’s nice,” she replied.

“Oh. Would you like to participate?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

“Well, um, maybe. You’d probably do better helping other ponies,” Bluebell said. “Right now, I want to get started on this big school project.”

“Okay. Take some time to think about it,” Twilight Sparkle said with a smile.

Bluebell wandered off and looked through the bookshelf. The books were organized in some manner that probably only made sense to Twilight Sparkle. But she eventually found the history section, and searched for books on House Platinum.

After scouring the shelves, she selected two books. One was a definitive history by Faded Scroll. That book, a look at unicorn society in the century following unification, necessarily covered many of her ancestors. She set it aside. Her second book was more scholarly. The writer was some historian she didn’t recognize. The writing resembled a scholarly paper more than a history book. But it did include a fairly detailed genealogy of her house, which was just what she needed to help refresh her memory.

She took the first book to Juniper. “This is a good history book,” she said.

“Oh.” He flipped through the book. “Thanks, Bluebell.”

“The potion!” Twilight Sparkle shouted.

Juniper dropped the book and, grabbing tongs in his mouth, hastily lifted the potion off the flame before it boiled over.

Princess Bluebell lay on the bed in her guest bedroom, her book open before her. It was an engrossing read for the filly, as it included biographies of not only the past rulers of her house, but many other ponies of great accomplishment. There was Gold Band, who forged diplomatic ties with the donkeys. Blue Spire, chief architect of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters. Silver Heart, noted sculptor and painter. And Platinum Star.


She heard a knock on her door. “Bluebell?”

“Come in,” Bluebell replied.

Twilight Sparkle opened the door. “Are you ready for dinner?”

Bluebell glanced at her clock. She hadn’t realized so much time had passed. “Sure. Do we have something planned?”

“We’re going to Sugarcube Corner.”

Bluebell frowned, recalling the name from the garish building she passed earlier that day. “Isn’t that a bakery?”

“Yes, but, well... you’ll see.”

Bluebell stood up and straightened her dress. There was no reason to dress formally just to go to a bakery.

The two princesses departed, trotting toward the heart of Ponyville. “So, have you thought about what you’d like to do for Twilight Time?”

“No. It’s not that important to me.”

Twilight Sparkle gasped. “Not that important? How can you say that? Discovering one’s special talent is the most important event in a young pony’s life!”

“Not for somepony like me,” Bluebell said quietly.

Twilight Sparkle paused. “Would you like to talk about it?”

“There’s not really much to talk about. My path in life is pretty much set. Education at Canterlot Academy and Royal Canterlot University, a soft government job to occupy my time, and a marriage to some powerful unicorn in what’s sure to be the social event of the season.”

Twilight Sparkle had seen a lot in the foals she had mentored. Fears about not being good at anything and worries about finding a special talent different from their families were the most common, but many foals worried that their special talents weren’t good enough. “Look at it this way. You can pursue your special talent, or even something completely different, like your father does. You have a freedom that most ponies will never know.”

Bluebell huffed. “That just shows how unimportant my special talent really is.”

“I know this is a tough time for you. Fortunately, I know just how to cheer you up,” Twilight Sparkle said. She stopped at the door of Sugarcube Corner, and held it open for Bluebell.

“Are you sure this place is open?” she commented, looking at the dark bakery.

“Go ahead,” Twilight Sparkle said.

Bluebell hesitantly placed a hoof inside the building. Suddenly, the lights turned on, balloons and streamers flew everywhere, and ponies cheered. Bluebell jumped in surprise.

A very pink pony, who Bluebell assumed had to be Pinkie Pie, rushed up to her, smiling broadly. “Welcome to Ponyville, Bluebell! Everypony deserves a party to welcome her to town, and everypony here wants to be your friend! We have cake and punch and Pin the Tail on the Pony and music....”

“Thank you, Pinkie,” Twilight Sparkle interrupted. “I think Bluebell knows what to do.”

Looking around the crowded room, it was obvious to Princess Bluebell that she wasn’t in Canterlot. Nopony was dressed, unless one were to count paper party hats. Instead of a ballroom, she was in a café, with its tables pushed to the side. Instead of a string quartet, music came from a phonograph. The food was simple fare. But regardless of the differences, it was a party, and she knew what to do.

Bluebell smiled and worked the crowd. Like many parties she had attended, she was the center of attention. But for the first time, it wasn’t because of her name or noble title. The ponies of Ponyville just wanted to meet her because she was new in town.

The crowd was heavily weighted to ponies her age. She recognized many of the students from her classroom, and other school-age foals who presumably attended other schools. They all dug into the treats provided by the hosts. The cake and punch were nothing special, but they were tasty, and there was so much to eat! Pinkie Pie and another mare, a unicorn a few years older than Bluebell, were constantly moving about, keeping the tables stocked with snacks.

It was actually quite generous for a shop of this size to throw such a large party.

Despite the simplicity of the party, Bluebell felt at home. Really, there was nothing here that she hadn’t experienced, in a slightly different form, in Canterlot.

“Come on! Pinkie’s setting up Pin the Tail on the Pony!”

Bluebell nearly choked on her punch when the colt next to her said that. “Are you serious?” she asked.

“Yeah!” he replied excitedly.

Sure enough, Princess Bluebell saw something she had only read about before, in decades-old foals’ books. Even parties for young foals in Canterlot didn’t have games like this. “Do you play this at all these parties?” she asked the colt.

“Yeah. I heard Pinkie Pie even has a special version for adults, so everypony can play.”

“Everypony plays? Why?”

“It’s fun!”

Of all the ponies in the room, it looked like Pinkie Pie was the one most looking forward to the game. One look at the mare’s infectious smile, and Bluebell couldn’t help but smile.

“When in Roam....”

After a few turns, Bluebell decided her special talent was definitely not Pin the Tail on the Pony. She stumbled into furniture, and even when she reached the wall, she completely misjudged where the board was placed. But nopony was keeping score, and she joined the crowd in laughing at every funny misstep.

After the game, Bluebell found herself talking with a group of foals. She was surprised to find that many of them had once lived in Canterlot. Several had a parent in the Royal Guard, while others had parents who were merchants or craftsponies.

“Do you like Ponyville?” she asked them.

“Yeah! Everypony is really nice,” one replied.

“There’s lots of space, and a real forest!” another said.

“I like that we can just go out and play,” a third added.

“So what do you like to do in your free time?” the first asked Bluebell.

“I... don’t really have free time,” Bluebell admitted. Balls, dinners, tutoring, dance and music lessons... in Canterlot, her hoofmaiden had to keep track of her schedule.

“I bet you do now!”

“I do. Huh.” Sure, she had this party today, but there was nothing else on Bluebell’s calendar.

Twilight Sparkle came over to Bluebell. “Let me know when you want to head back,” she said.

“We haven’t been here that long, right?”

“We have. I just spent the last hour talking with Pinkie Pie.”

Bluebell looked around. The party was clearly winding down, with only about a quarter of the ponies that had been there during the peak. The food was mostly gone, and the moon was higher in the sky than she expected. She yawned.

“Let’s go,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Don’t make me tell you it’s a school night!”

“Okay.” She waved goodbye to the foals she was talking to, and headed out into the chilly Ponyville night.

“It’s really dark,” Bluebell commented.

“Yes. Not as many street lights,” Twilight Sparkle said. “But it’s great for stargazing!”


“Do you like astronomy?”

“I was tutored on the subject,” Bluebell said. “It didn’t catch my interest.”

“Too bad. Did you have fun tonight?”

“Yeah. I did.”

Following her welcome to Ponyville party, Princess Bluebell had no trouble falling asleep. She woke up earlier than normal, fully rested, and was able to get ready for school and enjoy her breakfast. She was even able to select what she wanted for lunch, albeit from the meager foodstuffs Twilight Sparkle kept in her kitchen.

Outside the school, Bluebell ran into Juniper and Junebug. “Good morning,” she said.

“Good morning,” Junebug replied.

“Thanks for the book,” Juniper said. “It’s really interesting.”

“You read the whole thing?” Bluebell said.

“No, only a couple of chapters. We did have that party, you know,” he replied. “Equestria back then feels like a different country.”

“It did function more like a confederacy of the three tribes, and that book is a good look at the way unicorns saw it,” Bluebell said. “But I was thinking about covering a pony who’s probably not discussed in that book. Platinum Star.”

“The father of alchemy?” Juniper said.

“He’s more than that,” Bluebell said. “He was the first unicorn to study the magic of pegasi and earth ponies with the same rigor as unicorn magic, and created the first theorems describing the fundamental principles of magic.”

“So he was somepony who exemplified harmony and friendship? He sounds like a pony Ponyville would be proud of,” Junebug said.

“I thought Ponyville was an earth pony town,” Bluebell commented.

“It was founded by earth ponies, but even in the beginning, it welcomed all ponies. It helped that Cloudsdale and Canterlot were so close by,” Junebug said.

“You see that spirit on our town flag,” Juniper added.

“Huh. I didn’t realize that.” Bluebell thought for a moment about just how little she knew about Ponyville. “How does this project work?”

“Same as always,” Juniper said.

“That’s right. You haven’t done one of these projects before,” Junebug said. “There’s a report and a presentation.”

“The presentation is ten minutes, and we all have to speak.”

“Is the paper a formal paper?” Bluebell asked.

“Yeah,” Juniper said. “We need sources and a bibliography and all that.”

“Well, I guess that’s to be expected.”

The warning bell rang, and the ponies in the schoolyard headed to class.

The school week passed, and the weekend approached. Twilight Sparkle had invited Princess Bluebell to join her on her Sunday social events, including brunch and several parties, but the filly faced an unusual prospect: a completely free Saturday. She commented about it at lunch on Friday.

“Want to come over and play?” Junebug asked.

“Doing what?”

Junebug shrugged. “Something. We can play outside. It’ll be a nice day to enjoy the snow.”

“We’ll probably be stuck inside one weekend, closer to the due date of our project, so why not have fun now?” Juniper said.

“Okay.” She paused. “Do I have to go someplace?”

“Normally, a bunch of foals gather, either around our place or the Apples’.” Juniper said.

“North of town. Look for Orchard Way; that will take you there.”

Saturday morning, Princess Bluebell looked through her trunks of clothes, totally at a loss over what to wear to play “something”. She decided on wearing nothing; none of her outfits were meant to survive outdoor activities. She pulled out a saddle and scarf for warmth, and then decided to wear boots as well. That meant going without horseshoes.

Bluebell’s boots squeaked as she crossed the crystal floor. Twilight Sparkle raised her head. “Going out?” she asked.

“Yeah. I’ll be at one of the farms, the Apples or the Goldens.”

“Okay. Have fun.”

Bluebell paused. “Wait. That’s it?”

“You’re plenty old enough to have free range of Ponyville. I trust you not to do something stupid, like enter the Everfree Forest. Everything else goes without saying. If you want to stay out late, that’s fine, but you’re on your own for meals.”

“This feels so weird.”

“It’s normal for Ponyville,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Enjoy this freedom.”

“I will,” she said, as she was heading out the door.

Bluebell was winded by the time she reached her destination. The directions were easy to follow, the edge of town wasn’t that far away, but the area of land held by the farmers in Ponyville was deceptively large. Trees, bare of leaves in their winter dormancy, stretched in one direction, and vast fields, covered in snow, stretched in the other. And on the snowy fields, dozens of foals of all ages played.

Bluebell trudged through the snow, heading for a group of older foals. Juniper and Junebug were there, along with three of their other classmates. “Hey, Bluebell!” Junebug called.

“Hi. What’s going on?”

“We’re going sledding. Want to come?”


They headed up the hill on the edge of the Goldens’ property. The group of foals carried an assortment of what seemed to Bluebell to be junk. It looked like anything with a broad, flat surface was borrowed to create a makeshift sled.

Juniper’s sled looked different, however, when he placed it down. The flat surface was above the snow, supported by a pair of metal runners. The whole thing was long and narrow. It was painted, though, and had an image of a wheel surrounded by fire.

“Want to ride first?” Juniper asked.

“Okay,” Bluebell said. She balanced on the narrow sled, hind legs tucked in, forelegs looking for something to grasp. Aren’t these things supposed to have something to hold on to? She gulped. “Is this safe? It doesn’t look safe.”

“Well, it was designed by Scootaloo,” Juniper said. “So of course it isn’t safe!” He gave the sled a push.

Bluebell screamed as she shot down the hill, much faster than the other foals. Being first was important in any athletic competition, the rational part of her brain said, but it couldn’t be heard over her screaming. The sled reached the bottom of the hill, climbed up a snow bank, and flipped, dumping it, and her, into the snow.

Bluebell got to her hooves and shook the snow out of her mane. Her saddle and scarf protected her from the worst of the snow. She grabbed the sled in her magic and tromped up the hill.

“Thanks for trying to kill me,” Bluebell told Juniper.

“Anytime. If you don’t want to ride again, then that just means more for us.”

She slammed the sled down. “Of course I want to ride again!”

The foals enjoyed sledding until the sun was high in the sky. At that point, they gravitated to the Goldens’ house.

“What’s going on?” Bluebell asked. She rubbed her head, fighting the throbbing in her horn after carrying the sled around for several hours.

“Lunch!” Junebug said.

They headed to the back door of the farmhouse, opening into its kitchen. After being outside, the farmhouse was toasty warm. A pleasant aroma filled the kitchen, from the large pot on the stove.

Juniper walked over and lifted the lid on the pot. A middle-aged mare scurried into the kitchen and batted his hoof away. “It’s ready when I say it is, Juniper!”

“Sorry, Mom,” he replied.

Bluebell recalled the name of the twins’ mother was Golden Harvest. The earth pony mare, for her part, noticed Bluebell. “A new friend?” she asked her son.

“Yeah. This is Bluebell.”

Golden Harvest smiled. “So nice to meet you. Juniper and Junebug told me all about you coming to Ponyville. We’d love for you to visit.”

“We’re working on a project together, so I’m sure we’ll get together later,” Junebug said.

“And I do hope for a more formal meeting once your eldest son returns,” Bluebell said.

“I’m sure he’d like to meet you, dear,” Golden Harvest said. She inspected the pot. “The stew is ready!” she announced.

The crowd of foals in the kitchen lined up, obviously having done this before. One by one, they took a plate with a bowl balanced on it in their mouth, and Golden Harvest ladled a portion of the stew into the bowl. They then crowded around a kitchen table, built for perhaps eight ponies, but somehow they all fit.

Bluebell tried the stew. It was common fare, mostly carrots and potatoes, with maybe a hoofful of additional ingredients. But it was warm and filling and just what she needed.

Following lunch, Bluebell looked around the kitchen. Used to large rooms with minimal decorations, the large number of items in the small kitchen made it look cluttered. There were pots and utensils and crafts and many framed photographs.

She paused when she saw the colt in one of the photographs. Were it not for the slightly darker coat and the green mixed in his mane, the colt in the photograph would be a spitting image of her father at that age.

“Yes, that’s him,” Juniper said.

“I could tell,” Bluebell replied.

“Let’s go! We’re going to do a snowball fight!” Junebug said.

While the older foals had sledded, the younger foals had built some truly impressive snow forts. Already, foals were preparing for battle, with ponies shaping snowballs and the older pegasi bringing down clouds.

“You’re with us,” Juniper told Bluebell.

“What do you mean?”

“We have two groups, the Apples, and everypony else. So you’re with us.”

She looked around. “How do I tell who’s who?”

“If somepony is colored like an apple, she’s probably an Apple,” Junebug said.

“Or just look to see who’s attacking you,” Juniper suggested.

Bluebell sought the protection of one of the snow forts. It was always best to lead from a position of safety, after all. She sat on her haunches and shaped snowballs with her hooves while the foals got into position.

Finally, somepony threw the first snowball. And from that point, a chaotic battle ensued. Snowballs flew everywhere. Pegasi carried huge chunks of snow over the walls of the opposing fort, at the cost of becoming a prime target. Earth ponies charged the enemy, delivering a swift buck to the snow walls, while their fellows offered covering fire. Bluebell, resting her horn, periodically poked her head over the wall and threw a snowball at somepony. She was pretty sure she pegged a few ponies on her team, but nopony seemed to mind.

Bluebell smiled as another snowball brushed the muzzle of an opposing colt. She was pretty good at this! And then she heard a noise behind her. Bluebell turned, facing a cute earth pony filly, apple green in color. She had a pile of snowballs balanced on her back.

Nopony was protecting Bluebell’s flank. A classic tactical error.

The filly grinned and whistled. Two older colts rushed to her side, armed themselves from her stash of snowballs, and unleashed snowy doom on the defenseless princess.

In the end, it didn’t matter who won. The Apples brought out steaming mugs of hot chocolate, and everypony rested and enjoyed the last hours of daylight. Afterward, Bluebell said goodbye to Juniper and Junebug, and returned to the castle.

The next morning, Princess Bluebell crawled out of bed, her body still feeling the effects of the previous day’s activities. A hot bath helped matters somewhat. Once her coat was dry and her mane brushed, she returned to her room. Twilight Sparkle had invited her to brunch and other formal activities, and so Bluebell needed to find a suitable dress.

While searching, she heard a knock on her door. “Bluebell? Are you ready?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

“Almost. Just need to get dressed,” she replied.

“You might want to hold off on getting dressed until later. There’s something I want us to do first.”

Curious, Bluebell followed Twilight Sparkle into the book-filled room at the front of the living quarters. The rug was rolled up and draped over one couch. And waiting in the center of the room were two buckets with mops in them.

“Seriously?” Bluebell said.

“It’s winter, so there’s no way to avoid dirty hoofprints, especially on this crystal floor. And I want this place to look good before Twilight Time tomorrow,” Twilight Sparkle explained.

“But this is....”

“What I did by myself before you arrived last Sunday,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Working together, mopping the floor will go faster. And think of it this way. You have my undivided attention, if you want to talk.” She levitated the mop and smiled.

Bluebell grumbled and assessed the mop and bucket. She had only seen them from a distance, used by the castle staff. It didn’t look difficult. She reached out with her magic, lifting the mop out of the water, putting aside the dull ache left over from the previous day’s strain. She lowered the mop to the ground, and immediately spattered her forelegs with soapy water.

She was glad Twilight Sparkle had told her not to get dressed, as she splashed herself a couple more times before she got a handle of using the mop. But she soon got into a rhythm.

“Did you have fun yesterday?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

“Yeah. Sledding and snowball fights. I carried around that sled until my horn hurt. It was fun. Different, but fun.”

“Different? How so?”

“In my circle, foals don’t just go out and play. Everything is organized, including leisure time. Ponyville is... it’s like those stories.”

“What stories?”

“Any stories in books for foals. The schoolhouse, the bakery, the foals playing, it’s something I read about when I was young. I thought it was all old-fashioned, you know? Decades-old stories written by ponies recalling their long gone youth.”

“I’ve visited a lot of communities as Princess of Friendship,” Twilight Sparkle said. “I’ve seen more places like Ponyville than Canterlot or Manehattan. I’m glad you’re getting to see it and appreciate it, Bluebell.”

“I guess.”

Bluebell continued to work in silence. They soon finished; the work passed quickly when working together. The floor sparkled.

“We need to wait for the floor to dry,” Twilight Sparkle said, leading them into the kitchen. “Tea?”


As Twilight Sparkle arranged the tea service, she spoke to Bluebell. “Didn’t you want to talk?”

“I didn’t know what to talk about.”

“How about school? What did you do in your first week?”

“Normal school stuff. There’s a group project. Juniper and Junebug asked me to join them because of... you know.”

“Their brother, who I believe is still out of town.”

Bluebell nodded.

“What is the project about?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

“Somepony from the early post-unification period. We’re going to cover Platinum Star.”

“He’s a very accomplished stallion.”

“I was looking for books. I found some that talked about his political accomplishments, and a good book about him as the father of alchemy, but we also want to talk about how he studied the magic of all ponies. I couldn’t find anything in the library.”

“Platinum Star’s contributions to the understanding of magic are many. You could write a book about his early magical theories,” Twilight Sparkle said eagerly. “In fact, there’s a good textbook we used at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. I should still have it in my personal library.”

Twilight Sparkle was about to teleport to her quarters when she noticed Bluebell scowling. “What’s wrong?” she asked.


“That doesn’t look like nothing. Do you want to talk?”

“Don’t we have a brunch to get to?”

Twilight Sparkle calmly poured another cup of tea. “Brunch can wait when one of my little ponies needs help.” She lifted her cup, and Bluebell looked away. She considered everything she had seen in interacting with Bluebell, everything she had learned mentoring foals her age, and made an educated guess.

“Bluebell, are you having problems with your magic?”

“No!” Bluebell said defensively. She watched the alicorn, who was showing no sign of dropping the subject. “There’s nothing wrong with my magic,” she continued quietly. “It’s just that you could say my spellcasting ability is average... if you were being charitable.”

“Unicorns have different levels of magical ability, like anypony. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Yes, but they’re not Princess of the Unicorns! How can I be a good princess if I’m bad at magic? Did you know it’s been 400 years since a pony in my line has graduated from Celestia’s School? Is it really too much to ask that I be somepony like Platinum Star?”

Twilight Sparkle waited for Bluebell to calm down. The filly had vented her fears and frustrations, like many ponies before her. She recalled how Sweetie Belle had once expressed similar fears, leading to the first Twilight Time.

“Bluebell, for your Twilight Time, I’m going to teach you some of the techniques I learned at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, and help you become better at magic.”

“Thanks, but you probably shouldn’t waste your time,” Bluebell said quietly.

“Magic is a skill, one that gets better with practice,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Bluebell, did you know most scholars think Platinum Star was weak in raw magical power? Yet he still made many contributions to magic, because he worked hard and was willing to listen to earth ponies and pegasi.”

“So he was a Prince of Friendship, too?” Bluebell said.

“I would be happy to share the title with him,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Now, let’s get ready. We have a brunch to attend.”

Princess Bluebell returned home after school on Monday, finding the same group of foals gathered for Twilight Time. Twilight Sparkle greeted her, but didn’t say anything about magic practice. She headed to her room to work on her homework. Truth be told, she hoped Twilight Sparkle had forgotten about her promise.

Sometime before dinner, Twilight Sparkle knocked on her door. “Are you ready to begin your first lesson, Bluebell?” she asked.

“Yes, Twilight,” Bluebell said. She got up and trotted after the alicorn. “And thanks for not teaching me at the same time as the others.”

“I understand wanting to keep it quiet. Especially for a unicorn and her magic, failure is harder to experience in front of unfriendly faces.”

“What do you know about failure?” Bluebell said bitterly.

“Quite a bit, actually. I’m sure you’ve read about how the bearers of the Elements of Harmony got their cutie marks with the first sonic rainboom?”


“Well, just before that, I failed,” she said. “It was my admissions test for Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. I had completed the written exam and one round of practical tests successfully. And then they brought out the dragon egg. I didn’t have any tutors preparing me, so I didn’t know this wasn’t a practical test I was supposed to succeed at. I tried everything my younger self knew about magic, but nothing happened. I then apologized to the testers for wasting their time.

“What I didn’t know is that how I handled failure was the test. Even a pony with a special talent in magic will fail and fail again, and a young unicorn who loses her temper upon failing is very dangerous.

“So while magic came easily to me, and I was casting spells at a younger age than most unicorns, I still failed each of those spells many times before getting it right. And let’s not talk about my first attempts to use pegasus and earth pony magic.” They entered the kitchen. “Here’s your first lesson.”

Bluebell stared. “Why do you have a Pin the Tail on the Pony board set up?”

“That’s the lesson.”

Twilight Sparkle levitated the cloth tail. Bluebell grudgingly took it in her magic. Twilight Sparkle secured the blindfold around the filly’s eyes and spun her around. Bluebell staggered forward, off target, and came nowhere near the board.

“I don’t see the point,” Bluebell said after lifting the blindfold.

“When I play at one of Pinkie Pie’s parties, I don’t care how close I get. Being wildly off is part of the fun. But what if you wanted to win?” She moved the blindfold back over Bluebell’s eyes. “What would you do?”

“I don’t know.”

“A pegasus might flap her wings slightly, and feel the resulting air currents, thus letting her sense where the walls are. An earth pony could connect herself to the earth, feel which way is north, and adjust her walking accordingly. They still wouldn’t see the board, of course, but the game then comes down to remembering where the board was.”

“But how am I going to use magic? I can’t see.”

“You’re holding the tail right now, aren’t you?”

“Yes, but....”

“I want you to recall your very first magic lesson. What did your parents tell you to do? Here’s a hint: I’m sure you hated it.”

Bluebell vaguely recalled an early magic lesson where she was told not to try to use magic at all. She pouted as her mother told her to just focus on her horn, and feel the magic.

She consciously thought about what she was now doing. She was feeling the magic immediately around her; that was by now second nature. It allowed her to keep a hold of the small strip of cloth even without seeing it. And the first step to using magic is to sense magic. If she wanted to levitate the cloth strip onto the board, well, first she would need to see, but then she would need to feel out the magic on the path from her to her destination.

What if she just felt the magic?

“Okay. I’m ready,” Bluebell said.

Twilight Sparkle again spun Bluebell around, and the filly stumbled forward. Once the dizziness passed, she concentrated, just opening her mind and sensing magic. The aura of Twilight Sparkle was unlike anything she had ever sensed. The crystal walls of the palace possessed a lingering aura. She couldn’t pick up on the game board, but being able to sense the walls, she could at least walk to the right location.

Bluebell lifted the blindfold. She laughed when she saw where she placed the tail.

“Good job,” Twilight Sparkle said. “That’s an important lesson any unicorn should learn. There is more to spellcasting than active spellcasting.”

While Twilight Sparkle didn’t have a special talent in teaching, Princess Bluebell was impressed by her abilities. Her exercises were unorthodox, but they led Bluebell to thinking about magic in different ways. Being instructed to move a ball, without using telekinesis at all, led her to use the spells she knew in ways she hadn’t thought of before.

Twilight Sparkle also assigned homework, which was a lot less fun. There were rote spell drills and repeated transcriptions of spell rituals. Getting better at magic was a lot of work. At least she was reading arcane script with greater fluency.

As the month passed, she continued to experience life as a normal student, as a student of magic and friendship, and as an average Ponyville foal. Chores were, well, a chore. Though, on the surface, she was working harder than before, she actually found her time here quite relaxing.

And then there was that little spa she discovered in town. Now that was relaxation!

Near the end of the month, Bluebell made another trip to the Golden home, to finish up their group project. Condensing Platinum Star’s life into ten minutes proved to be no easy task. Juniper chose to talk about Platinum Star, the father of alchemy. Junebug focused on his study of pegasus and earth pony magic. That left Bluebell to talk about Platinum Star’s political accomplishments.

“I’m nervous,” Junebug said.

“I don’t like giving speeches either,” Juniper said.

“How about you?” Junebug asked Bluebell.

“I don’t enjoy giving speeches, but I’ve had enough practice to fake it. All I can say is practice your speech several times before you go to bed. The better you know it, the easier it will be to give the speech. And if you get nervous, just pretend everypony in the audience is wearing stockings.”

“Huh?” the twins said.

“I don’t know why, but it works.”

The next day, their projects were due. And Mrs. Cheerilee, either kindly or unkindly, depending on who one spoke to, chose to have the students give their speeches first thing that morning.

“Bluebell, Junebug, Juniper, you’re first,” she announced.

Bluebell and Junebug gave Juniper a reassuring pat on the withers. The colt took his place at the front of the class and spoke. He stumbled a bit, but it was decent for a student’s speech. Junebug followed him, passionately talking about Platinum Star.

“By the end of the first century of the rule of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, ponies thought of themselves as ponies first, not as unicorns, pegasi, or earth ponies. While there were many contributing factors to this change in perspective, the work Platinum Star did, demonstrating that all ponies shared magic as well as friendship, was invaluable.”

That was Bluebell’s cue, and she headed to the front of the class.

“Believe it or not, the accomplishments you have heard about today were all done in Platinum Star’s spare time. He was a minister in the nascent Equestrian government. While White Star, his older sister and Princess of the Unicorns, focused on the interests of her kind, Platinum Star was working every day with pegasi and earth ponies to expand the borders of Equestria. Land once blanketed in snow was ready to be developed.

“Platinum Star selected a narrow island at the mouth of a river in northeast Equestria as the place for the first city designed for all kinds of ponies. Unicorns built tall buildings, with pegasi adding layers of cloud apartments. And the center of the island was reserved for a great park, so that earth ponies would forever have a place to connect to the soil. Bordering the ocean, this city soon grew into a hub of trade and commerce. You know the city as Manehattan.”

As she finished her speech, Bluebell heard the other students stomp in applause. She smiled.

“Thank you very much, Bluebell,” Cheerilee said. “Now, our second group....”

At the end of school, Bluebell waved goodbye to Juniper and Junebug. “See you tomorrow!”

“See ya,” Juniper said. “And are you free to come over for dinner sometime next week?”

“Dinner? What for?”

“Our brother will be back in town.”

Bluebell wasn’t sure if she should be happy or worried, but this Ponyville sojourn would soon become interesting.

Chapter 9: Brother and Sister

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By Alaborn

Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.

Chapter 9: Brother and Sister

Blue Seas stared out the window as the train descended from the lofty heights of Canterlot. As the train rounded a curve, he saw the first sign of home, the sun gleaming off the highest spire of the Castle of Friendship. Living under the sea had been an interesting experience, one that he wanted to revisit in the future, but for now, he wanted to go home.

And Ponyville was home.

Twenty minutes later, the train pulled to a stop. Blue Seas grabbed his bag and stepped out, expecting to see his family there. They were, and they immediately mobbed him in a group hug.

“Um, Mom, Dad? Can we let the other ponies off the train first?”

They stepped to the side, allowing Golden Harvest a chance to smother her son with even more hugs. “I missed, you, son,” she said.

“I missed you too. Now, I just want to get home.”

“How does it feel to be out of the water?” Golden Grain asked.

“I’m used to having four legs again. But I think I still have water in my ear.”

“Let’s all get home,” Golden Harvest said. “I’ll make your favorite dinner, and you can tell us all about Atlantis!”

Back at home, over a plate of fried carrots and potatoes, Blue Seas regaled his family with stories from his two months underwater. Just like him, they found the differences in everyday life to be curious, all those mundane details that were completely different under the sea. And when he talked about the work he was doing, he just got blank stares.

“I guess that’s hard to visualize if you’ve never been underwater,” Blue Seas said. “By the way, I brought souvenirs.”

“Can we see them?” Juniper asked.

Blue Seas found his bag, still packed from his trip, and carried it into the kitchen. He first pulled out a necklace, a string of carefully arranged shells, larger in the middle and smaller near the ends. “This is for you, Cirrus!”

“Pretty!” the pegasus filly chirped. She slipped it on, laughing as the shells rattled.

“And for you, Red Streak, I saved some seapony coins to add to your coin collection.”

Red Streak looked at the coins curiously. “Are these made of shell?”

“Yeah. They won’t tarnish!”

“Makes sense,” he said.

“Juniper, I brought you samples of some of the plants seaponies use for flavoring their food. Maybe you can brew something unique with them.”

Juniper smiled. “I’ll certainly try.”

“As for you, Junebug, I thought about bringing you a pet, but then Mom would kick me out of the house.”

“Darn straight I would,” Golden Harvest interjected. While she supported all her children’s search for their special talent, she drew the line at creepy crawly things in the house.

“Instead, here’s a fossil with an impression of... well, something.”

“Ooh! A remipede!”

“I think we’ll take your word on that.”

“Did you keep anything for yourself?” Golden Grain asked.

“An aquaball. It’s used in some seapony games. I bet Scootaloo could find some way to use it in one of our games.”

“It sounds like you had an eventful two months,” Golden Harvest said. “Are you going to go back?”

“Maybe. I feel like two months wasn’t enough time to learn in which of two worlds I belong. But enough about me. How are things around the farm?” Blue Seas asked.

“We’re getting things ready for spring, and I’ve got a few more spirits distilling,” Golden Grain said. “Don’t worry, there’s plenty for you to do.”

“I didn’t expect otherwise. I still need to visit all the friends I haven’t seen in two months.”

“Like Pumpkin Cake?” Cirrus said.

“Yeah,” he replied with a blush.

The next morning, Blue Seas headed to Sugarcube Corner. It was mid-morning, past the breakfast rush, so Blue Seas entered the side door, opening directly into the kitchen. Pumpkin Cake and her mother were there, kneading dough and stirring batter for the treats to be enjoyed by that afternoon’s customers.

“Blue Seas!” Pumpkin Cake exclaimed, letting her bowl fall to the counter. She rushed up and embraced her coltfriend, and, conscious of her mother being in the room, they shared a quick nuzzle.

“How are you?” Blue Seas asked.

“Stressed. Mom and Dad are leaving the store to my care for two weeks,” she replied.

“But haven’t you run Sugarcube Corner by yourself lots of times?”

“Yes, but never for Hearts and Hooves Day!”

“You’ll do fine, sweetie,” Cup Cake said. “Remember, you’ll have Aunt Pinkie to help.”

“And maybe I could help, too,” Blue Seas suggested.

Pumpkin Cake tried very hard to stifle her laughter. Cup Cake, on the other hoof, didn’t.

“Come on. I could do something,” he protested.

“Blue Seas, last time you tried baking here, you mixed up a batch of cookies with powdered sugar instead of flour, you burned your hoof, and one of the ovens started spouting fire,” Pumpkin Cake said. “I appreciate the offer, but you’re better off giving me moral support.”

“Pumpkin Cake, I’ve got everything handled here,” Cup Cake said. “Why don’t you take an hour off and catch up?”

“Thanks, Mom,” she said, untying her apron with her magic and throwing it in the hamper.

Pumpkin Cake and Blue Seas retreated to her bedroom, where they took a seat on the bed. She leaned in, and they shared a passionate kiss.

“I missed you so much,” Pumpkin Cake said.

“Me too,” Blue Seas said.

“You missed you?” Pumpkin Cake said with a smile.

Blue Seas lightly bopped her muzzle. “You know what I mean.”

“Other than missing me, what did you do underwater?”

Blue Seas recounted his time in the seapony kingdom, describing the family he stayed with, the work he did, and the sometimes familiar, sometimes bizarre seapony society.

“Those dances sound interesting, and the music,” Pumpkin Cake said. “But you haven’t mentioned anything about the other reason you went there.”

“I didn’t find my natural mother,” he replied, shaking his head. “Maybe on another trip.”

“You want to go back?”

“I don’t know. I liked the work, and, well... I can’t stay on the farm forever. Azure Spark told me about the training he did when he was my age. From spring to fall, he lived in a dormitory, and worked with a coach. He spent some time teaching young foals how to swim, but really, his full time job was swimming. And then he worked underwater in the off season.”

“Does that mean you’re leaving?” Pumpkin Cake asked.

“I... I don’t know. I haven’t decided. It’s what my cutie mark is telling me, but my heart is saying something different.”

“I understand,” Pumpkin Cake said, looking away.

“You understand? What is it?” Blue Seas asked.

“Culinary school. The Royal Institute of the Culinary Arts in Canterlot, to be specific. I never thought about it before; I know Mom and Dad could never afford it. But Aunt Pinkie said she saved every bit she earned here so that I could go, if I wanted to.”

“Are you going to go?”

“Just like you, I don’t know. I still have to apply, and pass admissions. I don’t need a culinary degree to run Sugarcube Corner, but I’ve always wanted to be a master chef. But three years in Canterlot....”

Blue Seas sighed. “This is what growing up means. Hard decisions.”

“It sounds like we both have some time before we decide,” Pumpkin Cake said.

Blue Seas pulled Pumpkin Cake close and nuzzled her. “Then let’s enjoy the time we have.”

Walking down the streets of Ponyville, Blue Seas felt a wing slap his withers. Only one pony greeted him like that. “Hey, Scootaloo,” he said, without turning around.

“Hey, Blue Seas. Haven’t seen you around much,” she said.

“I’ve been out of town.”


“You could say that,” Blue Seas replied, smiling. Apparently, not everypony knew where he had been.

“I want you to come to Sports Day this year. Can you come?”


“Hey, you’re an Equestria Games athlete. Not many ponies can claim that.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever tried to teach anything,” Blue Seas said.

“All I want is for the foals to get excited about trying sports. All you need to know is a few basics. And it’s really important to show them that unicorns can be athletes, too.”

Blue Seas was reminded of his natural father’s quest to promote athletics, and the difficulty his efforts found in Canterlot. “Okay. I’ll do it.”

“Great!” Scootaloo exclaimed. “Sports Day is the 12th. But meet at school Saturday at dawn for practice.”

Blue Seas groaned.

Following a day of repairs around the farm, Blue Seas returned to the farmhouse. He picked up the aroma of his mother’s favorite stew and his father’s honey wheat bread. But if there was one meal he would choose serve to a guest, that was it.

Even if the guest were a young Canterlot noble and a blood relation.

Blue Seas headed into the kitchen, where he saw his mother tending to the stew and a pan of glazed carrots. She took a wooden spoon in her mouth and shook it in his direction. “Out!” she said.

“I just wanted to see if I could help,” Blue Seas said.

“The stew requires my full attention. You can help by cleaning up the mess in the living room.”

Blue Seas nodded and left the kitchen. His mother could get very particular when cooking. He went to the living room, which he was sure had been clean that morning, only to see that Cirrus and Red Streak had made a huge mess. Toys and books were spread out on the floor and furniture, in such quantities that it appeared the room hadn’t been cleaned in a month. He sighed as he tended to the clutter.

Afterward, Blue Seas washed up, finishing just in time to hear a knock at the door. He rushed to the door and opened it.

“Blue Seas,” the filly standing outside stated.

“You must be Bluebell,” Blue Seas said. “Er, Princess Bluebell.”

“Just Bluebell is fine. This isn’t a formal occasion.”

“I can see that,” Blue Seas replied. Bluebell raised an eyebrow. “I mean, I expected you would be wearing some fancy gown.”

Bluebell removed the only article of clothing she was wearing, a scarf, and hung it on the rack by the door. “I have several such gowns, of course. But with Princess Twilight Sparkle’s idea of a royal banquet being a hayburger and fries, I suspect my formal attire will remain safely stored in my trunks. Suffice to say, I’ve been getting used to the more casual ponies of Ponyville.”

“I assure you, there’s nothing casual about our dinners, especially when it comes to second helpings,” Blue Seas warned.

“I’m not a big eater. But it smells delicious.”

“Dinner’s ready! Come and get it!” Golden Harvest shouted from the kitchen.

Upon hearing those words, the farmhouse erupted in activity. The foals converged on the kitchen, crowding around the cozy table. Amidst their jockeying for position, Juniper stumbled and collided with Bluebell. The middle colt apologized, but it didn’t stop him from claiming the seat closest to the stew pot.

With two adults seated at the table, it felt even more crowded than it had on Bluebell’s previous visit. Forelegs collided as the ponies loaded up their plates. She listened as the Goldens made small talk, sharing the day’s events with each other. It was amazing how much they said, given how much they were eating at the same time.

“Aren’t you going to have some more?” Golden Harvest asked Bluebell.

“I really can’t. It was so good, but I’ve already eaten much more than I normally do.” Princess Twilight Sparkle’s cooking left something to be desired, she mused, but kept that comment to herself.

“That’s too bad,” she replied. “We still have dessert.”

Bluebell stared hungrily as Golden Harvest placed a large carrot cake on the table. “Well, maybe a little piece.”

Once dessert was finished, Bluebell was well and truly stuffed. She wanted to lean back, but she was sitting on a bench, not a proper dining room chair.

“I think it’s time to clear the table,” Golden Grain announced. “Blue Seas, please escort our guest to the living room. The rest of you, clean the kitchen.”

Blue Seas noticed the dirty looks he got from his siblings; he always hated it when somepony got out of doing the chores. But he did want some time to talk with Bluebell, alone, and he suspected she wanted the same.

As they left the kitchen, Juniper again bumped into Bluebell, but this time, Blue Seas saw that Cirrus had gotten underhoof to cause the stumble. “Let me apologize in advance for my little sister,” he said to Bluebell.

“Why? She was well-behaved,” Bluebell said.

“Well, you know, Hearts and Hooves Day is coming up, and I think she’s determined to make you Juniper’s special somepony.”

“That’s sweet of her,” Bluebell said.

“I had to deal with her attention for two years,” Blue Seas said. “She harnessed the power of her unbearable cuteness and placed me in dozens of uncomfortable situations, because she thought big brother needed a special somepony.”

“Did it work?”

“No. It didn’t stop until I found a marefriend, and it wasn’t any of the fillies Cirrus found.”

“I’ll keep an eye out for her trouble,” Bluebell said. “Nopony can beat the heir to House Platinum when it comes to dealing with other ponies.”

“What do you normally do for Hearts and Hooves Day back in Canterlot?” Blue Seas asked.

“There’s a formal ball at my school,” she replied.

“That sounds nice.”

“It’s kind of awkward,” Bluebell admitted. “Most younger fillies aren’t as eager as your little sister. And fillies my age aren’t much better. It would be better without all the trappings of Hearts and Hooves Day.”

“You don’t have to worry about that here. Mrs. Cheerilee is your teacher, right?”

Bluebell nodded.

“She just does cards and candies. And Princess Twilight Sparkle keeps the book with the love poison recipe locked up.”

Bluebell raised an eyebrow. “You mean love potion, right?”

“No, love poison. It’s one of many stories I heard from Scootaloo,” Blue Seas said. “Oh, you’ll meet her, and me, for Sports Day.”

“Sports Day?”

“Basically, you get to spend the entire day trying out various sports and games, like the ones in the Equestria Games.” Blue Seas glanced at Bluebell, confirming that she was without her cutie mark. “I’m sure your father would be thrilled if your special talent was in athletics.”

Bluebell shrugged. “Me? Not likely.” After a pause, she changed the subject. “So, you were really in the seapony kingdom?”

“Yeah, I was there for two months.”

“Doing what?”

“Working. And taking the chance to learn about my seapony heritage.”

“What was it like?”

Once again, Blue Seas found himself recounting his recent stint underwater. Curiously, Bluebell was most interested in what he thought was the least interesting aspect of his stay, the work he did.

“So, these currents are like roads?” Bluebell asked.

“Roads and... I don’t know how to explain it. They bring in heat. So, something like irrigation channels bringing water?”

Bluebell sighed. “You really are your father’s son, Blue Seas.”

“What do you mean?”

“Father’s special talent is surveying. He worked in city planning before taking that position on the athletics council. You both swim. And you look so much like him.”

“So do you,” Blue Seas said. Then he saw Bluebell look at him crossly. “I mean your mane and coat color!”

“Yes. Well, it’s a mark of House Platinum. Some ponies say that Princess Platinum was so vain that she created a ritual spell so that her descendents would look like her. And given that you have the darkest coat color I’ve seen amongst my blood relations, I don’t doubt it.”

Blue Seas looked at his pale silver coat; he certainly had never thought of himself as having a dark coat. “I’m sure my mane is different, too.”

“Yeah.” Bluebell realized she was staring and blushing.


Bluebell looked away, embarrassed. “Sorry. Just remembering these cute stallions I saw at that party in Baltimare. They had manes like yours.”

Realization dawned on Blue Seas. “You probably saw some of my fellow swimmers. One of them was Azure Spark, the pony I worked with.” He smiled. “You know, there’s a good way to see them again. Qualify for the Equestria Games. So, how does that Sports Day sound?”

“Okay. I’ll give my best effort.”

His parents arrived with drinks and more food, and Blue Seas and Bluebell were joined by the rest of his family. They talked and shared stories, just like a visit from any of the family’s distant relatives from across Equestria. And Bluebell was laughing and smiling the whole time.

“It’s getting late, and most of you have school tomorrow,” Golden Grain finally said. “Blue Seas, would you escort our guest out?”

Blue Seas nodded, and took Bluebell to the door. “I’m glad we could meet,” he said.

“Thank you for inviting me over. Your family is just so lively!”

“That they are,” Blue Seas replied with a chuckle. “Good night, um... my secret half-sister by blood.”

Bluebell gave him a fraternal hug. “Good night, big brother.” She departed, but turned her head. “Off the record, of course,” she added with a smile.

Blue Seas, still feeling groggy, arrived at the schoolhouse just after dawn. Scootaloo was zipping around several stations, setting up athletic equipment. There were seven other volunteers, three pegasi and four earth ponies, all older than him, none of whom Blue Seas could name.

Scootaloo blew a whistle, and everypony gathered around her. “Thank you, everypony, for giving up your morning, and a day next week, to help Ponyville’s foals appreciate sports and athletics. I’d give you the whole speech about the importance of physical fitness and the spirit of competition, but one, you already know that, and two, you’re going to have to listen to it Thursday. After that, I want all of you to talk to the students and tell them about your own athletic experiences. Alula, Blue Seas, I especially want you to do this.

“After we get the speeches out of the way, we’re going to split the foals up by class, and introduce them to a bunch of sports. There’s no way you can get good at all of these. What we’re doing here is introducing you to the basics. The equipment, how to use it safely, basic rules and strategy, that sort of thing. Remember that there will be foals of all ages, so keep that in mind when you talk to them.

“Some of this equipment is more dangerous than others, especially the ice bows. These are going to be stationed further from the building, and they must be monitored by somepony at all time. Trust me; you do not want to see an errant ice arrow!

“If anypony shows interest in a particular sport or activity, send them to me. Some of the coaches from the high school will be here, and I’ll make sure to introduce the older foals to them. Now, are there any questions?”

“Is one of the ponds going to be melted?” Blue Seas asked. Because of the upcoming Hearts and Hooves Day, he knew from experience that the weather team would bring in warmer weather to melt the snow, but he didn’t think that included clearing the ice from the ponds.

“No. But we will have use of the high school’s gymnasium for part of the day. That includes the pool and track. Blue Seas, I want you to take any foals interested in swimming there. Okay?”

Blue Seas nodded.

“Alula, can you handle the runners?”

“Sure thing, coach!” the pale yellow pegasus mare chirped.

“Okay, most everything else will be done right here. Now let’s get to practicing!”

Blue Seas spent the next several hours practicing various sports and athletics. Most practices went okay, but he was soon reminded why he never got into polo and hoofball.

Scootaloo called a break. Blue Seas opened his saddlebags to get a granola bar, and remembered he brought something to show the coach.

“Catch!” Blue Seas shouted as he tossed his aquaball to Scootaloo.

Scootaloo flew into the air and caught the small, squishy ball. “Neat! So, what is it?”

“It’s an aquaball. I picked it up when I was working in the seapony kingdom.”

Scootaloo blinked. “That’s where you were?”

Blue Seas smiled. “Yep.”

“Cool!” Scootaloo bounced the ball on her head. “So, this is the same density as water?”

“I guess; that makes sense.”

She moved the ball to her back, rolling it between her wings. “So how do you play?”

“You kick the ball with your tail. Kick? There’s probably a better word, but the seaponies move the ball using only their powerful tails, trying to get it into the goal.”

Scootaloo tried moving the ball with her tail; it fell to the ground. “Well, that won’t work for us. Maybe Apple Bloom could, with her freakishly strong tail. Why don’t you take the ball to the pool for Sports Day? See what the foals try with it.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“Ready to get back to work?”

Blue Seas groaned. “Sure thing, Coach.”

Princess Bluebell arrived at the schoolhouse. Across the schoolyard, foals were running around, eager to spend the day having fun. She entered the classroom. Though she was going to spend this Sports Day outside, she needed to drop off her lunch.

She found a note on her desk. Unfolding it in her magic, she read the note:


You will be meeting at the north field for your first Sports Day Activity.


Bluebell frowned. She thought she remembered Cheerilee saying they would meet outside the classroom. She examined the note. It was on Ponyville Elementary stationery, and the mouthwriting was neat and precise.

Recalling her conversation with her half-brother, she had a suspicion about what was going on. She checked the clock. With plenty of time, she decided to indulge the mystery note.

Most of the foals were playing near the schoolhouse. The north field, if she recalled correctly, was the furthest away. She trotted there, enjoying the brisk air and the feel of the grassy field under her hooves, a field that was finally cleared of snow. Sure enough, there was one colt there, stretching and warming up.

“Hi, Bluebell,” Juniper said. “Let me guess. There was a note on your desk?”

Bluebell nodded. “Your little sister has excellent mouthwriting.”

“I’m more interested in knowing how she got that paper from the office.”

“Yeah.” Bluebell thought about this little encounter; as far as tricks go, it wasn’t anything bad, but Blue Seas suggested it may very well escalate. She thought about what she could do, and smiled. “Say, where can I find the little scamp?”

“She’s in Miss Honeybee’s class. I know we’re supposed to stay with our class, but you should be able to spot her once we’ve broken up into smaller groups.”

“I’ll keep an eye out.”

Bluebell and Juniper joined their class as they gathered around the visitors, noticing Blue Seas among them. Scootaloo stepped to the front, and waved her hoof. The crowd quieted.

“Good morning,” she started. “I’m Scootaloo, but you can call me Coach. And I’m the reason you don’t have class today!” The foals in the crowd cheered and stomped their hooves. “You’re here for Sports Day, where you can try out all sorts of sports, games, and athletic activities. Everypony should be active and stay active all their lives, and enjoy friendly competition with their fellow ponies. What we’re hoping is that you can find an activity you enjoy. Who knows? You might even discover your special talent.

“Now, I brought a lot of other ponies to help me today. All of them are experienced in at least one sport, even if it isn’t their special talent.” Scootaloo turned to the others. “Now, introduce yourselves!”

Blue Seas listened as the others introduced themselves. He wasn’t familiar with these ponies, and he was surprised at how many had participated in past Equestria Games. After each introduction, the foals stomped their hooves in applause.

“Alula?” Scootaloo said. Blue Seas leaned in, curious as to her story.

“Hi! I’m Alula. I work as a flight instructor, helping young pegasi learn to fly. But I didn’t know that was my special talent when I was your age. I was always full of energy, so I did a lot of running and jumping. And I liked it so much, I even competed in the Equestria Games! I’m not as strong as an earth pony, but I found some events where being nimble helped me compete. So I competed in hurdles and the high jump. And later today, I’ll take anypony that’s interested to the high school, where you can run and jump on a real track!”

After the applause faded, Blue Seas heard Scootaloo call his name. He stepped forward, and spoke. “My name is Blue Seas. I’m a swimmer. I always loved the water, and soon discovered that swimming was my special talent. I participated in my first Equestria Games last year in Baltimare. There, I learned that even somepony with a special talent in athletics can always learn more.”

“All right, that’s everypony,” Scootaloo said. “Now, let’s get started! We’re going to split up by class. Mrs. Cheerilee’s class, you’ll be with me and Alula.”

Bluebell stuck close to Juniper and Junebug as the class headed to one field. There were targets set up in a row, some distance from a row of bows, set into flexible bases.

“Only the older classes get to try out ice archery,” Scootaloo announced. “The goal is simple. You fire the enchanted arrows until the target is completely coated with ice. Fastest to finish wins.

“Let me show you the proper technique for using the bow.” Scootaloo took an arrow in her mouth and nocked it. Again using her mouth, she pulled back the bowstring and let the arrow fire. It impacted the target, spreading a rough circle of ice.

“It is important that you don’t try to pull the bows with your hoof or with your magic,” Scootaloo warned. “Because if you lose control of the bow, bad things can happen. Trust me, I know from personal experience. Alula, if you would?”

The pale yellow pegasus nodded and flew into the cloudy sky. She returned with a small cloud in her hooves, which she positioned over the open field.

“Like this!” Scootaloo shouted, and fired a bow into the cloud. The arrow pierced the cloud, and its magic went out of control, the water vapor in the cloud quickly changing to ice. The chunk of ice fell to the ground with a thud.

“Cool!” Juniper said.

Scootaloo looked right at Juniper. “That was a demonstration of what NOT to do,” she said sternly. “Now, everypony line up. You’ll each get a chance to practice.

Bluebell hung back as the class got in line. She was watching Cirrus and the rest of Miss Honeybee’s class as they raced through an obstacle course. It reminded her of one of the pegasus events at the Equestria Games, but the obstacles were on the ground, allowing the unicorns, earth ponies, and pegasi who couldn’t fly to race. After observing the class in action, she smiled.

“Bluebell? Are you going to try?” Juniper asked.

Bluebell looked back, and saw that most of the class was finished. “Oh, sure.” She stepped up to the bow, and took an arrow.

“Now nock it, and make sure it’s level,” Scootaloo said in guidance. “Now pull. A little further. Check that the arrow remains level, and release.”

Bluebell released the arrow, and it struck the bottom of the target.

“Good. Now keep going, changing the pull on the bow slightly each time. Pay attention to how the bow is set in the base.”

Bluebell fired again, hitting the target again, but too close to her previous shot. It wasn’t the most efficient shot she could have made.

“This event is both speed and accuracy,” Scootaloo said. “You need some inspiration. I like to think about somepony I don’t like talking, and the ice blocking the sound of her voice.”

Bluebell immediately thought of the pompous windbag son of Baron Hightree, who loved the sound of his own voice. She pulled an arrow, fired, and kept firing until the fool finally shut up.

“Pretty good!” Scootaloo said.

After lunch, Scootaloo announced the classes would split. “Anypony interested in track and field or swimming will now walk to the high school. Track and field, you’re with Alula. Swimming, Blue Seas.”

Around twenty foals broke off to join this group. Blue Seas spotted Bluebell run towards the group. “Hey, kid!” she called to a young pegasus. He then watched as she whispered something to the foal, who got a goofy smile on his face.

Blue Seas hurried over to his sister. “What was that?” he asked.

“Oh, just a solution to a problem,” she replied cryptically. She then turned and rejoined her class, smiling all the while.

“Blue Seas, let’s go!” Alula said.

With some difficulty, the two older ponies escorted the group of foals to the high school. One of the school’s teachers greeted them, taking them to the gymnasium.

Once the two groups split off, Blue Seas found himself with eight foals, five earth ponies and three unicorns. He didn’t expect any pegasi in his group, due to how the water affected their wings, but he was happy to see the unicorns interested in swimming.

And then he realized he didn’t know what to do. He hadn’t really thought of a lesson plan.

“So, um, let’s start by getting into the pool,” Blue Seas said. Once he joined them in the pool, he felt at ease. He knew what to do in the water. “So, I’m going to demonstrate each of the swimming strokes, and then help you as you practice them.”

And so he did, introducing the ponies to the basics of swimming. Afterward, he levitated his aquaball out of his saddlebags, and dropped it in the pool. Unsurprisingly, the foals raced to get it. A unicorn filly emerged from the scrum holding the ball, a big smile on her face.

“You got the ball first, so you’re the first coach,” Blue Seas told the filly. “What I want you to do is throw the ball, then call out somepony’s name, and one of the strokes we practiced. That pony will swim to the ball, using only that stroke, and then he or she will be the new captain. Understand?”

The foals nodded, and then began. Blue Seas watched them play, only stepping in to correct one of the foal’s strokes.

Finally, the end of his time at the pool neared. He headed to the lockers, returning with a stack of towels. “Everypony, out of the pool,” he announced.

“Awwww,” they replied.

“Be sure to dry off well. It’s chilly outside!”

Blue Seas rejoined Alula, escorting a group of sweaty and tired foals. “You really wore them out, didn’t you?” he said.

“Hey, they’ve got to learn the basics before they even have a chance of keeping up with me!” she replied. “Don’t forget those sprints I taught you!” she called to the foals.

“Now, let’s get back to school,” Blue Seas said.

Walking home from school with his brothers and sisters was something Blue Seas hadn’t done in nearly two years. They all chatted about the day’s fun activities, with Cirrus cutely pouting about not getting to do any of the real flying races.

Back at home, Blue Seas went to his room. Sitting at his desk, he took out a blank sheet of paper and a quill. He searched through his old letters, looking for an address. He located it, but then found himself rereading old letters from his half-seapony friends.

Some time later, Blue Seas was interrupted by a knock on his door. “Blue Seas?” Juniper called.

“Come in,” he replied.

Juniper entered. “What are you working on?” he asked.

“A letter.”

Juniper glanced at the blank paper on the desk. “Not going well?”

“I know what to write, it’s just.... You know how I introduced some foals to swimming today?”


“It was fun. There’s a swimming coach in Fillydelphia who has trained some of the best swimmers in the world. I know he takes on students, and then these students teach foals how to swim.”

“Sounds perfect for you,” Juniper said.

“I know. It’s just that, if I write this letter, that’s it. That’s me leaving home, for a lot more than two months.”

“It sounds like you still need to think about it,” Juniper said. “Now come on. There’s something you need to see.”


“I don’t know. But before we left school, Bluebell told me to be at home at 5:00.”

“She told me something about a solution to a problem.” Blue Seas glanced at the clock; it was almost 5:00. “Now I’m curious.”

The brothers headed to the living room, sitting with a clear view of the front door. Soon, they heard a knock on the door.

Juniper got up and opened the door. A pegasus colt, around Cirrus’ age, stood there. Blue Seas looked at him, recognizing him as the colt Bluebell had talked to.

“Yes?” Juniper said.

“Is Cirrus home?” he asked.

Juniper turned and yelled up the stairs. “Cirrus! One of your friends from school is here!”

Hooves clattered on the wooden floor upstairs as the young filly ran to greet her friend. But her fast pace skidded to a halt halfway down the stairs when she saw her guest.

“Hi, Cirrus,” the colt said, a dopey expression on his face.

“Hi, Cloudy,” she replied. She started back down the stairs, cautiously. “What’s up?”

“A nice filly at school told me you want everypony to have a special somepony for Hearts and Hooves Day. So, uh....” The colt nervously traced a circle with his hoof. “Will you be my special somepony?” he blurted, before producing a bundle of roses.

Cirrus stared at him, eyes wide, jaw hanging open.

“Of course she does!” Juniper said.

“Oh, thank you, thank you!” he said, pushing the bouquet forward again.

“Cirrus, what did we teach you about accepting gifts?” Blue Seas said.

Cirrus slowly nodded, and took the bouquet in her mouth.”

“Thanksseeyouatschoolbye!” Cloudy uttered quickly before he dashed away.

Juniper and Blue Seas looked at each other and smiled. “Cirrus and Cloudy sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G,” Juniper sang.

“EWWW! COOTIES!” Cirrus screamed, as the roses fell to the floor. She turned and ran up the stairs.

Blue Seas caught the bouquet with his magic. He looked at his brother, and they both started laughing.

“That was the funniest thing I’ve seen all year!” Blue Seas exclaimed.

“Totally!” Juniper replied. “And nice catch, Blue Seas.”

“It’s been months since I’ve had fresh flowers,” Blue Seas said. “I’m not letting these go to waste. They’re going straight to the dinner table!”

Blue Seas’s own Hearts and Hooves Day was without drama, spending the evening before with his marefriend, enjoying the calm before the storm. Sugarcube Corner was strangely quiet with Pumpkin Cake’s parents gone. If Pinkie Pie was in her room, she wasn’t making any sound.

Blue Seas was awakened the next morning by the movement of the bed. It was still pitch black. “Mmmm... five more hours,” he mumbled.

Pumpkin Cake lightly kissed his muzzle. “You sleep as long as you want, sweetie. Just leave the baking to me and Pinkie.”

“Save some for me,” he said, just before drifting back to sleep.

Blue Seas woke up for the second time at dawn, the bakery’s delectable aromas seeping into the room. After showering, he went downstairs. Already, the glass case was three-quarters filled with delicious pastries, all decorated for the holiday. As he looked over them hungrily, Pumpkin Cake entered, another tray of muffins held in her magical aura.

“Good morning,” Blue Seas said.

“Good morning to you, and thanks for staying out of the kitchen,” Pumpkin Cake said.

“Can I at least help get the dining room ready?”

“Sure, sweetie.”

Blue Seas started taking the chairs off the table. He noticed all the tables were separated, making every seating for two ponies. Once finished, he found a cloth and wiped down the glass cases.

Pumpkin Cake returned with a tray of scones. She levitated them into the case, and then wiped her brow. “Phew. That should be enough for the first hour.”

Blue Seas’s eyes opened wide. “First hour?”

“It is Hearts and Hooves Day,” she replied wearily.

Pinkie Pie poked her head out of the kitchen. “Itchy ear! That means there are ponies hungry for something sweet!”

Blue Seas looked outside. Still a few minutes from opening, there were nonetheless dozens of ponies milling around, mostly in pairs.

Pumpkin Cake sat at one of the tables, motioning for Blue Seas to join her. “We have four minutes to ourselves. Let’s enjoy it.”

Blue Seas sat down, taking Pumpkin Cake’s hooves in his own. “I love you so much,” he said.

“I love you too,” she replied, adding a passionate kiss.

Their lips parted, and Blue Seas looked away. “I did it,” he said.

“What?” Pumpkin Cake asked.

“I wrote to Coach Open Water in Fillydelphia, asking about training under him,” he said quietly.

“I decided as well. I’m applying to culinary school,” she replied. She reached over and placed a hoof on his cheek, turning his head and looking him in the eye. “I understand what you’re feeling.”

“It’s what my cutie mark is telling me. I just wish it didn’t fight what my heart is telling me.”

“You said that before,” Pumpkin Cake said with a smile. “Nothing’s set in stone yet, right? We both have to be accepted first.” She paused. “For now, let’s enjoy the time we have.”

“Wise words,” Blue Seas said. “I wonder where you heard that before?” he added while smirking.

They shared one more kiss before Pumpkin Cake stood up. “Time to welcome everypony to Sugarcube Corner,” she said.

“I hope you sell everything,” Blue Seas said.

“We’ll sell more than everything!” Pinkie Pie shouted from the kitchen.

Blue Seas blushed. “Did she hear everything?”

“It’s just Pinkie being Pinkie,” Pumpkin Cake replied. “I think.”

They headed to the door. She unlocked the door, and Blue Seas opened it, holding the door for the first of many customers that morning. With a final wave, he departed.

Celestia’s sun warmed Blue Seas as he headed home. It might not be his home forever, but like Pumpkin Cake said, he was determined to enjoy the time he had.

Chapter 10: Spring Renewal

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By Alaborn

Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.

Chapter 10: Spring Renewal

Princess Bluebell stepped into the foyer of Twilight Sparkle’s abode, stamping her hooves on the rug placed there. Flecks of snow stubbornly clung to her fetlocks. “I hate winter,” she muttered.

“Well, don’t you worry. Spring will be here soon,” Twilight Sparkle said as she went to meet Bluebell. “Oh! Have you decided what you want to do for Winter Wrap-Up?”

“Do?” she asked, wrinkling her muzzle in confusion.

“Right. You’ve only lived in Canterlot. Here in Ponyville, we wrap up winter in the traditional earth pony way.”

“You mean, no magic?”

“No unicorn magic, yes.”

“Isn’t that inefficient?”

“It is, but it’s tradition, and it brings everypony together,” Twilight Sparkle explained. “It’s truly a magical experience.”

Bluebell rolled her eyes. “So, what can I do?”

“That’s a very good question, one I had to ask myself my first winter in Ponyville. You could join the animal team, and help wake up the animals, or build nests for the returning birds.”

“Animals and I don’t get along, and I’m not sure how I could make a nest using only my hooves.”

“On the weather team, ponies wear skates and score the ice on the lakes and ponds, helping the ice melt.”

Bluebell winced. “I tried skating once. I spent most of the time sprawled on my barrel.”

“The plant team has the most important role, clearing the snow and planting seeds for the first crops of spring. Toward the end of the day, everypony helps the plant team.” Twilight Sparkle smiled. “I know! You could help the Goldens!”

“Do I look like somepony who could use a plow?” Bluebell said.

“Your father did, the spring he spent in Ponyville,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Look, Bluebell. You are still a filly, so nopony’s going to expect you to do as much as a full-grown mare. Why don’t you talk to your classmates, and see what they do for Winter Wrap-Up?”

“Okay,” she replied unenthusiastically.

“Now, let’s get to your next magic lesson.”

At lunch the next day, Princess Bluebell sat down with Juniper and Junebug. “So what’s this Winter Wrap-Up I’ve been hearing about?” she asked them.

“It’s where everypony comes together and changes Ponyville from winter to spring,” Junebug said.

“Why? Don’t they do that in Canterlot?” Juniper asked.

“No. In Canterlot, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna step out on the balcony, look to the heavens, and change the season with their magic.” Bluebell was glad for the confirmation from the twins; upon hearing about Winter Wrap-Up from Twilight Sparkle, she wasn’t 100% certain that it wasn’t a prank by the young alicorn. “It just makes a lot more sense that way.”

“But then ponies don’t come together in harmony,” Juniper said.

“In Canterlot, that’s probably for the best,” Bluebell snarked. “Anyway, I have no idea what I’m supposed to do, especially without my magic. What do you do?”

“I’m on the plant team, planting most of the time, and some snow removal at the start of the day. I mostly work on our farm,” Juniper said.

“I’m on the animal team,” Junebug said. “The others like me because I’ll wake up any animal, and I don’t mind getting dirty to do it!”

“Red Streak and Cirrus both did snow removal from the roofs,” Juniper noted. “Of course, you have to be a pegasus, and have a certain wingpower first.”

“Yeah, most of the weather team roles are only for pegasi,” Junebug said. “Except the ice clearing. Hey, maybe you could skate!”

Bluebell sighed. “Why does everypony think I’d be good at skating?”

Juniper shrugged. “Sounds like something you might learn as a princess in Canterlot.”

Bluebell shook her head.

“Why? What kind of things did you learn?” Junebug asked.

“Oratory, rhetoric, history, calligraphy, etiquette, dance,” Bluebell said.

“Wow, that doesn’t fit at all,” Juniper said.

“Unless you took over for Mayor Mare,” Junebug said.

“Or Twilight Sparkle! She organizes it every year!” Juniper said.

“You know, that’s a good idea,” Bluebell said. “But... could I talk to Blue Seas about it?”

“Of course,” Juniper said.

“You’re welcome to visit any time,” Junebug added.

“Blue Seas, you have a guest,” Golden Harvest called from downstairs.

Blue Seas put down the book he was reading and headed downstairs. To his surprise, the guest was his half-sister.

“Hi, Bluebell,” he said. “What brings you to the farm?”

“I wanted to talk to you about Winter Wrap-Up.”

“Okay,” he said. “But why not talk to somepony else about it?”

“Well, it’s....” She looked around, seeing Golden Harvest in the kitchen, and Red Streak doing his homework in the living room. “Could we talk somewhere quiet?”

Blue Seas led Bluebell upstairs to his bedroom. He sat down at his desk, while Bluebell rested on the bed. “So what’s bothering you?” he asked.

“Blue Seas, I am a princess. And that means I will have duties. I can expect to travel to distant cities as a guest of the local baron or mayor, and participate in some celebration or tradition. That will not always be enjoyable. But duties often aren’t.

“My father told me about one time when he was invited to some small town, where they were celebrating some artichoke festival. He served as a judge of their cooking competition, sampling all sorts of artichoke dishes, foods that had no business being made with artichokes. Artichoke cookies. Artichoke fudge. Artichoke soda. He came home, and was sick for two days. He couldn’t eat anything.

“So, I’m no stranger to the idea of strange celebrations. But this is the first time I’ve heard of a celebration where the goal is to not use unicorn magic. How do you handle it?”

Blue Seas leaned back in his chair and thought. It was a subject he had never previously considered. “I don’t know what to say,” he finally said.

“Do you remember the first time you did Winter Wrap-Up?”

“I vaguely remember being happy, that I could be a farmer, just like Mom and Dad. That was well before I could use magic, and of course I really didn’t do much that day, just helped with some seeds.” He paused. “I guess I don’t know what it’s like being asked to set aside my magic, because by the time I could use magic, it was a fun tradition.” Then he stared at a picture on the wall.

“What is it?” Bluebell followed Blue Seas’s gaze. The picture showed Blue Seas swimming, in the middle of a race. The photograph captured him as he emerged from the water, in the middle of some stroke her father could probably name. His mane was tucked into a blue cap, and material of the same color covered his horn. “Are you wearing a horn blocker?” she asked.

Blue Seas nodded. “It’s standard practice for competitive athletics. No magic, and no flying in the events that aren’t, you know, flying events. The pegasus athletes can be disqualified for using their wings, but since it’s harder to see the use of magic, we have to wear horn blockers. So, I guess I do know what it’s like to not use my magic. But it’s worth it to me, to be able to swim.”

“What’s it like?” Bluebell wondered.

Blue Seas reached out with his magic, concentrating on the drapes on his bedroom window. He drew the sheer beige fabric curtain underneath the heavier orange and brown drapes. “Try looking out the window,” he said.

Bluebell got up and looked. With the thin curtains over the window, she could see shapes and the hint of color, but not much else.

“I hate the feeling. It’s like looking through a thick fog, or through that curtain,” Blue Seas explained. “At least when I’m not using my unicorn magic during Winter Wrap-Up, I can still feel the magic normally.”

“I guess there’s no equivalent for earth ponies or pegasi?”

Blue Seas shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, I remember the pictures in my schoolbooks, but I have no way of knowing what it feels like when my brothers and sisters sense magic.”

“I guess only an alicorn would know that,” Bluebell said.

“So ask her!” Blue Seas said. “And I bet Twilight Sparkle participated in Winter Wrap-Up when she was still a unicorn. She probably had the same worries as you. So, are you feeling better about this?”

“Yes, thanks. I guess even the Princess of the Unicorns can go without using magic for a day.”

“You’re home late,” Twilight Sparkle said as Princess Bluebell entered her home.

“Sorry. I just wanted to talk to somepony about Winter Wrap-Up.”

“That’s good. Did you decide what you wanted to do?”

“Well, I concluded I’m unsuitable to most of the tasks,” Bluebell replied. “Can I help you with organizing? It’s the only thing that might be relevant to my future.”

“Like father, like daughter.” Twilight Sparkle chuckled. “I let your father be my assistant the year he spent in Ponyville. The only difference is, I could actually use the help now. Ponyville keeps growing, and Winter Wrap-Up grows with it.”

“Great!” She shuffled her hooves. “There was something I was wondering,” Bluebell said.


“What did you think about not using magic to change the seasons?”

“Well, I remember thinking it unusual, but I was most worried about finding a role for myself. Like you, Bluebell, I didn’t feel ready to do anything to change the seasons. I mean, I had read about things like ice skating and birds building nests, but I had never tried any of them.”

“You weren’t bothered by being asked not to use your magic?”

“Not at first. But when things didn’t go well, I... well, I cheated. It took several mistakes with magic before I learned that I, whose entire life until that point focused on magic, needed to use a talent that wasn’t magic to help out Ponyville.” She looked at Bluebell. “Is it bothering you?”

Bluebell nodded. “I feel like I’m finally getting better at magic, and now I’m being asked not to use it.”

“That just proves you’ll be great as Princess of the Unicorns,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Unicorn foals fear never being able to learn magic. Older unicorns fear losing their magic. They are by far the most common fears unicorns feel. But there’s a lesson only I can teach you.” She concentrated, and a book flew off one of the shelves.

Bluebell reached out with her own magic and inspected the book. It was a book for foals, with illustrations and small amounts of text on each page. The cover showed Twilight Sparkle facing off against Tirek.

“I’ve heard this story before. This was only a few years before I was born, right?”

“Right. So you know how I guarded the magic of Princesses Celestia, Luna, and Cadance. What I have rarely talked about is how that felt. I held within me more magic than any creature, ever, in the entire history of Equestria. It was incredible. With just a thought, I could do anything. Anything, that is, except defeat Tirek.

“The story goes on to say how I surrendered my magic to save my friends. And in doing so, it released a magic even more powerful than the magic of four alicorns, the magic of friendship. That is what defeated Tirek.

“I hope never to be called upon again to fight a creature such as Tirek. I fear that I will someday. But I will never fear losing my unicorn magic, as long as I never lose the magic of friendship.” Twilight Sparkle rubbed her head. “Sorry. I got into speech mode there.”

“That’s fine. That’s... wow.” Bluebell stood speechless for a moment. “You need to tell that story again.”

“There are some details I can’t tell. But I’ll consider it. Meanwhile, I need to speak to Mrs. Cheerilee.”

“Why? What for?”

“Oh, there’s just some planning meetings for Winter Wrap-Up coming up, during school hours, and I’ll need your teacher to approve your absence from school.”

Princess Bluebell raised her hoof. “Mrs. Cheerilee, may I be excused?”

“Yes, you may,” Cheerilee said, nodding.

Bluebell donned her scarf and headed to the door. Turning, she noticed the dirty looks from her classmates. The school and students might be different from her circles in Canterlot, but some things remained the same. Every foal enjoyed getting out of class.

Bluebell trotted toward Town Hall, sticking to the roads, where the snow lay packed by the passage of countless hooves. She made good time, and was more than happy to get out of the cold.

Ponyville’s town hall was a building that had seen better days. Not sturdy stone like the Canterlot government offices she was familiar with, the plaster walls were cracked, and splotches of paint covered makeshift repairs. The front office was also a lot smaller than she was used to, only housing three desks. A middle-aged stallion was the only pony present. “May I help you?” he asked.

“Yes. Where is Princess Twilight Sparkle’s meeting being held?”

“Ah. Princess Bluebell, right? Go through that door. The conference room is the second door on the left.”

“Thank you.” She followed the directions, finding the conference room. Several ponies sat in chairs around a large, rectangular wooden table. She recognized the mayor, but none of the others. Twilight Sparkle rested on a cushion at one end of the table, her larger form making the chairs an uncomfortable option for her.

Twilight Sparkle nodded to her, and then turned to the others. “Mayor Mare, friends, I’d like to introduce my assistant for this year’s Winter Wrap-Up, Princess Bluebell of House Platinum. She’s visiting us from Canterlot, and will be here until the Summer Sun Celebration.”

The other ponies at the table, starting with the stallion to Twilight Sparkle’s left, introduced themselves.

“I’m Thunderlane, head of the Ponyville weather team, and in charge of the weather team for Winter Wrap-Up as well,” the dark gray pegasus stallion said.

“Potato Chip. I run the potato farm in the northwest part of town, and will be coordinating the plant team this year,” a golden brown earth pony stallion said.

“Twinkleshine. Teacher, and still in charge of the animal team,” said the off-white unicorn mare.

“A pleasure to meet you all,” Bluebell said.

“I’m afraid we need to get down to business,” Thunderlane said. “We can’t handle Winter Wrap-Up the way we’ve normally done it. Ponyville needs to supply the water for Cloudsdale this year, and we’re desperately low. We have to capture more of the melting snow in the lakes this year.”

“Yes, you’ve talked about this since last year,” Mayor Mare said.

“So what do you mean? How will this affect Winter Wrap-Up?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

“We have to capture most of the snow in the lakes as it melts. We can’t stack it by the streams and let it run into the river.”

“And you’re going to suggest leaving it on the ground,” Potato Chip said.

“That would be the best way, yes. The snow will naturally melt into the lakes.”

“We can’t do that,” Potato Chip argued. “The snow will melt into our fields first. We won’t be able to plant for at least a week. We farmers depend on that first crop for our livelihood, and we can’t go another week without having food to sell!”

“What about moving the snow to the lakes?” Twilight Sparkle suggested.

“We can’t put it on the lake, or we won’t be able to break the ice on the lake. Put it near the lake, and the melting snow will still create a problem for roughly one-third of farms,” Potato Chip said. “Besides, we still have to plant the grasses by the lake.”

“Can we clear the skies faster?” Mayor Mare asked.

“No!” Twinkleshine protested. “We’re already having trouble waking all the animals before the snow starts to melt. We can’t risk the melting snow flooding the dens of our animal friends.”

“The solution was to order more rain from Cloudsdale, like I’ve been urging for the last three years,” Thunderlane said, looking at Mayor Mare. “Our weather orders have not kept pace with Ponyville’s growth.”

“I know,” Mayor Mare said, a hint of exasperation in her voice. “But nopony wants to see their taxes raised, again.”

“You know, Ponyville’s practically a royal city now,” Bluebell suggested. “Maybe it’s time to change the seasons like....”

“No!” Mayor Mare and the three team heads chorused.

“I’m sorry, Bluebell, but tradition means a lot to the ponies of Ponyville,” Twilight Sparkle said. “I raised the issue several times before, but the opinions of everypony involved in Winter Wrap-Up haven’t changed. But we still need to find a solution.”

The room fell silent. Bluebell watched the other ponies’ expressions. Twilight Sparkle looked to be deep in thought, with a cute wrinkle on her forehead as she chewed on the issues. The others looked perplexed and lost.

“I don’t think we’re going to come up with an answer today,” Twinkleshine said.

“I agree,” Mayor Mare said.

“Then let’s table the issue until next time. I want to hear ideas, no matter how crazy, at our next meeting,” Twilight Sparkle said. “For now, let’s go on. Team leads, do you have all your supplies arranged?”

And so the meeting continued. Bluebell fought to stay awake through all the talk of math and logistics. She suddenly regretted missing school for this meeting.

“I’m back,” Princess Bluebell announced as she returned to Twilight’s residence. It was Tuesday, and she had magic lessons.

Princess Twilight Sparkle was in the living room, like normal, her chalkboard already covered with detailed formulas. But when Bluebell looked at them, she recognized none of them. Upon further inspection, they weren’t magical formulas at all, but mathematical ones.

“What is all this?” Bluebell asked.

“Oh. Just trying to figure out the Winter Wrap-Up problem,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Managing a large production is all about allocating resources and tracking dependencies. For example, we need to both score the ice and clear the skies in order to accomplish the goal of freeing the lakes from ice. So then both of those have to be done before moving the snow to the lakes. There’s an entire field of mathematics devoted to the topic, and I was hoping to find an answer in one of these books.”

“Did you find one?”

Twilight Sparkle sighed. “Sadly, it appears Winter Wrap-Up is too complex to model. There’s the issue of restrictions on input, in particular how some jobs can only be done by pegasi, but the biggest issue is there.” She levitated a pointer to the chalkboard.

“Clearing the sky?”

Twilight Sparkle nodded. “The problem is that this step is not only a prerequisite for some steps, but it also places restrictions on others. And I don’t know how to model that.”

Bluebell focused on the box labeled “Melting the Ice” as Twilight Sparkle erased the chalkboard. “But enough about that,” the alicorn said. “Let’s talk about the fundamentals of transmutation magic.”

The school bell rang, signaling the end of another day of classes. “Don’t forget, your reports on the rise of King Sombra are due Monday,” Cheerilee announced.

Like most of the class, Princess Bluebell wasn’t paying her teacher much attention. She donned her scarf and saddlebags, and ran outside. She was happy to be done with class. But her happiness didn’t last once she placed a hoof on a patch of ice. She stumbled, landing face first in a snow bank.

Grumbling, Bluebell rose to her hooves. She looked down at the patch of ice, frowned, and stamped her hoof. Cracks spiderwebbed from the impact. She raised her hoof to stamp again, but then stopped as inspiration struck.

Bluebell ran after two ponies. “Junebug! Juniper!” she called.

They turned. “Yeah?” Juniper said.

“I want to talk to Blue Seas about something. Is he home?”

“He should be,” Junebug said.

“I’m sure he’ll be happy to see you,” Juniper added.

Bluebell was welcomed to the Goldens’ farmhouse with a slice of carrot cake. She took a seat at the kitchen table. “I’ll get Blue Seas,” Golden Harvest said. “Don’t even think of touching the stew.”

She returned with Blue Seas a few minutes later. The young stallion’s coat was dirty and matted with sweat. “Whatever were you doing?” Bluebell asked.

“Repairs to the barn. We have a lot to do before the spring planting.”

“Oh.” Bluebell suddenly realized how little she knew about how a farm runs.

“What did you want to talk to me about?”

“Actually, can you introduce me to Scootaloo?” she asked.

“Sure, but why? Do you want to take up a sport?”

“No, but.... Well, I’m helping with the organization of Winter Wrap-Up, and there’s a problem it’s causing with tornado duty, and I think ice archery is the answer.”

“I have no idea what you’re planning, but whatever it is, it sounds right up Scootaloo’s alley.” Blue Seas turned to his mother. “Mom? I’m taking Bluebell to see Scootaloo.”

“Okay, dear, but I make no promises there will be any stew left if you don’t get back on time.”

“Let’s go,” Blue Seas said to Bluebell.

“Aren’t you going to wash up or something?” Bluebell asked.

“We’re going to see Scootaloo,” he replied, as if that explained matters.

They left, trotting along the outskirts of town to an area of cloud houses. Blue Seas stopped by one of these houses, which hovered over a curious arrangement of clouds. He listened and focused on the clouds.

“Sounds like she’s outside,” he said. Blue Seas levitated a chunk of snow, and shaped it into a snowball with his magic. His horn glowed, and he flung the snowball into one of the clouds.

“Hey!” a voice called from that cloud. An orange pegasus with a purple mane poked her head out. “Oh, hey.” Scootaloo flew down and slapped her wing across Blue Seas’s withers.

“Working on a new stunt?”

“You know it!” She ran her hoof through her short mane, which Bluebell noticed was even dirtier than Blue Seas’s. Her coat and wings appeared singed in places. Scootaloo looked at her, and then back at Blue Seas. “Oh, hey, who is this?”

“This is my, um.... This is Bluebell.”

“We met at Sports Day,” Bluebell interjected.

“Oh, yeah, right. Looking for some sports advice?”

“Sort of,” Bluebell said. “You see, I’m helping Princess Twilight Sparkle with the organization for Winter Wrap-Up. The town also needs to fill up the lakes to provide water for Cloudsdale, and that means capturing more of the melting snow. But that can’t be done until the lakes are free of ice.”

“But the snow melts at the same time as the ice,” Scootaloo said.

“That’s the problem. But I just realized, what if the ice is cleared in a different way? And then I remembered that ice archery demonstration.”

Scootaloo leaned in. “I’m listening.”

“What if, instead of clearing the clouds, some of them were moved over the lakes? And then we shoot them with the ice arrows, they turn to ice, they fall, and then they break the ice on the lake?”

Scootaloo’s wings fluttered, and she grinned. “Cool!”

“So, um, does that actually work? And can you get enough ice bows?”

“Yeah, that would totally work! And you wouldn’t need many ice bows, so sure!”

“And capturing the clouds that way would add extra water to the lakes, right?” Blue Seas said.

“I guess so,” Scootaloo said.

“How much?”

“How would I know?”

“Don’t you teach the pegasus magic class at the high school?” Blue Seas asked Scootaloo.

“Yeah, but....” She flew up, grabbed one of the clouds floating under her house, and bucked it, releasing a swift torrent of wind and snow. “My class is all practical stuff.”

Blue Seas rolled his eyes.

“Anyway, there’s a meeting Tuesday, at 10:00,” Bluebell said. “I need to see if I can get Twilight Sparkle’s approval, but if I do, can you come?”

“I’d love to!”

“Great!” Bluebell said.

“Thanks for talking to us,” Blue Seas said.

“Yeah, great. See ya!” Scootaloo waved a wing, and flew back into the mess of clouds.

As the two younger ponies departed, Bluebell turned to Blue Seas. “Did she mean it? She’d love to see the mayor?”

“I think she would love to see the mayor being forced to approve a plan like that.”

Late at night, Princess Bluebell sat at the table, writing on a paper scroll. Several thick books surrounded her. She heard hoofsteps, and turned.

Princess Twilight Sparkle entered the room, a tea set carried in her magical aura. “Doing homework?”

“No. I’m working on a proposal to fix the water problem with Winter Wrap-Up. But I can’t just say my idea. Father taught me that I need to demonstrate I’ve thought it through.”

Twilight Sparkle looked over the books, seeing diverse topics, including weather, pegasus magic, and physics. The books were advanced, beyond what a pony Bluebell’s age would have learned. “Why don’t you tell me about your idea? I can help you with your proposal.”

“Well, the problem we face is wanting to clear the ice from the lakes, to collect the runoff from the melting snow, without melting the snow first. My thought is to use ice bows to turn chunks of clouds into ice, and let the falling ice cloud break the ice on the surface of the lake.”

Bluebell gauged Twilight Sparkle’s reaction. Her mouth hung open, and one of her eyes twitched. “Sorry. That was a dumb idea,” Bluebell said.

Twilight Sparkle shook her head. “No, no. I think it’s a good idea. I thought about physically breaking the ice, but I couldn’t come up with a way that didn’t place ponies at risk of falling in the freezing water. It’s just that your plan is a little dangerous. Did you ever hear about what happened at the Equestria Games held in the Crystal Empire?”

“No. What happened?”

“An errant arrow from an ice bow struck a large cloud, turning it into a chunk of ice that threatened to fall on the stadium. Spike—you’ve heard of him, right?—saved the day with his fire breath.”

“I don’t want that to happen!” Bluebell said. “I’m thinking something smaller, like the demonstration I saw. I’m just trying to figure out how big it needs to be.”

Twilight Sparkle smiled. “Let me figure out the math. What I want you to do is think of everything you need.”

Princess Bluebell trotted happily to Town Hall. Her official plan, reviewed by Twilight Sparkle, was safely stowed in her saddlebags, and she was looking forward to presenting it. In addition to the princess’s support, she had the expertise of somepony who knew how to use an ice bow.

She heard the flapping of pegasus wings, and the distinctive sound of them closing, as a mare landed on the snow next to her. Once Scootaloo heard that Twilight Sparkle had given the plan her seal of approval, she had said she definitely wanted to be there when the plan was presented to the mayor. “Hey, Bluebell!” Scootaloo called. “You ready?”


“Can’t wait to see the awesome plan!”

Bluebell chuckled. “Well, Twilight Sparkle made it a lot less awesome. But I have to agree that making the plan safe as well as effective was crucial.”

The stallion working in the mayor’s office recognized Bluebell, and motioned for her to go to the same conference room. Bluebell overhead the discussion as she approached; Twilight Sparkle was mentioning her plan.

Bluebell opened the door with her magic, and she entered the room. She was greeted by smiling faces, but Mayor Mare frowned when she spotted Scootaloo following her.

“No. Whatever it is, the answer is no,” Mayor Mare stated.

“What? But I haven’t even said anything!” Bluebell protested.

“If Scootaloo is involved, it’s too dangerous.”

“Hey! What have I ever done?” Scootaloo asked.

“The waterslide? The tunnel? The cloud ramp?” the mayor said. “Dear Celestia, the cloud ramp!”

“Okay, fine, once or twice....”

Twilight Sparkle interrupted the dispute. “Mayor, while I am certainly familiar with what certain mares are capable of doing, I’ve reviewed the plan, and I think you all should listen to Princess Bluebell.”

“Thank you, Princess,” Bluebell said. She pulled a scroll from her saddlebags, unrolling it and pinning it to a bulletin board. “The challenge faced by Ponyville this year is a need to capture melting snow in the lakes that feed the reservoir, which will be used to supply the water for Cloudsdale this year. However, traditionally, the lakes are freed from ice primarily with sun and the warmer temperatures brought by the pegasi, which also melt the snow into the river.

“To deal with the issue, we need to break the ice before the warm weather arrives.” She levitated an illustration onto a nearby easel. “My proposal is to use ice bows to create masses of ice in the sky, and let gravity do the work.

“The ice bow manifests pegasus magic, creating ice faster than is possible by pegasi, at least without the specialized equipment in Cloudsdale. A bank of clouds, between six and eight cells in size, at storm level, will fall with enough force to break through the thick ice that formed on Ponyville’s lakes during the winter.”

“I have the calculations, if you’d like to see them,” Twilight Sparkle said, waving a sheaf of papers densely covered in mathematical formulas.

“Drop it off with my assistant,” Mayor Mare said wearily.

“We will want ice to be dropped in three locations on each of these four lakes,” Bluebell continued. “Our first step will to collect some of the snow, and form a thick snow bank, roughly as tall as a pony. The pegasi will clear the skies around each lake to a suitable radius, and then position the cloud bank above the landing point. The archers will take a position behind the snow bank, and fire upon the cloud. They will duck to avoid any errant shards of ice. The whole process could be completed within the first three hours of Winter Wrap-Up.”

“Piece of cake!” Scootaloo chimed in.

“I intend to be present, ready to deal with any dangers,” Twilight Sparkle said.

“I still don’t like it,” Mayor Mare said.

“What is important is that it allows Ponyville to fill its reservoirs. The water from the winter clouds is minor, perhaps 500 bits’ worth if purchased from Cloudsdale in spring. The important factor is being able to capture the melting snow. How much currently goes into the river?”

“Around eighty percent,” Thunderlane said.

“We calculated that Ponyville needs about a third of that. Do you think you could capture it?”

Potato Chip looked to Thunderlane, who nodded. “We’ll need to shuffle both of our groups, but I think we can work it out,” Potato Chip said.

“I don’t think I will need to change anything for the animal team,” Twinkleshine added.

“Okay. But does it have to be ice bows?” Mayor Mare asked.

“Ice magic is difficult for most pegasi,” Twilight Sparkle said. “I agree with Bluebell’s idea to use the bows as a reusable and controllable source of this magic. Of course, I think we are all willing to entertain other ideas to deal with Ponyville’s future water needs.” She paused. “Anypony?”

The room fell silent.

“Okay,” Mayor Mare said. “I’ll ask again for you to think of alternate proposals, but for now, I’d like the team leaders to plan their resources around Princess Bluebell’s strategy.”

“Sweet!” Scootaloo exclaimed. “I need to get more arrows!”

Mayor Mare pressed a hoof to her forehead. “I don’t get paid enough for this.”

The day of Winter Wrap-Up arrived, and a grand song filled Princess Bluebell’s heart. Using only her hooves, she donned her special vest, and alongside Princess Twilight Sparkle, stepped out onto the streets of Ponyville. They were caught up in the crowd, ponies of all kinds in matching vests singing about everything they would do to wrap up winter. She trotted around the snowy streets at the heart of Ponyville, seeing its most prominent buildings.

And then, just outside Town Hall, it stopped.

“That felt weird,” Bluebell said.

“Surely you’ve felt a heart song before?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

“Yes, but never one that inspires the whole town,” she replied. “I don’t think anything could bring the ponies of Canterlot together.”

“The last one I know of was at the conclusion of the wedding of Princess Cadance. The real wedding. It was both inspirational and somber, recalling all those hurt by the changeling invasion and celebrating the power of love,” Twilight Sparkle said. “Before your time, of course.”

Bluebell nodded. “So what’s our first task?”

“Well, I’m going to meet with each of the three team leads. You will need to go to the lake west of the reservoir. Scootaloo wants you to be part of the ice clearing, and she wants all of the archers to practice first.”

“Okay. I’ll meet up with you when we’re finished,” Bluebell said. To be honest, firing a bow sounded more fun than reviewing checklists.

Work was well underway by the time Bluebell arrived at the lake. Pegasi were clearing the clouds from the area surrounding the lake, saving and carefully setting aside small stacks of clouds as they worked. Ponies, mostly earth ponies, were hauling carts laden with snow, dumping their loads to create the protective snow barrier.

Scootaloo was marching up and down the field, between a series of targets and the ponies she recruited for the task. All were wearing the vest of the weather team. Blue Seas was there, along with a few ponies she recognized from Sports Day. “All right, Bluebell. Grab a quiver and take your station,” Scootaloo said.

Bluebell picked up a quiver of arrows, normal arrows with blunted tips, and stood behind one of the bows. Scootaloo turned and addressed the group. “Your job today is not just to fire arrows. You need to fire the arrows at the same time, so that the clouds form a single mass of ice, rather than splintering into smaller chunks. And so, we’re going to practice while we wait for everything to be ready.”

Scootaloo took her position behind the archers. “On three. One, two, three!”

The first volley didn’t go well, but with some practice, the archers managed to hit their targets at the same time.

“Take a break. We’ll be doing this for real in ten minutes, once Princess Twilight Sparkle gets here.”

Bluebell trotted up to Blue Seas. “I’m glad to see you here,” he told her.

“Well, it is my idea, after all.”

“Still, you need to be a good archer.”

“Am I a good archer?” Bluebell asked.

“Pretty good. I think Scootaloo approves.”

“What are you doing after we finish here?” she asked.

“I’m moving over to snow plowing, and then planting,” Blue Seas replied.

“Oh. I guess Twilight Sparkle will have some task for me. For all her planning, she really didn’t talk about what she wanted me to do.”

“You’ll probably end the day with planting, like everypony,” Blue Seas said. “There’s a lot of grasses and flowers to plant throughout town. You should ask Twilight Sparkle to send you to the north planting team.”

“Is that your farm?”

“Yes. Well, the outskirts of the farm. But you’re welcome to join us on the farm. There’s a party afterward.”

“Party?” Bluebell asked. She suspected it was nothing like the celebrations of the end of winter in Canterlot.

“Nothing much. Just family and friends in the old barn.”

Bluebell smiled. “Sounds good. I’ll have to see, though.”

The crowd murmured as Princess Twilight Sparkle approached, wearing her multicolor all teams vest. She walked over and conferred with Scootaloo.

“Okay, Princess Twilight Sparkle is ready, and the snow bank is prepared,” she announced. Scootaloo looked to the sky. “Cloud team?”


The pegasi in the sky moved a chunk of cloud over the lake. Scootaloo passed out the quivers of ice arrows. “All right. For this first cloud, I want you all to use the colored arrow.”

Bluebell looked, finding one blue arrow amidst the ones that looked like normal ice arrows. She pulled it out and nocked it in the bow.

“On three. One, two, three!”

Bluebell fired, her arrow striking the cloud bank. Ice, colored blue, spread from the point of impact. Elsewhere, ice in all colors of the rainbow spread across the cloud, with an audible cracking. As the magical ice added weight to the cloud, it began to fall, slowly at first, and then faster. It was a rainbow-colored streak, calling to mind Scootaloo’s favorite Wonderbolt, by the time it collided with the lake below. The ice on the lake shattered at the point of impact, with cracks spreading out like spiderwebs.

“Awesome!” Scootaloo shouted.

“I think she’s always wanted to do that,” Blue Seas told Bluebell.

Finishing the work to clear the lakes didn’t take long. The organizational work by the three teams ensured that everything was set up by the time Scootaloo took them to the next site. All that remained was setting up the bows and firing.

At that point, Princess Bluebell followed Princess Twilight Sparkle as she checked on each of the teams. She learned that part of being an organizer was lending a hoof to a group that found itself behind schedule. With building nests, cleaning animal dens, shoveling snow, and organizing seeds, Bluebell discovered many tasks she was no good at performing. But for a job like Winter Wrap-Up, quantity substituted for quality.

In the afternoon, Bluebell joined the plant team. Dozens of ponies pushed snowplows while ponies, including a number of foals, walked behind them, spreading grass seeds on the now-cleared ground. She saw her half-brother on one of the plows, keeping up with the older and larger ponies plowing with him.

By late afternoon, the snow had been cleared, and Bluebell’s large team split off, heading to the individual farms. “Come with us,” Blue Seas said to her.

At the Goldens’ farm, four of the plows were being altered. The blade for moving snow was removed from the front, and a plow blade attached to the back.

“Shouldn’t you have more plows?” Bluebell asked.

“Mom and Dad prefer to plant by hoof. Most farmers do. Well, the earth pony ones,” Blue Seas said.

“Plant by hoof?”

Blue Seas motioned to the field. Golden Harvest was planting flower bulbs by digging one hoof into the earth, dropping the bulb, and using another hoof to push loose dirt over it. She was surprisingly fast at using this method. Bluebell noted that it was because she apparently didn’t care about getting filthy.

“Go ahead and follow me, scattering seeds in the furrows,” Blue Seas said.

Along with the rest of Blue Seas’s siblings and a few other local foals, Bluebell helped plant a variety of crops on the Goldens’ land. She noted that didn’t include their signature crops; they were being planted exclusively by his parents. With so many hooves at work, the planting was done before the sun set.

“Now what?” Bluebell asked.

“I’m going to help Mom with the party,” Blue Seas said. “As a noble, you probably want to join the princess and mayor and do what nobles do best.”

“What’s that?”

“Take credit for the work.”

“But I came up with the solution to the water problem!” Bluebell protested.

“And the mayor should thank you for that,” Blue Seas said. “And you also worked hard, so you’re definitely welcome at our hoedown tonight. Both you and the princess.”

“I’m sure Princess Twilight Sparkle has a lot of obligations, but I’d be happy to come to your... ugh, hoedown,” she replied. “I take it formal attire is not required?”

“Heck, you’ll be lucky if ponies wash the mud off their hooves!”

It was just after sunset when Mayor Mare took the stage, with Princess Twilight Sparkle standing at her side. “I declare winter officially wrapped up!” the mayor announced, as ponies cheered and stamped their hooves. “Thank you, everypony, for working so hard to bring in spring.”

Twilight Sparkle leaned over and whispered in the mayor’s ear. She sighed and continued. “I would also like to thank the ponies who led the effort to prepare the Ponyville reservoir for this year’s tornado. Princess Twilight Sparkle, Princess Bluebell....” The mayor looked like she just bit into an especially sour lemon. “And Scootaloo.”

The announcement complete, ponies started dispersing. Bluebell joined up with Twilight Sparkle. “Blue Seas wanted you to know that you’re invited to his family’s party,” she said.

“I know. I won’t be able to stay long, as I have a lot of parties to visit, but I’d be happy to visit their hoedown first.”

Bluebell winced at hearing Twilight Sparkle use that word.

“Let’s go,” Twilight Sparkle said.

“Can you wait a second?” Now that Winter Wrap-Up was officially over, Bluebell felt free to use magic. But her normal cleaning cantrip was having trouble dealing with the sheer amount of mud caked to her hooves and fetlocks.

“You could try cleaning up the Ponyville way,” Twilight Sparkle suggested. She pointed to a group of ponies cleaning their hooves in one of the many puddles created by the melting snow.

Bluebell would have preferred a spa treatment, or even a normal bath, but the puddle method was fast and effective.

Bluebell had many worries when she saw the Goldens’ party being held in one of their barns, but her fears proved unfounded. The ponies were a little dirty, but the barn was clean, with only a faint musty smell. She had smelled worse in the disused formal ballrooms of Canterlot’s minor nobility. A phonograph provided music, and the aroma of bread and stew made her realize how hungry she was.

Twilight Sparkle attracted a lot of attention as she entered, as well as bows from ponies who probably weren’t locals. Meanwhile, Bluebell grabbed a plate of food and mingled. Once Twilight Sparkle had made her rounds, the party returned to its normal conversations. Over to the side, Blue Seas was talking to a group of ponies, including a stallion who resembled Golden Harvest and shared a carrot cutie mark. Listening in, she found he was telling them about the time he spent in the seapony kingdom.

Bluebell was standing to the side, nibbling on a pickled carrot, when Blue Seas joined her. “Something bothering you?” he asked.

“No. It’s just that... well, here I am, a princess, and your life is so much more interesting than mine. How many ponies can say they’ve lived with the seaponies?”

“It’s not what you think. I’m leaving April 1st to practice swimming full time. And in the off-season, I’m going to live again in the seapony kingdom. And work there. I may not return home for more than a few days at a time for the next several years.”


“Yes. Training with the best swim coach in Equestria, plus room and board, is expensive. Mom and Dad said they’d support me, but....” Blue Seas sighed. “They have the farm, and four more foals. I need to help out however I can.”

“Have you considered working in Ponyville instead? That way, you wouldn’t miss your family as much.”

“I don’t know if I could find anything in town for only the winter. There are a lot of ponies looking for seasonal work then,” Blue Seas said. “Besides, there’s something I hope to do in Atlantis.”

“What’s that?” Bluebell asked.

“I want to find my mother. My natural mother.”

Bluebell gasped. “No! Don’t do that.”


Bluebell looked around, and lowered her voice. “There was something that happened with me. It was about four years ago. Now, everypony knows about the many bastard foals Canterlot noble stallions have. Nopony talks about it officially, but in the schoolyard, foals taunt each other about their parentage. It gets to the point where it doesn’t mean anything. Even after learning the dictionary definition, I heard ‘bastard’ as just an insult, like calling somepony a moron.

“But then, on that day.... Well, I was with Mother and Father, enjoying a stroll through the park. A crying mare came up to my father, with a filly several years older than me. ‘This is your daughter!’ she screamed. I knew what Mother and Father had taught me about how to handle situations. Ignore the scene, disengage, keep an eye out for the guard in case trouble starts. But all I saw was a filly, who looked a lot like me. And suddenly the schoolyard taunts took on meaning.

“We left the park quickly, taking our carriage home. And then I heard Mother and Father fight. They argued for days. The house seneschal tutored me on the archaic rules that surrounded noble lineages. I suppose that was my father’s attempt to calm any fears I had, but it was hard to concentrate when I could hear the screams of my parents echoing through the halls of our estate.

“I do hope things will be different for you, Blue Seas. I hope your natural mother is praying to be reunited with the foal she never knew. And think of it this way. There probably aren’t many half-seaponies of your age in Atlantis at one time, right? If she’s looking for you, she’ll find you.”

Blue Seas was silent for several moments. “Wow. I never thought of it that way,” he said quietly. “I just had this vision of another perfect family. I guess I thought we’d want the same thing.”

Bluebell hugged her half-brother. “I just wanted you to know that I’m glad to have met you.”

“Thanks, Bluebell. That means a lot.” He broke the embrace. “I like your idea a lot. Word will get around about me, and maybe, hopefully, I’ll meet the last part of my heritage.” But deep down, Blue Seas feared his half-sister was right.

“Glad I could help.”

“You know, you have a lot of good ideas, Bluebell,” Blue Seas said. “I don’t know many ponies who could deal with the town’s water problem, my heritage, and my annoying kid sister. Even if you end up with a boring life, like you said, the royal bureaucracy could use somepony like you. Mom and Dad always complain about the ponies who say ‘We can’t do that’ or ‘We’ve always done it this way.’”

“Yeah! I bet I could find a lot of things to fix! They probably wouldn’t be as cool as falling ice clouds, though.” Bluebell smiled, feeling a pleasant warmth. It was like a blush, but focused on her flanks. She turned and saw her cutie mark appear: a bow and an ice arrow piercing a cloud.

“Now I’ll always have a reminder of what I need to top!” Bluebell said excitedly.

“Think you might also be good at ice archery? Good enough to make the Equestria Games?”

“I’m sure Father would think so. It’s worth a try, right?”

Blue Seas nodded. “I’m sure you could get Scootaloo to give you some lessons. She owes you for finally getting Mayor Mare to do something crazy.” He looked around the barn. “I see family members who want to spend time with me before I move away. Congratulations on earning your cutie mark, Bluebell. Few Canterlot nobles can claim they’ve had a Pinkie Pie cuteceañera!”

“But what if I want to celebrate in my family’s traditional manner?”

“You can do that, too, but you have no chance of escaping a Pinkie Pie party,” Blue Seas said solemnly. He embraced her. “I hope to see you again, Bluebell.”

“You too.”

Blue Seas wandered off, joining his parents and siblings. They were an unusual family for sure, but Bluebell was happy to be a part of it.


View Online


By Alaborn

Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.


June 23, 1496
Mihaymi, Principality of Equestria

“The concluding event is the finals of the 200m freestyle,” a magically amplified voice echoed through the stadium.

“Swimmers, please take your positions,” the volunteer coordinating the swimming events called.

This was it, the final swim match of the 1496 Equestria Games. Blue Seas stood up from the shaded bench where he was resting, stretched, and walked to the pool, blinking in the bright sun. The pool being used for the swimming events was outdoors, so that meant dealing with the hot, muggy Mihaymi summer air. It made the pool that much more appealing.

Blue Seas put thoughts of the weather out of his mind as he donned his horn blocker. He also tried to put thoughts of the competitors out of his mind, but that proved a harder task. By happenstance, all of his half-seapony friends had qualified for the finals of this race. Wave Crasher was in lane 2, Sea Star in lane 3, Azure Spark in lane 6, and Roller in lane 8. Blue Seas had drawn lane 4, where he wanted to be, but that just made him conscious of the competitor to his right.

He had noticed Tide Pool, or rather his mane, immediately. The young earth pony stallion of seapony heritage from Mihaymi was a hometown favorite, and his raw talent and uncertainty in facing the biggest athletic stage in Equestria reminded Blue Seas of himself four years prior.

Blue Seas tried not to focus on his competitors. Any of them could win, as proven by them making the finals. And even though this was one of Blue Seas’s best events, he wouldn’t take anything for granted. He visualized the race, the feel of the water, churned by the strokes of his competitors.

He took his place on the starting block. The starting block certainly felt smaller. Blue Seas had grown taller and broader across the withers, filling out and gaining muscle mass. All his focus went to the race. The sound of the whistle would be followed by the perfect jump into the water. Each powerful stroke would propel his body down the lane. Touch, turn, swim, and repeat for the third and fourth laps.

Blue Seas looked to the referee. He was ready.

The whistle sounded.

With one smooth motion, wasting not one fraction of a second, Blue Seas was in the water, his legs executing the strokes with perfect form. A warm feeling surged through him, the feeling of doing what his cutie mark was telling him. He flowed with the waves in the pool. With the correct count, he tapped the wall, turned, and cut through the water.

Through the second, third, and fourth legs, everything felt perfect. When he hooked his foreleg on the edge of the pool and pulled himself out of the water, he quickly glanced left and right. He had won, by several seconds at least.

He stepped off to the sidelines, greeting his friends with a brief hug and pat on the withers as they joined him. Although the physical exertion was finished, his heart pounded with excitement and anticipation.

The pool being used didn’t display the times for each lane, so all eyes turned to the scoreboard. As soon as the final swimmer pulled himself out of the water, the scoreboard illuminated, starting with first place. Blue Seas saw the flag of Ponyville, then his cutie mark, and finally his time: 1:49.12.

Nopony had ever broken the 1:50 barrier in the 200m freestyle, in any swimming competition, ever. Until today.

Blue Seas held the world record.

As soon as everypony realized what he had accomplished, he was surrounded by ponies, offering their congratulations. The cheers were so loud, he almost missed the next announcement: “Medalists, to the podium.”

Blue Seas walked alongside Roller, who finished third, and took his place on the highest step for the third time. This Equestria Games, he won three gold medals, one silver medal, and two bronze medals.

His father, Prince Blueblood, approached, the display gold medal held in his magical aura. He levitated the medal around Blue Seas’s neck. “I’m proud of you, son,” he whispered.

Blue Seas bowed his head. “Thank you, Father.”

The medal ceremony concluded, Blue Seas headed to the locker room. But he paused when he saw the young pony from Mihaymi sitting on the bench, staring at his hooves. Blue Seas sat next to him. “What’s wrong, Tide Pool?”

“I lost.”

“We all lose, more often than we win,” Blue Seas replied.

“But I didn’t win anything. I let my parents down. I let Mihaymi down.”

“I don’t think you let yourself down, Tide Pool. You swam very well, even if you didn’t earn a medal. Four years ago, I was in your horseshoes.”

“But you’re really good!” Tide Pool said.

“I wasn’t as good when I was your size. Look, I’ll say what the others said to me back then. You have talent, but you’re still growing. I expect you’ll be collecting a ton of medals in four years. But that will only happen if you don’t give up.”

Tide Pool stood up. “I could never give up swimming.”

“Glad to hear that, rookie. And I’ll see you at the post-Equestria Games celebration!”

The next day was the final day of the Equestria Games. As he had done four years prior, he waited for the conclusion of the marathon. Second place went to a runner from Ponyville, solidifying his town’s hold on third place in the total medal count. He was proud of his own accomplishments in the pool, but he felt more satisfied to have fulfilled his promise from the previous Equestria Games, to see Ponyville in one of the top three spots for total medal count.

He returned to the room he shared with Wave Crasher. The stallion was struggling with the bowtie of his tuxedo. Blue Seas pulled out his own tuxedo as he asked if Wave Crasher needed any help.

“No. I swore I’d get this right one time,” Wave Crasher said. “And this is my last chance.”

“What do you mean?”

“This is probably my last party,” he replied.

“What? You won three medals,” Blue Seas said.

“And none gold. Face it, Blue Seas, I’m getting old. And yes, twenty-eight is old.”

“So, what are you going to do?”

“Maybe I’ll head to Vanhoover. Red-Fluke is looking to start a family, so there’s a school that’s going to need a coach.”

“Start a family?” Blue Seas shuddered. Red-Fluke was a narwhal seapony stallion from the seapony city of Pacifica, who lived on the surface in nearby Vanhoover. He was an excellent swim teacher, even in pony form. But as a seapony, starting a family meant… well, something Blue Seas had no desire to experience.

“I don’t understand it, either.” Wave Crasher glanced at Blue Seas. “Is that another Rarity tuxedo?”


Wave Crasher looked at his own rented tuxedo. “That’s not fair. You’re going to have all the mares noticing you.”

“I’ll be leaving early, so you won’t have to worry about that.” Blue Seas patted the pocket of his tuxedo, making sure the small box he had brought from home was safe. “I have another engagement tonight.”

“Must be important.”

“More than you can ever know.”

A line of carriages waited to take the athletes to the celebration, to be held in the ballroom of a hotel on Mihaymi Beach. Blue Seas shared a carriage with his friends. Their destination was a grand hotel, in the unique architectural style common to Mihaymi Beach. Palm trees lined the approach to the hotel, swaying in the gentle breeze.

“I hope the buffet is ready. I’m starving!” Roller said.

Blue Seas’s stomach growled. “I have to agree with you there!” he said.

An entire wing of the hotel was roped off. Ponies on staff checked their names against a list before admitting them. They found that the party was spread across two ballrooms and a large outdoor patio area, with food stations everywhere.

“I’ve been craving fish something fierce,” Azure Spark said. “Hope they have something.”

“We’re on the beach! Surely they have fish,” Wave Crasher said.

“It might be different fish than you’re used to,” Blue Seas noted.

The half-seaponies searched, finding a sushi station. But Blue Seas picked up another aroma. He nudged his companions and pointed to another station.

They walked over to the station. “Are these fish rolls?” Blue Seas asked.

The chef nodded. “They are. Bermuda rolls, to be specific.”

Blue Seas looked to his friends. “Anypony know what’s in them?”

“Who cares?” Sea Star said.

“Marlin and shrimp,” the chef said. “I recommend dipping it in the coconut and mango cream sauce.”

Soon, they all had full plates. They spotted Tide Pool, who had a plate of sushi, and joined the young half-seapony.

“You didn’t want a roll?” Blue Seas asked.

“I have them every time I visit my father,” Tide Pool said. “I thought I’d see how the Neighponese ponies serve fish.”

“I’ll be hitting the sushi bar later,” Roller said.

Blue Seas chewed on his fish roll. The fish was denser and more savory, and he liked the taste. And judging by the plates of his friends, they agreed with the sentiment.

The half-seaponies talked about food, their families, and swimming. Tide Pool’s mood had improved, and with the encouragement of the others, he sounded eager to practice for the next competition.

“Please excuse me,” Blue Seas said. “I only have a little time left, and I’m going to mingle.”

Blue Seas took another plate, filling it with a variety of fruits from the food stations as he wandered the room. As delicious as the fruit was, he was actually looking for one athlete in particular.

He found her on the patio. The white unicorn wore an elegant and fashionable gown that turned many heads as she worked the crowd.

Blue Seas approached her and bowed. “Princess Bluebell, such a pleasure. How did you fare at the Equestria Games?”

Bluebell laughed. “I was terrible! I finished near the bottom of every competition.”

“I don’t know if I could have your positive attitude if I wasn’t at least competitive in my swim events.”

“It’s all in the cutie mark, Blue Seas. Swimming is your special talent, and so you need to succeed. And despite the outward appearance of my cutie mark, I have no special talent in ice archery. Practice alone won’t win me anything at this level, when there are other ponies who both practice and have the special talent. I’m only here because most ponies in Canterlot aren’t interested in athletics.”

“I never thought of it that way,” Blue Seas said. “Speaking of your special talent, I have to thank you.”

“For what?”

“The scholarship program for young athletes that the athletics council came up with three years ago. That was your suggestion, right?”

Bluebell nodded. “When I brought it up, Father confessed that he hadn’t properly thought about what it took to compete as an athlete in the Equestria Games. I take it you received one?”

“Yes, and it’s helped my family so much. Cirrus has advanced flight school, Junebug is looking to continue her education, and Red Streak has his sights set on Royal Canterlot University. I feel much better knowing that they don’t have to support me, too.”

“Well, I hope to see you at the next Equestria Games, Blue Seas.”

“You’re going to continue with ice archery?”

“Of course! If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of famous ponies here. And it’s easier to socialize with the Wonderbolts when they’re in their element, rather than at some stuffy gala.” Bluebell’s eyes tracked a passing earth pony athlete; his build suggested the stallion was probably a runner. “Besides, there are other perks to being here.”

Knowing what Bluebell was thinking about reminded Blue Seas of the important task he had that evening. “Bluebell, it was nice seeing you again. I’m afraid it’s time for me to depart.”

Bluebell gave her half-brother a warm embrace. “Have a wonderful evening.”

Blue Seas hoped she would prove to be right.

When Blue Seas left to start training in Fillydelphia, and with Pumpkin Cake starting culinary school a few months later, the two ponies faced an agonizing decision. After much discussion, they had decided to break up. That they had feelings for each other was clear, but the decided not to pass on the chance to see other ponies while they were apart. Only the passage of time would reveal if they had come together because of their shared backgrounds, or because they had found Cadance’s blessing on their first try.

Blue Seas tried dating, both above and below water, the latter being a most interesting experience. He sincerely hoped for love to bloom, but in the end, his thoughts kept returning to the beautiful mare with the curly pumpkin-colored mane, which always looked so cute dusted with flour. When he journeyed to Canterlot three years later, to attend Pumpkin Cake’s graduation, he was thrilled to discover she felt the same way. They were soon back together, keeping in touch by letter while separated, yearning for the time when they would be reunited.

Knowing that Pumpkin Cake was in the stands, watching him swim, had given him encouragement during the Equestria Games. He had only been able to see her twice during the Games, at parties she catered. Pumpkin Cake now ran Sugarcube Corner, while also serving as the executive chef at the Castle of Friendship, a job that, given Princess Twilight Sparkle’s taste in cuisine, was strictly part time. These parties showcased her new hard-earned culinary skills, and Blue Seas enjoyed the fruits of her labor. And the baked goods.

Pumpkin Cake’s parents had retired to Mihaymi Beach, if opening an oceanfront café could truly be considered retiring. She was staying with them during the Equestria Games. And that café was Blue Seas’s destination that night.

The café wasn’t far from the hotel, and so Blue Seas decided to walk. It gave him a chance to reflect on the past, and to calm his nerves. As he trotted along the boardwalk, his formal attire attracted quite a lot of attention from the beachcombing ponies. But with what he had planned that evening, it felt right to stay in the tuxedo.

He entered the small shop, the bell above the door chiming, just like the one at Sugarcube Corner. “Welcome to Sugar Beach,” Cup Cake said. “Blue Seas!” she shouted, once she saw who her guest was.

The door to the kitchen opened, and Pumpkin Cake rushed out. “Blue Seas!” She jumped into his waiting forelegs.

Blue Seas reveled in her embrace, not even caring about her apron dirtying his brand new tuxedo. “You couldn’t stay out of the kitchen?”

“You know me,” she replied. “With so many ponies in town for the Equestria Games, Mom and Dad are having their busiest month ever. And since they needed the help….”

“We’ll be fine tonight, dear,” Cup Cake said. “You go off and visit with your coltfriend.”

Pumpkin Cake nodded, and removed her apron. Once they relocated to the bedroom above the shop, she greeted Blue Seas more passionately, as they shared a long kiss.

“You clean up well,” Pumpkin Cake said with a smile.

Blue Seas brushed her mane, where, true to form, a little flour was caught. “And I love you even when you’re covered in flour. But I certainly wanted to wear my tuxedo tonight.”

Blue Seas kneeled and lifted the small box out of his pocket. With his magic, he opened it, revealing a gold horn ring. “Pumpkin Cake, will you make me the happiest stallion in Equestria and marry me?”

“Yes!” Pumpkin Cake screamed. She pounced on him as they kissed and caressed each other.

Finally, they had to come up for air. They stood. “You look good in a tuxedo,” Pumpkin Cake told Blue Seas. “But now I want to see you out of it.”

Blue Seas awoke in a warm bed, with his fiancée next to him. And she was prodding him. “Get up, Blue Seas!”

“Huh? What is it?” Blue Seas blinked; it was still dark.

“You have to see this,” Pumpkin Cake said.

Blue Seas yawned and followed Pumpkin Cake outside. They took a seat at one of the tables outside the café, sharing a bench. They had a beautiful view of the ocean, which sparkled in the moonlight like the stars in Luna’s sky.

Even in Mihaymi, the nights got chilly, so Blue Seas and Pumpkin Cake snuggled. “It’s beautiful,” Blue Seas said.

“That’s not why I brought you out here,” Pumpkin Cake replied. “Any minute now....”

As they watched, Princess Luna lowered the moon, and Princess Celestia raised the sun above the horizon. The ocean was awash in warm reds and oranges.

“A lot of romantics say this is the best place in Equestria to watch the sun rise,” Pumpkin Cake said.

“They may be right,” Blue Seas said. “But maybe we should visit the competition, just to be sure?”

“That sounds like a wonderful idea,” Pumpkin Cake replied.

The two unicorns talked about all the places they wanted to visit, together. Where they’d find the time, they didn’t know, but that didn’t stop them from dreaming. They spent hours together, just talking. They barely noticed when her parents dropped off coffee, orange juice, and muffins.

As the morning progressed, ponies started arriving at the beach, single ponies, couples, and families. Some staked out patches of sun-drenched sand. Others frolicked in the waves. Still others strolled along the boardwalk.

One such family caught Blue Seas’s attention. It was the manes that caught his eye. On the surface, they were a normal unicorn family, a mare and stallion, a colt of about six years tagging along. The stallion was pushing a carriage, which Blue Seas noticed was different from the norm. Years of splitting time between Equestria and the seapony kingdom allowed him to recognize the unicorns as full-blooded narwhal seaponies in unicorn form. And the carriage proved it. More like a glass bowl filled with seawater on wheels, the narwhal infant inside swam happily.

“I haven’t heard you talk about it in a while,” Pumpkin Cake said quietly. “Did you ever....”

Blue Seas shook his head. “I never learned more about my natural mother. I’m not happy about it, but living with the seaponies showed me that the mares there sometimes act like our stallions do. And we should treat them with the same level of respect.”


“None whatsoever,” Blue Seas agreed. “But look at that family. Imagine that mare were my mother. What good would it do to barge into that family right now? I doubt she even knew she left my father a pregnant stallion.”

“The way you talked about it, though... I always wanted you to have that storybook ending,” Pumpkin Cake said.

Blue Seas sighed. “Me too.”

He fell silent. The seapony family continued their stroll, stopping to examine the clothes on display in a shop a few doors down.

“I have to forgive the past,” Blue Seas said. “Why wouldn’t I, when I can look forward to such a bright future?”

With that, Blue Seas and Pumpkin Cake shared another kiss. The future was bright, as bright as the sun shining on Mihaymi Beach.