Manetezuma's Revenge

by Anonymous Potato

First published

On the most important day of her reign, Princess Celestia gets closely acquinted with Poison Joke. A little too closely.

Trotalgar. That insignificant, weed-infested hilltop where one of History’s most important battles was won, once had an ill-famed square named after it in the old City of Everfree. That’s where Princess Celestia fought an opponent even she couldn’t win.

A potted plant.


“History may be written by the victor, but urban legends can never be vanquished.” - Shih Tzu, Diamond Dog General of the Fido Dynasty.

N.B. Any actual fighting involved is going to be of the internal kind.

**** Happens

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Like many a gruesome and terrible tale, it all began with the innocent words of a young mare.

“Princess Celestia, what happened on Trotalgar Square?”

It was a bright and sunny morning—Celestia could remember it like it was yesterday. Sadly, it had happened over a thousand years ago, and she didn’t usually have such a good memory.

The day began like any other. She’d completed her morning routine (brush teeth, brush coat, raise the sun—the usual) and then walked onto her balcony to decree the day would thenceforth be considered a national holiday. But the moment Celestia stepped back inside, her ears were assaulted by a growl akin to a bear’s mating call after it had been rejected three times and tried drowning its sorrows in booze.

Much to her dismay, she found the sound coming from her own stomach.

Princess Celestia pursed her lips. She realized that, busy making preparations for the coming day, she’d utterly foregone breakfast. And the previous day’s supper. And all the seven other possible meals, including late-night snacks—an oversight that was already eating at her.

Celestia surveyed her private chambers. On the nightstand, there remained some fruit peels. Some seeds were scattered on the duvet and the Saddle Arabian throw rug. On her writing desk she had some fancy new quills that she momentarily considered gnawing on but ultimately discarded the idea. She didn’t want ink stains on her muzzle. The castle’s pantry and kitchen were on the opposite end of the castle, and she couldn’t risk teleporting indoors. Not after last time. By the doorway out of her personal chambers, something caught her eye.

On a marble pedestal, a flower swung its petals this way and that, like the plates on an attending waiter’s hoof. The cyan leaves dangled seductively, tantalizingly. The crunchy, flavorful, scrumptious, and, most importantly, not plastic flower called her, mesmerized her. Still, Celestia hesitated.

Then somepony knocked on her door, and Celestia stopped hesitating.

Moments later, Celestia finished wiping the leftover petals off her cheek, double-checking the mirror in case she’d missed any. Her stomach let out an unusual, low rumble in gratitude. She made a mental note to come up with a plausible excuse for the vacant flowerpot, as well as to recommend its spicy contents to the castle’s head chef, before magicking the door open.

The slick stallion in a sleek suit bowed to the point that his curly mustache swept the floor. “Your Highness is late,” he said grumpily.

Count Choice Kibble the Second, better known as Kibitz, her Senechal at the time, was just about the most uptight pony to have existed. Rumor had it that any wrinkly clothing left on top of him for more than a few minutes would iron themselves out. He was also the only pony capable of keeping her to any resemblance of a schedule—a trait that would later prove to be hereditary, much to the loss of her sanity.

Celestia put on a Disarming Smile No. Five. “I was preparing myself,” she replied, ”a Princess should appear presentable at all times, don’t you agree?”

“Quite so, Your Highness.” Kibitz made a show of looking at the nearby sundial from the corner of his eye. “But there’s much to do, and appearing late will doubtfully be looked upon graciously by our new canine allies.”

He wheeled around and began walking out. “They’re waiting for us in the courtyard.”

Celestia followed suit, smiling. The day was going to be perfect.

Much like the rest of the castle, the corridor was usually a uniform grey—a predictable result of using cobblestone as a building material, really—but on that very day, it was bathed in all the colors of the rainbow. Detailed banners hung from the rafters. Sheaves and garlands of flowers were on such resplendent display that Celestia could almost have sworn she was walking on a bed of roses. Had she still been hungry, she could’ve hardly resisted a nibble. There were showcases of various spoils of war (all of which would eventually be returned for the sake of improved relations), and every window had been fitted with a fresh stained glass image.

But something didn’t seem right. Celestia had no time to ponder upon it, however, as the doors were opened before them.

A field of metal glinted in the sunlight. Rows upon rows of armored ponies stretched to the far ends of the courtyard. It certainly was a sight to behold, and when Princess Celestia stepped into their view, the sea of guardsponies made a noise as loud as the ocean. The only thing that could have made the spectacle even more impressive was if it had not been followed by the most anticlimactic parade in the History of the Royal Guard.

In their alacrity, the Royal Guard had managed to fill the courtyard in its entirety. No-guard had been willing to miss out on the occasion, which had resulted in the entire Equestrian standing army getting stuffed onto the “cozy” castle courtyard. As such, there was only enough room for each row of soldiers to march maybe two or three steps, four if they were compact before having to turn on their tippy hooves and double back. “It’s the thought that counts,” was how her generals described it to her.

Celestia’s thoughts were altogether elsewhere, however. The odd feeling in her guts had returned.

Her head landed back on the courtyard, where she, deep in thought, had paused for a time that was much less than graceful. The row of soldiers in front of her stared expectantly. Coming up with a way to cover up her faux-pas on the spot, Celestia snuck a chaste kiss onto the forehead of the Captain she’d been in the middle of knighting, playing it off as a sign of gratitude for his service.

That Captain’s wife would later have more than a few choice words with her.

With the ceremony over, Princess Celestia and her slicker-than-slime butler returned indoors. Their next destination: the Royal Hall, which also housed the annual Galloping Gala.

The Hall was no less lavishly decorated than the rest of the castle. Then again, lavish decorations can oftentimes go too far, ending up looking absurd rather than extravagant. Inside the ballroom, where such a crime on design was taking place, the biggest culprits were not the decorations themselves but rather the ponies mingling therein.

It was the part Princess Celestia always hated: the aristocrats’ annual, and now, celebratory, mutual butt-sniffing day. Sadly, her position as a diarch obliged her to be present. She’d developed a procedure on how to minimize her exposure to the mass of entitlement. The plan began with trying to make herself small, failing, and then thinking about teatime until the pony, who had only figuratively pounced on her, tired of monologuing to their heart’s content. True to form, one such mare singled her out and caught her off-guard before she could enact her escape.

Celestia was glad she wasn’t hungry anymore, despite the odd tingle in her tummy—The noblemare was wearing nothing but the weekly consumption’s worth of fruit of a family of five. Ignoring what the mare said came easy. It was always birthright this and tax-exemption that. Until, out of the blue, the mare lowered her voice.

“Forgive your most humble subject, but may I ask Your Highness’ opinion on something?” The mare did a very unflattering spin on her back hooves, causing several on-looking stallions to avert their eyes. “Does this dress make me look—you know—a little big?”

To both Celestia’s utter horror and eternal amusement, her stomach realized that that was the perfect moment to become vocal. And it decided to moo.

The lady gasped. “Well, I never!” she huffed and stormed off, leaving behind a crowd of nobles snickering into their hoofkerchiefs, and one stupefied alicorn.

Princess Celestia used her several centuries’ worth of experience in hiding her emotions to do just that. A revolution had gone off inside her head, and not the spinny kind, flipping priorities with reckless abandon and leaving behind only a single realization, which could be condensed conveniently into two words: “Oh-ow.”

That was when the first kick came from roughly half an inch inside her plot.

Celestia began marching off. “I’m going to go powder the sun before the next event,” she whispered to Kibitz, who stood by tapping his wrist. Once she’d rounded the corner out of the ballroom, and inadvertently bodychecked the waiter taking the corner, she broke into a gallop.

Celestia reminisced that time when the fresh King of the Gryffons had tried to usurp her by offering her a piece of cake spiked with dragon scales. Literally spiked. If she’d known how great knives they made, she wouldn’t have eaten them all as appetizers.

Thus she could only marvel at the superiority that the cyan flower had over alicorn metabolism. Not once did the thought pop into her head that she might’ve seen it somewhere in the Everfree before.

Celestia ground to a halt. She was halfway to the restrooms, but there were hoofsteps. Hoofsteps approaching her fast. She struck a regal pose just in time for an ill-fitting-suit wearing noblestallion to almost barrel into her.

“Princess Celestia!” he said. “Good thing that I found—you...”

The stallion trailed off, blinking at her. Celestia waited, a painful smile on her muzzle. It probably had nothing to do with the ungodly pulsating sensation in her rear end that her patience wore thin quicker than usual.

“May I help you?”

Without tearing his gaze away, the stallion fished out of his suit pocket what was either a legal document or his grocery list. “Yes, I’ve come to you to talk about the improvements I had for the new peace treaty. Your Highness surely remembers.”

Princess Celestia certainly did. She remembered daydreaming about setting the document on fire and stomping on it before doing the same to the stallion himself. The wish for either had yet to diminish.

“I took the liberty of drafting a new one to save you some time.” He smiled in a way he must’ve felt was very much appropriate and not demonizing at all. “I doubt I will have to go over the particulars of the treaty.”

Celestia was about to object when something in her guts kicked. The resulting sound that came out of her luckily sounded like a cough and was easily excused.

“Leave it with my butler,” Celestia said hurriedly and made to walk away. “We’ll go it over in Day Court.”

“But, Your Highness.” The stallion blocked off her exit. It seemed he wouldn’t be dissuaded quite so easily. “Our upcoming treaty with the Diamond Dogs could affect our trade agreement with their underground settlements, not to mention other nations.”

Celestia legitimately considered the stallion’s offer. If she were to accept, the “noblestallion” would get out of her mane, and she’d be free to relieve herself. Had the only pony that stood to benefit from it not been standing right in front of her, she likely would’ve conceded.

The stallion proceeded to go over his petition, point by point. Celestia tried several times to get him to stop, but her efforts were all in vain. She got the strange notion that he might have prepared for this exact scenario if not rehearsed it in front of a practice dummy.

When he reached the end, he procured a quill from somewhere. “If Your Highness would just sign here.”

Her guts kicked again, and Celestia instinctively reached for the quill with her magic.

The quill promptly caught fire and shot off down the corridor.

Celestia stood frozen in place for a good second. She cleared her throat daintily. “My apologies. I’m a little on edge on account of recent events.”

A voice careening out of the hallway galloped to her rescue. “Ow! Your Highness!”

Celestia sighed silently in relief. For an instant, her body went lax, but when something tried to force its way out of her rear end, she straightened herself up again.

Kibitz, with his mysteriously singed whiskers, screeched into a halt in front of the pair. He then got right in her face, no hide nor hair of decorum. “Where have you been? I have the Captain of the Guard breathing down my neck, thinking you’d been kidnapped!”

Princess Celestia was about to soothe him but could not get a word in edgewise. His eyes opened wide, and his pupils shrunk.

What have you done with your mane?!”

Celestia quirked an eyebrow at him. She brushed a lock of her mane into her eyesight and felt her heart, which she’d hardened into the likeness of granite, shatter as she beheld the pure white hair.

Kibitz seemed ignorant of her blight. “This is no time for one of your pranks!” He turned around and ran off. “Hurry up. We’re late for your modeling!”

Celestia felt the remnants of her smile crash on some pointy rocks. She took a few running steps in pursuit but had to pause to tense her hindquarters and eventually resorted to just walking briskly in his wake, calling after him.

The remaining noblestallion was left looking after them with bewilderment. He turned to the parchment in his hooves before lighting it on fire with his magic and stomping on it petulantly.

Celestia stood as motionless as she physically could. She’d already been chewed out, twice, for switching the weight on her hind legs, and that was before she’d attempted to plead for a short recess. The message was clear: she was not to move.

Celestia tried her darndest not to despair. Something in the pit of her stomach shifted. Turned out, despair tasted a lot less of sigh and a lot more like bile.

“Can’t you do it any faster?” Kibitz tapped his hoof on the floor impatiently, gazing out the window every few seconds. “The Princess is going to be late.”

The chipping of marble stopped only momentarily. “Tut-tut. Art takes time. Now, let the master concentrate.”

Perhaps one day, Celestia thought, she’d pass the story onward. It would exhibit how her mountainesque fortitude overpowered the desire to bang her head against a wall.

“And close that window,” the so-called artist shot offhoofedly, “that smelly air is breaking my groove.”

...Or maybe she wouldn’t. That way, she wouldn’t have to let anypony know about her passing gas.

Kibitz went to do as instructed. As he approached the window, the distant sounds of pounding drums, victorious horns, and elated canine howls reached their ears.

The stallion nearly ripped his suit. “The ambassadors! The ambassadors have arrived!”

Before Celestia could fully realize what was happening, Kibitz had carried her out the door. “The sculpture will have to wait!”

The door banged shut behind them, cutting off any haughty objections that might’ve been aimed their way. To her credit, Celestia did eventually manage to convince Kibitz to put her down.

If only he’d understood what she’d meant.

Princess Celestia was a hair’s width away from pulling out her own hair. Her own cursed white mane. If only she could get any remnants of the flower from her system, surely the effects would reverse themselves. Luckily, she’d had time to formulate a plan. She was Princess Celestia—she always had a plan.

Considering she lived there, it should be no surprise that Princess Celestia knew the layout of the Castle of the Two Sisters like the back of her hoof. She knew precisely where she needed to slow down so it would go unnoticed and then make a quick left.

She didn’t know what to do when she saw the out-of-order sign on the restroom door, however. She settled on whimpering pathetically. Not much later, Kibitz was herding her like a foal again and not letting her out of his gaze.

No sooner had they reached the castle’s main entrance were they promptly swarmed. It wasn’t just a typical crowd—there were days when ponies would flock to their Princess, like in times of great duress or hardship and times of magnificent feast. But since most of the Castle Guards were still stuck in the courtyard, it was not difficult for the mass of ponies to overwhelm her.

“She called me fat!”

“Please, Your Highness, try not to move so much. It’s hard to finish your painting.”

“Princess, may I have your autograph? Just sign here, underneath the fine-print.”

Somewhere underneath her tail, there came a sound that, with hope, nopony else heard over the din.

Desperation won out. Celestia gritted her teeth, and a golden veil descended upon her.

The sun shone down from a cloudless sky. An alleyway with a cobblestone path opened up before her. She must’ve been at the heart of the city, near a donut shop she most certainly never frequented, several hundred meters away from where she had been aiming her teleport.

Her horn tingled awkwardly, and the golden light around it suddenly vanished and refused to return, no matter how she coaxed it. Celestia was about to run off and hide when she saw the universal sign with the image of a mare and a stallion toward the other end of the alley.

Buttocks perked like a champagne glass, Celestia stumbled ahead. Something inside her sphincter kicked, and her hooves buckled, but though the soreness, the desire to just give in, was overpowering, her muscles held. Her hooves trembling, she forced herself forward.

Her forehoof touched down on the door.

“There you are, Your Highness!”

Princess Celestia’s scream was mostly on the inside.

“You’ve been just impossible today.” Kibitz appeared in front of her. It would be nearly a millennium before all his mysterious genetic traits were explained when it was discovered he had long-lost descendants living on an isolated rock farm. “Good thing that I found you. The Diamond Dog ambassadors are waiting.”

And then she was being herded back out of the alleyway and away. Away from salvation.

“Kibitz, please, I have to—!”

“It will have to wait.”

They came out in the open.

The magnificent Trotalgar square, the largest open area in the entire city, lay before her eyes. Extravagant mansions holding their shingles up like hoity chins to the sky. Molded clouds sailed in the air, spectators resting upon them. At the very end of the square, past the Arch of Triumph and the Columns of Victory, a makeshift dais had been erected, and atop said dais sat, waiting, several ceremonially dressed Diamond Dogs.

Everywhere else, from the rooftops to the streets, hovering in the air and gathering on the ground, were ponies. And they were all staring at her.

Princess Celestia tried to smile, but she couldn’t find the strength. A solitary tear ran down her cheek.

Heads turned as the ponies of Everfree sought to find the source of the gigantic foghorn that they heard boom. They all stopped the moment they were assaulted by the sight.

And then the smell.

Princess Celestia sipped her tea. Remarkably enough, everything had worked out in the end. The Diamond Dogs, in particular, had been good sports about the event, having since taken to calling her the ‘alpha-mare.’ Celestia was happy for them.

No, really, she was. At least when they got scarred for life, they didn’t have to suffer for a couple of millennia.

Therefore, when her faithful student came over one day and asked what had happened, her reply had, of course, been:

“Fifteen minutes, Twilight.”

Twilight Sparkle seemed rightly confused. “I’m sorry, Princess?”

“You’re on your way to meet my sister, are you not? I trust this is something you first heard from her?” Twilight nodded. “Tell Luna I give her a fifteen-minute head-start.”

Twilight waited patiently for clarification. When she realized none was forthcoming, she responded with an “okay?” and walked out.

Princess Celestia sighed. She was well over a thousand years old, and there were still things in her past that haunted her. Oh, well, she thought, there’s nothing to it, now. It’s nothing but a rumor. It’ll leak into the general populace before the day’s over.


Celestia chuckled mirthlessly. Some fights you just couldn’t win.