Summerjack was the most beautiful mare in all of the land. She had orange skin that shone in the summer days, and a golden mane and tail of pure sunlit fire. She was tall and fair, and all the nobility of Canterlot looked to her as the epitome of beauty (though of course, she detested such practices, as she always felt true beauty came with being honest to yourself not others).
She was the Alicorn ruler of Equestria, beloved by her people. She was very wise, hiding nothing from her subjects or the rulers of other kingdoms. She was dependable, always keeping her word. She had a soft spot for earth ponies, and often donated large tracts of land for them to farm on. She protected her subjects, and guided them (though she sometimes wished they had the common sense to guide themselves).
She was a mare of many hobbies. She loved to fly, and made it a point to study magic. Her latest beloved student, Twilight, was almost as knowledgeable as she was on the subject, and she enjoyed reading her friendship reports. Summerjack had many other friends too, and in truth, she was one of the luckiest mares in the world.
So why, why, did Summerjack have a feeling of dread this morning.
Ah, probably her family.
With a sigh, she turned away from the balcony. For the past few weeks she had been dealing with the aftermath of a very nasty parasprite infestation in Trottingham. Some families had to be evacuated immediately. Only just this morning had the fair land been returned to its previous owners.
She had been looking forward to an immensely selfish and gratifying day off. And while her family was special to her... sometimes they didn't understand the value of taking it easy.
“SISTER!!!” Spring Bloom leaped into the air, tackling Summerjack onto the ground. Summerjack gather the air back into her lungs as her younger sister began yelling again. “SISTER WE HAVE FORTUITOUS NEWS!!!”
“Inside voice Bloom, inside voice…” Summerjack desperately pleaded.
It wasn’t that she didn’t love her sister. On the contrary. After Twilight had saved Spring Bloom from a thousand years trapped in The Eternal Tree, she relished every chance she had to spend time with her. But… to be honest, a thousand years in Everfree Forest did very little for Bloom’s social skills. She still had trouble with the Royal Canterlot Voice, and the ‘royal we’, and the jealousy that she still wasn’t old enough to have a flowing mane and was stuck with regular hair.
“APOLOGIES!!!” Spring Bloom said. She paused, and coughed silently. “I mean… my apologies sister.”
“No… no it’s alright.” Summerjack sighed. “Just… what’s the great news? Did your mane…”
“DID IT!!?” Spring Bloom springed up, whirling around on the spot to see if her mane was finally flowing.
She turned her infamous ‘fishpout face’ on her sister. “Summerjack… ‘twas fowl play.”
“I’m sorry, I thought…” Summerjack sighed, deciding that he sister was a mystery best left to philosophers. “Never mind. What did you have to tell me Bloom?”
“Oh!” Spring Bloom immediately brightened. “Yes! WE HAVE PORTENTS OF FORTUNE!! LOOK SISTER!! GAZE UPON OUR DESTINY!!”
Summerjack used pushing away the poster Springbloom had shoved in her face as an excuse to perform her breathing exercises. They really were quite useful, she was glad Princess Eros had taught them to her.
The poster was for a performance by Octavia.
Summerjack knew Octavia… she couldn’t stand orchestral music, ordinarily western was her thing. She had some fond memories of 600 years ago when ponies were still settling in Equestria and weren’t afraid to hoe-down with their princess. But Octavia was related to them, distantly. Princess Fiddlesticks of the Seaponies was her sister.
“Er… yes, very nice Bloom.” Summerjack said with a faint smile. “If I may ask… what…”
“DOST THOU NOT COMPREHEND!!??”
“SORRY!! You see, maybe if I can go onstage and perform with Octavia in her next Springwarming Concert, maybe I’ll be able to realize my full potential as the avater of spring and my mane will BECOME FULL!!”
Summerjack pushed aside her indoor voice complaint for a more prominent, and infinitely more ominous issue.
“Bloom… I love you… but you do remember the last time you tried to play music?”
“TWAS’ AN ACCIDENT!!!”
“Manehatten almost burned down. Completely.”
“‘TWAS A DEVIOUS AND SCHEMING INSTRUMENT!!”
“It was a triangle.”
“A VIOLIN IS UNDOUBTEDLY LESS COMPLICATED THAN A TRIANGLE!!”
Summerjack sighed, and was about to explain how very complicated it was to play a violin, when such instruments were made for Minotaurs and ponies did not have the necessary fingers and the few ponies who could master the violin were prodigies.
But just then, the door burst open, and the room entered into a cold chill, the likes of which have not been felt on this world since the time the Windigoes roamed Equestria. As well it should feel… the being who entered the room was said to be older than the Windigoes, older than any other alicorn, and capable of destroying each and every one of them with a blink, and a stern look.
If she could for one minute become vaguely aware of her surroundings.
“Summerjack!” Bellowed the Winter Smith, as the elder alicorn hobbled shakily into the room. “I lost my cane!”
Summerjack sighed, but consoled herself that at least this could be resolved quickly. “Okay, okay. Where did you last put it.”
The Winter Smith shrugged. “Well, I guess it was when I was playing ‘fetch’ with Winona.” Winona being their pet Windigo. “I must’a threwn it clean into the sun!”
Summerjack paled. “Granny… Winona didn’t go after it did she?”
“O’ course not!” The Winter Smith scoffed. “She only gave me an impertinent look. And now I need you to help my weary bones on an epic quest through Equestria for my new cane just like the good old days!”
“She can’t!” Springbloom spoke up, anxiously. “She promised me she’d teach me how to play the violin!”
Summerjack had never promised to give her life for one of her younger sister’s suicide plans, and was about to tell her so when the doors opened a third time and her least favorite relative showed up.
“Auntie Summerjack!” Prince Orangeblood said, strutting into the room as if he owned it (which he sort of did but it still made Summerjack angry).
“Auntie Summerjack!” He said, in that whiny voice of his. “One of the wheels on my royal carriage fell off! I demand you fire the Royal Mechanic!”
Normally, she would have tried to be patient with him, try to get him to get over himself, but this was a bad day and she wanted to rest!
“NO!!” Summerjack bellowed. “GET A LIFE ORANGEBLOOD!!”
Orangeblood harrumphed. “Well.” He said. “I would have thought my dear auntie could spare some moments for her favorite nephew, but obviously –”
The doors opened again.
Summerjack rounded on the new visitors, eager for a distraction from Orangeblood, and smiled softly when she realized it was he niece, Princess Eros Seed, and Shining Armor the captain of her guard. “Oh, thank me it’s you two.”
“Your majesty.” Shining Armor bowed reverently. “We have important news –”
“We’re gonna be MMMMMMMMMMAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEED!!!” Eros Seed slipped into the Royal Canterlot voice in her excitement.
“That’s wonderful news.” Summerjack said, rubbing her temples with a sigh. Her headache was getting really bad. “Really, I’m happy for you bo–”
“ROSES AND TULIPS, THIS NEWS IS INDEED MAGNIFICENT!!!” Bloom cried in response.
Orangeblood’s eyes shot up. “Princess Eros! Are you seriously suggesting you are going to marry this commoner?”
E.S. rolled her eyes. Her cutie mark was a crystal patterned heart, signifying her power for love. Her coat was a darker shade of orange than most of the family’s, and her hair a deeper red, but she was still beautiful. In Summerjack’s opinion, she was the only pony capable of judging who she could marry, and she deserved a stallion like Shining Armor.
Eros Seed exchanged hugs and kisses with her younger aunt and turned her cute freckled face to her older aunt. “Alright, so I know this is short notice, But I’ve had Shining Armor compile a list of things we need.” She unrolled a scroll. And it continued to unroll until it fell off the balcony. And Sumerjack suddenly revised her opinion of this wedding’s viability.
“We need a choir of birds, a sonic rainboom, bridesmaids, back-up bridesmaids, flower girls, back-up flower girls, flowers, flower ribbons, professional bee protectors, a wedding dress, a back-up wedding dress, a dress for the bachelorette party, a dress for the reception, a dress for the honeymoon, and a back-up dress for each! Something old and something new, something borrowed, and something blue, we need to organize some sort of phony attack or invasion beforehand to make the wedding memorable, we need to write wedding invitations to every pony in Canterlot, and Ponyville, and the Griffon ambassadors, and the Minotaur ambassadors, and the Dragon ambassadors, and the Bovine ambassadors, and the Donkey ambassadors, and the Zebra ambassadors, and the Seaponies, and we need a pair of magic wedding rings –”
Summerjack stopped her there. “Woah nelly there.” She said, hushing her niece. “This is something special, and we have to take things one at a time. Otherwise there’ll be –”
The voice was obnoxious and grating, with a distinctive twang of un-education.
“Oh no.” Summerjack moaned. “Hayseed? Hayseed, I am not in the mood for you today.”
The Draconequus poofed in front of her. A mismatch of various animals, a donkey’s head, a dragon’s horn, an Owl’s eyes, a buck tooth, a lobster claw, a tiger’s paw…
“But I’m in the mood for fun!” Hayseed giggled. “Do ya have any idea how much chaos ya can make when ya crash a wedding?”
“Arrest him!” Orangeblood cried.
The Winter Smith whacked him upside the head with her cane.
Summerjack stared at her.
“Granny, you have your cane.”
The Winter Smith threw her cane over her shoulder. It landed on the balcony and melted. “What cane? My cane’s lost! You have a hearing problem? Now come on, let’s go on an andventure!”
“Granny, I have to deal with Hayseed before I adventure with you.” Summerjack said, tiredly wishing she didn’t have to deal with Hayseed today, poking him as he lay on the ground.
“Why don’t you just turn him into a lawn ornament or some such?” Orangeblood asked.
Summerjack sighed. “We don’t do that to family.” She said. “It was bad enough when Springbloom got herself trapped trying to get her mane, I’m not losing Hayseed, no matter how annoying he is. He’s not even the least annoying member of this family.”
She sent Prince Orangeblood a sidelong glance, wondering whether he got her meaning. But he simply shrugged, acknowledging there was a royal family member out there Summerjack disliked worse than Hayseed, and comforted that it wasn’t him.
“Well then, can you at least send him away.” Orangeblood sniffed. “Have him keep the Winter Smith company in her snowflake forge –”
“I’m not having that ruffian in my forge!” The Winter Smith bellowed. “Besides, I’ll be leaving on a quest for my cane –”
“Your easily replaceable cane.” Summerjack muttered.
“- And I have no time for his shenanigans!” She finished.
“BUT WE MUST LEARN THE VIOLIN!!” Springbloom cried.
“Guys, seriously.” Summerjack moaned, massaging her temples. “I kind of had this day all planned for me –”
The doors opened again.
And in strode an enormous alicorn stallion, a deep shade of red with golden hair the same color as dead leaves. He was massive – easily a half taller than Summerjack, with wings like a dragon and a horn the size of a broom.
He was flanked by an extremely attractive unicorn mare.
Summerjack had been alive for over a thousand years. She knew what was coming.
“Big Fall.” She said, desperately crossing her feathers in hope. “Is there about to be a new member of the royal family?”
Sheepishly, the stallion pawed at the ground. “Eenope.”
He gulped. “Two new members.”
“Land’s sake, do not try to muddle this issue with mathematics!” Summerjack cried.
“Blasphemy!” Orangeblood cried.
“I’m an auntie again!” Springbloom cheered.
“Oh how romantic!” Princess eros cooed. “Princess Summerjack, we need to start planning a baby shower – Shiny honey, make a note –”
Too much, too much, way too much. Summerjack was reeling. She was too tired, she’d planned this week specifically for herself.
With a great sense of relief, she noticed a green flame and a scroll materializing in front of her.
“SILENCE!!” She bellowed in the Royal Canterlot Voice.
The room went quiet.
“Now, as much I would love to deal with the spirit of chaos, or arrest an innocent, or teach my younger sister how to make ears bleed, or go on an epic quest for a cane that’s probably melted by now, or plan a wedding, or deal with my big brother inflating our family again, all of this sounds fun but NO! I AM THE PRIME PRINCESS of EQUESTRIA! And I will DO what I LIKE!! And right now I am going to read my student’s friendship report!!”
She tore open the scroll, ready to read a happy tale of lessons learned and friendship’s victories.
Dear Princess Summerjack
I’m just writin’ to say… I didn’t learn anything today! I was right all along!
With Love, from your most loyal subject.
Who is right now at this very moment drinking fresh frothin’ apple cider at Sweet Apple Acres.
Summerjack’s eyes boiled over with relentless rage. Her voice boiled over into the Royal Canterlot Voice. “SSSSUUUUNNNNNNYYYY!!!”
At Sweet Apple Acres, a mare sat across from two stallions at a table. The table was set outside of the farm, and right next to a giant Super-Cider-Squeezy-6000. Atop the Squeezy, was a growing pile of possessions.
The two stallions looked exactly alike; both were yellow unicorns, with long red manes and cider cutie-marks. The only way to tell them apart was the moustache one wore.
The mare on the other hand, was unique. She was a rare albino earth pony, with a figure to die for and the stamina and strength of twenty unicorns like the ones seated before her. Her rainbow colored mane curled around her shoulders, ending in two neat ribbons. She wore a Stetson on her head, the same Stetson that her apple cutie mark wore, representing the prodigious thinker she was. She'd considered changing her name to 'thinking cap', but she was smart enough to realize that was both an arrogant and a stupid idea.
Her name was Sunny Apples. She was the current manager of Sweet Apple Acres.
She rolled a pair of die, and it came up spider snake-eyes.
“Pay up boys.” She said with a smirk and a drawl.
The brothers looked at each other in a panic. “Now miss… you already have our machine, our money, and the clothes off our backs…”
“Then you should’ve known better than to gamble yer last possession.” With a smirk, she rolled a straw around in her mouth. “Git to it.”
With tears in his eyes, Flam raised a pair of shaky scissors… and cut off his moustache.
“Awe, don’t cry.” she said, experimentally putting the handlebar moustache on her own snout. “I was really bein’ generous lettin’ y’all gamble yer moustache. Nopony could be that foolish, could they?”
“You can’t do this!” Flim slammed his hooves into the table. “You’re nothing but an earth pony!”
“That’s like sayin’ Summerjack’s just an Alicorn.” The mare growled, glaring daggers at them. “Ah’m the best. Now git off mah farm.”
With a last sorrowful look at the Super Cider Squeezy 6000, the pair of con artists left.
Her family had lived here ever since Princess Summerjack had lent her family the land. It had prospered when her Grandpappy Crabapple (with whom she shared an affinity for gambling) had ventured into the forest alone, as a colt, and emerged with a Zap Apple. And those Flim Flam stallions thought they could take it from her?
She’d earned her cutie mark in managing the farm. Management of all kinds, financial, marketing, pony hiring, you name it. She had the head for business, and the hat to go with it. That, and she was one of the Elements of Harmony. The element of Loyalty to be specific. She couldn’t imagine what would have happened if she’d had the element of Honesty like Rainbow Dash. The world might implode.
“So, now we got their fancy doohickey?” said her grandpappy’s voice from behind her. It was a smooth and luxurious voice, and it suited him. He had a long whispy goatee, and his eyes were a jaundiced yellow and red, but he was still ten times more cunning than any pony on the planet, and he knew it.
“Yeah, we got it Grandpappy crabapple.” Sunny Apple nodded.
“Well done Sunny.” Crabapple chuckled, at the joke of calling his granddaughter ‘sonny’. “Sweet Core? Be a dear and lug this thing into the barn, would you?”
Sweet Core was the apple family’s resident pink pony. She was huge though, bigger than most stallions, and stronger too. Hooking up the brother’s contraption, the shy earth pony pulled it along.
“With any luck Moon Apple will get her cutie mark operating that thing.” Crabapple nodded, sagely.
“Well, that’d be a right treat.” Sunny said with a smile.
That girl… Sunny loved her sister to pieces, but there were times when her crusading got out of hand. It didn’t help that with her younger sister’s insomnia, she wasn’t awake half the time they crusaded and during the other half came up with ideas that were the opposite of well thought out.
“By the by, I’m expectin’ royal company soon.” Sunny said with a smirk. “Ya got those special barrels out?”
“Yep.” Crabapple nodded. And just in time. The winds blew like a summer hurricane, the sun brightened, and with a brief flash Princess Summerjack was there.
Sunny smugly sauntered up to the alicorn, as Twilight scurried to meet the two of them.
“Princess Summerjack!” Twilight cried. She ran over to her old friend and mentor. “I didn’t know you were comin–”
“SUNNY APPLE!” The Princess yelled in her Royal Canterlot Voice.
Sunny looked mildly surprised at the outburst. “Yes your majesty?”
“I have had a bad week.” Princess Summerjack growled. “And exceptionally bad week. And a worse day. With this in mind – why exactly did you write me a letter, actually going so far as to include your drawl in the transcription, for the sole purpose of boasting about your family goods?”
Twilight gasped, and shot looks of betrayel at Sunny and Spike.
Sunny didn’t let anything rattle her. Usually. But this time, she blushed and let loose a weak chuckle before holding up a mug of cider. “I read the news. Figured you’d had a rough time of it. Thought maybe you could mosey down and share a drink with me and the girls.”
The Princess stared at the mug.
“You couldn’t have just invited me?” She asked.
“Would you have come if I’d asked?” Sunny countered.
“No.” The Princess answered. “No I would not have you sneaky, devious, manipulative… loyal little pony.” She smiled, and took the mug from Sunny, taking a sip. “Thank you. This is just what I needed.”
Sunny grinned, and gestured to the rest of the Elements. “Come on gals! This here is some of our Sweet Apple Acres Special Cider… fer family only.”
Family is a wonderful thing. Thought Summerjack. Give or take a few mugs of cider.