The Princess Filly, Chapter II

Aug 31st, 2019
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  1. "I'm still not entirely sold on this whole 'becoming an alicorn' thing. Can you guys explain it to me again?"
  2. <"Certainly. Ascension to the alicorn race is earned through a prodigious feat of magic, performed in the service of other ponies."
  3. <"For example, Princess Celestia ascended when she first single-hoofedly raised the Sun. Similarly, Luna ascended by raising the Moon. Princess Twilight, I'm told, ascended when she became the first pony to incorporate friendship magic into a written spell, a breakthrough which has redefined the arcane sciences."
  4. "Yeah, but I'm an earth pony."
  5. <"It is not necessary to be a unicorn to perform great feats of magic. The pink princess, whose… name escapes me right now…"
  6. "Cadance?"
  7. <"Yes, her. I've been made to understand that she was born a pegasus."
  8. "So what did she do?"
  9. <"Hrm… I don't believe I ever asked. Rockhoof, you're a keeper of tales."
  10. ^"Oh, it was something… about… flying. Or weather, maybe. Ah, the point Starswirl is trying tae make is, all three tribes hae got some sort of magic in them."
  11. <"Indeed. Why, Rockhoof here is perhaps the most powerful earth mage alive today."
  12. ^"I'm the only earth mage alive taday, though such things were common in the olden days."
  13. "Right, okay, sure, got it. So earth ponies have some kind of magic too. There's still one thing I don't understand though."
  14. ^"What's that, lass?"
  15. "Why do I have to be blindfolded while you guys throw rocks at me?"
  16. ^"These are but pebbles, lass."
  17. >to emphasize his point, Rockhoof sends a pebble bouncing off of your flank
  18. "Well they suck."
  19. >Rockhoof sighs
  20. ^"Och, tak off the blindfold then."
  21. >the Sun stings your eyes
  22. >Rockhoof sighs
  23. ^"It's a bit of a shortcut. Sometimes a blank-flanked foal will have a natural talent for earth magics, and they'll earn their cutie mark during that test. It would hae made things a bit easier for us if it had worked."
  24. "Oh. Well, sorry for sucking."
  25. ^"It's nae your fault. Any earth pony can learn earth magics. I'll just teach you the slow way."
  26. >Starswirl smiles
  27. <"Alas, I must attend to less amusing work now. Rockhoof, do make sure our little princess gets to bed at a decent hour. The Sun won't be setting tonight, so make sure you listen for the clock tower."
  29. >Rockhoof has led you to the center of the hedge maze
  30. "So earth ponies are all about strength, right? What are we gonna do? Sparring? Smashing rocks?"
  31. >Rockhoof snorts
  32. ^"I dinnae think you're quite ready tae face me in sparring, wee princess."
  33. >glancing up and down Rockhoof's frame, you can see he's easily over three times your size
  34. "Fair enough."
  35. >Rockhoof chuckles
  36. >then points to a little flowerbed
  37. ^"No, the first thing we're going tae do is gardening."
  38. >Rockhoof lays down in front of some small, dead flowers
  39. "Gardening? Like, flowers?"
  40. ^"Aye. And eventually vegetables. In a few years maybe a nice, big grove of oak trees. Come here, lass, look at these petunias."
  41. >you trot over to lie beside the massive warrior
  42. ^"Earth magics are very subtle, Anonym……"
  43. >he coughs
  44. ^"Och, how do I say tha name of yours, lass?"
  45. "Just call me Anon."
  46. ^"Anon, earth magics are very subtle. There are no fancy spells or such for us. A garden you tend does just a little bit better. A blow you land lands just a little bit harder. It boils down to blood and soil. Mastery over your body, and mastery over the earth."
  47. >Rockhoof gently plucks a dead, dry thing from the end of the flower with his teeth
  48. >and drops it in front of you
  49. ^"Crack open that pod. Careful, now."
  50. >using your teeth, you do so
  51. >try as you might to keep it from touching your tongue, a few fragments of the thing land there
  52. >you grimace and spit out the bitter, dead plant matter
  53. ^"Look. Look in the pod."
  54. "It's full of seeds."
  55. ^"Aye, so 'tis. Plant them."
  56. >you spend the next few minutes scraping out holes with your hooves and dropping seeds in them
  57. ^"Not so close."
  58. ^"Too deep."
  59. >when the seeds are properly covered up, Rockhoof stands
  60. ^"Petunias are flowers that live and die very quickly. You could raise five generations of them before winter falls."
  61. >Rockhoof nods
  62. ^"That will do for today. You've been through quite a lot already. Just remember, this garden is yours now."
  64. >your days are to be divided as follows:
  65. >in the afternoons, it's earth magics with Rockhoof
  66. >but in the mornings, it's princess training with Starswirl
  67. <"The first thing you must learn is royal etiquette."
  68. "Well, how much can there really be to that? It's just table manners and stuff, right?"
  69. <"There is a great deal to it. And you must master the fundamentals quickly, for your coronation is at the end of this week."
  70. "Coronation? Like a ceremony? That seems like a bit much."
  71. <"Ceremony is an important part of diplomacy. It's best you learn it now."
  72. "Geez. You keep talking like the real princesses aren't coming back."
  73. <"One may hope for the best, Anonymous, but one must also prepare for the worst. The princesses are an integral part of this land. It is of the utmost importance that you are legitimized in the eyes of the masses as quickly as possible."
  74. "All right, fine, what do I gotta do?"
  75. <"The first thing ponies will see about you is your poise. You must keep your head elevated, level, and forward-facing at all times."
  76. >you bring your head to the position Starswirl described
  77. "Like this?"
  78. <"Yes. However, I advise you exclude the silly facial expression."
  79. >you realize that you've unconsciously put on a grave, stern look to go with the poise
  80. >as you're wiping that away, Starswirl retrieves a crystal dinner plate
  81. >and sets it down on top of your head
  82. "Heh? What did you do that for?!"
  83. >the plate slides off of your head
  84. >and shatters on the ground next to you
  85. >the sound of it startles you into jumping
  86. <"The only way to keep from breaking the plate is to maintain the appropriate royal poise. You are to wear your plate during your princess training for the rest of the week. By the time you are crowned, the royal poise should come as naturally to you as breathing."
  87. >he sets another plate on your head
  88. "But that's nonsense!"
  89. >the plate shatters on the ground
  90. "You show me how to do it!"
  91. <"Alas, with my horn it is impossible. However…"
  92. >Starswirl's horn flashes
  93. >Rockhoof stands before you
  94. >covered in water and pink soap suds
  95. >a rubber duck on his back
  96. >and what appears to be steel wool in his mouth
  97. >he spits out the steel wool
  98. ^"Starswirl, old friend! What's the emergency?"
  99. <"Oh, it's nothing so dire as all that. Our little princess could use some moral support. Would you mind showing her how to carry a plate on your head?"
  100. >Rockhoof looks at you
  101. >and grins
  102. ^"Ah, ha ha ha hah! Of course."
  103. >Rockhoof grabs a plate in his teeth
  104. >tosses it into the air
  105. >and catches it on his head
  106. ^"It's like I was saying. Earth magic is about mastery of the body. This sort of thing comes much easier to earth ponies than it does to unicorns."
  107. >Rockhoof launches himself into the air
  108. >and lands on one forehoof
  109. >all the while holding his head up
  110. >and the plate stays in one piece
  111. <"So you see, it isn't nonsense at all. In fact, it's quite possible."
  112. >Starswirl sets another plate down on your head
  113. >why did you take this job again?
  115. >four days to the coronation
  116. "So we're not going to the garden today?"
  117. ^"Oh, we'll visit your garden in a bit. But first, I want to show you mine."
  118. "Your garden?"
  119. ^"Aye. It's right over yonder."
  120. >you follow Rockfoof to a corner of the royal garden
  121. "It wouldn't happen to be that grove of massive oak trees, would it?"
  122. ^"Sharp lass, it is indeed. Come on then."
  123. >you're surprised to see that Rockhoof actually vanishes among the trees
  124. >this grove can't be more than 20 feet around
  125. >and then you step inside for yourself
  126. >whoah
  127. "It's like stepping inside a forest."
  128. >from the center of the grove, it's impossible to tell that you're in the middle of Canterlot
  129. >you can't see, or even hear, anything beyond the tree line
  130. >unseen insects whirr their contentment
  131. >birds cry out to one another
  132. >a small spring burbles into a tiny brook, which flows out of the grove and presumably down Canterlot Mountain
  133. >Rockhoof laughs
  134. ^"I'm glad you're impressed. I planted it myself, over one thousand years ago. There was no Canterlot in those days, just the mountain."
  135. "It's great."
  136. ^"Aye. Do ye think you can tell me why I'd make a grove on this spot?"
  137. "Um… it wouldn't be the view, would it?"
  138. ^"Hah! Good guess, but no. Here…"
  139. >Rockhoof fishes a small stone out of the brook and tosses it at your hooves
  140. ^"Try to crush that stone."
  141. "Are you serious?"
  142. >Rockhoof grins
  143. ^"Aye."
  144. >you sit back on your haunches and take the rock in both hooves
  145. >you hold the rock between your forehooves like a vise
  146. >and press as hard as you can
  147. "Holy fuck!"
  148. >a cloud of fine powder floats about your face and tickles your throat
  149. >your hooves just clapped together
  150. >like there was fucking nothing there
  151. >your face splits into a massive grin
  152. >and you repeat the expletive over and over again
  153. "Holy fuck holy fuck holy fuck holy fuck!"
  154. ^"Hah! Do ye see now, little Anon? This is a place of power."
  155. "No kidding!"
  156. ^"All the magic in the world seeps up out of the earth. All the magic in the earth flows through channels called leylines. This is a spot where two leylines meet, where the magic is so strong that it seeps into the air. That's why I made the grove here."
  157. "So that the earth magic would help the trees grow?"
  158. ^"Eh, nae quite. It's more to keep the magic under control. A well-tended grove channels the leyline magic as earth magic, which is nice and peaceful compared to unicorn magic, or even pegasus magic."
  159. >Rockhoof shakes his head
  160. ^"Many such intersections have places that do channel the magic as unicorn magic, and nearly every single one of them is a place of evil."
  161. ^"Letting the magic seep wild can be bad too. The Everfree Forest was once a grove like this one, but I've been given tae understand that it grew wild as the practice of earth magics died out, and there were no more earth mages tae tend it."
  162. "So earth mages used to go around planting groves on these intersections?"
  163. ^"Aye. In a way, you could say we were gardeners for magic itself."
  164. "And the earth magic from the groves is what gives your strength."
  165. ^"Well, not in my particular case. I was a fairly weak earth mage, once upon a time. But one day my village was in danger from a volcano, so I dug a trench along a leyline to take the lava tae the sea. As I was digging, I came across an artifact that gave me my great strength and powerful earth magics. Many such artifacts can be found buried along the leylines. However, yes, it was the common way with earth mages tae be strengthened by tending the groves."
  166. "So you're sort of like a muscle wizard, huh?"
  167. ^"Hah! You could say that."
  169. >two days to the coronation
  170. <"Start again."
  171. "Oh, fuck you!"
  172. >the plate slides off your head and shatters on the floor
  173. >Starswirl magics a new one it its place
  174. <"Please try not to spout profanities from the podium during the real address."
  175. "Okay. Okay, sure. Give me a fucking second-"
  176. >the plate slides off your head again as you reorganize your notes
  177. >Starswirl waits for you to look up again before replacing it
  178. >coronation speech rehearsal thingy, take 17
  179. "Fellow ponies of Equestria, it is with great honor that I accept this crown."
  180. "It is a symbol of the great trust you have placed in me, and of my commitment to live up to that trust."
  181. "Equestria is a great nation, and even in the face of the tragic loss of our beloved princesses, we will carry on."
  182. >you groan
  183. "Starswirl, I'm still not sure about that line. It sounds like I'm saying that the real princesses are dead or something."
  184. <"The other princesses, Princess Anonymous. They are the other princesses, not the real princesses. You are a princess, and you must start thinking of yourself as such. Imagine if the public heard you-"
  185. "Yeah, okay, it sounds like I'm saying the other princesses are dead. Can we get that line changed?"
  186. >Starswirl sighs
  187. <"I'll see what I can do. Continue."
  188. "Equestria is a nation that has overcome hardship after hardship for over a thousand years, and by the power of our harmony and friendship, this great Equestrian tradition shall go on for a thousand years more."
  189. >you cringe
  190. "Are you sure I should be predicting hardship? Like, maybe I should be predicting peace and prosperity instead?"
  191. <"In this country, any prediction of peace you could give would be proven false in a week."
  192. "Fair enough."
  193. "As the Sun rises, and so does the Moon…"
  194. >you look up at Starswirl
  195. >the obvious objection is clearly showing in your eyes
  196. <"I am aware that the Moon has not risen all week."
  197. >right
  198. >just making sure
  199. "… so too shall Equestria rise up, stronger than ever before."
  200. "And who, my fellow ponies, is to blame for our misfortunes?"
  201. "What band of international capitalists has bled our nation dry with their greed and deception?"
  202. "GRIFFONS!"
  203. >Starswirl sputters
  204. <"That's not what I wrote!"
  205. >you're fighting hard to keep that grin off of your face
  206. "I improved it."
  207. <"With what? A declaration of race war?!"
  208. >you're pretty sure you're losing the fight
  209. "Yes?"
  210. <"Wh-hrm-gh-gah!"
  211. >heh
  212. >no wonder this guy is Twilight's idol
  213. <"Start over!
  214. >oh
  215. >the plate falls off of your head again
  217. >the night before the coronation
  218. >at least, that's what the clock tells you
  219. >obviously, it hasn't been night ever since Celestia and Luna disappeared
  220. >now, the whole pomp and ceremony shit is definitely bullshit
  221. >but you still couldn't sleep
  222. >n-not because you're excited or anything
  223. >just because
  224. >you decided to head out to the middle of the hedge maze
  225. >to look at your garden
  226. >the ugly little flowerbed became a lot less ugly once you pulled out all the dead flowers and weeds
  227. >actually, you ate most of the weeds
  228. >the petunia seeds you planted have already sprouted
  229. >they've got little stems about three inches high
  230. >and little leaves
  231. >and some of them even have little flower-buds
  232. >someone steps up to the other side of the garden
  233. >"Excuse me. Are you Princess Anonymous?"
  234. >you look up at the unexpected company
  235. >he's a tall, skinny unicorn
  236. >he's got a black cloth tied over his face
  237. >and a rapier in his magic
  238. "Uh, yeah. Just call me Anon, the coronation's not til tomorrow."
  239. >"My apologies. Anon, prepare to die."
  240. "Eh?"
  241. >the sword flashes at you like silver lightning
  242. >you barely roll out of the way in time
  243. >but not before shrieking like a little girl
  244. >what?
  245. >in a manner of speaking, you are a little girl right now
  246. >anyway
  247. >you're currently galloping through the maze as quickly as your stubby filly legs will carry you
  248. >you may or may not still be screaming girlishly
  249. >but you have a good reason to be screaming
  250. >after all
  251. >the asassin is gaining on you
  252. >you've got one small cause for hope now
  253. >you've been taking this route out of the maze every day for a week
  254. >you know the path
  255. >does he?
  256. >all you have to do is lose him at one turn
  257. >and, hey, even if you don't lose him
  258. >as long as you can get out of the maze, you can scream for the guards
  259. >you won't get lost
  260. >you can't get lost
  261. >you run face-first into a leafy dead-end
  262. >well shit
  263. >you got lost
  264. >and the asassin
  265. >is closing in
  266. >"Ah, poor Anon. It seems this is the end of the line."
  267. >hot tears threaten to break loose from your eyes
  268. "H-heh. My own asassin. I guess this means I'm really important, huh?"
  269. >"Yes, mon cherie. You will be a very important pony, for the next minute or so."
  270. >it seems he plans to advance upon you with needless slowness
  271. >sick fuck probably wants to watch you cry
  272. >well
  273. >you're give him exactly that, then
  274. "Oh, man. I never wrote that book."
  275. >you close your eyes
  276. "I never climbed that mountain."
  277. >tears force their way through your eyelids and race down your face
  278. "I never even tried a pineapple pizza."
  279. >"Death is a cruel mistress, little Anon. She comes to claim us all before we're ready."
  280. >when you open your eyes, the asassin stands over you
  281. >his sword ready for the strike
  282. "W-w-w-wait, wait, wait, wait. Can I just get, like, 10 seconds to scream for help?"
  283. >"If it would make you feel better."
  284. "Thanks. You're very polite for a guy who murders fillies."
  285. >then you let loose
  287. >then you wait
  288. >and listen
  289. >"So sorry, mon cherie. It seems noone heard you."
  290. "Fine. Just get it over with."
  291. >"It will be quick and painless, I promise."
  292. >you close your eyes
  293. >there's a sound like an explosion
  294. >is it the sound of you going to Heaven?
  295. >or at least Purgatory?
  296. >when you open your eyes, there's a shovel blocking the rapier from reaching you
  297. >the shovel twists up
  298. >and the sword snaps
  299. >you follow the handle of the shovel back to a pair of teal jaws
  300. >Rockhoof!
  301. >he's all covered in leaves and branches
  302. >as though he just busted through the maze instead of navigating it
  303. >which is really, really fine by you
  304. >"This seems like the time to make my exit!"
  305. >smoke spills from the asassin's horn til you can't see anything
  306. >when the smoke clears, you find yourself clinging to Rockhoof's leg
  307. >and the asassin is gone
  308. ^"There, there, wee princess. You're safe now. Though Starswirl will insist on keeping guards with you at all times from now on."
  309. "I'm okay with that."
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