The Princess Filly, Chapter IV

Aug 31st, 2019
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  1. >the picture that now adorns your butt is a simple black question mark
  2. >you sure as shit couldn't figure out what it means
  3. >but Rockhoof had an idea when he saw it
  4. ^"To be sure, it could be an earth magic cutie mark."
  5. >apparently cutie marks in earth magic tend to be simple shapes and symbols
  6. >symbols one could mark in the dirt with a stick
  7. >like Rockhoof's cutie mark, which is a simple trio of black triangles
  8. >but why a question mark?
  9. >Starswirl thinks that the Aether may have been partially confused by your alien soul
  10. >Rockhoof argues that that's impossible though
  11. >he thinks that the question mark must have had some significance in your native culture
  12. >but that would be kind of depressing
  13. >the only culture you were ever a part of that valued the question mark was imageboard culture
  14. >regardless, you have been feeling sort of stronger since you got it
  15. >so you would at least agree that it's an earth magic cutie mark
  16. >as for Blueblood?
  17. "I want that fucker's head on a plate."
  18. <"You're well within your rights to have it, Anonymous, but do you really think it's the wisest choice?"
  19. "Well, I mean, it probably wouldn't look good if I started off my reign by offing my only rival to the throne."
  20. <"True."
  21. "And… when Twilight gets back she'll probably bitch at me about something something reforming the bad guys…"
  22. <"She most certainly would."
  23. >you had Blueblood locked up in a dungeon somewhere
  24. >when Twilight gets back she can "reform" him or whatever herself
  25. >anyway, it's now day 7 since the coronation
  26. >and now that all the asassination craziness is over
  27. >Spike is finally on his way over
  28. >you've cleared out your schedule for the morning to meet him at the train station
  29. >it's the first time you've left the palace grounds since Starswirl teleported you there two weeks ago
  30. >and man, it sure feels good to be out in the open for once
  31. >now if only you could have ditched the regiment of guards and the anal-retentive wizard
  32. >at long last, Ponyville's Friendship Express screeches to a stop in the station
  33. >ponies point you out and whisper as they trot out of the train
  34. >now this should be the one Spike came on
  35. >but where could he-
  36. ~"Anon!"
  37. >you look up just in time to see a purple kamikaze streaking down upon you
  38. >oh no no no no
  39. >you and Spike now make up a crumpled pile on the ground
  40. >Spike is laughing uproariously
  41. >actually, so are all your guards
  42. "Holy fucking shit I keep forgetting you have wings now."
  43. ~"Well I'm not the only one who's growing up. What gives, you weren't gonna write home and tell everyone you got your cutie mark?"
  44. "Hey, I just got it yester- Hey! You looking at my butt, faget?"
  45. ~"Wh- no! I just-"
  46. "Get the fuck off of me, let's hug properly."
  47. >the two of you get untangled and Spike wraps his claws around your neck
  48. >he holds on just long enough for it to get awkward
  49. >when he finally does let go, he looks pretty cheerful
  50. "Starlight told me you were pretty down about Twilight. You feeling any better, bro?"
  51. ~"Eh, not really. But it's good to be back in Canterlot."
  52. "Hey. We're gonna find her."
  53. ~"Yeah, I believe you, it's just… I think I need to be busy again. Where are those mountains of paperwork you wrote to me about?"
  54. >now that
  55. >is what you like to hear
  57. >it's been a week since the last time you almost died
  58. >now that you're apparently the first earth mage to show up in 800 years, Rockhoof has some more advanced training for you
  59. "Say, why is it 800 years?"
  60. >you're standing on one forehoof in front of your garden
  61. ^"Meditation implies silence, lass."
  62. "Yeah, yeah, right, okay. Silence."
  63. >but this is so fucking boring
  64. >and your leg is starting to hurt
  65. "But really, it seems like things that happened a long time ago always happened a thousand years ago. Why did earth magic die out 800 years ago instead?"
  66. >Rockhoof sighs
  67. ^"I don't rightly know. There were plenty of earth mages in my day, and then I was imprisoned for a thousand years with the other Pillars. When I was set free, they were all gone."
  68. "You never… you know, asked?"
  69. ^"I did, but the only pony who remembers those days is Princess Celestia, and she was a bit scant with the details. All I know is that 200 years after my day, the other earth mages were gone."
  70. "But- whoah!"
  71. >your leg gives out
  72. >you're rewarded with a mouthful of dirt
  73. >Rockhoof comes down from his stance
  74. ^"And that's why you should hae been quiet. If you're nae focusing on the earth, then the earth isn't focusing on you. You're nae strong enough to hold that stance without earth magic."
  75. >you're spitting out dirt
  76. "This whole 'clear your mind' shit just doesn't come naturally, man."
  77. >you sit up
  78. >and sit back on your haunches
  79. >and start brushing your tongue off with your hooves
  80. "I'm used to thinking."
  81. ^"And what do you think about?""
  82. "I don't know. I never remember."
  83. ^"Nothing important, then."
  84. "Probably not."
  85. ^"Och, we'll try something else for now then. Try talking tae your petunias."
  86. >you blink
  87. >then you lean in close to the flowerbed
  88. "Hello."
  89. >the flowers are in full bloom now
  90. >dozens of purple, pink, red, and blue faces hear your greeting
  91. >and do nothing
  92. ^"Not like that, you silly filly. Through the earth."
  93. "You want me to bury my face in the dirt and then talk to them?"
  94. ^"No. Use the earth magic."
  95. >you plant your hooves more firmly in the ground
  96. >and…
  97. "Are there any instructions for this?"
  98. "No instructions. You'll just know."
  99. >you sigh
  100. >then lie down on your belly
  101. >and close your eyes
  102. >(uh)
  103. >(hi, flowers)
  104. >(it's me, the guy who planted you)
  105. >(I've enjoyed watching you grow)
  106. >(I've got a lot of shit on my plate right now, so coming out here to water you guys and shit is pretty relaxing)
  107. >(uh)
  108. >you crack open an eyelid
  109. >then jump to your hooves
  110. "Holy shit!"
  111. >every single petunia has turned its face to look at you
  112. ^"Hah! Easier than you thought it would be, wasn't it?"
  113. "Yeah. Wow."
  114. >Rockhoof's massive hoof claps you on the back
  115. ^"In a little while here, you might be able tae teach them tricks."
  116. "You serious?"
  117. ^"Oh, yes."
  119. >Spike's only been up here about 10 days
  120. >already, his years of experience under Twilight Sparkle have whittled your daily "paperwork hour" down to an actual hour
  121. >not only that, but he's turned this formerly tedious and boring process into something worth greentexting about
  122. >Spike's simple, yet effective system for the piles of bills, treaties, petitions, and etc that come across your desk is as follows:
  123. >with mind-boggling speed and precision, Spike organizes the papers alphabetically and divides them into two neat stacks
  124. >two seats are set up behind the massive princess desk
  125. >each of you takes a seat and a stack
  126. >you take a paper, skim the essentials, make the appropriate markings, and place it in the "finished bin" next to the stack
  127. >repeat til both stacks are in their finished bins
  128. >thereafter, the papers are processed by your squadron of royal secretaries, and passed on to the appropriate party
  129. >it's become a fairly mindless process by now
  130. ~"All I'm saying is, I think a hydra would beat a manticore."
  131. "You are out of your mind! The manticore's got that bigass stinger! All it has to do is hit the hydra once with that-"
  132. ~"No. Way. Hydras are like dragons. They've got thick hides. Here, signature."
  133. >there are, unfortunately, some papers that Spike just can't mark for you
  134. >Spike slides one such paper over to your side of the desk
  135. >you take your quill and scribble on a signature before returning to your own stack
  136. ~"Sometimes, I even let Rarity use me as a pincushion-"
  137. "First of all, that's fucking bizarre and you should stop that. Second of all, sewing needles aren't shit compared to a manticore stinger-"
  138. ~"But the hydra is so much bigger! Ah, initials."
  139. >you quickly scrawl out a "PAF"
  140. "So?! Manticores can fly!"
  141. ~"No they can not! Their wings are too small!"
  142. "Your wings are too small, and you can fly!"
  143. ~"But… that's magic!"
  144. "Exactly. It's magic."
  145. ~"I'm, like, 80% sure that manticores still can't fly, but okay, what about all those heads? Hoofprint."
  146. >you dab your hoof on an inkpad and slam it onto the paper
  147. ~"Let's say the manticore can somehow fly. It can only fly at one of the hydra's heads at a time. And while it's doing that, the other, like, three heads are gonna eat it."
  148. "What? Dude, a manticore is basically a giant lion, and a lion is basically a giant cat. Cats were born to smack at dangly shit. He'd be just fine."
  149. ~"That's not the way that works! Sign here."
  150. >you growl and scrawl out the signature
  151. "It totally fucking is!"
  152. >the door to your office creaks open
  153. >Starswirl the Bearded wearily canters in
  154. <"Are you two quite done yet? I have a rousing lesson in ballroom etiquette which I'm quite eager to share with Anonymous."
  155. >you glance at your stack
  156. >which is now only about an inch thick
  157. "Yeah, we're almost done here, just give us like ten more minutes."
  158. <"Hm…"
  159. >Starswirl comes walking over to the desk
  160. ~"Hi, Mr. The Bearded. Have I ever told you what an honor it is to be working with you?"
  161. <"About 18 times, yes."
  162. ~"I mean, Twilight's been telling me all about you for as long as I can remember. You're basically her hero!"
  163. <"Yes, yes, she's told me so herself."
  164. >with a cocked eyebrow, Starswirl looks in Spike's finished bin
  165. >he grabs the topmost paper in his magic and reads it
  166. <"Princess Anonymous, are you quite sure you are reading the things you are signing?"
  167. "Huh? Uh, yeah. It's sort of like speed-reading, but, you know, still…"
  168. >Starswirl drops the paper in front of you
  169. "Spike Appreciation Day, a national holiday to celebrate the achievements of Spike the Glorious and Brave…"
  170. >you look at Spike
  171. >you just
  172. >look at him
  173. "What?"
  174. "Shit fucking damnit, Spike!"
  175. ~"Yeah, all right, all right."
  176. >Spike grabs the signed bill and casually obliterates it with dragonfire
  177. <"You may want to double-check all of these papers tonight, Anonymous."
  178. >with that, Starswirl stalks out of the office, utterly victorious
  179. >you look at the stacks of finished papers
  180. >and groan
  182. >it's been about a month, now, since that fateful spring day when you were told you were the princess of all Equestria
  183. >two days ago, summer's first heat wave hit the country
  184. >yesterday, you noticed a recurring theme during Day Court
  185. >"It was 90 degrees at 3 in the morning!"
  186. >"My crops shriveled up overnight!"
  187. >"There's just no break from this Sun!"
  188. >today, you cleared out your afternoon for an emergency meeting
  189. >seated at your conference table are powerful sorcerers, wealthy weather factory moguls, agricultural experts, and the top brass from both the Guard and the Wonderbolts
  190. >for lack of a podium in the room, you've opted to stand on the table itself
  191. "Gentlemen… or, uh, gentlecolts… and ladies. The reason why I've summoned you here today is simple. Equestria needs night."
  192. >Starswirl had been pleased when you'd pitched the idea to him yesterday
  193. <"Good of you to use that wit of yours for helping ponies for a change, instead of inventing creative swear words."
  194. >you hit a guy with a "fuckshitting niggerdicks" one damn time…
  195. >a bespectacled, redheaded sorcerer raises a hoof in the back
  196. "Yes?"
  197. >the fucking nerd snorts, and pushes her glasses back up her snout
  198. >"But how is that possible without the princesses?"
  199. "That, genius-horse, is why I invited all of you ponies here. To figure it out."
  200. >the silence that follows is so awkward it's almost palpable
  201. "Well don't all jump up at once."
  202. >seriously?
  203. >nobody?
  204. >all right, you'll just go ahead and toss up the most obvious solution first
  205. "Okay. History tells us that before there were alicorns in Equestria, unicorns would put their magic together to move the Sun and the Moon. Any of you super-smart sorcerers wanna tell me why I thought of this before you did?"
  206. >the sorcerers exchange uncomfortable looks
  207. >Starlight Glimmer almost raises her hoof
  208. >but brings it back down sheepishly before you can call on her
  209. "Oh geez, there's a reason, isn't there?"
  210. >Starswirl stands up and strides beside you
  211. <"There is a reason. Even with many unicorns, it still takes ponies of great power to move the Sun and the Moon. I was once such pony, but I alone cannot bring forth the night."
  212. "Yeah. Ponies of great power. That's why I invited the 12 most powerful unicorns I could find on the census."
  213. >Starlight speaks up
  214. >"Anon, sweetie, unicorns with that kind of power just aren't born anymore. Even hundreds of us couldn't match Princess Celestia's strength."
  215. >the redhead with the glasses nods nervously
  216. >"Probably the only unicorn to be born in recent times with the power of an ancient sorcerer was Twilight. And she's…"
  217. "One of our missing alicorns now. Got it."
  218. >"And we still would have needed at least ten more unicorns with her power."
  219. >if you still had fingers you'd be doing that thing where you pinch the bridge of your nose
  220. >as it is you're just facehoofing
  221. "All right, so we need hundreds of unicorns. Hell, we need thousands. I'm the damn princess, I can do that."
  222. >again, Starlight interjects
  223. >"Anon, when I said hundreds of unicorns, I meant unicorns with the spellcasting ability of the sorcerers in this room. You won't find a thousand unicorns like that in all of Equestria."
  224. "So how many are we gonna need here? Again, I can get a draft going."
  225. >the redhead with the glasses sets an abacus on the table and makes some rapid calculations
  226. >"Approximately… every unicorn in Equestria."
  227. >you're breathless
  228. "Every…"
  229. >Starlight adds a point to that which kills the last little bit of hope you didn't know you had
  230. >"And most unicorns have ordinary everyday occupations, like baking or sewing. If you pulled every single one of us to Canterlot…"
  231. "Yeah, I get it. It's a logistical nightmare, economic suicide, and probably a pony rights crisis."
  232. >you flop down on your belly right there in front of everyone
  233. "But man. We are in for one rough summer if we can't get a little night time going. I've had a dozen farmers come to me in person to tell me they're afraid it'll kill their crops."
  234. >someone from the agricultural experts section pipes up
  235. >"Our calculations based on early reports of the heat wave show Equestria heading for a famine."
  236. "Thanks."
  237. >then you hop up to your hooves
  238. "Starlight!"
  239. >"No."
  240. "What? You don't even know what I'm gonna ask."
  241. >"I can't use the magic of friendship to move the Sun. In the first place, we don't even know if I can access it; in the second place, we don't know if it can be used for anything other than destruction; and in the third place, we might actually destroy the Sun if we try to find out."
  242. >you rise up to your haunches and groan
  243. >then you flop down on your back
  244. "Maybe there's some way to put a giant cover between Equestria and the Sun…"
  245. >the weather magnate coughs
  246. >"You mean like a… cloud cover, my princess?"
  247. >without getting up, you propel yourself across the slick table til you're staring the weather magnate in the eyes
  248. "I knew I invited you for a reason."
  249. >"Erm… yes. I mean we could, possibly, manufacture a large quantity of stormclouds and distribute them to local weatherponies every night."
  250. "Go on…"
  251. >"Well, there are just a few drawbacks to this plan now, princess, the most obvious being that it'd rain most nights."
  252. "Eh, that's not the worst thing in the world."
  253. >"Another thing is that stormclouds are fairly dangerous. Most towns only have one or two weatherponies qualified to work with them."
  254. "Weatherponies are government workers, right? I can have a cheesey safety video sent out by close of business tomorrow. Get everyone nice and qualified."
  255. >"Well if you don't have any objections, ma'am, then I can promise that nights produced by this plan will be almost as dark as a genuine night."
  256. "On a scale of noon to midnight, how dark are we talking here?"
  257. >"Ah, just after Sunset, when the last little bit of orange has gone under the horizon. Of course, it'll be a bit darker on nights when it storms."
  258. "I'm down. Let's do it."
  259. >"Now of course there's the issue of what it'll cost my company. We'd need to stop production of other, more profitable clouds almost entirely. Not to mention the cost of training more my employees in stormcloud safety."
  260. "Yo, what do you need? Contracts, grants, subsidaries, bonds? I got you fam."
  261. >the old pegasus grins
  262. >"Well in that case, I suppose we should schedule a meeting between our ponies to work out the details."
  263. "It's a fucking deal, mister."
  264. >with that, you leap up to your hooves and start shouting
  265. "See that? Now that's an innovative solution! Fucking SYNERGY, dude!"
  266. >the redhead with the glasses decides to open up her stupid fucking mouth again
  267. >"That's not what synergy means."
  268. "Shut the fuck up, nerd."
  270. >it's only been a week since you scored that cloud deal
  271. >already, tonight is the first actual night of the summer
  272. >you decided to stay up to see it
  273. >it's about as dark as promised
  274. >some distant peals of thunder imply a storm somewhere down below Canterlot Mountain
  275. >but up here
  276. >it's calm
  277. >for now, anyway
  278. >you're lying down in front of your flowerbed
  279. >watching the petunias gently bob back and forth to the flow of your earth magic
  280. >you catch yoirself smiling at the sight of it more than once
  281. >you should probably go to bed soon
  282. >but this is nice
  283. >all at once, a feeling of "okay we're tired now" slaps you in the mind
  284. >and the flowers go silent
  285. "Oh, right. No Sunlight right now. Figures."
  286. >you're about to head up to bed
  287. >but something squirms out of your ear and pops in front of your eye
  288. >"Hello, Anon!"
  289. "Oh my fucking shit!"
  290. >you stand up and begin batting at your ear
  291. >the motherfucker who just crawled out of it is a snake-like creature who goes by the name of Discord
  292. >several guards poke their heads around the hedges to see what the commotion is
  293. >but when they see Discord, disappear among the leaves once more
  294. >fucking Discord
  295. >with his god-like powers, he frequently abuses the fabric of time and space itself for real-life shitposts
  296. >you know him to be lazy, irritating, loud, and infinitely smug
  297. >and so powerful that it's impossible on every level to make him fuck off
  298. >he's probably never given a single fuck about anything in his entire life
  299. >in short, he's everything you've ever wanted to be
  300. >and, oh, how you hate him for it
  301. >"Lovely night, isn't it? I only wish I could see the Moon. Is it behind those clouds?"
  302. >Discord raises his claw as though he's going to turn your expensive cloud cover into gumballs
  303. "Don't you fucking touch those clouds, you cockmonger!"
  304. >"Me, oh my, we are cranky tonight, aren't we? Perhaps it's time for little fillies to go to bed."
  305. "I'm gonna stick my fucking-"
  306. >your lips become zippers and zip shut
  307. >Discord scans the hedge maze with apparent whistfulness
  308. >"Do you know, Anon, that it was right around this very spot that she defeated me?"
  309. >you unzip your mouth, upon which the zippers disappear
  310. "Who, Twilight?"
  311. >"No, that was in Ponyville. I'm talking about Fluttershy. Have you heard the story?"
  312. "Only about a dozen-"
  313. >"One by one, I lured her friends into various forms of despair. But Fluttershy was different. Even as I threatened her to her face, she stayed…. sweet… and innocent."
  314. >Discord shrugs
  315. >"In the end I had to brainwash her by force. But, do you know, life is funny. These days, she's my closest friend!"
  316. "Your only friend."
  317. >Discord sticks out his forked tongue
  318. >"Rude. Maybe I won't make you the offer I came all this way for."
  319. "Oh geez, what do you want?"
  320. >"Oh, I just wanted to extend a small favor. Remember how you used to beg and plead me to make you human again?"
  321. "Sure."
  322. >"Well, after giving it a few years of thought, I'm finally ready to grant you your wish. Ready?"
  323. "H-hang on, hang on. A non-pony can't legally rule Equestria."
  324. >"So?"
  325. "So, why couldn't you have made this offer at any other point during the last four years? You know, when I wasn't expected to be the only thing standing between this country and total chaos?"
  326. >Discord blinks
  327. >"I don't believe we've met. I'm Discord, spirit of chaos."
  328. "I fucking hate you."
  329. >Discord shrugs
  330. >"Well, that's not to say I wasn't excited when I first heard they'd put a crown on your head. After all, you're my kind of princess."
  331. "What's that supposed to mean?"
  332. >"Well you're lazy, arrogant, impulsive, easily provoked-"
  333. "Okay I get it shut the fuck up."
  334. >"See what I mean? In any case, you seem to be handling things a bit too well for my taste. This cloud cover idea has brought things disgustingly close to normalcy."
  335. "Please go away."
  336. >"So, what do you say? I give you your fingers back, and all you have to do is sit back and smell the ashes."
  337. "Have you ever thought about using those obnoxious powers of yours for something helpful? Like finding the princesses?
  338. >"Oh, please, not even I can do everything. I'd tell you if I knew where they were. Just between us, stiff little Twilight has begun to grow on me."
  339. "Okay. Well, in that case, I've got about three and a half hours before I have to get up tomorrow. See you never, hopefully."
  340. >"You're not even going to think about my offer?"
  341. >you're already walking away
  342. "Go away."
  343. >"Not even one little finger? Or a little-"
  344. "Get the fuck out!"
  346. >today marks eighteen days and nights of, well, nights
  347. >you should feel pretty good about that
  348. >so why do you have this foreboding of of dread?
  349. <"If you must know why I'm taking you to the banquet hall, Princess Anonymous, I'll tell you a small secret."
  350. "What's that?"
  351. <"A certain dragon told me that today is your birthday."
  352. >is it?
  353. >hm…
  354. "Huh, I guess it is."
  355. <"Did you forget?"
  356. "Apparently. More importantly, there's not a ceremony for this, is there?"
  357. <"Oh, there most certainly is."
  358. >Starswirl grins as he grips the doors to the banquet hall in his magic
  359. >you cringe like an abused dog
  360. <"No, Starswirl! No!"
  361. >the door swings wide open
  362. >a burst of confetti smacks you in the face
  363. >"Surprise!"
  364. "However, I took the liberty of arranging a more private celebration instead."
  365. >Twilight's friends are all laughing and waving at you
  366. >Rockhoof grins from by the buffet table
  367. >Spike is suspended from the ceiling by a mass of streamers tangled around his tail
  368. >Starlight Glimmer offers a standoffish head-nod
  369. "Oh, thank fuck."
  370. >Rainbow Dash snatches you up in one fell swoop
  371. >"Heh! I see somebody still needs to wash your mouth out with soap, kid!"
  372. "Oh, geez, where are you taking me?"
  373. >the rest of Twilight's friends have formed a ravenous circle below you
  374. >Dash drops you into the middle of that
  375. >suddenly you're surrounded by cooing mares
  376. >there was a time when you would have really enjoyed this
  377. "Ah! Stop it! Literally every single one of you knew me when I was a grown-ass man!"
  378. >"Of course, but darling! Treating you like a filly is the only way to make you pout!"
  379. >two marshmallow hooves squish your cheeks
  380. >"And you're so very adorable when you pout!"
  381. >"Oh! Oh! Somebody get Anon a party hat! Oh wait, I already did!"
  382. >an elastic band snaps tight around your chin, fastening a cardboard cone in place on your scalp
  383. >"Ooh, aren't you just the most precious thing!"
  384. >Fluttershy scoops you up and lifts you out of the feeding frenzy
  385. >"Now, girls. It isn't nice to tease."
  386. >a chorus of disappointed "aww"s rises from the floor
  387. >Fluttershy turns her eyes on you
  388. >"How old are you today, Anon?"
  389. "Uh, I guess I'd be 30 now."
  390. >that's when it happens
  391. >the first time you've ever heard Starswirl laugh
  392. <"Ha! Is that so? You don't look a day over 12! You must tell me your secret."
  393. >the scrunched-up scowl that elicits out of you coaxes the girls into howls of laughter
  394. ~"Uh, guys?"
  395. >you look up
  396. >Spike is still dangling from the streamers
  397. ~"A little help here?"
  398. >Starlight brushes her mane out of her face and trots over to the center of the party
  399. >"I'll get him."
  400. >a bit of magic finaggling later, and Spike is able to glide himself safely to the floor
  401. >Pinkie Pie begins firing her party cannon
  402. >which you haven't noticed until this very moment
  403. >completely at random, spraying confetti and streamers everywhere
  405. >seemingly in response, the whole world issues a massive shudder
  406. >you fall flat on your ass
  407. "That, uh, wasn't your party cannon, was it?"
  409. <"Rockhoof, do you sense what I sense?"
  410. ^"That this was no mere earthquake?"
  411. <"Indeed."
  412. ^"Aye. The mountain is crying out. Be quiet a while, all of you. Let me listen."
  413. >Rockhoof plants his hooves firmly on the marble floor
  414. >and closes his eyes
  415. >as you watch him, the world shakes again
  416. >but Rockhoof stands motionless through it
  417. >the quake is calm for a long time before he opens his eyes again
  418. ^"Shai-hulud."
  419. <"I see."
  420. "Uh, excuse me, what?"
  421. <"Anonymous, are you familiar with the tatzlwurm?"
  422. "The what?"
  423. <"Never mind. The shai-hulud is the largest species of worm in the world."
  424. >another earthquake knocks you off your hooves
  425. "Big enough to cause that?"
  426. <"Indeed. Were it to surface through the top of Canterlot Mountain, it could consume the city in one bite."
  427. ^"It's not likely tae do that, mind you. The great worms of the earth prefer to stay hidden."
  428. "So, we just wait for it to go away?"
  429. ^"No. This worm could eat away at the mountain from within and cause a great collapse. He'll have to be driven away."
  430. >Applejack gives a rebel yell
  431. >"Well it sure is good we've got some of the best adventurers in Eqeustria in here! C'mon, yall! Let's go kick us some worm!"
  432. <"No."
  433. "No? No?! Let's just let a big fucking worm destroy Canterlot?"
  434. <"What I mean, Princess Anonymous, is that you must face the shai-hulud alone. Can't you feel it? There is a great destiny in the air today."
  435. "No I can't fucking 'feel it' I'm a damn earth pony!"
  436. ^"I feel it in the earth. The creature was sent as a trial for you."
  437. "So what, you're just gonna risk a million lives on some mystic, horseshit 'feeling'? Twilight would never have been expected to do this shit on her own! She'd go down there with all her friends and use the friendship powers or whatever."
  438. >Applejack scratches her chin
  439. >"Eh, I dunno if anyone's ever told you this, Anon, but friendship ain't exactly your strong suit."
  440. "Oh, oh, so you're all just gonna go along with this?"
  441. >Twilight's friends exchange glances and nod
  442. >"Eh"
  443. >"Yeah"
  444. >"Sounds fine to me."
  445. >"Pretty much."
  446. "Sure, you know what? Okay. I've been meaning to fucking die, just take me to the fucking worm."
  447. >Pinkie cheers
  448. >"That's the spirit!"
  449. >Starswirl claps his hoof on your shoulder
  450. >and then hits you with a surprise long-distance telepoof
  451. >once you finish throwing up, you can see that you're in what appears to be a dark dungeon
  452. >standing at the entrance to an even darker cavern
  453. >you're probably deep underneath the castle
  454. >Starswirl picks up a rock from the tunnel and casts some sort of spell on it
  455. >the stone is transformed into a glowing gem
  456. <"Take this, and go quickly. I sense a great destiny waiting for you."
  457. "Look man, I don't think this is a good idea. There's, what, a million ponies living in Canterlot? I don't think we should risk that over some 'great destiny' mumbo jumbo."
  458. >Starswirl nods
  459. >then zaps your ass with a spell
  460. "Ow! What was that?"
  461. <"It will allow me to watch over you. Should it appear as though you will fail, I will intervene."
  462. >you take the glowing rock in your hoof
  463. "You're really fucking set on this, huh?"
  464. <"The time of your testing is at hoof. You must go."
  465. "Okay. Sure. Fine. But when I die you've gotta dye your hat pink for my funeral."
  466. >with that, you stick the magic rock in your mouth
  467. >and disappear into the bowels of Canterlot Mountain
  469. >down the twisting cavern corridors you go
  470. >occasionally a great rumble knocks you off your hooves
  471. >more than once this happens as you're standing next to a steep drop-off
  472. >and more than once you have some close encounters with falling rocks
  473. >you'd like to say that you're guided by this "great destiny" Starswirl and Rockhoof were on about
  474. >but to be quite frank
  475. >you're just sort of going at random
  476. >the deeper you go
  477. >the more you start to hear loud roars
  478. >like
  479. >impossibly loud
  480. >more than once, you think that the creature must be right behind you
  481. >but it's not for a long walk yet
  482. >when your cavern path ends in a dead end
  483. >a sheer drop leading to a massive, open space far below
  484. >do you see it
  485. >the great worm is lined with glowing red gemstones down its sides
  486. >and
  487. >far below though it is
  488. >you can tell that it's mind-bogglingly massive
  489. >the enraged creature flails and rams against the mountain's interior
  490. >taking great mouthfuls of stone from the walls and casting them about at random
  491. >it hasn't noticed you yet
  492. >okay
  493. >there is no conceivable way for you to handle this thing
  494. >you lean against a large rock and think
  495. >wait a second
  496. >is it supposed to be this obvious?
  497. >there's a massive rock sitting on the precipice of the drop
  498. >this thing is easily 15 times your size
  499. >there's a chance that if you push it off, it could injure the worm and scare it away
  500. "Seriously?"
  501. >okay, sure
  502. >pushing this rock off the ledge will require you to channel more earth magic than you've ever channelled before
  503. >but still
  504. >you brace yourself against the rock
  505. >remembering what Rockhoof always says about not relying on your own strength
  506. >remembering what he says about drawing your strength from the earth
  507. >you push
  508. >or rather, the rock essentially pushes itself
  509. >it tilts precariously
  510. >as if it really wants to go over the side
  511. >but instead of doing that
  512. >it crashes back into place
  513. >loudly
  514. >you check to see if the shai-hulud heard that
  515. >oh, yeah
  516. >it definitely heard that
  517. >the massive monster worm roars with purpose as it races up the side of the drop
  518. >heading straight for you
  519. "Oh shit, oh fuck, oh man!"
  520. >you brace yourself against the rock again
  521. >and you heave and heave at it
  522. >in your panic, you keep losing the flow of the earth magic
  523. >and the rock comes crashing down against your tiny filly strength again and again
  524. "Come on… you… fucking… BITCH!"
  525. >at last, the rock goes tumbling over the edge
  526. >you breathe a sigh of relief as you watch it hurtle toward the great worm
  527. >but then you suck it back in with a gasp
  528. >you went over with the rock!
  530. >the rock smashes into the shai-hulud's face
  531. >you land on the rock
  532. >which hurts, of course
  533. >but not nearly so much as it would have hurt to land on the cavern floor thousands of feet below
  534. >you spend a moment being grateful to be alive
  535. >then the worm loses its grip on the wall
  536. >and it falls
  537. >and the rock falls
  538. >and you fall
  539. >with your eyes shut tight, you scream into the rushing blackness
  540. >and you scream
  541. >and you fall
  542. >and you-
  543. >"Anonymous?"
  544. >cracking open your eye, you find that you're floating in some kind of purple void
  545. "Princess Celestia?"
  546. >the tall, white alicorn nods
  547. >"Indeed."
  548. "Oh man… A-am I… dead?"
  549. >"I hope not, that would make me dead as well. I'm quite sure I was perfectly alive just a moment ago."
  550. "I'm pretty sure I was plunging to my death just a moment ago."
  551. >"Oh my. How in the world did that happen?"
  552. "Some big worm was attacking Canterlot. I pushed a big rock on it, then fell down a cliff."
  553. >Celestia frowns
  554. >"That cutie mark on your flank. Did you have that the last time I saw you?"
  555. "No, definitely not."
  556. >"What is it?"
  557. "Earth magic."
  558. >Celestia scratches her head
  559. >"Earth magic… Anon, how large was this rock exactly?"
  560. "Pretty fucking big. Big enough to knock out a charging shai-hulud anyway."
  561. >"So you channeled a great deal of earth magic and sacrificed yourself to save Canterlot?"
  562. "I mean, you could put it that way."
  563. >"But before you could plunge to your doom, the Aether whisked you away to see me."
  564. "That's, uh, pretty much what happened, yeah."
  565. >"Well congratulations, Anon."
  566. "What?"
  567. >"I think I'm supposed to make you an alicorn now."
  568. "What?!"
  569. >"It makes sense, doesn't it? Why, they've even made you the princess by now, haven't they?"
  570. "Yeah. How did you know about that?"
  571. >"A bill with your name signed onto it appeared to me on a puff of dragonfire. Something about a holiday for Spike."
  572. "Oh, that was, uh, vetoed, don't worry."
  573. >Celestia giggles
  574. >"I'm relieved to see that Equestria is in such responsible hooves. Twilight was quite upset when we got that paper, you know."
  575. >the great alicorn's horn glows brightly
  576. >"Princess Anonymous, when you wake up, you will be a true alicorn."
  577. "Wait, wait, wait, wait! Before you do that, I need to ask you something."
  578. >"Ah, what's that?"
  579. "Where the fuck are you?"
  580. >"My goodness, you're right! Luna would scold me severely if I didn't tell you."
  581. "Yeah. I'd kind of like to find you and give you your job back."
  582. >"There is a hidden chamber beneath the Castle of the Royal Sisters, in the Everfree Forest. We are being held prisoner there."
  583. >Celestia's horn glows to an almost blinding brightness
  584. >"It is a lair for shadow ponies."
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