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Chapter 5 - 22nd. Day of the Sixth Month, Year 10 AE.

May the Maker above bless Cookie and Pansy for all their days to come for being my steadfast islands of calm and comfort in these days of tempest and turmoil. I am beset on all sides with questions and demands, and weighty responsibilities undreamt of on the eve of the Solstice now pile upon me as the tomes and grimoires piled upon my work table whilst I was under the old grump's tutelage. Were it not for my dearest friends' honesty and kindness, I should think I would be out in the hay fields barking at the moon right now, driven to madness by the commotion, conundrum, and contention I have endured this day. The hurly-burly of Midsummer Day pales in comparison. [1]

I suppose I should elucidate, o diary, rather than fill up these pages with endless whining complaining, and as much as I would dearly love to forget the whole beastly business and bury my horn 'neath my pillow 'til the autumnal equinox, it is better that I write down these events clearly and methodically (always methodically, and again I hear the bells faintly jingling). As my dearest Cookie advised me, this chronicle will be, to use her earth pony idiom, "a seed wisely planted, that shall bear fruit in due time".  

I cannot help but smile ruefully at my hastily scrawled closing from yesterday's entry upon sitting down to write, for I knew not what awaited me when little Dawn Heart sought me out in my study. Cookie has volunteered to care for her tonight, and thus I should be able to write my account and go to my bower in peace. I suppose Dawn's arrival in my study is as good a place as any to start.

The child was uncharacteristically shy and subdued when she called to me from the doorway. At first, I assumed that it was her unknowing fear of the darkness, which she had shown when we were being led into the dungeons, that was the cause of her voice being so tremulous and her demeanor so tentative.

When I rose from my seat and approached her, she shied a bit from me, but acquiesced to a comforting embrace. That was when an acrid odor made its presence known. I let out a weary groan when the realization of what must have occurred came to me. I floated my candle closer to look our foundling filly over, and sure enough I was right. She'd made quite a mess of herself indeed.

It stood to reason, of course. She'd just learned of eating and drinking the prior afternoon, naturally she would be completely unaware of its eventual consequence. Would that I could kick myself in my own rump for not foreseeing this when we put her to bed.

The poor little creature began to weep and shiver as she saw my displeasure, and became so abject that my annoyance was washed away and I could do nought but take her into another reassuring hug, stroking her mane as I shushed and consoled her. Once a fragile smile returned to her face, I got to my hooves and bid her follow me.

Together with my hovering candle, we crept down the servants' stairs all the way to the castle baths [2], which in the lateness of the hour were completely deserted. This was both good and bad, for there was nopony about who might be distressed by our presence, but the fires that warmed the ingenious pipes 'neath the calidarium had long since been put out, so it seemed Dawn's first bath would have to be a cold one.

I filled a washtub from the cistern tap and gathered a scrub brush, a cake of soap, and a towel from the supply closet, all while Dawn watched me curiously and learned the names of various things in our now accustomed fashion. When all was prepared, I beckoned her over and bade her climb in, splashing my hoof a little in the water. Uncomprehending, she bent to drink. I stopped her, and with more emphasis told her to get in. She imitated me by splashing her own hoof in the water, fascinated at the ripples she made.

I must own the shame, o diary, to say my patience failed me at that moment, and I lit my horn and lifted her up in my magic to place her bodily into her bath. From there, a chain reaction worthy of the most inept quack alchemist's laboratory took place.

As soon as her hindquarters touched the cold water, she began to thrash and kick and cry out. Her own horn flared with an almost blinding golden light, breaking my levitational envelopment and dropping her roughly into the washtub, which then exploded with such force that I was thrown across the room to land with a tremendous splash in the tepidarium (now not quite so tepid as shockingly cold). I surged to the surface, drenched and sputtering, and saw her sodden tail disappearing out the door trailed by her loud wailing and the clatter of her galloping hooves. With an epithet on my lips that I shan't write down here I scrambled up the steps of the pool and gave chase.

I cringe, o diary, at the terrible racket we raised as I pursued the errant filly through the halls and galleries of the lower precincts of the castle. Our hoof falls echoed like hailstones striking a slate roof in the early morning stillness, while little Dawn howled incoherently and I howled marginally less so in my strident entreaties for her to stop running and come back.

Groggy, grumbling ponies poked their heads from out their doors, rudely awakened by our wild chase through the stone corridors. In my unthinking haste, I bade somepony, anypony, to catch Dawn as she passed. A burly earth pony whose name I later learned was Bellows made a dive for her, only to be bowled head over tail into the opposite wall as she shrugged him off with her preternatural strength. He lay groaning in a heap with tiny stars circling about his head as I galloped past, calling out an apology over my shoulder.

My anger chilled in my breast as I realized that in her panicked state Dawn might do grave harm to somepony by accident. My desperate pleas changed at once from begging somepony to stop her to begging them to keep clear and not get in her way. I will own that my mind was not entirely clear, o diary, for I was still pursuing her, and it didn't occur to me until I'd cornered her in a dead end corridor that I was as the proverbial dog chasing the chariot. What did I plan to do when I caught her?

She turned at bay, her eyes wide and tears flowing down her cheeks, as I staggered toward her, panting for breath with what was doubtless a grimace of fear, anger, and exhaustion on my face. With a plaintive wail she turned away, her horn flaring bright gold once more, and with a deafening crack the wall before her exploded outward in a shower of gravel. Beyond was the night sky and its constellations dancing slowly over the distant watch lights of Fort Everfree on the far western border. A chilling night breeze blew away the clouds of masonry dust and whistled down the hallway as Dawn clambered up on the jagged edge of her newly created exit, flaring her untried wings. There was nothing I could do to stop her.

There must have been something in the tone of my voice, however, as I called out to her one more time, sobbing as I begged her not to leap into the darkness. She turned back, and saw me as I collapsed on the floor, weeping into my fore hooves as my frustration, weariness, and guilt overcame me.

I looked up through my tears at the sound of her dainty hoof falls on the flagstones of the corridor, and saw she was standing a short distance away, clearly torn between fleeing and staying. Composing myself, pushed myself up on my haunches and threw open my forelegs, calling to her gently and doing my best to show her a calm, non-threatening demeanor. After a seemingly eternal moment of uncertainty, she acquiesced, whispering my name as she embraced me with both forelegs and wings.

The sound of hooves scuffing on stone drew my attention toward the hole in the wall ahead of me, and there I beheld Commander Hurricane, perched on the jagged edge with her spear held ready in the crook of her foreleg. She was unarmored, clad only in her loose, wine colored toga, but the look in her eyes clearly showed she was quite ready for battle should the need arise. Two of her contingent of escorts hovered behind her, glaring through the face plates of their helms and ready to attack at their leader's command.

With a terse exchange, I explained all that had transpired, and apologized to her excellency for the interruption of her sleep. A wry smirk settled on her weathered face, and she proceeded to tell me where, by her lights, I had gone astray.

I was far too weary and distraught to take umbrage at this unbidden helping of pegasi high-horsedness, and could only listen with flattened ears as she said the key to commanding obedience is to follow the rules oneself, and that a little consistency was worth a great amount of brute force. Her troops knew that she wouldn't send them into any breach that she wouldn't fly through herself. When I petulantly asked her what that might mean, she replied breezily that ponies called me "the Clever", and that I should figure it out myself. With that, she flew back to her undoubtedly comfortable cloud, leaving her warriors to stand guard at the breach that Dawn had made in the castle wall.

My pride still stinging, I decided to make another go of it, and asked the little one if she was ready now to take her bath. With a trembling lip, she nodded, stringing together an acquiescence in the words "Kwovuh Dawn baff." I twined my tail in hers to lead her back to the baths, not caring that it was still soiled from her late night misadventure. I supposed that I would merely have to join the poor poppet in the tub, and it was then that I understood what Hurricane had been getting at.

Dawn learned by imitating me, and by trying to make her do something I had not first done myself, I had broken the trust that she'd had in me. I resolved to rebuild it as I set about cleaning up her mess and mine.

There, I found a few of the braver servants picking up the flinders that remained of the first wash basin, mopping up the water, and marveling at the small crater that had been blown in the tiled floor. Ignoring their hushed whispers and stares, I bid one of the unicorns to help me levitate a larger tub down from the wall and fill it, and asked another to heat up a kettle to warm it up.

In short order another bath had been drawn, and I climbed with brush and soap floating at hoof in my magic. I did my best to keep an even expression and not wince as the cold water closed around my own hindquarters. (At the time, I could not help but notice how the water rose ever so slightly as more of me went below the surface. This bears more scrutiny in the future, but for now, I digress.)

Dawn watched me intently, quailing a bit as I beckoned her to join me. Sure enough, however, she gingerly came forward and clambered over the edge of the tub, allowing me to gently help her in. I gave her another hug and nuzzled her cheek as we sat and shivered together in the chilling bath, and then set about scrubbing the both of us with brush and soap, first myself and then her.

As we acclimated to the coolness, she began enjoy the experience, splashing the water with her dainty hooves and wings and giggling as we wreathed ourselves in bubbles. Presently, the servants brought a kettle of hot water and poured it slowly into the tub, making it much more comfortable when it came time to rinse off. In fact, o diary, I had to be a bit insistent with Dawn when it came time to get out. I was loath to admit it, but for all her bluntness Hurricane had been quite apt in her advice.

I toweled the dear poppet off, leaving her fluffy and clean like a spring lamb, as I allowed Sandalwood the bath maid to dry me in similar fashion, then in turn a brisk curry comb and brushing, leaving our damp hair gleaming and our coats glossy in the lamplight. I thanked the servants heartily and gave my most profuse apologies at the disruption we had caused as I led my dear, troublesome charge back to my chambers with our freshly brushed tails entwined, intent on getting to bed for a few hours before the rooster crowed.

However, my early morning travails had not yet ended (or late night if like myself you keep hours with the owls instead of the roosters). When we returned to my private apartments and I led Dawn back to the little bed we'd made for her out of my poor old dowry chest, she stopped in the doorway as soon as she laid eyes on it. I heard her intone the word "bed" in a voice of such simmering anger and resentment I was taken aback, and thinking back on it now I fancy that her childish mind somehow conceived that it was the cause of all that had transpired since she had awakened all wet and smelly[3] for no reason she could understand. In the moment, however, I barely had time to shriek and drop to the floor as Dawn's horn flared suddenly and the dowry chest exploded in a blast of splinters, goose down, and shreds of soiled linen.

Instinct seized me as soon as my ears had stopped ringing, and in retrospect I thank provenance that a measure of wisdom underlay my actions as well as a measure of foolhardiness, as I was instantly on my hooves and dragging poor Dawn by her ear over to the smoking crater in the floor, pointing emphatically at the destruction she'd wrought and upbraiding her with fierce stridency until she broke down weeping once more.

My fury spent, I sat her down in the corner and told her to think about what she did while I tried to collect my thinly frayed wits. Soon after Crimson came stumbling from his bedchamber, agog at the wreckage strewn about the room and little Dawn sniffling to herself with her face to the corner. When he asked me in a shaking voice what had just happened, I slouched to my haunches and brought a hoof to my face with a heavy sigh.

(In relating this tale to Cookie and Pansy later that afternoon, after their arrival from Mane Hat, my sensible earth pony friend opined that of all lessons for our Dawn Heart to learn, not magically obliterating everything that vexed her was an important one to impart early. My cautious pegasus friend in turn observed that it was most fortunate that learn it she did, before my yelling caused her too much vexation. I was at once encouraged and chilled by this conversation.)

After I'd explained what had happened to my dear, long suffering husband, we set about cleaning up, gathering the bits of my shattered family heirloom and scattered fluff and shreds of cloth and bundling them up for the servants to remove on the morrow. Dawn watched us work over her shoulder when I was looking elsewhere, hurriedly turning back to the corner when I would catch her with a glare or a word of remonstrance.

Presently, I released her from her penance, taking her into a hug and soothing her a final time on this tumultuous night. Weary beyond words, I kissed my husband good night once more, and led Dawn to my bower, where we laid down and fell asleep.

I do not remember the full measure of my dreams, o diary, after I had finally sunk into a deep slumber, but I seem to recall glimpses of myself standing on an ice covered lake, holding a slim cord that was tethered to the blazing sun itself and flying it as if it were a kite.

Translator's Hoofnotes:

[1] Lady Clover filled the remainder of the prior entry's final page with doodles. These were done, I think, as a way to relieve some of the stress she was undergoing at the time. Much of it is jagged lines and ink splatters, but there is a drawing, which I must confess is one of my favorite of her doodles in spite of the duress she did it under, that depicts her capering clumsily in a field with a wild mane and googly eyes, beneath a gibbous moon that subsequently received a beard, a wide brimmed hat with bells on it, and a grumpy face gazing down at the dancing mare with disapproval. The little Clover figure is shouting "Woof woof! I have no idea how I did it the first time! Woof woof!", and the Starswirl caricature is responding "Blunt horned ninny! Why don't you ever pay attention?" The meaning of these statements will become clearer as we progress through the diary, dear reader.

[2] Despite certain snobbish historians' assertions, early Equestrians weren't as unwashed as many modern ponies believe. Public baths were quite common, and most villages had them near the best source of clean water, be it a river or a well or spring. The humblest of them in simple farm communities were free for all to use, and the locals usually made their own soap from seed oils and common astringents and herbs.

The common bathing procedure of the time was to clean off with soap and water in a washtub out front, and then proceed to a common pool to soak and socialize with your friends and family. Fancier baths in larger communities had access to luxuries like heated water or magically driven massage jets and wave pools or hoof crafted pegasi rain clouds for pleasant showers. They often charged fees to pay for these amenities, as well as providing food and drink and entertainment to their patrons. A considerable amount of business and politics at the time was conducted withers deep in soothing water.

The baths of Castle Canter weren't extravagant, but they were quite pleasant and functional, to judge from other mentions in Lady Clover's diary. Fed by one of the many mineral springs that riddle the mountain, it was equipped with a wood fired boiler that piped heat into a network of pipes beneath one of three different temperature pools, as well as a special cistern that allowed the castle's denizens to draw hot water from a system of pipes and fountains. Lady Clover considered the whole affair quite a marvel of technology for her day, and made a point of visiting at least once a month, whether she needed it or not.

The old chambers that housed the baths are located in a section of the castle that the tours never visit. The original boiler and pipes were dismantled, the pools were drained, and the spring feeding the chamber was diverted into the modern indoor plumbing system we use today. They serve as storage now, mostly holding folding chairs, tables, and trellises for functions in the royal gardens. (In fact, I think the first time I was ever down there was after cleaning up my brother's wedding. At the time it was just another dusty old storeroom to me, one of many throughout the castle.)

The only signs of its prior function are three stepped, sunken areas, the tiled floor, and the cobweb covered mosaics adorning the ceiling depicting ponies with fish tails capering among the waves. The princesses tell me that those were added about a century after Princess Luna's exile, and at the time of Lady Clover's writing it would have been simply polished granite.

I visited the old baths while making this translation, and found a mismatched section of tiles on the floor of what would have been the washing up area (after moving a few boxes). I'm convinced that this spot is where my mentor Princess Celestia had her catastrophic first bath. Amazing.

[3] I debated long and hard with myself about translating and publishing these passages, as the last thing I'd ever want is to embarrass my esteemed mentor and teacher, but the Princess herself insisted that I do so.

In her own words: "One of the main purposes of of this translation is so that our beloved subjects get to know and understand my sister and I better, and part of that understanding is realizing that exalted as we are by our station and powers, there are many ways we are just like anypony else. We do not age, and we have been tasked with ordering the heavens, but we live, breathe, eat, and undergo bodily functions, and have grown up from infancy the same as any who walk on hooves beneath my sun or Luna's moon. Besides, we're both many, many centuries old, and I, for one, am far too old to feel any shame at the humbler follies of my youth. " [4]

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:
[4] That being said, there had better
not be any wiseacre hoofnotes about this part of the story from a certain moon moving mare of my long acquaintance. - P.C. [5]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:
[5] I wouldn't
dream of it. Nor would I include a note about how busy you kept the royal laundry with your bedding that first century or so. - P.L. [6]

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:
[6] That's all well and good, sister dearest, and in return I probably won't march down to Hoofton Mifflin and give my royal decree that an appendix detailing "The Bucket Incident" from your own indecorous foalhood be included in the next edition of their Equestrian history textbook. - P.C. [7]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:
[7] You wouldn't
dare! One more word about that and so help me I'll drop a meteorite on your orbitally visible rump. - P.L. [8]

Translator's Hoofnote:
[8] AaaaAAAAaaaugh!!!! [9]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:
[9] Did Twilight just write out "AaaaAAAaaaugh!!!! in her hoofnotes? - P.L.  [10]

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:
[10] Perhaps she was dictating. Either way, that's an alarming number of exclamation points. We should pwobably tone it down a bit, Woona. -P.C.


The characters depicted in this fiction are copyright and trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. This is a work of fan fiction, and the author makes no claim on Hasbro's copyright or trademarks.

Clover finds herself denied a peaceful night's sleep, as more of the problems of caring for an infant goddess manifest themselves.

Part 6 -> [link]
:iconblarging:
Footnotes are the best notes.
Reply
:iconholycross9:
Begging your pardon, but when will we be introduced to Luna's inception?
Reply
:iconkamari-akuma:
Patience good sir, the Moon also rises, so she'll prolly come soon
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