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July 6, 2013
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Chapter 7 - 22nd. Day of the Sixth Month, Year 10 AE.

I twined my tail with Dawn Heart and she and I and dear Crimson trotted to the castle courtyard, where we found our travelers from Mane Hat disembarking from the wagons as the pegasus teams unhitched themselves with help from their comrades who'd flown escort.

A small herd of ponies had already gathered about the lead wagon, and sure enough her excellency Chancellor Puddinghead was among them, shaking hooves and exchanging glad greetings and jests with all and sundry without even bothering to remove the ridiculously long scarf and heavy woolen coat she'd apparently donned against the chill of a night on the wing. (It is still remarkable to me, o diary, how easily that mare can have a herd of ponies eating out of the cup of her hoof, be they exalted nobles or the humblest of peasants.)

She spotted us and bounded over, leaving her coat and scarf draped over the withers of one the endlessly patient earth pony landsknechts who accompany her as bodyguards (and minders) wherever she goes. Before I could even bid her welcome or introduce Dawn, she'd taken the little filly up in a hug and rubbed noses with her as they both giggled with glee.

When her excellency finally set Dawn back on her own hooves, she turned to me and matter-of-factly told me she could tell right off that this filly was something special, because she's got lebkuchen coming out of her ears. With a flourish she produced a specimen of said baked good from behind the child's ear and presented it to her with a winning smile as the dear poppet blinked in amazement and reached up a dainty hoof to feel the spot where it had seemingly materialized.

Puddinghead gave me a conspiratorial smile and nodded toward the wagons as Dawn devoured her conjured treat, and said she'd brought a Cookie for me as well, although she was a bit big to pluck from behind my ear. And lo, there she was, climbing stiffly off of the second wagon, helped by dearest Pansy. I left the Chancellor and my husband trading bon mots and sly jests over Dawn's head as the earth ponies' supreme tribune pulled another lebkuchen from behind the dear filly's other ear and proffered it to her.

Smart Cookie's weary face lit up as I approached, and she told me with a wan smile that I was looking a bit haggard, and asked me if I'd been getting enough sleep as we embraced. I laughed and chided her for her talent for understatement, feeling such relief to have her and dear Pansy at hoof that I could have wept. I welcomed my favorite pegasus back with a hug as well, thanking her for for her fleetness in bringing us all together once more.

Getting right down to business in her typical no nonsense manner, Cookie pointed across the sward at Dawn, who was receiving a high stepping pony ride on Chancellor's back with much laughter and flapping of her snowy wings as her horn gleamed in the late afternoon sun, and asked if that was indeed the filly in question. Were she not like a sister to me and dearly to be welcomed, I mayhap would have waxed sarcastic in the sheer obviousness of the question, but I am well accustomed to my friend's direct approach to the world and its conundrums, (and also well aware that when sarcasm comes into play Cookie wields it like a greatsword whilst my own blade is but a tiny dirk.) and thus I led her over to make an introduction. [1]

Dawn let out a whinny of glee at our approach, and leapt from her excellency the Chancellor's back to tackle Cookie in a hug. This was not unexpected, although I was surprised to see she caught a bit of air with her wings and glided most of the way. My estimable earth pony friend reared up and caught her with ease, grunting a bit in surprise as she was driven backwards a few hooves, digging divots in the turf. She held the child for a few moments, then set her down on her own dainty hooves as Pansy and I drew up.

Dawn reared and tapped her pastern, giving her name, and then turned and hugged me as I sat on my haunches, and introduced me by name as well. She then turned to Cookie and pointed, looking at me expectantly. With a smile on my weary face I gave my dear earth pony friend's name to her, and couldn't help but laugh as confusion washed across the filly's face as she said the name and she mimicked eating an actual cookie.

This caused a smile on Cookie's face, and she responded by reaching into a pocket on her jerkin and pulling out another lebkuchen , whilst casting a rather rueful glare at her Chancellor, and clarified as best she could, between a yummy cookie, and Smart Cookie. She gave it to Dawn, who took it and pensively bit into it, and you could almost see the wheels turning in her little head as she tried to sort out that different things sometimes had the same name.[2]

Cookie shared a similar expression as she turned to Pansy and I, and declared to us that Dawn had the wings of a pegasus and the alicorn of a unicorn. Before I could respond with a good natured "no foolin', Fetlock" [3], she pressed on, saying that she also had "the tread of an earth pony".

Pansy and I exchanged puzzled glances, and our friend elaborated. I had never heard of this before, o diary, but it appears to be of that vast and inscrutable store of wisdom that our friends the earth ponies merely know in their bones without e'er cracking open a tome or even being told by their fellows.

Struggling to explain in words, Cookie informed us that there is a sort of connection between earth ponies and the land, flowing between the soil and their hooves and giving them a feeling of presence. The best example she could give compared the earth to a lodestone and its namesake ponies to bits of iron or steel, and yet that was inadequate, as it wasn't just sticking them down.

Pansy compared it to the intangible flow of wind that the pegasi feel sifting through their wings as they fly, or to their ability to walk upon clouds as if they were solid ground. I offered that mayhap it was like the current of energy that connects betwixt horn, aether, and inner eye for the unicorns, directing our will into spells upon the very stuff of the universe. To both these Cookie shrugged in her laconic fashion, saying if it helped us get the picture it was fine with her, but she could not say because she was neither a pegasus nor a unicorn. Then with a face both wondering and grave, she reached out and stroked Dawn Heart's cheek, and declared that somehow, this filly was a scion of all three of the tribes at once.

Almost on cue our reverie was broken by a blare of trumpets, and we looked to see Queen Platinum and Commander Hurricane approaching, each in their finery and each attended by bodyguards, my lady the queen with her two most favored knights destrier, and the Commander with two of her fierce pegasi warriors. Chancellor Puddinghead snapped into focus and stepped forward to greet them as her accompanying landsknechts hustled to take up positions at her flanks.

With great formality, the three leaders of the pony tribes performed a flawless Triune[4], although as I often speculate, o diary, that after ten years of practice all three of them would be able to do the thing just wakened from a deep sleep. When they landed back on their hooves, Puddinghead in her usual extemporaneous fashion reared up and dragged her majesty and the pegasus' supreme warlord into a hug (I daresay, she might be the only pony in the world who would be able to do such a thing without getting thrown into the dungeon or cast over the border at a high speed and altitude.) She wheeled to face our little group of trusted advisors, all gathered about the foundling Dawn, and began to march over to us as Hurricane and Queen Platinum puzzled over the lebkuchen they suddenly found in their possession.  

Before I knew it her excellency the Chancellor was pumping my hoof and greeting me in her usual infuriating misappropriation of my name. [5] What passed for formalities finished, she laid a hoof across my withers and explained to me that she and her people would be glad to sit down to some food and maybe a couple of hooves of cards, and then everypony should get together and talk about what to do about little Dawn, and also about getting another Warming Heart up there in the sky as soon as possible so that the nation wouldn't fall apart from internal strife or suffer outside invasion.

With that, she just as abruptly wheeled and headed back to the other leaders, brightly asking her majesty what was for lunch today. All I could do is stammer a stunned "What?" as I sat heavily down on my haunches. Cookie let out a sigh, closed my jaw for me, and she and Pansy helped me to my hooves and led me after the grand procession that followed in the wake of Queen, Commander, and Chancellor in the direction of the feasting hall.

I sat through the meal, and subsequent hoofs of Ruff and Honors with a stunned expression on my face, scarcely responsive as my poor mind reeled at what I realized they would be asking me to do, in addition to the responsibility of taking care of Dawn Heart. I felt as though I were faced with a raging inferno upon my alchemy lab table with but a small cup of water at hoof to put it out. (And I shan't mention that particular incident further.)

My quill trembles in the grasp of my magic as I write down the very same words that I said as soon as we'd convened our grand meeting of the tribes in one of my lady the Queen's high council chambers:

I don't remember how I created the Warming Heart. It just happened spontaneously. It was a spell cast in desperation as the ice crept up my horn and the light faded in my eyes. What if I couldn't do it again? I had no idea how I did it in the first place!

My lady Queen Platinum rose and voiced her full confidence that I was more than enough of a mage to accomplish the task, and that the full resources of the kingdom would be put at my disposal to aid me. She stressed how important a symbol of our harmonious new nation the Warming Heart had become. It was upon all our heraldry, it was upon the backs of our coins, our cavalry raised it upon their standards and wore it over their own hearts when sallying forth to defend our lands and ponies.  

At this Commander Hurricane chimed in, agreeing that the Warming Heart was a beacon and rallying point for her forces. All the land that the magical flames illuminated was ours, and if her warriors could see it in the sky, they knew that it shone for them, and took courage from the awareness that they had friends among the ponies of our land.

She also vowed that should I need assistance, she and her pegasi would fly to the ends of the world to find what I needed, be it materials, knowledge, or even helping hooves. Her excellency even suggested that a force of pegasi could seek out the old grump in his wanderings, and bring him hence if I so desired it. This is one of many, many things I am most conflicted about.

In desperation, I seized on other lines of protest. I pointed to Dawn, who currently was fast asleep in the cradle of dear Pansy's wings after a full belly and a bit of boredom overcame her. She had been born from the Warming Heart. For all I knew, after ten years the heart beginning to beat and then bearing forth what amounted to an infant goddess was the full and natural course of the spell. I scarce knew what to do with the one we've got now, what would I do in ten years with another one? Or it might not even take ten years. Who knew?

Puddinghead took the floor with a thoughtful expression as I ground my hooves on the tabletop, and conjectured, completely out of anypony's depth as usual, that perhaps I could put something else besides a heart up there. Something that wasn't going to come alive and undergo aponytheosis. (What? WHAT?)

She began to pace and think, and then make suggestions as my chin sank toward the table and my hooves reached up to clutch my poor throbbing head. If not a pink heart, then perhaps a yellow moon, or an orange star. No, she decided. "Too much like the stuff that is already up there."

What about a green clover? "Give props to the mare who made it happen." she said while giving me one of her crowd pleasing smiles. My eyes must have become even more haunted than they already were, as she dismissed the idea with a shake of her head, abandoning the path of flattery.

When she suggested a blue diamond, my lady the Queen spoke up, saying that she rather approved of that idea, saying it would indeed be a fine symbol of the beauty of our kingdom. Hurricane agreed, chiming in that it was also a sign of permanence, and of strength. Puddinhead rapped her hoof on the table to carry the motion, nodding sagely in concurrence with her fellow leaders.

So in short, o diary, they wanted me to recreate this powerful spell I had no memory of casting, with nothing but the cohesion and status of the kingdom at stake, and to alter its final appearance to reflect their whims and hopefully preclude any further surprises like the powerful and mysterious Dawn Heart, who, by the way, I was supposed to take care of. All I could do at the time is pull my cassock over my head and groan.

I felt a soft touch of a hoof on my shoulder, and heard Cookie's blessed voice speak up, stating that the spell wasn't cast by my horn alone, but by the friendship and shared hearts of herself and darling Pansy. None of these burdens would be mine alone to bear, but shared by these my sisters of different mothers, and furthermore by all ponies in the kingdom when it came to it.

I dare say, o diary, that my cheeks were much bedewed when I raised my snout from the table and met that dear mare's eyes. I felt Pansy's gentle nuzzle upon my neck on the other side, and met her soft smile with my own grateful one. Little Dawn stirred on her back and murmured my name in her slumber with a sweet smile of her own.

I met the gazes of our country's leaders with a firm resolve stiffening my spine and hiking my tail proudly, and rapped my hoof as I agreed to do my best, and to place a great gleaming blue diamond in the firmament.

So now I find myself ensconced in a veritable fortress of books, emptying my shelves and filling my study with as much lore as I can bring to bear. Cookie and Pansy have already made good their promise by taking little Dawn off my hooves for the night and allowing me the peace and quiet to properly think things through. (Methodically. Jingle jingle.) This entry is my last bit of complaining whining before I center myself and begin thinking clearly on the matter at hoof.

And thus I close, for there are other books that I now must concern myself with. Good night.

Translator's Hoofnotes:

[1] Lady Clover often makes note of Smart Cookie's ability to clarify a complex situation with a cutting remark, once referring to her talent for sarcasm as "bluntness so profound that it travels 'round the globe and arrives as self contradiction" and another time as "a blade so sharp one only sees the back edge of it". A bit of the great statesmare's trenchant wit survives to this day in the text of the Hearth's Warming pageant and the literary Smart Cookie's frequent asides to the audience.

While I mention the pageant and how the characters of the founders become distilled over time, I can't help but dwell a moment on Chancellor Puddinghead, whom time has made into a comical, almost clownish figure (given even further heights of ridiculous whimsy whenever my good friend Pinkie Pie performs her part. Pardon the alliteration.)

Lady Clover's relationship with the Chancellor is a complex one. It's often clear from her writings that she found her queen's earth pony equivalent infuriating to deal with, given to odd turns of thought or flashes of convoluted quasi-logic. As the ever stringent Cookie was once quoted about her senior administrator's flourishes of rhetoric. "If you can't bedazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull muffins."

Regardless, there is a strain of grudging admiration for Puddinghead's deft hoof at populist politics. The chancellorship of her tribe was an elected position, and somehow, year after year, she won out over all challengers by making her constituents agree with the cut of her gibberish. I have a sense, based on Lady Clover's writings, that beneath the jokes, eccentricities, and non-sequiturs, Puddinghead possessed a razor sharp mind and a natural gift for making sense by revelation rather than direction, for leading ponies to water by making them think, as well as winning their hearts by making them smile.

[2] Another doodle sits in the margin of this passage, and I think I was perhaps too hasty in declaring the earlier drawing of a moon maddened Lady Clover to be my favorite. It's also significant as it's the first depicting Dawn Heart. In fact, it's the first image of Princess Celestia ever made, and while not as grand as the wall sized paintings, frescoes, and stained glass windows of the Reneighssance showing her in all of her regal glory, it is as charming a thing as you'd ever hope to see.

It depicts the wide eyed, innocent face of a little filly with a flowing mane, with the High Monoceric equivalent of a question mark over her head. Beneath her is a cookie, and the face of a pony recognizable as Lady Clover's usual caricature of her friend Smart Cookie.[6]

I squealed with such glee at seeing this little drawing for the first time that one of the royal archivists was forced to shush me, although she squealed just about as loudly when I showed it to her. I shushed her right back, and we called it even. (I take a moment to tip my horn to my friend Bookmark, who provided me a wealth of supplemental research on many a long night in the archives. You take such good care of the books, you deserve to have your name preserved in at least one.)

[3] Here I'm forced to use the modern idiom for a pony scoffing at a glaringly obvious statement, as the phrase Lady Clover uses, involving a pheasant and a butter churn, has been rendered nigh incomprehensible by time and cultural shift to the modern reader.

[4] The Triune was a gesture of mutual respect and acknowledgment developed in the early days of Equestria and used by its leaders to establish that all three tribes were on an equal footing and that each respected the others.

The princesses demonstrated it for me one evening, and it goes thusly: All three leaders would face one another, and then bow down to one another in tandem, taking care to always meet eye to eye and nose to nose with nopony's head higher than the others. They would then straighten up, bump hooves, give a toss of their mane, and make a small hop in the air, which symbolized the earth ponies, unicorns, and pegasi respectively.

The practice obviously fell out of use as the Princesses ascended to the throne and the polity of Equestria formalized into the parlimentary system, the judiciary, and the ministries of the crown. You still see the occasional hoof bump, head toss, or hop in the procedures and rituals of the various branches of government, however.

Now you know, dear reader, why they do that.

[5] Chancellor Puddinghead frequently referred to Lady Clover as "Mrs. The Clever", and it drove our esteemed authoress right up the wall.

(Rather like two eminent ponysonages who are on
really thin ice right now after the following exchange in this chapter's hoofnotes. I'm going to complain to my publisher if this keeps up. See if I don't!) [10]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:

[6] See! The filly couldn't tell the difference between a pony and a baked good! And yet
who gets accused of gobbling up ponies for hundreds of years? I rest my case. -P.L. [7]

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:

[7] Methinks the princess doth protest too much. You certainly have no complaints about all that free candy you get every year because of that particular folk tale. -P.C. [8]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:

[8] None save how much of it seems to disappear when you're around, sister dearest. I suppose I should be grateful for that as well, lest the crescent upon my flanks become a full moon. -P.L. [9]

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:

[9] You'll get the crescent of my horseshoe back there if you don't quit butting in to Twilight's hoofnotes, Woona. - P.C.

Publishers Hoofnote:

[10] We apologize, Twilight Sparkle, but it's not our place to excise the writings of their royal highnesses. If the princesses want it in there, then we put it in there, no questions asked.

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.

The earth ponies arrive, and Clover gets more burdens laid on her shoulders.

Part 8 ->…
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I like the contrast between the contemporary account of the historical ponies and the how they appear in the hearthwarming eve play.
So each tribe operates under a parliamentary system nowadays? Or is that used primarily by the earth ponies?
All of Equestria operates under a parliamentary system rather like the British parliament historically ran beneath a more powerful monarchy, and also with a judiciary that allows ponies to seek redress or consultation on royal decrees. So it's kind of a weird amalgamation of that and the American system with three branches of govt', and not terribly fully baked so it doesn't really stand up to much scrutiny.

The three tribes are unified in modern times, so the polity of Equestria is just about ponies, not pegasus vs. earth pony vs. unicorn. :)
0RCV0 Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist
YAY Update! :D Also, those hoofnotes are hilarious.
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