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Chapter 8 - 12th. Day of the Seventh Month, Year 10 AE.

O diary, it has been far too long since last I cracked your covers and opened your quietly attentive parchment face to the light of sun or candle. I have burned many candles indeed, pursuing my research in neglect of the quiet reflection of recording and musing upon the day's events, and now even research is denied me in favor of feverish preparations of a different sort.

There has been much ado, one might even go so far to say a hurly burly is ahoof. Were you not at the bottom of a stack of books I was bundling, mayhap the scratching of my quill upon your pages would be even longer stilled, mayhap indeed until the unpacking was completed at the other end of my upcoming journey.

But I set the cart afore the drafter, o diary. (An apt turn of phrase indeed.) The matter of note is that I am being compelled to move with my darling Crimson and dearest little Dawn Heart, by royal decree, to the distant settlement of Fort Everfree, so as to raise her, as my lady the Queen puts it, in a more "peaceful, bucolic environment".

If I may be so bold as to make a frank comment on her majesty's couching of the situation: "Peaceful and bucolic" my aching rump! What she means is "a safe distance from a major population center" or "far away so that no further holes might be blown in the castle walls 'nor craters blasted in the gardens." [1]

I have had a drink of spiced wine and calmed down somewhat, o diary, and I apologize for besmirching your patient pages with my choleric scrawlings.

I am loath to dwell in detail upon the second incident of Dawn Heart's incontinent use of her vast powers. Mayhap someday when my hooves no longer shake upon thinking of it. The new reflecting pool her majesty has ordered built at the site shall serve to assuage the memories of that day to those who shall continue to dwell in the castle and I hope its quiet beauty will dim the vision of a mighty oak tree, uprooted and tumbling high over the castle wall. [2] That is one silver lining upon the cloud, to use the pegasi idiom, and another is that Dawn has learned conclusively that bumblebees are to be left alone to go about their business.

It had been hoped that in the capable hooves of her majesty's maidservants, little Dawn would be properly cared for whilst I divided my attention between her and studying to recreate Equestria's beacon. Cookie and Pansy had stayed on a few days to see that the dear filly's days were settled into an orderly, wholesome routine. (The very act of privy training a newborn goddess is a feat of skill and bravery that has earned my earth pony friend an exalted place upon the Equestrian Scroll of Heroes, by my lights. Would that I could think of a decorous way to phrase such a nomination.)

Thus did little Dawn's days pass in a steady rhythm and thus did she thrive. Rise with the sun. Use the privy. Wash face and hooves and preen the wings. Eat a wholesome breakfast. Play in the gardens. Have a hearty lunch. Take some quiet time learning her words. Lie down for a nap in the afternoon. Use the privy. More play in the gardens. Take a light supper. Use the privy, followed by a warm bath. Finally, listen to a story or an air on Crimson's viol, then to bed as the sun set.

Alas, dearest Cookie had to return to her own children in Mane Hat ere they missed their loving dam o'ermuch, and darling Pansy had to return to her Commander's war flight after conveying Cookie home. Thus I was left alone with Dawn, and thus in a moment of inattention disaster struck. Suffice it to say that this unfortunate explosion accident indiscretion on my charge's part was the proverbial straw that o'ertipped the haywain, and my regal lady's hoof was forced.

Heretofore, my regal lady had given the appearance of taking Dawn's presence among us in stride, and in turn doing what she could to see that her subjects accepted our foundling among them. However, it had become increasingly clear to me, even in my state of distraction at my studies, that her court and the servants were quite ill at ease with the dear filly. Even her majesty's bravest knights-destrier quivered in their horseshoes at her gamboling approach, and others, most heartbreakingly those ponies who have foals of their own, shied away from Dawn, dragging their children behind them in furtive retreat.

It came to a head after the incident in the garden. The maids feared to go near her, the nobles and knights and ladies of the court all took whispered council, and petitioned her majesty the Queen to take measures. And thus it was that my dear lady came to me in my chambers alone the next day after, weeping at the powerlessness of a monarch to forestall what had been demanded, and tearfully telling me what she would in turn command. She swore to me on her crown and the crowned heads of her line and lineage that she would do her utmost to soften the burden upon us as much as she could.

I blame my dearest majesty not for what is to be done, but the circumstances and upon whom the blame falls still anger me beyond reason, for Dawn Heart's nature is a sweet one, overflowing with love for any pony she meets. To use her excellency the Chancellor's oft spoken motto, Dawn has "Never met a pony she didn't like." She does not understand why ponies avoid her, and I have had to do my best at times to console or distract her from this heartless shunning. She wouldn't harm a single hair on their manes. She was born, as far as I might conjecture, from the fires of friendship. It is her very essence. Cannot they see? Cannot they be the friends she craves? Cowards! Dullards! Tremulous fools! It is not fair!

And the injustice increases when I think on what my family and friends suffer in company with me. Crimson, bless his loving heart, is putting on a brave face at our imminent exile from court (which it truly is, although they do not call it thus), saying that he is pleased at becoming a landed country squire with the granting of an estate near the fortress and quipping brightly that he is moving up in the world. [3]

Fie, I say, and berate him for the glib knave he is. He is a courtier, a minstrel, a socialite. Mark my words, o diary, that my poor darling is going to go mad with boredom, and will likely take me with him. We are moving from a castle at the center of unicorn society to a forsaken hut in the wilderness. I have awoken in many a cold sweat at night from ill favored dreams of what sort of swamp or thorn choked thicket we shall find ourselves taking possession of after our long journey down the Saddle River. [4]

He merely shushes me and kisses me at the base of my horn, and says that while he will miss the courtly revels somewhat, he shall relish the quiet time to write and compose, and that I shall benefit from the solitude in researching the elusive spell I have been charged with repeating, and that our new home will probably be a paradise, and that that is exactly what he shall call it.

Paradise Estate. In my deepest heart I nurture a prayer that the name shall not turn out to be a bit of irony worthy of my dearest Cookie.

And speaking of that inestimable mare, she and her family shall be joining us in our remote new home, as will darling Pansy, at the decree of their respective leaders. Shortly after my lady Queen Platinum made her decree that we be banished relocated to distant Everfree, missives were sent and parleys made among her fellow leaders, and the plan for raising Dawn Heart was revised.

While I will admit part of me is overjoyed beyond words that they will be at my side rather than scattered across Equestria as we have been lo these past ten years, and while I shall probably be needing them at hoof to help me bring forth another magical beacon over our lands, the unfairness of being compelled to uproot themselves, o diary, is yet more coals in the brazier of anger that burns in my breast, and these flames are further fanned by how blithely they accept their fate.

Pansy, bless her heart, says that she is not being uprooted at all, for she has lived the wandering life of a pegasus warrior all these years and one place is the same as another to her. She is unmarried and without close relatives, and she owns no possessions save that which she carries upon her back on campaign with the Commander. She says it will be "nice" to settle down somewhere, and maybe try her hoof at raising a flower garden.

She also says that the future site of Paradise Estate is "nice" as well, having done us the kindness of scouting it out last week as well as carrying some correspondence between myself and Cookie. I must confess, o diary, as a pegasus I do not entirely trust her judgment in regards to a land based dwellings, and furthermore it is her way to soften and downplay bad news, and thus a "nice" from her could well equate to a "nightmarish" from another pony.

Smart Cookie is much the same, saying in her recent letters to me that she and her family relish the chance to get out of the hustle and bustle of Mane Hat's sea port and into the country where they can set their hooves on grass and soil instead of cobblestones, and that they all look forward to getting some honest farming done. In faith, o diary, I cannot tell if this is her trademark sarcasm or not.

Cookie reports that preparations for her family's move are proceeding apace, although she wishes her excellency the Chancellor would stop trying to "help" her, mainly by throwing open the city's storehouses and loading them down what one might very charitably term "largesse". She says there have been some tense moments from refusing, as politely as possible, her leader's flights of misguided generosity (examples of which include an inlaid banquet table capable of seating twenty ponies, an entire wagonload of musical instruments, and a life size bronze sculpture of a moose[5]) in favor of practical boons like a complete set of well crafted tools for both building and farming, a goodly supply of warm blankets and soft bedding, and stocks of seed for planting as well as casks of salt and other spices for preserving their produce.

It is her plan, she tells me, to fit everything, including the foals, into two wagons that she and Powdermilk will be pulling themselves, and to that end she has been as quite busy giving unneeded things away to all and sundry and "reducing their hoofprint" as she puts it. Pansy says their house in the city, which was sparsely furnished albeit comfortable when last I visited three years ago, is now as empty as a granary at the end of winter.

Were that I could be as on top of things as dearest Cookie. My world is a mountain of books and papers, enough to bow the axles of several wagons, and that's not to mention my laboratory and all the delicate equipment that must be carefully packed to travel. Crimson has suggested (in jest, or else he shall regret it), that we release a bumblebee in our chambers and let Dawn take care of everything once and for all, a flippant statement that earned him a duly deserved evening of flattened ears and cold stares from his long suffering wife.

Dawn herself has been good as gold, as the perceptive child is aware that something important is ahoof, even if she doesn't completely understand what it is. I warrant she thinks all of our packing and organizing is some sort of elaborate game that grownup ponies play. She has even helped me on occasion, with that uncanny strength of hers, carrying bundles of heavy books down from my apartments to the gatehouse.[6] She craves my approval so deeply, and I am pleased in turn to give it to her for being such a sweetheart.

It is Dawn's sweet nature that has given me what little comfort comes to me these days, as well as the love of my husband and the kindness of my dear friends, as I am forced to balance the responsibilities of raising a preternaturally powerful wonder filly, researching this ineffable spell to conjure a new magic beacon for our skies, my long neglected duties in her majesty's court and how I might pass them on to whose who might replace me, and now moving my household to a distant settlement at the far end of the valley.

Confiding in your pages, o diary, is an edifying habit I have let slip too long, for in penning that last passage I am reminded that I do not suffer these privations alone, and reminds me of the comfort that putting my thoughts in writing can bring.

But alas, I must close now, as all of this clutter in my study still taunts me, parading unboxed and unorganized before my weary gaze as I contemplate the thousandfold tasks at hoof. Thus I bid thee good night and safe passage on your journey, as I pray the same for me and mine.

When next I open thee, it shall be in Everfree.

Translator's Hoofnotes:

[1] Several lines of fairly blistering high monoceric expletives follow, which I have declined to translate and excised from the text so that any librarian that would be kind enough to consider adding this manuscript to their collection won't have to keep it in the "mature" section.

I honestly don't believe Lady Clover would have minded my taking this liberty with her writings, considering the state in which she wrote them. There are some very telling tear stains on this page.

Asking the Princesses what some of those terms even meant was one of the most regrettable conversations I've ever had in my relatively short life, especially when they proceeded to "expwain" in that horn-curlingly annoying baby talk to the accompaniment of much giggling quite unbecoming of the immortal rulers of our nation, in my opinion. [7]

[2] The site of this reflecting pool is currently beneath the royal ballroom, and with the use of a judiciously applied See Through Stone spell, I could make out its vague outline along the colonnade where that Broncosi statue of Princess Celestia stands (in spite of a certain out of control Grand Galloping Gala I still go a bit red in the face remembering.)

Using the princess' vague recollections of the incident, my friend Rainbow Dash and I took a surveyors scope onto the roof and took a sighting. My suspicions about the trajectory and landing spot of the unfortunate oak were confirmed, and my pegasus friend was willing to admit that it was pretty impressive.

There is a mountainside tavern on the northern face of Canterlot known as the "Tipsy Oak" that takes as it's coat of arms an upside down oak tree. The owners, an elderly unicorn couple named Mr. and Mrs. Tipple, claim the original inn was built using lumber from a tree that fell from the sky and nearly knocked Mr. Tipple's great to the tenth power grandfather off the mountainside where he was gathering elderberries.

The tavern has been torn down and rebuilt several times, and most of the original wood is long gone, save for one venerable cask used for aging cider, the product of which is said to have a bit of extra "kick" and leaves a lingering feeling of warmth in a pony's tummy.

Rainbow Dash and I sampled some and found it quite good, although Dash still maintains Sweet Apple Acres cider is the best there is.

[3] Most of the lands around what would have been the location of Fort Everfree, which in turn became the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters in later years, have been swallowed up by the infamous Everfree Forest, and are lost to history. Zecora, my wise and brave zebra friend and sometimes mentor, probably knows the depths of the Everfree better than anypony alive today, and has come across occasional house foundations and disassociated stone walls in her roving, buried under twisting roots and layers of moss and lichen.

One discovery that fascinates me with its implications is her description of a clearing containing traces of a compound of dwellings that sounds intriguingly like the layout of the estate Lady Clover describes renovating and moving into in the following entry. It may well be what remains of the house where Princess Celestia, and later Princess Luna, spent their foalhood.

I would dearly love to have Zecora lead me to this site, but she has demurred in the name of safety. She tells me a particularly fierce grove/pack of timberwolves lair in the area and are best avoided.

[4] River travel tied most of Equestria together in those days, as roads were rudimentary and overland travel was slow and dangerous in a kingdom that was mostly wilderness.

While the pegasi were excellent at carrying messages and small parcels between the widespread communities that the united tribes had settled, they hadn't quite wrapped their heads around the idea of air drawn wagons for hauling freight, beyond carrying small cart loads of food to their cloud cities from earth pony farms. Only as more and more of them gave up the warrior lifestyle and became integrated with the other tribes did those sorts of commercial enterprises begin to appear.

Thankfully for Lady Clover and her cohort, the Saddle River, which runs the length of the valley and passes through both Ponyville and the Everfree forest, flows southwest, so the journey would have been fairly easy until they had to make landfall and transport their belongings the rest of the way by wagon.

Flatboats and barges were the most common water craft used by ponies in the ancient era, hoof poled or drawn from the shoreline by sturdy hoofed earth ponies. Sails were not as common until a few decades later, generally being a result of collaboration between earth pony and unicorn shipwrights and pegasi to improve maritime transportation.

[5] The head of this bronze moose survives to this day and watches over the doors of the Manehattan Stock Exchange, where it was installed about three hundred years ago. The tip of its nose has been worn down and burnished to a bright sheen by countless traders rearing up to rub their hoof on it for luck. As a result they call him "Old Gildersnoot"

I dug this little factoid up by chance while paging through a copy of "Cosmarepolitan" magazine in the waiting room of the Ponyville Spa. I include it just to show that history can be delightfully weird and whimsical, and that sometimes some very strange connections can occur as time marches on.

[6] This gatehouse was destroyed during the uprising against Discord. Based on Princess Celestia's description, there were several storage rooms that served as a staging area to secure freight or luggage until it could be loaded for transport. While this particular structure held no particular sentimental attachment for her, she did say that she still regrets having to bring the venerable edifice of Castle Canter down after it had stood strong for so many years. Much of the stone was recovered and bits of it can be found all throughout the buildings of Canterlot.

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:
[7] Now now, Twilight. Luna and I apologized in earnest for that, and in fairness how would you have me react when my brightest, most adorably serious student ever turns to me at a lovely brunch on the veranda, and with a perfectly innocent and inquisitive expression asks me what {excised by royal order} means. -P.C. [8]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:
[8] Yea verily! The cloud of tea and royal saliva that burst forth from my sister's lips and nostrils was truly impressive. 'Twas the best brunch ever! - P.L.

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.

Lady Clover touches base with her journal in the midst of a new upheaval. At her coming journey's end, she'll be closer to her friends than before, and closer to familiar ground for our esteemed translator.

Part 9 ->…
Poor Celestia.
0RCV0 Aug 6, 2013  Hobbyist
YAY update ^_^
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