If you're interested in more of my Pony fanfiction, I usually post stuff on FIMfiction first (and reply to comments there too). You can follow me at FIMfiction dot net / user / Emperor


"What is on the agenda for today, Kibitz?" The pony reclining back on the throne asked, toting the sceptre that had become a familiar sight to the court within the last day. Her tone and mannerisms suggested she was bored, though those who knew her well could tell that she was incredibly excited. Reading her expressions however were like squeezing water from a rock.

Kibitz visibly trembled as he went through the short scroll he had worked up in the wee hours, knowing that his princess liked the morning briefing to be to the point. "A-ah, uh," He stuttered, brain barely processing the words before him now that he stood in front of the princess, "In the afternoon, your court mage will present her latest dissertation to the public on Star Swirl the Bearded's amniomorphic spellwork. Following that, you have a dinner meeting with the minotaurs. As is traditional, the new ambassador will request a hoof-wrestling contest with you." Typically it was never actually done, and the princess would find some way to politely let the minotaur ambassador down.

"I think I'll take him up on that," The princess stated in a straight monotone, the pitch of her voice never altering a single octave, even as she suggested what would be the social faux pas of the year if she hadn't already committed them at a rate of at least once per hour already. "How strong do you think he is." Even what would normally be a question was transformed into a statement by her nonchalance.

The adviser to the throne managed a nervous chuckle, sweat visibly dripping down his fur. Then again, they were under 'new management', "Not as strong as you, your majesty," He assured her. Having seen her demonstrate her strength before, he could believe that easily.

"OK," Was all the most powerful pony in all the land had to say in response, moving her grip on the sceptre from one front hoof to the other, before moving on to other topics, "Are you alright, Kibitz. You're sweating."

"I-I'm quite alright, your majesty!" Kibitz scrambled to come up with something to cover for his shot nerves. "Ah, the Sun is merely really hot today!" How inconvenient for him that the one pony who could change that for him was no longer here.

"OK," Said the princess for the second time in as many minutes. "That's this afternoon. What's happening this morning."

"W-well," Kibitz had delayed on mentioning this to her, wishing to avoid the issue for as long as possible. "Within an hour, you are to have a meeting with your court magician, followed up by-" What he had to say was interrupted by a large commotion outside the doors leading to the throne room, the stomping of hooves getting louder before ultimately the doors were thrown open, creating a loud bang on impact.

"Princess!" Twilight Sparkle shouted as she barged into the room, most of the remaining former bearers of the Elements of Harmony galloping in behind her. "We came as fast as we could after Pinkie felt a disturbance in her Pinkie Se-Maud Pie?!"

"Teeheehee, silly Maud," Pinkie Pie exclaimed as she followed the rest of her friends into the throne room, pronking in the hyperactive manner only Pinkie was capable of, "What are you doing sitting on a throne? That's where Celly and Loony are supposed to sit!"

"And that throne! It's, so, so, so plain!" Rarity declared, completely ignoring the most important thing and going for the little details. Said throne was carved entirely out of stone, with no fancy engravings, possessing only leg rests that Maud Pie was actively making use of. "And the varnishing on that staff, it's tacky!"

Kibitz took the time to clear his throat, "Er-hem!" Attracting the attention of the six Ponyvillians. "Actually," He said, "Maud Pie took control of the throne thirty-five hours ago."

One would think that the former Element bearers would have become inured to the anti-antics of Maud Pie, especially Pinkie Pie, whom had grown up with her sister and was used to her mannerisms. They would have been wrong, as all six of them were rendered speechless.

"Nonsense, Kibitz," Maud Pie said, her delivery still as dead as always. "Equestria still has its regal tetrarchy. I merely supplanted them as the highest ruler." Turning to her sister and her friends, she told them, "Sorry, but your princess is in another castle."

Looking at the shell-shocked expressions of the Element bearers, she clarified, "She's at the Castle of the Pony Sisters. I sent her there to fix it up."

"But why Maudie?" Pinkie asked, her entire worldview suddenly shifted at an angle that didn't fit with Euclidean geometry. "Why would you want to become a princess? Twilight became a princess and now she's even busier than before, and then I have to be a meanie meany-pants and drag her away from work so she can have fun at parties!"

"Because who rules Equestria," Maud stated, "Rules the planet."

"That's it?!" Twilight barked indignantly. "You just want power then, like Tirek, Chrysalis and all the other would-be tyrants?"

Maud shook her head. "No."

"Then why do you want to rule the planet?!" Rainbow Dash asked, cutting to the chase. She knew if she let Twilight continue the conversation, they would be playing a skit for another half a dozen questions. Something she had learned was that Maud was extremely literal, and you needed to ask her a direct question.

"Because this planet is a giant rock."

There was an awkward silence for several seconds, as Kibitz slowly backed away, knowing this was somewhere he didn't want to be at any point for the next few days, and a blue-furred pony entered the room silently as he left, the two nodding as they passed one another.

"That, that I can actually believe from you," Twilight admitted after recovering from her facehoof, memories she had thought repressed coming to the forefront of her mind as dozens of poems, all about rocks, replayed themselves.

"But Maudie, what're you going to do when it comes to the sun and the moon?" Pinkie giggled, and her friends quickly realised she was losing it. "If you try to hurt Celly and Loony they won't be able to raise and lower them anymore."

"That's alright," Maud replied. "The moon is also a giant rock. I'll control that too."

Twilight felt like she had been placed in an absurdist comedy play like the Sheepspear plays Princess Celestia had occasionally taken her to when she was a filly. "And what about the sun? That's not a rock," She asked, completely forgoing how impossible it was for an Earth pony to raise the sun and the moon anyways.

"That's easy! The sun is a star, and stars by definition are gas bodies with sufficient enough gravity to cause ongoing nuclear fusion, with the end product of nuclear synthesis being most of the elements that make up terrestrial planets. Therefore, while the sun itself isn't a rock, it's necessary to make more rocks!"

Fluttershy let out an 'eep' at the sudden intrusion of another pony, quickly hiding behind the pony nearest her, which happened to be Rainbow Dash. The athletic Pegasus barely even noticed, as she was surprised by who the speaker in question was. "Trixie?!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed aloud, not even focused enough to muster up any anger at seeing the showmare they had come to blows with several times in the past.

"Yes, the one, the only, the Great and Powerful Trixie is here! To check in on Maudie and make sure her day is going well," Trixie paused as she took in the vacuous looks on some of the ponies in the room, "What? Trixie did study while in school, it should come as no surprise that she has some notion of stellar nucleosynthesis." Quickly, she slinked her way onto the throne, giving Maud a quick squeeze.

"Trixie, I'm fine," Maud stated, and for the first time that day Twilight thought she could hear a little bit of emotion in Maud's voice, a hint of annoyance. Other than that, however, she appeared unfazed by Trixie's hug, not even blinking.

"What are ya doing here, Trixie?" Applejack asked in a blatantly accusatory tone, "Making trouble for ponies again?"

"Trixie is my court mage," Maud said.

Rarity gasped, "I beg your pardon?"

"Enough," Twilight had to refrain from shouting. Not only was she already getting a headache from what appeared to be a problem a step above Equestria's usual issue-a-week governance, but she felt if she let the others derail this surreal conversation any further she'd end up off a train track going to outer space. "Maud, desist this nonsense and let Celestia return at once."

"No."

Twilight grit her teeth, thankful for the fact they were all fairly flat. If she had had the dentals of an omnivore, she would have worn through the sharper teeth by now. "Maud-"

"Pinkie Pie," Maud said, and her sister jumped, for once the one being surprised as she was addressed out of the blue. "Take your friends away, please. Come back this evening, if you want. According to Kibitz, I'm busy for the rest of the day." She punctuated her announcement with a thud as she tapped the sceptre she held down on the floor once.

"Yeah!" Trixie waved at the Ponyville six, ending off with a shooing motion. "She has meetings later with the minotaurs and griffons, and Trixie's job is to keep her spirits up throughout the day!"

Twilight found herself snarling, but much as she dearly wanted to escalate this stand-off that easily topped the list of weird things that had occurred to her this week thus far, the cooler part of her prevailed. She need information first, because this had totally blindsided her. "C'mon girls, let's go," She said to her five friends, turning around. She expected to be blasted from behind at any moment, so she decided to vent some of the stress as she muttered under her breath with no small amount of venom, "Some humble and apologetic pony that one is."

Outside, the others confronted her. "What should we do?" Fluttershy whispered, tear streaks visible on her face.

"What else? We go grab some guards and go back in there and pound them!" Rainbow Dash suggested, slamming her front hooves together. The smacking sound gave Twilight a quick moment of satisfaction, before she squashed it.

"No, girls," Twilight said, naturally taking the lead as she had many times before in situations like this. In this case, however, she had her work cut out for her, keeping not just Fluttershy but also Pinkie Pie from breaking down. "Maud gave us a lead. We need to find Princess Celestia."

[hr]

"I was wondering when you would show up," Princess Celestia said as the six ponies wandered up to the entranceway of the Castle of the Pony Sisters. The Princess had been standing at the top of the stairwell, looking down on her student and their friends as they approached.

"Princess, you're alright!" Twilight exclaimed, overjoyed at finding her mentor alive and well, quickly running ahead the rest of her friends to hug the Solar Princess, tears of relief in her eyes.

"My faithful Twilight, it's alright," Celestia reassured her former student, feeling the hot liquid pride seeping into her fur. "I accepted a voluntary exile here. It's actually been rather nostalgic, seeing this place again after so long," She admitted. "I was only here briefly during the return of Nightmare Moon, but fixing the place up brings so much memory."

"It does look like you've done some repair work," Rarity said, looking at the stone ramparts leading up to the castle's main door. Where the railings were crumbling before after centuries of rain, trees growing upwards and roots growing down below, they were now fully repaired, the wide steps feeling inviting to the hoof.

"Repairs, shmepairs," Applejack retorted, "Princess, what in tarnation did Maud Pie do? Haystacks to bales there's no way she's more powerful than you, let alone both you and Princess Luna."

"Yes, Princess," Twilight said, recovering from her emotional turmoil and pulling her front hooves away from her hug. "Maud Pie is just an Earth pony, there's no way she could have beaten you."

"She didn't," Celestia admitted.

"Then why did you surrender the throne to her?" Rainbow asked in an accusatory tone, her wings beating in an angry buzz.

Celestia sighed, then turned back to Twilight. "Did you notice something odd about the sceptre that Maud wielded?"

"The sceptre? Not really, I…" Twilight thought back hard to the scepter Maud had held in one hoof. She really hadn't taken much notice of it, focusing more on the fact that [i]Maud had usurped the throne[/i] than the single piece of imperial regalia she had possessed. But now that Celestia had mentioned it, there was something familiar, if only she could put her hoof on it-

Twilight blinked. "No," She whispered.

"What, is that sceptre supposed to be mocking you, like Discord and his Twilicane?" Rarity asked, not having forgotten that little item.

"Yes," Celestia answered in reply, "The staff itself is normal, but the tip of the sceptre is the remains of the Alicorn Amulet."

"The remains of the Alicorn Amul-[i]but what happened to the gem[/i]?!" Twilight screamed as it all came into sudden clarity. Yes, the sceptre was tipped in a triangle adorned by the head of a unicorn and wings of a Pegasus, that much she now recalled. But the centrepiece of the Alicorn Amulet, the red gem that was the focus of its power, wasn't there.

"She ate it," Pinkie Pie said.

It wasn't a question, and all her friends turned to her, eyes wide, mouths open in a uniform "What?!"

"Yes, she ate it," Celestia confirmed. "Even at that, I might not have let her take the throne, but then she knocked out all my guards in one hit each, and I knew I had to step down or risk escalating the fight. Tell me Pinkie, did your sister train under any martial artists when she was younger?"

Pinkie Pie shivered, "Maud stayed on the farm for the most part, though a wandering martial artist taught her something called the Breaking Point technique. She used it in Ponyville once when she broke a large rock to pieces that was about to bury me in a rockslide. There was one time she left for a few months, but…" She trailed off, the normally exuberant party pony for once quiet, nervous even, the reign of her sister having deeply affected her. Squeezing her eyes shut to hold back the tears that threatened to come, she told all, "All she told me was she found a master whose name was White Eyebrows."

"Then it is as I feared," Celestia said.

"As you feared what, Princess?" Twilight asked, eyes wide.

"Hold on, hold on, you can't mean [i]that[/i] White Eyebrows, right?" Rainbow Dash was hysterical, having grounded herself at the news. Having a black belt in karate, she knew of that name, and also wished she didn't.

"Yes, the one and the same, Rainbow Dash," Celestia stated. "I'm afraid that Maud Pie…Maud Pie knows the Five-Point-Hoof Heart Exploding Technique."

[hr]

"I ask you again, Twilight Sparkle, are you [i]certain[/i] you wish to take this course of action?" Celestia asked Twilight Sparkle.

Twilight Sparkle looked up from her saddlebags to eye her fellow Princess. Even though they were now of equal ranks, Twilight would still normally defer to her former mentor. Not now, however. "Yes, Princess," Twilight declared. "You may be willing to let Maud Pie do what she wants, but I'm not. I saw what happened to Trixie when she was under the influence of the Alicorn Amulet. Now that Maud Pie ate it, who knows what might happen to her tomorrow, or the next day? Even if it takes years, she could end up worse than Sombra."

"You've truly come a long ways, Twilight. I only wish I could be as steadfast as you are right now," Celestia admitted. "However, I think there's somepony else you need to convince."

"Somepony else? Who do you mea-oh," Twilight's voice dropped off as she followed Celestia's gaze over to a certain pink pony. "I'll go talk to her," She told the other Princess, trotting her way over to Pinkie Pie.

"What do you want?" Pinkie Pie grumbled as Twilight approached, but her heart wasn't quite in it.

"Are you alright, Pinkie?" Twilight asked, keeping a careful eye on her friend's mane. It hadn't quite straightened out yet, so it was still the same Pinkie they all knew and loved, just in a depressive funk.

"Of course I'm OK," Pinkie replied sarcastically, "My sister only turned out to be evil and took over Equestria. Help me out here, Twilight," And now she was back to sad again, tears in her eyes, "Please, convince me. I'm not sure I can go through with this," She pleaded.

"You said Maud ate the Alicorn Amulet," Twilight started, not entirely sure where she was going with it. "How did you know?"

"I didn't, I just guessed," Pinkie was fully crying now. "Maud always was fascinated by different types of rocks, moreso than the rest of us. You know me, I don't have many inhibitions. Maudie's the same, I don't think she would have hesitated to lick it and then eat it even if Trixie warned her it was dangerous."

"Do you…think Trixie might have tricked Maud into eating it?" Twilight threw the question out there, not quite believing it would be the case. Trixie might not have been a very nice pony, but she had reformed, and Twilight genuinely believed the showmare to be traumatised enough from the time she had worn the Amulet to never even consider tricking another pony into wearing it, or in this case eating it. However, Twilight was willing to say anything if it could cheer Pinkie up even slightly. A sad Pinkie was a rare sight, and she would do anything to make it go away.

"Maybe," Pinkie sniffed. "All I know is I want my sister back."

"Then we'll have to go to the Tree to get the Elements of Harmony, and use them her," Twilight told her. "It healed Luna of her madness, so it should do the same to Maud."

"B-but, but what if it turns her to stone, like they do with Discord?" Pinkie asked.

Twilight paused, not quite sure how to answer that, "Then…then I suppose it might be how Maud would have wanted to go out, as a life-sized rock."

Awkward silence permeated the air for a few seconds, before Pinkie let loose a giggle. Sniffing her nose again, coughing out a bit of mucus onto the ground, she looked up, a sad smile on her face. "Yeah, Maudie would've loved that. Let's do it, then."

[hr]

"Maud Pie!" Twilight Sparkle shouted in a challenging tone as the six reformed Element Bearers barged into the throne room again, Twilight wearing the tiara of the Element of Magic on her head while the other five had their necklaces once more, having just retrieved them from the Tree of Harmony, "We're here to put an end to your tyranny!"

"Oh, you're back," Maud Pie greeted the declaration of war in a flat tone again, turning away from Trixie and a dressed-up griffon Twilight idly remembered to be the ambassador to Equestria, along with a griffon attaché.

"Should I be going, then?" Ambassador Hawkeyes asked, making a motion with his claw to his assistant.

"No, no, stay a while and watch the show," Trixie told him, gently pushing him with an application of her magic to prod him towards the far end of the room, carrying a glass of might have been red wine in her magic. "This should be interesting. Trixie shall protect you from any errant blows that should come from Miss Snarkle and her troupe."

"That's Sparkle," Twilight corrected her with a hiss. "Tell me Trixie, how did you get the Alicorn Amulet back from Zecora?! Did you steal it from her, and then convince Maud to eat the gem? If that's the case, then you truly don't belong of this world of peace and friendship!"

"Oh-ho-ho," Trixie said with a mad laughter, "It was not by my hoof that I was once again given power. I was called here by Maud who wished to pay me back a favour over the Alicorn Amulet!"

"A favour, sugarcube?!" Applejack yelled out angrily. "You stole Ponyville's soul and made us your slaves!"

"Perhaps the same could be said of all Princess worship," Trixie retorted.

"Darling, I really hate to say it, but your words are as empty as your soul," Rarity said, bringing out her inner philosopher.

"Yeah, ponykind ill needs a so-called saviour such as you!" Rainbow Dash added. She wanted to get up close in Trixie's face again, but was suspicious of what new power Trixie might have. The blue-furred unicorn's comment about protecting the griffons left an unsettling feeling in her stomach, too.

Trixie took a long sip out of her wine glass, emptying it to the last drop before she spoke again, "What is a pony?!" Throwing the glass to the side, the tinkering sound of breaking glass distinct in the large throne room, she said, "A miserable little pile of secrets! But-"

"Enough talk," Maud said, and all was still. At that point, everypony in the room knew who the true power of the usurped throne was. "Trixie, please stop antagonising my sister and her friends."

"Of course, Maudie," Trixie bowed, "My humblest apologies." The comment was only somewhat sincere, but Maud Pie would take what she could get with the only pony she had felt comfortable confiding her dreams of grandeur in.

"As for you all," Maud turned her attention back to the six ponies from Ponyville, "Pinkie, I realise this would have come as a surprise to you. I lusted for this world since I was born, but I kept those feelings hidden, until Trixie inspired me to reach for what I wanted in life. I beg you not to do this. I don't want to hurt you."

"No Maud, I won't go away," Pinkie trotted forward, her face resolute with determination as she faced her sister down.

Maud sighed painfully. "Pinkie, please. You do not yet realise your importance. You've only begun to discover your powers as a party pony. Join me, sister, and I will see to it that your training is completed."

"I'll never join you!" Pinkie said with a note of finality.

"I see," Maud said to herself thoughtfully, curling up the Alicorn Sceptre in one hoof. "That's how it is then. Very well, have at you. Give me your best shot," She declared, moving away from the throne and standing up on her two back hooves.

"I'll save you, Maudie!" Pinkie exclaimed, as she moved back into position with the rest of her friends.

"You heard her girls!" Twilight said, and the other four mares nodded.

Glowing white rays of light slammed into the ground, enveloping the six Elements of Harmony as their bodies were transformed, becoming vessels for the full power of Harmony, stylising their fur and manes at the same time. Maud watched with a blasé interest as each of the ponies opened their eyes in turn, the so-called windows to the soul glowing white with divine power. Six beams of colourful magic shot out from the six ponies at Maud, combining to form one blinding spark of purifying essence meant to either cleanse Maud of the evil that had conquered her heart or turn her to stone.

At least, that was what was supposed to happen. Instead, the white light fizzled out.

"Wh-what happened?" Twilight asked as her hooves touched the ground again, only for her to lurch forward, dizzy with exhaustion. Vaguely, she felt her head getting lighter. Looking up, her eyes widened. "N-no!" She cried out in horror.

"Yes," Maud said as the six Elements detached themselves from their bearers, the jewelry floating over to where she was. Whether they were acting on their own or Maud had gained the ability to use levitation as a result of the Alicorn Amulet, Twilight didn't know. "I don't think you'll be needing these anymore."

The tiara and necklaces shattered, leaving just the stones behind, and Twilight felt as if Maud had just bucked her in the gut. "Please Maud, don't!" She had no idea even what Maud was doing, but she just knew it had to be bad.

Slowly, in front of eight shocked observers and one bystander whom had helped set this entire scene up, Maud grabbed a hold of the six-sided pink jewel that was the Element of Magic, and gave it a lick. "Tastes like strawberry," She remarked, before she put the entire thing all at once in her mouth.

Slowly, Twilight's eyes widened further in disgust as the sound of crunching was heard, a sound that would be heard around the world.

"Tastes like sugar, no surprise there," Maud remarked as she digested the Element of Laughter next, no resistance being raised up from the rest of the room as they were all stunned. "Grapes" was her answer for Generosity, "Almonds" of all things for Honesty (despite the situation, Applejack couldn't help being disappointed that it didn't taste like apples), "Potatoes" for Kindness and finally "Lettuce" for the Element of Loyalty (Rainbow Dash made a face at that).

Twilight sagged. "Princess Celestia was right, we really shouldn't have come here," She murmured quietly. "She [i]ate[/i] them all. She ate [i]everything[/i]."

It wasn't to be the most disturbing scene that day either for the once-more former Element bearers, however.

"Oh!" Maud Pie exclaimed, and while all eyes were still on her, they refocused at once. Maud had infused more emotion into that one word than seven-eighths of them had heard from her in the last two days. "Oh, oh, [i]oh[/i]," She moaned out loud, her tongue rolling out of her mouth as she began to drool, releasing her grip of the sceptre as it clattered to the floor. "Y-[i]yes[/i], those rocks were soooo gooood," She said to nopony in particular, but loud enough for everyone in the room anyways, as she fell to the floor, limbs stretched out in every direction. "Oh Tri-no, not there, I'm so sensitiiiiiiiive," She trailed off, eyes glazing over. One of her back legs would occasionally buck out in reflex.

"Er," Trixie started, blushing red as everyone turned their eyes to her, partly because they all had caught Maud's slip of the tongue, and partly because they wanted to ignore the writhing mass of pleasure that was on the floor. Deciding to take advantage of the distracted ponies, she cleared her throat, stepping front of Maud Pie. "Maud Pie is the new Queen of Equestria," She declared.

Satisfied at the lack of protests, knowing it was the result of a continued state of shell-shock rather than actual concession of the facts (the yellow one was especially traumatised, Trixie noted, although she couldn't recall the Pegasus actually speaking at all today yet), she continued, "This is how it's going to be from now on."

[hr]

"Next up is Cloudsdale's tribute of special cloud foam rock," Trixie announced, fulfilling the first half of her dual role as court attendant and court magician in the now fully-repaired Castle of the Pony Sisters. Following her roll call, four pegasi flew into the throne room, carrying their cargo between them on a large litter. The four pegasi were visibly straining under the weight of the blue-tinged rock, veins bulging from their head, panting and sweating hard.

"Set it down," Maud ordered, and the four Pegasi didn't delay a second. The new Queen of Equestria got up from her throne, walking down the steps to the litter. Pacing around the large rock, she noted the porous nature of the stone, shaped by pushing clouds together under high pressure. Moving a hoof up to brush against the top of the rock, eliciting a nervous chattering of teeth from one of the female pegasi, she broke off a piece before putting it in her mouth.

The remaining three pegasi stood there, eyes wide open as their Queen started chewing on the rock, the loud grinding noise as clear as a midsummer day. They had heard about it, but seeing it in the flesh was another whole animal.

At last, the Queen finished her chomping, swallowing in one big gulp, before licking her lips and smacking. "I prefer the Rainbow Rocks," She declared. "But this is passable." Several sighs of relief came from the group of pegasi, as Trixie made a note on a scroll of hers, using magic to hold up the pen and parchment.

"Very well then, the guard outside will show you where to put this," Trixie told the Cloudsdale envoy. "Maudie dearest, the next item on the agenda today involves a group of businessponies seeking subsidies for the mining of the iron veins in the Applelachian mountain range…"

"This…isn't quite what I expected," Twilight grumbled in the background of the courtroom as she wrote down her notes on the latest court sitting.

"Tell me about it," Applejack grumbled next to her. "Did you know she wanted us to try growing rock apples on the apple farm? I told her you can't just crossbreed apples and rocks like that, there's no way it'll work!"

"Yes Applejack, you told me that three times already," Twilight reminded her. "She even asked me to use magic to find a way. I'm still researching for that matter, it seems feasible but only her would even [i]want[/i] to eat such a thing."

Applejack let out a weird fusion of a whinny and a snort, sitting down on her hindquarters so she could cross her front legs. "Her and her family, anyways. The only reason she finally stopped bugging me about it was Marble and Mac getting together." Looking over at Twilight, she furled her eyebrows, "Speaking of research, how are you making out with that poetry book of Maud's?" After Maud had taken the throne and entrenched control, hundreds of thousands of copies of her book of poems about rocks had been printed, and one was issued to every household in Equestria.

Twilight's eyes glazed over.

"That bad, huh?" Applejack asked.

"I never thought I wouldn't be able to complete a book until now," Twilight said, taking a large book out of her saddlebags. "I thought maybe I could find a weakness of Maud's in here, but it's so dreadfully dull I've actually been bored to tears."

Applejack sighed, "I guess this is the way it's going to be, then."

In truth, Applejack thought, things hadn't turned out that bad. Sure, Maud was supposedly evil and everything, but life ran nearly the same. Maud had taken over the Castle of the Pony Sisters, since 'it's built of rock' according to the former rock farmer, leaving Celestia and Luna to move back into the castle in Canterlot. The day-to-day business of government ran as smoothly as before, perhaps even better as Maud didn't shy away from the paperwork that the Princesses were always drowned in.

If anything, all her friends had benefited, at the cost of breaking them up. With both a Princess and a Queen nearby, Ponyville had expanded, and Sweet Apple Acres was doing a roaring business. Pinkie Pie had found herself the manager of a brand new rock candy factory, and rumour had it she had taken to the role with a zest. Rainbow Dash had moved back to Cloudsdale to work in the new Rainbow Rocks factory, simultaneously allowing her to participate in more of the Wonderbolts recruiting trials. Rarity was constantly on tour at fashion shows all over Equestria, now a household name thanks to the sudden popularity of dresses with plain rocks and gems.

Herself, Twilight Sparkle, and Fluttershy were the only ones who were in Ponyville most of the year now. Fluttershy managed her animals as normal, though she had been employed to help maintain the peace between the larger animals in the Everfree Forest, some of Maud's personal guards always keeping an escort with her.

And that looked to remain the status quo until Twilight could finish the massive tome of poems on rocks that was [i]Mein Stein[/i].


Yeah...that might not have been what you expected. I conceived this fic idea prior to Hearthbreakers airing, but decided to throw a MarbleMac reference in anyways.

I tend to write my scenes out of order. Since my characters have a tendency to take off and say and do things on their own that I wasn't planning out ahead of time, it causes the flow of events to feel weird sometimes. In the case of this story, with five main scenes, the second and third scene were never supposed to take place. Somewhere along the way I decided to get some Celestia scenes in there, because Five-Point-Hoof Heart Exploding Technique was too good a joke to pass up, which lead to a brief Pinkie Pie thing as well.

In the process, however, the Mane Six ended up shifting blame onto Trixie, thinking she tricked Maud into eating the AA gem and becoming evil, which necessitated overhauling a large part of scene four. The fic as a whole suffers from that initial genesis for the Celestia scenes, however, as I think it ended up running too long as a result. Those who have read some of my other work may see that I go for a bit more 'surreal' comedy of absurdism. Writing to set up an actual punch-line just doesn't work well for me.

Similarly, Trixie and Maud were going to have more a mutual working relationship, with Trixie merely going along with Maud's plans in return for netting an important role in Maud's court. Instead, it ended up being a courtship as Trixie's dialogue in scene four reverberated across the rest of the story. Their love relationship must be really screwed up when one is evil and took over the country and the other is a giant ham.

In a similar vein, Trixie's sheer presence as a giant ham caused the creation of that Castlevania exchange. When I meant for Trixie to deny being the power behind the throne, she threw out a "It was not by my hand" line, and I suddenly knew I had to ponify the Symphony of the Night scene, infamous for its sheer ham. Flat-out narm Trixie x Dracula might yet be my crossover OTP.

Scene one and four with the Mane Six confronting Maud Pie could have been put together, since the Mane Six don't really need to go retrieve the Elements specifically thanks to their power-up at the end of Season 4. However, I wanted a scene of Maud literally eating the Elements, and by jove I got it.

I wavered on the 'Mein Stein' line, but it was just too brilliant not to make it.