The April Foals Report
Disclaimer: As much as I would love to own the rights to My Little Pony, I don't. The My Little Pony franchise belongs solely to Lauren Faust and by extension the licenser Hasbro. This is a piece of fiction intended for the enjoyment of the internet, and is not being used for profit. So now that that's taken care of, on with the story!
"Ugh, my head... Let me guess, Rainbow Dash?" Twilight groaned, having managed no more than two steps out the door before being bowled over. A guilty chuckle above confirmed her suspicions, as Twilight telekinetically lifted the blue pegasus off of herself, climbing to her hooves a moment later. "Where are you going in such a hurry?" Twilight asked irritably, noticing that Dash was alone. "And where's Pinkie Pie? I thought she was with you today?" Dash shook her head, tentatively stretching her wings. Satisfied that nothing was hurt, Dash took to the air again.
"Nah, I've got to get to Fillydelphia. The Wonderbolts are having an open challenge day tomorrow, where six ponies can face off with them in acrobatics! I managed to get a slot by winning the heats in Cloudsdale, and I need to head over there soon. Oh, here come my assistants!" Assistants? Since when does Dash have help? Twilight wondered, turning around. An orange and purple blur was barrelling towards her, prompting Twilight to dive quickly off the road. Three screams and a crash later, the Cutie Mark Crusaders came into view.
"Rainbow Dash, Rainbow Dash! Is it time to go?" Scootaloo asked, hopping around in excitement at being so close to her idol.
"Why are they going with you? They can't fly." Twilight put in from the side, as the two remaining fillies pulled themselves upright, allowing Twilight to see what they carried. Scootaloo had a massive fan with "I Love Rainbow Dash" written on it, Apple Bloom had several bottles of juice, while Sweetie Belle flipped a disc into the air. Catching it, Twilight read the rim and cocked an eyebrow. "Sonic Rainboom - A Rainbow Dash Theme Song?" All three fillies nodded enthusiastically, before striking a pose.
"Cutie Mark Crusaders Pit Crew!" Twilight smiled at energy of the young fillies, before something occurred to her.
"Wait, if Pinkie Pie isn't with you, and I haven't seen her all day in Ponyville, where has she gone?"
"Are we ready, Pinkie Pie?" A voice asked quietly. It was the dead of night, but other than the ever-present guards, there were not one, but two ponies awake. They stood on the rooftop of the Royal Palace in Canterlot, the city spread out below them. One examined the starry sky above with a maternal affection, her blue coat blending in with the sky, while the other squirmed in place, a pink earth pony made uncomfortable by being quiet for so long.
"I think so. You got the camera ready?" Princess Luna nodded nervously, before realizing that it wouldn't be seen in the dim light.
"Yes, it's set up and concealed. Have you got all the clues ready?" The pink earth pony nodded in kind, though Luna's keen sight could spot the motion with no problem. "And… Are you sure this will work? I mean, I haven't done anything like this in over a thousand years." Pinkie Pie giggled uncontrollably, rolling around the roof for the better part of a minute.
"Of course this will work, you had me planning it! You should go get ready to lower the moon now though, we'll meet up at the rendezvous tomorrow morning." Luna nodded, and made to take off before checking the motion at the last second.
"What about you, Pinkie?" The grin Luna received by way of reply made the Princess of the Moon excited, and more than a little uncomfortable.
"Oh, don't worry about me. I just need to check on the Cupcakes."
Celestia rose bright and early, calmly extending a tendril of magic into the pre-dawn sky. Exerting herself as she had done a million times before, Celestia bid the sun rise, even as she felt her sister entreating the night to recede. Though this had become routine since Luna's return, something didn't quite feel right. Luna felt more distant, as if her power was coming from elsewhere. Surprised, Celestia headed out of her bedroom, towards the dining quarters where she usually shared a morning meal with her sister, but upon arrival she found it empty save for her personal retainer, a jet-black unicorn engrossed in an old scroll.
"Moondancer?" Celestia questioned, the unicorn she addressed instantly snapping her head up, before sinking to a low bow.
"Oh, there's no need for that in private." Celestia admonished gently, looking around. "Have you seen Luna though? She's not usually the one to enter last." Moondancer shook her head regretfully, pointing outside.
"I haven't seen her since last sunset and the evening meal milady. Perhaps she's off studying somewhere and forgot again?" Celestia sighed inwardly, but had to admit that it was likely. Luna had missed a lot in the time she had been gone, and upon her return had immersed herself in learning all about the world she had returned to. Why, her sister might even be as studious as Twilight Sparkle! "What do you want to have today?" Celestia glanced up shamefaced, having forgotten why she'd come.
"Oh, don't worry about that. I'll go find something in the kitchen." Moondancer made to object, but Celestia waved a hoof, stilling the protest. "Could you bring up the agenda for today? I'll only be a moment." Moondancer nodded, heading over and digging through a cabinet while Celestia went to the kitchens. Expecting the bustle of industry, it was surprising and rather unnerving to be met with total silence. The kitchen was empty, though everything seemed normal. Everything except a single room at the back which Celestia was sure hadn't been there before. Food momentarily forgotten in her curiosity, Celestia wandered over, sticking her head through the open door. As soon as she got a good look, Celestia wished she hadn't.
Inside was a scene from a nightmare, dry blood coating the walls and floor with rivulets of red. On a single table in the middle of the small room there lay a tray filled with cupcakes of every colour. Yet though there was frosting and flour, an overpowering tang of flesh and blood filled the pastries, the scent sending a shiver down Celestia's spine. Instinctively she backed away from the gruesome display, slumping down onto the kitchen floor. Her first thought was to summon the guards, but when she finally dared take a second look into the room she blinked.
The blood was gone, a slight shimmer the only thing out of the ordinary in the room. The cupcakes on the table too looked - and smelled - totally normal. Celestia considered having them for breakfast, before the image she'd seen came back to mind and almost made her retch. Celestia opened her mouth to call for the guards, but stopped herself midway. What would they think if they were called but saw nothing? Was there really anything there, or was she going crazy? Celestia pawed at the ground uncertainly, not sure how to proceed.
In the end she got up shakily, and closed the door to the small room with a burst of magic. Another spell, and a powerful ward locked the door to everypony but herself. Celestia decided that she would examine it later, but there was no need to worry her subjects with gruesome tales, which might have just been her imagination. Staggering out of the kitchen, Celestia walked over to a surprised Moondancer.
"No food, milady?" Celestia shook her head, forcing an insincere smile.
"I'm not really hungry after all, and I'm eager to begin with affairs. What have we got on the agenda?" Moondancer didn't look convinced, but she flipped to the clipboard on the table without any further questions.
"We have a surprisingly quiet day milady, with only two events of note. The first is a private meeting with a Duchess from Stalliongrad, schedule to start in an hour, and last until lunch. Then you're attending the Wonderbolts open challenge day, where pegasi will challenge our top fliers to contests in acrobatics. The show itself is the only thing until dinner, after which there's nothing scheduled other than lowering the sun as usual." Celestia just nodded, glad of the arrangements. Nothing to bother her in the evening meant she could go back to the kitchen, and try to find out just what had happened there. "Do you need anything else, milady?" Celestia shook her head, though she was smiling. Moondancer was so dependable, it was amazing.
"No, I'll go take a quick bath before my meeting. Oh, and Moondancer?" Celestia called out as her retainer made to leave. "Thank you, I don't know what I'd do without you." Moondancer stopped where she was and spun around, her face turning red.
"Th-thank you, milady." She stuttered, before beating a hasty retreat. Celestia's smile only widened as she headed towards the bathroom.
A long, warm bath had done wonders for Celestia, soothing her body and mind. The incident in the kitchen had been banished and imprisoned in a far corner of her thoughts, and she felt ready for anything the Duchess of Stalliongrad could throw at her, unless they were vodka bottles like last time. Grimacing at what she remembered from that visit (a thumping headache and nothing else), Celestia opened the large door to the conference chamber. Drawing herself up to her full height, Celestia walked in slowly, sure to make an impression. Nothing, the room was totally empty.
This was the second time today she'd shown up expecting to find someone, only to be stood up, Celestia noted with annoyance. Then it occurred to her that other than Moondancer, she hadn't seen any other ponies in the palace at all. Not on her way to breakfast, nor in the kitchen, nor to the bath. There weren't even any guards, and they always insisted on following her everywhere.
"Hello, is anyone here?" Silence. Annoyed, Celestia circled the long discussion table slowly, looking for any hint that it had been used recently. She'd completed the full circuit and was at the door again when she saw it. A small piece of paper, upon which was a hastily scribbled message.
Come to the usual place two floors below Luna's bedroom, we'll have a great time.
Celestia's eyes widened and she glanced around hurriedly, checking that she was all alone before immolating the note in a burst of magic. It was not meant for her surely, but she wanted no chance of anyone else noticing and associating her with it. Celestia settled down at a nearby chair to wait, reasoning that perhaps the Duchess was simply running late. Five minutes later she began to fidget. A quarter of an hour passed, and she started becoming impatient. When half an hour had gone by, Celestia stood, having decided that if the Duchess wasn't here now it had probably been cancelled. On the bright side, that left her free until lunch. Celestia considered going to Moondancer to see what else might need doing, but the note she'd found kept playing through her thoughts.
It wasn't meant for her, and whatever it detailed was probably long gone. But still, she had nothing better to do, so why not investigate? Hurriedly leaving the room, Celestia headed to the stairs, descending two floors. She knew where Luna's room was of course, and where two floors down would be. On the way there Celestia kept an eye out for other ponies, but like before the castle seemed totally empty, disturbingly so.
Minutes later Celestia arrived in front of the room the note had described, pressing an ear to the door to check for movement within. The room was totally silent. Trying the door, Celestia found it locked, but a quick spell resolved that. Stepping inside, Celestia quick felt her face heat up. The room looked totally normal, if a bit unkempt, but the smell. It was sweeter than anything Celestia could have imagined, as if laced with every fruit and fragrance in the world. Underlying it was the musk of many excited ponies, Celestia wondering just what had occurred here, and how many were involved..
Celestia felt something else too, a weight upon her consciousness. She felt more tired with every passing second, and before she knew what was happening, slumped to the floor, her eyes closing.
"Oh my, you've been very naughty, haven't you?" A voice whispered in Celestia's ear. The princess groggily opened an eye, looking around. She was still in the room she'd investigated, but why was she looking down on it? Celestia tried to move but found her limbs unresponsive. A rush of panic cleared her head, to reveal that she was chained up and hanging from the ceiling. More surprised than anything else, Celestia shaped a spell to free herself from the chains, but to her shock found it instantly sucked away into the metal binding her, to no visible effect. Lead, the bane of magic. Celestia realized, anxiety creeping into her thoughts. If this was pure lead, there was nothing even she could do.
"Trying to escape is futile, you naughty filly." Celestia started, realizing that the voice hadn't been her imagination, and was addressing her. Turning her head as best as she was able, Celestia came face-to-face with a pegasus, one she knew all too well. The pegasus had a pale yellow coat, with a long pink mane that hadn't changed a bit since their first meeting in Ponyville.
"Fluttershy?" Celestia asked weakly, for although she looked much the same, clothing was a shock. After all, Celestia hadn't seen the shy pegasus in anything before, least of all a black bridle and harness, looking more like a suit of dark armour than any fashion statement.
"You remember me? How nice. I suppose you would, since you snuck into my room. Now I'm afraid I have to punish you." The words sent a shiver down Celestia's spine, and she began struggling, but managed only to tighten the chains around her. Fluttershy had flown out the room, the clatter of objects being tossed around reaching her ears. It was with some trepidation that Celestia waited for her to return, only to jump as she felt a sharp sting on her rear. Fluttershy had returned, and in her mouth was a long, black whip.
"Oh yes, I have to punish you, most pleasurably." Fluttershy mumbled around the handle of the whip, the stroke that followed making Celestia tense up.
"No! Fluttershy, sto-" She was cut off by another stroke, this one further up along her back. She cried out, receiving only another in reply. Again and again the blows came, tracing a burning trail along her back. Celestia struggled, but underneath the pain was a thick undercurrent of pleasure she'd never expected. She drew in a sharp breath as one strike took her in the neck, then moaned as she felt the whip strike a particularly sensitive spot on her wing. Fluttershy giggled and raised the whip again, but instead of striking she tossed it aside in a single, fluid motion.
"Did you enjoy that, you naughty filly?" She asked, taking Celestia's faint moan as a yes as she lifted up off the ground. "Because I promise, you'll like this even more." With that, Fluttershy closed the distance, and kissed Celestia full on the lips, savouring the taste of the Princess. It felt like an eternity before Fluttershy pulled back, a blush visible on her own face.
"Celestia." Celestia moaned, reaching out reflexively to try and embrace the pegasus.
"Celestia." She felt heat building up, on her face, around her body, but most of all between her hindlegs. She reached forward with her head, hoping for another kiss…
"Celestia! What are you doing?" The squawk of shock and indignation woke Celestia like a bucket of cold water, and she found herself staring up into the face of Moondancer, blushing bright red in the embrace of her princess, inches away from receiving a passionate kiss. Celestia released her and scooted away, as if the unicorn were on fire. Her own face by now was at least just as red. She sat on the floor, staring at Moondancer awkwardly, trying to get her voice to work. Moondancer seemed to have the same problem, though she broke the silence first.
"I found you here after you missed lunch, but maybe I should have left you a bit longer to your rather animate, uh… dreams?" Dreams? Oh, then Fluttershy wasn't here. But Moondancer…
"Eep! Oh, Moondancer, I'm so sorry! I, uh, I don't know what came over me, it's not what you think it is, I promise!" Celestia all but crawled toward Moondancer, hoping that she hadn't done anything too stupid, but to her profound surprise Moondancer laughed, though her face remained bright red.
"Don't give me that look, milady, you just startled me, that's all. It's perfectly normal for us to have those, uh, dreams, if anything I should apologize to you for invading your privacy." Celestia sagged in relief. Moondancer was clearly embarrassed, but she seemed to be taking this well enough. With any luck, they'd be able to resolve this better once they got through the day…
"Oh no, are we late to the Wonderbolts open day?" Celestia gasped, she'd never missed a Wonderbolts show since they were founded, and hadn't planned on a first.
"No, we still have time to get there if we leave now. I'll, uh, get some food ready at the chariot too, milady." Moondancer dashed off, seemingly glad for the change of subject, leaving Celestia alone once more. Celestia took one last look around the room in which she'd had such a vivid 'dream', before staggering to her hooves. She found herself running towards the courtyard and her waiting chariot, too embarrassed to remain in that room. In her haste, Celestia didn't notice the total absence of any strange scent in the room she left behind.
"We're approaching the Fillydelphia Arena, milady." Moondancer gently nudged Celestia on the shoulder, jolting her out of her thoughts. Despite the excellent meal that Moondancer had prepared soothing her somewhat, she was still frazzled. There were mysterious and strange visions in the palace rooms, and the palace was abandoned. Luna was still amongst the missing too, and Celestia was getting rather worried. What if Luna had seen the same things she had? Was she frightened and alone somewhere?
Celestia turned her gaze to the sky so Moondancer couldn't see the frustration on her face. The first thing she would do once she got back would be a thorough search for her sister, and all the other missing ponies. Something strange was going on, and if she couldn't find out what was happening in her own home she'd eat her crown. Pressure built up in her ears as the chariot made a final descent. Her enhanced hearing picked up murmurs of confusion from the crowd, as remarks were made on the chariot. Indeed, no guards had been found to pull it, so Celestia had enchanted the chariot to pull itself.
The chariot drew to a halt on a balcony in the VIP section, with Celestia heading towards her private booth, Moondancer ever beside her. Those other ponies present parted before her, bowing respectfully, but Celestia paid it no heed. Just as she'd reached her seat, a booming announcement filled the stadium, proclaiming the start of the day's events. Celestia turned her head skyward, expecting a good show, and was not disappointed.
Half a dozen pegasi sped into view, black cloud contrails behind them. They quickly split off in formation, two wings of three with criss-crossing contrails. First there came a representation of the sun, then a crescent moon, before they formed a long line in the air. Not stopping for one second, their contrails seemed to combine, and in the air was written Welcome Princess Celestia! Celestia smiled, touched by the personal greeting. The Wonderbolts repeated the welcome in reverse, before gliding to a halt above the announcer.
"And now, the highlight of the show today: the open challenges! This is where half a dozen lucky ponies can challenge the Wonderbolts, either one or all to a contest on their behalf! And here comes the first contestant!" Celestia watched as a grey and yellow-maned pegasus sped forward, shouting something to the announcer. "And that's the first challenge, a test of speed!" The Wonderbolts lined up, as did the entrant, all of them crouched upon a long cloud. A pistol shot rang into the air to begin the race, ten laps circling the stadium at breakneck speeds. It seemed that the contestant was out of luck however, as she barely managed to match the speed of the slowest Wonderbolt, Soaren. As the contestant went off, another came forward to take her place.
It was much the same with the next four, Celestia noted, as while they were undoubtedly skilled, they lacked the experience of the Wonderbolts in tests of agility and control. On the same note, they did not have the sheer speed required to join the team. That is, until the last challenger appeared. In a blur, Rainbow Dash had arrived, almost tipping over the announcer with the wind left in her wake. Celestia smiled, recognizing the blue pegasus as a friend of her student, Twilight Sparkle, and the one who saved Rarity and three Wonderbolts in Cloudsdale. The pegasus shouted something, though again only the announcer was close enough to hear.
"Oh my, we have a treat here! This challenge is very different than the previous ones. Rainbow Dash here, best young flier of Cloudsdale has challenged the members of the Wonderbolts to pull off a Sonic Rainboom! And what's more, she will perform one to begin with as a demonstration. Brace yourselves, audience!" A moment later Dash shot into motion. She flew straight up, until even those on the uppermost stands could no longer see her. Celestia risked a glance at Moondancer, but her retainer was stunned into silence, and Celestia turned back to the sky. A small blur was descending, growing rapidly in size as it came closer. Celestia was shocked, as the smallest mistake at this point went send Rainbow Dash crashing into the ground at terminal velocity. But she made no mistakes, and around her a bubble emerged, growing as she strained against with everything she had. Closer to the ground she came, until she was mere metres from a messy end.
Then at the last possible moment she pulled up, and the stadium was bathed in light. A thunderous crack could be heard as the sound barrier was broken, while the light was amplified tenfold by the colours of Rainbow Dash's mane. It filled the stadium, as did the oohs and ahhs of countless spectators. But when the light reached Celestia, the princess had a different reaction. The light seemed to fade, stagnating and reducing to a dull red. Looking around, Celestia's breath caught in her throat. There were no ponies to be seen, only charred skeletons rustling quietly in the wind. The sky was a blood red, but there was nothing in it, no sun or moon or even stars. A cold gust touched Celestia's mane, and a voice whispered in her ear.
"You are ours…" Celestia looked around, but there was no source.
"Milady?" Now where was that coming from?
"Celestia?" And why was it familiar?
"Celestia!" She lurched backwards, something propelling her. Above, the blood-red sky cracked and shattered, replaced once more with clear blue, her sun glowing high above. And shaking her was surprising force was Moondancer, looking very concerned.
"Wait, what? Moondancer?" At the sound of her voice, Moondancer let go, the slightly dizzy Celestia sinking into her seat.
"Oh, I was so worried! You blanked out at Rainbow Dash's Sonic Rainboom and didn't respond, I almost thought you had an epileptic fit! The show is over, and you'll be needed to say a few final words." Celestia's eyes shot open, but true to her retainer's words, there was no sign of anyone in the sky. Not even the contrails of the Wonderbolts were left, and those had quite a fade-out time. Just how long was I in that strange, dead world?
"And now, as we bid our star fliers adieu, allow us to be graced by a few words from our leader and ruler, she who brings us the Sun every morning, the great, the wise, Princess Celestia!" It was the textbook announcement, Celestia noted with relief, as she truly had nothing to say that wasn't from memory, having missed most of what had occurred.
"Thank you, my loyal subjects. Thank you one and all. It is always a pleasure to see the accomplishments of everypony in Equestria, and this is no exception. Indeed, today we were privileged to see those who may not have a place in the limelight, but have shown skill at what they love all the same. May you all remember today as fondly as I have, my little ponies." A lot more fondly actually, she thought with a grimace once the curtain had been drawn, obscuring her from the crowd. Something strange was happening, ever since that morning in the kitchen, and she was going to find out just what.
"Are you sure you're alright, milady? Pardon my asking, but you've been um, zoning out quite a bit today." Moondancer inquired as they touched down back at the palace, her voice tinged with embarrassment as the incident at lunchtime came to mind. Outside it was already sunset, the pale red sky reminding Celestia uncomfortably of her vision at the stadium.
"Oh, yes, I'm fine Moondancer. I've been a bit distracted today, that's all. My sister has not been seen for the whole day, and I can't help but worry about her." That was only a partial lie: she was worried about Luna, but her sister could take care of herself, while these strange visions were still a mystery. Realizing that Moondancer was staring at her in consternation, Celestia drew herself up straighter, trying to mask her worry.
"Really Moondancer, I'm feeling alright. Why don't you have some time off until dinner? You look like you need it too. I'll just go and freshen up." Once again, Moondancer stared intently at her, and Celestia was sure that she was going to argue the point.
"Alright, milady." Moondancer acquiesced, though her eyes betrayed her worry. Nevertheless, she trotted out of the room, leaving Celestia free to conduct a bit of investigating. First stop, that kitchen room.
Though the palace had been empty the whole day, Celestia proceeded cautiously, just in case Moondancer had headed in the same direction. She didn't encounter anyone on her walk though, and soon she was in the kitchen, facing the door warded off in the morning. With some trepidation, she undid the magical seal, standing far back as she pulled the door open telekinetically. She was dreading another gruesome site, but the room was clean with a tray of cupcakes on the table, just as it'd been left. However, there was one thing which quickly stood out as different. Lying on the table beside the cupcakes were four socks. Socks?
A low groan came from outside, sounding like a pony. Was it one of the kitchen staff? Or a guard? Carefully, Celestia backtracked, poking her head cautiously into the dining room, but it seemed empty. Another moan was heard, this time coming from the corridor. Again Celestia headed in its direction but found no one. A third moan, this time from the ball room. Annoyed, Celestia decided to surprise whoever it was, and in a flash of light she teleported right into the room. Gotcha!
The room was populated, with a dozen ponies present, one or two of whom Celestia was able to recognize, as members of her personal guard. Something was off about them though. Their heads were down as if they were sleeping on their feet, and they didn't seem to notice her abrupt arrival at all.
"Hello everypony. Destrier, Nightwing?" Celestia addressed her guards, before cutting off as their heads raised. Their eyes were different, not the colourful pupils she recognized, but a pitch black holding no distinction between irises and sclera. The group took slow, shuffling steps towards her, and closer up, Celestia could recognize something they had in common. Each wore midnight black socks, the same kind she'd found in the kitchen room.
"You are ours…" Destrier rasped, voice monotone and dead. Hearing it, Celestia's heart gave a lurch: that was exactly what she'd heard at the stadium! But why was it here? And more importantly, what was it? Celestia found herself backing away from the approaching ponies, bewildered.
"What do you mean? I don't understand!" The ponies pursuing her never broke their measured, even tread, yet the answer came as one.
"You are ours… The Socks of Oblivion demand it…" The socks! So they were the things controlling these ponies, but were they also responsible for all her visions? More groaning could be heard, but worryingly it was not from those in her sight. Risking a quick glance backwards, Celestia saw at least three score ponies coming down either end of the corridor. They had her surrounded. Before she knew what was happening, Celestia was charging up a spell, but she caught herself not a moment too soon. They were being controlled, she couldn't hurt them for it. Which meant she had to get away. Spinning around, Celestia sprinted out into the corridor, opening an opposite room with a burst of magic. Pulling the window open, Celestia dived out pulling a controlled descent with her wings.
She landed in the front courtyard to find yet more ponies present, all wearing the same socks and blank expression. They came onward inexorably, in such numbers that it surely made up the entire population of the palace. Hmm, the entire population that was being controlled. Could telekinesis get so many at once? Now that she had some time to think, it did not look as bleak as it had before. In fact, Celestia felt a plan coming together.
"Well? I'm here, come and get me if you can!" Celestia mocked, rearing up on her hindlegs in her best intimidating display. As she'd expected, the oncoming ponies did not even register the movement. Celestia remained where she was for the most part, only beginning to back away when the oncoming ponies were less than twenty feet away. Slowly she backed towards the trees, ever keeping an eye on the paths the ponies were emerging from. After about two minutes, no more reinforcements were seen. Good, they seem to all be here. Celestia managed the barest hint of a smile, before reaching out with her telekinesis.
Tendrils of magic gripped everypony approaching, lifting them up into the air. Disturbingly, none of them cried out. Spreading her telekinesis into four points from each tendril, she grabbed every sock on every pony and pulled. Instantly, they all came off, and she dragged them to her. The moment they'd been pulled into a large pile in front of her, she set them ablaze, orange flames washing over the socks. Now winded from the sudden expenditure of magic, Celestia let go of her telekinesis, but one tendril did not disperse immediately, instead whipping round and slicing right through the trunk of a tree behind her.
With a series of cracks, the massive oak toppled slowly over, hitting the ground just as Celestia turned to see it. In that instant, Celestia was sure she'd seen a flash of light, but she dismissed it the instant more moans were heard. Celestia whirled around, fearing that the more ponies were being controlled, but to her relief this groaning was louder, more animated and sounded different from each source.
"Ugh, my head." Destrier groaned, clutching it with both forelegs.
"Wow. What happened?" A mare dressed in the uniform of a palace chef murmured, turning over onto her side. With groans and curses, all the ponies awoke, pulling themselves to their feet to find themselves in the gardens, with Princess Celestia staring at them. Their curious and fearful eyes scanned the Princess, searching for answers. Celestia cleared her throat, momentarily speechless, before her leadership skills reasserted themselves,.
"Well from my point of view, it all started this morning at breakfast…"
"Your highness, the Equestria Daily has arrived." Moondancer chimed in, levitating a folded newspaper over to Celestia. Celestia looked up from her mostly untouched salad, managing a weak smile at her retainer.
"Thank you, Moondancer." Celestia replied wearily, sinking into her chair. The day had been extremely draining, and Celestia was exhausted. Worse yet, she still hadn't found Luna, so had nothing to show for all her struggles. The experience with those socks had been a disturbing one, and Celestia couldn't help but wonder where Luna was. None of the palace staff had known where her little sister was, and she'd likely have gone looking herself had Luna's magic not emerged to raise the moon. That had told Celestia that her little sister was at the very least safe, and would likely remain so until Celestia herself had some much-needed rest.
Celestia shuddered when she noticed a cupcake insignia on the front page, shaking her head as she telekinetically unfolded the paper. Maybe reading about the goings-on in her kingdom would be relaxing, Celestia thought, trying to remember where in the paper the Sports section was. She still didn't know the outcome of Rainbow Dash's challenge to the Wonderbolts. Remembering that it tended to be towards the back, Celestia took a good look at the paper for the first time, and froze.
On the front cover under Headline News, Celestia a picture of herself. She was rearing up on her hind legs, a tree falling behind her. Meanwhile, a huge pile of socks lay beside her, burning in an orange flame. From the angle of the shot, Celestia could tell that it had been taken from the ground, but she didn't recall seeing anyone there. Swallowing nervously, Celestia looked further down, to the article of text under the image.
"I Hate Socks!
The stress of ruling a nation is great, and even Princess Celestia herself needs time to relax, and enjoy the simpler things in life. An embodiment of the Sun, Celestia finds great pleasure in burning what she does not like, though it took great effort to gather the required materials. Remember all that Celestia has done for us, dear readers, and if you wish to contribute something in return, please send any unwanted socks to the Royal Palace, Number 1 Celestial Avenue. Your donation would be most appreciated.
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This is Princess Luna, and that concludes this year's April Foals Report.
P.S. Celly, if you're reading this, you know where to find me. Seek me where knowledge unwillingly dwelled, hidden from fragile hearts thus felled."
Slowly, Celestia turned her head to an ornate wall calendar in mounting disbelief. Upon the usually blank and pristine page was a crude drawing of a massive smiling face, and under it in blood red ink, April 1st.
"Oh my…" Celestia swooned, nearly falling off her seat as the events of the past day fell into place, especially the flash in the gardens. Celestia stared at the article intently, thinking over Luna's riddle. Knowledge unwilling? That probably meant the library, they're always trying to share what they know with disinterested fillies. Fragile hearts felled? There was only one area that held books on tragic romances, and that room was far below. Celestia knew she had to get there immediately, but how? Moondancer was still here, and the guards were all over the palace again, so she couldn't sneak away. Then again, why would she need to? Celestia's horn erupted in a flash of light, teleporting her away. In her place, an identical body double was left, albeit appearing unconscious. The double slumped, sliding off its chair and falling to the ground with a loud crash.
Still waiting for instructions at a table nearby, Moondancer was startled out of her thoughts by the crash, and looked up to see the Princess out cold on the floor. Her jaw dropped, and it was some time before she found her voice.
"GUARDS!" Half a dozen burly unicorns barrelled into the room from the main door, looking around in confusion when they saw the Princess out cold, with no apparent reason. Curious eyes turned to Moondancer, who coughed nervously.
"Um… Our ruler has been feeling very tired recently. Could you carry her up to her bedroom?" That got a few strange glances, but the pair closest to Celestia picked her up, carrying her on their outstretched wings back to her room, for some well-deserved rest. Moondancer didn't catch the knowing grins of the guards as they left, instead focussing on the newspaper she'd seen Celestia read right before fainting. Maybe it had been the cause?. As picked it up and read the front page, Celestia's odd behaviour over the day, and her own embarrassing experiences were explained. She paled, and then the guards taking the Princess away heard a loud scream.
Several floors below, two ponies sat in the Royal Library, One was a midnight blue alicorn, clearly the taller of the pair, while the other was a pink earth pony. Suddenly, the earth pony began to shudder violently, while the other looked on in concern. A minute later the tremors subsided, but it was a full moment before Lune dared ask.
"What happened?" Pinkie Pie didn't say anything, but her grin slowly grew so wide that Luna thought her face would split.
"I think she just found out." She said at least, a residual twitch running through her spine. "Because whatever just happened, it sure was a doozy." No sooner had she said this did a bright flash fill the room, and in came the real Princess Celestia, courtesy of a teleportation spell. She looked around, unsurprised to find Luna, but a bit shocked to see the Element of Laughter, Pinkie Pie. The room remained silent until Celestia blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
"I must say I'm impressed, you two. Impressed, and shocked. Did you get all the guards in on it? The kitchen staff? The whole stadium at the Wonderbolts show?" Luna smiled sheepishly, while Pinkie Pie giggled, bouncing up and down.
"We got everyone playing creepy sock zombies in on it, but that's all? No, the rest was just us! It was so awesome, I wish I could have done it all!" Celestia opened her mouth to ask, but Pinkie didn't let her have a word in edgewise. "Oh, I did the cupcakes and the illusion powder so you'd see all sorts of weird stuff, but then Luna had to do the note and the hidden room since I went to prepare for the Wonderbolts stadium. We hid in the VIP stands near you until Dashie's sonic Rainboom, then I used more illusion powder and some bottled emotions. Then I came back here by teleporting and got everyone ready with the socks, and they chased you all over while Luna waited with a camera in the garden. Finally we got here, and wrote the news article together then waited. Oh wow that was a lot to do, I hope Twilight isn't worried about where I am. Did you have fun princess? Cause I sure had fun in fact I've never had more fun than this except that one time when I WOAH!" Celestia stayed silent, the continuing silence derailing Pinkie's train of thought. Luna too stayed silent, though she looked on in growing worry.
"Um, Celly? You're not mad at us are you?" Luna asked hesitantly, looking up at her big sister. "I'd liked the idea at the beginning, it's been so long since I'd pulled any pranks but when it came to you being chased into the courtyard, I thought it was a bit much, but it was too late to stop it. Oh, if you're mad I'm so s-" Celestia cut her off with a laugh, genuine and full of warmth.
"Oh little sister, you know I could never be mad at you. Besides, I've had an afternoon to think on it, and now that I know what really happened, I guess it wasn't all that bad." Luna looked up, her relief palpable.
"Oh, thank goodness. I just wanted to make this a memorable first April Foal's back, and I was so worried I'd gone too far." Celestia chuckled, nuzzling Luna's mane affectionately.
"Oh, I think this has been a most memorable day indeed. I was scared at first." Celestia admitted, drawing a wide grin from Pinkie Pie. "But at the same time I was excited, surprised, and at the end of the zombies, really happy I'd helped others. You've made me feel things I haven't since we were both fillies! In fact, I'd say the work both of you put into it has made this the best April Foal's Day ever!" Luna gave a startled laugh, before pulling Celestia in a tight hug, while Pinkie bounced up and down, faster than ever. Though they were deep within the basement, everypony in Canterlot could suddenly hear the boundless laughter of three ponies, the sound filling their hearts with warmth. Those who'd taken part in the prank laughed the hardest, knowing that they'd given their leader one of the greatest gifts of all: joy.
My Dear Twilight,
Sometimes it is the teacher who must learn a lesson, and a great one at that. I have learned that to be a friend means being willing to go to any trouble for another, being willing to bring a smile to their face no matter what it takes. To receive such love and dedication is awe-inspiring and humbling, and I only hope that should I be needed to bring such joy in return, I will not be found wanting.
With joy in my heart,
P.S. Pinkie Pie mentioned that you might be worried, so rest assured that she's with my sister and I here in the Royal Palace.
Spike glanced up quizzically at Twilight, having just finished reading the surprise correspondence.
"This is quite a reverse from the usual, don't you think Twilight?" The purple unicorn did not reply, deep in thought as she mulled over the letter's contents. Why was Pinkie Pie in Canterlot? And why would she be in Princess Celestia's letter? Was she the one who taught the Princess a lesson in friendship?
"Spike, take a letter." Twilight began, before pausing as Spike searched for ink and a quill. Spike was searching through a pile of books that had resulted from last night's studying, unable to find his writing implements. It was the best part of ten minutes before the pile was clear, revealing not only the ink and quill, but also a calendar.
"Spike? Did you flip the calendar today?" The purple dragon shook his head, muttering about how he could even have seen it before now as he flipped the page. He froze at the new entry, the most colourful one they'd seen in the calendar all year. April the First. Gulping, Spike turned towards Twilight, who had the same expression of shock on her face. They stared at each-other for a long while, then at the Princess' letter, then back at each-other.
"You don't think…"