The sun hung high in the sky over Ponyville. A couple of swallows could be seen here and there, and patches of grass were beginning to show up through the blankets of snow. Winter wrap-up wasn't officially being performed this year, but a few ponies nonetheless took it upon themselves to clear the snow from their property, plant a few seeds and clear some clouds. Pulling her coat around her, a mailmare went about her rounds.
She drifted up to the front gate of Sweet Apple Acres, landing next to the mailbox. Three members of the Apple family were out and about, getting the farm ready for the year. Applejack was nearest the front, and she rushed up to greet her. Her hat was adorned with a big, red apple pin in the middle.
"Howdy!" She beamed.
"Hey, Applejack!" Derpy Hooves chuckled, diverting her letters from the mailbox to Applejack's hand.
"Let's see... orders, invoices... pff, nothin' interestin'."
"How's the farm doing?" Derpy leaned over the mailbox.
"Well, Big Macintosh is havin' a little trouble adjustin'..." Applejack pointed over her shoulder, where halfway up the hill, Big Mac was trying his best to pull a plough through the soil on two legs. Applebloom cruised by him, sitting atop a some contraption that she cycled idly, and it ploughed the soil behind it. Big Mac gave up on his endeavour, and collapsed in an exhausted heap, grumbling. "... but we're gettin' there." Applejack chuckled.
"Alright, good luck! It, uh, looks like you'll need it. I have to keep going, busy busy!" Derpy held up her full mail bag.
"Sure thing sugarcube, take care!"
Derpy knocked on the door of a cottage by the Everfree forest. A soft voice replied something that didn't make it through the door, and Fluttershy opened it.
"Oh, hey Derpy! What are..." She smiled. Derpy's mouthful of letters answered her question. "Oh! Let me get those..." She giggled and took the envelopes. She handed back two that weren't addressed to her.
"Fluttershy, who is at the door?" Another voice inside called. "Open it wider, so I can see some more." Fluttershy pulled the door wide open, revealing a table inside. The table had a steaming pot of tea, two cups, and two chairs, one empty, and one on which sat a zebra.
"Oh, Zecora! I have a letter here for you, too!" Derpy chuckled, reaching into your bag. "How are you keeping up with things?"
"The change took some getting used to, but! These new appendages have proven fruitful." Zecora smiled, lifting her cup by its handle and taking a sip.
"Would you like to stay for some tea, Derpy? We're watching the birds and comparing them with last year." Fluttershy smiled.
"Sorry Fluttershy, these letters won't deliver themselves. Not everypony has a dragon for a mailbox!"
"Alright, see you later!"
The doors of the Carousel boutique were wide open, and the shop was quite busy. Derpy picked her way through the crowds to find Rarity hard at work, doing multiple jobs at once. Sweetie Belle and Dinky Hooves were in the corner, playing dress-up.
"Mom!" Dinky giggled, and rushed up to hug her mother.
"Heya, muffin!" She smiled, picking Dinky up and swinging her around once before putting her down again. "How are the crusades going?"
"Well, we crossed off fashion designer and salesmare earlier..."
"Rarity wasn't too happy about either of those..." Sweetie Belle added.
"... so now we're trying fashion m-" Dinky tripped on her over-long dress, and quickly picked herself up. "... fashion model!" Derpy chuckled and ruffled her mane.
"You'll get there." She pulled out a big stack of letters and placed it on the counter next to Rarity.
"Oh, don't tell me there's more bulk orders! I can barely keep up as-is!"
"Sorry, but it looks that way." Derpy sighed.
"Don't worry darling, it's not your fault. I should probably start taking on employees at this rate, business has just skyrocketed!"
"Let me know how that turns out! I'll, eh, try not to ask for another uniform too soon." She smiled. Rarity just chuckled, and continued scribbling some notes with her hands while stitching two sheets of fabric together with her magic. "I'll leave you to it, see you later!"
Sugarcube Corner was alive with the sound of party music, and the windows were all blocked up with balloons. Derpy fought her way in the door, only to get whisked inside by an enthusiastic Pinkie Pie.
"Derpy Hooves! You're just in time for the party!" Pinkie giggled. Derpy looked around and quirked a brow. There was quite a crowd in here, and the Cakes were hopelessly trying to keep the business running through it all. She had absolutely no idea what the celebration was for, but with Pinkie, it's not like an excuse was necessary.
"Party? Gee, I didn't realise." She chuckled.
"Of course it's a party, silly filly, what do you think all the balloons are for?" Pinkie pouted. Derpy rolled her eye (the other one staying eerily still).
"Sorry Pinkie, but I can't stay too long. I'm just here with the mail."
"But... we have muffins!" Pinkie looked back to the mailmare with doe-eyes. Derpy bit her lip; it sure was tempting to stick around.
"Hnnng... just one." She knew it wouldn't just be one.
Twenty minutes and a big plate of muffins later, Derpy was away to continue her rounds. Her next stop was a large house made of low-hanging clouds, with rainbows bridging many of them. She didn't so much have to knock on the front door as push her way through the wall.
In the main room, Rainbow Dash was asleep on a cloud in the middle of the room, while Scootaloo was finding a place for her new scooter.
"Oh! Hey Derpy!" She grinned, tossing it in the corner. Dash stirred.
"Hi Scootaloo, should I, uhm..."
"I'm awake..." Dash groaned, and rolled off the cloud onto the floor. She loved living in a house made of clouds; falling on things and hitting things never hurt.
"... never mind. Just here with the mail Rainbow." Dash peeled herself off the floor and fluttered over to Derpy to take the letters.
"Let's see... there's your formal adoption papers, Scoot!" She smiled at Scootaloo, showing her the letter, before moving on to the next one. "That's... finally!"
"What?" Derpy tilted her head.
"Official Wonderbolts acceptance letter. Man, the red tape in these things... I've been training with them for two months, and the letter only gets here now! Typical." Dash whinged. Derpy sniggered, and turned to leave.
"I've still got some way to go on the rounds, I'll catch you guys later!"
One of her last stops on her route was the Ponyville library. Not far from the library was a bench, upon which Lyra and Bon-bon were sitting. Bon-bon sat normally, while Lyra was sitting on her legs, all scrunched up. It looked uncomfortable and awkward.
She was surprised to be going to library at all, what with Twilight having Spike. However, low and behold, she was carrying letters addressed to one Twilight Sparkle at the Ponyville town library. She knocked on the door, and Spike answered.
"Who is it, Spike?" Twilight called.
"Mail!" Derpy replied, before Spike had a chance to answer.
"Oh! Come in, Derpy!" She heard, and happily stepped in from the cold. Twilight jogged down the steps from her upstairs desk to greet Derpy and take the letters off her.
"Uhm... why are you getting all these letters through normal mail lately?" Derpy asked, tilting her head.
"Oh, that's easy. I've been doing a lot of business with the various princes, barons and mayors of Equestria, and not all of them have dragons."
"I... hope you don't mind me asking, but... eheh, why?" Derpy chuckled.
"Oh, not at all!" Twilight smiled. "Well, since both the crown Princesses of Equestria are, well, no more, and neither have any heirs, they're all trying to figure out a new system of government. And since I was Celestia's personal student, they've given me the job of mediating the whole thing..." She grumbled at the last part.
"Heheh... well, it gives you something to do in place of the friendship reports."
"I guess... but it's a bit like managing squabbling foals sometimes. And then there's the reconstruction of Canterlot to oversee..."
"Well, you certainly have your work cut out for you... mind if I ask a couple more things before I go?"
"Sure! The letters can wait."
"What was in that book Luna was reading?"
"Oh, that?" Twilight smiled, and pulled the unmarked volume from her desk. "It turns out she wasn't reading it, she was writing in it. It's her whole life story!"
"Yeah, there's all kinds of things in here! One of the most interesting things, I think, is her account of the real Celestia."
"Real Celestia?" Derpy tilted her head.
"Mhm. It turns out, the djinn that we banished didn't create the identity of Princess Celestia, it took it from a real pony all those years ago. Luna really did have an older sister called Celestia, and they were both Princesses of Canterlot!"
"Ah... so you could say Celestia wasn't all bad?"
"In a manner of speaking, yes. The book says the real Princess Celestia was quite like the personality the fake one adopted during its reign of Equestria. It... it makes me miss her a little bit." Twilight closed the book. Derpy paused before responding.
"I think we all miss the Princesses a bit." She put a hand on Twilight's shoulder, and she looked back with a smile. "But we did the right thing." Twilight nodded, and returned the book to its shelf.
"Yes. Yes we did." Twilight's smile widened, and she started back up the steps to her desk.
"Do you think... do you think the gryphons will be back?" Derpy tilted her head earnestly. Twilight thought a little before answering.
"They will. But after what we did, not for a long time. We'll be ready for them then." She smiled. Derpy nodded, and smiled back. Silently, she left the library to let Twilight continue her work.
Twilight returned to her seat at her desk where a book lay open. It was near the end; only a few pages were left in the manuscript. She took a quill, and scribbled out the final few lines:
Free from the oppressive hooves of the djinn masquerading as their Princess, and the ravenous claws of the horde, the ponies of Equestria resolved to rebuild their shattered lives, and free of their shackles, usher in a new golden age. A whole nation looks forward to the future, to the promise this country holds; only one pony looks back. She does so, not to long forlornly, but to chronicle the true tale of their liberation, so that it may never be forgotten, so that in the years to come, ponies will look back upon their proud history, and draw strength from it.
Your humble servant,