My Faithful Student
The sun shone brightly as Twilight galloped, no, skipped through the streets of Ponyville. Searching around the main square, she quickly found her friends waiting at one of the outdoor cafes. Rarity looked up from a fashion news magazines as Twilight ran up.
“There you are Twilight! I know there’s such a thing as being fashionably late, but we’re all hungry!”
The others looked up as Twilight dashed up to the table out of breath, waving a scroll about excitedly.
“Sorry to keep everypony waiting, but look! Look!”
“Uh, sorry Twi, but it’s a scroll. You’ll have t’open it for us t’see what’s gotten you tickled pink.”
Twilight blushed in embarrassment and she unrolled the scroll and spread it out on the table. A goofy grin simply would not leave her face as the others gathered around.
“I just got this letter from the Princess this morning! The annual Unicorn Arcane Arts competition is being held in Baltimare this year. And the Princess said that I -”
Twilight paused here to stifle some giggles of pride.
“-the Princess recommended that I should enter! Me! Can you believe it?!”
The others looked on as Twilight could hardly hold herself still and pranced in place like a little filly. Applejack smiled proudly and gave Twilight a firm pat on the back.
“Well, ‘aint that great! We all knew you were somethin’ special ever since that incident with that Ursa, and now you got the perfect opportunity to show your talent! Ah think that the Princess is spot on!”
Twilight beamed and Fluttershy looked up from behind her menu.
“It sounds great. Would... would you like me to come and cheer for you? I... I’m getting better at it.”
Rainbow Dash looked over from the latest issue of the Wonderbolts comic book.
“No, seriously. She is. All you have to do is get her excited, like she was at my last competition.”
Twilight beamed as she sat down at the table, rolling the scroll up and putting it away.
“I’d love it if you all could come! Oh, I’m so excited! You should have seen me when I first got the letter! I was so thrilled, I almost spellslipped!”
Rarity threw a disapproving glance at Twilight.
“Twilight, darling, that’s something a proper unicorn simply does not brings up in polite conversation.”
Applejack looked over at Twilight confused.
“Spell-what now? What’s that?”
Rarity sighed in frustration and rolled her eyes.
“Unintentional spell casting, if you must know. We don’t like to talk about it.”
Twilight grinned sheepishly and scuffed a hoof at the ground.
“Yeah... it’s something that goes away once you get proper magical instruction.”
Applejack’s eyes lit up.
“Oh, Ah get it! It’s your version of having too much apple juice before going to sleep. Why shoot, when ah was a little filly, ah did that once and, boy howdy, when-”
Rarity grimaced and glared at Applejack.
“Applejack! Does nopony here have any manners? Can we please change the subject?”
Rainbow Dash set down her comic and looked over at Twilight.
“Sure. What spell do you want to use at the competition? If we’re going to have two major contest winners living in Ponyville, you’re going to have to come up with something real special!”
Twilight stopped and blinked, looking down at the table as she thought.
“Oh my, I haven’t even given it any thought. I mean, there’s so many to choose from. Which school of magic would be the best to use in a competition? Hmm, or perhaps I should mix schools. Would that be more impressive? Theoretically, I could even research something new. Oh wow, this is going to be harder than I thought... maybe-”
Her train of thought derailed as Pinkie Pie popped up beside her.
“I think you’ll have more fun deciding what to eat! I’m hungry!”
The group laughed as Applejack slapped the table with a hoof.
“Now that’s an idea ah can get behind! Let’s eat!”
That afternoon found Twilight dashing about in her library, creating tall stacks of books around her desk.
“Okay Spike, I have most everything I need. Can you find the Essence of Enchantment, The Practical Scrying Guide, Evocation Essentials volumes one and two, the complete works of Graymane the Wise, and the History of the Arcane Arts Competition? I think that should complete my reading list.”
Spike tottered over with a stack of books.
“Geez Twilight, do you really think you need this many books?”
Twilight sighed and rolled her eyes.
“Spike, this is important! If I want to do well at this competition, I need to do the best I possibly can! And that means proper planning and preparation!”
Spike set down the stack of books and backed away.
“Okay, okay, I get it! But Twilight, this is a lot of books. How are you ever going to finish all them?”
Twilight bit her lip and gave the stacks a critical eye.
“Hmm. This is a lot of books. Perhaps I could leave off... no, I need that one. What about... no. Um... perhaps... oh, I don’t know! I think... I need all of these.”
Twilight gulped as the towers of books loomed all around.
“You’re right, this will take a while. Could you make me a pot of coffee? I think I’m going to be up late tonight if I am going to be anywhere near prepared.”
Spike headed to the kitchen as Twilight levitated the first book off of the nearest pile.
“Well, better get started...”
She opened the book, but was interrupted by a knock on the door. Puzzled, she walked over to the door - she hadn’t been expecting any visitors. Opening the door, she was nearly bowled over by Pinkie Pie bouncing inside.
“Hi Twilight! I was thinking about what you were saying at lunch, and I came up with an idea! Since this is a super special competition that you’re going to be in, that’s something to celebrate! So I thought, why don’t I throw you a party tonight! What do you think? It’ll be tons of fun!”
Twilight’s eyes lit up at the thought of one of Pinkie Pie’s parties. But her expression fell as she looked back over to her books.
“I’d love to! But... I don’t think I’ll be able to come...”
Pinkie Pie deflated a bit.
“Oh. That’s all right. It’s okay if you’re busy.”
Twilight quickly smiled and gave Pinkie a hug.
“I wish I could come. It’s just that if I want to not embarrass myself in the competition, I need to study like there’s no tomorrow. And while I love your parties, I just don’t think I’ll have time.”
Pinkie perked up and bounded into the library.
“Oh! That’s fine! Perhaps some other time then. Oh wow, that’s a lot of books you have to read! That can’t be fun!”
Twilight chuckled as she reviewed her towers of books.
“Yeah, but it’s what I have to do.”
Pinkie hopped up in front of Twilight as an idea struck her.
“Hey! If I can’t throw a party for you, how ‘bout I do the next best thing? What if I keep you company while you study?”
Twilight smiled and flipped her first book open.
“I think I’d like that.”
This had definitely not been a good idea. Twilight had forgotten how... distracting Pinkie Pie could be. Pinkie Pie and studying simply did not mix, and Twilight did her best to tune her out so she could focus.
“...and so I know you’re super smart, so you’re SURE to win this competition! I mean, who’s as smart as you? I don’t know anypony who reads half as much as you! I bet you could do all sorts of cool magic tricks for the competition!”
“You could do all sorts of stuff! I wish I could use magic sometimes. Could you imagine how many sweets I could bake if I could do magic? I’d make Equestria’s biggest cake! And then invite everypony to eat it!”
“But I can’t do magic, but that’s fine! I’m fine with being just normal Pinkie Pie! Ooh, but if you could make some magic potions, then I could do some cool stuff! Can you make potions Twilight?”
“Oh wow! I knew you could do all kinds of nifty stuff! You could make... uh... how ‘bout a growth potion? I could be super huge then! I’d be, like, Pinkzilla, the terror from the Bakery! Raaaaawr! Stompy stompy stompy stomp!”
Twilight sighed and shook her head as Pinkie reared up on two legs and stomped around the library. She roared while knocking over several bookscrapers before collapsing in a fit of giggles. Hopping up, she bounced up to Twilight’s desk.
“That’d be a lot of fun! Except for the property damage, but I’d help fix it afterwards! Hey, do you have any potions lying around Twilight? What about this pot with the brown stuff here? It smells great! Can I try it?”
“Uh huh. … Wait, what?”
Applejack was out in the field tending to her trees when a large boom startled her so much that she almost lost her hat. Whirling around, Applejack came nose to nose with a noticeably vibrating Pinkie Pie who had definitely not been there a second ago.
Applejack’s eyes swam as Pinkie started bouncing up and down at jackhammer speeds.
Applejack winced as Pinkie’s bouncing shook some apples down on top of her head. Looking up, Pinkie had disappeared, leaving only a settling cloud of dust as a pink blur flashed back to Ponyville. Readjusting her hat, Applejack made her way over to Twilight’s library in a confused daze. The door was ajar, and Applejack stuck her head in to see a bedraggled Twilight cleaning up a gigantic mess of books and study supplies.
“Uh... Twilight, you okay? What in tarnation happened here?”
Twilight looked up from uprighting a table.
“An improper chemical reaction with unexpected results.”
Applejack walked in, looking around at all the mess.
“If ‘ya say so, sugarcube. But Pinkie Pie just... er... flew by and mentioned something about a potion you gave her. Did an experiment or somethin’ go wrong?”
Twilight groaned and reassembled a pile of books.
“Yes. Remind me to NEVER allow Pinkie Pie anywhere near coffee again!”
The next morning found Twilight pacing in a field just outside of Ponyville. Soon, Rarity and Rainbow Dash arrived, and Twilight excitedly set up all the notes she needed.
“Thank you both for coming! I did a lot of research, and I think I’ve come up with a spell I can show off at the competition! Rainbow Dash, I figured you have good competition experience, and Rarity, you’re an expert on showponyship, so I want to see what you both think!”
Rainbow Dash and Rarity both sat down on the grass as Twilight arranged all her materials just so.
“Why darling, we’re more than delighted to be able to help you!”
“Yeah! I’m sure a magic encyclopedia like you will cook up something cool! And I’m sure I can help you make it even cooler!”
Twilight grinned and gestured around her.
“Alright, first off, do you see anything around here?”
Rainbow looked around for a bit before shrugging.
“Nope. Just a boring old field.”
Twilight nodded and pulled out a beat up top hat from her supplies.
“Right, and if you will look, this hat is completely empty, correct?
The two ponies in the audience exchanged glances and dutifully examined the hat.
Twilight thanked them and then began to concentrate. Straining a bit, her horn began to glow with magical power. Rainbow Dash and Rarity leaned forward expectantly. Twilight focused on her target, wove the threads of magic in their proper sequence. With a shout, Twilight released the spell with a burst of light. Panting, she leaned down and triumphantly pulled Angel out of the recesses of the hat, who spread out his paws wide for his time in the spotlight. Twilight set him down and struck a pose.
Rainbow Dash and Rarity just stared blankly, the pegasus the first one to speak.
“...is that it?”
Twilight blinked in confusion and looked back and forth between the two ponies.
“What do you mean ‘is that it’? It’s a perfectly good reverse teleportation spell! And it wasn’t easy to craft either. Instead of teleporting myself somewhere else, I teleported something from somewhere else to me! Manually modifying the teleport spell to work that way took some time, even though I did need a focus object to set as the destination, hence the hat. I think it worked very well!”
Twilight turned her nose up in defense as Rarity walked up.
“I’m sure it was technically difficult dear, but honestly... you pulled a rabbit out of a hat. That’s rather cliche, don’t you think?”
Angel gave a huff and hopped away as Rainbow walked up.
“Yeah... it was kinda boring Twilight. I was expecting something... y’know, cooler.”
Rarity narrowed her eyes at Rainbow.
“Twilight, what Rainbow Dash is trying to say is that while difficult, your performance needs some... flair. Pizazz. Some style. Pulling a rabbit out a hat is simply not going to cut it. Crowds can be so vicious.”
Rainbow nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, I mean, you’re the Princess’ personal student! They’re going to expect you to pull something that’ll knock ‘em dead! You need a spell that will wow them!”
Twilight sighed and stared at the ground.
“I guess you’re right...”
Rainbow Dash walked over and put a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder.
“C’mon, I’m sure you’ll think up something awesome. And you got us around too! How ‘bout instead of summoning a rabbit, you summon a great big monster, and then kick its tail all over the stage! That’d be wicked cool!”
Rarity snorted and rolled her eyes.
“Rainbow Dash, please. Only you would try and turn such a tournament into something out of one of your comic books! So gauche! Princess Celestia would never approve. Now Twilight, if you ask me, you need to do something beautiful and artistic! Perhaps something from the transformation school, with a bit of illusion as well?”
Rainbow Dash, however, flopped herself down on the ground and groaned in annoyance.
“Booooring! Look, little miss artsy, your average crowd is going to get up and leave halfway through a performance like that.”
Rarity whirled around and gave Rainbow a killing glare.
“Well! They will only if they’re a bunch of philistines like yourself! You don’t have the mental sophistication to come up with anything more than a glorified wrestling match! There’s no grace, no subtlety, and certainly no thought put into it! You wouldn’t know proper artistic depth if it hit you over the head!”
“You calling me dumb?! Well listen here, prissy! If you think...”
Twilight paid no attention as Rarity and Rainbow Dash got up in each other’s faces. Princess Celestia. Twilight felt confident before, but now... what if she failed? What if she humiliated herself in front of the entire crowd? What would the Princess think? Twilight cringed as the image of an embarrassed and disappointed Celestia loomed in her mind.
“Oh. Well, it’s... okay that you didn’t win. Perhaps my expectations were too high. It’s... fine. I’m... sure you’ll be able to do better in the future. Oh, don’t worry about it. I’ll arrange for something more in your league next time.”
No! She couldn’t let that happen! Princess Celestia trusted her enough to have her enter this contest, so she couldn’t let her down! Who knew if she’d ever be allowed to have an opportunity like this ever again! Twilight quietly packed up her supplies as the shouting match between Rarity and Rainbow Dash intensified in volume and pitch. Study. More study would fix this. There had to be an answer in a book somewhere. That’s what books were for! Twilight quietly slunk away, unnoticed by the two bickering ponies.
Back in her study, Twilight had surrounded herself hip deep by books, tomes, scrolls, charts, and piles of notes. Spike waded through the clutter, carrying some more requested materials as Twilight scribbled furiously on some parchment.
“Twilight, you’ve been at this for hours now, don’t you think you need a break?”
Twilight looked up from her work and sighed in exasperation.
“Spike, we’ve been over this. I simply don’t have time! The competition is getting closer by the minute, and I’m nowhere near ready! And it certainly doesn’t help that I have to redo my whole presentation from scratch after that disaster yesterday.”
Spike set down the pile of research materials and looked at Twilight’s inundated desk.
“I dunno, Twilight, this can’t be good for you...”
Twilight shook her head.
“It doesn’t matter, this is important! The Princess personally arranged for me to compete in this competition, and not just anypony can enter. She wouldn’t have done so if she didn’t think that I could win. And if the Princess thinks I can win, then it is my DUTY to not let her down!”
Spike scratched his head, not convinced.
“If you say so Twilight, but even a little break would make you feel a lot better. It’s a beautiful day outside!”
“No! I can’t afford any more-”
A knock on the door broke into Twilight’s train of thought. Groaning, she shoved her nose back into the book she had been reading.
“...interruptions. Spike, go see who that is.”
Spike walked over to the door, which flung itself open with a bang to reveal an annoyed Applejack.
“Twilight, there you are!”
Twilight barely looked up from her books.
“Oh hi, Applejack. What do you mean ‘there you are’? I’m always here.”
Applejack stomped over and shoved a stack of books to the side to look Twilight in the eye.
“Twilight Sparkle! ‘Ya forgot, didn’tcha?!”
Twilight looked up, confused.
“Forgot? What did I forget?”
Applejack grunted, and pointed to her laden saddlebag.
“Ya promised me last week you’d come over today and help me sort out all this here bookkeeping for the farm! Heavens knows it’ll take me forever to do it, and Big Mac’s busy right now with the south fields. Ah’ve been waiting forever for ya, and ah come over here and find your nose stuck in your books again!”
Twilight lowered her eyes guiltily.
“Oh... I did, didn’t I? I’m sorry. I’ll take care of it after I finish with all this.”
Applejack shook her head.
“No can do sugarcube, these got to be done today if ah’m gonna get ‘em in on time!”
Twilight gestured at all the study materials strewn everywhere.
“I’m kinda busy, Applejack.”
Applejack narrowed her eyes and tapped a hoof on the floor impatiently.
“This is important!”
Applejack rolled her eyes and glared at Twilight.
“And this ‘aint? I know that competition is important t’ya, but this is the family business we’re talkin’ ‘bout! Ah lost valuable time waiting on ‘ya, and ah ‘aint gonna waste any more waitin’ on ‘ya to finish with all these books. AND you promised me you would do these. Don’t tell me you’re gonna go back on your word now....?”
Twilight smiled sweetly at Applejack before going back to her studies.
“I will do it. Later.”
Applejack leaned in, staring Twilight down.
“No, you’ll do it now!”
“AJ, I can’t!
Applejack took a hoof and swept Twilight’s desk clean, before slapping down the stack of ledgers on the desk with a bang.
"Yes, you will! A promise is a promise, and ah’m gonna hold ‘ya to it! Now git to it!"
With a sigh of resignation, Twilight flipped open the first ledger and started reviewing it.
"Ugh, FINE. Happy now?"
Applejack nodded and sat down nearby to keep a watchful eye on Twilight when Pinkie Pie wandered inside decked out in party-mode gear.
“Hey Twilight, guess what time it is? It’s... oh hey there Applejack! Um... is this a bad time?”
Applejack looked over and nodded.
“Yup. Just takin’ care of business.”
“Oh! Okay! I’ll reschedule the party for later. Ooh! Can I have more of that tasty brown super potion?”
Applejack and Twilight both whirled around.
Late that night, Spike opened an eye when he heard a thump come from downstairs. Grumbling, he wrapped himself tighter in the sheets as he noted it was well past midnight. Looking over at Twilight’s bed, he saw it was still empty and not slept in. He sat up as he heard Twilight talking to herself from downstairs.
“No, no, no! This isn’t going to do! This will never impress a crowd, much less the Princess! Abjuration? What was I thinking?! I’ve lost so much time already, and now I have to start over again! And I’m running out of time! No, calm down. You can do this. You just have to focus... can’t fail. Can’t let down the Princess. I can win. I just need to buckle down and work. The Princess’ favorite student can’t give up... I just got to prepare more. The answers are in one of these books somewhere...”
Twilight’s talking quieted down into murmurs and Spike threw a pillow over his head and went back to sleep.
The next afternoon found Rarity alone at the outdoor bistro, a frown on her face. Checking the town clock again, she gave an exasperated sigh and nibbled at the appetizer she had ordered. Her face lit up, however, when she spotted Spike making his way across the square.
“Spike! Over here! Thank goodness you’re here. Do you know where Twilight is? She was supposed to meet me for lunch here today, but I haven’t seen hide nor hair of her at all today!”
Spike scratched at his spines awkwardly.
“Well... the thing is... um... why don’t you come with me and see for yourself.”
A quick walk brought them over to the library, and Spike pushed open the door. Looking inside, Rarity gasped in horror and disgust. The entire main floor of the library was strewn with books thrown every which way. Scrolls and parchment covered practically every flat surface, each one filled with scribbled notes. Vials and beakers for some arcane experiment had taken over one corner, while a complex looking spell circle had been carefully inscribed in another, and subsequently scratched out with the chalk broken in two and left in the center. Twilight’s desk was a fortress of piled up books, and the purple unicorn herself could barely be seen passed out, snoring, and drooling with her head on top of a large tome. Twilight looked even worse than the room, if such a thing were possible, her mane in shambles. A few crumbs stuck to Twilight’s face from some forgotten meal. What space around her not occupied by books was taken up by empty paper bags and mugs. Rarity picked her way through all the detritus, her mouth open in shock.
“Sun and moon, what happened here?! It looks like an earthquake hit this place! What in Equestria has she been doing?!”
Spike made an attempt to clear a path for Rarity.
“Studying. For that stupid contest. She’s been at it for a couple of days straight now.”
Rarity gingerly poked at the slumbering Twilight.
“And she’s still asleep? It’s past noon! I’ve heard of getting one’s beauty sleep, but this is ridiculous! And it clearly hasn’t worked for her either! When did she go to bed?”
Spike started picking up trash around the room and shrugged.
“I know she was still going at it well past midnight, so I’d guess around three in the morning if the sound of a bookscraper collapsing is any indication.”
Rarity leaned backwards in shock.
“Well, no wonder she slept through our appointment! This is worse than I thought. This... this... obsession can’t be good for her. Has she even eaten?”
Spike uncovered a plate of food from under a scroll.
“Doesn’t look like she touched the dinner I made for her. Although all these empty bags of hay chips might explain that.”
“Well! I’d say things have gone far enough! The first order of business is to wake up Sleeping Beauty here.”
Stepping outside for a moment, Rarity quickly returned with a bucket of water. With a grunt, Rarity pitched the ice cold water at Twilight, hitting her full in the face. Twilight woke up with a scream of surprise, scrambled backwards, tripped over some books, and landed flat on her rump. Rubbing her bleary eyes, she tried to get her bearings.
“Ugh... what just happened? What time is it? … Why am I wet?”
Rarity trotted over and loomed over the discombobulated unicorn.
“Twilight Sparkle, I am ashamed! Just look at this place! It’s a complete and utter disaster! It makes Rainbow Dash’s house look tidy by comparison! And look at yourself, you’re a wreck! Haven’t you heard of personal hygiene?”
Groggily, Twilight got to her hooves and started setting up her workspace again.
“It duz.. doesn’t matter. I have to finish my presentation. That’s all that matters right now. Clean up later. Need... need t’get ready. Running outta time. Gotta... gotta find the-”
Rarity snatched a book from Twilight’s grasp and slapped it down on the table.
“There are more important things that you need to attend to right now, such as your well-being! This atrocious behaviour must be wreaking havoc on your health!”
Twilight took back the book and flipped it open.
“It’ll be worth it. Gotta win. Show that I’m worthy. Ugh... so tired. But no time. No time!”
Rarity took a step back, worried.
“Twilight, darling, you simply must come with me and take a break! You’re going to hurt yourself like this!”
Twilight just shook her head and stuck her muzzle back in the book.
“I can’t stop. I’m so far behind. Gotta study. Gotta be ready. No distractions.”
Rarity stepped forward and closed the book.
“Twilight, I simply must insist you come with me.”
Twilight glared at Rarity, and reopened the book forcefully.
“I said, no distractions!”
Twilight growled, her eyes red from lack of sleep.
Rarity backed up frightened.
“I’m just worried that-”
Twilight’s horn glowed ominously as she levitated several large heavy books up into the air.
Rarity quickly fled out of the library from the mad Twilight. With a sigh of relief, Twilight set down the books and got back to work until a pot of coffee was set down next to her.
“Oh THANK YOU Spike, I really need this. That and some peace and quiet with no distractions so-”
Twilight looked up to see a pink smiling face. This wasn’t Spike. Pinkie Pie just smiled sweetly.
“Am I a distraction, Twilight?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe.”
Pinkie just smiled and held up an empty coffee mug expectantly. Twilight snorted and turned back to her books.
“Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.”
After a quick trip to the spa to relax her frazzled nerves, Rarity gathered up her friends together out in the town square. She related her horrifying tale to the group, who gave each other worried glances. Applejack gave a low whistle.
“Boy howdy, ah knew she was serious about that contest, but ah didn’t know she’d go off the deep end like that. Should’ve known, given the way she handled my money books! Ah almost spit my bit when ah saw what she had down as my profits. Good thing Big Mac spotted where she went wrong, or else ah’d be in BIG trouble. But looks like lil’ miss studious is in even bigger trouble.”
Pinkie Pie nodded.
“Uh huh! She’s been getting grumpier, and grumpier, and grumpier, and she’ll turn into a mean old grouch if she keeps this up! And I don’t want a grouch for a friend! Grouches aren’t any fun! And she won’t even come to a party if I invited her to one now, and I’m sure a party would cheer her right up too!”
Rarity looked around at the assembled ponies.
“Well, we have to do something. That poor thing is going to study herself right into the ground! She needs help!”
Rainbow Dash gave everypony a grin and slicked back her mane.
“Well, I think that’s something I can handle. I’ve done this before, and there’s nothing a bit of tough love can’t handle. I’ll just have to drag her outside kicking and screaming if it comes to it. It’s for her own good! Let’s go!”
The gang trooped on over to Twilight’s library, and Rainbow tried the handle to the door only to find it locked. Rainbow banged on the door.
“Hey egghead, open the door! We need to talk to you!”
“Go away! I’m busy!”
Rainbow threw a look to the others.
“Geez, you weren’t kidding, were you? Care to open this door for me, AJ?”
Applejack spat on her hooves, turned around, planted herself in front of the door, and bucked it open with a thunderous bang.
“All yours partner.”
Rainbow Dash walked in, and walked right up to Twilight, who was looking more bedraggled than before. She looked up from her books, glaring daggers.
“I thought I made it clear that I didn’t want to be disturbed.”
Rainbow shrugged and walked around to the other side of the desk.
“Yeah, well too bad. You’re getting disturbed anyway. C’mon outside, we need to talk.”
“What part of ‘I’m busy’ do you not understand? I’m not going anywhere.”
Rainbow rolled her eyes and started to shove Twilight with her head.
“Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. Didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. You’re coming with me.”
Twilight sighed and focused her magic, and levitated Rainbow off her feet. Rainbow tried to fly, but was held firmly in place by Twilight’s magic.
“You’ll find I’m more formidable than a delusional pink party pony. Now shoo!”
With a grunt, Twilight tossed Rainbow out the front door and into the dirt outside. Getting up on her hooves and dusting herself off, Rainbow glared at Twilight.
“Oh, you think you’re hot stuff, don’tcha? You wanna do this the hard way? We’ll do this the hard way!”
Rainbow flew up into the air, and charged at the doorway, only to have it slammed in her face with a bang. Peeling herself off the closed door, Rainbow shook the stars out of her vision.
“Sure thing, Rainbow. Doors are pretty hard, wouldn’t you agree?”
Rainbow muttered something about a ‘purple wisecracking egghead’. Opening the door again, she ducked to dodge a book that flew out the doorway. A second tome followed the first and clocked Rainbow upside the head. Rainbow rubbed her forehead and made to barge her way in, when a storm of magically flying books made her turn tail and run away. She fled as best as she could, but the massive swarm of books pursued her and proceed to bury her in a mountain of literature. The rest of the gang trotted over and pulled a loopy Rainbow out of the pile.
“She’s tough. I don’t know if anypony can drag her out of there.”
Inside, Twilight grumbled about distractions and then looked at the clock with a look of despair. She’d never finish at this rate. She’d make a fool of herself at the competition, and then the Princess would be so disappointed. At least she couldn’t be replaced as the Princess’ personal protege. She hoped. Oh sun and moon, what if she could? Would the Princess ever do that? She didn’t think so, but... better make sure it didn’t come to that. Calling Spike, she looked at her nearly empty coffee pot. She’d have to pull an all-nighter if she were to have any chance of being ready, and that meant more provisions.
Next morning, a yawning and bleary-eyed Twilight stumbled outside with Spike towing a wagon of supplies behind him. Twilight began setting up in her favorite practice field just outside of town, avoiding anyone who might want to ‘help’ her. Spike reluctantly followed behind, steadying Twilight whenever she tripped over her own hooves.
“Are you sure this is a good idea, Twilight? You’re not exactly at full strength.”
“Spike, I’ve finally got all my research done, and I just need to practice some. This is a very complicated spell.”
“Exactly! You’re seriously trying to test out an experimental spell using theories from all the major schools of magic on practically no sleep? You really should get some rest.”
Twilight sighed and sarcastically mimicked Spike.
“‘You really should get some rest.’ You’re starting to sound like the others, Spike. I’ll be fine, I’ve had my morning coffee, and I’m ready to go! You did bring the backup thermos just in case, right?”
Spike nodded and Twilight squinted as she reviewed her notes one last time.
“Ugh, what’s wrong with my notes? I can’t make heads or tails of this.”
“Uh... Twilight, I think you’re holding them upside down.”
Twilight took a hard look at the notes, and then blushed while she turned the stack of paper the right way up.
“Right. I knew that.”
Taking deep breaths, she calmed herself down before drawing in magical power through her horn. This would require an immense amount of power, and she needed to concentrate. Her horn started to glow with magical aura, and Twilight strained a tad while trying to keep all the power in check. She needed just a little bit more and then she could start shaping it to form the-
Twilight gave a shout of surprise as Pinkie Pie bounded up from seemingly nowhere. Her control slipped and she fumbled the spell she had been forming. Panicking, she tried to hold on to the gathered power. Spike ran over shouting.
“Let it go! Don’t forget rule #1! Stop the spell!”
Twilight shook her head, and her knees buckled as she tried to regain control.
“No, I’ve got this! Just a minor slip! I just need to...”
Twilight control wavered, and the magic gathered inside her started to slip through her hooves. She started to sweat as she held on for dear life, but her grasp on the spell continued to crumble until it collapsed completely. The released power quickly rushed through her body, the raw magic turning her eyes white and levitating her into the air. Arcane energy crackled around her and Twilight screamed as she sprayed the emancipated magic all over the area in bursts of uncontrolled spellcasting. Pinkie gasped and ducked as a fireball flew over her head and exploded on the hillside behind her. Spike tried to run away, but a stray polymorph spell transformed him into a potted plant. Twilight hazily tried to recall her lessons on spellslip emergencies but it was too late. The venting of the built up magic broke her control on her own personal magic. She spasmed as raw spells flew through the air all around her, wreaking chaos on the surrounding landscape.
“Get... help... help me...!”
Several large booms drew the attention of everypony in Ponyville, and the attention of Twilight’s friends especially. Rushing out of the town, they raced to the source of the commotion, fearing the worst. The four of them gasped in shock as they reached the top of a nearby hill and saw the situation, Rarity nearly fainting.
“Goodness, gracious! I... I’ve never seen spellslip anywhere that bad before! She’s completely out of control! With her power...”
Rainbow Dash turned and gestured towards Twilight.
“Well, we have to do something! How do you stop a rampaging unicorn?”
Applejack bit her lip as she looked at the magical chaos and destruction to the field around Twilight.
“Ah don’t know what ah can do. She’s like a magic bomb down there! Ah don’t think ah could even get close without getting zapped. What do you think, Rarity?”
Rarity shook her head.
“I have nowhere near enough magical prowess to control that! Anypony see Spike? We need to get word to the Princess! If anypony can stop her, she can!”
Fluttershy quivered in fear, and pointed to a rather purple and green looking potted plant.
“I don’t think he can send anything right now...”
Applejack gave a questioning glance to Rainbow Dash, who shook her head.
“I can try to fly to Canterlot, but not even I’m that fast! Who knows what she’ll do by the time I get there and back?!”
“Well, we have t’do somethin’! We can’t just leave her like this!”
Rarity gasped and pointed at the horizon, as a fiery comet streaked across the sky. The group scattered as the flaming figure came close, revealing it as Princess Celestia flying into town at full power. Landing quickly and extinguishing her flaming aura, the panicked Princess raced towards the group.
“I came as soon as I heard! When did she start?”
Applejack pointed over the hill.
“Just a minute ago, but how did-”
“No time to explain, I have to hurry! Oh Sun and Moon, she hasn’t been like this in ages! I hope I’m not too late!”
Racing down the hill, the Princess hurried towards Twilight, ducking stray spells the purple unicorn emitted at random.
“Twilight! Twilight Sparkle, listen to me! I know you’re still in there, but you have to regain control!”
“I... can’t! I’m... too strong!”
“Yes you can! Remember our lessons together! Control your power, a little at a time!”
A bolt of magic flew at Celestia, but with a flash of her horn, she swatted the spell out of the air. Flaring her wings Celestia concentrated and dampened the worst of Twilight’s raging aura.
“Listen to me Twilight! Look me in the eye. You can do this. Remember what I taught you. Calm yourself, and focus on damming the magical flow a little at a time. Calm down and focus on your horn. Don’t try to stop it all at once, but reduce it a little at a time. I’ll help where I can.”
Twilight locked her pure white eyes with Celesita’s kind ones, and slowly the aura started to subside. Celestia quickly counterspelled any bolts of magic that got through and continued to talk Twilight down with quiet calm assurance.
“That’s it, you’ve got it now. Shut down the magic a little at a time. I’m here for you. A little more, yes, you got this. You’re almost there...”
Finally, after a few painful minutes, the magical aura vanished completely, and Twilight’s eyes resumed their normal violet color. Falling to the ground, Twilight looked up at the concerned, exhausted, but relieved Celestia. How could she have let this happen to herself? Looking over at the hillside, she spotted all five of her friends coming closer, worry written on their faces. They had only been trying to help... Twilight cowered as Celestia walked up and loomed over Twilight. Twilight turned her eyes away, her lip quivering before throwing herself at Celestia's hooves.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, Princess! I lost control! How could I loose control? I’m a horrible student! I was blind, obsessed, stupidly obsessed! I wanted to show that I was good enough, and I forgot everything you taught me! I was so STUPID! I neglected my friends, didn’t even take care of myself, all because of a STUPID contest! I forgot everything I learned about friendship! I even forgot the first lesson you ever taught me! I forgot Rule #1! I’m the worst student EVER!”
Twilight broke down into incoherent bawling as Celestia looked on. With a quick gesture, she motioned for Twilight’s friends to leave them alone for a bit, with which they quickly complied. She looked down at the weeping unicorn with a stern smile.
“Twilight Sparkle, stop that at once! I will have none of that from my prized pupil!”
Twilight looked up teary-eyed as Celestia knelt down.
“Come here, Twilight.”
Twilight got up and slunk over to Celestia’s side.
“You... you’re not mad at me?”
“No, I’m not mad at you. Worried, certainly, but not mad. Twilight, we all make mistakes sometimes. But I love you dearly, and I forgive you.”
“But... but I did so many idiotic-”
Celestia shushed Twilight and gave her a quick nuzzle.
“I know. And I forgive you. That’s what friends do; they forgive each other. And I’m sure your friends here will forgive you too if you ask. But the important thing is that you learn from your mistakes.”
Twilight looked up at Celestia.
“So... you’re not going to replace me? Even since I made such a mess of the opportunity you gave me?”
Celestia looked shocked at the suggestion.
“Replace you? Sun and moon, no! Whatever gave you that idea?”
“Well... if I did really badly, that wouldn’t look good if your best student did horribly...”
Twilight looked up as Celestia burst into laughter.
“Twilight Sparkle, I didn’t send you that invitation just so I could make myself look better! I did it because I thought you could grow from the experience. Even if you failed. One learns as much from failures, as they do from successes, if not more.”
Twilight stared at the ground.
“I’m not sure how I got so obsessed. I got so scared that if I made a fool of myself...”
“Twilight, never ever doubt the fact that I love you. How long have I been your mentor? You can trust me with anything. I promise that I will never stop being your friend, no matter what. Not even when you make mistakes.”
Twilight chuckled softly.
Celestia smiled to herself and the two sat quietly, Twilight thinking to herself before speaking up again.
“Dear Princess Celestia...”
“Twilight, I’m right here...”
“Today I learned an important lesson today about friendship. It is important to keep your priorities straight, even when something big is on the line. Winning a prize is not worth the risk of losing a friend, which is a far greater prize to have. Also, friends... friends will forgive you, even when you mess up badly and act really stupid. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes so they don’t happen again. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle”
“It looks like you did learn well.”
“...yeah. But I was still really stupid. I feel really bad about the whole thing.”
Celestia gave Twilight a big hug.
“If you want to get it out of your system, you can. I think you’ll feel better.”
Twilight gave Celestia a questioning glance, and she nodded in response. Twilight burst into tears again and Celestia wrapped a wing tightly around the sobbing unicorn.
“That’s right. Let it all out. Everything is going to be just fine.”
Celestia let Twilight cry and busied herself undoing the damage done to Spike and the surrounding field. Eventually, Twilight’s tears trailed off into sniffling.
“Twilight, would it help if I told you I’ve made some really big mistakes too?”
Twilight looked up and blew her nose on Celestia’s wing.
“R-r-really? I c-can’t imagine-”
“Just because I’m the Princess, doesn’t mean I’m perfect. It just means my mess-ups are... bigger. Did you know the Everfree Forest was my fault?”
Celestia gazed into the distance.
“I should have seen it coming, honestly. Back then I was so wrapped up in everypony praising me all the time, that I... let it go to my head. I didn’t realise how upset Luna was about the... imbalance. I passed it off, thinking she’d get over it, but... you know how things turned out. My duel against Nightmare Moon took place in the Ancient Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters... although it wasn’t so ancient then. I was panicked, and desperate. When I used the Elements of Harmony... I put a lot of power into it. Too much it turns out. I ended up draining all of the natural magic from the forest to power that banishment spell. All that magic is what keeps things running smoothly in the rest of Equestria, and with that magic gone from the forest, it turned into what it is now.”
Twilight looked up at the regretful Princess.
“That wasn’t your fault, Princess. I’m not sure anypony could have done any better.”
Celestia looked down and smiled.
“Maybe I could, and maybe I couldn’t. We’ll never know. I still regret it though. But enough of that, let’s go reunite you with your friends. I’m sure they’re worried sick about you.”
The pair walked over the field and Celestia chuckled as a memory hit her.
“Did you know that when I was younger, I tried to ban alfalfa?”
Twilight looked up at the Princess in surprise.
“You did what?”
Celestia laughed and nodded.
“I did! I hated the stuff growing up. And one day I simply decided I had enough. I believe my words were along the lines of ‘I’m the Princess and I say it’s disgusting! So there!’”
Twilight giggled and nudged Celestia playfully.
“Princess, did you really?”
“No, I’m serious! I really did! The farmers guild had some choice words for me THAT month! I had to promise that the entire castle would have to eat the stuff for a month to get them to calm down. Luna wasn’t too happy about that arrangement either if I recall. Next time you see her, ask her about ‘the alfalfa monster’.”
The two crossed the crest of the hill laughing. Twilight turned to the Princess and smiled.
“Princess Celestia? Thank you so much. For... for everything today.”
Celestia smiled back fondly.
“You’re certainly welcome. What are friends for? And speaking of friends...”
Twilight friends came rushing over and crowded around.
“Is she all right? Is she going to be okay?”
Twilight stared at the ground, red-faced.
“Yeah, I’m going to be fine. And... and I’m sorry. I acted really stupid and obsessed and rude to everypony. Will you all please forgive me?”
Fluttershy smiled quietly and patted Twilight on the back.
“Don’t worry, we forgive you.”
Twilight smiled and gave her a hug, which quickly turned into a group hug.
“Thank you... thank you all. I’ll make sure to never do it again.”
Applejack walked over and looked up to the Princess.
“Say, how didja know to come and save Twilight in t’first place? We were still thinkin’ up ways to get t’word t’ya.”
“Well, it was a very... interesting message I received, that’s for sure! It went something along the lines of...”
Celestia opened her eyes wide and put on a giant smile and started jumping up and down as fast as she could.
Applejack and Twilight exchanged glances, before looking at the unusually subdued pink pony.
Pinkie Pie swayed on her hooves, her eyes half closed.
“Yeah. But I forgot about what happens next... I think I’m gonna go lie down. This rock looks kinda soft.”
Pinkie Pie fell over with a thud and started snoring almost immediately. Celestia just chuckled and gestured to the passed out Pinkie.
“And that is why I stopped drinking coffee every morning.”
Twilight and her friends laughed and started to head back to town. Twilight walked next to Celestia, and looked up.
“I’m sorry I won’t be able to compete in the Arcane Arts Competition. My spell was kinda a bust I guess.”
Celestia tilted her head quizzically.
“Oh? I’m sure you can think up something in time. Perhaps something you’ve been studying before this whole thing began...?”
Twilight blinked in surprise and fell into thought. After a while she looked up at the Princess with a questioning glance.
“... do you think that might work? I hadn’t even considered it. Maybe it could... it’d be tough though. Oh! And will you be coming to watch the competition?”
Celestia shook her head.
“Unfortunately, not. I asked the competition committee, and while they didn’t refuse, they were clearly worried that my presence might... influence the judges.”
Twilight’s head dropped as they arrived in town square, and Celestia got ready to leave. But she stopped, turned around, and winked at the group.
“...but I made other arrangements, especially concerning the weather. I’m sure your weather team friend will know what I mean.”
With a mighty flap of her wings, Celestia took off and started her flight back to Canterlot. Twilight gave a puzzled look to Rainbow Dash.
“What did she mean by that?”
Rainbow Dash just shrugged.
“I sure don’t know. The schedule for that day just calls for no clouds.”
Twilight rubbed her chin.
“Can you double check for me please?”
“Sure thing, just gimme a sec. I’ll be back in a flash.”
Rainbow Dash raced off back to her cloud house, and returned before too long with a notebook, which she tossed to Twilight.
“Here you go, see for yourself.”
“All right let’s see. Aha. ‘Sunrise scheduled for seven in the morning, warm Spring breeze, no clouds at all, sunny sk-”
Twilight’s eyes widened in surprise, as a huge grin spread over her face.
“Oh, she’s GOOD!”
A few days later, the gang walked through the streets of Baltimare to the Arcane Arts Competition, dodging piles of slush that littered the street. Rarity shook a hoof clean after stepping in one such puddle.
“Good heavens, what’s wrong with this place? I knew Ponyville wasn’t the fastest at wrapping up winter, but even we’re usually done with it by now.”
Applejack spoke up, looking at the giant tree that dominated the skyline.
“It’s somethin’ they’re still trying t’fix. See that big tree in the center of town? The unicorns that first settled here grew that tree, and enchanted it to control the season changes for them. Usually it works just fine, but one of my cousins was called in about it, and told me it got sick a few months ago and won’t do squat.”
Twilight nodded and stared at the tree’s barren branches as they crossed the bridge to the peninsula where the outdoor theatre lay.
“That’s right, and without the tree at full health they’ve had to do things manually, and they’re not quite used to it.”
The group walked in silence for a minute until Rainbow piped up.
“Hey Twilight, have you decided what to do with the you-know-what if you pull it off?”
Twilight looked back with a grin.
“I... think I have an idea now.”
Twilight peeked around the corner from backstage, butterflies in her stomach. This was it, she was up next. Scanning the crowd, she spotted her friends right near the front, where she had requested. Looking over the crowd, she searched for somepony else, but couldn’t spot her in the sea of faces. Tensing up when the announcer called her name, Twilight quickly adjusted her costume one last time. Stepping out onto the stage, Twilight winced at the bright lights, but quickly composed herself. Taking center stage, she opened the book she had brought and began to read.
“There are six Elements of Harmony, but only five are known: Kindness, Laughter, Generosity, Honesty, and Loyalty. The sixth is a complete mystery.”
Twilight closed the book and set it aside.
“...until now. Fillies and Gentlecolts, for the past year I have studied the nature of friendship, and its relation to established magical theory. I have come to the conclusion that the two are inextricably intertwined, as I will now demonstrate.”
Twilight closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Now is where things got tricky. She looked at Rainbow Dash in the front row and began to concentrate.
“Loyalty. Loyalty is one of the fundamental things any unicorn learns during their magical training. Once casting of a spell is begun, it must not be stopped until it succeeds or fails. Complete dedication to the task is required or else one risks catastrophic spell failure, and the... consequences that result. If one is not loyal to the casting of any spell, then one is a danger to everypony around you.”
Twilight fixed her focus on Rainbow, and her unswerving loyalty. Once Rainbow decided that she would help Twilight, the blue pegasus had devoted the majority of her spare time to coach Twilight in the physical and dramatic aspects of her performance. Twilight focused and drew on Rainbow’s spirit, and a small blue sphere of light formed and orbited Twilight. One down. No going back now.
“Honesty. Honesty is the adherence to the ideals of truth and sincerity. It is the core principle behind the school of divination, and as a result, divination can not be falsified. It also is important to all the other schools, as the process of spell casting is a known quantity, and any deviation from the true workings of a spell will result in failure. There is no way to ‘fake’ your way through a spell if you don’t know and master it.”
Twilight focused on Applejack, and felt the spirit of Honesty within her. She certainly kept Twilight honest. Any time she tried to overwork herself for this performance or bite off more than she could chew in practice, Applejack was right there to tell her the truth of the situation. Even if it hurt. Drawing on her spirit, an orange sphere of light joined the first to orbit around Twilight. Good. These two elements were the foundation to her spell, and helped support the rest.
“Laughter. Laughter is a necessary part of magic. Not only is it a key part in the school of illusion, laughter is a necessary principle in the use of magic. Too often magic is viewed as a joyless and sterile field, only useful for practical purposes. But in reality, magic brings change upon our world. It is full of surprises and undiscovered potential. One must always be open to the joy and laughter that studying or using magic brings, as well as the more mundane uses.”
If Pinkie Pie wasn’t laughter embodied, Twilight didn’t know what was. Equestria would be a boring place without her, that’s for sure. She made sure Twilight took plenty of breaks, and kept Twilight’s spirits high even when things looked rough. And her... unorthodox way of thinking proved useful. Drawing on Pinkie’s spirit of Laughter, a pink orb of light joined the other two. In practice, Twilight had trouble keeping the three components of the spell going at once, until Pinkie had compared it to juggling. Surprisingly, the idea applied, and through reinforcing each part one at a time, Twilight was able to keep each part of the spell powered.
“Kindness. Kindness is essential to the practical application of magic. The entire school of healing is based around the principle of kindness. Too often magic is used unnecessarily as an offensive tool or for needless destructive purposes. But we must never forget the entire purpose of magic is to make the lives of ponies everywhere better through its use.”
Twilight’s magic touched Fluttershy and drew upon her gentle spirit of Kindness. She took care of Twilight through her tough training sessions, bringing snacks or anything else she needed. She also made sure Twilight took care of herself properly, and got to bed at a reasonable hour. She didn’t even have to use The Stare! Much. A yellow orb of light joined the other three. She was almost there...
“Generosity. Generosity is the giving of oneself to others. Magic draws upon power from within oneself to enact change to the world. Whether it is easy or hard, proper use of magic is a gift from yourself to the world, and is to be used to change the world for the better. No matter the difficulty or cost to oneself, using magic to better the world is always worth doing.”
Rarity had certainly been generous with her time, talents, and resources. She donated more than her share to help Twilight with this presentation, giving performance advice, stylistic suggestions, and even making Twilight’s costume for the event. Focusing on her, Twilight conjured the fifth orb of light, a white one, from her spirit to join the rest. Now came the toughest part. Twilight began to sweat as she juggled the five parts of her spell.
“The principles of the Elements of Harmony pervade all throughout magical teaching, and are all useful in their own way. But when they are combined, there is a sixth element. The element I have been studying for a long time. Just as magic can be used to bring about change to the world, there is a power linked to it that can bring about just as much change.”
The aura around Twilight’s horn grew another level as Twilight focused on herself, and how she felt long ago during that night at the ruined castle. Looking at each of her friends, she felt that familiar spark as she looked each one in the eye. Soon, a purple sixth orb appeared and joined the other ones orbiting her. Power coursed through Twilight’s body, but she held it firmly under control this time. She levitated into the air, and her eyes turned white as she focused the power of the spirits.
“The sixth element. By yourself, you can only bring about so much change. But when you are with your friends, you can do so much more! With your friends, the possibilities are nigh infinite! Together, you can change the world, and anything is possible! Because the sixth Element of Harmony is Friendship! Because Friendship. Is. MAGIC!”
With a great flare of magic, Twilight combined all six orbs into a bright flash of light above her head, from which sprung The Rainbow of Light. It wasn’t as big or powerful as when she had the physical elements with her, but The Rainbow had been called forth nonetheless. The crowd gasped in shock as it flew overhead. With a gesture, Twilight directed it over to the barren tree that dominated the city. Forming a circle around it, the Rainbow of Light infused itself into the tree. With a shout, Twilight brought her hooves to bear at the tree.
For a split second nothing happened. Then the entire tree exploded into bloom, pink blossoms appearing on every branch. Soon the tree was covered and full of life. A moment of silence hung in the air, as did some stray petals, and then a shock wave of green light burst forth from the tree. Sweeping over the city, trees everywhere burst into flower with an explosion of petals in the wake of this wave of Spring. Grass returned from its dormant brown to lively green as it swept past, and flowers sprang up from the ground. Twilight directed the wave from the stage, and the sky seemed brighter and the sun shown stronger wherever it went. Puddles of snow and slush disappeared wherever the tidal wave of rejuvenation touched. Ice melted on the rivers as Twilight completed her sweep of the city, letting loose waves that swept down both sides of the peninsula and into the bay beyond with a majestic crash.
Twilight let herself down out of the air, and her eyes returned to normal as she collapsed panting on the stage. Silence reigned, save for the songs of the returning birds, and petals from the newly blossomed trees drifted to the ground all around. Then the crowd erupted into thunderous applause, hats and hooves thrown in the air. Twilight smiled stupidly as she got to her hooves and took a bow. She had done it!
Walking back towards the carriage with her friends, shiny new trophy in tow, Twilight kept looking around the crowd as pony after pony came up to congratulate her on her victory. But when Twilight spotted a certain white pegasus with a pink mane, she shoved her trophy into Rainbow Dash’s hooves, and bolted through the crowd at full speed.
“Cel- er... Sunny! Sunny! Did you see that? I did it! I pulled it off! I can’t believe I did it, but I did! And I won too!”
‘Sunny Skies’ embraced Twilight in a big hug.
“I did! You were simply amazing! I’m so proud of you!”
Her friends all caught up and greeted the disguised Princess happily. Twilight beamed as she looked at them all.
“I couldn’t have done it without all my friends though. They helped me pull this off, in more ways than you can imagine!”
Celestia laughed and winked at them all.
“I know. And I thank each and every one of you. Now how about we go someplace to celebrate? The guards aren’t expecting me back until dinner, so I have some time on my hooves.”
The group of friends quickly agreed and trooped off into town, talking and laughing up a storm. This had been the best day ever!