An idea that has been rolling around in my head for a while. Recently managed to actually get some writing done and used this one as practice to get used to writing everyday again. Not good enough to submit as a story (though I might get it cleaned up and do it anyway if I finish it, since I do know a fairly cheap pony fanfic editor who is for hire), but figured I should share it anyway. It’s not a story and I’m not sure it even qualifies as a vignette. It’s a concept padded out to 1000+ words because my brain wouldn’t let it go.
The Hardest Job In Equestria
Who has the most stressful job in Equestria? It all depends on who you ask.
Most ponies would say Princess Celestia. Ruling the kingdom, maintaining the cycle of day and night, putting up with the nobility.
Dotted Line would have you thrown out of the palace for wasting his time.
Many of the nobles would say they had the most stressful job. That of leading Equestria and dealing with all the other nobles who are idiots who don’t deserve their titles.
Princess Luna would comment that she deals with all the worst and most intense nightmares and dreams, then roll her eyes as she stomps away.
Princess Celestia has any number of answers depending on who asked and who was listening at any given moment. At a friendly diplomatic get together she might say Dotted Line, with his struggles keeping the bureaucracy running smoothly. In more public situations she has been known to say that single parents have the weight of the entire world and future on their backs. Very occasionally she has said it was the royal librarian because they both look after all of Equestria’s dangerous knowledge and have to deal with all the overly ambitious colts and fillies from the School for Gifted Unicorns practically next door.
Twilight Sparkle would recall one time she asked Princess Celestia a similar question. Once when she was a young filly, not long after becoming Princess Celestia’s personal student, she had a conversation with her mentor that she never really forgot. Much later she realized that Princess Celestia had probably been a little drunk and was perhaps not as guarded with her responses as usual. Much much later in life Twilight attended Princess Luna’s birthday celebration on that same day of the year and remembered that evening for much different reasons than the content of the conversation.
Little Twilight Sparkle had not seen Princess Celestia all day. They had no scheduled lessons that afternoon or evening so it wasn’t exactly a big concern. Yet even on days with no lessons or scheduled meetings Princess Celestia would occasionally visit the school to check in with the teachers and she would take a moment to speak with Twilight for at least long enough to say hello when they bumped into each other between classes. Other days Princess Celestia would visit Twilight in the afternoon, often taking her out of the library so the scholarly filly wouldn’t spend the remaining daylight hours reading in a closed off room
Princess Celestia never interrupted dinner. Every night she made sure Twilight Sparkle had the evening meal with her family (and occasionally insisting her foalsitter join them for reasons Twilight didn’t understand at the time, but was glad for nonetheless), but often Princess Celestia would invite Twilight over after the meal to spend a few hours between dinner and bed at the palace.
Today, not a single one of those had happened. It was an hour after a wonderful family dinner and no royal guard had brought a delightfully elegant invitation. Twilight knew that it was probably nothing. Being the Princess must be a busy job. It was just a long day. Or maybe that A- in geography made the Princess reconsider having Twilight Sparkle as a personal student. If that was true, Twilight had to reassure Princess Celestia that she would study twice as hard from now on! If it was just a long day, well, some candy and a hug always made Twilight feel better after a bad day. Princess Celestia gets all the cake she wants, but Twilight figured not many ponies would be giving her hugs.
Three carefully constructed fibs and a twenty minute trot (with a big brother following at a sneaky distance because a five minute story with a graph is a poor fib) put Twilight in the palace (fib three was ten minutes and had four charts, but the royal guard had standing orders to accept any story the Princess’ personal study told them in an attempt to enter the palace as long as her identity was checked). Three minutes after getting inside the palace she knocked hesitantly on the door of Princess Celestia’s chambers.
The doors were opened by a golden gold. Twilight walked in, her hoofsteps hesitant as her mind right then decided to start a list of all the reasons this was a terrible idea. It was a very long list by the time she was six steps in the room and the door shut behind her.
“Princess Celestia?” The young filly called out softly.
“Out on the balcony, Twilight.” Princess Celestia’s usually warm voice was somewhat subdued.
As Twilight Sparkle walked across the central room of Princess Celestia’s chambers she felt a surge of magic and saw a flash of golden light thought the shimmering silk curtains separating the balcony from the rest of the central room. She carefully used her magic to push the curtains open just wide enough to slip through.
Princess Celestia was sitting with all four legs folded under her. Her mane and tail seemed less colorful than usual, and her eyes looked oh-so-tired.
“I’m sorry,” Twilight Sparkle apologized when she saw how tired Princess Celestia looked. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Come here Twilight,” Princess Celestia lifted one large white wing, inviting Twilight to settle down at her side. “Sorry that I worried you. Today was busy and I didn’t sleep well last night.”
Even Twilight Sparkle wasn’t entirely oblivious to social cues. She wanted to dash happily over to snuggle under that wing, but realized that overly happy exuberance would not be the right thing given Princess Celestia’s apparent mood. So the small purple filly settled on a brisk trot over to Princess Celestia’s side to sit down. Smiling happily at that wing settling down on her like the best blanket in the whole world. Princess Celestia couldn’t help but smile at her young student’s foalish glee trying to restrain itself.
“I am sorry that you had a bad day Princess,” Twilight nuzzled Princess Celestia’s shoulder. “Being the Princess must be hard.”
“It has ups and downs,” Princess Celestia nuzzled Twilight’s cheek. “The princess gets her very own adorable filly for hugs after long days. That’s a big plus.”
Twilight just giggled as she leaned against the much larger alicorn.
“Besides, it could be worse,” Princess Celestia lowered her voice and shifted her wing forward to spread over both of their heads as if about to share a secret. “I could have the worst job in the whole world.”
Twilight’s eyes were wide as she felt that her mentor was sharing a secret. “Who has the worst job in the world?”
“At the moment a pony with the name Silver Moon,” Princess Celestia had to stifle a giggle at Twilight’s puzzled look. “No, you haven’t heard of her. Few ponies pay any attention to her. Most of the nobles don’t know about her even though she was given her job in front of a full assembly.”
“Is that why she has the worst job? Nopony pays attention to her?”
“She considers being ignored by everypony to be the best part of her job,” Princess Celestia just smiled at Twilight’s expression.
“Um, she doesn’t get to see her family much?” Twilight’s face scrunched up as she tries to think of reasons this strange pony has a worse job than the Princess.
“Her work is thinking about stuff and writing down what she thinks about. She can see her friends and family pretty much whenever she wants.”
“Then it…” Twilight had moved from puzzled to outright confused. “She doesn’t get paid enough?”
“Silver Moon is the highest paid civil servant in the kingdom, and all of her expenses are paid separate from her income.” Princess Celestia saw Twilight Sparkle starting to panic at the thought that she couldn’t find the answer to what she thought might be a test. A worry she calmed down with a kiss on Twilight’s nose. “Shhh, it’s okay. Why don’t I tell you what her job is so you have enough information to figure it out?”
Princess Celestia could tell her student’s mind was still trying to solve the puzzle, but she wasn’t panicking anymore. Which was a good thing.
“Silver Moon is the current Catastrophe Consultant for Equestria. It’s her job to think up every worst case scenario she can think up and figure out the best way to deal with each one.
“Like what?” Twilight was curious now.
“Anything. Her job is to write up detailed responses to anything and everything that could possibly go wrong so we can avoid or fix them.”
“That’s why her job is the worst?”
“Correct Twilight,” Princess Celestia smiled. “Let me give you an example. Last week you learned that new light spell, right? A few months ago Silver Moon figured out that if every unicorn in Canterlot cast a light spell at one, it could cause a chain reaction that would permanently burn out everypony’s magic. So now one of the palace guards has the duty to not cast a light spell if the entire city gets covered it darkness for some reason.”
“I didn’t know that!” Twilight started to panic at the thought that her newly learned spell could be so dangerous.
“Shh. Twilight, calm down. You don’t need to worry about it. That is Silver Moon’s job. That’s why the position of Catastrophe Consultant exists. Almost anything can turn into a kingdom-wide disaster given the right implausible situation. Which is why that’s the worst job in the world.” Princess Celestia gave Twilight’s nose another warm kiss. “Let me put it this way. When you came in here and started to think about all the reasons you shouldn’t have come here? That’s how Silver Moon feels and thinks all the time.”