Pretty sure I’ve only put one of these ideas up here anyway. I know I’ve at least mentioned them once or twice. One of the running themes for characters/stories/rpg characters in my head is the idea that ordinary jobs are much less so in extraordinary environments. Farmer is a fairly normal job. Unless you are in some kind of post-apocalyptic fantasy world where your farm animals are giant spiders, random surges of magic distort reality on a regular basis, and undead prowl the wilderness outside the farm’s territory. That sort of thing. Anyway, one of the things my mind keeps returning to is the pony version.
So, I did catastrophe planner last time. Which isn’t really a normal job all that much. Even in the so-called ‘real world’ doing that sort of thing for governments is probably pretty stressful. It’s just absurdly more in a fantasy world where the laws of physics aren’t nearly as understandable and consistent. I got inspired with a new one just now, and so I’m gonna write up a little fragment and see how far I get with it.
Who has the hardest job in Equestria? Royal Guards might tell you it’s the captain of the guard, being responsible for everypony’s safety even the Princess. The Wonderbolts might tell you it’s their lawyer for having to deal with all of the mess that a team of high-octane stunt fliers cause when not watched every second. The palace night staff, on the other hand, will be happy to tell you who really has the worst job in the entire kingdom.
The night chef. The pony in charge of the kitchen when everypony is asleep and there is nopony in the palace except for a few guards, maybe some janitors. And Princess Celestia. Her majesty, ruler of Equestria, she who moves the sun, the glorious white Alicorn who often gets hungry in the middle of the night and tries to slip down to the kitchens to get a snack.
Much of the time this is fine. You don’t get to be head chef in the palace without plenty of practice spending time with the Princess, and other high ranking dignitaries as well. If it was just the princess popping up at odd hours when nopony else was around it wouldn’t be a problem. However… There are the other times when Princess Celestia has gotten sensitive about her size and put herself on a diet. With strict instructions to the entire kitchen staff to not let her cheat. During the day the princess is so busy, and there are so many witnesses, that she barely thinks about it. At night, however…
“Just one little piece of cake?” Princess Celestia had centuries to perfect her ‘cute innocent pony’ expression. “I got plenty of exercise today. Even flew around myself without the chariot-”
“I’m sorry, your majesty. I can’t let you into the kitchen.” Scrumptious Marjolaine held her ground in the entrance of the kitchen. The moment there was a knock on the door she regretted trying to bake a new kind of cake for practice that night. It was just barely visible through the open door, and Princess Celestia could easily see over the somewhat diminutive yellow Pegasus.
“That cake isn’t even for any events.” Princess Celestia turned her ‘cute alicorn eyes’ up to eleven. “So nopony will miss just two little slices.”
Scrumptious Marjolaine had been in and around the palace kitchens all of her life. Her mother had been head chef, her grand father had been the high baker. Not only does that mean her parents had gotten used to Princess Celestia’s attempts at sweet-talking (therefor she had to really step up her game as a foal to get anything from her family), but she had almost literally spent decades getting used to ponies telling the princess no.
“I’m sorry, Princess. Your orders are very strict. Nopony by royal decree, not even you, can countermand them for another month.”
Princess Celestia dropped her sweet and innocent act. Getting a little closer and lowering her voice. “Look. I’m immortal, eternal, bound to the very fires of creation itself. Just one treat isn’t going to make a difference to the starfire running through my veins. Those orders are just to stop me from chomping through like five whole cakes in a sitting. Just look the other way, I’ll take one teeny-tiny slice, and tomorrow afternoon you wake up with shiny new furniture in your brand new house in the best part of the city.”
“You pay us very well, princess. My family has a very nice mansion in the quiet part of town that we love very much. Moving would only upset my foals.” Scrumptious Marjolaine‘s voice remained steady even as her legs trembled. Not from the bribe attempt of course. Serving the one who moves the very heavens tends to make a pony not care so much about material luxuries. Or at least the working ponies of the staff react that way. The nobles tend to have the opposite reaction for some bizarre reason. No, her growing nervousness was because this was a well-trodden conversation for both of them at this point in her career and she knew what was going to happen next.
Princess Celestia took a step back and straightened up. Her wings flaring out to the sides. Her eyes glowing pure white with divine light. Mane and tail blazing bright, a burning rainbow streaming out from her body as her voice thundered like the sky itself shouting.
“YOU WILL STAND ASIDE! I WAS HERE BEFORE YOUR ANCIENT ANCESTORS AND I WILL BE HERE LONG AFTER YOUR UNBORN GREAT GRANDFOALS! MY WILL BRINGS THE DAWN! MY ANGER SHATTERS MOUNTAINS AND ALL THAT HAVE STOOD AGAINST ME ARE DUST FORGOTTEN BY THE AGES! MOVE OUT OF THE WAY OR SUFFER MY WRATH!” There was none of the playful Princess Celestia most saw in that vision of divine rage.
Scrumptious Marjolaine knew the princess would not hurt one of her little ponies. As one of the palace staff families she knew down to her bones that Princess Celestia loved her subjects, would sacrifice herself in a moment to save one from injury. Yet right then. At the focus of what felt like real fury and anger, it was hard to think of anything except the stories of the old vengeful gods and why the Canterhorn was the only mountain for a hundred miles. Stories of previous night chefs that went missing, or simply quit without warning one morning without explaining huge scorch marks or half-melted kitchens, all that and more (including most of her life) flashed through the head night chef’s mind. Her sense of duty was strong, and she knew (hoped) that Princess Celestia’s sugar craving wasn’t bad enough to make her do something she’d regret in the morning.
“Drat.” Princess Celestia shut down her violent display and just pouted. Then glanced over her shoulder and winced a bit as she noticed that her blazing tail had melted a good chunk of the wall behind her. One of the empty guest rooms on the other side was somewhat on fire. “I’ll have the guard put that out.” She said in an embarrassed tone even most of the staff don’t get to hear before slinking off as if wanting to be somewhere else before somepony demanded explanations.
Scrumptious Marjolaine just sighed once Princess Celestia was out of sight around a corner. Her entire body shaking as she struggled to calm down. Wide eyes just looking at the smoking hole in the half-foot thick marble wall and the mind-numbingly expensive furnishings in the VIP guest room burning merrily. Then she stepped back, closed the door, and tried to focus on the cake that had half fallen over from the force of Princess Celestia’s shouting.
“I really wish somepony else was the one to stand up to her when she’s like that. Her majesty gets so unbalanced when she cuts her weekly sugar intake.” She muttered to herself as she calmed down.