154 Days Without a Crisis

by jkbrony

Chapter 1: It should NOT be this stressful!

With the Foal and Filly Fair over, Mayor Mare had expected that the rest of the weekend would be quiet and uneventful. Instead she found herself trudging miserably to her office, silently agonizing over the amount of work she now had ahead of her.

Ponyville was a mess—a beautiful, elegant mess, the sole result of Rarity's over-creative vision. The streets were, quite literally, paved with gold. Simple, ordinary items had been transformed massive, elegant structures, imbued with gold and gemstones. Several houses now bore amazing new enhancements, mostly upon their rooftops and doors. Others were almost encased in colorful crystal, making them shine brightly with either red, blue or green hues. Many of Ponyville's trees shimmered with the same crystal hues upon their trunks and leaves, making them nearly as blinding to stare at as the golden roads. Town Hall itself had been entirely encased in crystal, most of which had now been cleared away.

Most of Ponyville's residents were utterly confused as to what had happened over the last few hours. Mare had scrambled through town, asking ponies if they had seen who was causing all of these changes, only to come up with nothing. After a while, the changes appeared to stop popping up, and Twilight had begun work reversing them, leaving Mayor Mare with the daunting task of documenting the incident within her records.

As she entered her office, Mayor Mare walked over to a small board on the wall that read "DAYS WITHOUT A CRISIS" with the number "154" preceding it in removable numbers. One by one, she removed each of the numbers and placed a "0" where the "4" used to be. Once finished, she made her way over to her desk, sighing deeply as she sat down.

"Miss Mayor?"

Mare looked up to see her aide, Roth, had walked inside the office.

"Princess Luna and Princess Cadence have arrived to assist Princess Twilight with the cleanup," he informed her.

The mayor sighed with relief, thankful to hear that Celestia herself had not shown up.

"Okay, so what do we know at this point?" she asked.

Roth took a seat in the chair opposite the Mayor's desk.

"Rarity has confessed to being the culprit. She was apparently under the influence of a spell from dark spellbook that was found in the Everfree Forest castle. It was Princess Twilight's own dragon, Spike, who found the book for her. The spell released its influence on her after he told her how much worse she was making things. The good news is that we have not had any reported injuries, and Rarity herself has offered to do anything she can to clean up the mess she's made."

Mare blinked in disbelief.

"All it took to stop this was for Spike to tell her how much worse she was making things? If that's the case, then why did it take him so long to do that?!"

Roth shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps he simply did not want to disappoint her."

Mare shook her head. "Where is the spellbook now?"

"From what I was told, the dragon swallowed it."

Mare raised an eyebrow. "I see. Well, then I suppose we don't need to worry about that anymore, do we? How bad is the damage?"

"It's bad, but not unfixable," Roth answered. "With three alicorns here it probably shouldn't take more than a few hours."

Mare looked at him with a worrying expression that he was all too familiar with. He knew exactly what she was thinking.

"I don't believe that a public statement is necessary," he assured her. "This was not another incident like what happened with Trixie. The citizens of Ponyville do not believe that they're in any danger."

Mare rubbed her forehead. "I have to tell them something..."

"To be completely honest with you, ma'am, I believe that they're starting to become used to incidents like this."

This statement did not make Mayor Mare feel any better. True enough, she herself was starting to get accustomed these kinds of town-wide disruptions. She sighed deeply and shook her head.

"This job used to be so much easier...," she lamented silently.

Roth shrugged apprehensively, knowing full well what was about to come next.

"Why do these kinds of things only happen in Ponyville?!" Mare snapped. "I never hear about things like this happening in Fillydelphia, Baltimare, or even Manehattan! Canterlot had that Changeling invasion a while back, but other than that, everything is nice and quiet there. Could somepony please explain to me that every single time chaos breaks loose in Equestria, it chooses to do so in Ponyville?!"

Roth fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat. He hated being an ear to the mayor's rants, especially when they were based upon a subject that she was particularly sore about. Mare opened a drawer and pulled out a large folder, slamming it down upon her desk.

"You know what this is, don't you, Roth?"

Roth nodded uncomfortably.

"Tell me what it is," she demanded.

"It's a dossier of every crisis that has occurred in Ponyville since you became mayor," he said.

"Correct," Mare nodded. "And I've pulled it out again because I now have yet another thing to document. It's amusing to think that in my first few years as mayor, the only thing I would ever document in this folder was our slow winter wrap-up efforts. It's even more amusing that I used to think that being so slow to wrap up winter was such a big deal. At this point, I WISH that being late for spring was the only crisis that Ponyville faced each year!"

Roth looked down, as though he were under scrutiny for a grave error he had made. Mare opened the folder and quickly sifted through it.

"Over the last few years, our town has been visited by Nightmare Moon, an Ursa Minor, a chaos-loving Discord, and Cerberus. We've had a parasprite invasion, and an invasion of Pinkie Pies. We've seen Spike grow to gargantuan size and the Everfree Forest spreading all over town. And worst of all, Trixie held me captive and took siege of my town for nearly two whole days!"

Each incident mentioned was a painful and unpleasant reflection, but Mare considered Trixie's siege of Ponyville to be the darkest moment in her history as mayor. For nearly two days she had been trapped inside a cage, forced to watch as Trixie took control of her town and dominated the lives of its residents. She had felt more helpless in that moment than she even thought herself capable of feeling. And to make it even worse, she was placed just outside of Town Hall, giving her an unwanted front-row seat to all of the misery she was inflicting upon Ponyville. She shuddered to remember the multitudes of distraught and desolate glances she had received from several ponies—begging for help that she was unable to bestow. It had been so traumatizing for her that she had briefly considered resigning her position.

"Nopony is blaming you for these incidents, mayor," Roth spoke up. "The citizens understand that these incidents were beyond your control."

"But why Ponyville?" she groaned as she closed the folder and set it off to the side. "Why is our small town the target of so much pandemonium? Is there something we have here that just lures it to us?"

"I think that may actually be the case."

Mare squinted her eyes at him. "What do you mean?"

"Well, we do have all six bearers of the Elements of Harmony living in this town. Perhaps there could be some kind of correlation? It would actually explain why Discord chose Ponyville to unleash the bulk of his chaos back when he first showed up. And as you very well know, many of these incidents have been the direct result of Twilight and her friends."

Mare paused for a moment to think.

"But as I understand it, they lost possession of the Elements of Harmony some time ago," she recalled.

"That's right. And then for the next one hundred and fifty-four days, we hadn't had a single crisis to speak of. Until today, of course."

Mare rubbed her chin, engaging in even deeper thought.

"Yes, that's...true..."

"And I think our proximity to the Everfree Forest may also be a factor," Roth continued. "Back when the forest invaded during the Summer Sun Celebration, perhaps it only spread to Ponyville because our town was simply the closest for it to spread to. Also, wasn't the mirror pond where Pinkie Pie produced copies of herself found in that very forest? Celestia only knows what else could be lurking there, just waiting to rear its head in Ponyville."

"But the Everfree never gave us any trouble during my first years as mayor. As far as I know, none of the dangerous inhabitants have ever crossed our borders. Apart from the parasprites, of course, assuming that's where they came from."

"I'm just throwing ideas around," Roth said with a shrug. "You wanted an explanation, did you not?"

A brief silence fell between them. Mayor swiveled her chair to the side, looking out the window to see Twilight clearing away the crystal casing from a nearby house. Roth was suddenly struck with a strong desire to leave the room, and wondered if she would say anything if he made an attempt. However, she turned back towards him before he could remove himself from his seat.

"The citizens no longer believe that I can do anything to stop these kinds of events, or even prevent them," Mare said dejectedly. "There's a reason they all went to Twilight back when Ponyville was invaded by the swarm of Pinkie Pies."

"It's more likely that they went to her because they believed that she was responsible in some way," Roth stated. "After all, this is the same pony who enchanted her own doll, causing several ponies to fight over it—yourself included. Perhaps they were simply under the impression that she had learned some new cloning spell and had tested it on Pinkie Pie."

Mare shuddered instinctively, remembering falling victim to Twilight's "want it, need it" spell. It had not been documented in the folder since it was not considered a crisis, but it still remained an unpleasant and humiliating memory for her.

"But she was still the one who took care of the problem, just like she was the one who ultimately stopped Trixie," Mare continued. "It's only natural that the citizens would go to her in times of crisis. In fact, I went to her myself about an hour ago to inform her about two ponies who were trapped inside Town Hall."

"What's your point?" asked Roth. "Twilight is a natural problem-solver. Is that not that a good thing?"

"I've discussed this with you before," said Mare. "I only hold this position because it has been entrusted to me by the citizens. But I feel that with each new crisis that makes its way to Ponyville, that trust is gradually shaking. Twilight may be a problem-solver, but they're my problems that she's solving. And of course, now that she's a princess, she's become a pony worthy of the trust and adoration of others. And she's still living right here in Ponyville, while I continue to pretend like I actually have any control over anything that goes on here."

Roth cocked his head to the side. "You're worried about Princess Twilight taking your job? Is that the point you're trying to make?"

"She doesn't want my job. We actually talked about that shortly after her coronation. She told me that she would still be living in Ponyville, but simply as a resident and nothing more. The point I'm trying to make is that even if she doesn't want my job, she'll probably end up having it. While she continues to resolve the incidents that I can't resolve and gain the faith of the citizens who gradually lose their faith in me, it doesn't particularly leave me in any position of leadership."

Roth looked at her both confusion and surprise. He opened his mouth, but any words that he had formulated in his mind failed to emerge from it. Mare glanced out of the window again and now saw Cadence and Luna clearing away the gold from the roads, their horns fully ablaze with enormous auras. She sighed and pushed her glasses further up on her face.

"I've lived in this town my entire life. My family was among its first settlers. I was born here, raised here, and have never wanted to live anywhere else. I wanted this job because I saw the potential that our town held: a place where all pony races could live and thrive in harmony and friendship. I dreamed that other towns and cities would look upon Ponyville and admire the community that we have—the community that we built by putting any and all differences aside and learning to thrive together, just as the founders of Equestria did long before us. But now it's as if the universe just wants to rip that potential away and destroy all that we've spent years upon years building up."

"Are you under the impression that this is your fault?" asked Roth.

Mare went silent, swiveling around in her chair, frequently shifting her eyes between the window and the folder on her desk.

"If it ever did come down to it, perhaps Twilight ruling over Ponyville wouldn't be such a bad thing," she said "Maybe the only reason why I'm still mayor at all is because nopony else wants this job. I can't even say for sure that I do anymore. Being mayor of a small town like this should NOT being this stressful. And yet for some reason, it is. Who knows what'll show up in Ponyville next? Who knows when I'll have to reset that number to zero once again?"

"But it's not your fault, Mayor," Roth stated, though he felt his words would fall on deaf ears.

"How else am I supposed to feel?" Mare huffed irritably. "It's not as though I can prevent these incidents from occurring. What can I do? Have a magical forcefield placed around Ponyville? That would keep threats out, but what about incidents like this that have come from within town? How do I prevent those?"

"Well...you could...," Roth looked around uncomfortably, as though searching for something in the room to help him finish his sentence.

"It's just time to accept it," Mare continued, declining to wait for the rest of his sentence. "My time as mayor is coming to an end. And perhaps that's for the best. There's life outside of this office, and I've almost forgotten that. I haven't taken a vacation in years. A good week by the coast would really do me some good. Baltimare has plenty of sights that I've always been interested in seeing. Perhaps I'll even try dying my mane again, and then hopefully find somepony to settle down with. And then the next time a crisis hits Ponyville, it won't be my problem to take care of."

Roth blinked in surprise. Mayor Mare had always been extremely prideful in her job, so much so that the very notion of hearing her talk about giving it up was inconceivable.

"You...you're really being serious right now? You're really going to throw in the towel?"

"As I said, it won't be up to me in the end. If the next crisis that comes to Ponyville ends up doing some significant damage, or even claims lives while I remain utterly powerless to do anything about it, how much support will I still have? And if Twilight is once again the one to take care of it, whom do you think my support will go to? Twilight is a princess now, and she'll soon have more control over my town than I will. It's....it's really only a matter of time now."

Roth shook his head.

"You may feel that way, but don't think that Ponyville has not become an overall stronger town since you've taken the seat, in spite of all these things that have happened. I don't believe that the citizens are just going to drop you like a brick, regardless of what other crises may come our way. Twilight may be a princess, but it's not like she's in any position of power at the present time. I mean, what are you expecting? That she'll have her own castle right in the center of town?"

Mare stared hard at him. He was obviously trying to make her feel better, but his words could not break through the impenetrable doubt that surrounded her feelings.

"I really need to get started on this," she said, moving the folder back to the center of her desk. "That will be all, Roth. You may go."

Roth remained sitting for several seconds before finally standing up and making his way out the door. Mayor Mare opened the folder again, taking a sorrowful look at the small board on her wall as she picked up a quill and began to write.

"A castle," she muttered to herself. "That sure would be something..."

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