With Celestia as My Witness

by Irrespective

Chapter 1: The First Day

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The First Day

Stone Spring scrunched up his eyes.

At the moment, his bedroom was a sea of boxes that had yet to be unpacked, and would most likely never be. There was no real point in doing anything with them, in the end. The items being held captive by the corrugated containers had probably spent more time within the boxes than not over the past few months, and they would no doubt need to stay there in anticipation of the inevitable.

Besides, unpacking them would remind him of where he was, and that would only remind him of what was still missing.

So he scrunched up his eyes in an effort to block out the tears that would spill with the memories. It would be too easy to drift back to a time when he didn’t wake up in a strange room in a strange city that felt as bleak as the dark side of the moon.

“Stone, hurry up! You’re going to be late!” The moment of reflection and inaction shattered as his father bellowed through the bedroom door.

Stone Spring snorted. “Gee, I’d hate to be late on my third first day of school this year. That’d just be the worst.”

“C’mon, Stone!” his father shouted. “I’m gonna be late for work. Get out here!”

“Why should I?” Stone folded his arms and pouted, but his show of defiance was lost on the door. “I’m gonna get eaten alive. It’s impossible to make friends this late into the school year.”

“You’ve got problems, I’ve got problems, everypony has problems. Nothing new there, bucko. Now c’mon, you need to face this like a grown up. Let’s go.”

Stone stood, grabbed his saddle bags with his magic, and threw open the door. “I want to state, for the record, that I don’t like any of this.”

“Yeah, I gathered as much,” Stone’s father replied. “You do realize this is all in your head, right? Fillydelphia is the city of sisterly love, so your classmates have to be nice to you. Besides, they’re seven year olds. How bad can they possibly be?”

Stone scoffed. “You have no idea.”

“Did you stay up all night again?”

Stone closed his eyes tight. He couldn’t show tears; tears were weak and weakness wasn’t allowed under his father’s careful watch. “Couldn’t sleep. Nightmares.”

“Again?” His father’s voice softened slightly. “Did you try using those tricks that Miss Buttercup told you about?”

“Didn’t work,” Stone muttered sourly.

“Well, that’s three months of my savings down the drain, then,” Stone’s father snorted. “All that psychology mumbo-jumbo was one big lie; I said it from the start.” His father dipped his head down to his son’s level, and he frowned. “You gotta go, Stone. You can’t stay here, hiding away from the world like you always do. Things would be better if you’d just go make some friends, you know.”

“Nopony wants to be my friend.”

“That’s a load of rubbish. You can make lots of friends, if you’d just open up a little. C’mon. I gotta get to work. Let’s get you to school.”

Stone Spring shuffled his hooves while following his father up the broad sidewalk that lead to the main entrance of Overbrook Elementary, and he tried very hard to ignore the laughter and cheers that came from the playground off to his right. He could feel them staring at him, and his ears splayed back when he heard their laughs drop off and their whispers increase. He just knew that this first day would be miserable, just like every other first day he had been forced to endure.

“Hurry up, Stone. This has already taken too long.”

The admonition by his father did nothing to speed up Stone’s miserable trudge through the doors of his new prison and into the Warden’s main office. The carpeting, he found, was a shade of grey-blue, and it smelled new to Stone’s nose. It wasn’t hard for him to imagine that the school had recently been remodeled, but he kept his thought to himself while his father moved to the counter that divided the staff from the rabble.

“Good morning, sir!” A far too chipper voice called out, and a pink unicorn with a soft yellow mane emerged from somewhere in the unseen ‘back’ of the room. “How can I help you?”

“I’m here to register my son for school,” Stone’s father replied.

“Ah, yes! You must be Slate Grey, and this is Stone Spring, right? Just one moment.” There was some rustling of papers, some humming, and then a cheer of delight. “Let me just verify the information we have. Stone is seven now, correct?”


“Good, good. And his previous elementary school was Pine Grove, in the Central School District? Excellent! I just need you to sign a couple of forms and we can get Stone checked in!”

Stone continued to stare at the floor while his father wordlessly and efficiently completed the needed paperwork. The jovial warden, however, was not content to leave the sour young colt alone, and Stone soon found two pink forehooves intruding on his view of the carpet.

“It’s nice to meet you, Stone. I’m Principal Mayfly.”

Stone did not acknowledge the cheerful greeting, until his father’s rear hoof gave him a gentle nudge. “Don’t be rude, Stone.”

“Nice to meet you,” Stone said to the floor. “Glad to be here.”

“Where did you move from?”


Principal Mayfly paused in expectation, but when Stone offered no further comment, she continued the conversation. “I have a sister that lives in Oakenshawe. It’s a beautiful city; I always like to visit the harbor when I go for a visit.”

“Never went there. It stunk.”

“There is a distinct aroma, I have to admit. Thankfully, Fillydelphia doesn’t have that problem. Oh, you’re done Mister Slate?” Principal Mayfly took the completed forms from Stone’s father with a smile. “Thank you. Now then, I believe Miss Cinch is waiting for you, Stone. I know you’ll like her.”


Stone would not like Miss Cinch.

He knew this from the instant he walked into her classroom and saw her tapping the chalkboard with a ruler, a furious scowl on her face that melted away at the sound of the door opening. She stood at rigid attention, her legs locked and her smile like a drill sergeant who was just itching with anticipation while the wagon loaded with new recruits pulled up. Even the bun that held her mane up was as tight as hair could be before it simply snapped from overextension, and Stone took a step back while the prison guard eyed the new inmate.

“Good morning, Miss Cinch!” Principal Mayfly greeted the hag like nothing was amiss, but Stone had found that principals were both very bad judges of character and not terribly observant. “Good morning, everypony! I’d like to introduce you all to Stone Spring. He just moved here from Baltimare, and he’s excited to meet you all!”

Excited was far too strong of a word to use for his feelings towards his new class. Indifferent was closer, but even that was overselling it.

“Well, we’re happy to have you here in our class, Stone,” Miss Cinch offered with all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile. Given the choice between them, Stone would take the crocodile in a heartbeat. “Why don’t you come up to the front of the class and introduce yourself?”

Stone would rather cuddle with a cactus, but he had no other option but to obey her request. Principal Mayfly had already flitted out of the room with a ‘ta-ta!’ hanging in the air where she had been, and Stone cringed when the door slammed shut, sealing him into the Pit of Despair with no way out.

“So, Stone, you moved here from Baltimare?” Miss Cinch repeated. All traces of her faux friendliness disappeared in an instant, and Stone gulped when confronted with the full power of her glower.

“Yes, ma’am. My Dad was an actuary, but he got laid off.” Stone decided to keep his father’s rather colorful and brutally honest opinion of his former employer to himself. He did not wish to set the ears of his fellow prisoners on fire. “We moved here when he got a new job as an accountant. I bet he makes it six months before we move again.”

“Well, we’re glad to have you here,” Miss Cinch replied with a tone that indicated she hadn’t heard a word of what he’d said. “Why don’t you go take that seat by Juniper over there, and we’ll get on with our lesson.”

Stone slunk his way over to the empty desk without making eye contact with any of his new classmates, and he pulled out a paper and pencil from his bags without a sound. Miss Cinch had already launched back into her lecture, and it took Stone several minutes to figure out what she was attempting to ‘teach.’

A minor victory came when Stone realized he had already learned about the order of operations, and a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. If he already knew this, he might already know about everything else that Miss Cinch would be teaching. It would then be easier to acclimate to his new school this way, and maybe it would be easier to make a new friend.

Miss Cinch promptly provided a worksheet for her pupils to complete once she finished with her explanation, and Stone attacked it as soon as the paper hit his desk. The math problems were not especially difficult, and Stone was on the verge of an actual smile while he wrote answer after answer in quick succession.

The worksheet was unexpectedly snatched away from him with three problems remaining, and Stone’s frown matched Miss Cinch’s while she clicked her tongue.

“These are all incorrect, Stone.”

“No they’re not,” he retorted, and he pointed to the last problem he’d completed. “That’s thirty-six.”

“You didn’t show your work.”

Stone gave the old hag the best glare that he could. “So? It’s right. Who cares how I got there?”

“Mister Stone, do not take that tone of voice with me,” Cinch threatened. “I don’t know what those chowderheads down in Baltimare told you, but in my class, you show your work, or the answer will automatically be wrong. Now, correct these, and you will be staying in from first recess as punishment for your little outburst.”

Stone stared at the returned worksheet like it was a poisonous snake, and for a moment, he considered tearing it up and then making a daring escape out the window while Cinch was busy fainting from such a disrespectful destruction of her assignment. He fought back the tears that were surging at the back of his eyes, and his teeth began to grind.

Stone Spring hated this new school.


The blissful reprieve that was known as lunch couldn’t come fast enough, and Stone had fairly exploded out of the school when the bell had rung, his lunch in hoof and a silent cheer in his heart. Miss Cinch was proving to be quite the efficient torturer, and Stone could only hope that his father’s new job would end as quickly as the last six had.

He sat at a table that was as far away from the other convicts as he could get, and he slowly munched on his carrots while he stared at the grain in the wooden slats. If he closed his left eye, he could see a lion, but if he closed his right eye he could almost make out the silhouette of Princess Celestia.

A familiar dart of bitterness pricked his heart when the shape twisted slightly and brought back a memory he wanted to forget. If he had just—

“Hey, new kid.”

Stone glanced up, and he found a plum colored pegasus filly with a light mint green mane standing on the opposite side of the table. She gave him a lopsided smile, then motioned back towards the playground.

“We’re starting a game of tag. You wanna join?”

Stone shook his head. “No, thanks. I need to finish my lunch still.”

“You sure? You haven’t really been eating at all, and I don’t think staring at the table is very fun.”

“I’m sure.”

The filly shrugged quickly before darting away from another pony who was probably ‘it.’ Stone watched the increasing gaggle of players, but he just couldn’t bring himself to find a reason to join in with them. The filly who had asked was obviously one of the most popular students in the school, based on how ponies tended to bunch up near her, and she had probably asked him to play so she could brag later about how kind and inclusive she was.

Not that the game didn’t look fun. A lot of the players didn’t try to zig or zag when ‘it’ came after them, and Stone was pretty sure he could outrun and outmaneuver whoever gave him chase. Tag was all about stamina, controlled bursts of speed, and strategic lines of retreat.

Stone stood, threw the remains of his meal in the garbage, and then solemnly began walking to a quiet side of the building where nopony was playing. Tag had been a favorite game of his, once. Nopony else in kindergarten could run as fast as he could, and that was an angle he used frequently whenever he and his mother …

Stone stopped dead in his tracks, and he fought back against the crushing tide of emotions that suddenly began to drown him. The last thing he needed was for a teacher to report to his father that he’d been found crying on his very first day. There would be no end to the lecture on how he wasn’t pulling his weight; how he wasn’t working as a member of a team.

Tears are weak, his father would scold. There is no room for weakness here. We must be strong, like the Royal Guard. Emotion leads to ruin. Power comes from control.

The words of council were always empty to Stone, devoid of any truth or basis in reality. It was a cover, a way to keep from having to deal with life and the horrid actualities that were contained therein.

Stone stared at the grass for several long minutes while he sniffled and rubbed at his eyes, his insides twisting and churning themselves into a hopeless tangle of knots. Everything was wrong, and he felt helpless and hopeless against the rushing onslaught.

“I don’t want this anymore,” he whispered to the cold, indifferent world. “With Celestia as my witness—”

A sudden flash of pure light and explosion of golden magic sent Stone Spring and his oath tumbling across the grass with a yelp, but once he reoriented his hooves to the proper earthbound configuration, he took a long moment to study the golden shoes before him.

They were shoes that would be recognized by any pony who had lived in the last thousand years, rumored to have been forged from the purest metal by the most skilled of the ancient smiths in an art that had died with them. Stone gulped in concern, and he peered up to confirm who the owner of these shoes was.

His suspicions proved to be accurate when he had to look up even more than usual. Two bright, light purple eyes looked back with never-ending concern, playful joy and ancient wisdom, framed within a familiar face of white and a multihued mane of pastel perfection that drifted upon an endless ethereal wind.

“Good afternoon, my little pony!”

“Princess Celestia?” Stone stammered. The tiny part of his brain that wasn’t busy trying to figure out what had just happened gave him a mental nudge to remember his manners, and he dipped his head quickly in respect to the Mare of the Morning. “What are you doing here?”

“I am here because you summoned me,” she simply stated.

Stone glanced back up to her, and he tilted his head slightly. “I did?”

“Indeed. Did you not just say ‘with Celestia as my witness?’”

It took Stone a moment to recall what he had said. “Um, yes?”

“Well, I cannot witness something if I am not there, can I?”

The logic behind that made sense, yet it also made no sense whatsoever. Princess Celestia, the ruler of a vast a prosperous land, just popped in whenever somepony needed her to watch something? Surely she had better things to do with her time.

“I suppose not,” he finally admitted. “But I didn’t think you would actually show up. It’s just something ponies say, like ‘by Starswirl’s beard’ or something.”

“I am afraid that has become the case as of late,” Celestia replied with a bit of a huff in her words. “Perhaps I should issue an edict on the matter. It would certainly help out my secretary and her efforts to coordinate my schedule.”

Stone didn’t know what to say to that, so he kept his mouth shut and continued to process this odd occurrence.

“What is your name, my little pony?” Celestia continued.

“Stone Spring, Your Highness.”

“Well then, Stone, what will I be a witness to today?”

Stone paused, stammered, and then shook his head slightly. “I, uh … I forgot what it was. I really don’t remember what I was going to say.”

Celestia’s smile wavered slightly. “Are you sure? Perhaps you have a challenging test coming up, and you wish for me to witness that you will compete it with the highest of possible scores.”

“No, it wasn’t that.”

“No? Were you going to undertake a difficult challenge? Perhaps you wish to learn a new sport, or how to play a musical instrument?”


Celestia appeared to think the matter over for a moment, but then her smile brightened. “Ah! I bet you would like to make a new friend here. You may have just moved in and you do not know any of your classmates yet. Would you like me to witness your oath to make friends here at your new school?”

Stone was worried that Princess Celestia would spend the rest of the day guessing at his possible need for her witness, so he nodded his head. “I think that was it, Princess. I’m sorry to trouble you for that.”

“That’s quite alright, my little pony,” the Princess replied with pleased smile. She then cleared her throat, stood at her full height, and stretched her wings out to their maximum reach. “Be it known, from henceforth and forever, that I, Princess Celestia, do hereby witness the oath of one Stone Spring, residing in the city of Fillydelphia, in the which he will make new friends at his new school.” She paused, but then dipped her head down to his level. “Would you like to have that in writing, Stone?”

“Um, no. I think that will be fine.”

“Very well. I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor, Stone Spring, and may your efforts result in many deep friendships that will last for years to come.”

Stone really was trying to come up with something intelligent to say, but his mind was refusing to cooperate with him. “Thanks, I guess?”

“You are most welcome. Now, I will beg your pardon, as I am overdue to attend a Ways and Means committee meeting. Good day, my little pony, and congratulations on your new friends.”

And with no further ado, Princess Celestia disappeared in the same way she had appeared, leaving a very confused Stone to sit and wonder what in Equestria had just happened.

Stone Spring was not surprised in the slightest when his father failed to pick him up from school.

He was not surprised when he found himself home alone after making the long and arduous walk back to his new living accommodations, and the not surprise was sustained when his father did appear after several hours with a large mushroom and pineapple pizza for an apology.

Had this day been like his other first days, he might have been annoyed and angry about his father’s broken promises. Then again, if this was a normal day, he wouldn’t be trying to figure out if he had really met and talked with Princess Celestia or if something in his lunch had reacted badly and given him quite the odd hallucination.

Stone didn’t say much as he and his father ate, but the conversation would have been dead, one way or another. Slate was far too interested in the financial section of the newspaper in his hooves to bother with his son.

“So, how was school?”

Stone shrugged and nudged a pineapple bit around on his slice. “It was okay.”

“How do you like your teacher?”

Another shrug. “Miss Cinch said I was doing my math wrong. She didn’t really talk to me after that.”

“Huh, emeralds are down,” Slate muttered. “Did you make any new friends?”

“I invented a mind control device and enslaved the whole school. I plan on using their combined energy to power a doomsday device that will release Nightmare Moon from her prison, and then she will split her candy haul with me fifty-fifty as a thank you.”

“Glad to hear it. It wasn’t that hard, was it?”

“Taking over the world never is, Dad.”

Stone took a bite while his father continued to read, oblivious to his son’s machinations for world domination. It was a shame he didn’t have any real plans; he could probably enslave half of Equestria before his father wised up to him.

“Anything else fun happen?” Slate asked after a few moments.

“I met Princess Celestia. She appeared out of nowhere and told me she was witnessing my oath to make friends.”

“Nice, nice.” A large chunk of pizza disappeared in one fell bite. “Will she be back tomorrow?”

Stone thought over the distracted question for a moment, then concluded that he knew of no reason why Celestia wouldn’t reappear, if he were to say the magic words again. “She might visit again. I wonder what everypony would do if they saw her there.”

“How do they not know what happened?” Slate shook his head in dismay. “I’m sure the Princess would have something to say about that.”

Stone nodded slowly. “I think she would, too.”

Next Chapter: Friends Estimated time remaining: 30 Minutes
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