The Princess' New Clothes

by Irrespective

Chapter 1: The Trim and the Trappings

“Beggin’ yer pardon, Yer Highness, but it’s time to raise the sun.”

Her Most Royal Highness, Princess Celestia, responded to this statement with the most regal and eloquent pronouncement of “Yig blernoff sepppfff sleeep.”

“Now, now, Highness. We need ya to bring about a new day for all of ponykind.”

The blankets on Her Most Royal Highness’ bed rustled and shuffled slightly, but then the Princess-sized lump made a rather rude noise that turned into a snore.

“C’mon, up and at ‘em!” A periwinkle hoof prodded the lump. “Ya can’t sleep the whole day away, after all.”

“Can too.” The lump shuffled sideways away from the prodding. “I hereby decree that today shall start tomorrow at nine, on pain of… of… of something unpleasant. Now go away, or I shall have to banish you for the third time this week.”

“Fourth, actually. Do ya really intend to sleep away the day, Highness?”

The lump replied with another rude noise, though it was unclear which end had produced it.

There was a slight huff of annoyance just before the blankets were seized in a magical aura and flung from the bed, and before Princess Celestia could snag them back, a painful snap struck her uncovered backside. Her Most Royal Highness let out a most unprincess-like screech, catapulted herself into the air, and landed next to her bed with all the grace of a pregnant hippopotamus.

“Meadowlark, you wicked thing!” Celestia rubbed her throbbing flank with a hoof while she tried to give a proper glare to her insolent chambermaid. “How dare you assault my unprotected Royal backside!”

“Ya brought it upon yourself, Yer Highness,” Meadowlark snarked back with an equally wicked grin, and she quickly draped her hoof towel around her neck. She took a moment to adjust her bodice and to sweep away some unseen dirt from the hem of her own grey linen skirts before adding, with a tug at the strings of her apron, “It wouldn’t have happened if ya would have gotten up the first time.”

“By my horn, I don’t know why I put up with you some days,” Celestia grumbled.

“It’s because I’m just so undeniably right. Now c’mon! The sun can’t wait any longer!”

“Oh, fine.” Celestia snorted, and with a yawn, she began to stumble towards the balcony doors.

“Wait! Wait!”

“What? What is it?”

“Ya can’t go out there like that!” Meadowlark said with a gasp that sounded like she might just faint.

“And why not?”

“Yer not decent! Stars above, think of the scandal! Do you really think the whole of Equestria wants to see your bare backside while you bring the day?”

Celestia glanced back at said backside, and she giggled with a shake of her rump. “Why not? I am told by many of the courtesans that no other rear can compare to my own.”

A silk nightgown hit her the face and then hung limply from her horn. “True as that may be, I refuse to allow such impropriety. Quick now! Ya don’t want to start another panic, do ya?”

Celestia let out an overblown and excessively dramatic sigh, but she slid the nightgown on with no further argument. There was no hurry in her movements; in fact, she deliberately slowed down to properly cherish the cool smoothness of the silk as it slid over her withers, down her shoulders, around her wings and over her still-smarting flank. Out of all the fabrics that she had ever encountered, pure silk was, by far, her most cherished and favored. Nothing else could ever compare to the look of it, the feel, or even the smell.

The more silk in her life, the better.

Once she had finally finished with the arduous task of dressing, Princess Celestia cast aside the heavy curtains and slunk out to the balcony with a coo and a shudder of delight. She nodded to the Legionnaires who stood watch around the perimeter, and taking a deep breath, she lit her horn and began to lower the moon.

Her mood was dampened as she guided her sister’s cherished orb below the horizon. The recent Unpleasantness had all been one large misunderstanding, and after a few centuries to cool her hooves, Luna would come around and submit to her elder sister’s superior wisdom.

Still, she was Celestia’s beloved sister, and the wounds from the fight were still fresh and festering a bit, if she was being totally honest. Oh, the physical damage had healed over moons ago, but the barbs from Luna’s words had dug deeply into her heart and stubbornly refused to be dislodged. There was a truth in the accusations, and perhaps she had been just a bit domineering.

But only a little bit.

Once her own cherished sun was put into position for the day, Celestia again nodded to the guards and moved back into her chambers. She personally felt that the extra troops were a bit much—it had been several moons since the Unpleasantness, after all—but her protests to the Council were either ignored or dismissed with the reasoning that the Bringer of Morn and Eve needed to be protected at all costs. Secretly, she did have to admit that seeing an entire regiment clad in matching red cassocks and plumed shakos was an impressive and intimidating sight, so she tried to keep her complaints polite and spaced adequately apart.

Though after a moment of thought, she wondered how much trouble it would be to add a crimson stripe to the outside edge of their pantaloons. It would make for a nice visual contrast against the white.

“Now then, what would ya like to wear today?” Meadowlark asked as she filled a brass basin with a pitcher of fresh water.

“Oh, something red, I should think,” Celestia replied with a smile. “I want to visit the market today, and I always look good in red.”

“I know just the thing, Yer Highness. Give me just a moment.”

Celestia took the time to wash her face and brush out her mane while she waited, but inwardly, she felt as giddy as a school filly. Tomorrow was her birthday, and a grand parade was to be held in the morning to begin the day of festivities and celebration. Several elegant gowns—each more intricate and astonishing than the last—were awaiting her, and the thought of it made her giggle in delight. While she was not a seamstress herself, she did possess a keen eye for style, and her tastes were considered to be unassailable. If Celestia chose to wear something with lace, lace would suddenly be all the rage across Equestria. If she wore a dark green damask cut in the classical Romane style, then damask would suddenly be unavailable, and within a week, the Court would be flooded with togas. She felt a deep sense of pride over her ability to influence the fashions of the day, so she would spend hours to ensure her own immaculate perfection.

It certainly would not do to have a Princess who dressed in drab brown tunics that itched and shrunk in the rain.

“Here we are, Yer Highness,” Meadowlark announced with a flourish of red velvet. “Ya haven’t worn this yet, and the Duchess of Maretonia’s face will match the fabric when she sees ya.”

“It is always a good day if I can make her jealous,” Celestia replied with a laugh.

Thankfully, Meadowlark had chosen a light velvet, and the embroidered emeralds contrasted against the rouge with a playfully splendid grace. The two chatted about which stallions had caught their eyes as the patterned underskirts were pinned to the outer vestments, but it did take a few extra minutes to ensure her sleeves would not slide out of their cuffs and over her hooves. Golden trim was adjusted to lie across the hems and around her neck, and a pearl pennant was added to complete the overall perfection.

Meadowlark then plaited Celestia’s mane with nimble hooves and a gentle touch, but they both smiled while she wove long satin ribbons in for a bit of flair. Celestia elected to go barehoof that day, but she preened when she produced the golden shoes she intended to wear for the celebrations tomorrow.

“It will be the most regal celebration that Equestria has ever seen, mark my words,” Meadowlark stated as she stepped back and allowed her princess to gush over her own reflection.

“It certainly will be.”

“I’ll go call for yer carriage while ya take care of breakfast, Yer Highness.” Meadowlark hesitated, but she said nothing more as she twiddled a hoof on the floor.

“Is there something else?” Celestia gently prompted.

“Well, if it’s not too much trouble—and if ya have the time—could ya keep an eye out for a pink ruff? I haven’t had a chance to find one for tomorrow.”

“Pink?” Celestia tapped a hoof against her chin, and her eyes swept over her faithful servant. “I think something in yellow would be more agreeable to your coloration. I shall find the most elegant ruff possible just for you, and we shall call it a birthday present from me to you.”

“Oh, Yer Highness! I couldn’t possibly ask ya for such an extravagance! I will pay for it out of my wages, upon my word of honor.”

“I insist. You have been so faithful; it’s the least I could do.”

Meadowlark stammered for a moment before managing a proper thank you for her monarch’s kindness. “I’ll make it up to ya, I will. Thank you so very much, Yer Highness.”

“Think nothing of it. It would not do for my servants to arrive to the celebrations underdressed, after all.”

* * * *

“Make way for the Princess!”

Princess Celestia nodded and waved to her little ponies as the Legionnaires cleared the path before her and her entourage in the marketplace. She quite thoroughly enjoyed mingling with the peasantry whenever she could, and every trip to the crowded maze of colorful stalls always yielded exotic treasures from equally exotic lands. Tantalizing smells on all sides tickled her nose and enticed her into pausing for a sample, shop owners called out, shrill and boisterous, about the superiority of their wares, and above it all, Celestia could hear the blessed sound of gold and silver passing hooves and being dropped into shallow pans to be weighed in the balance. It all combined in a wondrous melting pot of economic prosperity, and the Exchequer was going to be very pleased when the taxes were paid on today’s proceeds.

Normally, Princess Celestia would meander at her leisure and buy a trinket here or a bauble there, but today she was on a mission. Her faithful chambermaid needed a beautiful yellow ruff, and Celestia also hoped that the silk caravans had arrived from their arduous journey across the Great Eastern Wastes. If they were, the shops would be bustling with new designs for her to admire, but if not, she could settle for some new ribbons and embroidery. It was second nature for her to find the best in any situation, after all.

To Celestia’s immense delight, she found the caravans had arrived and many shop owners now proudly displayed their newest and finest offerings from within glittering cavernous tents and large open stalls. There was only a brief interruption as the various ponies bowed for her arrival, but eager smiles beckoned to her as soon as the appropriate deference had been provided.

Then the real fun began. Celestia was a consummate negotiator, and if there was anything that could possibly challenge her love of fine fashion, it was purchasing said fashion at the price she imposed upon it. The back and forth was exhilarating and intoxicating, and her joy was expressed in her wide smile as several new designs came into the possession of the Crown. Of course, the merchants were delighted to hold Equestrian bits in their hooves; Celestia’s gold was known throughout the world as the purest that could be procured. One bit could be exchanged for several hundred comparable rupees in Minotauria, for one example, and Celestia liked to remind the merchants of this fact when they began to protest about her offers.

It was most curious, then, when she happened across a suave and swarthy Saddle Arabian who made no attempt to draw her in. He was seated comfortably within the shade of his tent, his forehooves steadily flowing in broad movements as he embroidered a silk kerchief with golden thread. His eyes did flit upwards when she stopped and gave him an incredulous stare, and a small smile tugged the corners of his mouth.

“Salaam, Your Highness, and good morning,” he offered as his eyes went back to his work.

“Good morning to you. I am afraid you have the advantage over me. You know my name, but I am unaware of yours.”

“A resplendent Princess such as yourself should never have to soil her lips with something as profane as my name,” the nomad replied. “It is sufficient enough that the majestic and resplendent Princess of this unsurpassed and preeminent Kingdom has acknowledged my existence.”

“Such flattering words,” Celestia said with a wary smile. “I confess they have caught my curiosity. What could such an eloquent merchant have to sell, and is it worthy of a Princess?”

The nomad gave a jerk to snap his thread, looked over his finished work, and then presented the kerchief to her with a flourish and a bow. “I am nothing more than a humble purveyor of changeable suits of apparel, fashioned from the finest fabrics and cloths that can be had. I offer nothing but the best, but I leave it to you to determine the truth of my statements.”

“That is quite the bold claim,” Celestia said as she studied the blazing phoenix he had created. “I do believe I should verify the veracity of your pronouncements.”

“A most prudent course of action. Her Highness is as wise as she is beautiful.” The nomad tapped his chin for a moment. “Let me see. I have a few things that may prove to be enticing. Perhaps something in a fine taffeta from my own homelands would be to your tastes?”

“Perhaps, Nomad. Let us see if it is worthy.”

Celestia was not left disappointed. This nomad was a most remarkable tailor, and each piece that he presented for her scrutiny surpassed the quality of most of her own wardrobe. Though his stock of smocks and kirtles were not cut for a pony of Celestia’s height, the nomad was profuse in his assurances that the alterations could be accomplished with a minimum of fuss. Though she kept it to herself, Celestia was impressed with the skill of his hoof and his tongue, but she kept all of this hidden from him so as to better negotiate on the price for these treasures.

First, she needed to feign boredom with his stock, and her eyes wandered to the selection of ruffs that he had brought to match with his gowns. “These are all fine, but I’m still not sure. Though you say you can alter them, it will take some time and a considerable amount of fabric to adapt them for my use. Perhaps I should simply purchase that yellow ruff from you and be done with it.

“Her Highness has quite the keen eye,” the nomad proclaimed. “I can see that you are only interested in the exceptionally rare. Perhaps I could interest you in something special?

“Oh? What more could you possibly have?”

The nomad glanced around, and he leaned in a bit closer with a wide grin. “I have created a gown, Princess, from a fabric whose luster and sheen is beyond compare. It is lighter than the very clouds themselves yet heavy enough to withstand a hurricane, as delicate as the dew and as resplendent as your sunrises. Once you have worn it, you will never wish to wear anything else again.

“But I am afraid that this marvel was, understandably, quite difficult to create. I would show it to you, but with so many ponies in the vicinity, the risk is too great. While I am sure your servants are trustworthy, there exists the very real possibility that a thief has infiltrated their ranks, and I cannot risk the loss.”

“If this legendary gown even exists, Nomad. I have to question the validity of your statements.”

“As is to be expected. Perhaps Her Highness would allow me a private visit this afternoon? I can assure you that it will be well worth your time, and I will make a gift of this ruff that has caught your eye, as a gesture of goodwill. Or perhaps Her Highness wishes for another to be the first to acquire this rare masterpiece?”

Celestia maintained a calm exterior, but in her mind’s eye, she could envision the Duchess of Maritonia, draped in the layers of this exceptional gown and usurping her prestige in the fashions of the Courts. Such a thing could not be allowed, and Celestia shook her head slowly.

“No, I would like to see this fantastic material for myself. Present yourself at the outer gate of the castle after the midday meal, and then we will all see what is so remarkable about your wares.”

* * * *

“Oh, this is just perfect, Yer Highness!” Meadowlark held the Royally procured ruff to her chest and let out a small squeal of delight. “I don’t know how I can ever repay you!”

“Think nothing of it.” Celestia waved a dismissive hoof at the praise with a smile.

“Though I heard ya may have found the most fantastic gown that has ever existed at the market,” Meadowlark said with a slightly devious grin.

“If the merchant is to be believed. However, I doubt he has anything that is as wondrous as he claims. From the way he described it, I expect him to produce something made from a fine Neighponese silk, and then if it is worthy, I may choose to procure it.”

“I suppose there’s no harm in that.” Meadowlark gently placed her new treasure back in the box it had come in just as a knock came at the door, and she silently watched as a legionnaire entered and bowed.

“The merchant from the market has arrived, Your Highness.”

“Thank you. I shall receive him in the throne room.”

“What will you do if his masterpiece is not what he makes it out to be?” Meadowlark asked as the dutiful guard left.

“I will do nothing. That will do far more damage to his reputation than anything else I could possibly do.”

“And you call me wicked,” she remarked with a chuckle. “Might I be permitted to accompany you?”

“Of course. Come, we should not keep my guest waiting.”


The Court of Equestria was, by necessity, a bustling and sometimes boisterous place. The affairs of the Kingdom were always conducted under the watchful eye of the Princess, both to ensure that Her Highness’s actual wishes was carried out and to have any disputes rectified in the least amount of time. Celestia enjoyed the energetic atmosphere, and she relished the opportunities she had to directly control and direct the various efforts to keep Equestria prosperous and safe. It gave her a sense of control and power, and with that power, she could move the world, if she ever cared to.

So when the nomad and his miraculous dress were introduced, the eyes of dozens were upon him and the wire frame that he pushed in with him. Celestia sat up a bit straighter upon her throne as he approached and bowed, and one eyebrow slid upward into her mane as she regarded the complete lack of anything that was on display.

“As you have requested, so have I produced!” The nomad proclaimed with grand sweep of his hooves towards the empty frame. “Behold! My most wondrous creation! Is it not the most elegant, the most daring, the most perfect design you have ever beheld?”

“It is quite interesting,” Celestia remarked. “I must confess, I have yet to see its equal.”

The nomad’s smile grew to the point of outlandishness, and again he bowed. “Your praise pleases me to no end, Your Highness. I had feared that you would not be able to appreciate the majesty that I have produced. You see, this singular gown was created from a fabric that can only be seen or touched by ponies who are kind, generous, honest, loyal, and benevolent to a fault. They must be beyond reproach in their personal dealings and completely pure in their very thoughts. If you were lacking in any of these attributes, you would see nothing but a wire frame before you.”

A deep unease gripped Celestia’s heart, and her wings rustled slightly as she sat a bit straighter. “Nothing but a wire frame, you say?”

“Indeed. There are deep, arcane magics woven within every thread, magics that are undetectable by those who are impure. In the past, I have presented this fabric to Kings and Queens who could not see nor touch it, and you can imagine the embarrassment that came with that. Since Your Highness can see it, you are obviously a pony of piety and rectitude; the embodiment of the ideal that we all strive to become.

“Now, I will need to make a few alterations to account for your uniqueness, but that is a trifling matter that can be accomplished in but a few short hours. Your Highness is welcome to inspect the gown, of course, and once you are satisfied, we can negotiate the price.”

Celestia slowly stood amidst a sea of whispers from the assembled ponies, and her stomach began to churn as she descended from her throne. Could they see this wondrous creation? She had never heard of an enchantment to turn a fabric invisible, but it was conceivable. Had the Unpleasantness with Luna somehow soiled her, and this was now a test from some dissenter from within to remove her from power? Even if it wasn’t, what would her ponies think of her if they could see what she could not?

She had been warned about showing weakness, especially at this critical moment when she needed to prove to the rulers of the surrounding lands that she was capable of ruling by herself. If word got out that she was somehow less than worthy, it would provide all the pretext the Griffons could ever need to begin their conquest of her lands and the enslavement of her ponies.

A hoof reached out to touch the unseen, and the Princess winced slightly when she felt nothing but cold, unforgiving iron.

“Such a beautiful design,” she heard somepony whisper. “Her Highness would be a fool if she did not purchase it.”

That statement forced her into action. She couldn’t let anypony believe that she was somehow lacking in the qualities a princess must possess, so she drew in a deep breath and forced a broad smile onto her face.

“How exquisite!” she proclaimed. “The colors are truly remarkable, and the texture is unlike anything I have ever before felt! Meadowlark, is this not one of the most glorious gowns you have ever beheld?”

The poor chambermaid recoiled slightly, and her eyes darted between her Princess and the merchant for a moment. “Um, well, I’m not sure that a lowly servant such as I could offer a proper critique of this creation. It is… well, to be plain, it is…”

A long pause came, and Meadowlark swallowed hard. Celestia could see that she did not want to be accused of being unfit for her station, for any reason. “It is far grander than anything I have ever beheld before, Yer Highness.”

Meadowlark’s words were all that were needed to open the floodgates. Everypony in attendance pressed forward, eager to offer their own praises and to proclaim how magnificent Princess Celestia would look in such a regal and refined gown. Hoof after hoof reached out to feel such a remarkable fabric, and Celestia was only able to catch a small portion of the praises that were being heaped upon the design.

“Her Highness should wear this for her grand birthday celebration tomorrow!” A pony called out from somewhere. “Then all of Equestria could see for themselves how perfect our Princess is!”

The notion was quickly seized upon, and Celestia suddenly found herself awash in requests from her own Court to wear something that she could not interact with. Though a thin smile remained on her face, her very soul had been stabbed with a spear of ice that felt like it would overtake the rest of her capabilities in a matter of moments.

“Shall we discuss the price, Princess?” The nomad asked.

* * * *

For the first time in her life, Princess Celestia did not want to celebrate her birthday.

After purchasing the unseen gown from the nomad, Celestia had excused herself and hidden away in her room for the remainder of the evening. Despite spending a sleepless night in trying to formulate a way out of this invisible problem she’d become entangled in, there was no ready solution that came to her. As far as she could see—and based on the rumors and stories that Meadowlark gleefully passed along with her supper and throughout the evening—she could either wear the unseen dress, or she could lose face and prestige by wearing anything else. Since the second option was completely untenable to her senseabilities, she had to begrudgingly accept that she was about to parade down the streets of her own kingdom while wearing absolutely nothing.

A small part of her hoped that there really was an elegant gown, and that her subjects would be able to see what she could not. Perhaps a few decades of soul searching and penance would allow her to properly appreciate her expensive purchase in the future. The negotiations had been frustratingly short, thanks in no small part to the mob of ponies who were calling for the nomad to furnish them with an equally elegant dress, and she had paid triple what she was comfortable with. There was a very real possibility that taxes would soon increase in dramatic fashion to offset the hit to her personal treasury.

“Princess?” Meadowlark’s voice came through the door with a soft knock. “May I enter?”

“Please come in,” Celestia called out, and she forced out a smile as her chambermaid entered with that accursed empty wire frame in tow. “Well, you look quite delightful, Meadowlark. The green really brings out the color of your coat, and that yellow ruff adds just the right amount of contrast.”

“Thank ya, Yer Highness, but this simple gown is nothing compared to yer new dress. The merchant has altered it to match yer measurements, and if we should happen to find a loose hem or a pinching seam, he will immediately rectify the problem. He’s out in the hallway now, if we need him.” Meadowlark gently closed the door, drew in a deep breath, and then turned back with a forced smile. “It really is a most remarkable dress, Yer Highness. Let me see. The merchant told me that the first thing should be the underskirts. Let’s get ya washed up, and then we can begin.”

Celestia nodded, and she quickly pulled her nightgown off with no further comment. A fierce scrubbing with ice-cold water ensured her face was clean before her mane and tail were yanked into submission with short, stabbing strokes in record time. Meadowlark did take a few extra moments to ensure that Celestia’s hooves were free of stain and debris, despite the golden shoes that she would be wearing for the day, and the chambermaid respectfully stepped out of the room while the Princess preened her wings and carefully arranged the feathers.

Once all of this was done, Meadowlark began the process of ‘dressing’ Celestia. There was no conversation as each individual element was placed upon her unfeeling back, nor did Celestia wish to make a remark about it. Though she did try to image the softness of the fabric, she did not want to call it a silk when Meadowlark felt a linen or a velvet, and she did not want to remark upon the trim, for she feared that she would compliment a beading that did not exist. The process was agonizingly slow, and as the process dragged on, Celestia felt a blush of embarrassment move from the tip of her snout to the end of her tail.

“There we are,” Meadowlark finally announced in timid voice. “You’ve never looked more resplendent, Yer Highness. This gown makes everything that you’ve worn before look like pauper’s rags in comparison.”

“Do you really think so?” Celestia asked with a bit more desperation that she intended, and she glanced back over her bare backside.

“Oh, indeed. The only thing yer missing is your new shoes and your regalia.”

Celestia nodded, and her magic gently summoned her jewel-encrusted peytral and tiara. She felt a small twinge of relief that she would not be completely naked, but as she slid the petryal over her head and onto her withers, she had to admit that her adornments were going to leave a lot to the imagination.

“Oh! Yer shoes!” Meadowlark snagged the ornate footwear, and Celestia’s smile became a bit more genuine as her hooves slid into each one. A nice pair of shoes always lightened her mood, and she gave a quick dance to properly test their comfort and support.

“Well, now that I am dressed,” Celestia swallowed hard, “I believe it is now time to begin the festivities. Summon the Legionnaires, Meadowlark. The parade shall begin at once.”


Celestia doubted that anypony in the history of Ever had felt as foolish as she did at that exact moment in time.

In broad daylight, and in front of every last one of her subjects, The Mare of the Morning and the Great Princess of Equestria was riding in an open carriage while wearing nothing more than her cutie mark, her golden shoes, and her regalia. She held her head high, however, and she categorically refused to allow her little ponies to see her discomfort, no matter how acute.

Her smile became a bit more genuine as she heard the cheers and the adoration of her little ponies. Word of her dress had spread through the city like wildfire, and ponies were quick to praise the Princess on her choice of color and design. It was a marvel, a wonder, a work of art that was beyond compare. Princess Celestia had, once again, proven her prowess and redefined what fashion was, and anypony who dared to challenge her superiority was a fool.

The acclaim and veneration built to a near fevered pitch as the Princess continued, but Celestia happily drank it all in, and it only took a few minutes before she succumbed to its influence. Of course she was the most regal and elegant mare, she was the Princess! She had been wise to purchase the voluptuous gown, and her glorious beauty would soon become legendary. She was kind, generous, and loyal, and it had been silly to think that she was anything less. Her fine clothing was but an outward expression of her own inner piety and humility, and it pleased her to no end to find that her little ponies could see the perfection she already knew she had.

Celestia waved and smiled, giggled and greeted as her carriage slowly made its way along the parade route. For a few moments, she considered doubling back and having the unicorn chauffeurs take her through the crowds once more, until a small colt tumbled out in front of her carriage, causing everything to come to an immediate halt.

Grateful that her small subject had not been trampled, Celestia’s magic lit and she hoisted the patchwork colt up to her level. “My goodness! That was quite the tumble. Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’m okay,” the little colt sniffled, and he wiggled a bit to tuck his shirt back into his trousers. “I just tripped.”

“That is a most welcome relief; I am pleased that you are unharmed,” Celestia replied with a warm smile.

The colt then rubbed one hoof against the opposite leg. “Um, begging your pardon, Your Highness, but why aren’t you wearing any clothes?”

There was a loud gasp that sucked all of the air from the parade, and a million eyes focused in on the Princess as everything became deathly still. Celestia gave an uneasy chuckle, and she tittered a bit before she replied.

“What makes you think I am not wearing anything?”

“Well, I can see your cutie mark,” he said while tilting his head to study her closer. “Usually ponies cover those up.”

Celestia’s grin twisted into an awkward approximation of what it had been as the whispers from the crowd merged into a large murmur. “I am afraid you are mistaken, my good young lad. I am dressed in a very fine and regal gown.”

“Then why can’t I see it?”

“There he is!” another pony shouted, and the colt’s eyes went wide in fear. His legs began to flail wildly, but Celestia held him a bit higher as a pudgy yellow baker stumbled out of the crowd, adjusted his toque and apron, and then bowed before his Princess. “A thousand apologies, Highness, but that colt you hold in your magic just stole the bits from my shop!”

“He did?”

“Lies! All lies!” the colt shouted, and his legs furiously churned the air. “I’ve never met this pony before!”

“Check his left pocket, Highness,” The baker wheezed. “I saw him swipe my purse while I was getting ready to lock up for the day, and he put the coins in there.”

Celestia’s glare moved to the colt, who was desperately writhing in midair. “Empty your pockets.”

The colt twisted one last time in an attempt at escape, but a slight shake from the Princess stopped his attempts. With a resigned sigh, his hooves went into his pockets, and when they came back out, a sizeable purse filled with Bits was in his left hoof. “This is my money!” he tried to exclaim. “My parents gave it to me for the celebrations today!”

“Then why is my shop’s name embroidered on the side?” the Baker retorted.

The colt was forcibly separated from the bag, and he was passed over to one of the Legionnaires while the money was returned to the baker.

“Thank you so much, Your Highness,” he said. “I need these bits to buy flour for my shop. I also love your dress. I’ve never seen anything as grand. I don’t think anypony could look more divine than you do right now.”

“Why, thank you, my little pony!” Celestia exclaimed. “Let us all now continue on with the celebration!”

The cheer that erupted echoed off the stonework and stretched all the way to the top of Mount Canter.

* * * *

Where Celestia led, the ponies of Equestria followed.

When the windigos had attacked and frozen over their old home, the ponies of the three tribes had followed Celestia to the lush and fertile lands that were soon to be the new Kingdom of Equestria. When Discord ushered in a reign of Chaos, the ponies of Equestria had followed Celestia’s orders to take cover and to wait until she and Luna had dealt with the problem. When she issued a new law, the ponies followed it, and when she made a ruling in her Court, the ponies praised her wisdom.

And whatever Celestia wore defined what Equestria wore, as well.

So it came as no surprise to the Princess when she found her Court and her Castle devoid of clothing within a week of her birthday. The stark naked artisans, councillors, and servants all claimed to have hired the miracle-working merchant, and several remarked that they had watched him as he had spun the unseen thread and woven the untouchable fabric. He was without peer, and he was accumulating a king’s fortune at a rapid pace.

One month later, Celestia found that the miracle had found its way to the general populace, and with a bit of dismay, the Princess discovered a new industry had sprung up to match the demand for the Celestial Fabric, as it was now known. While it was nice to know that the tailors and weavers of Equestria would still be employed in the “creation” of this new wonder, she had to admit that she missed seeing the new designs and the creative flourishes that used to line the markets. The silk that she cherished so much virtually disappeared, and she soon began to long for the soft velvets and linens that she could actually interact with.

When her next birthday came, the full impact of her decision had fully spread across her Kingdom. Everypony, from the largest of cities to the smallest of hamlets, had followed her example, and the only fashion that anypony would wear was the invisible Celestial Fabric. Ponies verbally created ever more outlandish designs and styles, and the color combinations that some described would blind a peacock and drive a true seamstress mad. The only slight positive was that the demand for the Celestial Fabric had now been satisfied, and the bits that had been flowing to an unseen product were now returning to their prior places.

Fifteen years after that fateful day, most ponies had completely forgotten about the incident. A Barbarian invasion had focused the full attention and efforts of Equestria into victory, in the way that only a war could, and once it was over, it was still many years before Equestria was once again repaired and made whole. In a way, it was quite fortunate that ponies did not wear clothing, for that allowed the few remaining weavers to create tangible bandages and bedding during the conflict and makeshift shelters afterwards.

And so it went. The years continued on in their dutiful march, and the ponies of Equestria continued to live their lives within it. Those who had been among the first to own the Celestial Fabric passed away, and then the generation after them, and the next after that. With each generation, the tale of the Princess’ new clothes transformed from fact to fiction, from fiction to myth, and finally from myth to legend. It grew embellishments of its own, with glittering tidbits like how Celestia had known the nomad before and had specifically sought out his services, what country he was from, and even his motivations for what he did. From her place of immortality, Celestia allowed these additions to flourish and then forgot about them entirely as she continued to lead Equestria, and thus it continued.

Until one fateful day, nearly a thousand years later…

* * * *

“You see, Nightmare Moon, when those elements are ignited by the—” Twilight Sparkle paused to select the perfect word “—the spark that resides in the heart of us all, it creates the sixth element—the element of magic!”

Nightmare Moon staggered back a step and shielded her eyes with her cloak. How could this be? How had this one miserable naked unicorn brought the elements back to life?

She had little time to ponder upon the matter. A surge of energy swept the six mares before her into its glowing embrace, and the dark Ruler of the Eve could do nothing but stare and quake in her steel toed boots as the inevitable began to unfold. That accursed and familiar rainbow of pure harmony shot from the new Element Bearers, surrounded her in a swirling vortex of light, and then compressed inward.

Nightmare Moon screamed in anguished defeat as she felt the purifying effects begin to strip her and her power away from the princess whom she had held captive for a thousand years. It was not supposed to end this way! The night was going to last forever!

But the last thing to pass through the pitch black heart of the Nightmare before she was destroyed forever was the one emotion that it could never comprehend.


For what felt like hours, Luna lay still upon the stonework, unsure if her will was once again her own or if this was some sort of horrid trick that the Nightmare was using to ambush Celestia. A hoof twitched at her suggestion, an ear flicked, and one eye slowly opened.

There was nothing. No dark command to destroy the light, no black designs to crush any who would dare to oppose her. With a backwards glance, Luna saw that the elaborate black leather outfit with razor sharp spikes and bladed shoulder blades that Nightmare Moon had been wearing was now strewn about the ruins of her old home, and she knew that her own horrific nightmare was now at an end. Her favorite taffeta gown once again held her within its comforting embrace, the creamy blue fabric feeling just like the comforting touch of a lover’s gentle hoof across her barrel and over her back. The intricately hoof-woven lacework along the hems tickled her legs and neck as she slowly stood, and for just a brief moment, she thought the nearby white unicorn who bore the Element of Generosity—her name was Rarity, wasn’t it?—might swoon in delight. Gentle folds fell over her haunches with a whisper, and Luna noted with great delight that her mane was still woven into an intricate plait that sparkled with diamonds like her beloved evening sky, or the stellar depths of space.

“If only somepony else would accept my friendship.” The voice was one Luna had both dreaded and longed to hear for a millennia, and when she turned, she found Celestia reaching down with one hoof and a deep smile. “Time to put our differences behind us. We were meant to rule together, little sister. Will you accept my friendship?”

“Oh, sister!” sobbed the new alicorn, looking as if she were on the verge of tears and laughter. “Um... why are you naked?”

“Yes!” screamed Rarity with an impressive one-and-a-half flip. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” She flung herself forward and wrapped both forelegs around the new dark alicorn, who cringed slightly back with a worried glance at her larger sister. “Finally!” she cried out, muffled from where her face was buried into the dark dress. “A Princess who wears clothes!”

“I can explain everything on the way home,” Celestia stated with a kind smile. “And perhaps you can help me reverse my mistake and bring clothing back once again.”

B-but,” stammered Twilight Sparkle. “I don’t like clothes. They pinch.”

“Heretic!” declared Rarity with a pointing hoof, then paused and turned back to the newly revealed princess. “Um, beg pardon, Your Highness, but do we have a punishment for heresy yet? I really don’t want to see her burned, since she is my dearest and newest friend. Other than you, of course.”

“She could clean out my yard,” suggested Fluttershy. “My animals make such a mess of the grass.”

“An’ we’ve got that pig pen,” mused Applejack. “Just ain’t right since Applebloom done fed a whole peck of prunes to ‘em.”

“I’m sure we can find an appropriate punishment.” Luna gave her sister a warm smile before turning a thoughtful eye upon the sinner. “Perhaps she could be a model for your newest creations.”

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