As soon as the clouds parted, revealing the royal city of Canterlot in all its glory, Rainbow Dash began saying that. Spike turned to Twilight Sparkle, rolling his eyes.
"Do you think she'll stop anytime soon?"
"She's excited, Spike." replied Twilight as Rainbow Dash did an aerial somersault. "And understandably so. It's not everyday you get to meet the Wonderbolts." The ace flyer finished her trick and pulled alongside the pegasus-drawn carriage that bore her friends.
"Thank you Twilight. Thanyouthankyouthankyou." she said. Well, more like exhaled.
"No need to thank me." said the purple unicorn. "I'm just happy that you're enjoying your surprise."
"We haven't even gotten to the surprise yet." grumbled Spike, Twilight's faithful dragon assistant. "How many times will she say 'Oh my gosh' when we do?"
"Spike." Twilight gave her assistant a warning look. She had worked hard to keep this trip to Canterlot a secret from Rainbow Dash, and she wanted it to go perfectly.
"He's right!" Rainbow got serious all of a sudden. She fixed her eyes on the royal city.
"Of course I am!" Spike proudly declared. "Um, what am I right about?"
"We haven't even gotten to the best part yet! I've always wanted to hang out with the Wonderbolts. And thanks to Twilight, it's finally gonna happen. We shouldn't be dragging our hooves here! C'mon boys, try to keep up." And with that she took off at full speed towards Canterlot, and her dream of meeting her idols. She left nothing behind but her signature rainbow trail and a challenge to the pegasi pulling the carriage. One of the pegasi, an armored Royal Guard, turned his head back and spoke to Twilight.
"She knows we're wearing heavy armor, right?"
Twilight turned to Spike and smiled. He chuckled.
"Just do the best you can." she said. The carriage sped up a bit as the soldiers tried their best not to be outdone by a young weather pony. With the wind in her mane, the sun shining on her face, and thoughts of spending time with friends in her head, Twilight could tell that this was going to be a good day.
Twilight entered the throne room of Castle Equestria alone. As one would expect, it was grand, the high walls containing a variety of elegant tapestries and stain-glass windows depicting the daily cycles of the sun and moon. A red carpet led up to the throne, a tall golden chair with a built in fountain that spilled water to pools on either side. And on this throne was the beautiful Celestia, ruler of Equestria and Twilight Sparkle's mentor in the ways of magic.
"Twilight Sparkle." said the royal, appraising her apprentice. Twilight bowed. The princess spread her wings and floated down so that she was right in front of her student. This caused Twilight to look up.
"Why so formal, my dear student?" Celestia smiled and embraced the young unicorn. "It is good to see you. I'm glad that you could take time out of your studies to accept my invitation for tea."
"Of course, princess, I could never turn down an invitation from you. After all, it was you who taught me the importance of putting down books and spending time with those I care about."
"Well said. But where is Spike? I thought for sure he'd want to join you on a visit to the city."
"He went to a nearby shop. Something about jewels you can only get in Canterlot. He'll join us later. Also, I have brought another friend with me. She's waiting in the Grand Hall." The princess looked puzzled at this bit of information.
"Oh? Let me guess, it must be Rarity."
"It's actually Rainbow Dash. If you remember from my letters, she's a big fan of the Wonderbolts."
"Ah yes, Rainbow Dash, the pegasus in control of Ponyville's weather." replied the Princess. "And the Wonderbolts! I do believe that they are putting on a show today."
"They are!" exclaimed Twilight. It looked like things were going to go smoothly. "In fact, I brought Rainbow Dash so that she could attend the show."
"You thought of your friend, Twilight! I know I've said this before, but I am proud how much you've grown. But tell me, how did you get tickets? From what I hear they've been sold out for months."
"Actually princess, I was hoping you could get them." Celestia didn't reply right away. When she did answer, she did so without her usual assuredness.
"I-I'm not sure that I follow."
"You see, princess, you heard right. Tickets have been sold out for months. But, since you are the ruler of Equestria, I figured that you must be able to get us seats." That should have clarified everything. But the princess still seemed confused.
"The show is today, Twilight. Why didn't you ask me about this sooner?"
"I'm sorry, princess. I know I should have, but I'm terrible at keeping secrets, and I wanted this to be a surprise for Rainbow Dash. So I made it a point not to talk about it at all. That way I could keep it a secret."
Celestia stared at her charge for what seemed like hours. When she finally opened her mouth to speak, Twilight got the feeling it wasn't to deliver good news.
"It was nice that you wanted to surprise your friend, my dear. But you shouldn't assume things."
"You can't get tickets?"
"I don't need tickets. There is a special box reserved for Equestrian royalty at all events in Canterlot. But this isn't about the tickets, Twilight Sparkle. There is a lesson to be learned." Twilight was confused, to say the least. The princess let her student figure out lessons on her own. She didn't feed the answers so easily. Maybe it was a test, and seats in that special box would be the reward.
"I've learned that even if you have good intentions, you should never assume when it comes to friends. To assume is to take your friends for granted." And with that, Twilight had delivered another report to her teacher. Now for her reward.
"Good. Now, about that tea." Celestia passed Twilight and walked to the door.
"Princess, wait!" Twilight cantered and caught up. "What about the special box?"
"I gave the box to my sister, Princess Luna. She's never seen the Wonderbolts before."
"What about Rainbow Dash?"
"I'm afraid I cannot help you, child."
They continued to walk down the red carpet, the princess chatting away about appointments in Trottingham and problems in Phillydelphia. But the only problem Twilight could think about was her own. How was she going to get Wonderbolts tickets, when even the ruler of Equestria didn't have any?
"Hey Twilight, how was tea? Are you done? Are you ready for some high flying action?"
As soon as Twilight entered the Great Hall of Castle Equestria, Rainbow Dash glided right up to her. Even with the whole palace to explore, it was clear that the pegasus only had one thing on her mind: The Wonderbolts. This was going to make what Twilight had to say even more difficult.
"I actually had to cancel tea."
"Why?" Because she couldn't sit and enjoy tea. Not while one of her best friends flew around believing that she was going to see her idols.
"I'm very sorry Rainbow Dash, but there's been a mix up. I thought that Princess Celestia would have Wonderbolts tickets she could give me, but it turns out that she doesn't." Rainbow's eyes, which were wide with excitement, were now filled with shock and disappointment.
"There's no tickets?"
"No, I wrongly assumed that the Princess would have them."
"Oh. So...no Wonderbolts?"
"No." Twilight tried to look her friend in the eyes to say this, but the pegasus looked at the ground. "Rainbow, I'm really very sorry and-"
"Hey, it's cool. Just a simple mix up, right? I'm sure I'll get to the see the Wonderbolts once in a life time super awesome show some other time." She landed and walked towards the entrance. "I'm gonna go walk around for a bit, I'll meet up with you when it's time to leave."
Twilight watched as she walked away, staring at the ground. The unicorn knew she had screwed up big time. But what could she do? For all the the spells she knew, there wasn't one for making tickets magically appear. No, the mature thing to do was to own up to the mistake, and use that knowledge to inform future decisions. That and hope that one day her friend would forgive her for crushing her one and only dream.
"Rainbow, wait!" Twilight found herself calling out.The pegasus stopped and turned around.
"You didn't let me finish. I wrongly assumed that Princess Celestia would have tickets. But really, they're waiting to be picked up at the arena! They're in my name, and can only be picked up be me."
Rainbow Dash perked right up. "Really?"
"Of course," Twilight replied, accompanied by a nervous laugh, "Why would I lie?" So much for maturity. But it was too late to go back. Rainbow Dash's spirit's were lifted, along with the pegasus herself.
"Well, let's go get 'em then!" She prepared to launch forward.
"No!" Twilight almost yelled. "I don't want to have to trouble you more, after dragging you to the castle. You hang out here, and I will come back with the tickets."
"Stay! Stay and enjoy the beauty of Castle Equestria. I'll be right back." The bookish unicorn galloped away, without listening to her friend's shouts. She didn't really pay attention to where she running to. Her focus was on the impossible proclamation she just made. So it was no surprise that she almost ran over Spike as she rounded a corner. The baby dragon was leisurely strolling and chewing on gems from a bag that he was holding. He screamed and hugged the bag as Twilight came barreling around, but lucky for him she snapped to her senses just in time to lower her head and use it to toss her assistant to her back.
"Jeez, what's the hurry?" He shouted as he clung to his newly acquired steed.
"I lied to Rainbow Dash! I promised her tickets and I don't have any!"
"What're you gonna do?"
"Find some tickets!"
"I have no idea!"
Twilight dashed the whole way from the castle, and as she approached the arena she slowed down, catching her breath. Spike took this opportunity to jump off her back and resume eating his gems. Towering in front of them was Canterlot Fields. Actually, what towered were several white marble columns, that rose all the way to the clouds. These formed a circle around the actual fields, which were a simple, grassy area where sporting events took place. At the top of the columns, there were seats for spectators of aerial shows. And one of those seats had to be for Rainbow Dash.
Twilight approached the ticket booth, which was a simple red wooden booth housing a single pony. Compared to the scale of the stadium behind it, the booth seemed mundane. It didn't help that the brown stallion inside looked mundane himself.
"Hello. Welcome to Canterlot Fields. How can I serve your craving for excitement today?" The booth stallion said in an almost monotone voice.
"Hi. I'm looking for tickets to the Wonderbolts show." Twilight replied.
"There are two shows. An intense one this afternoon and an extreme one this evening. Which one were you hoping to attend?" He didn't say no. In fact there were options!
"What time is the afternoon show?"
"It's one hour from now. At that time, the Wonderbolts will knock your horseshoes off with a display of high-flying feats."
"Are you being paid to say that stuff?" Spike interjected between bites.
"I'll take three for the afternoon show." replied Twilight happily. An hour would give her plenty of time to go back to the castle and get Rainbow Dash. Maybe she could even squeeze in a cup of tea with the princess.
"I regret to inform you that the intense afternoon performance is sold out." The stallion said without delay.
"The afternoon show is so intense and spectacular, that tickets were sold out months ago." He said in his unenthusiastic tone. Spike burst out with his mouth full.
"Sursly, can't ew at leath try to be ethited?"
"But you just said there were two shows!" Twilight exclaimed.
"There are two shows, an intense aft-"
"I know, an intense afternoon one!" Twilight was losing patience. She didn't care if the guy wasn't excited, but at least he could be helpful. "Please, I'd just like to buy tickets."
"I regret to inform you that-"
"You're sold out. You said that. What about the night show?"
"I regret to inform you that the extreme evening performance is sold out as well."
"Then why did you give me the options in the first place?"
The staillion didn't answer right away this time. Instead, he just stared blankly at the unicorn, as if he expected her to give him answers. Then, after an awkward amount of silence, he said "Thank you for coming to Canterlot Fields. How can I serve your craving for excitement today?"
Twilight nearly screamed. She could hear Spike stifling a laugh. She turned to him and gave him a look that made him glad he didn't laugh out loud. "Let's go Spike, this is getting us nowhere!"
She turned haughtily, in a manner that would make even Rarity proud. But she quickly realized that a dramatic exit would get her nowhere. She paced in front of the arena. There had to be something, anything. It was then that she heard a strange voice.
"Yo, little pony, c'mere for a second." Twilight looked around for the speaker. "Yeah you. Looks like ya need some tickets." Out of the shadows cast by a nearby column stepped a black gryphon. Twilight had only seen one gryphon before, and remembered her as being kind of mean and scary. But this gryphon, with his bent wings, a sharp grey beak, and a scar over his left eye was a lot scarier. And he was walking right towards Twilight and Spike.
"Excuse me sir, are you talking to me?" said the unicorn bravely. She'd lived in the city before, so she knew how to deal with shady characters. Just show them you're not afraid. Of course, the shaking dragon cowering behind her probably didn't help her case.
"You see any other little ponies around here? Yeah, I'm talkin' to you. You need tickets, right? Well I got some tickets right here." He brought his hand up and opened it in a flash. Twilight could feel Spike flinch. But instead of brandishing his claws, the gryphon revealed three slips of paper. "Ta-da! Wondabolts tickets. And they can be yours for...sixty bits."
Twilight eyed the papers for only a second. Sure they looked real, but a smart unicorn like her knew not to trust a scalper. "Thank you for your offer, but I'm quite alright. Have a nice day." She nodded her head politely, but before she could walk away the scalper stepped in.
"C'mon. I know ya want tickets, I saw ya at the booth. And I promise ya ain't gonna find them anywhere else in this city but with me. Not even at that fancy raffle they're having at the sports shop." The gryphon was in her face, forcing a salesman-like smile. Twilight was about to assert herself, but then she paused.
"That shop that sells pegasus gear...Wind Beneath Your Wings? They're raffling off some tickets for tonight's show."
"That's perfect! I know exactly where that store is!" Spike took the cue and hopped on her back. She bowed her head again. "Thank you very much!" As she turned and took off, she heard the scalper calling out behind her.
"Ya won't win. There's like a hundred ponies there and two winners! You do the math!" Twilight had to admit that the odds weren't in her favor, but it was a better option than buying from that gryphon. For all the unicorn knew, he could've stolen those tickets.
"You'll be back, ya hear me?"
But she wasn't going back. She was going onward, towards the raffle, and a possibility of keeping her promise. No, she had to be positive. She was going to win those tickets!
"And the last winner is.....These tickets will go to....The one and only pony here today... that will receive two tickets to the Wonderbolts show tonight...I remind everypony here that in order to claim the tickets you must actually be here. You cannot collect for some-"
"Just call the names!" shouted Twilight Sparkle. The pegasus running the raffle, as well as the hundred ponies crowded around Wind Beneath Your Wings, turned and looked right at Twilight. Spike, who was still enjoying his gems, fixed his eyes on her as well. "Please?"
"Very well." continued the pegasus. "The winner is..." This was it. Some pegasus called Yellow Flash won the first set of tickets. These ones were all Twilight's. "...a miss Ditzy Doo!"
There were many groans and one excited cheer as a grey pegasus who looked a bit familiar flew up to claim her prize. The other ponies in the crowd began to scatter, leaving a unicorn at her wit's end standing on the street.
"Oh Spike, what do I do now? That raffle was my last chance."
"You could always tell Rainbow Dash the truth."
"No...I can't. I can't let her down. Not after I got her hopes up."
"Well then what are you going to do?"
Twilight stared at the shop in front of her. Yellow Flash, the other winner, was talking happily to some other pegasi. They were beaming at the tickets, which he proudly displayed. Without saying a word to Spike, Twilight went right over to the prize winner.
"Yellow Flash?" The pegasus group stopped and turned to this newcomer.
"That's me! What can I do you for?" He seemed friendly enough. Of course, anyone would be in a good mood after winning the last three Wonderbolts tickets in Canterlot.
"My name is Twilight Sparkle. I have a friend, Rainbow Dash, she's a huge fan of the Wonderbolts. She would love to see their show tonight."
Yellow Flash just looked confused. "Not to be rude, but what does that have to do with me?"
"I need your tickets." Twilight fixed the pegasus with a steely gaze, so he wouldn't confuse her statement for a joke.
"Uh, well, I-"
"I'm willing to compensate you, of course. Name your price."
"They're not for sale. I'm a big fan of the Wonderbolts too, and I've been wanting to see them since I was a colt."
"Forty bits." The determined unicorn continued to stare at Yellow Flash.
"I'm really not selling these."
"FIfty? Sixty? What do you want!?" At this point Spike jumped in between Twilight and the pegasus group.
"Hey Twilight, he's not selling. Let's just go. Congratulations on your win, we'll be-"
"Please! I'll give anything! My friend really wants to see the Wonderbolts!" Twilight was now looking at the prize winner with pleading eyes.
"I can't help you. I'm sorry." With that, Yellow Flash spread his wings and took off with his friends. Twilight shouted after them.
"Wait! Please! Don't go..." But they were gone. Spike put a hand on Twilight's shoulder.
"Come on, Twilight. It's time to give up, you did everything you could." But that wasn't enough. Twilight just couldn't go back empty handed.
"What? There's nopony in town who's selling tickets."
"You're right, no pony is. But we both know a gryphon who has tickets."
The scary black gryphon with the scar was still there, still lurking in the shadows of the arena's columns. The sun was setting, and the little bit of extra darkness made the scene even more cagey. As soon as he saw Twilight and Spike, he smiled.
"I told ya you'd be back." he sneered. "So, ready to talk business?"
Spike stood there nervously chewing on the last of his gems. He had already voiced his concerns about trusting the scalper, but Twilight's mind was made up. In all of Canterlot, this gryphon had the only Wonderbolts tickets for sale.
"I am. Sixty bits, right?" The gryphon's smile turned into a laugh.
"Sixty? Try Eighty."
"You told me sixty before!"
"That was before, when ya didn't want them. Now, my prices have changed. Supply and demand, y'know?" Twilight fixed the scalper with an intense stare. She only had sixty bits on her. Time to talk him down.
"I'm not paying any more than sixty."
"Then I'm not selling." He simply walked away. Haggling was no good, it was getting close to showtime and he'd soon have lots of potential "customers".
"Wait! How about just one ticket?" The gryphon came back, an eyebrow raised.
"One? For sixty?"
"Twilight!" Spike shouted and caught her eye. The scalper growled at Spike, who this time didn't back down. "Do you really think this is a good idea?"
"One for sixty. We have a deal?" All of her bits for a single ticket. Not how Twilight had imagined things turning out. But at least this way, Rainbow Dash would still be able to go.
"We have a deal." Twilight hovered her sack of bits over to the gryphon, who counted them. When he was satisfied he handed her one of the tickets, and disappeared immediately into the shadows.
"Pleasure doin' business with you." he said as he seemed to fade away.
"Jerk." Muttered Spike as he grabbed the ticket from the air, where Twilight was making it float.
"Finally, it's over. Now let's go back and give Rainbow-"
"-Last year's ticket." Spike finished.
"What?" Spike showed her the ticket.
"This ticket, it's dated for last year's show. That jerk's selling used tickets!" He was right. Twilight stared at the ticket in disbelief. But no matter how long she stared, the date still read as last year's.
"It can't be..."
"It can't be! Hey, where are you? I know you're here!" But the scalper was gone.
"He had this planned from the beginning!" Twilight turned to Spike, he was about to shove another gem in his mouth.
"Your gems! I bet somepony will trade their tickets for some gems. All we have to do is wait until the show's about to start. Then we sit by the entrance, and offer gems to every pony who enters the arena! It's perfect!"
"That'll never work!"
"You never know until you try, Spike. Now, hand over those gems!" She used her magic to pull the gems away from Spike, but he wrapped his tiny claws around the bag and held tight.
"Twilight..stop! You're acting crazy!"
"I'll make it up to you...Spike! I have to keep this promise!"
"Face it....it's over...you're not getting any tickets!"
"You....have to....tell Rainbow Dash the truth!" Twilight's magic was too strong. The bag, with Spike still attached, went flying and landed in front of Twilight. Seeing her assistant sprawled on the ground, surrounded by the spilled bag and its contents, Twilight came to her senses.
"Oh, Spike! I'm so sorry." She offered a hoof, but Spike got up on his own.
"It's not me you have to apologize to."
"...It's Rainbow Dash. But I have to apologize to you, too. You were right, I should've just told the truth in the first place, instead of acting crazy."
"When are you gonna learn that I'm always right? It would've saved you sixty bits." Twilight laughed, for the first time since she got to Canterlot.
What she was about to do was no laughing matter. As Twilight and Spike entered the Great Hall, Rainbow Dash came flying over to greet them. Here came the hard part. Again.
"There you are! I was starting to think you got lost. Where were you?"
"Rainbow Dash, there's something I have to tell you."
"I know. The princess told me."
"She did?" Twilight didn't understand. If Princess Celestia did tell Rainbow Dash the truth, then why did the pegasus seem so upbeat?
"Yeah, what a shocker! I mean, who knew that Princess Luna would be a Wonderbolts fan?"
"She is?" asked Spike.
"Indeed she is." Princess Celestia appeared, standing next to Rainbow. "She enjoyed the afternoon show so much, that she invited the Wonderbolts to join us for dinner before their evening show. And since Rainbow Dash was getting bored waiting for you, I invited her as well."
"What can I say? I get bored easy." Rainbow said with a shrug.
"Wait..." said Twilight. "So you're having dinner with the Wonderbolts?"
"Right now! And it's so awesome! And we get to go to the night show with Princess Luna! And I get to show them some of my tricks! And-"
"All right child!" interrupted the princess. "Why not share your enthusiasm with the Wonderbolts? I need to speak to my pupil."
"Aye aye, princess! Omigosh the Wonderbolts! Thanks again for bringing me, Twilight!" She said all of this in about ten seconds flat and flew away. Twilight beamed at her mentor.
"Princess, thank you."
"For what, my dear?"
"For covering my mistake."
"But Twilight Sparkle, I did no such thing. It was merely a coincidence that Luna invited the Wonderbolts here. It was also a coincidence that Rainbow Dash was able to enjoy their company. But tell me, where were you all day? Did you enjoy yourself?"
"Not at all. I spent all my time, and money, trying to get Wonderbolts tickets."
"Ah, yes. Rainbow Dash seemed to be under the impression that you were picking up tickets at the arena. Which I found odd, considering you were quite panicked at not having any."
"Yes, princess. I didn't want to let Rainbow Dash down, so I lied. I told her I had tickets, then went crazy trying to find some."
"You assumed that you could make her happy by lying?"
"I guess I haven't learned my lesson about assuming things."
"I think you have, now."
"Yes, from now on, no more assuming. And I'll only make a promise that I know I can keep." Celestia smiled at her pupil. Twilight sighed. Now that the ticket issue was resolved, she could relax. This nice moment was interrupted by a rumbling sound.
The princess laughed. "Oh dear, you must be hungry!"
"Come to think of it, I haven't eaten all day!"
"Well then, why don't you join us for dinner?"
"I'd love to. Spike, are you hungry?" The unicorn looked down at her assistant, who made a rather unpleasant face.
"No way! I've been eating gems all day, I'm stuffed." Celestia raised an eyebrow.
"Oh really? That's too bad. I believe we have some sapphires lying around."
"Sapphires! Maybe I can make room for desert." The princess and her student burst into laughter at the predictable answer.
"Oh Spike." Twilight shook her head. As they walked together toward the dinner chamber, she couldn't help but smile. Perhaps it hadn't turned out quite as expected, but Twilight had had a good day after all.