The doors were tall. Taller than any doors she had ever seen before. They were inscribed on either side with gold-trimmed markings. On the left a mark of a pegasi. And on the right, a unicorn. But even the sheer size of that door was nothing compared to the building it was attached to. The royal palace of Canterlot. She'd always seen it from afar, but never this close. Given recent events, it was clear she'd be seeing a lot more of it in future.
Mi'Amore Cadenza her parents had named her. Cadence as she preferred to be called. A young filly, a child. Her hair tied back into a ponytail. A filly who had no idea how much her life was about to change.
It had been merely a day since the letter had arrived from the palace. She'd only reached schooling age but rather than having arrangements made to attend some local school, that letter had arrived instead. Her family had read it several times over, with looks of both pride and concern on their faces. They'd explained to her what it meant, that she would have to come here, but she still struggled to understand. Why her? Why was she chosen above others to come here? Of course, deep down, she knew the answers to those questions. But perhaps being here would make things clearer to her.
Cadence just kept staring at it as soon as she'd arrived there. The weight of this even was almost crushing her. But she knew how important it was. She looked on either side of the door. It was flanked by two unicorns guards, on male the other female. As they saw her approach, they immediately bowed to her. This was not behaviour she was used to, nor was it something she thought she'd ever get used to.
Once at the door proper, one of the unicorn's horns began to glow, which led to a faint glow around the door. After a few moments, they began to open with a loud creak which gave away their age. Once open, Cadence saw the great hall within. It was a magnificent sight to say the least. Polished white marble columns along a spectacularly clean hall decorated with beautiful stained-glass windows and red carpet.
Understanding the importance of this, the young filly stepped inside. She'd barely walked a few feet within before the doors were magically closed behind her. The whole experience was daunting, but she tried not to let it show. She simply continued to walk further in. She could see even from here, what it was she was walking towards. At the end of the hall was a flight of steps. At the top of the steps was a golden throne. And on that throne, flanked by two more unicorn guards, was the most important person in Equestria.
Princess Celestia. Their monarch. She who brought out the sun and the moon. The most powerful person in all of ponydom. And, most importantly to Cadence right now, the one who had summoned her here.
Once at the bottom of the flight of steps, the young filly merely looked up at the princess, her mouth gaping open at the sight of her. Sure, she'd seen her before during the Summer Sun Celebrations, but that was always when amongst others, a crowd. This was something else entirely. The princess meanwhile, merely looked down at the filly. Her expression was hard to read but it was clear she was thinking heavily about something.
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, Princess Celestia rose from her throne and began waking down the stairs. Seeing her approach, cadence dropped to her knees and bowed her head down, almost terrified as to what would happen.
What did happen however, was a hoof being placed on top of her head. She opened her eyes and looked up, seeing Celestia smiling at her.
"Mi'Amore I presume? Welcome to the royal palace."
With that smile, Cadence's fears began to vanish. That had always been something the people had appreciated about their Princess. She may be their ruler, but she never acted like it.
Once Celestia's hoof was off her head, Cadence stood up again, still gawking at the Princess.
"I trust you know why you are here?" Celestia asked, her voice now somewhat more serious.
Cadence closed her mouth and nodded frantically.
"It's because of my wings and horn, isn't it?" She replied.
"You were born an alicorn, like me. And that is why you were brought here."
"Alicorn". The word sounded strange to her. Ever since she was little she knew she was different from all of her friends. None of them ever had wings and horn together, just one or the other. Even the other members of her family did not have this trait. It was a quality that had made her feel somehow special, being somewhat like the princess. But as to why she was like this, she never gave much thought to.
Celestia stretched out her left wing and used it to gesture to a door behind her. A door that led to a further hallway. Cadence nodded, getting the message, and began to walk alongside the Princess, who was now making her way through that door.
"Alicorns are an ancient and powerful race, gifted with both long life and magical ability far above that of other ponies." Celestia explained.
Cadence looked up at her as she spoke, utterly transfixed on every word she said. Powerful magic? If she had that she hadn't seen any sign of it yet. But then again, she had yet to earn her cutie mark, so who knows what kind of power she may have.
"Tell me child. What do you know of the aristocracy of Canterlot?"
The question had caught her off-guard. In truth she knew about as much as anyone else, or so she thought. She did know that hr family were among them, though nowhere near as rich and powerful as some of the other families in the city.
"The aristocracy are the nobles of the city your highness. They are of higher blood than other ponies."
Much to Cadence's surprise, the answer led to a chuckle from the princess. Had she given the wrong answer? Her confusion was soon answered.
"Higher blood you say? And where do you think that blood comes from?"
Another surprising question. Cadence thought hard about this one. The nobles of the city were only noble because they were descended from other aristocrats. On and on through the generations. Go back far enough and you may even find royalty in that line.
And that's when it hit her. The answer the Princess was looking for.
"You?" She answered.
Celestia gave a small smile and nodded.
"Yes. The aristocracy of this city are my descendents, including you."
Cadence was rather shocked by this revelation. She was related to the Princess? That was surprise enough, but to learn that all of Canterlot's nobles could trace their lines back to her was even more of a shock.
"Within this city lives hundreds upon thousands of my great grandchildren. This city's population is family to me, so I take great care to look after each and every one of them as best as I can."
Cadence could testify to that. She'd heard it many times that the Princess enjoys seeing to the needs of her subjects. She always made sure she was a very public figure, not hiding away behind the castle walls as other might.
But still, the notion that she was the ancestor of all of Canterlot's nobility raised a question in the young filly's mind.
"If you're our ancestor, why aren't there more alicorns?"
Celestia smiled as she looked down at the child. She looked back up to where she was going before replying.
"Very perceptive Mi'Amore. The reason being is that although the blood of alicorns flows through the veins of this city, it is blood that has been growing thinner with each generation. A thousand years ago, there were many more, largely because they were more directly related to me. My children and grandchildren. But as the line grew longer and further from me, fewer alicorns were born, instead being replaced by unicorns, pegasi and earth ponies."
She looked down at the child once more.
"You my dear are the first alicorn to be born in a century."
This was news that shocked the young pony. Had it really been that long since someone like her had been born? The knowledge of this lack of alicorns suddenly brought up another question.
"Wait. You said aliconrs were long-lived. You've been around for over a thousand years. If alicorns can live that long, shouldn't I have seen some around the city?"
Celestia's face suddenly became more solemn, as though remembering a painful memory.
"It's true, alicorns live long lives. But like I said, the blood of my kind has been growing less prominent with each generation. Mixed ancestry with other pony types affected the inherited abilities of those born afterwards. So while they may be born as alicorns, they do not possess the same age-span as myself. Most don't live longer than a hundred years."
This explanation quickly made something very clear to Cadence. If Celestia had lived this long and her descendant's hadn't, that could only mean one thing. That she had witnessed many of her own flesh and blood pass from this world, while she kept on going. It was a thought that Cadence did not appreciate one bit. She could not imagine what that must be like. To see everypony you hold dear grow old and die like that.
As troubling as that thought was to her, she suddenly remembered the reason why she was summoned here.
"Forgive me for sounding rude your majesty. But you still haven't explained why I was brought here. I know I'm an alicorn like you, but what specifically was I sent for?"
Celestia stopped walking, as did Cadence soon afterwards. The princess looked down at the young alicorn with a strange expression. It was a look that said "I've got something to tell you that you're either going to love or hate and I worry about which it will be".
"As is tradition, alicorns are to be personally tutored by the Princess of Equestria."
It took a few moments for Cadence to take in what she'd just heard. By that, Celestia could only mean one thing. When it dawned on Cadence what was going on, her eyes lit up like a Hearth's Warming Eve tree.
"You mean...you're going to be my teacher?" She said enthusiastically.
Celestia's expression became one of relief. It was clear that she had been worried about what the filly's reaction would have been. Once she knew she was fine with it, Celestia gave a nod, confirming Cadence's question.
"Indeed. You will become my personal protégé here at the palace princess."
The excited look on Cadence's face vanished and was replaced by one of confusion.
"Forgive me your highness, but did you just say princess?"
Celestia gave a smile and a nod.
"I did indeed. All alicorns are automatically granted a status as a member of the royal family, regardless of how far removed from the main bloodline they are."
This was all too much. First she learned she was of special blood, then she found out she was going to be tutored by the most beloved pony in all the world, and now on top of all that she was a princess too? It was so much she almost fainted. Celestia gave a small chuckle over the surprised expression on the filly's face.
"Now then. We will begin your lessons in the morning. In the meantime Princess Mi'Amore, allow me to show you to where you'll be staying here at the palace."
Celestia turned from her and began continuing to walk down the hall before Cadence spoke up again.
Celestia stopped and looked back at her, eyebrow raised.
"My name. I've always preferred Cadence." She said honestly.
Celestia said nothing for a while, but soon gave a small smile and nodded.
"Very well then. This way...Princess Cadence."
Cadence smiled back as she joined the Princess on their walk to her quarters. The young filly had no idea what her life was going to be like once this all started. All she knew was that this was the best day of her entire life.