Dr. Candyfloss in: Operation Cadence
Ponyville was not a town full of early risers. Usually, when the sun had barely poked its upper rim over the horizon, the small town's residents were still fast asleep. But, as usual, one aging white unicorn was already wide awake, and humming contently to himself as he trotted through the front door of the small business he owned.
Dr. Candyfloss, owner and C.E.O. of Equestria Speedy Shipping Services, had always enjoyed the peace that came with the early morning. By nature, Candyfloss was a calm, level-headed type of pony, but in a town like Ponyville, excitement was never far away. At least, not once its residents had awoken.
Candyfloss settled into the large, comfortable chair in his small office and checked the clock. It would still be a short while until his employees arrived, and possibly a lengthy amount of time after that until the first call of the day came in. So, as always, the morning newspaper would help to pass the time.
Candyfloss lifted the morning's news in front of his face and began to read the article that took up most of the front page.
Royal Couple Return from Honeymoon
Yesterday, the city of Canterlot celebrated the return of the royal couple, Princess Cadence and Shining Armor, from their lengthy honeymoon. Ponies gathered from all around Canterlot, as well as the neighboring towns, to welcome the Princess and the captain of the Canterlot guard back home. The couple will be spending a few days in Canterlot to visit Princess Celestia and enjoy some of the city's popular amenities before returning to Cadence's home in the neighboring kingdom.
"I'm so glad to see them back, and happy to hear that they enjoyed themselves," says Ponyville resident and sister of the groom, Twilight Sparkle. "My brother and Cadence are two of the most wonderful ponies I know, so seeing their new relationship as husband and wife working out so well leaves me feeling a sense of joy as well."
Princess Cadence, although she does not rule from Canterlot, seems to receive an especially warm welcome whenever she visits. The Princess's charming personality, selflessness, and humility lead her to be adored by all, and the use of her special love magic brings joy to many Canterlot residents. She has recently-
Candyfloss stopped reading abruptly, and slowly reread the last paragraph.
and the use of her special love magic brings joy to many Canterlot residents
the use of her special love magic
For a moment, Candyfloss sat quite still, as the meaning of the sentence slowly made itself apparent in his thoughts. Was this article implying that Princess Cadence was able to use her magical abilities to create love between ponies?
The implications of such a power, and the magnitude of the effect it would have on Equestria's delicate balance of love
Candyfloss gripped the corners of his desk for a moment as the reality of what was written in front of him hit him like a ton of bricks. He sat there quivering for a few seconds, his mind racing.
Everything I've discovered, and everything I've passed on to others about the delicate art of shipping
the ethics, the sincerity, the absolute care and dedication required to properly fan the first flames of true love
can all that really be bypassed by magic?!
Candyfloss steadied himself and took a slow, deep breath. Get a hold of yourself Candyfloss, he thought. Perhaps it's a misunderstanding. Maybe it's just a simple misinterpretation of what is really a completely harmless and benign ability. There's no sense in getting all worked up over one newspaper article. After all, it could be nothing at all.
Or it could be evidence of a pony with the power to redefine the very meaning of love.
The sound of hooves outside the office shook the old unicorn from his thoughts. The door creaked open, and a bright yellow earth pony poked his head in.
"Morning, boss!" Watt said loudly. "How are you?"
"Fine," Candyfloss lied. "Watt, get in here. I need your assistance for a bit."
Watt stepped into the office. "Uh, sure. Whaddya need?"
I have some sudden, urgent business to attend to," Candyfloss said. "I know it's unorthodox, but I need to leave the office for a few hours, and I need someone to handle the manager position until I get back."
Watt produced an enormous grin. The expression made Candyfloss a bit uncomfortable.
you don't suppose the others will be here soon, do you?" the unicorn asked.
Watt shook his head. "Nuh-uh. It's still early," he insisted. "But I could handle your job until you get back!"
Candyfloss sighed. "Under normal circumstances, I would have to decline that offer, but there is a matter of severe urgency which I must investigate. So, I suppose it couldn't do too much harm if you were to-"
"Alright!" Watt cried, cutting Candyfloss off. "Don't you worry about a thing, boss! I'll be the best temporary crazy enigmatic shipping guru manager ever!"
Candyfloss snorted indignantly. "Well, yes, I'm sure you'll do your best, Watt
" he said slowly. "All you have to do is answer the phone, write down the address the client gives, and send one of the others out to meet them. Can you handle that?"
"Piece of cake!" Watt replied. "I got in all under control, boss. Really. Just run along and have fun tending to your emergency. I'll hold down the fort until you get back."
Candyfloss raised an eyebrow. "Well
alright. I'm counting on you, Watt."
The unicorn rose to his hooves and trotted toward the door. Watt leapt over the desk and collided with the large swivel-chair, sending it into a series of spins from the force of the impact.
As Candyfloss trotted down the hall, he heard the phone ring in his office. Watt picked it up almost immediately.
"Hello! Welcome to Equestria Speedy Shipping Services! May I take your order?"
Candyfloss shuddered and hurried out of the building before he had the chance to change his mind.
There was a soft knock at the door of Ponyville library. It was unusual for library patrons to come so early, but Twilight Sparkle didn't mind. She trotted to the front door.
"Welcome, sir," she said as the unicorn behind the door entered her front room. "Can I help you find anything?"
"Ah, I'm not here to check out a book, actually," the visitor explained. "I've come searching for a mare named Twilight Sparkle. Am I to assume that I am speaking with her right now?"
Twilight nodded. "Well, yes, but
who are you? I don't recall ever meeting you before."
"Allow me to introduce myself," the unicorn said. "My name is Dr. Candyfloss. I run a small business here in Ponyville, and I've come only to seek a bit of information from you, miss Sparkle."
He cleared this throat. "My apologies if this is an intrusive question, but are you familiar with Princess Cadence?"
"Of course!" Twilight said, grinning. "Cadence is my sister-in-law now."
"And I'm sure she's a wonderful addition to the family," Candyfloss said. "I just had one small question about her; a minor curiosity, nothing more."
Despite his highly polite demeanor, Candyfloss suddenly looked very serious.
"Miss Sparkle, I wonder if you might explain the basis of Princess Cadence's magical abilities to me."
sure," said Twilight, slightly taken aback by the unexpected question. "Cadence has the amazing ability to spread love with her magical power. I've seen ponies screaming at each other one moment, and then laughing and hugging one another the next. It's really amazing to see a pony with that kind of ability, and heartwarming to see her using it to
Twilight stopped, and cocked her head questioningly; the unicorn in front of her seemed to have become lost in his own thoughts, and his expression now looked somewhat upset.
"Um, sir? Are you okay?" she asked concernedly.
"I'm fine," said Candyfloss a little too quickly. "Thank you, miss Sparkle; that's the clarification I was looking for."
"No problem," Twilight said. "Now, Spike's making breakfast. Would you like to stay for some-"
"No no, I really must be going," Candyfloss interrupted. "I'm sorry, but I have some very important business to attend to. Immediately."
"But-" Twilight tried to argue, but she was cut off as Candyfloss disappeared in a flash of magic, leaving her standing alone in the front room.
The ponies on the train to Canterlot shifted uncomfortably and cast nervous glances at the strange unicorn mumbling to himself. Candyfloss was oblivious to their stares, though; he was far too engrossed in analyzing what Princess Cadence and her magic meant for his ideals, his career, and the very definition of love.
"Bringing ponies together through magical manipulation," he muttered under his breath. "I can't believe anypony would be born with such an ability at all, let alone proceed to use it on a whim. How can she justify the artificial creation of a relationship? Love has always been one of the most powerful forces in the world; it serves to bring the correct pair of ponies together as a couple, and it is in those carefully chosen relationships that ponies are happiest and most productive. If love can be forced between any pair of ponies, the wrong sorts of relationships form, and ultimately, society would be the worse for it. Given enough improper matches, eventually the meaning of love will become fundamentally different."
Candyfloss clapped his front hooves together. "I've got to see this for myself," he continued, indifferent to the ponies bothered by his ongoing soliloquy. "I just can't allow myself to believe that one pony
and a princess, no less
could single-hoofedly bring about the downfall of one of Equestria's most sacred and fundamental forces."
The train rumbled as it ground to a halt in Canterlot station. Most of the ponies disembarked as quickly as possible. Candyfloss trod slowly out of the car and glanced down the bright streets of the capitol.
Now, where to begin? the stallion asked himself. Canterlot is a big city; I'll need some information of I want to locate this Cadence.
Candyfloss trotted out of the station and into town, not sure what to do. After all, it was unlikely any random pony on the street would happen to know Cadence's location at that exact moment.
The newspaper had said something about Cadence visiting Canterlot with the intent to enjoy some of the attractions it had to offer. So the shopping and dining district uptown was as good a place as any to start.
Quickly, Candyfloss began his search.
Soon it was afternoon, and Candyfloss was losing his patience. He trotted tiredly down a street lined with some of Canterlot's fanciest restaurants, watching the activity as the lunch hour brought many customers. Still, there was no sign of Cadence.
"What I wouldn't give to be a pegasus sometimes," the stallion mumbled to himself. "Perhaps I should have brought one of my employees along to assist my search."
A loud voice above suddenly caught Candyfloss's attention. He stared up at the balcony of one of the eateries, where two of the diners had suddenly broken into a heated argument.
"I don't care!" the stallion on the balcony roared. "We are not buying it! Stop being so selfish!"
"Oh, I'm the selfish one?" the mare arguing with him shot back indignantly. "You're the one who just got a huge raise, aren't you? You're probably planning to spend it all on those stupid baubles you collect, instead of something useful!"
"Don't tell me what to do! I'll spend my hard-earned bits on what I please!"
There was a sudden bluish flash, and both ponies stopped arguing instantly, blinking as if they weren't sure what had just happened.
"You know," the stallion said quietly, "maybe you're right. I do spend a little too much on my collection."
"No, I've been too harsh as well," the mare admitted. "Perhaps we can find a reasonable solution. Maybe we could purchase a less expensive model, so there's some left over for you? That way, we could both get what we want."
The stallion nodded. "That's reasonable. I'm sorry for yelling."
"Me too," the mare replied, smiling sheepishly.
The two ponies leaned across the table they shared and exchanged a small kiss.
Dumbfounded, Candyfloss turned his head, staring up at another table at the balcony, where a pink mare in royal regalia sat. She smiled briefly as she turned away from the couple and returned to her lunch.
Cadence had struck again.
For a moment, Candyfloss felt rather weak; his worst fears about Cadence appeared to be completely true. He stood paralyzed, wondering precisely what he had to do now that he had found the pony committing a grave sin against true love.
Candyfloss teleported up onto the roof of the restaurant, keeping himself hidden low against the shingles and he carefully peered over the edge to get a closer look at Cadence. To his surprise, she was not the only one at her table. From his vantage point on the street below, Candyfloss hadn't been able to see the stallion seated across from her; bedecked in a red uniform and adorned with the royal seal, it was obvious that this was her recent husband, Shining Armor.
"That really works well," Shining Armor said. "Every time I see you do that, I'm amazed. It's like they were never even arguing."
Cadence giggled. "Yep, those two will find it a lot easier to agree for quite a while," she replied. "After all, love is stronger than any negative emotions are."
Yes, it is, Candyfloss thought to himself. But if you just replace anger with artificial love, its meaning is lost.
"Come on," Shining Armor said. "We should probably head over to the castle to see Celestia before it gets too late."
"Good idea," Cadence agreed. "I hope she hasn't planned a big welcome-back party or anything, though. I've had enough pomp and circumstance since arriving back in Canterlot."
She sighed. "That's the life of a princess, though. I guess I should get used to it."
"Hey, Celestia's a princess too," Shining Armor pointed out as the couple rose from their seats. "She knows how you feel, so maybe she hasn't planned any obnoxious formal ceremony after all."
Cadence grinned. "You have a point," she admitted.
Candyfloss watched them exit, bound for the castle, which he would obviously not be allowed to enter.
I need a plan, and I need it fast! he thought wildly. What can I say or do to prevent Cadence from using that awful magic? If I don't confront her soon, I'll never get the chance!
Candyfloss teleported once again, this time appearing in an alleyway, from which he watched Cadence and Shining Armor meander toward the castle. Unaware of his presence, they continued their trot.
For a few minutes, Candyfloss moved from hiding spot to hiding spot, watching the princess as he tried desperately to think of a plan. It wouldn't be easy to convince a pony to ignore her own special talent, even if it was a horrendous one like that.
As Candyfloss teleported to another rooftop, he heard the loud voices of a pair of ponies on the street below. Another argument had broken out between two ponies over something frivolous, and to Candyfloss's horror, Cadence seemed to have taken notice.
"Hang on, dear," she said to Shining Armor. "Let me take care of these two."
Candyfloss panicked, crawling around on the roof of the building as he searched for something, anything to cause a distraction. His stomach twisted at the thought of standing by helplessly as Cadence once again used her magic to create artificial love.
The stallion spied a loose brick dangling from the chimney on the roof on which he was perched. Quickly, he engulfed it in magic and tossed it to the street below, hoping to convince the ponies down there that the structure was unsafe. Perhaps this would cause Cadence to move away from the building and the arguing ponies.
A stupid plan, yes, but he had nothing else to go on, and this was an emergency.
Candyfloss hid himself from view at the base of the chimney as he heard the brick clatter harmlessly to the street. The voices below quieted somewhat. Candyfloss grinned; perhaps his distraction had bought him a little time.
"Look out!" somepony shouted from down below.
Look out? Candyfloss thought. Whatever for? There's nothing else falling
A shadow loomed over the unicorn, and he turned around.
The chimney was a bit older and more unstable than Candyfloss had realized, and without the aid of the now missing brick, it was losing its ability to hold its own weight. Candyfloss gasped as it teetered dangerously, about to crash down on the roof right where he stood.
At the very last moment, Candyfloss worked up the strength to teleport away, reappearing on another rooftop across the street. The chimney toppled, first smashing into the roof and then sending a shower of bricks and shingles onto the street below
and directly toward Princess Cadence.
Candyfloss squeezed his eyes shut in terror as the princess's terrified scream pierced the air. There was an enormous crash and a few shocked gasps, then silence.
Cautiously, Candyfloss opened one eye, chancing a glance at the rubble-covered street.
Shining Armor stood between Cadence and the building, a wall of magic shimmering in front of him as the last few bricks slid harmlessly off. Cadence cowered behind him, only just realizing that she'd been saved from the avalanche of masonry by her husband's quick thinking.
Candyfloss breathed a sigh of relief. And, in a way, his plan had worked; the arguing ponies had ceased their conversation to stare at the wreckage in stunned silence.
Candyfloss's sense of victory didn't last long; his smile faded as the situation fell into perspective.
I almost accidentally assassinated the Princess
Shining Armor's magical shield flickered and disappeared. He stood still for a moment, gazing at the roof as if checking for any more falling debris. Then her turned and faced the street, Candyfloss couldn't quite make out his expression from his hiding place.
Suddenly, Shining Armor tilted his head back, firing a burst of magic into the sky. Once high enough, the little spark erupted into a gigantic magical shield, which quickly extended downwards, covering the entire dining district of Canterlot.
"Alright, listen up everypony!" Shining Armor yelled, catching the attention of all the surrounding citizens who hadn't already been mesmerized by the sudden appearance of the shield. "What just happened here was no accident; there's an assassin among us. My best guess is that it's a changeling; another one of those shifty creatures must have snuck back into Canterlot, disguised as a pony."
Shining Armor scowled. "I should have guessed those brutes were going to be looking for revenge on us," he mumbled to Cadence.
Cadence just glanced around nervously, as if expecting the changeling queen herself to come bursting out of the nearest luncheonette.
"Now, nopony can get past the shield," Shining Armor explained, "so all of you are staying right here until we root out the villain. He or she is definitely still inside the barrier."
Candyfloss slowly crawled backwards, edging away from Shining Armor. Once he was certain he was out of sight of anypony around him, he teleported down to street level.
Well, this is a sticky situation I've gotten myself into, Candyfloss thought nervously. I never meant to harm anypony, of course. Yet, I fear it would be difficult to explain that to Shining Armor after nearly dropping a half-ton of bricks on his wife.
Although a building now separated Candyfloss from Shining Armor, the guard captain's commanding voice was still clearly audible.
"Now, it'll make this easier if everypony within the shield wall simply comes forward for investigation," he continued. "Most of you are perfectly innocent, and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The quicker we do the inspections, the quicker we can find the assassin, and then you can all go home."
"There must be a way out of here," Candyfloss mumbled to himself, turning around and placing a hoof against the magical shield. "I expect I'll be in a whole lot of trouble if Shining Armor discovers my involvement in this incident
Candyfloss decided to try the most obvious solution; since he couldn't pass through the barrier, maybe he could teleport to the other side.
There was the usual flash of magic, but, to Candyfloss's displeasure, he hadn't moved an inch. Even worse, the barrier had detected the attempt at being magically breached, and a whole region of it surrounding Candyfloss had changed color to indicate that.
"Over there!" came another voice. "It must be the changeling, trying to escape!"
Panicked, Candyfloss searched for any method of escape, but the other ponies within the shield rounded the corner to his location within seconds, Shining Armor at the head of the group.
"Disguised as a gentle old unicorn, eh?" Shining Armor asked. "Very impressive; nopony would have suspected a thing if you didn't try to kill Cadence."
"N-now sir," Candyfloss stuttered. "I believe you've g-got it all wrong. I'm no changeling; this is all just an unfortunate misunderstanding."
He chuckled nervously. Shining Armor raised an eyebrow.
"I'm not buying it," he said gruffly. "If you're innocent, why'd you try to escape my barrier?"
rather a funny story, actually
" Candyfloss said. "You see, I was concerned, per se. I was afraid you might misunderstand
Candyfloss's nervous chuckle rose an octave as Shining Armor took a few steps closer.
"You see, I
I wasn't trying to hurt anypony, but perhaps from your point of view, my actions, which were quite accidental, mind you
might be misconstrued as an attack-"
"You tried to crush my wife!" Shining Armor snarled. "I don't think I'm 'misconstruing' anything, you old windbag!"
"That's enough out of you," Shining Armor said, cutting Candyfloss off. "If you won't reveal your changeling form, so be it. I'll fight you as you are."
"F-Fight?" Candyfloss squeaked, his voice rising to a pitch he wasn't aware it could reach. "No, no, I don't want any trouble! Please, there's a simple explanation for all of this madness, I assure you-"
"Save it," Shining Armor said. "Get over here; we need to go out on the street where there's enough room. And then I'm going to make you regret coming back to Canterlot."
Candyfloss swallowed hard, and slowly followed Shining Armor out to the street. The other ponies who had been unfortunate enough to be trapped within the bounds of Shining Armor's shield all glared, causing the old unicorn to feel rather like a criminal being led to his sentence.
Once the two reached the widest street within the magical dome, Shining Armor turned and faced his foe.
"Well, go ahead. Make a move," Shining Armor goaded. "Last time we dealt with you creatures, you were eager to attack everypony around you. So what are you waiting for?"
"But I don't want to fight you!" Candyfloss insisted yet again. "You are wrong, good sir! I am not a changeling!"
"Wow, this one's determined," Shining Armor mumbled to Cadence. The princess nodded, continuing to stare at Candyfloss. Her expression, Candyfloss noted, seemed to be filled with confusion, rather than fear or hatred.
"Right then, I'll start," Shining Armor declared. "Defend yourself, you revolting creature!"
Shining Armor cast a powerful magical blast in Candyfloss's direction. The older unicorn yelped and just barely backed up enough to avoid it, wincing as the attack left a considerable scorch mark on the cobblestones. The first had barely landed, and already, another was arcing through the air toward him.
This time, Candyfloss teleported out of the way. Despite his peril, his thoughts were strangely coherent.
I need to find a way to end this before it gets any more out of control! he thought desperately. What can I do? If I don't fight back, I'll be burnt like an old lump of charcoal by these fireballs. But if I retaliate and injure Shining Armor, it will only make matters worse!
Candyfloss teleported again to avoid another spell, and then cast a weak stunning spell of his own in Shining Armor's direction. Being primarily a peaceful unicorn, he had no knowledge of seriously harmful combative spells anyway; the only one he knew would do nothing more than immobilize Shining Armor for a few seconds, if he could even get it to connect with his adversary.
Shining Armor saw the slow-moving stunning spell coming, and cast another of his fireballs into the heart of Candyfloss's feeble ball of magic, shredding and diffusing it harmlessly into the air.
Candyfloss leapt out of the way of the fireball, landing awkwardly and struggling to maintain his balance. When he looked back up, Shining Armor was gone.
Candyfloss wheeled around as a flash of magic indicated Shining Armor's arrival just behind him. He lunged forward with an angry growl, pinning Candyfloss to the ground. The older unicorn whimpered as Shining Armor's horn lit up, about to create another fireball. While it would do no more than scorch a changeling's tough hide, would likely incinerate the trapped unicorn completely.
Candyfloss turned his head, and Shining Armor did as well, glancing curiously toward Cadence as she walked up to the two sparring stallions.
"But Cadence, he-"
"He hasn't had a chance to explain himself," Cadence said loudly. "I understand that, as Captain of the Royal Guard, you can never be too careful, but this assassin has yet to display any behavior indicative of changelings."
"But he attacked you!" Shining Armor argued. "Isn't that reason enough to believe it?"
"Possibly," said Cadence. "But rather than destroying him and then finding out you were wrong, why don't you use that spell your sister taught you to test for sure whether he's really a changeling?"
Shining Armor blushed. "I
guess I forgot about that. Hang on a second."
Candyfloss felt a soft, tingling wave of magical energy glide along his body. It had absolutely no effect; Candyfloss's appearance remained exactly as it always had.
Shining Armor stepped back, speechless. "You mean
you're not a changeling?"
"No," Candyfloss managed, struggling to get to his hooves.
Shining Armor looked dumbfounded. "Then
why did you attack Cadence?"
"If you'd just give me a moment, I can explain everything," Candyfloss insisted.
"Let's hear him out," Cadence urged. She marched up to Candyfloss, staring at him more with curiosity than anger.
Candyfloss took a deep breath. "You see, my Princess, my name is Dr. Candyfloss, owner and chairpony of a Ponyville based business known as Equestria Speedy Shipping Services. Our business helps love-struck ponies create a relationship with the object of their affection."
"Okay," said Cadence. "But I don't see what that has to do with me."
"Well, actually, quite a bit," Candyfloss said. "You see, matchmaking is my special talent; it is for that reason that I started my business in the first place. And, while in such a position, I have had the time and resources to study love in all its forms at a very profound level. It is my sincere belief that true love is among the most powerful forces in our world, and we are graced to be able to be touched by its mysterious ways."
Candyfloss cleared his throat before continuing. "Now, after many years of study, I had believed quite thoroughly that love could not be tamed. That is, until I discovered that a certain pony had the power to
to manipulate it. To warp its decisions to her own whims."
Cadence's eyebrows rose. "You're talking about me."
"So you tried to kill her?!" Shining Armor asked, outraged.
"Heavens, no! It was all an unfortunate accident!" Candyfloss cried. "I witnessed Cadence use her magic on those ponies at the restaurant earlier today. Then, when I realized she was about to do it again, to the two standing at the corner, I tossed a brick from the roof to try to distract you. It was carefully aimed so that it wouldn't hurt anypony."
Candyfloss hung his head. "Unfortunately, I hadn't realized the chimney's structural deficiencies were so severe; before I could do anything further, it came toppling down on you. I must wholeheartedly apologize for inadvertently causing that."
To Candyfloss's great surprise, Cadence smiled.
"Well, Dr. Candyfloss, it looks like you've been worrying over nothing," she said. "My powers don't corrupt love's natural order at all."
"W-what?" Candyfloss stuttered. "Please explain, Princess. I'm afraid I don't understand."
Cadence giggled. "You've seen me use my 'love magic' to seemingly create love between ponies, right?"
"Well, those ponies at the restaurant were already a married couple," Cadence explained. "While I do technically have 'love magic', I can only use it to remind ponies of the love they already share."
"But what if you mistook a pair of arguing ponies for a couple?" Candyfloss asked. "Wouldn't you create love between two ponies who might not even know each other?"
Cadence shook her head. "No sir, the magic would have no effect at all if that were the case. The ponies would have to be married, or at least dating, for it to work."
She smiled broadly. "You see Dr. Candyfloss, my magic only strengthens love, never creates it. It helps ponies who have forgotten how much they care about one another remember that happy emotion buried within them. It shows them that their anger and bitterness toward one another is just another bump in the road, and their love for each other can conquer it."
Cadence smiled at the growing sense of comprehension on Candyfloss's face. "In a way, Dr. Candyfloss, this makes you and me very much alike," she continued. "Both of us are agents of love: powerless to disrupt its plans, but honored to humbly forward its purposes."
Candyfloss chuckled, relieved and thrilled now that the truth had been made clear. "Princess Cadence," he began, bowing slightly, "I must apologize so sincerely for jumping to conclusions. Perhaps I shouldn't have doubted myself in the first place."
Cadence nodded. "I understand. Just try not to validate your beliefs by dropping chimneys on passerby in the future."
Cadence and Candyfloss both got a good laugh out of that.
I'm sorry for falsely accusing you," Shining Armor mumbled. "Looks like both of us got upset and jumped to conclusions today."
"Quite alright, my friend," Candyfloss said. "It was a pleasure meeting the both of you, and I thank you for clearing up my troubled mind. Please try to enjoy the rest of your time in Canterlot."
"We will," Cadence said. "Now, you'd probably better get back to Ponyville right?"
"Well, yes, and soon as your husband lowers the shield."
"Oh yeah," Shining Armor said vaguely. He fired a small ball of magic from his horn, and the shield shattered like glass on contact with it, vanishing into the air a moment later.
"Thank you," Candyfloss said. "Now, I must get going. I have a feeling the office may not be running so smoothly without me."
"Equestria Speedy Shipping Services, please hold. Equestria Speedy Shipping Services, please hold. Pinkie, get off the phone, this is our business number. Equestria Speedy Shipping Services, please hold!"
"Watt, what in Equestria are you doing down here?" Breeze asked, pushing open the door to the manager's office. "We shouldn't even be getting that many calls."
"I know!" Watt wailed. "I think someone's pranking me! But real business is backing up, Pinkie won't stop calling me, it's past lunchtime and
and I'm a really bad manager!"
Watt laid his head on Candyfloss's desk and sobbed loudly.
"Everything okay in here?" Ditzy Doo asked, peeking into the office.
"Watt's having a bad day," Breeze said. "The stress of being manager is getting to him."
"Ditzy! Help! I don't even know what to do anymore!" Watt cried, reaching across the desk with his forehooves as if trying to reach his coworker.
"Don't worry about it Watt," came another voice. "Return to your usual station. I'll take over from here."
Ditzy and Breeze turned around, surprised, and Watt looked up gleefully.
"Dr. Candyfloss!" he cried happily. "Good to see you, sir!"
"Yes, Watt, you too," Candyfloss said calmly. "Now, if the three of you would head upstairs, I'll handle the calls on hold and send you three off on assignment."
"Yes sir!" Watt said greatfully. He bolted out of the room, with Ditzy and Breeze close behind.
Candyfloss settled into his old swivel chair and sighed contently. A few minutes and a bit of organization was all it took to set business in order again. After his employees had left, he reached into his desk drawer and retrieved his private journal.
Today, I made a most grave mistake, by discovering a most wonderful pony and almost mistaking her for an enemy. My encounter with Princess Cadence has freed me from my own shortsightedness.
My ability to bring ponies together is a rare one. So rare, in fact, that I often forget there are others like me. Today, I was given a vivid reminder that love has many soldiers to help accomplish its purposes, and they all work in different ways.
It is my wish that both Princess Cadence and I continue our quests to show Equestria the true power of love.