|The Stormy Road to Canterlot|
|Published||August 1, 2017|
|Previous||Ponyville Mysteries: The Tail of the Timberwolf|
|Next||My Little Pony: The Movie: The Junior Novel|
|Allusions • Little, Brown and Company • Hachette Book Group|
The Prequel to My Little Pony: The Movie: The Stormy Road to Canterlot by Sadie Chesterfield is the twenty-eighth book in a series of chapter books published by Little, Brown and Company, the first entry in the "Beyond Equestria" series, and a prequel to the events of My Little Pony The Movie.
|Table of contents|
Humble unicorn beginnings
The story begins with Tempest Shadow and Grubber spying on Canterlot from an airship hidden in the clouds. With the Friendship Festival soon taking place, they begin to plan out their attack, and Tempest decides to take a look around the city to find out where the castle entrance is and what each of the princesses look like. Disguised in cloaks, the two agents of the Storm King enter the city.
The story then flashes back to several years prior, when Tempest, referred to throughout as simply "the Unicorn", was a younger and bright-eyed unicorn. Growing up with her best friends Glitter Drops and Spring Rain, she dreamed of one day living in Canterlot and attending Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. One day, while the three friends practice their magic with a ball, Glitter Drops and Spring Rain accidentally lose it in a dark cave. The Unicorn, the bravest of the three, ventures into the cave to retrieve the ball, but she inadvertently runs afoul of a vicious ursa minor. The ursa chases after the Unicorn and knocks her harshly against the cave wall, but she eventually escapes and regroups with her friends. Unfortunately, as a result of her encounter with the ursa minor, the top half of her horn had snapped off.
In the months that follow, the Unicorn waits for her horn to grow back, but it never does, and she hides her horn stump from others under hats. When Glitter Drops and Spring Rain finally convince her to see if her unicorn magic still works, she tries to levitate a ball, but her magic only comes out as uncontrollable energy that burns and disintegrates whatever it touches. The Unicorn apologizes for scaring and nearly hurting her friends, but they know it was just an accident. Despite her friends' patience and understanding, The Unicorn feels the relationship between them has irrevocably changed after losing her horn.
Several moons later, as the Unicorn passes the time doing non-magic-related activities, Glitter Drops and Spring Rain appear on her doorstep to inform her that they've been accepted into the School for Gifted Unicorns, having taken the entrance exams before the deadline passed. The Unicorn is distraught upon realizing her dream of attending the school will never come true, but her friends assure her that she'll get her horn back in time for the entrance exams next moon and they can all be together again. Regardless, the Unicorn concludes that without friends or magic, there's nothing left for her in Equestria, and she leaves her home after nightfall.
Pony of constant misfortune
The Unicorn's travel supplies start to dwindle by the time she reaches Appleloosa. When she enters the town to restock on food and water, keeping her broken horn hidden, the locals treat her with kindness and hospitality, and the general store clerk even invites her to one of their Wild West dances later on. She mingles with some ponies at the Salt Block saloon and introduces herself as "Caramel Chip". When the Unicorn mentions that she's headed toward Galloping Gorge, one of the other ponies, Tumbleweed, offers to let her travel with them on their way to Vanhoover. The Unicorn almost accepts, but a gust of wind accidentally blows off her hood and exposes her broken horn. When one of the Appleloosa ponies asks about it, the Unicorn quickly leaves.
The Unicorn's traveling eventually takes her to a small and rundown city called Drungar, where most of the population lives in poverty. While eating food in a restaurant, she overhears some other patrons badmouthing the royals and upper-class ponies of Equestria. Much to the Unicorn's horror, she had lost her bits through a hole in the bottom of her travel bag, leaving her unable to pay for her meal. Thus, the restaurant owner forces her to work off her debt by washing dishes. While the Unicorn works off the bits she owed soon enough, she ends up living in Drungar for several moons while saving up enough money to leave the city.
Once she is finally able to move on from the impoverished city, the Unicorn heads through the desert in search of another place to live. She eventually discovers the burning wreckage of a crashed airship and finds a strange green gemstone under the sand. Just then, another airship appears, and a small hedgehog with white hair disembarks. He demands that the Unicorn hand over the gemstone—calling it the Misfortune Malachite—or else invoke the Storm King's wrath. The Unicorn refuses, saying she found it first. When she attempts to leave, other creatures—larger in size with white fur and hunched backs—appear from the airship to seize her. Using her nimbler reflexes, the Unicorn fends the creatures off and escapes into the desert.
After giving the airship the slip, the Unicorn soon makes her way to a small village called Klugetown. While restocking her supplies, she overhears some creatures talking about the Storm King and his continuing rise in power. After ducking into an alleyway, she takes out the Misfortune Malachite and senses great power emanating from it. As the Unicorn wonders about using the stone to restore her broken horn, she hears a voice coming from the stone itself warning her to get rid of it or else face terrible misfortune. A disbeliever of bad luck, the Unicorn puts the Malachite back in her bag and sneaks onto one of the wagons of a passing caravan.
The eye of the storm
The next morning, the Unicorn gets off the wagon as it passes through the Forgotten Hills and heads west toward Bleak Valley. Unfortunately, the hedgehog she met in the desert near Drungar has caught up with her. The Unicorn prepares to defend herself, but the hedgehog lets her keep the Misfortune Malachite, as she won it fair and square. As the Unicorn speaks with the hedgehog, the loneliness she suffered through up until now causes her to open up to him, and she reveals how she lost her horn and magic. The hedgehog wonders if the Unicorn's situation is really as bad as it seems, and when she demonstrates her unstable magic, he reacts with amazement instead of fear. He calls her a very special unicorn and suggests meeting his master, the Storm King.
As the hedgehog leaves, the Unicorn asks for his name, and he reveals it to be Grubber. Intrigued by Grubber's proposal, the Unicorn follows him and soon encounters the Storm King himself. When the Storm King asks for a demonstration of the power that bested his forces, the Unicorn displays her magic for him, and he is just as impressed as Grubber. The Storm King offers the Unicorn a place in his castle, and when he notices her broken horn, he even offers to restore it in exchange for her doing something for him. The Unicorn gives the Storm King the Misfortune Malachite, and he crushes it to pieces, having no use for the bad luck that it purportedly brings.
The Storm King tasks the Unicorn with infiltrating the kingdom of the Hippogriffs atop Mount Aris and stealing a magical pearl from the queen. Desperate to get her horn back and be with her old friends again, the Unicorn agrees, and the Storm King invites her to his castle to prepare. When he finally asks for the Unicorn's name, she introduces herself as "Tempest Shadow". After a night's sleep and outfitted with black armor bearing the Storm King's insignia, Tempest sets out for the Hippogriff kingdom alongside Grubber and a battalion of Storm Creature soldiers.
Realm of the Hippogriffs
At the gates of the Hippogriff capital of Hippogriffia, Tempest and Grubber meet royal guard Stratus Skyranger, who tells them only Hippogriffs are allowed inside the city. Tempest and Grubber pretend to be lost and weary travelers in need of a place to stay, and Stratus briefly excuses himself behind the city gates. After a short while, Stratus returns and says the queen has permitted them to stay for the night. When asked for their names, Tempest and Grubber introduce themselves as "Cherry Pie" and "Mort" respectively, and Stratus guides them to the castle.
After a warm meal, Tempest and Grubber meet with the ruler of the Hippogriffs, Queen Novo. When asked where they'd traveled from, Tempest says they've traveled from the Forgotten Hills in search of a better home. Novo senses that parts of Tempest's story is false, but she lets her and Grubber spend the night anyway so that they can meet her daughter. As Stratus leads them to their sleeping quarters, Tempest notices the queen's magic pearl near her throne.
In the middle of the night, Tempest and Grubber put their plan into action. Tempest tells Grubber to wait for her by the city gates while she steals the pearl. After sneaking past some guards, Tempest enters Queen Novo's bedroom and grabs the pearl. However, Novo awakens and, enraged by Tempest's deception, alerts the guards and sounds the city alarms. Tempest flees from the pursuing royal guards and makes her way to the city gates, where her squad of Storm Creatures appears to defend her. As a battle breaks out in the city square, Tempest and Grubber are quickly cornered, and Tempest faces the furious Queen Novo one-on-one.
Unable to keep up with the queen's speed, Tempest is quickly pinned, and Novo takes her pearl back, angered that Tempest took advantage of her kindness and brought the Storm King's forces to her kingdom. With the pearl back in her possession, Queen Novo tells her subjects to retreat back to the castle. As Tempest follows, she hears the queen casting a magic spell, and in a blinding flash of light, the Hippogriffs all vanish into thin air, leaving their destroyed home behind.
Back at the Storm King's castle, Tempest Shadow informs him that she failed to get Queen Novo's pearl. When she expresses guilt in bringing destruction to Hippogriffia, the Storm King tells her that "every creature for themself" is the true law of the land and that she must learn it if she wants to succeed. Tempest asks if the Storm King will still fix her horn, and he says he will only do so if she accomplishes something for him in return. To that end, Tempest offers him something more powerful than Queen Novo's pearl: the magic of the Alicorn princesses of Equestria. Intrigued by this, the Storm King tasks her with bringing him the princesses' magic—with the promise of restoring her horn afterward.
- "But this time, do not fail me, Commander Tempest."
- — The Storm King
Over the course of the next few weeks, Tempest trains with Grubber to perfect her unstable magic until she has better control over it. Little by little, her original kind personality is replaced with cold ruthlessness.
Back in present day, Tempest enters Canterlot and sees dozens of ponies conversing and getting ready for the upcoming Friendship Festival. She overhears some ponies talking about Twilight Sparkle, one of Celestia's favorite students and a recently crowned princess. At that moment, Princess Twilight and her friends Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash come trotting through the city, handing out flier invitations to the Friendship Festival. Realizing that Twilight is living the life that she always dreamed of, Tempest gets angry and resentful. On her way back to the airship, she passes by the School for Gifted Unicorns and thinks about her friends Glitter Drops and Spring Rain. With a wicked grin, she starts planning and envisioning their upcoming invasion...
- Spring Rain: Do you think we'll ever get there?
- The Unicorn: Of course we will. And who knows...
- Glitter Drops: Maybe one of us will become a princess one day, too.
- Drungar Creature 1: Ugh... more news from Equestria. Can't stand it.
- Drungar Creature 2: Makes me mad. They're up there, sparkly streets and fancy clothes. Princesses and princes. It's like the rest of us don't exist.
- Grubber: There it is! The Misfortune Malachite! That gem belongs to the Storm King!
- The Unicorn: Does it? He should have taken better care of it, then.
- Grubber: Hand it over, lady! Or face the Storm King's wrath!
- The Storm King: Reminds me of this party I went to once in Zorgarth. Fireworks and strobe lights. I was dancing to the music, feeling it truly when—
- The Storm King: What's your name? I don't think I ever caught it.
- Tempest Shadow: Tempest. Call me Tempest Shadow.
- Stratus Skyranger: The queen has granted your stay in the city. But only for the night. What are your names?
- Tempest Shadow: I'm Cherry Pie. And this is... Mort.
- Queen Novo: Interrupting my beauty ritual again? Stratus Skyranger, how many times do I have to tell you? A queen has to look her best for her subjects.
- Queen Novo: Do you dare come into my home and try to steal from me? Nocreature wrongs the Hippogriffs. You will pay dearly!
- The Storm King: That's your problem, Tempest. You still believe, deep down, that the world can be fair. You want to get the pearl from the queen, but you don't want anyone to get hurt. You want to get your horn back, but you don't want to do anything you don't want to do.
- Tempest Shadow: I just...
- The Storm King: You are not a child anymore. Every creature for themself. That is the true law of the land. Learn it and live by it, and then maybe one day you will succeed.
- Tempest Shadow: Storm King... Will you still fix my horn?
- The Storm King: You want me to fix your horn? Is the pearl here? Is it in my staff right now, with its awesome transformational powers? Has it made me stronger than before? Am I turning into a bugbear? Or a cipactli? Or a jackalope?
- Tempest Shadow: No...
- The Storm King: Then that is your answer. You do something for me; I do something for you. You do nothing for me; I do nothing for you.