Name Rater

Have you ever wondered how pony names somehow always accurately relate to the identity of the pony in question? Well, that's all thanks to the efforts of one stallion. And he hates his job.
Name Rater has always had a very unique skill: the ability to gauge the talents of others at a glance. And once this became known, everypony began to depend on his guidance, much to his chagrin. This is his story, a tale of great self-sacrifice and even greater grumpiness.

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7. The Epilogue

~ Two Months Later ~

 

Name Rater awoke from his slumber only somewhat reluctantly. He stretched the kinks out of his back and hopped out of bed, shoving the soft, downy sheets aside. Walking to the bathroom, he made use of his amazing indoor plumbing, then washed up and brushed. As he left, he took a moment to smile briefly at his reflection.

Arriving in his kitchen, Name Rater reached into his new refrigerator and pulled out a fresh, plump tomato. The convenience of such an invention was second only to his toilet. Even if it did apparently run by sucking up ambient hatred. Too enraptured with the benefits was he to question the nature of the magic which operated it.

Like usual, he ate the tomato by itself. He was used to the taste by now, and his cooking skills were woefully out of practice. As he ate, he admired the view of dawn breaking over Ponyville through the window.

Once that was done, he made his way over to his office. All of Name Rater's old supplies were there, in the same positions. However, his new chair was actually comfortable.

He settled into his old grind with mere indifference, as opposed to resentment. The tedium numbed his mind into a state of apathy as he scrawled name after name onto dozens of photographs.

Before he knew it, the clocktower struck noon; he was finished for today. Name Rater looked forward to what else the day had in store for him. Well, beyond the usual chores. Which he now had fewer of. Yay.

In fact, Name Rater had more free time on his hooves than he expected. It turns out that, according to Celestia, he "lacked the necessary tact and legal knowledge to do basically anything related to governance". She let him try and run the Day Court once when she had to leave Canterlot for a diplomatic meeting, to see how he would fare. Needless to say, he ended up nearly starting a riot. It was not one of his proudest achievements.

He had also been approached by the dean of Pranceton University at one point, who offered him a position as a history professor. Though, as it turns out, ponies don't like it when your curriculum recounts the unvarnished truth. The last straw was when he recounted that Luna used to administer capital punishment to wrongdoers by disemboweling them with her horn. In public. He still stood firm on his views that ponies had a right to know such things.

So, he essentially was just a figurehead now. The most important thing he still did, other than his usual task, was when he would go to the Royal Guard barracks and help toughen up the soldiers as a drill sergeant. Name Rater was a master at ensuring that the exercises they had to do were as brutal and agonizing as possible. And boy, after all this time, they needed it. Couldn't even stop a lousy swarm of bugs; got six fillies to do all the work instead. The old captain had been such a softie that he actually went and married the sovereign ruler of love.

Of course, in order to set a good example, he needed to be in shape. And so, once his meal had been fully digested a few hours later, he unceremoniously left his cottage for his daily workout. It was only a few blocks from the edge of town, and the few ponies he passed were his neighbors, most of whom elected to trade greetings with him. Soon, Name Rater arrived at the jogging trail which circled the town.

After a quick series of stretches -- which he could now perform again and still be able to stand up unassisted afterwards --  he shot off down the path, kicking up dust with his hooves. As he ran, the crisp air whipped through his fur and feathers, offsetting the sun's heat somewhat. Not many other ponies exercised in the afternoon, due to said heat, so the trail was largely clear.

Purging all thoughts from his mind, he focused solely on the feelings of his hooves striking the ground, the blood in his veins, and the sweat building on his skin. It was relaxing, in a way.

In what felt like no time at all, he had passed Twilight's castle and Fluttershy's cottage. Rounding the border fence of Sweet Apple Acres, he couldn't stop his eyes from wandering over to the distant Applejack as she leaned down to plant a sapling.

By the time he had finished his second lap around Ponyville at full gallop, he was nearing the limit of his endurance. When he could go no further, Name Rater skidded to a stop, panting. Looking around, he noticed that he was back at the Apple's place, a new personal best.

However, the homestead seemed deserted now. Odd. Usually, either Applejack or Big Mac would be out in the fields until suppertime.

Wondering if something unusual was taking place, Name Rater wandered off into town in search of answers. While he passed numerous buildings, block by block, there weren't really many ponies out and about. He inferred why the moment he heard the huge racket reverberating from ahead.

After rolling his eyes, he mumbled to himself. "Let's see what this fuss is about."

By the time he arrived at the source of the noise, which turned out to be Sugarcube Corner, it was deafening in volume. However, the other ponies milling about outside seemed to have no problem at all with it. Name Rater approached a pair of mares standing next to eachother: Lyra and Sweetie Drops. The latter was apparently a secret agent, but he wasn't going to point that out for obvious reasons.

"Excuse me, what's going on here?" he asked.

They both turned around, flinching a bit when they saw who he was. Sweetie Drops replied first. "Oh! Name Rater! Yeah, we just got here."

Lyra smiled. "We would be crazy if we missed a Pinkie Party! Especially one this big! Even though it's a Cutecenéra for some ponies we don't know."

The earth pony narrowed her eyes. "I thought it was a Hurray-Ponyville-Is-Finally-Relatively-Safe-Again party."

Lyra nodded. "It is also that."

Name Rater sighed at their antics. "I'll just go in and look around myself. Thanks."

They waved goodbye as he trotted off without another word.

As Name Rater entered the bakery, his ears folded in on themselves in a futile attempt at stifling the noise. It was as if he had passed through the very gates to Tartarus. Yellow, orange, and off-white balloons and streamers were tied and draped to nearly every available surface, making the room seem to be on fire. Ponies were everywhere, flailing about in apparent agony. Either that, or they were dancing, and the notion of restraint had withered away over the centuries. The source of the unholy racket was revealed to be one Vinyl Scratch and her 'Wubmobile'. Said machine was causing the very floor under his hooves to vibrate slightly. With enough power, the thing could probably make earthquakes. Or destroy Canterlot.

The ponies who weren't 'dancing' were standing around and somehow holding conversations near buffet tables loaded with pastries and treats so sweet that they would probably kill them if they weren't all dead already. Notably, a good number of both groups were foals. Name Rater carefully walked up to the largest cluster.

Noticing his approach, two fillies burst through the wall of ponies to greet him: Applebloom and Sweetie Belle.

"Name Rater! You made it!" Applebloom exclaimed.

Sweetie Belle jumped up and down excitedly, gesturing to her flank. "Look, look! We finally got our cutie marks!"

Name Rater's eyebrows raised. "Really?" He leaned his head over to peer at them. Both fillies now bore matching, color-coded shields. "Huh. So you did. Neat."

Applebloom blanched. "Really? That's all ya have to say? No congratulations or anything? Because Ah'm pretty sure Sweetie just pointed out that we  got our cutie marks." To emphasize this statement, she started waving her rump in his face in a less-than-appropriate manner.

He groaned. "Why should I? From what I understand, it was inevitable. That would be the equivalent of me praising you for starting your 'monthly cycle'."

Sweetie Belle tilted her head, perplexed. "What's that?"

Name Rater grinned maliciously. "You'll find out in a few years, I'm sure."

This prompted some giggles from a few eavesdroppers. The fillies traded worried glances. There was an awkward silence. Well, the lack of speech. The room wasn't even close to quiet.

Then, just now noticing her unusual absence, Name Rater asked "Where's Scootaloo?"

"Oh, she's out with Rainbow Dash right now, probably getting a celebratory ride," Sweetie replied.

Name Rater nodded. He had indeed noticed that poor Scootaloo seemed incapable of extended flight herself. Though the name was familiar, he had never actually met the mare, for some reason. Probably nopony special, though.

Shaking her head, Applebloom changed the subject. "Anyway, now the three of us are gonna help other ponies find out what they'resupposed to do!" she proclaimed.

"That's nice." he said.

At first, Applebloom adopted a peeved look, clearly miffed by his reply, but it soon morphed into one of deep thought. After a moment, her eyes widened. "Hey, wait a minute! Is the reason you aren't surprised or excited about all this because you could tell what our marks would look like beforehoof?"

Sweetie Belle, who had procured herself a cupcake mere seconds ago, spit globules of half-chewed mass onto the floor as she gasped. Realizing her mistake, she blushed and swallowed the rest before speaking. "Hey, Applebloom, you're right! But not just that! He saw what our destines were this whole time! In other words, Name Rater, you knew we would be able to help you, right?"

Name Rater looked down at them and smiled, somewhat proud that they figured it out. "Yes, I knew. I was unsure the three of you had enough experience to undo years of deep-seeded anger and depression. As it turned out, you quite frankly surpassed my expectations. Especially considering that all of you were unaware how much skill you possessed."

"Well, gee, thanks Name--"

His smile abruptly faded as he cut Sweetie off with a hoof. "You honestly thought I would have humored you otherwise? Come on now, I'm terrible with foals, and even by foal standards, the whole lot of you are quite obnoxious. Also, you destroyed my well. Do you know how hard it is for an old stallion to dig a well by hoof?"

Their muzzles became rather scrunched. "How hard?" Applebloom asked.

"A few weeks ago, I ordered a particularly disobedient royal guard recruit to do just that as punishment for slacking off. Didn't let him drink any water; he had to dig for it. Needed to take him over to the hospital when he collapsed from dehydration only halfway down to the aquifer."

Applebloom blinked. "Oh."

He sighed. "Oh, indeed."

Sweetie Belle coughed politely. "Well, we definitely appreciate that you didn't overreact. Rarity's grounded me for less."

He nodded. "If anypony else had done such a thing, I probably would have just blasted them with my horn on the spot."

"But I thought you didn't know any spells?" she asked.

"That's true: I don't know any spells. My raw alicorn magic just sets whatever I hit with it on fire."

Sweetie Belle blinked. "Oh."

He sighed. "Oh, indeed."

Taking a deep breath, Name Rater shook his head. "Anyway, I probably just killed the mood, didn't I? You two should go play with your friends now or something, I think. It is your party, after all."

The slightly shocked pair nodded their heads vigorously and scampered off.

His curiosity sated, Name Rater elected to leave the building, and the party, behind him at once. However, a tap on his left shoulder gave him pause. Turning to confront the pony in question, he met the gaze of none other than Twilight Sparkle. She stared at him, expression neutral-bordering-on-angry.

"... How long were you listening?" he reluctantly asked.

"Long enough."

"... You know I wouldn't actually set a filly on fire, right?"

Her eyes narrowed.

"Ok, maybe I would have, but not anymore. I'm a changed pony now, you know that."

She sighed. "Well, that is true. It was nice to see you express your appreciation for what the crusaders did for you. Then again, I didn't expect to see you here at all. I was under the impression that these types of gatherings aren't really your scene."

"They aren't. I was just wondering where Applejack went, and then what was making all this noise."

Twilight grinned. "You still aren't crushing on her, are you? I know you decided to finally move on, but Applejack already said she wasn't interested."

He rolled his eyes. "Of course not. I know when to give up. To use modern slang, I am quite clearly stuck in the friendzone."

Her grin grew wider. "Oh, that's not so bad. You haven't thrown in the towel, I hope?"

"No, not yet. I'm a prince after all; there're still plenty of mares that would be interested. I fact, I have a date lined up for this weekend."

Twilight leaned in closer. "Really?! With whom?"

An image of the mare projected into his mind's eye. "One Ms. Campari."

She tilted her head. "I'm not familiar."

It was then that Pinkie Pie appeared in between them out of nowhere with her usual level of exuberance, causing the pair to stagger backwards in surprise. "Oh, Ms. Campari! You know, cream-colored coat, short, brown mane, three tomatoes for a Cutie Mark? Sorta grumpy most of the time, sells her produce at unreasonable prices? Yeah, I can see why you'd be into that, Namie."

"Namie?" he said, cringing. "Just... no, Pinkie. No."

Twilight glanced back and forth between them. "Uh, I still don't know who--"

"And her prices are perfectly justified, considering the quality," continued Name Rater. "It's the inflation that's the problem! When I was your age, two whole bits could buy you a top-of-the-line carriage."

Pinkie's eyes widened, and she gave an exaggerated gasp. An instant later, her muzzle was pressed against Twilight's. "You are going to take me back in time, and I am going to buy all the sugar."

Blatantly ignoring Pinkie being Pinkie, Twilight gently pushed her friend aside. "So, Name Rater, what's she actually like?"

Name Rater also refused to acknowledge the pouting pink pony. "Well, she's a mare who knows what she wants from life, and sees the value in simple things. Doesn't mince words either."

"She sounds nice. You're taking her someplace special, I hope?"

"Of course, princess. How else would I spend all those taxpayer bits?" he said, smirking.

Twilight shook her head. "If you feel you're overpaid for your services, you could always appeal to Celestia for a decrease."

He pondered this for a moment. "Ermm... Nah. I'm good."

She sighed. "In any case, I should go check on how Fluttershy's doing. Last I saw, she was standing in the corner, and likely needs another friendly pep-talk. Take care!"

Turning around, Twilight vanished among the crowd, which parted instinctively to grant her passage.

Taking a deep breath, Name Rater pivoted to face Pinkie. She stood next to him, smile impossibly wide, eyes unblinking, around one Plank length away.

"Yes, Pinkie?"

She immediately started bombarding him with words. "So, Namie, how do you like your second ever Pinkie Party? You sure picked a good one to come to, that's for sure! Did you try the cake, the cupcakes, the games, the dancing, the punch, the flugelhorn, the--" Her tirade was cut short as she broke out into pealing fits of laughter, collapsing to the floor.

Name Rater's wing caressing her stomach was the cause. He figured out a little while ago that tickling the pink mare was the best way to get her to shut up, and she didn't seem to mind.

"I'm heading out now," he stated, stepping away a bit.

Her laughter ended with a snort, and she righted herself with a 'sproing', made even more perplexing by the fact that it was audible over the music. "Why?" she asked. "Everypony here is a great friend waiting to happen!"

He paused. "I know that."

"Then what's stopping you?" she asked, her usual smile vanishing.

"I guess... I'm still not ready for quite so many friends. Ponyville accepted me very quickly, which was great. But an old pony like myself just needs a bit more time to adjust to... all of this. Maybe someday, but not today."

Pinkie grinned softly. "Ok, Name Rater. I can wait."

"Thank you, Pinkie. Give my congratulations to Scootaloo for me."

"Will do!" she exclaimed, saluting.

Shaking his head, Name Rater pushed past the throng of bodies and trotted out of Sugarcube Corner, finally making his way back to his house.

No, not my house, he thought. My home.

He closed the door behind him with a grin on his face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name Rater will return in...

 

Antithesis  [Tragedy]  [Dark]

 

 

This is the tale of a mare who has yet to realize her destiny.

 

Only Name Rater can see what fate has in store for her, and the truth terrifies him.

Now, he must confide with those more wise than he, in hope that together they can make the right decision.

For it is certain that if she lives... Equestria is doomed.

 

 

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