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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5. The Reckoning

Eventually, a second flash of light heralded the return of Twilight Sparkle, causing the pair of ponies to jump a bit from the sudden stimuli. The lavender alicorn now boasted a disheveled mane, a twitching left eye, and an incredibly shaky posture.

However, as Name Rater quickly saw, she wasn't alone. For facing her were two other ponies, one white, the other a deep blue. Their manes both billowed behind them, stirred to motion by some unseen force. Name Rater recognized the pair even before he saw their names in his mind's eye.

"Ok, Twilight. We're here," said Celestia in her usual, motherly tone. "Calm down, please. What's this about an alicorn, now?"

"I hope it is nothing as serious as your demeanor would suggest," stated Luna. They had apparently altered their old royal speech patterns, he noticed.

Twilight's hoof jolted upwards, pointing forwards at Name Rater. "That's him," she said quietly.

The sisters pivoted their heads in the indicated direction. As their eyes fell upon him, they widened in shock. Both just stood there, as motionless as they could get (you know, because of the hair). From what Name Rater understood, If Discord were here, he probably would have cut off a piece of the tension in the air so he could eat it.

Never one to be disrespectful, Applejack bowed slightly. Twilight's ears jerked forwards, in panicked curiosity. Name Rater simply waved a hoof once.

Luna recovered first. "Name Rater, is that you?"

He nodded, expression neutral.

The Princess of the Night smiled, and then practically galloped over to him. "I haven't seen you in ages! Literally! How've you been?"

He couldn't bring himself to smile back. "Fine.  Better than I have been in a while, I suppose."

"Wait, what?" interjected Applejack.

"Y-You two know eachother?" finished Twilight.

Celestia, clearly quite confused, remained still.

"Truly?" Luna gasped. "I would have thought that you, of all ponies, would know who this stallion was, considering how well-read you are."

"No, I've never heard anything about him!" Twilight exclaimed. "Princess Celestia, do you know what she's talking about?"

The Princess of the Day opened her mouth as if to speak, then closed it.

Name Rater groaned more angrily than usual at the display. "Faust, really? You don't even remember me?" He snorted with indignation. "Well, I certainly remember you." Name Rater then paused, turning to face Celestia directly. He narrowed his eyes. "Hello, Susan."

Celestia blinked in recognition. "Oh. OH! Name Rater, yes. Hello."

He elected to blatantly ignore her awkward reply and turned back to continue his conversation with Luna. Judging by the expressions she and the others presented, he was now the only pony in the room who wasn't confused. "So," he asked. "How've you been? Still keeping the dreamscape in order?"

It took Luna a moment to realize she had been asked a question. "Oh, I've been doing well enough. Still adjusting, as it were. Equestria and I are becoming reacquainted, one step at a time. Everypony has been so kind to me."

Name Rater raised an eyebrow. "Hmm. Reacquainted? Sorry, I'm not very up to date with current events. That wouldn't happen to be related to this whole Nightmare Moon thing I keep hearing about, would it?"

Luna's face paled. She glanced off to the side, rubbing her forelegs together sheepishly. Celestia's ears twitched almost imperceptibly.

Then Twilight spoke up, nervous. "Well, you see, umm..." she paused, looking to Luna, who sighed and then nodded. "Around one thousand years ago," Twilight began, "Luna grew resentful of how ponies seemed to like Celestia much more than they did her. So, she sort-of went mad with power and tried to make the night last forever. Celestia had to banish her to the moon because of it. Then, when she recently freed herself, my friends and I used the Elements of Harmony to snap her out of it."

Name Rater stared at each of the mares in turn. Applejack nodded at him in confirmation of the tale's validity. As he looked into Celestia's ever-so-trained eyes, he finally snapped, losing all pretense of composure.

He let out a sort of hoarse croaking sound. By the time they realized he was laughing, he had already collapsed to the floor, losing himself in the absurdity of it all.

Name Rater rose, and he saw the looks of befuddlement and concern plastered onto all their faces. He met these with a scowl so fierce that his brow could have been used as a whetstone.

"Let me get this straight. I am to believe that Luna thought that she was being underappreciated, and that this caused her to lose her sanity for a while?" he asked.

They stared at him. Twilight nodded. Luna and Applejack stepped back a bit.

He snorted again, facing Luna. "Ok, now that's rich. Because last I checked, you were still a Princess. Meanwhile," he continued, voice oozing with anger as he trained his eyes on Celestia's, "Nopony apparently remembers that I even existed."

The white alicorn opened her mouth again, but Name Rater cut her off, pointing at Luna. "The thing is, I don't even blame her for what she did. In fact, I would probably praise her for her assertiveness and self-confidence. No, Celestia, I blame you."

The jaw of the alicorn in question dropped. "Me?" she exclaimed.

"Yes, you, O' glorious ruler," he confirmed sarcastically. "It took me a while, but now I have come to fully understand that you are the worst kind of pony."

Celestia narrowed her eyes at him. Luna and Applejack stood in stunned silence.

Twilight gasped. "How dare you talk about the Princess like that! She's the wisest of us all, benevolent and just! What do you know?"

"More than you think. Let me ask you something, Twilight Sparkle." Name Rater smirked slightly. "Did Celestia ask you whether or not you wanted to become an alicorn before she turned you into one?"

Twilight tilted her head. "Well... no, but I don't see why that's relevant."

"You do realize that all alicorns are immortal right?" Then, he turned to Celestia. "See, this just proves my point. What sets you apart from your subjects isn't your power, or your bearing, but rather your cold, unfeeling nature."

"What?" she shouted at the accusation, mane flaring briefly.

"Oh, it's true. I've had plenty of time to think about this. See, you may have tricked yourself into believing otherwise, but the truth of the matter is that you don't really care about anypony. Your job as ruler has consumed you utterly, and now you can only see that greater picture." Name Rater scoffed. "Sure, from what I've seen so far, Equestria's in great shape as a whole. And that's probably because you took to heart the old adage that 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few'. So much so that you couldn't even see when your own sister was suffering terribly because of you."

Applejack, Twilight and Luna all turned to an utterly baffled Celestia. Luna had the beginnings of tears in her eyes.

But Name Rater wasn't stopping there, not even close. "And, it wasn't just her who suffered. You also single-hoofedly turned my life into an unending nightmare. Same as with Twilight here, you never thought to ask whether or not I wanted this," he said, gesturing to his horn. He sighed and closed his eyes briefly, apologizing to himself for what he was about to do to this mare he just met. "Now, in her immortal frame, she too will have to watch on in grief as every last friend, cousin, and lover she has ever met perishes before her."

Twilight's eyes widened with realization. When a sullen Celestia refused to meet her shocked gaze, she sniffled. A few seconds later, having fully processed the information, she collapsed to the floor and burst into tears.

Applejack glanced at Name Rater in sadness and pity. She slowly trotted over to drape a comforting hoof over Twilight's shaking withers, whispering assurances into her ear.

This display of sorrow magnified his own pain. "I was forced to trod a path I came to hate, endlessly toiling, and you couldn't even see that much!" Name Rater's wings flared open involuntarily as he practically roared with righteous fury at Celestia, stomping his hooves in rage. "I was born an earth pony, and I wanted to die an earth pony! Instead, I had to bury my own grandchildren!

"But despite all of this, all of this torment you put me through, Celestia, I didn't try to change anything! I thought that maybe, just maybe, you were right, and that what you did to me actually was beneficial somehow, that my sorrows would lead to something better. Oh, I could have tried ending my misery, but I chose not to. Because I cared."

Name Rater took a deep breath, replacing his rage with a long-festering hatred. "What do you have to say for yourself?" he asked, glaring straight into her eyes.

Celestia barely managed to look at him, her brow and cheeks quivering slightly. "I-I'm so, so sorry, Name Rater. I had no idea."

"No," he said simply. "You didn't."

The following silence was only broken by Twilight's sobs and the soft sound of tears striking crystal.

"I never imagined there was anypony alive who had suffered more that I," croaked Luna, fur now matted with tears, "and from events not of their own making, no less. Name Rater, you are so... so..." She trailed off, head sinking slowly to the floor.

Meanwhile, Celestia was comparatively unreadable as she spoke. But the regret was written there on her face. "Is there anything I can do? Anything... Anything at all?"

Name Rater's frown lessened a bit. "You've done quite enough already. And nothing short of rewriting history could possibly convince me to despise you any less." He briefly beheld the state of the others in the room. "Just... learn some rutting empathy. Don't let these ponies go on without your care. Actual care, not feigned emotions solely for furthering your own agendas. Let nopony else suffer as I have."

She stared at Luna and Twilight in turn, blinking back tears. Then, Celestia softly smiled at him with quivering lips. "O-Okay. I can do that."

"You'd better. Otherwise, I might start naming everypony Buttmunch."

Luna snorted. The mood of the room lightened considerably, from depressing to merely glum.

"Honestly though," he continued, "you could probably use a vacation. I know I sure do."

"Hmm. I'd never considered that," said Celestia.

"Maybe you could spend some time with her, or something," Name Rater suggested, pointing at Twilight. Now, she had recovered, and was wiping her tears with a fetlock.

"I'm not sure I'd be up for that," she said. "I... still have trouble seeing Princess Celestia as anything other than my superior."

Celestia blinked. Name Rater rolled his eyes.

"You bear the Elements of Harmony now, right? Then get whoever has the Element of Empathy to keep her company," he said.

Though lacking her usual exuberance, Twilight still corrected him. "Actually, the elements are gone now, the Tree of Harmony took them back. Besides, Empathy isn't one of them, anyway."

Name Rater groaned. "Well, that's stupid. It should be."

Celestia coughed, intent on getting back on track. "At any rate, Name Rater, this was most... enlightening, but I must return to my duties for now. We can finish discussing reparations for your... unjust treatment later."

"Also, how awful you are," added a smirking Luna.

"Yes, that too. Thank you, Lulu," Celestia deadpanned. Then, she turned to him, smiling. "And thank you, Name Rater. Not only for bringing this matter to my attention, but for your many years of peerless service to Equestria. I hope you feel better soon."

His brow raised in surprise. "...Sure."

With that, Celestia teleported out of the room in a golden flash, followed shortly after by Luna, who waved him goodbye before vanishing herself.

Applejack let out a breath it looked like she had been holding in for a while. "Well, that was somethin'."

He let loose a snort. "You have no idea how long I'd been sitting on that rant. I was this close to bucking her in the face."

"Well, Ah'm glad ya didn't. You're better than that. The world needs more honest, hardworkin' ponies like you."

It took him a second to find the right reply. This flattery all of a sudden was a bit much. "Thanks."

Twilight cleared her throat, flexing her wings. "Now then, let's go find something fun to do to clear our heads!"

"Good idea, Twi. Let's go get ourselves out an' about." said Applejack.

Both mares grinned as they began trotting out of the room. As he watched them go, Name Rater felt strange emotions welling up inside him, emotions beyond simple relief. He had thought he would never experience them again. Applejack beckoned him to follow with a hoof.

So, he did.

 

Author's Note:

I hope this chapter resonated with you guys emotionally. I know that I almost cried once while I was writing it.

 
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