Chapter 1: Rainbow Balloons
1 Rainbow Balloons
Twilight looked down at her painter’s smock and snorted in surprise. She was totally covered in paint! Her deep black coat was speckled with a rainbow of colors, and her hooficure was covered by blue and pink splotches. Actually, she thought, this is a cool idea for a painting. She imagined a big canvas filled with splattered colors.
But Twilight’s dreams of future art projects were put on pause when a bright orange unicorn came running up to her. A giant cluster of colorful balloons bobbed behind them, and Twilight noticed the strings were tied to the unicorn’s horn.
“Hi, Sunny,” Twilight said. “So cool—it looks like you’re pulling a rainbow behind you.”
Sunny stopped to catch their breath. “Thanks!” they said, still panting from the run over. “Where”—huff—“do you”—huff—“want them?”
Twilight bit her lip and tried to remember which booth needed balloons. She had been juggling so many tasks that she was losing track of things! Being in charge of all the decorations for the Unicorn University Annual Carnival meant that Twilight was responsible for everything from balloon decisions to booth painting to fireworks!
Unicorns from all over Sunshine Springs, and even some who lived in other parts of the five kingdoms, were traveling to Unicorn University for the celebration. Parents and siblings of current students would arrive tomorrow to visit with students and see the campus. Every year, the first years planned and set up the events of the carnival, meaning it was Twilight’s class’s turn. They had spent weeks thinking up game ideas, snacks, and, most exciting of all, a big surprise to end the night. The carnival was a tradition, and Twilight wanted this carnival to be one to remember.
“At the welcome tent!” Twilight finally remembered. That’s where the balloons needed to go! “I can bring them over, Sunny. Why don’t you take a snack break? The baking club made special apple cakes for everyone.”
Sunny smiled wide. “You’re the best, Twilight.” They bent down their horn so Twilight could take the balloons, and then they jogged off in search of sweets.
When the art club had first asked Twilight to be in charge of decorations, she had thought they’d made a mistake. If someone had told her on her very first day at Unicorn University that she would be telling any other unicorn what to do, she would have whinnied in their face. But when she thought about the carnival, her big imagination took over and she couldn’t help but think of all the ways to make things look beautiful. It had been her idea to have different clubs decorate their booths with materials they loved most, and the result was perfect. Twilight looked at the booths around her. The garden club had decorated their booth with flowers; the science club had made a bubble machine that was burping up big, soapy bubbles; and the baking club had hung doughnuts and cookies at their booth.
Over at the baking booth, where Sunny was happily munching on apple cake, Twilight noticed that Comet, one of her best friends, was using her flying ability to frost the top of a giant cake with her horn. Twilight chuckled. Comet looked so serious, but she was totally covered in frosting! It made for a silly sight.
The balloons above Twilight’s head bopped together as the wind whipped up, reminding her to get moving. As she walked toward the blue-and-white-striped welcome tent, the springtime smell of fresh flowers and sunshine wafted through the air, and the green grass under her hooves squished a little from the morning rain. Feeling lighter than air, Twilight skipped the rest of the way.
As she tied the balloons to one of the welcome tent’s poles, she heard a very familiar voice. And it did not sound very happy.
“One at a time! One at time!” a mint-colored unicorn yelled to a crowd of first years. It was Twilight’s other good friend Shamrock, and she could see that his glasses were crooked and his mane was a mess. Twilight knew that the more rumpled Shamrock looked, the more ruffled he felt. Uh-oh, Twilight thought, something must be wrong. After finishing off her knot, Twilight headed over to help figure out the problem.