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Everything posted by SteelEagle

  1. Applejack reckoned that the Chancellor was damaged goods when it came to her experiences with high society. No doubt it'd be a problem if it was run by those types and those types alone. They did seem awfully greedy at times. But that was why it would be good to get their hooves in early, to help shape it. After all, there'd be Professors and Chancellors and Headmares and Headstallions at this school long after Blue and Applejack trotted into greener pastures. If the organization that was being discussed took flight, it was only a matter of time before the clarion bell was rung for the School of Friendship. It would only ever get harder to resist the call as more schools joined- Applejack wrote this off as an opportunity for good lost. Nonetheless it wasn't like she had a real stake in the game. She was about to retort however when a new presence made itself known. Loudly. "Oh you wouldn't believe how uncouth they were acting!" Rarity spoke loudly and with a tinge of gossip as she bounded into the room, the door seemingly flinging itself open in front of her as if to make way for her grand entrance. "To think I brought my good silk in only- oh, Chancellor!" Rarity's tone changed quickly as he head snapped to Blue, a look of sheepish foalishness slipping in and around her elegant features. She took her seat next to Applejack, facing the Chancellor. She put her hooves up on a nearby chair and telekenitically brought over a hoofcare kit to the table, leaning back and half supporting herself on Applejack as she worked on her back hooves. "Sorry for my disturbance but I really did just have the most horrible experience involving needles and my hoof wall. I swear, Smolder and Gallus will be the death of me!" She said dramatically and leaned back, her mane half falling into Applejack's food. Applejack swatted away the mane hair and continued eating. "I do hope you're settling in, Bluebelle. I was trying to work on a proper uniform for you and get this place all spruced up but I feel rather ill. Briefly, anyway. I suppose I wasn't that ill, but even the mild sniffles managed to truncate my artistic vision. And now this!" She said as she worked on her hoof wall, eyes filling with water. "The tragedy of it all! The most sincere tragedy!" A pause. A smile, head turn to the Chancellor. "I suppose I'll just need your measurements again."
  2. Gallus allowed himself to enjoy the dance as much as he could, fighting tumultuous emotions and treacherous thoughts as he was. It was nice. It was nice to spend time with Silverstream. It was, indeed, very nice. When he allowed himself to enjoy her presence it felt like he was allowing himself to feel a new type of joy that he had selfishly hid from himself, as if Gallus alone was good enough for Gallus. He was a fool about many things but especially that one, it didn't even make sense. There were times he didn't even like himself, let alone think he was really that good. And he was gonna try to pretend that when he was around Silverstream he didn't feel something new, something different? Liar. What a liar. And she was so honest and open. He wished he could be like that. Just honest, open, none of that faux sarcasm. It must feel great to be able to just say the words that knock around your head without feeling like they made you weak. Fool, it just made you the weak one. She was stronger. She opened her mouth and he feared it was to detail just how strong he was, and utter some words that he wasn't sure he was strong enough to answer. Saved by the DJ. The mood indeed did change across the water. He felt an instant chill, though whether he was just imagining it or not was up for sincere debate. She giggled- yeah, it had changed. It has felt so...real, so immediate a moment ago. Now they were back to a friendly form of companionship, drifting in the waters two by two and two for two. He shook his head and gave a deep, resigned laugh as she mentioned she needed to use the bathroom. Did they even use bathrooms down here? How did plumbing work? She seemed fascinated by plumbing topside. Did they just do their business in the water? Was he swimming in Seaquestrian feces? Ewww. What a dirty thing to do. He most certainly could not ever fall in lo- like with a filly like that! "Yeah, bathroom. Good idea. I'll just be...by the punch," he said with an impish laugh as he drifted away to allow her to do her thing. Oddly enough it felt like the pressure in his chest only seemed to grow the further away they drifted, followed by a release- and his head felt light, his muscles letting go after being tensed up in hidden anxiousness. . Sweet talons, he needed a drink. A stiff one, at that.
  3. Twilight was excited about the prospect of detailing the historical origins of ancient artifacts. It was easy to see, because her face lit up and she made an audible squee. "Oh! It was forged in one of the last active Cloudforges of the Hasufel Mountains, when the Royal Legion of Cloudsdale maintained an alliance with the Forgemares of that range. The materials involved were..." she thought long and hard about it, "bronze, mythril, most importantly one of the last remaining supplies of Regalite Maxinimium. It gets dinged and scratched up but never truly damaged. It can survive everything, from magical attacks to full body blows from the strongest of enemies. See that nick right there? It is where the Axe of the High King struck the Commander of the Royal Legion. The axe was the size of a stallion and the High King was the largest caribou yet recorded. Look at it- just a scratch, where others shattered. Truly a wonder!" She said with a heavy sigh. So much history written in the surface of something so base and simple as a shield. Yet it retained its luster and function after all these years! Something she hoped Sunset would be able to follow up on. "I'll have to get you some nice barding after I'm done working on the barding for the Twilight Guard," Twilight said as she sized Sunset up, her face and voice more focused and lowering as it went along, trailing the end of the sentence even as she did her eye's work. Then did some more, because she needed measurements. Yes, that's it. Then her eyes caught something behind her BBFF (Best Bipedal Friend Forever), and the old spark returned. "Ooh, they did get permission to show this!" She said as she fluttered over Sunset to land in front of a painting depicting Magnus helping a crowd of defenseless ponies to escape from a terrifying dragon, shielding them quite literally, before flying up to engage the dangerous beast himself. "This painting was a work done by the famous painter, Grand Canvas. It depicts the last recorded image of Fash Magnus before he vanished along with the other pillars. The detail is stupendous. It is said that if you stare too long at his works though, you might fall victim to the magic that helps make the painting seem so alive!" She said with a nervous chuckle, though she had to admit that such magic...technically did exist, though it was unlikely Grand knew it.
  4. Twilight was at her wit's end. It was an accomplishment because of the many things she had in her life an abundance of wits was often at the forefront of her accounting. It had started several weeks ago when an expedition in the ____ mountains of the Crystal Empire turned up some ancient artifacts. As per usual they immediately came to Twilight who, despite ruling all of Equestria, never stopped herself from experimenting with what new discoveries had the possibility of shaking the world of magic up. Most of the artifacts wre readily identifiable. Enchanted weapons belonging to several cultures. Divining Rods of Pre-Equestrian ponies. Aetheric holding devices. Some of them were more esoteric and required a degree of experimentation, ending with the blank waters of Neighpon- a dangerous substance that wiped personality and memory from a target. Spike had a very close call with that. As she experimented and cataloged the items it became clear that what they had stumbled into was some sort of high-level security vault or collector's room with little in the way of organization or theme. Kind of like the Royal Archives before Twilight went to work on them! Yet one item remained. It was a stone. A simple oblong stone with ancient carvings in it that not even she could identify- and the pile of books she read as she tried to do so spoke to the vastness of that effort. It thrummed with powerful magic. A foreign magic, detached even from the aetheric flow of normal magic that existed across the world. She tried for hours, then days, to penetrate its secrets, yet the dozens of spells and artifacts she used all delivered her nothing but failure and hornache. Yet she continued. Day after day, spell list after spell list, until all she could do was bitterly admit that she was incapable of solving this message. She knew it had to be special. After all, it had been found in a class case at the very center of the room it had been found in, but with no documentation. It was strange and annoying and driving her mad. So she sought help. She sent out a missive to all places of magical learning or interest, and displayed notices across the nation and around embassies internationally. One by one and then five by five, creatures from across the world came to inspect the artifact. Most did a few simple spells or potions, failed, and moved on. Others tried to con her- she saw through them. One strange kirin even tried to eat it, thinking it needed stomach acids to activate. Twilight would ensure she got the help she very clearly needed. One by one and five by five they failed. Hour after hour and day after day passed without success. Twilight lost her excitement after a while, and was left with the stubborn need to succeed at cataloging this damnable artifact. "Next," she said with only a faint hope that the next expert could help solve this problem. She sat on her throne, bored, one hoof holding her head up with the artifact laying on the table at the base of her throne. Hopefully the next individual to take a crack could provide something, anything, to get her excited again!
  5. Applejack chuckled, though not dismissively. She took compliments well enough now but she didn't reckon she was anypony special. Just a farmer who loved her family, happened to know some famous ponies and did what she could do to help. She wasn't anything special. Indeed, she found that to be one of her most important traits. Anypony could be like her if they really applied themselves to understanding what mattered about being Equestrian. "Shucks, yer jus' trying' ta make me blush. It won't work on me, ya know," she said with a laugh, then a drink from her cup. It didn't hurt to hear it though. When she was younger she struggled with questions of self-worth, especially after ma and pa passed away. She reoriented back onto the real subject at play here, something the apple farmer felt powerfully about. "Harmony...well it comes from tha heart, and tha heart? Well," she said as she looked away, then back as if an idea struck her, "it's like any other muscle. You didn't get that figure on a lark, right? Y'all had ta work on it. It was within you tha whole time, but you still had ta work it, right?" She said as she pointed at Tempest's impressive physical form. Then she took a few bites to eat and swallowed fast. "Harmony ain't no different. You've got harmony inside ya. Just about every creature does and those that don't have it? They don't walk around mah farm, do some chores, chat, and fall in love with lil' Zappy at first sight," She said- then looked up quizzically, back to her foal, smiled, and shrugged her shoulders. "Well okay, maybe the last one would happen regardless. Point being, you've had a hard life. That don't mean you can't have yer full fill of harmony in yer life. It just means you'll need ta work at it," she spoke from the heart, getting a glass of milk and trotting on over to give it to Tempest- and the mare certainly needed it, based on how much she was scarfing down! "And Ah'll be thar ta help."
  6. What the hanging nail was anthropology? That niggling concern aside, Gallus was satisfied and satiated by what his newest professor said. He didn't really understand why they needed this class. They'd already proven to be basically super perfect at this whole friendship thing. Just look at Smolder moving quick to rectify Yona's worry. Of course it was nice of SMolder to go through it with Yona, seeing as it meant she wasn't reducing that book to cinders too. No, Gallus wasn't bitter or anything. He just had a long memory, and was waiting for his time to get reve- to pull a prank of his own. Ya know, because friends pulled pranks on one another. With their school supplies. During the school year. What it came down to for this class was that it was basically friendship emergency therapy. See somecreature about to turn dark, try to light them up. Or if they have turned dark, how to stop them. Could be fun. Could also be lame. He always imagined what an evil Gallus would be like and then he realized such thoughts could go really dark really fast. He was a meateater after all with sharp talons and claws and teeth. A bad Smolder? Easy enough, lots of fire and hoarding. The longma, Kireina? Gallus didn't know that one well enough to really say. Probably something with poetry. Evil poetry? From his vantage, most poetry was evil. Was there a difference? Yona would probably smash and yell, but aggressively and angrily. So not too big a difference, except angry. The topic of Cozy Glow came up. Yeah, had she turned dark or was she always that way? "Yeah, Cozy Glow. That's a name I won't forget. I wonder if she was always that way or if she turned dark at some point?" He tapped his talons to his beak, then glanced over at the Professor. "So this class teaches us how to, uhh, engage those with dark hearts or...darkening?...hearts, but what do we do about creatures that are already dark as night itself inside?" He asked, sincerely wondering just how three-sixty this class would be. And later he'd need to learn what anthropology meant. And get some cool stories about wild magic and villains from this Professor, who just might be cool enough to hang with them.
  7. Gallus enjoyed his time at the School of Friendship well enough but that didn't mean every single day was going to be a showcase of his immense, prodigious talents. Some days you were simply tired, weary from the previous day's activities. He was just so active, ya know? Okay that was all a lie. And he was learning to be more honest lately. Indeed, it was that increasing need to be honest that ensured he was so tired today. He had tried to put his honest feelings into words on paper for what felt like ten hours, the wicker candle burning long into the night as he tore up page after page. He wasn't good at it and he wasn't really prepared to write it, let alone say it. That much was obvious because he kept on failing and failing. Frustrated, he eventually took out the wastebucket of failed letters and tried to go to bed. He tossed and turned for what felt like another ten hours, which made for about twenty hours of emotionally exhausting frustration. Or maybe it had only been most of the night. The effect was the same. He was a tired griffon and tired griffons would generally sleep all day. Blame the cat half for that quirk. Alas, he had school. The school he liked well enough, but not as much as trying to get his rest in. And of all the classes to sleep in, Professor Fluttershy's Kindness class was the best one to sleep in. Not only was she the most forgiving but if something interesting did happen, he would be woken up for it. He liked her a lot. She was the best Professor the school had- and his grade was almost perfect in it! So, yeah, a great one to take a small...little...nap...in... "Ok, Gallus. What would you do in a situation like the one I described?" Gallus woke up in a flash. "Wha-whu-who-" he said as he looked around in a panic, then resettled. She had asked him a question- and he had to answer- what was the scenario? Darnit. The one time he was caught taking a nap this week took a nap, he was caught. How unfair! "Uhhhh-" he tried to think about one that would work. His answer needed to be kind and generic and appeal while not detailing the depth of his nap. He had to be smooth. His arms went wide in a welcoming fashion and he smiled wide. "Well, I would listen to their problems and tell them that I'll be there for them, and then embrace them! You know, in the spirit of kindness," he said, his tone slightly saccharine. "And do what I need to do to help 'em," he said with a snap of his talons and a wink. Because he was smooth, so smooth, so smooth it hurt.
  8. Twilight gave them their privacy, and followed along with Sunset as they went deeper into the exhibit. It had a very different character than Somnambula's exhibit. The colors were bolder and there were a lot more artifacts. A lot of it was only tangentially related to Magnus himself, instead opting in large to promote an understanding of the times he lived in. They were foreign to the ponies of today. Large military conflict, brave soldiers and tales of extreme hardship and woe. The collection interred here spoke to all that and more. Histories written in blood, sweat, and tears, of victories furnished by the efforts of ancient Equestrians and defeats echoing with the sorrow of lives long past. Take, for example, a simple scroll. It was ancient, the pages yellowed beyond reason yet held readable by modern magic. It was an ancient scroll written by a very young Flash Magnus and it didn't have anything profound on it. Instead, it spoke to his earnest desire to join the Royal Legion of Cloudsdale and fight the enemies of his young nation. It was riddled with pathos and words foreign to the soul of a modern Equestrian. "Flash wanted this one preserved and placed here. It isn't anything too grand but that's the point according to him. This was his mindset, his thoughts as he grew up, no different from many others in Cloudsdale. He said we needed to understand his time and those who lived in it before we could truly understand the relics they left behind," she said as she turned to a row of shields and spears, armor and helm. Descriptions of their use were written poetically by the unknowably intelligence Magnus and they read as a hymn to the mighty sung in sparkling notes of burnished rows of alabaster and steel. Then there was a painting made at the time of the first friendly contact between Cloudsdale and the griffons, with Flash Magnus as an enlarged figure with a bright sun behind him. It was a gift, the plaque said, from an ancient descendant of the Razorclaws to the Royal Legion after they helped save their village from a terrible storm at Flash's urging. It was a chasm shrunk down by Magnus himself, where claw and wing could meet without the sharp retort of steel and screeches. It was sitting alongside a menagerie of weapons he used during the many conflicts of the time. "The Spear of the Sun! It was said to be able to direct the full fury of solar power at a target, and it cowed an entire caribou war party into submission. Quitius, the axe that sundered clouds and stopped storms not even a pegasi could stop! And, of course-" "Netitus." A shield whose ancient life was borne proudly on its surface. Scars of claw and sword, axe and the dents of hammers. Ice bristled along the edges under close inspection but the clearer marks of being used around lava overwhelmed it. Yet for all of the damage it remained whole, defiant of all that had stood abreast of it with intent to harm. It shone as bright and clear as the day it was forged, resplendent despite all of its harsh history. It was a symbol of Flash Magnus of course but it spoke to her more clearly of Equestria. Battered but never broken and raging with optimism and life despite the thieving tendrils of disharmony that sought to fracture it. "This is still legally his property, after the dissolution of the RLC. It was so generous of him to give it to this museum!"
  9. Rara had to stifle a giggle lest she be misunderstood by the audience behind her and the golden-maned friend in front of her. Oh Applejack, so forward and blunt. whose reasoning of the implication left in front of her by Rara was discarded abruptly in the face of her unending sweetness and kindness. And her complete and total lack of flirting game to boot, or at least flirting acknowledgement. Ahh, it was like nothing had changed! "Oh, a dinner would be great. I haven't had a real home cooked meal in...years," she said, trying to think back. She was poor at cooking. Her mother was good, but Coloratura had left when she was a very young mare. And she doubted that heating noodles in water counted as a home cooked meal! When Applejack had described her family's cooking all the way back when they were fillies it felt like Rara had been there. That had stuck with her all these years. The smells, the words, the love- when it was described by a pony as honest as Applejack, you could live it as vividly as if you were there yourself. Rara didn't respond to the self-respecting comment. Again, that forward, blunt nature of her friend. Rara had a ton of self-respect. Hence the comment! Did she phrase it incorrectly? Maybe she did. Or at the very least, phrased it incorrectly for her particular audience of one. That was closer. Applejack wasn't a mare who appreciated talking in circles or across meaning. Rara would remember that. "Thanks for the reminder, Applejack," she said with a smile while perusing her wares. Indeed, she was here for a bushel. More than one, in fact. She allowed Applejack to dutifully inform her- yes, tart was a better word for it than acidic. She didn't like tart treats. They always seemed to make her voice wobble afterwards and while providing your own sound board could be very useful in the editing process it rarely felt good to actually do. A gala was suggested- nice and crisp, which suited her just fine. And who was she to argue with the maestro of the apple cultivators? "Well, hard to say no to a nice gala apple. I'll take three bushels, please," she said as she dutifully placed the fifteen bits on the table as she leaned on it to get closer to her friend. "So, that dinner," her words floating barely above a whisper, "when would be a good time, I wonder? It would be a good time to discuss my proposition," she put special emphasis on the final word, hoping to elicit from her friend a certain air of excitement. Rara knew she was excited about the prospect anyway, but if she could get Applejack roped into it than it would certainly check everything off of her particularly particular list.
  10. Applejack nodded, her eyes lighting up. As long as they gave students course credit then it would likely be fine, and then Zap- err, the foals, would get to interact with all sorts of creatures and vice versa. "Now that there would be a great little lesson! Ah reckon some students'd be really good at it. Others not, but thats the rub. They can get better. Puttin' work in on account of others is a great way to teach empathy an' patience. Seems like a credited class ta me, anyway," she said with a laugh. And a blush, never forget the blush. "Though Ah'll admit Ah'm biased, seein' as Ah'd benefit. You should ask others, feel it out. Ah wouldn't want tha school ta go ahead and waste its resources on me all pointless like," she added, more subdued than before. She didn't want this new Chancellor to think she was some selfish know it all looking to game the system for her benefit. She just thought it was a rather nifty idea all in all, but it was hard to shake the feeling that she was doing something wrong. Which, hopefully if they followed through with the bubbling idea of a scholastic athletic organization, they could avoid doing. The Chancellor made some really good points. The worst excess derived from the most passionate after all, and few things could stoke the fire as wildly as sports. She knew that for certain and nodded along. Of course, she was still into the idea for a few reasons. "Yer right on all accounts Ah reckon, though it's still a thing Ah think we should trot inta sooner rather than later. First, Ah think its gonna happen whether we join or not. Where there's smoke there's fire and thar is a whole buncha smoke 'round it. Secondly, Ah reckon it'll go one of two ways. Either we're able ta keep tha focus on them being students first an' in that case it'll be fine. If we start thinkin' of 'em as athletes first though? That there would be a problem, right? That would start makin' it so we start pursuin' ponies on account of them being impressive athletically, not because we want to help teach them friendship and for them to do so ta with others. Tha best way ta guarantee that is ta make sure we make our voice heard loud an' clear in it. A'least thats mah opinion on it."
  11. She took the compliment about her accurate bookkeeping well. Ponies assumed that all that went into farm labor was straining muscles and exertion when it was a whole lot more complicated than that. The amount of planning that went into the Orchard was immense, intense and never-ending. Every new weather schedule that came out would result in weeks added to the forecast for the orchard down to the final tree. As he denied her offered drink to a no-drinking clause, she accepted that too. No biggie there. She moved his glass over to hers, got a new one, and filled that with a non-alcoholic cider. It gave her time to answer his question. And drink in between some of the words, seeing as she had two mugs to down. "Like ya said, Ah'd need ta hire a unicorn to power it up. And that unicorn would hold tha keys to everything we'd be doin' cider wise. Secondly, tha maintenance on that- well Ah doubt them Flim Flam brothers would be talkin' about it, but Ah heard from others that rented from 'em that it broke down a lot. Even when it didn't break down that inspectin' part of it could go haywire. Produced a lot of bad cider, needin' somepony specific ta run it? Bad enough. But tha part of mah orchard that they touched with it never really grew tha same again. Ah'd reckon that that little machine royally messes with earth pony magic, makes tha ground less fertile. 'Course Ah'm biased against snake oil pitchers, liars, cheats, and no-good thieves, so maybe Ah'm wrong," She said with the barest hint of bitterness. She never would forgive them for messing with her livelihood, that she knew. She reckoned he could understand. As she returned with his drink and he unveiled the project fact he had in mind, she knew why he had come to her. The Apple family did not have the single largest farm anywhere in Equestria but if you took into account every aspect of their business, they were the best, they were the biggest, and they were tested by the rigors of time. This project sounded like it needed that sort of drive and work ethic. If that held true, then he had come to the right place. "Now that there is a project! That's nearly fifty thousand acres! All of that inside?" She whistled. "Woowee, that is a lot of internal growin'. How tha hay yer plannin' on keepin' tha garden properly growin' with tha ground cutoff of magic?" She pondered out loud. Greenhouses and greenhouse like structures were notorious for short term success and long term failure- compared at least to the consistency and vibrancy of a more natural environment tended by Earth Pony hooves. Artificial structures constricted Earth Pony magic. She shrugged. "Ah'm sure you thought of somethin', so no matter that. Still though, that sounds like it could work. So whatcha needin' me ta do, exactly? Ah can draw you up tha right sorta growth plans, a seedin' rotation. Oh, maybe even a supply chain? Ah can write it out an' send it ta ya, of course. What's yer address for this here shindig?"
  12. The Hall stunk of dried blood and fur. Preparation- what a lark. This was where the wounded were dragged and emergency surgeries performed while new warriors prepared themselves for the upcoming fights. For now, it was empty except for the Red Jarl and his Housecarls. They sat at a half table with mead and some food on it, the Housecarls partaking in it. The Red Jarl did not. He instead watched the two enter with his fiery eyes judging their every move. He was helmless, but wore his steel and wood armor- the one of growing infamy, the Bane of Cowards. His face was daubed in several blue, yellow, and red inks, forming symbols upon his face, and his arsenal of weapons on his back and hips made clanking sounds as he readjusted himself. He looked at the two and gave what could only pass as a predatory smile. "You two, come sit. I have an appreciation of such warriors." The table had two empty chairs with a plate of warm Hasselback potatoes and glasses of mead. "I am the Red Jarl, of the True Caribou Clans. I have watched many so-called warriors fight today, and only you two are worthy of respect. Even you, foreign dog-warrior," he said with grudging respect towards the foreign-born mutt. It was strange for him to do so- to an outside. He respect courage and strength wherever it was found. It was just fact that it was the Caribou who had a near monopoly on it. His attention turned to the cow. "I keep abreast of the fine warriors of this land. I do not know you yet, cow. Speaking yourself into existence with acts of violence is always proper and has me intrigued. Who are you? What clan does your bloodline hail from?" He asked as he drank. She was the magical one, so the rods said. Her answer was vital. More importantly, the longer he kept her close the better reading the rods would give. Then he would know who she really was and what her magic was all about. Then and only then would he decide whether she was worthy of his attention. He already knew the dog-warrior would be useful in a certain role. Whether he would accept or not the Jarl did not know, though he hoped the dog-warrior would. Such skill necessitated challenge.
  13. She certainly looked like she felt weird. That weird contortion in her face that spoke equally of a grimace or a smile didn't fool Applejack a bare moment. She was a mare who wasn't used to caring for others or even about them. Selfish? Not the word Applejack would use necessarily. She was a survivor in a world she deemed hostile to her very being. It would be hard to assign judgement to such a mare, but it did mean that she was reticent to open herself to others. And part of that had to mean she was reluctant at best to hoist the banner of another pony's safety or well being to her, lest she get dragged down by the responsibility. By her emotions, good or bad. Most Equestrians loved the idea of community and working together. They loved the idea of hearth and home and warmth and love. They loved the idea of friends and family, always there to help, and you always there to help them. Tempest wasn't built that way. She had survived for too long to readily admit that deep down inside she was still an Equestrian, and an Equestrian mare at that. Like Tartarus they could say no to a little foal. "He is a mite tired Ah bet," she said as she trotted over and gently pet her foal. She wasn't going to remove him from Tempest, nope. It was going too well. Once it went less well, she would make a move. Until then. She then pulled back. "He certainly looks mighty comfy back there. Ya know, up close, yer muscles are very smooth. Toned as all get out, not ungainly at all. No wonder yer comfy ta nap on!" She said with a laugh as she started to make the plates. Flapjacks, warm and inviting, some maple syrup for Tempest and Apple syrup for Applejack, soon were ready for the eating on the tables. Their smell wafted lazily up but once they hit the nostrils- ooh boy, did they smell good! "Ah know what yer tryin' ta explain. Warm an' fuzzy maybe a litt,e but mostly you feel an attachment ta that little fella. He trusts y'all a whole lot more than you probably do. He's an innocent, and yer wantin' ta keep him safe. That may be tha start of love, but before that, yer gonna have ta feel a sense of kinship. Not familial, but between you an' somecreature you know is worth protectin', worth helpin', worth yer efforts an' yer heartache. It can be friendship, love, or just good ol' fashioned Equestrian harmony stokin' inside of ya," she said as she ruffled his mane again before taking the seat opposite Tempest, pushing a plate in front of the combative mare. "So, wanna rest yer hooves a bit and have a bit ta eat?"
  14. Twilight Guardsmare Applejack will be happy to attend
  15. Spike was not an unexpected answer to his probing question, seeing as he was never far from the Princess of Friendship. It was hard to imagine the pair had been, or would ever be, separate. But he wanted them separate today. He wasn't aware of Spike being caught in the loop but he didn't really want to have him do so. The fewer creatures knew about the events the better as far as Valen was concerned. "Spike, a pleasure to see you! Though I suppose I should have expected to see you here in the Castle of all places," he chuckled lightly to himself as he trotted in. "I need to speak with Twilight about something- privately, if that wouldn't be a bother," he asked politely, though his tone was tinged with a sort of weariness about the subject matter that seemed to insist that it would be a decidedly boring subject to be subjected to. Valen would make his way with or without draconic escort to the sounds of library reshuffling. That was a pleasing sound to reverberate throughout the castle. It was a reminder of the tome before she was a Princess, of the memories that grew in the Golden Oak Library before it was turned to ash in the final battle against Tirek. The satisfaction came from the knowledge that despite everything that had happened to her, the species change, the title, and the responsibilities placed upon her broadening shoulders, that Twilight Sparkle was and would always remain a nerd. And nerds were the best kind of rulers because they seemed to care about the details. And Valen today needed the details to be considered, because his concerns stretched across such base subjects as to render them in their whole a rather central subject to his current situation, near future, and even self-identification. Yes, he could use her legendary attention to detail. He soon found the Princess and gave a respectful bow. "Your Majesty, a pleasure. How are you today?" He asked with a certain flavor and peppiness to his voice that was absent earlier He knew he could be informal with her and likely would be soon, but it was hard to shake the respect he was bred with when it came to the future ruler of all Equestria. He took a look around. Yep, as expected. She was being pleasantly neurotic again. "Organizational project, I assume?" He asked with a laugh. She wouldn't be Twilight without her idiosyncrasies. Her pronounced gifts and fabled empathy were touchstones for any Equestrian to rely on. With any luck, he would be the recipient of her beneficence.
  16. Somnambula smiled, otherwise she seemed rather nonplussed by the implications. Mostly because they had gone far beyond such implications. While ponies of this age seemed to reticent to admit their emotions, as evidenced by Twilight today, ponies of mythic times did not share such devotion towards guarding their heart against sorrows. "No coincidence is it that Magnus and I have our exhibits close to one another. He matters greatly to me and I to him. If only we had not chosen to head into the abyss, the plans we could have made- alas, such is the whimsy of the past. I am just happy to spend what time I can with him now," she replied with just the barest hint of a sigh as she briefly remembered what could have been. Their time together before they had stepped into the abyss had been all too brief yet filled with hope and promise for the future. She was pleased with the future she lived in, though there were some elements of the past that would be forever lost to the sands of time as a result. Just a brief remembrance, then the longing was gone. Replaced quickly by a wide smile as she saw Magnus hob-knobbing with several Royal Guardsponies. She quickly trotted up to him and pulled him in for a hug. He reciprocated and gave her a kiss before looking up with a smile at the two unicorn mares who had been escorting Somnambula. No trace of shyness or embarrassment, just self-confidence and devilish good looks. "Nice to see you again, Princess. And who might you be?" Magnus asked, extending a wing for a shake. He always liked meeting new ponies and anypony who was hanging around the Princess of Friendship was a pony that intrigued this warrior-savior. "Flash, I need to speak with you," Somnambula cut in with a smile, gently tugging on his cloak and jerking her head to a room nearby marked 'Employee Entrance'. Magnus nodded and looked back at the two unicorns. "Alright. Hey you two, feel free to look around. My exhibit may not be as popular as Somnambula's but it is pretty awesome if I say so myself. And I do," he said with a laugh as both he and Somnmabula trotted into the darkened entryway, oddly lit by some candles and the wafting scent of some very earthy food.
  17. Hey there! How have you been?

  18. Applejack smiled. Tempest was nervous. It was hard to imagine the absurdly confident general of the Storm Army, the mare who beat the collected Princess of Equestria, as anything less than overwhelming confident in everything she did. To see her look at a foal with the confident somepony would look at a live firework pointing at their face was sort of a hoot. Another part of her worried that the entire concept spoke ill of her ability to handle a foal, but she battered that voice down. Tempest could and would do this and do this well, she had no doubt of it. Applejack moved over to Tempest and fiddled with her legs until they were in proper foal holding mode. She then slowly moved Zap Apple from her arms to Tempest's, and then got up and trotted away. "You just hold him for a few minutes while Ah finish our food," She said, excited to see two different developments- one maternal, one delicious. Zap Apple at first wiggled, trying to get comfortable in teh new mare's arms. And he was highly curious, putting his nose in and smelling her chest fluff, crawling up it, and testing her shoulders with his hooves. He then got tired of that and let go, falling into her arms with a poof. He then nestled into the nest-like structure of her arms and curled a little, burying himself into where her arm and chest met. Clearly comfortable, he spoke wordless words and mouthed unimaginable phrases, getting slobber slowly on her chest floof for a bit. He got more comfortable and felt very sleepy. You could tell- his left wing, the free one, sometimes half-opened and flapped before heading back down and resetting, as if in a dream state. Applejack was in the kitchen during this time, and was hard at work on the food. She would look inside of the living room every once in a while, stealing a peek at the progression of her foal's embrace of the likely extremely warm Tempest Shadow. He wasn't hard to please when it came to a proper snuggle after all and Tempest, for all her faults, was not a pony likely to fail any task assigned her. Neither was Applejack prine to failure, so she did a bang up job on the flapjacks. They smelled right good, they did! She even had some maple syrup for them. Applejack, on brand, apple syrup all day every day. When she was happy with the result she poked her head back in. "Food's ready if yer wantin' some now, Tempest," she said quietly. Far be it for her to deny her little colt a proper roost.
  19. Valen allowed himself a nervous laugh at how serious she got over the idea of the coronation party. It made sense that more than the rest of Equestria she would have big plans for it and if there was anypony who could craft a party worthy of a once in a millennium and change event it was Pinkie Pie, but it was still somewhat unnerving to see just how hard she was planning to go on it. "Well, consider me excited. I'm sure it will be a party to remember," he said pleasantly as he finished his food. Treats, not food. Real food had nutrition and was boring. Pinkie's treats made life worth living, even if it added little to its physical development. It also gave him the sort of positive mollification he needed to keep up his cheery attitude as Pinkie came down a little due to talking about Silver Spoon. Yeah, he wanted to give that filly a talking to as well. Sadly, he didn't know whether the magic she used had residual effects that would make such a discussion a trap. At least Pinkie Pie was on his side, and even a little bit in a tiff. Good. If even Pinkie Pie, the most bubbly and excitable of the heroines of Equestria, expressed sincere shock and disappointment, ten even a heart as skewed negatively as Silver Spoon's had to acknowledge it. This loosened him up as she described his party. Truth be told, it didn't sound bad. None of her parties ever sounded bad, and he liked a certain sense of refinement to his birthday proceedings. Of course he didn't have many work friends- or many model friends he'd invite over to such a party. They all knew Gilded Lilly, the Prench filly fashion supermodel. Nopony knew there was a colt under all that, and he intended to keep it that way. Still, it wounded great. "That sounds like a wonderful party, of that one should have no doubt! Not that I would expect any less from the party planner extraordinaire," he laughed as he stood up, patting his belly. "The food was great, but the talk was better. Thank you, Pinkie Pie!" He said with a smile and a wave as he left Sugarcube Corner. Indeed, he was pleased that at least one pony acknowledged he didn;t want to be Gilded Lilly all the time. He was starting to think he was insane. Sadly, he wasn't willing to say a single voice against the horde was enough to convince him that he wasn't holding out against a harsh truth that spoke to something deep inside of his beating breast. He shook his head. He knew he had one more stop to make. Silver Spoon had used magic to get have her way with him and make a fool out of him. That sort of magic could only have come from two places: Zecora or Twilight, and Silver Spoon was deathly afraid of the Everfree. So Valen trotted up to the Princess of Friendship and her castle, prepared to get answers and let her know what exactly had been done. No doubt she would be greatly angered and Silver Spoon would quickly find herself in some serious trouble. He also hoped to get some sort of magical medical checkup to ensure that the magic Silver used wasn't having any permanent or even triggerable after effects. Only one mare would know, and he was excited to spend some time with her and solve this mystery. As he got closer, however, he noticed the door to the castle was open. That wasn't...normal, but the lack of any chaos or action told him not to be alarmed. He knocked politely once, twice, thrice. "Hello?" He asked to nopony in particular before poking his head in.
  20. The room was starkly and wonderfully contrasted with the classroom they were in. Science was happening in almost every inch of it, and it was rather extensive. It rivaled one of the many working labs of the Royal Laboratory in the Solstice Heights. It was abuzz with activity and the alchemical fluids flowed along many pipes. That was concerning. The magic in use would be able to keep the fluids safe to be sure, but why was there so much- and considering there seemed to be basic experiments ongoing, it seemed logical to assume that they would have run out of stock many centuries ago. The facility was not large enough to have a reservoir as big as the use and and transport would dictate. The obvious solution was that they were producing more but how were they doing so and where was it being stored? Concerning. At least she got to see something even more interesting- perhaps the largest collection of outdated yet intriguing constructs in the whole land. So he did use Arkadian Constructs, one of the last who did. They had their advantages and he exploited them to his heart's content, it seemed. They could be programmed and left alone and had a power source that could be recharged relatively simply. It made sense to use them if you planned for them to operate centuries after your death. Of course they had their flaws, the flaws that would see them fall out of use. They were pointlessly slow and ineffective when it come to any dangerous situation. Even a somewhat fit thief could sneak and gallop past them, even destroy them, with little effort. They weren't capable of much physically and were best used for menial tasks and repetitive jobs. They weren't clumsy at all- as one could see, they were extremely precise. They were just limited in programming. Newer golems- the Neighpon Development, Elemental Construct, Velvet Growth, many others- required more energy and attention, but were far more capable. Yet look at the variety. So many! Why so many- more than a few seemed...it clicked, but she had no time to say it. The door opened- and due to the presence of the golems as they walked through the door, the age regression magic that was ripe in the laboratory spilled out into the classroom. Twilight responded quickly and cast a counter-spell and sustained it in haste, capturing both her and the noblepony next to her in its range of affect. Twilight poured a lot of power into it, but there was no perfect counter-spell to what was happening and she could feel it already weakening moments after she had cast it. The logical part of her coldly analyzed the situation. She knew she was getting younger, even if dramatically slowed, the same as the noblepony. Her magic would grow weaker as well, and it would build up. She had maybe ten, fifteen seconds where this plan could work. After that the spell would collapse and they would rapidly start to regress until both of them were trapped. Squall needed to find the trigger and find it fast. She remembered the room. Aetheric triggers needed some clear space and away from active use of conflicting magic-- this would include alchemical fluids. That would preclude much of the room from being where the trigger could be. Yet that still left a room the size of the throne room. 14 seconds. Aetheric triggers could be placed alongside crystals, but that would likely interfere too heavily with the structural integrity of the crystal. Same if it was too close. Another chunk of the room vanished from consideration. It also required a firm, non-moving, non-interactive surface. That eliminated the golems themselves, the beakers and gear, as well as the footpaths. More space was eliminated. 13 seconds. Still, there was a rather large space it could be, and if the golem fumbled around in it the chance of all this going wrong was very high. She did quick math. Her horn lit up even brighter and half of the laboratory flashed. Then again, it flashed. The second time, a dark yellow 'stain' was visible on the ceiling in the middle of the room- in between two pipes, but just far enough away. That was the trigger, and she made sure Squall was aware. "Ceiling, directly in the middle!" She whispered, her voice higher pitched. She knew she was getting younger. She had what, five seconds? So did he. It felt pointless. She couldn't keep it up long enough... ...And then she felt a small surge. Second wind? She hoped so. It also felt...no, she couldn't think about it right now. The bubble between them brightened, and she felt like they had maybe...ten seconds instead. She didn't speak. She didn't want to hear her voice right now, and she didn't want to hear the response either. Would ten seconds be enough? She didn't know. Even as he moved to go ahead and accomplish his task, she didn't know whether it would be enough time. So she did what she considered best. She re-balanced the counter-spell between them, giving him more protection than she. He needed the hoof-eye coordination. She didn't.
  21. Applejack giggled- out and out giggled- at the idea of bringing Zappy into her classes. She reckoned that the students, at least the good ones, would have a ball. And then the class would be destroyed. Not the best outcome, but maybe they could prevent such a calamity. "Ya know, since most of tha faculty here are at that good family startin' age, you might wanna look into some sort of daycare program. Ah'm fine on account of mah family but- Ah mean, imagine what Rares would do. She's already as high strung as a Stalliongrad violin, now imagine her runnin' about with a foal or four," Applejack snorted. "Ah'd pay ta say that, a lil' Rares runnin' around and Rarity's mane gettin' all in a tizzy. Of course, she'd love it. That mare has more love in her heart than there are stars in tha sky," She said with a sigh. She really did think that mare had more going on for her than some gave her credit for. And really, the same could be said for Blue and the idea of a sailing club. Applejack wasn't one for recreational water activities mind you but she sure did understand the appeal. Long term sailing was kind of like seaborne camping in some way, and she could get behind it. "Sailin' could be fun for a few of 'em. Ah think we made poor Yona 'fraid of tha water last time we went canoeing. Ooh nelly, was that a bad time," her eyes lit up "ah reckon we could hold a school assembly or some such to announce that we're acceptin' registrations for clubs and after school activities? We already have a Buckball team an' ah Cheerleadin' team. Hoofball, soccer, baseball, Ah imagine some sorta chess club, maybe a math club for tha eggheads," she laughed. Loved the idea of the math club since she reckoned Apple Bloom would have loved such a club, quite secretly. Then something sprung up from her memory. "Ya know, with tha School of Magic cookin' up their own buckball team, tha EEA was lookin' ta establish some sorta sports organization for schools like ours. Could be nice ta lead tha way, maybe?" She asked, lost on how it would look but confident they could play a key role in making it work. "'Course, right now Ah think there's only maybe ten, twenty schools 'cross Equestria that'd be interested in such a thing. Makes me wonder, though..." she shook her head, "no matter. Think such a thing has a peach's chance at tha fair of takin' off?"
  22. The way Tempest spoke about the Timberwolves was a little disquieting, though she tried to hide it- likely failed at least to some extent. She did have a rather honest face. She didn't want to destroy or kill them- the thought made her ill. She knew she might have to do something like that as a Twilight Guard or to save kin, but she would never seek it out. Didn't make her feel right as an Equestrian. She reminded herself that Tempest had a different life in front of her. She had been raised less by family and ponies and more by armies and officers in all the ways that seemed to matter to her. Applejack kept her comments to herself. This was the sort of attitude that would need to be broken over time if she truly wanted to find happiness in Equestria. "Ah'm just happy ta keep mah family safe. Ah'll content mahself with that, hehe. Ah'm sure Ah have maple, thinkin' Ah can..." she responded, noticing that Tempest's tempo slowed down as she seemed to focus in on the foal under Applejack's blanket. Was she this thrown off by a foal? Hard to say unless...Applejack had an idea. Maybe it was a bad one but she was here to help Tempest become the pony she was meant to be, right? She could think of one thing to do right here, right now. Did Applejack trust Tempest? Hard question to ask, the harder question to answer really. Ponies were a forgiving lot by nature and Tempest was trying her damndest to press herself through the grate of her past misdeeds to atone and create something for herself. Applejack didn't doubt for a foggy second that the beating heart within Tempest was wanting desperately to just be like the other ponies. Heck, she figured that was one reason why Tempest helped save Twilight. But this was Applejack's foal, the pride of her life. The light of her heart. She didn't doubt Tempest's intentions but she saw flashes of her temper here or there. How would he be with a creature that, while adorably designed, also came with all sorts of bells and whistles designed to drive you batty? Well, Ponies were a forgiving lot by nature. "Wanna hold him?" She asked with a smile, pulling the foal off of her and then getting the blanket off. She burped him and did so with a smile, then nodded at him as of if to say get to it. "Ah'll get our food."
  23. Twilight kept her sigh penned up inside her. She understood well why Squall felt the need to be so prepared and vexed, but as smart as he was, he did not know as much about magic as he believed he did. Just as she did not know as much about technology. That was why they would work well together today. "He was a master evocator, but evocation magic is one of several schools of magic that cannot be be sustained by any means, including what we've seen today. Evocation requires a quid pro quo of expendable magical energy for a life from outside your reality. Expendable magical energy cannot be sustained, it can only be used, and methods such as aetheric cantrip triggers, runic symbols, sigils, or proximity released aetheric devices, all fail to provide the magical energy needed for proper evocation. The only method even theorized...is utterly beyond even the most powerful magic, enchanced or not, that is even attainable with all the proper conditions met. I should know. I tried to summon Mog'bach the Unheeded during my fight with Tirek," she laughed, though shook her head. "Bad idea. Besides, planar magic is something he was *not* known for. If we find something alive down here, I'd be worried about additional breaches we aren't aware of. Animals or other creatures that broke in and stayed here may be changed by the magic." It wasn't long before Squall expressed a degree of, however small, of awe at Thrice Blessed's power. It was well deserved. He was one of the most powerful and respected unicorns of all time among the magical scholar community and for good cause. This was simply a taste of what he was capable of, even if it was a rather powerful sip from his cup nonetheless. She nodded, stuck half between nerding out and half ensuring they kept up a proper sense of cautious respect. "Yes, one of the most powerful in history. We used to have debates back in Magic School and made lists about the hot- I mean, uhh, strongest unicorns in history. Mycuss was five. I think later scholarship would put him at a six. Several others might have been more powerful, but many of them didn't have the...ambitions or scholarly pursuits he had," she said, remembering the passionate fillyhood debates on the subject. While she did so and prepared to cast her spell on Squall, he countered with a new plan. A better one, admittedly. She enjoyed his little golem. She was less confident about the controller. While he no doubt understood the aetheric drop inherent even in designed command rods for golems, moment to moment construction provided a lot of room for something to go on. Despite such concerns, it was very impressive regardless. "Oooh, this is very cool. I love it!" She said as she approached and inspected it, making sure not to touch it. She didn't want an additional aetheric signature to be found on it, lest the longer range movements get disoriented with the fading control. "I think I'll leave the piloting to you, though. I'm no good with those things," she said honestly. Shining. Shining was the one with the excellent hoof-eye coordination.
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