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Everything posted by SteelEagle

  1. It would stand to reason that if they were being invited up here that the Princesses may have something up their royal sleeves. After all, it had been a number of years since this special collective had been formed and the Princesses rarely invited them as a group to anything less than some sort of unique event. It usually ended with them saving Equestria. Hopefully this 'something special' wasn't that because it had become a bit trite over time and she had just enough of this adventuring malarkey, thank you very much! "Oooh, sounds splendid. Hopefully it won't be the sort of special that ends up with us having to save the world again. I'm not dressed for that activity, not tonight," she said with more than a little hint of concern. After all, there was rarely a time when it seemed like her concern could be called misplaced. Luckily, even if rarely was she wrong when she allowed her concern to show, she was around the proper ponies in case pessimism was shown to be wise. The food arrived and soon Pinkie Pie was on it, with the rest of her friends no doubt close behind. Rarity might have some later but at this moment she didn't really feel like eating. Being here with her friends was good enough nourishment for the fashionista's feisty soul at the moment. Honestly, for as silly as it sounded it was true. They all did something important in making her feel whole. She once heard that Equestrians existed substantially in a world of almost universally unyielding kindness, where uncouth and unkind elements were the exception rather than the rule and this seeped into how they had evolved. Maybe Twilight could tell her if any of it made sense but she had to say that she didn't feel the need to eat as long as she was enjoying the fine company gathered tonight. In time however, everypony moved over to the food and so did Rarity. She wasn't going to be impolite, after all. "A small bite can't hurt my figure tonight, I suppose," she said with mock concern and a smile as she moved and made small talk. "Rainbow darling, did you really not think to do something with your mane tonight? Part of it is still matted from a show. Tell me you at least showered!" "Fluttershy, that was a marvellous display when you got that manticore to calm down on the road out of town. What was his name, again?" "Pinkie Pie, did you SEE- or, more accurately, HEAR- Cranky and Matilda? I couldn't believe my own ears. I didn't think Cranky could laugh." "Twilight, you're getting better about presentation recently. Have you considered getting a formal design for your castle staff?" In time she made her way to the balcony, levitating the plate over the side while she threw her crossed front hooves over, gazing out over the city. It gave her some time to think. Applejack seemed odd, didn't she? SOmething about her seemed pensive, not as direct and actionable as normal. Was something the matter? If it was, she was bottling it up rather well. No matter. Rarity wasn't a mare who let stuff like that go, by the by. She searched for a topic...ahh, that would do. "Applejack, dear, come here. I think I spot an apple merchant down there. I wasn't aware your family had been contracted for the festivities tonight!" She asked excitedly, though it was mostly an excuse to pull Applejack closer and get her talking about something she was confident in. Applejack was somepony who operated on stability and if she was unstable she needed to be made stable in order to be comfortable. She knew her friend well. Well, she hoped she did!
  2. Rainbow's muzzle rested on Applejack's neck, the pegasi mare's halting breath and tears felt through the deep breaths she took when next to the earth mare. Applejack, for her part, didn't start crying or even showing much more than she already had. She allowed Rainbow the luxury of letting the good news sink in for a little bit. Indeed, it was good to hear that Applejack wasn't gonna be forcing anything untoward to happen. But as Zap Apple cried on her back and Rainbow's halted breath warmed her neck, Applejack remained stoic. She cared. She had shown she cared. In the midst of all this however, somepony had to be firm. It would have to be Applejack and even as she put one arm around Rainbow and patted her, she knew something was wrong between them. What had been said at dinner had been said after all, and there as little she could do but think it over. It had come out more explosively than Rainbow would have liked, and she may even be ashamed of it now, but that didn't change what had happened and what Rainbow had said. Those words weren't born out of momentary malice, even if such an element charged them. They weren't spoken at random. They were deep inside Rainbow, harbored at the core of her being. It was the real her, even if she would have likely wanted to go about it in a better way, say it in a kinder manner. That was what was sticking through everything else in Applejack's mind. There was a serious problem and they needed to have an adult conversation about them, about the future, and about what they needed in this life. It was a scary talk and she wasn't sure if they could do it alone, to boot. She knew where she stood and she knew that Rainbow may not have the strength for it. Not now, anyway. "It ain't about what Ah deserve," Applejack said as she took the leg she was using to hug Rainbow and used it instead to gently pull her chin up to look at Applejack, who was as calm and composed as she could hope to be, "but what Ah have. It ain't about what you deserve, but whatcha have. And it ain't about what Zap here deserves, but what he has. Ah was pretty sure Ah knew what we all had, but Ah'm not sure- it ain't enough ta love one another. If we're gonna go any further with this and make it work, we need ta get help. All of us, 'cept for tha little stinker on mah back. Ah'll see who Ah can get, sure has ta be somepony good We'll be fine, Rainbow. It'll be fine. We just need ta...solve somethin', thats all."
  3. He'd be more than a little put off by her patronizing tone if it was anycreature other than Silverstream. It would be easy to see that somecreature would be making fun of him or toying with him while he was trying to get used to something so out of the ordinary that he was having trouble just fathoming what was happening. But he knew Silverstream. She was as earnest and honest with how she spoke as anycreature in the world. Not an ounce of sarcasm or sardonic utterings streaming from her. She was saying good job and being kind and generally just being the most Silverstream that Silverstream had ever Silverstreamed, and he was okay with that. When you were alone in the world it was good to have a pillar to lay on, even if he was vocal in his belief that he didn't need the help in the first place. For all of that though he stuck close to her as the pair moved into deeper waters. The light died, but not as fast or hard as he dreaded. Something tickled the back of his head. Everything felt close in, the way the light faded and the darkness drew in. His heart started beating faster. The pressure rose. But then something happened. The light didn't fade too harshly; his eyes were adapted for the environment, meaning it never got too dark and never felt too closed in. The pressure rose but was equalized just as quickly- again, he was adapted for it. His brain was still unsettled. It was too close, too similar, too close, TOO SIMILAR to a small space. He licked his lips and looked around, his eyes deceiving his brain into thinking there was no problem. His body language told the story however- his eyes darted, tail flicked once or twice, and his face was hard and set. He wasn't terrified, not yet. He was just...concerned. "How deep is Seaquestria?" he asked, feigning nonchalance. It was best to put the subject somewhere else. "And how many seaponies even live there? I don't remember hearing about Mount Aris until recently. I knew about Saddle Arabia, Neighpon, the other places but not Mount Aris. I can understand not knowing about Seaquestria, but..." he asked, not sure if Silverstream could answer. She probably could. Maybe could. And even if she couldn't the conversation was better than silently worrying about the fears from above the water twisting his mind into a pretzel. He knew he would be fine. Had to be fine. Probably fine. It wasn't a small space. Just a dark space. Sure felt- no, distraction. "Whats your aunt like?"
  4. Applejack kept her senses sharp as they moved deeper into the cave, Zap's warm form snuggled up in her mane giving her all of the focus she needed to make sure they got out of here safe and sound. She had only taken this route once a few years ago when a small herd of cockatrices had made camp outside of the cave while she was inside of it. They weren't aggressive by nature so she was able to get away without having to be too sneaky about it. This time? Well, this time she was dealing with Timberwolves. A different beast altogether. Great hearing, good tracking, and very, very, very territorial. Until she was out of their territory or they found what they were looking for they were going to be searching for the pair. No matter. It would be fine. You didn't live in the border regions without learning some lessons, harsh as they may come. As they moved deeper the cave narrowed in and they went further into the earth. Never too steep, very gradual- HOWL- but enough for her to keep aware. All the while she kept her breathing calm and steady. The light danced gradually and gracefully in front of them, illuminating each step just as it was needed. Small bugs and other critters moved from the light, some of them never having seen such a thing before. It was rare for stuff to venture down here, wasn't it? HOWL, scamper. Well, she knew for certain that it was safe enough. Nothing down here was likely to be venemous because nothing down here required it. She could only hope that such thoughts became reality. She was an honest mare at heart but heck, she wasn't above lying internally- about some things. A bad habit she hoped to break and a habit she hoped wasn't informing her optimism here. HOWL. That one was closer. It was in the cave. The howl echoed across the walls. Applejack's breath almost caught itself, but she remained calm. She had to, if not for herself, than for Zap. "Alright Zap, yer doin' great. Just hold on, keep on holdin' on. Mama loves you," she whispered, turning her head and giving his front right hoof a little kiss just as her hooves tasted the water. There was a stream that led out. They'd float down and it would be tight for sure. Maybe only two feet of clearance between the water and the top, and that was at its best. Still, it was the way out. "We might get wet. Kinda like-" HOWL "-tha pond in town center, right? No splashin' this time, though. Gotta be quiet," she whispered as she walked into the water until it was sloshing over her body. She took one step and found that was where the drop was. She waited a second. HOWL, the sound of timber on stone. Deep breath. It would be tough, but she'd do it and everything would be fine. She pushed off and started paddle-swimming as best she could, making sure to keep Zap as far away from the water as possible as she swam upright.
  5. The Red Jarl's dissapointment radiated off of him. Here he was in the great Arena and what was he seeing? Failure. Weakness. The Caribou here lacked the skill of their forefathers. Their sirement spoke proudly of them, but their warm blood ran feebly and steamed the cold ground in an unworthy fashion. Even the victorious ones rarely got an approving glare from the rebel commander, and why should they? The Caribou were not bred for victory, they were bred for dominance. And even the victors spoke to dominance only ever lightly. His Housecarls flanked him and they all shared disapproving conversations and looks at the arena. For what was supposed to be a scouting mission he wasn't sure there would be a lot of great warriors to haul back to the rebels. Not that it was much of a surprise considering the state of Whitescar! It was so feeble now. The High King and his lackeys had seen to the gradual weakening of the land and the Caribou that grew hard on it. While the loyalist armies still showed their quality, the rest of the land? Not so much. Maybe that plague killed the brave ones. Maybe the drive away from warfare lowered their skills as a species. Maybe turning off that clarion call for war and combat had neutered them in some spiritual way. Whatever the case was it just seemed like they all lacked the essential elements that made warriors truly shine. They had strength (for now, though he saw one too many fattened bellies for his liking) but that was all they had. Never could a starker, clearer image be seen of the weakness of the Loyalists than what was on display here. The crowd cheered because a fight was a fight and in the land of the Loyalist they had to get what they could. Hehe, 'Land of the Loyalist' as if Saarvagerg could ever be called that. It was loyal to the Southern Wilds and the Arena alone and even the High King wasn't foolish enough to stop it. Rebels such as the Red Jarl could make their presence known in these lands easily enough, especially as the High King was time and time again prevented from ending the rebellion inside of Whitescar itself. A major victory in the northeast had destabilized a loose coalition of clans in the area and boosted rebel numbers in Whitescar itself, and now the old raiding routes near Neighpon were open again. Indeed, even The Serpent's Vein had seen inland raids for the first time in many years. A refreshing change of pace. The drums of war beat ever louder and the rebel clans grew excited at the prospect. The land would belong to the strong, one way or another. Of course they always needed...talent. And the arenas provided a showcase for it. The Red Jarl and a small group of others had been dispatched to hoofpick the best and most worthy they saw. Maybe his standards were too high, because anybou that lost to that foreign mutt wasn't worth his time. As talented and experienced as this Hogo-sha was- and a respectable fighter at that, something the Red Jarl could respect- he knew that the rebels demanded something in the soul that such creatures were unable to offer. But this cow? She had real talent. The only he had seen that combined speed, power, skill, and actual talent since he had arrived. A perfect addition. Two issues. One, here was magic. He could tell because his elder Housecarl had brought along teh Diviner. To make up for their weaknesses, the Loyalists had been borrowing magical weapons and artifacts from abroad. Rebel stockpiles of anti-magical construction and defensive material were low, so they had authorized use of the Diviners- small rods with signals that pointed at the direction of magical elements. Small, hidden in his cloak, it had been pointing at her the entire time. Second- well, the Red Jarl knew the methods of wars of many a culture and army, almost instinctively, and had an eye for detail that was often lost in the discussion of his brute speed and power. He noticed many things about this warrior. Things he wanted to see up close. He turned to an attendant, an elderly bull warrior. "Tell the Manager of the High Games to send these two warriors into the Preparation Hall when they are finished fighting one another," he said sternly to the warrior- not impolitely, mind you. To be stern and direct was the proper Caribou way! The Elder nodded and trotted off. The Red Jarl nodded at his Housecarls, and the trio made their way into the bowels of the Arena. They had a meeting to prepare for.
  6. Hopefully Monday I will live

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. PyroBlaze


      *furiously preforms cpr* Live, damn you, live!

    3. SteelEagle


      I have awoken

    4. tacobob


      Of course you get better...The day I get horrible...bleh...blargh. *dies*

  7. Gallus was shameless. He didn't know much about roleplaying games but he knew he wanted to be good at them if he was going to so much as roll a single die today, so he had done some reading of the rules. Yaks were strong (not too smart) and Berserkers were good at dealing damage and all that seemed simple. More importantly, he knew who the GM was and wanted to get on her good side. Gallus knew Yona and knew what Yona liked, and that was Yaks- so it was easy enough to decide what he wanted to do. Some creatures might call it a shameless move and they were right, but Gallus wasn't above cheesing his way to victory. Besides, this was a cooperative thing. His cheesing was really more like the group's cheesing. They should thank him. "Good choice, right? I think that if anycreature could rock an adventure, it would be a Yak. So his name is Smasher, and he is a Yak Berserker who swings a big axe. Pretty cool right?" Gallus asked, showing off his poorly drawn picture. It worked because it worked. Gallus kept a smooth face on as Smolder came in. She was a cool customer when it came to what was considered more or less acceptable for self-respecting kittens, dragons, and otherwise to do and she didn't look like a dragon who had spent time reading the feat list for level one Berserkers. Not that he did...intentionally. She also brought all the snacks they would need. Neat. He had gained a few pounds since he had moved to the school and it felt like if there was one thing ponies had excelled at without debate it was in sugary snacks and leisure foods. He would partake, gladly. "Hey there Smolder. Good thinking on the snacks. I didn't know whether or not I was supposed to bring something...anyway, yeah, its pretty easy. Easy enough even for you to grasp," he said, sticking his tongue out churlishly. He liked kidding with his friends and with Smolder it was fun to be a bit rough. She didn't hold back, so why would he? Sandbar took his attention next. Good colt, good friend. Kind of the perfect representation of an Equestrian, wasn't he? He was always so understated and calm that it could be hard to remember that he knew more about what was going on than the rest of them. He also seemed to know a bit more about the game too than the rest of them. He wanted to recreate a character? Heh. He was having a hard enough time making a character, let alone recreating one. Good for Sandbar, and of course he'd be a Paladin, the goody-four shoes he was. "Nah, I'm a Berserker. You should be fine as a Paladin. You've played before?" He asked rhetorically. This would put him in the position of party leader. Was he ready for it? Likely. Sandbar could surprise a lot of creatures, especially himself. "Paladins do some cool stuff, right? What do you think Smolder would like to play?" He asked for the dragon's benefit. She'd never ask and sometimes you had to rip the bandaid off, but if anycreature could answer and help, it'd be Sandbar. And he could probably tell Gallus who the stranger was. Gallus was far past his grumpy, non-talkative stage but that didn't mean he would leap to meet anycreature new...especially ones that looked a little old to be playing in a game being played by students and ran by one. What was it they said- young in heart something something? Gallus looked at the stranger as it bounced and talked and generally just seemed rather excited to play. Whatever. The more the merrier? Seemed harmless enough. He also seemed to know a little bit about playing the game. Cool. Well, at least a growing number of them understood the concepts. "Hey," Gallus said laconically. Not distant, not rude, but definitely not very engaging. He didn't know this stranger yet. Keeping your cards close to the chest was a time-honored tactic. His claws stayed close to his chest as Silverstream came in, a single claw lazily playing with some of his chest feathers as she decided to spend all her time talking to and about the stranger. What was so interesting about the stranger? He wasn't so interesting. Not that she was wrong in saying there seemed to be like sixty versions of ponies. He was always told there were three, maybe four, but it seemed like the list grew and grew. She gave him an excited eye and after he remembered to breath and stop playing with his chest floof he smiled and then looked nervously away, back at his character sheet. When she asked whether she could play as the stranger though..."No! I mean, umm, pretty-pretty sure there are only certain options, hehehe, sorry. In the book, since- I leafed through it, you know, I was too busy- flying not...reading the books, you know, working on my wings. Because. I fly, you know."
  8. What was a role-playing game? Gallus didn't understand the appeal or the need for it, especially in a land full of magic and mystery. Why spend your time talking about adventures and pretending like you were little kittens when you could go have them if you so desired? Honestly, it seemed an activity designed specifically to target his favorite place in the world: Inside, with a roof over his head, sleeping lazily. It seemed like such a nerdy thing, too. When Yona had breathlessly explained it, Gallus couldn't help but think it sounded like a campfire story with a lot of unnecessary math. And unnecessary camp fire stories to boot, though he didn't have the heart to tell the overly excited Yak that. Not that he would ever want to play it.... ...Yet here he was, walking into the empty classroom with some paper, a pencil, and some weird dice. Uggh. He couldn't say no to his friends, even he really wanted to say no, even when he thought the activity was kinda lame. Of course, just because the activity was lame didn't mean the company was. Yona made most things fun and he was sure that she would work her yak-fur off to make this fun. The others? Eh, he didn't know who else was invited to this little party of theirs. Probably other students. Was Silversteam going to be here? Sandbar? Ocellus? Smolder? Who knew. He had trouble imagining any of them here. Then again, he had an even tougher time imagining himself here. Guess his imagination, or theater of the mind for roleplaying purposes, wasn't all that strong. "Hey Yona," he said aimlessly as he took his seat. The room was dark and atmospheric, he'd give her that much. "Nice ribbons," he jabbed in a friendly manner as well. It was true, she always did her hair well, but he wondered why the ribbons considering the atmosphere of the place. They weren't spooky ribbons. Was this supposed to be spooky? Huh. Was role-playing spooky or fun? He didn't know. Both? Neither? Gallus was less interested in coming to a conclusion than he was in hanging out with his friends, so he was just happy she seemed to be excited for it. Somecreature had to be! "Looking excited over there. I got my character ready, I think. Who else is supposed to show up?" Gallus asked as he put his stuff on the table, complete with a terrible drawing of a yak in heavy armor wielding a greatsword.
  9. SteelEagle


    Welcome! Enjoy your stay and have fun!
  10. Shifter- Tier 2. However, this can fluctuate due to the ability to in some manner mimic the powers of who Shifter turns into, though not to the same level. Intelligence: 3 Strength: 2 Speed: 2 Durability: 6 Energy Projection: 0 Fighting Skills: 2 Applejack, The Equestrian- Tier 3, bordering on Tier 4. Intelligence: 4 Strength: 5 Speed: 5 Durability: 5 Energy Projection: 3 Fighting Skills: 7 The Battlemage- Tier 4, borders on Tier 5 and possibly Tier 5 standard. Potentially unlimited depending on whom she speaks and makes deals with. Intelligence: 6 Strength: 3 Speed: 4 Durability: 5 Energy Projection: 7 Fighting Skills: 3 Lady Adventure- Tier 1, often Tier 2, ALSO OFTEN TIER 3 OR ABOVE. She doesn't know(or care), how can you? Intelligence: 1? 7? Strength: 1? 5? Speed: 1? 7? Durability: 3? 7? Energy Projection: Okay, this is a 0. Unless it is a 7. Fighting Skills: 2? 7?
  11. Is it your turn in our thread, sugarcube?

    1. Ciraxis


      It is! Working on it today!

    2. SteelEagle


      Hot and awesome!

  12. The breathing. The breathing was a problem because it wasn't a problem. Every breath he took told him he was about to drown, all of this instinctual panic settling in and setting alarm bells off. He was drowning! He was drowning, sweet feathers! Except he wasn't. Every breath he took also told him he was fine. The pressure was intense at first...or it should have been! Griffons and pegasi alike had weak bone structure when it came to pressure. The same reason they were o good at flight was why water could be so dangerous. The pressure as he went down, it should have been intense. Crushing his bones! Except he could...feel the bones, they had changed. He was different. His skeleton was different. His muscles. He would be fine. Moving underwater was scary. The water flowed over his feathers, ruining them. Except they didn't, because he was made for the water. Made for the sea. The way his large tail moved, the two massive...fins, were they, moved. It felt unnatural at first but the fins were like wings, right? That was easy enough to work his mind around. Claws too, that was easy enough. Of course, the water wasn't exactly like flying. Pressure changes, liquids versus gasses, a lot of stuff that was sciencey that was just second nature to him. The tail was harder though. A lot harder. A griffon's tail was light at the worst of times and didn't play much of a role except as playfully being swatted about. This was different. It was big. It felt like half of his body was in that tail! It was so weird and he couldn't get it right. It was just so big! Every swing sent a wave behind him, disturbing the sandy bottom visibly and disrupting the calming surface. It would take a while to get used to this, if ever. Thankfully, he wasn't alone. Within moments of him opening his shocked mouth underwater he was in a tight embrace, Silverstreams positive energy and flow managing to seep i through his dulled mind. She spoke and at first, he didn't hear her very well. Less so because of the water and more because the words were a little too nonchalant for him to register. At least she didn't care what he looked like, even if she didn't know what it was. The first half was shockingly soothing, more than he could have imagined. The second was worrying. Was he a freak? He didn't want to be a freak. He wanted to be Gallus. Underwater Gallus was a good name for what he was, though he was confident it wasn't a species name. She helped guide him in the water. Her presence was warm and soothing- if he could hide his blush he would but despite the fact that he was always naked, he felt more vulnerable and nude now than ever before. It was comforting to have help. He found himself leaning ever so slightly on her unintentionally. When he was a chick, he had nogriff to turn to. He learned through imitation of the older chicks and kittens and through a lot of painful trial and error, a lot of humiliation, and one or two lessons from older griffons who wanted to send him somewhere that required he fly. That was how most learned in Griffonstone unless you were the rare type with an established family. That was why he took so much pride in what he could do, because he knew he had clawed his way to learn it. But this was different. He was in Silverstream's world. A world she inhabited with such a carefree spirit that it was hard to deny that anyone could do it if they would only try. And she was there for him, in that moment, as terrified and insecure as he was. Somepony, somegriff, somecreature, was there for him, it felt, for the first time. He listened to her words and he moved with her body, allowing himself to be guided as he tried to learn how to be anything but a nuisance. He was quiet. Focusing on trying to not be a burden and embarrassment for both of them. Focusing on anything and everything but what was bubbling up within him, focusing on the slowly dying levels of panic that threatened to no longer derail his frazzled nerves. Some time passed. He didn't know how long. "I think I'm okay, Silver. You can...uhh, yeah I think I can go on my own, now."
  13. "Flight combat, I mean, I can help you at least a little. Really all that it involves is acrobatic flight training. Working on balance and coordination. The rest? Twi, you're underselling yourself. Nopony else can even dream about mid-air magical combat except for you and the Princesses. I can and will give you all the pointers I can when it comes to making you a more balanced flier, a mother athletic flier. I will work you hot and sweaty and you'll want to quit, but you'll be great in the air. Combat? You don't fight like a pegaus. You fight like a unicorn. I can teach you how to fly and be agile and balanced, but you'll need to figure out how your poker here figures into things," Rainbow Dash replied, tapping Twilight's horn as the final emphasis. As she reached over and made contact though, she spotted Twilight...sizing her up, for lack of a better word. As Twilight broke her gaze, so did Rainbow turn hers away. That was intensely awkward and she wasn't entirely sure what to make of it. What was Twi doing? Was she....just looking for medical reasons? Maybe she was trying to make sure that Rainbow was healthy enough to teach her. Hmm...that didn't seem likely. No, Rainbow could try and delude herself for a few seconds but it was clear as the sun above what Twilight was doing. What wasn't clear was why Rainbow Dash found herself so confused regarding how to respond. She should just brush it off. She should just tell Twi to stop. She should...do something. But all she did was reposition herself on her seat, her tail flicking of its own accord out and away from her unintentionally giving her a nice view of her flank. Maybe unintentional. Wait what- come on, just be focused! She shook her head and started drinking her juice quickly. What was- okay, what were they going to be doing, exactly? She drank her juice and drank her juice until it was gone and continued drinking a moment longer. Only when she realized that too was awkward did she stop. "Uhh..okay. Well, uhh, we need to...plan it. Yeah. So, first, we need to start you on what I call roll-fly. I mean there is a real name for it. You use yaw to move on the vertical axis and then we start banks and 180 turns based off of wing-tip movements. That will be the foundation of pretty much everything else. For balance you want to practice with those two things. Once you can yaw and bank in flight well you can maintain balance a lot easier, and minute movements of th wingtips can end with really sharp turns with a lot of control. I won't lie to you: This can be a lot tougher than the sort of flying you're used to. I believe you can do it, but do you believe you can do it?" She asked, wondering what if anything she was hoping to accomplish by battling whatever confusion lived inside her.
  14. Pinkie Pie blew raspberries. "I was just so excited earlier when I entered your shop. First I was like," she took in a deep, immediate breath of shock! "-oh my gosh a new shop! And then I was like," she drew in an even bigger shocked breath, her head getting big enough to start her floating gently off the ground, "-oh my gosh, a new friend!" She deflated herself and fell back down to earth. "I was having such a friendache- that's when the shock and joy of meeting a new pony friend causes your head to hurt- that I just forgot some things. Not that I'd ever forget how pretty these glasses were! Wowza! I can see my reflection in them and everything, That must take some work and a lot of skill! How much does this set a pony back? A hundred bits? Twwwwwwwwooooo hundred bits?" She asked, eyeing one of the glasses. And by eyeing she meant holding it so close to her that her eye almost got stuck. She pulled her way out before a problem arose, a ring around her eye reminding her of pirates. And eyepatches! They'd wear those to the new drinkery in town, no doubt. The Howler's Bar sounded so cool! "Wow, that name is pretty awesome, I bet all sorts of ne'er-do-wells would hang out there. Pirates, criminals, lackeys, private eyes, femme fatals- the works! You can even have a back room where super high stakes games of go-fish are conducted. What do you think they bet at such games? I like to imagine they bet gold bits. Thats right, bits, but they're gold- goldier than the gold our bits are made of! I should get you in touch with Applejack to get some really hard cider. She makes several ciders, but special blends with high glug-glug content for places like yours. She is the best drink mare in town...present company excluded, of course," she said with a snort and a giggle. Couldn't forget about Berry now, could you? Berry Punch was on top of her game, as opposed to being underneath her game, which was a bad place to be in any case. Her punch was always the kick she needed at a foal's party, a welcoming party. a wedding party, really it benefited most parties. "Good good good good. You got the good stuff, Berry. Can't wait to see what you cook up next! Pony's premiere punch pony presents perfection...when it comes to drinks, anyway," she giggled. Berry Punch lived up to her name. Her Berry punched you hard and her punch had a strong berry taste. "Maybe we should have Rainbow Dash sponsor the drinks. She's wanting somepony to approach her to sponsor something at some point since she became a Wonderbolt! I'll make sure you receive the bits pronto, skip!" Pinkie gave a nod and a very serious salute. When you were conductive super serious party business you had to ensure the proper level of seriousness at all times. She was secretly the most serious mare in town by several million lengths, don't let the parties fool you! Or maybe that was thinking about it too hard and she just liked to have fun. Such a mysterious mare! Just like those mysterious fight clubs she knew nothing about. "By fight club law, section I paragraph one, you can't talk about it, duh! You have to be invited, silly!"
  15. Applejack focused as well as she could on the job at hoof. She had to be careful about the way in which she went about cutting the fungus off. If she didn't do it just right then there would be less for her in the future, the fungus growing back slower and worse. That was part of being a caretaker, no matter what you were the caretaker of. Knowing when to cut and when to grow. Everypony thought a healthy forest was a forest with all its trees, where nothing was ever cut and it was allowed to grow wild and free infinitely. Somepony with a caretaker's eye knew that was a lie. Stressed trees become susceptible to droughts and insect attacks. That overgrown shrubbery that was once a forest was a tinder box and staging ground for a vast infestation that would destroy much of the surrounding area. To save a forest you cut down some trees. She was a caretaker. Of the fungus, of the forest, of the Orchard, of her kin. It was in her blood, to care and fawn and raise and grow those around her. It came as second nature to her. Had been ever since she was just a wee filly who looked at the orchard like it was the whole world. Felt true every morning when she woke up, got ready, and went to work excitedly. She found herself caring deeply about every new chick that hatched, each new fawn, every little tree and hoofprint that was around her. Heck, when she thought that way it almost made her feel like Fluttershy. But she knew that it wasn't as rosy as all that. It came with hard decisions and harsh moves at times. You could cry about it later, get upset about it when it was done, but she was a caretaker and knew a simple truth in all things: To save a forest, you cut down some trees. "It'll be fine, Sugarcube. We'll be out of this stinky, smelly cave soon enough," she whispered with a joking tone as she turned and gave her worried little stallion a quick peck. She could content herself with just that. Getting out of here with the two of them safe. But she knew that would just mean another trip, another possible way for something to go wrong. She was so close to finishing. With a few more scrapes and a quick peek, she was done. The fungus was in a small jar that would hold until they returned home. It took maybe a minute from start to finish. All this trek just for that, eh? That was the life though. A lot of effort for what always felt like small returns if you tried to compare it to the monumental effort spent on the activity itself. A caretaker didn't look at it that way, though. Every new growth and every small success was enduring proof of the righteousness of the hard decisions made. If life was about something other than luck then it would have to be about will. And she was sure as shone gonna ensure that the trees being cut down weren't going to be of the apple variety, not today. Such was her will on the matter, anyway. "All right, here is what we're gonna do honey," she said, grabbing the geode light and placing it on her hat with some sticky sap. "Them howls are a little too close for comfort. So what we're gonna do is go deeper in the cave. Now, Ah know that sounds mighty scary but it'll be fine. Ah got us a mighty nice light right here and y'all can just stay on top of me an' hold onto mah neck. Ah know a shortcut an' we'll be home in time for a bath an' some food," she said with a broad smile. Bit of a detour but she was gonna make sure this was a safe trip. She wouldn't mind knocking some timberwolves into kindling, but no reason to expose Zap to all that just yet.
  16. Ahh, the activity of the city hummed along with all the excitement that it was known for in festival season, amplified by the presence of so many famous ponies. The Summer Solstice Celebration had morphed over the years from a small celebration with a few hundred to maybe a few thousand ponies to a national party day, most acutely felt in Canterlot itself. Row upon row of sales spoke to the commercial aspect of it, while musicians and entertainers of all stripes flooded the city for concerts and gigs and all the parties. Their faces were plastered on advertisements that lined the street and she could hear the far off vocals of some early performances, and the distant laughter of some comedy act. She was not here for any of that, however. She was there for her friends, and she followed the ticket to the royal palace, and from there a series of security points where her visage and ticket were enough to gain her entrance. In no time she was at the promenade deck and caught sight of her dear friends. To say that they were important to her was an understatement. While she was justly proud of her career and backbone, she knew for a fact that each and every one of them had enriched her being beyond her understanding in their own unique ways. Fluttershy's gentle nature had shown her kindness and patience in the face of adversity was to be justly rewarded in time. Rainbow Dash's will to achieve her dream had emboldened Rarity to achieve hers. Pinkie Pie's boundless enthusiasm for every aspect of life was infectious in all of the best ways, and gave Rarity a boost of energy whenever she caught sight of her transparently positive pony friend. Twilight Sparkle had shown Rarity that anything and everything was possible, that balance and fairness in all things was right and proper, and not to mention that due diligence was a sure sign of success. And then there was Applejack. A special case, if only because she had known the mare longer than the others and didn't think she had necessarily learned anything from her lately. Not because she hadn't learned a lot, mind you...but Applejack was as familiar to Rarity as a proper stitch. Mysteries had long ago been dispatched between them. She was a dear friend, her oldest acquaintance, and one of the best mares she knew. "Hello, everypony!" She said with a cheery entrance, head held high as she entered the promenade. She struck a pose when she had their attention, so as to better accentuate her outfit. She wore a winter hat and a fine coat with faux white furs with two matching pairs of aquamarine booties, also topped with faux fur. "I came dressed for the occasion, no?" She giggled and tittered before hugging the closest of her friends. "So good to see you! And such a special occasion to boot. I cannot imagine seeing the Summer Solstice in a better location than this. Thank you dearly, Twilight. Though I must ask, why this one? Something special about this Summer Solstice? You wouldn't be taking over Celestia's celestial duties now, would you?" She winked as part of her frivolity, though a part of her couldn't deny that with Twilight, almost anything was possible.
  17. Applejack took several deep breaths, trying to keep herself low enough to not disturb the scene in front of her. It was oddly cathartic, while still being heartbreaking. Applejack watched and listened to Rainbow Dash's...breakdown, for lack of a better word. It may as well have been the perfect one considering how deep Rainbow had sunk and how quickly it had happened. She had always been strong on the outside but capable of fracturing inside. Self-confidence was never her strong suit despite how much she seemed to possess. Applejack had heard about her backstage meltdown at the Best Young Fliers competition all those years ago. Ever since then she had appeared on the surface t be headstrong and in command of herself to a great degree. But Applejack knew the truth. Ponies evolved but the core was the core. Rainbow Dash was going to have her insecurities but she worked to keep them down and away from her mind. Strong waves of confidence almost always hid that the bedrock was full of fear. The fear of failure, and here she was thinking she had failed. Applejack took another deep breath and started to walk towards her mare, picking up the confused and sticky Zap Apple in the process. He looked like he was about to cry. 'Filly see, filly do' as the saying went, even if he wasn't a filly. She shushed him and held him tight before placing him on her back. He held tightly to her mane and sniffled. There would be tears no doubt. You can't stop a foal when the tears were on their way, merely delay their arrival. Still, she had to talk to Rainbow. She wasn't a mare who cried easily and when she did so, she cried on the inside. That didn't mean that when she spoke her words weren't fragmented and broken in their own way, which was soon apparent. She reached out and pulled on Rainbow's shoulder, keeping the flightly pegasus firmly in her grasp. "Rainbow Dash, calm down. Nopony's sendin' anypony away. Like it or not, yer stuck with me an' Zap Apple here forever," she said as Zap Apple started to cry, his tears a long time coming. She sat next to Rainbow Dash and held onto Zap Apple, patting him on the back. She wanted to dig at Rainbow for causing all this mess, but it wasn't the time. "Listen sugarcube, Ah know this is rough and tough an' it don't feel good. That's just how it is sometimes. Knowin' what we want and goin' for it, well, that's what makes us, us, right? We all have dreams an' wants. Yer lucky enough ta live yours. Ah'm lucky enough ta live mine. Y'all just need to think on whether whats in yer heart is what yer sayin' out loud," she said as she pulled Rainbow in closer, giving her a hug even as Applejack continued to sit next to her and stared off. "You ain't a bad filly. Yer just scared. It's no sin ta be afraid, 'specially when the road gets bumpy."
  18. It was good that Opal liked surprises because Pinkie loved surprises and was planning on surprising Opal, so it was good that she was hopefully gonna like it because oh boy did some ponies NOT like getting surprised! "Noted and NOTED! Your party is going to be s much fun! It is always so nice to have new friends move into town. You're gonna love it! Parties can be a great place to not only meet and greet and mingle and jingle but to smooze and make all sorts of connections. What do you do for a living, Opal? Are you in some sort of gem business?" Pinkie asked, excited to know what she could about Opal. Even if it didn't seem like she was looking for important pieces of the party puzzle, she was always hunting down every little tidbit she could find. Not only was this useful now but it would help build the tapestry that was Opal Frost, a mystery that Pinkie would like to solve! Speaking of mysteries. Drinks! Berry Punch had a knack for creating the best punch in town. Bits on the table. She was the best when it came to creating the best flavors around. Pinkie downed the drink in one giant gulp, lifting the cup on high with her mouth. She tossed the cup and caught it with a hoof. "Wowie! Berry, you're getting better and better and better and better every day!" She said with a giggle. "That reminds me, I've gotta get several barrels of punch. You wouldn't believe it but my punch stockpile is getting looooooooow-" she motioned to the floor, coiling like a cat, "-and I need them HIGH!" She ended with a great leap from her position straight up several pony lengths into the sky. She landed with a softer than expected clop on her four hooves and a laugh. "Your punch may not give me wings but it certainly makes me feel that way!" Not that making Pinkie feel lighter than air was very hard. Her body was eighty percent sugar by concentration normally anyway. Her normal hyperactive behavior was only being curtailed by her relentless seeking of friend-related knowledge about the newcomers. Tiger Blood, what a name THAT was, seemed to like it rough and tumble. She liked it soft and marshmallowy, so different strokes for different folks. The mare from Neighpon known as Toboe was looking to start a business and had the...neighpon bits...to do it, it sounds like. "Nice to meet both of you!" Pinkie said as she pronked in place due to the sugar rush. "Ooh, I have an idea! Maybe Toboe can build a bar that is also a gym that acts like a fight club for Tiger Blood to join!" She giggled, "beyond that, I think you'll find some gyms but not enough fight clubs! I wouldn't know much about those. You aren't so supposed to talk about them, duh!" She continued her pronking, this time moving in a circle around everypony. "Another bar would be nice. The Watering Hole is always a little hard to get to and its always so overcrowded. Whatcha gonna have at your bar thats special and makes it all Toboey, Toboe? I like saying your name! Toboe, Toboe, Toboe!"
  19. Applejack was labored with regret as she galloped home. Guess getting all cleaned up was for a waste with how quickly she was moving back home, sending dirt and sweat flying as her tired body ignored the negative coronations of being unduly tired. She needed to get home. She needed to get home, and she needed to get home fast. She didn't know what she planned on doing or why she was going to do it, she just knew she needed to do something and it needed to be fast. Her head was swimming with the myriad possibilities, tinged with a bit of angst at the unbelievability of any of this happening at all. It was a hurricane of emotions that swallowed up the serenity of the sea and spit them all out, tangled and ruined in the tumult by forces barely understood by the ponies going through it. She was still mad as hell at Rainbow Dash. This was to be a good night out. A night for them to be together and alone with another couple and able to enjoy one another's company without the incessant demands of work or family. Rainbow had decided to ruin it for no good reason other than she wanted to fight about it. But she wasn't the one who went for the throat, now was she? No, that Applejack. She hadn't let her mare off very easily, not at all. And while Rainbow had been the one who wanted to fight, it was Applejack who laid her harshest criticism out for all to see. She felt like an idiot. Rainbow was a sensitive mare behind all that bluster and she had went for some bruising commentary. Seeing Rainbow Dash well up and tear up was never easy in the best of circumstances and Applejack had ensured that it happened in public. How awful was that? Pretty awful she reckoned. But Rainbow hadn't wanted it any other way. She didn't want to wait until they were alone to have it out. She wanted it public, she wanted it mean, she wanted it personal. Applejack felt awful...but being honest, she didn't really blame herself. Rainbow had made her bed and had to lay in it. Applejack had to be there to help her out of it so they could move on. Such were the roles they had today. In almost no time at all, Applejack found herself rounding into the Orchards. Rainbow was somewhere in the Western Orchard. She could tell, the way the clouds above had been shorn in half and tossed about by tricks in its direction. She continued galloping but in due time started to slow, hearing Rainbow's sobs as she drew in. Soon she was at a treeline looking in on Rainbow and Zap, together. Rainbow looked like a mess. Zap Apple looked like he had made a mess, though Rainbow hadn't yet noticed. Applejack leaned against a tree and looked on in silence, allowing Rainbow to have her moments with Zap Apple- even tinged with sadness as they were now. Even then, such moments were beyond precious.
  20. Canterlot. Oh, how she loved this city. It was the height of Equestrian nobility, the ideal of national thought and form. The glamour and sophistication that characterized the city was something that Rarity embodied internally so naturally that she always felt like a citizen of Canterlot trapped in a small town. Not that she minded her home but her heart was addicted to the grandeur of the Equestrian capital. Manehattan had its charms and Stalliongrad whispered seductively in the far north, but Canterlot was the jewel in her heart. When Twilight offered her the chance to participate in a special Summer Solstice Celebration at the castle of all places, she didn't have to think for nary a moment before accepting. Indeed, her schedule lined up well regardless and she was planning a trip to Canterlot the week after so it aligned, like the stars, rather perfectly for the busy mare. Perish the thought of her ever being too busy for her friends, however. Despite her burgeoning fashion empire demanding more and more of her attention and, admittedly, lessening her ability to simply enjoy the little things in life as much as she once did, she always ensured that she had the time for those she cared so deeply for. Indeed, all her friends were so busy nowadays. It used to be they could make a schedule and then abandon it, aware they could make it up the next day or sometime soon. No social event was out of reach nor a friend out of touch. Now a missed lunch or spa date between friends felt like a real missed opportunity. She didn't mean to be dramatic- they saw each other plenty enough, at the very least at the School of Friendship- but an element of casual camaraderie had slowly been replaced by something more time intensive. No matter. Any time spent with one another was time well spent regardless. So of course she replied positively to the invitation and packed for a nice little trip to the city, including some days after the Solstice was through. She was a little curious as to why there was a letter, of course. Why not simply ask Rarity herself? Honestly, Twilight could be so mysterious sometimes. Or was it obtuse? yes, obtuse. It smelled like something was up and you didn't need Shadow Spade to tell you that. She arrived to the city on the appointed night- why hadn't they all taken the train together?- and to the castle soon afterwards. It was busy with many festivities and she was a well known heroine to the Guards so walking into the main lobby was no issue. Nor was her fashion, not that it ever was! All she had to do was find her pesky, elusive friends and enjoy them and the Solstice!
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