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Everything posted by SteelEagle

  1. I will be posting in the next day or so. Sorry for the delay, sugarcube.

    1. Ciraxis


      Seeing that I have glacial pace myself, I am a last person that should make any qualms. Take your time.

  2. There was an awful pregnant pause between the mares, Twilight on the verge of saying something likely very crazy. Rainbow Dash played it off well when Twilight was still looking at her, but once she started the loops, Rainbow became a small mess. Okay, okay, okay, there was something nutty happening now. Was Twilight going through Alicorn heat or something? Why suddenly all the fluster? And why was Rainbow so equally vexed by it? She played with her front hooves as she hovered above the ground, her mind racing as she counted the loops. One, Two. Okay, how does she approach this? Does she tell Twilight she's flattered by the attention but...what would she say then? Three, Four. Rainbow wasn't sure how to feel. It was cool to have an Alicorn more or less admit through increasingly poor communication skills something you'd never expect. Five, Six. But how did she feel about it? She didn't know. She liked Twi. She liked Twi a lot. But how much was a lot. Seven, Eight. It was a lot to think about. Her chest rose and fell quickly, and then she clamped down on it. She was here to do a job. The emotions could be sorted through when she had time, but Twi had asked for help. Nine, Ten. Task orientation, something Twilight could certainly appreciate. Twilight did okay. She knew for certain that Twilight could do better. The loops didn't improve, though Rainbow knew that was unlikely. Twilight's wings and body were tired and beaten. It was about getting the movement down, and she was doing that. A success. Her magic blasts didn't improve in accuracy or strength, indeed one of them missed. That was also okay. As long as the idea of quick-firing after a movement was finished was ingrained in her and the feeling of charging a blast, something Dash was certain took concentration, while undertaking a flight maneuver was normalized the actual success of these individual attacks was less important. The important thing was that while Twilight had tried to play it off like it was not going to be as hard as it was, she was spent. Absolutely spent. Yet she kept on doing it. If she was going to be serious about it, good. She had proved it. "Yeah, yeah. I guess so," Rainbow said faux flippantly, landing on the ground. "You can take a break if you want. You did pretty well up there, Twilight. I mean, in just doing it, at least. We'll work on making you better. Loop tightness, accuracy, transition speed- you'll have it down soon. And then we can get to work on more important concerns. But for now, a break. I'll get you something to drink, just a sec," she said as she blitzed away. A few moments later she returned with a bucket of water and some mugs, and a far off protest from what sounded like an upset farm mare. She poured it for Twilight and laughed. "You look like me after a few hours of flight tuning in the wind chambers. Do your fetlocks hurt like you've been slapping them against rock? It's called Wonderbolt hoof. The whiplash of the air against the fetlocks as the muscles tense against the change in pressure can cause some bruising. Gotta watch for that. Honest, how are you feeling right now?"
  3. Of course he wasn't in a costume. It wasn't Nightmare Night...was it? The longer he was in whatever fever dream this was, the larger the distance between fact and fiction grew and the head spoke strange realities into being, the less and less certain he was of how he had gotten here. There was a nagging sense of wrongness to everything. A strange filter through which everything inside felt off yet nothing else existed. Reason and illusion switched importance and seating as moments drifted away, and all that remained was the immediate concern. In this case, Rarity seemed a little more than concerned about the fact he was not dressed for the occasion, though whether or not him being nude was a worthy addition to the horror was up for debate. Cousin Applejack, who was clearly suffering a cold, seemed to play along. Valen chuckled, shaking his head. "I guess I was unprepared this year." He guessed so, because this was Nightmare Night and he didn't know why he didn't have a costume already. Rarity suggested they go to her boutiue and Valen found nothing disagreeable about the notion. "You lead the way, Miss Rarity," Valen replied politely as he trotted alongside them. They soon found themselves in the heart of Ponyville, the quaint town that had stopped being quiet years ago and was the center of so much public and private concerns as to boggle the mind. Something seemed weird, though, that foggy grey filter on his mind peeking through again as he noticed they seemed to be the only creatures in town. He could swear he heard noises elsewhere but wherever he looked he found little more than empty streets and a certain element of close-in darkness that threatened to steal the light. In time they approached the Boutique. "Ponyville seems strangely empty tonight...no matter. Can't wait to see what you have thought up before, Miss Rarity!" he said as the trip entered the building.
  4. Applejack seemed apprehensive or unnerved. Not unnerved exactly. Flustered? yes, Flustered. She didn't sit close. She scooted about awkwardly. Had some trouble starting up her speech. The situation seemed to put her into some strange spirit. One of Rarity's brows raised and her face was less than impassively concerned. Was there something wrong? Was she not comfortable? She opened her mouth to speak when Applejack started speaking herself, and the momentary uplift in Applejack's spirit was plain enough to see without interruption. She instead allowed herself to be transported to a better frame of mind, a better frame of time. Apple family traditions always put Rarity at ease. They had grown up in the same town but may as well have grown up in polar opposite worlds. Her parents were well to do and while her father was from Mustangia and carried along some traditions of the native Mustangs, neither were much for old familial traditions and the warmth and comforts of years gone by. They didn't disdain the past, not at all! Instead, they were forward facing to a fault. They were small-town wealthy and spent their money on luxuries. The Apple family was secretly incredibly wealthy, but also put that wealth into business nationwide. They revered the past and carried on traditions and customs that lived long in memory and would survive the passage of time. What they lacked for in immediate wealth they made up for in wealth of memory. Everything Applejack was and would be was tied up in the long and storied traditions and customs of her family. There was far more to their customs than harvesting apples and making pie, she knew that much- but the aforementioned fluster and bluster was masking it behind a veil of confusion that was striking her friend. Curious, no? "Oh, I am a bit chilly, I suppose," she replied evenly, her slight concern more noticeable than she would have otherwise meant. Her voice always carried a dramatic rise to it that was at times almost impossible to circumvent, her emotions equally worn and embellished on sleeves as embellished and stark as they were. Still, a blanket was welcome in all cases. She was about to ask if everything was alright when the show started, and her eyes were attracted to the lightshow on display. While in no way as much a fan of the art of the firework as Pinkie Pie, whose wild exclamations could barely be hard from where the Ponyville natives were stations, she certainly appreciated the intricate patterns of fire and light on display. Everypony was a weaver of some kind. Once you accepted that, you accepted so much more. "Oooh, what a show. You're right- she has pulled out all the stops this year," she said and then laughed, giving her friend a sideye smile, "makes me think she is trying to impress somepony. Who do you think the lucky stallion is?"
  5. Rainbow gulped when Twilight mentioned working her over. Based on what Twilight had been doing earlier, Rainbow wasn't certain how safe for consumption such a thought was. Based on what Rainbow's mind was going through in terms of all the possible interpretations, it likely wasn't very safe. And just as worrying was how enticing such a thought process became as she delved into it. Upon her came in unstoppably a furious onslaught of emotions tethered to little more than a concept and a dream, anchored in mysterious tides of magenta. It was enough to turn a cyan pegasus pink if only for the duality it all presented, if she allowed herself a moment to wallow in the muck of her own mental gymnastics. She had real athletics to watch, however, distracting her as best they could. Twilight, distracting her best as she could which was happening in larger swathes of mental real estate, was still not enough to make Rainbow Dash forget the lessons she was trying to impart. Repetition, stress, mental and physical elasticity stretched and stretched, the work being done was less exciting than it was going to be later but was constantly important to remind Twilight that this wasn't going to be a job done over a day or two. She could conquer anything individually but it was only in the aggregate that she was going to be anywhere near successful enough so that when she found herself up against it when fighting a villain she could act purely on instinct rather than fumble over plans. Twilight did well on her first loop. Once you understand flight and you could fire off a horn, doing such was very simple. Still, there were problems. She did everything well but not well enough. The delay between her finishing the manoeuvre and firing was too long, the blast lacked a certain speed and curtness, and the loop was inefficient. None of it was based on obscure wingtip knowledge, at least not this one. She just needed more experience, more repetition, and the improvement would be gradual and important. Twilight could do this, because she could do anything she put her mind to. And her wings. Horn too. And overworked muscles, can never forget those. "Not bad, Twi. Not bad for a first go, at least. You're gonna have to be faster, more accurate, and tighter. Run it again and again. Do it ten times, then we'll take a breather- not bad for a bit of stretching," Rainbow said with a laugh before giving Twilight a reassuring pat on the wingblades. "You can do it, Sparkle!"
  6. Applejack took tremendous pride in the accomplishments of her kin, as much as she took pride in her own. This was known, and Rarity had just thought about it. What was not as readily apparent unless you gave yourself to dissecting the way a pony looked at the world was that she was as equally pleased by their success on a deeply personal level as one could be in their own. Hearing her discuss her own skills as a byproduct of that started off feeling unusual, though as always it moved back to her family. The skills and methods taught to her by Granny Smith no doubt helped inform not only her baking and work ethic but the warmth and friendly forwardness that was her most personable quality, among other innate features intrinsic to her agreeable nature. "Well, I know I see shipments of Sweet Apple Acres product as far north as Seaddle sometimes. You're secretly a very successful business magnate, though you'd never admit to it," she teased, knowing Applejack's self-identity as a down-home mare would be challenged by this objective fact. Alas, they didn't have time to unpack her latest tickling of Applejack's self-deflated ego as Spike called them to take their real positions. Rarity followed until they came to a set of steps on the side of the upper terrace that spiralled around a turret and ended at a comfortable sized balcony, one that was much higher up than its surroundings. Indeed, she didn't think such towers were even open to the public. Either they were reserved exclusively for royalty or they were used by guards, right? She was proven wrong. What a special treat! She had always considered herself a high society mare but this was something apart entirely. Nopony that she was aware of had ever had the pleasure of using these towers. Truly, Twilight was going out of her way for them. But why? What was so special about this night, this event that they had experienced before, that was making Twilight go all out? She resolved to ask her later. Maybe it was as simple as Twilight was becoming comfortable in exercising her power. Maybe not. It was something to unpack later. Applejack offered to take the balcony at the top with Rarity. How considerate! And likely warm. Applejack exuded quality body warmth which would provide invaluable on such a cold night. "Why thank you Applejack! Now don't sell yourself short. You must keep warm yourself, you know," she said with a wink as she trotted up to the luxurious seat cushion. She laid back into it and stretched out her body, taking up her fair share and then some. A breeze visited her and left her mane rolling and whisping over the top of the cushion as she leaned into it, mussing up her mane momentarily only to force it back into its proper place. Readied finally, she patted the cushion. "Applejack dear, come on. The show is about to start!" she trilled out to her friend as she prepared to spend the rest of the evening with her. Or however long the event lasted, mind you. She wasn't sure if there was a major difference in the way Ponyville and Canterlot celebrated in terms of how much time was spent, though she could only hope so. More time with friends was always well spent. When Applejack finally did make her way over, Rarity sighed. "What a fine evening this is turning out to be. I remember running Ponyville's Summer Sun Celebration for all those years, but to experience the originator from all the way up here? How wonderful!" she tittered, "truthfully, I always mark this day for causes other than the Summer Sun itself. It reminds me of when we all grew closer all those years ago...how long it has been! I swear I can feel the encroaching of age, but no matter. Applejack, what do you remember of the Summer Sun Celebration in your own family? I'm sure the Apples have creative ways to celebrate it."
  7. Same as with your other application, except mark it as a Cast character!
  8. Princess Amore is not currently played by anyone on the site. You are welcome to apply for and play her. As a bit of warning however, we are stricter on cast applications (which she would fall under) than on original characters.
  9. Applejack allowed her mare to fall deeper into the apple's fur, warmth on warmth in the cool night offering a pleasant distraction from the night's events. With a smirk Applejack remembered that the night was always planned to include some cider in her bedroom and the pegasus in her bed, though the route taken was more strenuous than she had wanted it to be. A nice night out on the town and an even better one back home sure sounded like the perfect plan but, like all plans, they tended to fall apart when they met the enemy. In this case, Rainbow's dust-up earlier. If she was being honest she knew it took two to tango and she played her part in the night's lack of festivities but that didn't make it any easier to stomach. Rainbow did her part as she whispered sweet nothings into Applejack's form, trying to move past. Applejack wasn't ready to, not all the way. Rainbow Dash was a whiplash of emotions with peaks and valleys in quick succession. Applejack was a steady slope up and down, taking a while to anger and a while to slow down the heated emotions once they arrived. She couldn't just be sitting about and act like nothing had happened, even if she wanted to. Didn't mean she was going to deny her mare some warmth and care, but it did mean that all the sweetness being lifted into her ear was going to do little to make her forget the night. She rubbed Rainbow's head gently as she spoke and smiled. "Listen to you and all yer sweetness," she laughed and gave Rainbow a kiss on the forehead, "sure ain't good for yer image none, ain't it?" she sighed as she started to reposition herself. The bed certainly was big enough for the both of them. She crawled over her mare as she finished her drink, setting the cup upon the nightstand next to her bed. "Time for bed, Rainbow. Y'all take east, Ah'll take west," she said as she started to curl into the blankets. The window was east, where the sun would rise to wake them up in the morning, the window positioned to allow the gentle rays in early. It was how she commonly woke up, though today she'd have Rainbow take it up. That way the flighty filly could get up and at 'em- she knew that Rainbow had to be somewhere important tomorrow. She always did. She gave Dash a kiss and curled up in covers. "Night."
  10. The roar at first sent Valen stuttering back hoof over hoof into the statue in fear before the more rational side took over and made him pay attention to the actual voice. The voice behind teh roar. Confirmed not a moment later, it was his cousin, Applejack. Of course that didn't help entirely too much at first. Peaches had taken her form during the early part of the attack, and even Applejack's accent seemed...off. Heavier, thicker, like an actress almost. But the other voice came in clear as white wine and it was far more soothing. While all of the town's leading citizens had been replaced during that attack, Valen doubted that both the Changeling that took Applejack's form and the other one who took Rarity's were planning to meet up at this time, in this town, in their old forms, having such unusually simple banter. By the time Rarity's head poked around to give Valen a look, he had calmed down. Mostly. There was still the question of where he was and how he got there, but if he had suddenly fallen asleep due to some magical accident or something else alike, there was nothing he could do in this state to stop it. The two sauntered up to Valen and their presence helped soothe him, almost unnaturally so. Rarity's calm demeanor and kindness certainly played its role while Applejack's warmth and heart bled out of her, even if something about her accent still seemed odd. The scarf swiftly found a home around his neck and he breathed deep, his nerves calmed. Indeed, he was even forgetting his worry about how he got there. It was easy to forget about your worries when caught between the rocks of Rarity and Applejack. "Thank You, Miss Rarity. Truth be told I've been a little concerned on account-" he began easily before something happened. Rarity happened, to be exact. She gasped as she looked at him and implied something was DRAMATICALLY wrong. His nerves, so briefly set calmly down, blazed anew in the fires of Rarity's emphatic declaration. He moved in place with quick, terrified steps as he looked around himself, on himself, and soon backed up against the statue again with a panicked thunk, staring at both mares to and fro with hardly concealed panic. "What's wrong?! Applejack, Rarity, what's wrong?!"
  11. Valen found Smolder's company delightful. Indeed, the last creature he had met that seemed to mesh so well with him was when he first met Miss Rarity. Not that he hadn't gotten along with others or made some fast friends but it was rare to hit it off so well. "Yaks have a very thick body, shaggy fur- very difficult to work with, I'd imagine. But the horns, the horns would be fun to beautify I bet. There is a lot you can do with them! Of course, I bet you know all about that," he said with a laugh as he looked around, not looking back at his guide for a bit. When he did so, however, she was gone. And when he turned again, he was alone. The cold wind blew lazily across a world of tranquillity and darkness. Where was he now? A moment ago he was in the school's library with a dragon. Now he was alone and in the woods. Cold, dark- the moon seemed dimmer than it had any reason being. No clouds in the sky but there was so little light. He turned around in place a few times, worry evident in his furrowed brows. "Hello? Smolder, where are you?" He asked pensively. After a deep breath he whispered to himself, "where am I?" The wind seemed to carry barest whispers. His ears perked up to hear what they said but at first he couldn't pick it up. It took a second for the words to really relate to him, but when they did he felt his blood run cold. Peaches? Peaches was the name of that horrid Changeling that took the form of cousin Applejack and fed off of his love for her. He had spent many a night in fear of that fallen creature. To have your own emotions used against you and the memories you held dear in your soul being manipulated to fit the feeding agenda of such a predator shook any honest Equestrian to his or her core. He turned around in place rapidly before finding the source of the whispers, the statue of Nightmare Moon. With trembling hooves he approached, trying to put on a brave face but mostly failing. "Where a-are you, Peaches? No- this is some sort of- you can't be real! Not here. Its been years. The Changelings have- why me, right? It can't be...where are you?" He asked in rising panic. Logically this couldn't be happening, right? But maybe it was. Maybe he had stepped somewhere, or Smolder was secretly a Changeling or...no...but maybe? It all felt real. Too real. Was it real? He whimpered, just as much from the possibility of that cruel Changeling being around as the mental confusion he wallowed in. What was happening?!
  12. Valen's mind was still cloudy, fogged, snippets of memory in the ether only coming together in unusual fragments. He sat on his haunches for a brief moment and rubbed his head, halfway between an unrelenting migraine and flashes of importance leaking through the miasma that was his waking world. Lord Blueblood asked about Cadance, the youngest Alicorn and the bride to be in the upcoming wedding. A wedding which, it was looking like, was going to be less of a wonderful affair than he would have liked. Valen thought for a bit before replying. "I don't think she's...I don't think she is in the dungeons, Your Highness. I think she was...placed in the caverns below Canterlot. She's been there for some time, I believe. Chrysalis has been feeding on Captain Shining Armor's love and has grown very, very strong. We need to find a way into those caverns or warn somepony, but we need to get your friend to safety first. Chrysalis is arrogant and will probably be hurt, but she is intensely powerful now. I know nopony has been infected outside of Canterlot...doesn't Shining Armor have a sister?"
  13. Valen was in the middle of an addled laugh, head held high in contempt of the pompous noble in front of him, when a mental fog started to roll from his mind. As it did he felt the energy start to leak out of him. First, it was his knees which wobbled and shook, then his breath was caught in his chest. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and he felt lightheaded- then, finally, he collapsed onto the cold ground. A few moments later he woke up with a pounding headache, his body weary, and his mouth sucking on awful dungeon floor. He hacked a few times and then stood up on wobbly legs, holding his head with a low moan eeking out of him. Then a realization struck and he looked at Blueblood. "Oh...oh no! Your friend doesn't know- we need to get you out of here, Your Highness, she's in great danger- you're in- I-" he spoke rapidly as he meddled with the door, the gate, the key, the whatever was needed to ease his lord's escape.
  14. Applejack poured another cup and gave it to Rainbow. It was a good blend, a strong one to boot. She wasn't one for waiting around for the next year's batch to experiment a little and always made small alterations with every barrel. That way when cider season really hit she could go into it with a good idea on what that year's stock would be like. Every year produced something slightly different and she was sure that this year would prove to be another success. She took a lot of pride in her work. Baking, cider, apple harvest, motherhood, day in, day out. It wasn't worth doing if it wasn't worth doing well and if it was worth doing well it was worth investing your pride in it. She knew that Rainbow Dash took pride in things as well. Their shared sense of pride in the things they cared about was one of many things that brought them closer together. Perfection? Impossible. But they were close enough in their pursuit of it that it was always disquieting when one of them seemed less than keen on it. Of course they had their differences. Both worked hard towards their goals but Applejack never shied away from doing more. More work, more responsibilities, more duties. From birth she had been raised to work and love the feeling of a warm sun on her back, covered in sweat, weary but fulfilled as she looked out over what she had done. She sometimes overreached, she knew that, but she couldn't really help it. The thought of work never scared her. Rainbow Dash seemed to like work if it aligned with hobbies or if there was a competitive element to it. Getting her to want to work outside of that, however, proved frustrating. It wasn't that she was lazy, though she loved her naps. It wasn't that she didn't love Applejack or Zap, though tonight made Applejack think thoughts she didn't want to. Applejack wished she could just chalk it up to fear of failure, but just as Applejack had learned to let her stubbornness not control her, she believed the same held true for Rainbow Dash. She wished she knew what the problem was but she didn't. She did know that it would be discovered and worked through eventually. But she didn't have the answers now, so to the drink she went. She sat on her bed, body against the wall with the window open next to her, allowing a gentle evening breeze to roll the curtains up and over themselves. It was then that Rainbow gave her a kiss across the broadside. She responded with a side hug, pulling Rainbow in closer while still looking at her mug. "Cheers, RD," she whispered before taking a big gulp. It had a nice cinnamon aftertaste, a slight hint at bitterness at the end. How accurate. "Tastes good to me. You?"
  15. Applejack laughed, though it didn't have the warmth it normally did. "Of course, Rainbow. Yer always welcome," the mare replied, her voice trying and failing to inflect with the full measure of her kindness. She was still angry. Less so, and less directly, but that didn't mean it was gone. They'd have to work through this tiff they were having. She knew for a fact they would get through it but that didn't mean at this moment she was willing to overlook her own emotions. They worked their way through the farm and towards the house, breaching the door and the warmth that was inside. It brightened her mood being inside of here once more. She could never bring too many of her problems from outside into this, her most hallowed ground. "You can put tha little stinker ta bed," she replied as Rainbow asked to help put Zap to bed. Dash could do it herself while she got their room ready. She gave her big stallion a hug and a kiss, and the little bugger's crying was by now to simple sniffles. She got a cloth and wiped his face before giving him a kiss. "Mama loves you, sunflower. Goodnight," she said and gave him a little eskimo kiss before setting him on top of Rainbow. She patted Rainbow on the top of the flank and trotted off towards their room. She took her stetson off and tossed it on a chair in the corner. She sighed and looked at herself in the mirror- a mess, with worried lines creasing her face and red around the eyes, however light it was. She went to her closet and pulled out a small keg of cider. She wasn't the heaviest of drinkers but she kept a small keg in her room as a sort of private stash away from the family's cellar space. Besides, Rainbow liked some cider and what better place to do their best drinking than in private? She pulled out their two mugs, cleaned in the morning after every use, and poured herself a drink from the tap. When she though Rainbow had entered, Applejack grabbed the other glass and prepared to end the night the only way she could right now: Warm, a little drunk, and hopefully in a better mood all things told. "Want a drink?"
  16. Rarity looked out at the apple merchant, the one Applejack spoke so proudly of. It was a common theme with Ponyville's favorite citizen. Constant pride in her family, excitement that they exceeded their challenges. There was always pride inherent in the humble mare from Sweet Apple Acres that was constantly forgotten by her friends. Applejack was not a simple mare but she was a mare who knew how to appreciate the simple things and had found her place in life quicker than most. Her pride was no less strong than the pride Rarity or Rainbow Dash felt in their work, even if Applejack was considerably less noisy about her many accomplishments. It took well-earned pride to recognized well-earned pride, and Rarity recognized Applejack above and beyond what others could. "Well, she does seem to be doing well. A word of advice you should feel fine to pass along to her, as well as a word of warning: The avenue she is selling her wares on is known for three things. One, they are thought of as generally low-quality, low-class. Two, having a cart or stall is not well thought of. She may want to look into a new location as well as a storefront. And third, it is known for thieves. Tell her to check her stock at the end of each day and keep very good records of what she has sold so she can accurately report it to the Guards," Rarity fired off quickly. This city was delightful but there were still necessary skills one would need to learn. "They can help her get reimbursed," she finished off positively. It was true: The city would reimburse if it was was legitimately tracked loss due to theft. To a certain amount, anywho. Applejack spoke a bit more rapidly once whatever malaise had conquered her earlier disposition evaporated. The food was indeed a worthy topic! "It is quite good, of course. The Royals certainly don't let the quality of their ingredients or those using them fall below expected standards. I'm not likely to eat too much though. Not entirely hungry just yet. The oak bake does have a nice scent to it, does it not? You're Ponyville's best baker, what do you think?" She asked, ever mindful of what Applejack had done. There was a misnomer in Ponyville, at least by guests, that Pinkie Pie was the baker's dozen when it came to quality and success, but locals knew the truth. There was never an Apple who couldn't cook and Applejack, were she not a farm mare, would almost assuredly have been the familly's baking ace. Then Applejack rather unusually complimented her on what she was wearing. Well, how nice of her to notice. Applejack may not have necessarily had an eye for fashion or much of a care for it, but even she recognized true glamour when she saw it. She tittered and twirled. "I'm glad you noticed. Actually, you may have some familiarity with it. Your cousin helped model a version of this during the spring shows. Changed a bit of the trim, a few small details, no big deal," she said with a smile. Oh, that little model of hers! Whatever had she done to infect the Apples with such a deadly ailment?! "Oh, has the terrible, awful, corrupting curse of fashion sensibility slowly started to infiltrate the Apple family?" She spoke with mock horror, ending with hooves over her eyes in a dramatic fashion. The horror!
  17. Rainbow's ears were finely tuned and she allowed herself to hear Twilight's increasing gasps for breath. When they had finished the twenty laps Twilight was right where Rainbow had wanted her, where Rainbow needed her, where little could be done but confront the situation at hoof. And by that she meant the training, not any hints of romance that danced like devilish sugar plums over her head. She slowed down and then hovered next to Twilight, smiling wide. She had done well so far, she had to know that. "Okay, here's some water and take a breather for a moment. We got a light flight to the training field. It isn't far, so drink up," Rainbow said as she got out a canteen of water, hooved it over, and then started flying lazily past Sweet Apple Acres and to a few fields beyond until they got to a clearing that was mostly bare save for a few trees, one of which was her focus. The tree had multiple branches, and at the end of the branches was a target connected by string and chains. The area around it was marked by buckball impacts and parts of the targets were broken off, likewise by buckball impacts. Rainbow drew close and then turned around to speak with her shockingly sturdy friend. "This is a buckball training ground AJ and I used to use before...anyway, this is a good place to train. You cannot land, okay? You're hurt, you're not feeling so good, your wings are on fire, and now you're going to have to put yourself through a more intense sort of training. That all sucks, but trust me, if you find yourself needing any of this then you'll thank yourself for pushing," Rainbow said with a hoarse left as she flew up and out a little bit, perhaps thirty or so yards away from the tree and maybe twenty off the ground. "Take a few breaths. Take a minute even if you need to, but don't try to settle too much. Your adrenaline is needed or else you're going to have a harder time," she said as she looked around. Luckily, nopony was around. "When you're ready, try to hit each target with a magic blast of some kind. Do a quarter loop and a spin before you fire. You don't have to hit them all in a certain time, you just need to do a quarter loop and spin before you fire each time," she said before showing off the quarter loop and spin, finishing with a mimic'd magical blast. She settled back into position. "Accuracy and control, not speed at first," she said with increasing confidence. Twi had this, right? of course she did. Time passed. When Twilight indicated she was ready, Rainbow clapped her hooves once. "All right, time to defend Equestria! Ready? Set? Go!"
  18. Rainbow Dash flew ahead of Twilight, trying to put a respectable distance between her and her unathletic....friend. Friend, yeah. That was it. Though Rainbow Dash felt some small flitters in her sternum when she ran over the way Twilight had been acting, unable to really compound the word friend with whatever it was those looks were implying between them. Luckily she had work, physical at that, to focus on and if there was one thing Rainbow knew it was how to work yourself tired of any lingering questions. She flew nowhere near her top as Twilight gained on her, the ALicorn straining herself to reach closer to her rainbow comrade. Twi was in for a long day! Rainbow air-braked and then banked to close in with Twilight, catching herself at wingtip from her friend. "Ha! Not bad, Twilight. Do you feel the blood pumping? Are your wings tired? Feeling a bit breathless?" She laughed and then flipped her mane, doing a barrel roll for good measure. "Well, that's good. You should feel that way. You gotta feel the burn to really know you're ready to do some real training. Training when you're sitting comfortably? That doesn't do anything. So you better be ready. First off, we're going to do a few laps around town. Twenty, to be exact. And by the whole town, I mean the city limits," She said with a hungry, playful smile. More hungry than playful, because she loved a good workout. First, Rainbow set the pace. She increased her speed to what she thought was just below top speed for Twilight. Straining, hard, but doable. It was going to hurt and that was good. Once Twilight was weary they could get to the real work. Rainbow's mind was settling on what exactly she was going to do with Twilight and also her training, but that was for then. Now was for the fun part. "Come on, Sparkle. I wanna see you SWEAT!"
  19. Everycreature had a dance they moved to untoward and unknown to others, secrets and desires percolating beneath the vain sheen they projected above. You could always tell when the surface threatened to crack and reveal what lay beneath because there was a nervous bead of sweat, a look around, a nervous shaking off of all other things. Valen was acutely aware that he was not immune to this. How rich was his lie when it involved Gilded Lilly? Enough that for months in the summer he lost track of whether Valen Orange was the vain sheen or whether the Prench filly supermodel was the facade. He gave a warm and knowing smile as he looked away, allowing SMolder time to recompose herself in the fortress of the mind without allowing weakness to be seen. She did mention something that allowed his mind to work on a problem while she went to investigate the light, something he wanted to do but- well, he got cold hooves. At least for a moment. Something about it spoke to him naturally and unnaturally, an odd warmth that seemed to cool his mind and force his blood to slow. Time seemed to crunch by slowly, so he allowed himself a moment of weakness. She went to investigate and he nodded, walking on over to the corner of a near bookshelf and sitting down deep in thought, the light casting besides him but not on him as he allowed the older, stronger, and more experienced Smolder to take care of whatever...light big had gotten in there. Yes, that was it. "A circle ruffle for a Yak? Hmmm...well, the only real design issue would be the hump and barrel, as well as their lower-slung body. That is more an issue of mass than anything else. A circular ruffle can work if the bottom is less ruffled and therefore easy to trip on than the top. I'd start the ruffles at the base of the hump and move from there, even using the hump as a spot for decorations. Ponies often use the base of the tail as a location indicator for their own flair, so I think a Yak hump could serve a similar purpose. I wonder..." he spoke to nopony in particular, allowing time to pass. But then there was no Smolder and he felt suddenly very alone, very naked. "Smolder?" He asked to no response. "...Smolder?" He asked hesitantly, worry leaking from every syllable. Valen got up and took a big gulp before trotting towards the light and whatever was happening there.
  20. Twilight laughed, though it was a mirthless one. "You're more normal than you'd like to believe. I tend to take on a lot of the political side of things when I'm involved. Not because I like it, but because I can do more, and do it quicker. Efficiency always trumps desire," she sighed as the subject came back to the barrier and how it could be breached. "Almost anything can be brute forced, given time. It would take years for any appreciable progress to show itself, and I doubt he'd waste the time and effort," she said while doing quick theorcrafting in her head. "He'd need to contact very specific people, pay a very specific amount of bits, do it in a very specific time frame, and do it in a specifically underhoofed fashion. It willbe fine, Swift." Discussion of the ways and means of reducing the collapse of the barrier- an issue she was sure would be better-solved in-pony, though she did have a few thoughts onthe matter. "Any of those could help, but once a food begins to spoil, it is impossible to fully stop the process. Same here. The barrier will fall now and while efforts can be made to slow it they will, in the long run, prove fruitless. The decay will also increase with time, exponentially so. By the time anypony with a passing knowledge on the subject notices it has weakened appreciably, it will be moments from complete collapse. That will take time- it'll be fine when we get there." Of course it would be, though listening to Swift, one would assume everything was constantly on the knife-edge of disaster. It made him look to place things in their places, create a sense of order where none was needed. She smiled and shook her head when he spoke about knowledge. "No one said it was useless. It is, however, inane if you consider the amount of time and effort that goes into it, and the exacting nature of the requirements that preclude most extensive studies. Useless implies it has no utility; inane does not. Know your words, Swift. If there are traps inside they will be of a curiously fixated variety, and care will need to be taken." The ship was, of course, magnificent. The pony who came out was in faux military garb. Competent? Good. Twilight was a fan of competence. "Hello, Alexandrite Annurca. Pleasure to make your acquaintance," she said while offering her hoof for a shake. In time they were inside and she took her seat across from Swift. She looked around with a smile. "Very nice. I presume she managed to fix the energy less issue she was having when transferring power sources?"
  21. Valen's eyes lit up like a foal's at Hearthswarming Eve. "A fan of fashion? Fantastic! I was helping Miss Rarity with some of her collections. One of the important things to consider when you are thinking about what would look best on anycreature is proper color coordination! Black looks great on anycreature which means it really looks good on nocreature, since you can just blend in. Your scales would compliment a nice sky blue. A skirt to compliment your figure, a nice top, perhaps a tie or bow- hmm, I'd have to think more on it, but it could be rather fetching," Vale replied excitedly. He loved discussing fashion, namely because he so rarely got to do so outside of Rarity. Smolder was easy to talk to and knowing that she didn't stare blankly at the thought of fashion terminology. "I should get you into the Boutique at some point." He followed Smolder deeper into the school and into the library. She seemed pensive about something bit he kept his tongue tied and deep, unwilling to comment so quickly. He didn't really know her and she was here acting as a guide, so no real good way to break through whatever barrier she was putting up. He knew a lot about barriers, about facades. He wore one himself most of the time anyway, though he had a sneaking suspicion her facade had less to do with personal desire and more to do with a larger secret. Her confident demeanour appeared more guarded as they entered the library, meaning there was cause for him to be alarmed. Maybe, anyway. He wasn't concerned. He once was nearly eaten by a giant worm while gem hunting with Miss Rarity. What could this do worse? "Quite an extensive library. I'm sure your study sessions must be intense," he said with a smile as he looked around for anything unusual. Or sound making. Or as fate would have it, an unusual light from around the corner, near the back.
  22. Valen perused the wallboard full of advertisements. Much of it was decidedly unappealing to him currently, though time may change such negative perceptions. What did catch his eye was the flier advertising fashion. Not that long ago he would have noted it and then come back when nopony was looking, being secretive about his nascent obsession with the fashion industry. Such elements no longer found purchase in his soul: He was now more than a little open about. "Ooh, that looks fun," he said and took the flier, his voice peppy and full of excitement. He examined it. Somepony needed to learn how to cross-stitch, though that could have just been the advertisement playing tricks on him. "This should be exciting. To be honest, I half expected school uniforms. I think you'd go well with Sky Blue. Alas, no uniforms," he said with a laugh, more than comfortable in his own pelt. Or so he thought. Smolder did a good enough job explaining how the classes functioned, even if she didn't give herself enough credit. He knew well enough what to expect from cousin Applejack and her class and had some experience dealing with most of her friends, doubly so with Miss Rarity and her fashion empire. He was dreading Rainbow's class. It sounded like it would, with few elements to oppose her, involve a lot of physical activity. He didn't mind physical activity, as long as it was on a runway. "Ahh, so very personalized. How nice! Makes me rather excited for Miss Rarity's class. I hope she goes through the history of Roaman dress. Such passion!" The colt responded, enticed by the possibility that each class offered. He had heard Applejack mumble once or twice about Fluttershy being the favorite teacher and how unfair it was, though she'd never say so out loud. There was a sound, a crash, from what he could only assume was the library. Smolder seemed apprehensive. Made sense considering what she had been through, though Valen was less so. They were in the school itself. What could go wrong? "Ahh, well then. Might as well go to the library either way, and maybe somecreature needs help."
  23. "Got me? Oh yes, the Queen has certainly 'got' me. She got me, the rest of your staff, and soon all of your friends and family will either join you, be replaced, or be used for feeding. What a fate for the goodly 'Prince'," Valen said viciously and with an uncharacteristic laugh, his tail swirling around excitedly. Chrysalis loved playing with her food. It only exacerbated the power differential between her and her prey and made it more than known that whatever fate awaited hem was in her very capable hooves. Though the idea of mocking him with an inferior role was enticing, she had others for that. "Dear Blueblood, why have you clean when she has a stock of able servants? Besides, why use you when after dear-old auntie Celestia has been drained of all her love and all her magic she can be made to be so deliciously subservient for the rest of her long, long life?" Valen tittered again before twirling in place to slap the bars with his well-coiffed tail, sending a cloud of dust towards Blueblood.
  24. What in the wide, wide world of Equestria was she even talking about? It took her a second to realize Gallus was trying to ask about Queen Nova. Even then, the answer was more that she looked regal. Well, okay then. It had mostly been a conversation piece to try and distract himself from the mind goblins that were chewing through him as his claustrophobia ravaged him. It was slowly settling as the more composed parts of his rain kept on telling him that he was fine, this was normal, nothing was wrong now. But you couldn't just jump into this thing without worry. Luckily, Silverstream was a good conversationalist even if she didn't have long-enough answers to suitably distract him. She had a mellifluous voice that rose and fell with her emotions worn on every syllable, easy enough to get lost in it. It worked well, because, by the time his attention returned to the world around, they had arrived. Seaquestria was...different, to be sure. Pretty? Beautiful? Gallus didn't know. Very few things looked pretty or beautiful to him and he couldn't say that a location rated as one of them. But he had certainly never seen anything like it. As they passed the rocks that seemed to mark the border, Gallus found himself inside of a very large cavern. Strings of bioluminescent lights dangled across rocks and these odd cylinder-shaped structures suspended on what he could only imagine were long strands of string that gave off their own purple light added to the coloration of the area. In the middle was a much larger one, more bulbous in appearance, that had several blue orbs ringed around it on top of staffs. It took him a few seconds to understand what he was seeing. The structures were buildings, likely houses and businesses judging by how seaponies went to and fro in and out of them. Speaking of seaponies, there were a lot of them around. Many were lazily swimming around, talking and chatting. Everypony moved with such ease, just like a griffon in the air- which, for the record, swimming was not like flying at all. He didn't have to get all wet and pressured in the air. There were other entrances and exits into this cavern which only made sense. He doubted there were so few seaponies and hippogriffs that a single cavern could contain it all. Besides, he didn't see a noble queen and her alert guard anywhere. Business was being conducted in some areas though he had to wonder whether or not he'd want to buy anything so waterlogged. There was so much activity from the seaponies just moving and shaking about, with a lot of young seaponies energetically swimming around. A few swam up to them, possibly because they saw a royal seapony. They slowed down and looked concerned, and then outright scared when they saw whatever it was that Gallus was. There was a pause, a heartbeat, and then: "AHHHH! A SEAMONSTER!" They screamed and fled. Gallus looked down, dejected, though he tried his best not to. "This place is certainly...nice."
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