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PrinceBlueblood

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Everything posted by PrinceBlueblood

  1. "Different... world?" Feng couldn't say he understood that much; his foalhood hadn't been as full of fairy tales as that of an average Equestrian colt growing up. He'd dreamed of other lands, sometimes, when he could sometimes hardly stand living in his hometown. But other worlds were a bit beyond him. Looking again to the pair, it looked as if they weren't going to approach, but Tempest no longer looked as if she'd bolt after any sudden noises. "I think it's safe to rejoin them." That might have been an optimistic approach; Feng was slightly better at judging physical than social risk. Not that it ever stopped him from surging into dangers of the former type anyway, so it was honestly surprising his patience lasted this long. They managed to catch up to Sunset just as she was drifting off into a dreamy look by the pond. It brought Feng up short, looking oddly at the mare. His confusion would have been darkly humorous for Hanabi, as she had often seen him look that way when thinking about a certain other mare. "Hey, so, uh, mind if we join you again?"
  2. Prince Blueblood, Head of House Platinum, foremost of the Canterlot Nobility, hereditary head of the Equestrian Unicorns, and part-time Princess (very long story) had recently added to his list of titles. As Twilight Sparkle had been selected to be the new Head of State, she had devolved her duties at the School of Friendship to him, making Blueblood the new Archancellor. No doubt she sought to make use of his extensive experience with diplomacy to continue international outreach, as well as his domestic political connections to shepherd the fledging academy around the pitfalls and traps laid in for it by obstructive bureaucrats and obstreperous nobles. And it had to be said, that despite his superficial reputation for superficiality, he did take these duties seriously, even to the point of taking up temporary residence in Ponyville, and trying to fit into the local life of the place. He would find himself often bemused at the differences in the social scenes between a growing but still small town and Canterlot, the city of his birth. It was in some respects quieter, of course, but more than the mere reduction of activity, what struck him was the unanimity of it when it came. For instance, Canterlot would often receive special shipments of food or drink, as highly prized among his class as any cider, but only his class tended to show up to such events. For the Apple Family Cider Season? Literally everypony in town was here, and that wasn't counting the out-of-towners. No wonder it was one mug per pony... He had, of course, reserved his spot with an extra-large tent, not to show off, or at least, not just to show off. He had some office work that still needed done, cider or not, and made a small workspace to finish up papers by lamplight before turning in the night before. This, naturally, led to a late wake up time, further extended by a thorough mane-brushing before emerging to greet the morning, along with a striking unicorn that had been his neighbor in line. "Oh, well fancy that!" He remarked upon laying eyes on Belissima Stella. "It is a good morning indeed, but I can't help but wonder, have I seen you somewhere before?" Seeing how a pony reacted to that question was a good way for Blueblood to get a sense of their character. Most ponies around here, would deny, truthfully, that their social circles had ever intersected. Some would do some humbly, others defiantly, still others in such a manner that betrayed desperation to enter his rarified world.
  3. Hoping to pick up Cady's mood, Shining Armor paid some special attention to the little anecdote about Fire Walker's wedding. As traumatic as their own had been, it was almost, almost distant enough for him to find some humor in it. Well, the sort of humor used by soldiers and emergency workers to cope with the darkness they faced, but still. "Well, I suppose its nice to know we haven't been alone as far as eventful weddings go." He remarked with a chuckle as the dinner portion of the evening progressed. Flash's mention of the rumored demeanor of Long Guo guards piqued the Prince's interest, as he mused. "Hm, is that so? I haven't had a chance to meet anypony from the East; it would be interesting to see how guard practices work over there. Say, Cady, didn't you once get that letter from a Long Guo guard?" Princess Cadence's Column was, of course, read religiously by her husband. As the course of the conversation continued, Swift gave some more practical suggestions as to how the Crystal Couple could improve visitor figures to the Empire. Shining's smile was admittedly rather rueful as he gave his reply. "Those are... not cheap investments. The treasury isn't quite so extensive as all that, and you have to factor in the security costs as well. I don't want to put what amounts to an open portal to Tartarus on our borders if I can at all help it. Outside investment could help, but they'd want proof of viability, which we could only get with increased tourism, which requires better transportation investment." His smile was blown away by his sigh. "Quite the catch-22. The winter sports idea is a good one, though the weather is... not cooperative out in the north. The storms come quick, and we just don't have the pegasi to manage them." The subject of music did bring a short chuckle out of him, though. "Oh, you'll probably have to talk to Celestia about that. She seems to know all the musicians, and would be just the sort to bring in one of those bands." As the main course was finished, Shining made a move to excuse himself. "I'm going to go check up on Aquamarine, Cady. See how she's doing." He said, in the tone of a concerned, fatherly commander. Taking a glass of port with him, he made his way through the crowds to where the mare had acknolwedged him with a curtsy. "Good evening, Miss Gleam." He said as he approached, very consciously avoiding either a military or social rank. He wasn't here as either a commanding officer or as a Prince, right now. "Glad you could make it all the way down here, it was a bit of a trip for me and Cadence. You here alone, or is there a plus one somewhere I didn't see?"
  4. Nothing so noble as storm-battling had brought Earth Writer to these islands. The former journalist, frankly, needed a vacation. He hadn't been in a healthy environment since losing his position in the Canterlot Chronicle in disgrace, and even his new position, though it paid well, was hardly a refreshing atmosphere. His boss had been kind enough to provide some time for him to recover himself in the tropics, but even the Gallopagos had lost its charm. He didn't know whether it was his newly-acquired misequinthropy, or just the kitschy nature of the island's tourist infrastructure, but the unicorn found himself driven to inner mountains, or remote beaches, for relief. But such places were often devoid of good food, and Earth was a bit of a foodie. Thus, he returned to more populated areas to search for food. A worn guidebook, bought for a bit in a used bookstore, promised that Feather John's provided a local-approved kind of cuisine, native to these islands and not designed to tickle the fancy of mainlanders with too much money to burn. He put in his breakfast order, taking a glass of POG (pineapple orange guava) juice, taking a sip of what he was certain was liquid sunshine in disguise, and feeling just a little bit of the dark clouds part. *I missed this. Something honest; he squeezed and mixed this himself, and didn't get it frozen in a can.* The unicorn's eyes opened, ready to take in the world... and lit upon the one mare he never expected to and always worried about meeting again. The surprise was enough for the magical grip on his glass to slip, splashing his entire front in the bright-colored juice. "Horseapples!" He expleted, loud enough to remove any possibility of avoiding Sugar Apple's notice. Nonetheless, he directed a nervous glance her way, in case the Sisters were so merciful. On the possibility that they were not, the pegasus mare would behold a sorry sight. Gone was the bright, happy, and optimistic up-and-coming reporter that had once frolicked and whispered sweet nothings to her in the Canterlot parks. In his place was a frankly disheveled stallion, even without the juice dripping off his coat. He'd neglected to shave, his jacket and hat were rumpled and worn, and his overall attitude was that of a pony who had fought the world and lost.
  5. Despite its Equestrian origins, the Magic Guild was technically open to all unicorns, regardless of where they called home. Chipper Demise was one such remote member, hailing from the Southern Wilds of the Northern Continent of Wildscar (say that three times fast!) Such a remote upbringing had allowed his old master free reign to impart some rather... darker expertise than one typically got in Celestia's School for Talented Unicorns. Fortunately, none of that seemed to have any apparent adverse effects on the young stallion's soul; as he remained as bright and happy as his first name, even as he played around in the domain indicated by the latter. He'd even discovered how to turn necromancy into healing magic, winning him a place in one of the prominent caribou tribes. That all being said, Dark Wizards were never quite trusted in the Northlands, so it had been decided that it would be good for him to make a few new friends in Equestria... and maybe learn some less umbral magic while he was at it. Not that Chipper was concerned with such things, right now. In many aspects of character, he'd never grown up, and he was treating this cultural exchange trip more or less as a Spring Break vacation with his new friends! He was up bright and early, free of airsickness as they got off the vessel onto the towers. "Whoa, we must be near the coast, I can feel it in the air. Quite the as-SALT on the senses! Nya-ahahahaha!" One could only hope their hostess had a tolerance for puns...
  6. Bluebelle silently wondered, in the few seconds before Starlight Glimmer entered, whether everypony had gotten the memo about her changing the official title to "Archancellor" from the previously plebian "headmare." And, if not, would it be a good idea to keep pressing the issue? She didn't want to appear too vainglorious, but if this school was to stride forward in the rather ambitious boots it had cobbled for itself along the path it was blazing, every possible aspect needed to command respect from outsiders. The Princess was not going to take any guff from the likes of Chancellor Neighsay. Hence, the one-upping of the titles... The counselor's voice drew the alabaster mare's mind to the present, where she greeted the newcomer with a smile. "Oh, no, that's quite alright; I understand that we all need a little time to set up our schedules. I just wanted to make sure I got a chance to meet with all my new colleagues." She waved a hoof to the seat that Rarity had recently vacated. "And there's no interruption at all, this is just an informal meeting for us to get to know each other. I'm familiar enough with the Elements, but all I know of you is what Twilight put in your file, which was pretty thin and lacking context. I imagine you don't know me all that well, either, come to that! I'll bet Twilight surprised you with naming me as successor with minimal explanation. So why don't we swap stories?" Bluebelle may not have known much, but there was enough background knowledge in her for her to add, "Don't worry, I won't judge. I'm partly here myself because of overcoming a less than friendly past, so to speak."
  7. So... it seemed that the Crystal Empire as a travel destination still needed a bit of rehabilitation work. Being remote plus an invasion site didn't do much for the tourist board, and Shining Armor felt more than most ponies the sting of having one's home ill-defended. Not something he felt like contemplating right now, with his daughter back home. It was all to easy for a father to spiral into a series of worries, which would only drag Cady, then the whole evening down with them. Shaking his head, he tried to cut these off at the stem, and was quite grateful to Swift for re-directing their attention. "Ah, so they are! I haven't heard anything, and I would think Twilight would write me if two of her best friends were getting married to each other. She did write to me about their son. Even tried to set up a playdate with Flurry for little... Zap, I think it was? I wonder if we could still manage that?" Now freed to roam, Shining noted that the two Elements were not the only couple in sight. Of course, with so many guards bringing in a plus one, it was only natural that relationships would either begin or continue. Smiling, he could only imagine how his wife was feeling now right now, in an atmosphere of love... "Let's see now, I think I see the beginning of something beautiful over there, Cady." He pointed the pink Princess towards where Aegis was meeting up with Reckless. Couple-spotting was among one of their favorite things to do together. "Not to mention, there's probably a good story over there." He pointed out where Sparkles and Licorice were sitting. "In fact, the only one I see alone is... oh dear, one of mine." He pointed out Aquamarine, recongizing the signature on her regalia marking her as part of the Crystal guard."
  8. It was a point of pride with Bluebelle that she did not back down from the potentially profitable brainwaves of other ponies, particularly when profits could accrue to her while others did the necessary work. To this end, she matched Rarity's predatory smile with a positively gleeful one of her own. "Oh, I look forward to it, darling. Do set a time for a private fitting, yes?" And with a last flirtatious wink, the Princess bade her farewell. "So long!" She waved, before going back to finish her salad with a chuckle. "Well, she got around to it eventually, which is fair enough. Not everypony on this faculty can be expected to be so straightforward as you, after all." She remarked to Applejack as she magically wrangled stray bits of almond onto her fork. "And yes, I quite remember that, too. Funny, infatuation really doesn't improve the quality of flirtation, I've found. More often than not, it leaves you either completely tongue-tied and in awe, or else you say something stupid in the hopes of impressing the other pony. Now that we've both gotten more over ourselves and each other, I suppose that sort of thing is going to happen between us more often."
  9. Feng hugged Hanabi a little tighter to him, before relaxing his wing to allow a little airflow. Las thing you wanted to do was hold a friend under a stinky wingpit. Not that it was, but such things were a constant background worry for pegasus and longma alike. "So it would seem, given the results I managed to pull. Heh, I think I might have taken the Iron Pony title, to tell you the truth. Not to brag or anything!" He laughed, standing up to stretch, before looking down on his fox friend with a warm smile. "Couldn't have done it without ya, thanks." His attention found itself drawn to Sunset and Tempest; he was a little too far to hear what they were saying, and pondered if he ought to go over or not. "I don't want to abandon them; Empress knows poor Tempest needs all the friends she can get right now, just maybe not right now. Do you think it's OK to approach them yet?"
  10. The Princess had to hoof it to her, Rarity could sell an idea just as well as she could sell a dress. A fashion club sounded like a good idea to her, and wouldn't you know it, but the Fashionista had done all the paperwork and preparation already! It was like she just knew that Bluebelle was looking for every opportunity to not have to take on any more dead trees, not until her secretary caught up with her, at least. "Ah, a fashion club sounds wonderful! It looks as if you've put a lot of thought into this, so I suppose there's little left to do save put it up on the bulletin board!" Smiling at the other alabaster unicorn, she fluttered her lashes at Rarity as she said, "I do so appreciate it when my staff takes... initiative." Giggling again, she returned to her salad, eyes glancing back towards the door. "I saw Starlight Glimmer on the stage when I made my opening announcement. Twilight told me she's the guidance counselor? I confess that I'm not familiar with her story all that much."
  11. Shining chuckled on hearing his wife answer with her cassus belli for world conquest. "Oh, works for me!" He closed off the joke with a smile and a wink, knowing full well that Cadence spoke in jest. And if, on some remote possibility, she wasn't... well, there were worse reasons to fight, surely. Back to the party at hoof, Shining was slightly disappointed to see that his effort to put the now-Corporal Flash Sentry at his ease had not gone quite so well. He supposed that his status among the guard would affect that, but surely that meant little enough here, in a social setting? Then he remembered that he was technically royalty by marriage, which was like a general coming into the enlisted mess, as far as society was concerned. It was a real pain sometimes, but mostly he just found it funny. Who could have guessed that life would turn out this way? His attention was drawn back to Swift, whom the captain was pleased to note was familiar with O&O. "Oh, I cut my teeth on second edition; though we did try to retrofit our campaign into three-point-zero when it first came out. That was... probably a mistake, but we still had fun." He laughed at the memories; nerdy as his hobbies could be stereotyped as, that was the one and only occasion where he had deployed a spreadsheet in the service of amusement. "I don't disagree." He replied, as Swift mentioned the probable usefulness of returning to a more defensive stance in the capitals. "Trouble is, the necessary retrofits could take... decades, possibly. Not just the architecture, but the whole organization of defense forces. I made the mistake of presenting my ideas of re-organizing the REA to better match the hero-focused point balance of Old Equestria armies in Tabletop Battleforge to General Pummel back when I was a Second Lieutenant. Of course, given how we've actually countered most threats since then, I think that's been more-or-less justified. I mean, it's how we've always fought, as a country and a culture. Trying to import a foreign military standard just isn't going to work as well. You can give a pony a katana, but that doesn't make them a samurai. Nor does the uniform and drill make them an Aquellian Marine." Realizing he was beginning to ramble, he caught himself. "Eh, but I guess we shouldn't go on like this here. After all, we're here to thank ponies, not to critique anypony but ourselves. And, er, I think Flash was a Private when last under my command; I honestly forget if he was promoted before or after transferring. It was a... confusing time." Before he could say anything else, his wife's sudden outburst of marriage enthusiasm caught everyone off-guard, though Shining recovered first. "Yes, pretty much. She'll probably officiate, if you ask nicely and in sufficient time in advance. Oh, and you'd have to host the wedding in the Empire, but we've got some very nice venues, and recently expanded hotels for any guests." As a new ruler, Shining did after all have a duty to drive traffic to power the Crystal Empire's economy, after all...
  12. Bluebelle grinned, pleased to have caught onto Rarity's wavelength. It was more that the fashionista had flirty personality than that she was looking for anything serious, a realization that probably could have spared them both a bad first impression if Prince Blueblood had come to it sooner. No matter, though, they were here now and having fun. "Oh, but don't you you remember the first lesson of love and generosity?" She rejoined with a giggle. "The more you give, the more you realize that you possess to give- ooh!" She gave a sharp intake of breath at the feeling of the tape bound around her neck. This mare really knew how to press the Princess' buttons! But perhaps it was time to de-escalate the situation, especially if Rarity was indeed not being serious. "That they do, no doubt. Much of it, perhaps, might be called superficial, affection conjured from a mere look. I used to resent that, but I have since come to peace with it. Nothing given without serious thought need be taken with seriousness, after all." As for how serious the Princess had actually been, well! She was most certainly not an easy mare... but neither an impossible one. However, for the sake of propriety, and the fact that they had both a watching audience and business to discuss, the conversation shifted. Bluebelle had a good head on her when it came to fashion, but Rarity was the expert in the room, and she was more than happy to defer to her ultimate judgement. "Ooh, yes! That looks quite sharp, I love it! I don't know if I'll be so strict on the code, though. As long as the general theme is kept throughout, I will allow the students to personalize their look, with the materials given to them. It is only fair to have our uniform philosophy reflect our diversity and unity both."
  13. It was good to hear that nothing serious was wrong with Rarity. It was pretty rare that anything was, really, given the mare's penchant for exaggeration, but Bluebelle was less inclined to discount her complaints due to their past history. "I suppose even in a royal school of friendship, one can't avoid the unfortunate necessity of discipline." She remarked, continuing to graze her lunch. Couldn't eat too fast; after all, she had to make lunch last long enough to have a meaningful meeting with all the faculty! Rarity didn't seem to think that the Princess had gained much weight, nor changed in any significant way since her last memorable measurement, but nonetheless insisted on going through it all again. Bluebelle observed the exchange between her and Applejack with bemusement, a small smile playing about her lips. "That's quite alright, you don't need to say anything." She attempted to remove the apple stuffed into AJ's maw, giving her a little wink. "It's quite understandable that other ponies can't pass up an opportunity to get their hooves all over me. I wouldn't normally be so loose, but since we're all friends here...." She giggled, wanting to see Rarity's reaction.
  14. "The only problem with that joke," Shining Armor laughed, not fooled for a minute, "Is that I don't think it's possible to climb higher than Empress. Unless you harbor dreams of actual world domination. Er, you don't do you?" One could never be sure. Cadence wasn't the megalomaniac type, but Shining could definitely see her becoming convinced that her rule would be necessary, if things got too crazy. With great feelings of responsibility came great great desires for power. It had to be said, though, if Cadence was in the mood for ego-stroking, having that herald announce one would do it. Though, if he was reading her expression correctly, her mood was somewhere else, significantly more playful, in fact. "You might as well add Level 25 Paladin to my list while we're at it." He added to Cady's gentle teasing, before turning to view the guests coming up to them. It looked like a group of four; he recognized Fire Walker from his service days, and Flash was... well, all too familiar to him. Their respective dates, less so; he knew Swift and Pressy more by reputation than by anything more substantial. "I think the Canterlot voice comes back to the days when the capitol was still a fortress, and one needed to shout orders to be heard over any potential din. It's actually kind of nice to see the tradition be kept alive." He paused, as the herald chose this appropriate moment to announce two more newcomers, whom he spared an interested glance before turning to the male pegasus of the group. "At ease, Private." He greeted, in an easy tone. He had to admit, he'd held a lot of complicated feelings towards this soldier, given everything he'd gotten himself into. At this point, it was more pity than anything else. Even the prospect of him dating his LSBFF Twilight Sparkle just made him worried for Flash. Looking over to the mares of the group, he smiled warmly at Fire, "It's good to see you again, but I don't think I'm familiar with your date, or with Flash's. Are they just your companions for the evening, or something more serious?" He knew Cadence would be interested in the answer to this...
  15. The concept of being “fashionably late” had never really made sense to Shining Armor. Being raised in a family that believed in punctuality and politeness, and immediately transitioning into the REA, where lateness was met with swift reprisals, had driven any hope of empathy with such high-society foibles far away. He suspected the first pony to come up with such a concept was merely trying to cover themselves for travel time delays. Much like he and Cady had encountered on the way down from the Crystal Empire. To be fair, it was a far trip down through the Frozen North, and with the weather being what it was, trains were preferable to airships, especially with the recent accident he’d led a rescue team to recover. And, of course, they weren’t technically late, just arriving after most of the others. Still, travel troubles aside, the Captain-turned-Consort was looking forward to this. Any evening that he could spend out with his wife, Princess -turned-Empress Cadence, was a good evening. Especially now, with a new little Princess running around the Crystal Palace; fortunately, the royal Crystaller had made getting somepony to take up babysitting dute much easier, and now the two of them could enjoy a weekend trip back to Shining’s home city, and meet with some old friends. Or, at least, his old friends. “I kind of feel bad about dragging you all the way down here for this.” Shining admitted to his wife, as they walked down the cobblestone streets to where the ball was being hosted. “I don’t know how many of the ponies you’ll know here, and I don’t want you to feel left out. Still, I know you love it when we can dance together, and it’s been a while since we’ve been able to do that since Flurry was born. Not since that nice dance instructor gave us those lessons…” He did have to give the pink alicorn a somewhat cheeky grin at the memory. That had not been the kind of dance they expected to learn, but the couldn’t either of them say that they didn’t enjoy it. “And the food’s going to be good, too.” He remarked, as they handed in their invitations at the door. “Remind you of home any?” He checked himself one last time before entering the grand ballroom. As this was a formal military function, he’d come in his mess dress, a sharp suit of scarlet and cobalt with silver piping. It was similar to the one he’d worn as Captain of the Palace Guard, though this particular one had all the Equestrian sigils replaced with Crystal Empire regalia. New medals and coats of arms. Some of his own new command had come down as well, and he certainly wasn’t going to let down the side!
  16. Well, Sunset had managed to stop Tempest from completely walking away, though the mare hadn't yet turned back to the group as a whole. Feng still wasn't sure what the right thing to say or do was, but perhaps it would be best to make his attempts one-on-one. In any case, the burgundy unicorn wasn't the only friend who deserved attention right now. Hanabi was coming up beside him, and he raised a wing to let her come in closer. Once she did, he draped it around the fox in a kind of hug, the first such hug he'd given since his sister left for Long Kong, now that he thought about it. Appropriate enough, as he did view his kitsune friend as a kind of sister. "Thank you, Hanabi. It's friends like you that keep my hope alive... That must be what they mean in this country, when they say Friendship is Magic. Powerful magic, indeed; more powerful than any ancestral curse."
  17. Even all these years later, with as much water that had passed under the great past-spanning bridge of time, there was some small part of Bluebelle's soul that would shake at the sudden sound of Rarity's voice. It was ridiculous, of course, to hold such reactions from an evening so long ago, especially when the other mare was so unaffected as to be laughing about it in a doughnut shop mere hours later. Still, the fear was not unmixed with gratitude; after all, Rarity's rebuke had sent Prince Blueblood on the long, roundabout journey that ultimately led him here, as a mare, the head of this school. *I will never understand the great mysteries of life.* Shock, awe, and nostalgia aside, the Princess' outer visage was awash in nothing but sympathy. She knew full well how it felt to be poked in her sensitive hoofsies. "Oh dear. Are they that bad at sewing? Or is it that they just don't sew well... together?" Vague memories of elderly female relatives no longer being on speaking terms with mares that used to be sisters of the spool and needle danced through her mind. "Oh, and I am settling in... well enough, I suppose. As I was just saying to Applejack, I'm just running on written instructions left by my predecessor until I acquire some sea-legs." She smiled at the other white unicorn, gesturing for her to take a seat beside her. Mention of new measurements from the fashionista prompted a quick self-conscious glace by the Princess over the curve of her flank and posterior. "Oh, do you think they've changed that much since we last met? I'd been trying to watch my weight, but I do have a tendency towards curves in this form..."
  18. Blueblood clambered back up to ride on Niilavin again, the Prince not inclined to walk all the way there if he could absolutely help it. Not just from laziness, though; seeing the sphinx being ridden would reassure the public that he was under control. And the public, it would seem, was very much in need of reassuring. "[Nonetheless, consider yourself forbidden from engaging in any games that will result in the death of my subjects. I may in the future permit you to frighten them, if I find it useful or amusing, however.]" There were quite a few stuffed shirts that Blueblood wouldn't mind getting an up close and personal look at Niil's jaws, just to put them back on the straight and narrow. Or at least liven up an interminable soiree. As the quad made their way to the fish markets, the Prince kept in political conversation, somewhat, with Anu. "I still think it fairly naive of you, not to seek out fighting friends if you anticipated conflict over your rule. And if you didn't see it coming... well, that doesn't speak well to your perceptions. Knowledge for next time, I suppose." Honestly, if Hogo-sha hadn't already pledged support, Blueblood might not have been willing to give any more than a good-luck wish and some mercenary contact information. It was a sad story, but was it really worth spending blood and treasure to resolve a tribal dispute? The Fish Market of Canterlot was a testimony to what enough gold given to the right ponies could accomplish. It sat equidistant from the train station and the airship port, where icebox cars and rush airfreight deposited fresh fish for the perusal of the Canterlotian public. Blueblood suspected the whole venture had been made economically possible by crazy cat ladies who wanted to spoil their menagerie, but the establishment was kept up by the griffon minority, as well as the embassies from more obviously omnivorous populations. Not that the Prince didnt' mind a good tilapia now and then, and recent travels had given him a taste for sushi, as well. "They'll give me a tab, Niil. Just point out what you want and I'll sign for it."
  19. Bluebelle sighed. She couldn't help but think Applejack's view overly optimistic, as far as joining a league went. "The main point is, we're not actually obligated to trot into anything we do not choose to. Resisting such negative, semi-coercive pressures is one of the things we teach here, is it not? If it is indeed not taught, I shall have to add it to the curriculum." Pausing in her meal, she whipped out a notepad with her magic to jot down a reminder. "Large sports leagues are as subject to the dynamics of money and power as anything else typically found amidst the elite, and I've seen better mares than myself proven wrong when they think they won't be corrupted. Making our voice heard really isn't going to do much if we're not in control, and we won't be. At that point, we're either dragged along, or we have to bail, which would make the whole venture a mistake either way. "No, I'm making the executive decision now." Bluebelle thumped her hoof on the table decisively. "We will keep sports at an intramural level at this school; this will allow us to give the students opportunities to manage as well as play, if they so desire, without having to worry about them being eaten alive by some exec from outside the school. This will also allow us to dedicate resources towards more obscure games, as long as interest can be maintained in them. Or perhaps the students could invent new ones; somepony was the first to make up the rules to buckball and hoofball, after all." She nodded, satisfied with her reasoning, and returned to lunch. "After all, if a student is primarily interested in a sport, there are other schools they can go to. That's not what we're here for."
  20. Tempest's response to their encouraging words left Feng... shaken. Not so much the revelation of what she had gone through, though that was harrowing enough. No, what really got to him was their marked similarities, so much so that Feng and Tempest could have been the "before" and "after" pair of a warning PSA. "You're right... I don't know what that's like. But if I had to give an honest answer to where I saw myself in five years... That would be a real possibility. Everyone who knew me growing up certainly expected that. Probably still do." He didn't know what else to say, besides that. The longma didn't want to let Tempest go, but sensed, similar to Sunset, that a crowd would not help the situation any. All he felt that he could do was sit next to Hanabi, and sigh as the adrenaline energy drained from him.
  21. As Bellosh stated above, I'll be attending with Shining Armor
  22. "A daycare program?" Bluebelle rubbed her chin, giving it a few seconds thought. It was a good idea, and just the sort of thing she was likely to overlook as she settled into her work. "Well, I'll put that on the docket. Thank you, Miss Applejack. I wonder... perhaps it would be good to allow students a chance to volunteer at such a place, once established at the academy? After all, there are few more perfect ways of putting our lessons into practice than dealing with the very young, giving them a friendly and nurturing environment." She only hoped it wouldn't seem exploitative, using students for labor like that. Best to make sure they got credits for it; she didn't want to get into trouble with the EEA on her first year! Twilight had given her quite a horror story... Speaking of the EEA, the orange earth pony brought up the idea floating around of a sporting organization. "You mean, an official league, and all that? Hm, it's not a bad idea, but I'm a little worried about what it might grow into. The virtue of competition is that it can bring out the best in ponies, but it also constantly demands it. Look at the Iron Pony, for instance. It began merely as a friendly event in a farming town, where anypony from the surrounding countryside could throw themselves into and have a decent chance of coming out on top. And now its an international event, where the top prizes become increasingly restricted to a few physical elite, who have dedicated no small portion of their lives to some activity related to the event. It makes, certainly, for a more exciting show... but I can't help but notice that so many more watch than participate. It can almost be discouraging, to see peaks of physical perfection out on the field that one can't hope to achieve. I'd much rather preserve an amateur atmosphere in our school sports clubs, where one plays for the love of playing the game, and not of making a ticket-selling spectacle."
  23. Feng breathed out a sigh of relief as his instinct was proved sound. He could sometimes let his passion get away from him, but the rigors of discipline and training were like iron bands in his soul. Reliable, as long as one didn't let them rust. And no one could accuse Feng of letting himself rust... Once the rage was fully drained from Tempest's visage, Feng relaxed his hold and slid off the mare, allowing her to stand on her own. Dusting himself off, he gave a reassuring smile to Hanabi as Sunset gave her own perspective on the issue of magic-less-ness. That... wow, that must have been like being grounded. Injuries had made Feng familiar enough with that, but he wasn't quite sure if the parallel really worked. Sure, he'd been unable to fly, but he'd also been safe in an infirmary, rather than in combat. Except on one occasion, in the mountains... "I'm not... sure the worst part is losing access to magic as it is losing access to magic when you're in danger. Or wings, in my case. It's happened before, but what got me through is that I wasn't the only one who was on the mission at the time. It's why solo missions tend to be discouraged... and why I get yelled at every time I go and take one on anyway." He gave a sheepish grin at that. Experience had not quite educated him out of certain gung-ho habits. "But you weren't solo, remember? You don't ever have to be again, if you don't want to. It's not being powerless that kills you, it's being alone." And even during this speech, his thoughts were drifting back home, to a beautiful qilin mare he'd once said the very same thing to...
  24. Oohhhh.... Immortality Angst. Yeah, that wasn't something that Bluebelle would be able to help with much. Heck, only the two Royal Sisters would; Cadence, if immortal, had no experience with the long haul, as it were. "Well, if it's any comfort to her, she won't be completely alone. She's not the only alicorn, and Auntie Celestia and Auntie Luna have both been through that. Like I said before, it will be hard at first, but they're living proof that one can come out the other side alright." It was a consideration, though, that gave her pause. Bluebelle had always suffered from alicorn envy, as the one non-alicorn royal in Canterlot. Twilight and Cadence's respective ascensions had not helped that in least. But would she want to take on this burden, if offered? Food for thought, which she took alongside food for her stomach. She smiled, seeing Applejack gush over her little one. It seemed that so many mares she knew were having foals. Their affection was infectious, dangerously so, inspiring thoughts of gravid months and caretaking years. *Whoa, as she would say, nelly. Let us prove that we can act as guardian for students before birthing one of our own.* The mare mind was treacherous, perhaps she should seek out a cup of coffee... Shaking off these reflections, she took in a scoop of almond chunks, chewing over Applejack's question. "Well... I'm always partial to setting up a sailing club, but that's just my personal bias towards my own hobby. My hope is that students will take initiative in forming their own clubs, and I will facilitate them. It seems altogether more efficient that trying to come up with a list of things they may or may not be interested in. Plus, it will teach them the benefits of taking initiative. The World is not going to provide hoofouts for them, after all."
  25. All throughout the Empress' speech, Fēng Yīnhǎitāo had remained bowed, facing towards the floor. In such a moment, to gaze at her would only increase the tension placed upon her, and he'd placed quite enough for one day. Not that he was free of stress himself; having uttered his request, he could only await the consequences. The only productive thing he could do while he awaited her judgment was to keep his breathing under control. *In... out... in... out...* The task grew harder for Fēng as the Empress continued, and trepidation gave way slowly to hope. Could she... was she really going to...? *Did you ever have any doubt?* When she reached out with her hoof, Fēng took it up gently, meeting her eyes with a smile. "Thank you... Yu Yue." And oh boy, if the Court was shocked at Yu's attitude towards Fēng, what could one say they were at a Watcher daring to call the Empress by name? While seemingly reckless, the longma had his reasons for answering in this way. First and foremost, it would simply not have been appropriate to answer a confirmation of true friendship in any stuffily official manner. Secondly, and not too far behind, it ensured that any ire the court would retain after this incident passed into the record would fall upon him, rather than her. The Empress could, in her sovereignty and displayed wisdom, be forgiven for reaching down. But for the lowly to reach up? That always roused more objection. Was it not the duty of the Watcher to protect the Empress from all threats? Even as a friend, Fēng Yīnhǎitāo would not forget his duties. Of this, Empress Yue could be assured.
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