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Found 7 results

  1. PrinceBlueblood

    Sphinxmaster (Pretzel, Dusty)

    Sand. Sand everywhere. For the third time since coming out to the dig site, Princess Bluebelle tried to discreetly cast a little spell to banish every bit of grit from the interior of her fashionable khaki clothes. Her self-cleaning magic, developed over the years as the neat-freak of a unicorn royal dealt with the unavoidable contacts with the dirt and dust of the real world, was usually quite effective, but she felt now that there was always at least one bucking grain that was lodged somewhere sensitive. Perhaps it was just a psychosomatic reaction to seeing the vast plains of sand outside the habitable areas of Saddle Arabia. Normally, the Princess would never venture outside of the beautiful gardens, lush fields, and picturesque streets of the horse Sultanate, but as one of Equestria's most prominent diplomatic ponies, her visits usually were spent in the personal company of royalty or major leaders, the Sultana in this case. And among the duties this Sultana took upon herself was the ceremonial dedication and tourings of the many archaeological digs delving into the history of her country. And that history was fascinating, of course, but Bluebelle still silently lamented the geography. Still, ever the premier diplomat, she did not let her good grace or smile falter as she accompanied the ruler. "I'm afraid I haven't read too deeply into the myths surrounding this dig; your country just has so many. Wasn't there something involving some kind of... sphinx, was it?" Bright, curious eyes; interested smile, and temporarily pristine coat gave all present the impression of the Equestrian tourist, of the more respectful and respectable kind, of course!
  2. Scions of the Royal House of Blueblood had never been known for their patience, and as far as Princess Bluebelle was concerned, this whole thing had gone on long enough! All things considered, it was hard to impute her impatience as a vice. After all, when one has been born as a Prince, living contentedly as one for one's entire life, to suddenly be made a Princess by magical accident was a little disturbing, to say the least. Princess Twilight had been working on a reversal spell, but the unusual circumstances under which the transformation took place (involving a sneeze messing up a healing spell), made the research slow going. And in the meantime, several circumstances had been wearing down Bluebelle's ability to wait. First was the fact that the transformation was bizarrely inconsistent. While most of the time, she was a mare, from time to time she would revert back to her old body, which necessitated constant re-adjustment of everything from walking pace to wardrobes. It was quite trying. But perhaps even more disturbing was the fact that such reversals started out as very common, almost daily, but had slowly become more and more infrequent. This started to breed a worry in the Princess that if measures weren't taken soon, the transformation might turn out to be irreversible! Which would be terrible. *Gah! I need to focus! It's even starting to affect my mind now.* So it was, after a good few months of putting on a good show of taking her change calmly, Bluebelle took matters to rectify the situation into her own hooves. And, after an intensive few days of research (on the part of her secretary), she felt a solution might finally be within her grasp... ~***~ "We can't be lost, that's impossible!" Dressed impeccably in tailored khaki, Bluebelle frowned and fumed at the old map she was levitating in front of her. "I can find a small island in the trackless oceans! Surely one temple in one forest can't be hard to find..." The expedition to the Leota had not been hard to scrape together. She had royal funds, as well as an honor guard to serve as traveling companion and protector. But once she had let slip that she was going hunting for an ancient magical artifact, said to be held by an all-stallion tribe that once lived in the Leota, she unexpectedly found her party increased by one, a mare from EPIC. Not that she minded the extra protection, but she could not imagine what on earth any potential villains would want with a statuette that turned mares into stallions. Well, except smashing it to spite her. "Are either of you familiar with finding your way through forests? Because I think we've passed that tree before." She turned to her traveling companions, sizing them up for likelihoods. Star Crusader, Bluebelle's honor guard, had proved to be a resourceful mare in the past. It was this secure unflappability and readiness from the gigantic pegasus which had first caught the royal figure's admiration, even before Blueblood had seen what she looked like underneath the bulk of her armor. The help she had lately given her in dealing with her current situation only increased that admiration, and Blue had come to trust Star implicitly. The other mare, Rubble Rose, was more of a cipher. For one thing, she was neither talkative, nor silently expressive in much of any way. In addition to this strong, silent attitude was the fact that... it really didn't make a lot of sense for her to be here, as far as the Princess could see. EPIC surely had more members available that were better suited to wilderness adventures... unless they anticipated some difficulty in breaking into the temple. Then it would make sense to bring along an urban demolitionist. *Is there something else, though, that I'm not seeing? She had personally requested to come along as soon as she heard that we were going to an ancient temple....*
  3. Evening performance tickets? Check. Mailed invitation to a certain Ponyville Dressmaker? Check. Dress for the evening? ... well, hopefully that would be coming. Princess Bluebelle sighed, trying not to succumb to the vulgar temptation to pace. These past few weeks had been stressful enough, what with getting magically transformed between genders, but then she had added to it by trying to apologize and make up to one of the elements of Harmony! It had been a dicey proposition, given how long Rarity had kept up a hostile attitude towards the royal. Still, everything seemed to be working out. The Princess had put a dress on order, and was treating the fashionista to a play as well, in an attempt to actually make friends. At any rate, they would be able to tell if they could stand each other's company for more than a passing business transaction. And so, Bluebelle waited for the arrival of her guest. She'd told Rarity to come to the house early, so she would have time to see and put on the dress before heading out...
  4. Edit: Thread is open! http://www.canterlot.com/topic/21737-to-serve-a-princeess-open-see-ooc/ I've been thinking; I would really like to flesh out Prince Blueblood's household with something more than mere NPC servants. He already has an honor guard, but there are plenty of other positions available, from clerk to cook! During this thread, Blueblood will still be dealing with being Bluebelle. Hence, the traditional form application letter from the household was sent out: The household of Prince Princess Bluebelle is in need of trained, qualified staff to compliment itself over these coming months. Positions have opened up and will be open to all able-bodied (and spirited) creatures, as long as they are capable and willing to serve Princess Bluebelle. The following application must be completed and will be reviewed by the Royal Guard, so please answer truthfully in full: What position do you plan to occupy? In what way is your service exceptional? Any previous records of similar work? ​ In retrospect, some judicious proofreading and editing might not have been a bad idea...
  5. Princess Celestia was always slightly busy, never seeming to have any time to herself, or her family and friends. Between ruling Equestria in the day, to running a school, diplomacy and the like, it was tiresomework. She really only had time to interact with her sister, and even that seemed at times minimal. However, the one pony she never really seemed to have time for was her nephew Prince Blueblood, whom, apparently became a princess rather recently. She wore a devilish smirk as she decided it was time to catch up with her nephew and called upon him[or rather her] for a day out. Naturally because he was now a she, the princess booked a reservation at her favorite nondescript salon, and made her way to the Prince's home. Upon arriving she gave a knock at the door and announced herself to the staff at his home that she was there to pick him up. Naturally they tried to tell the princess what had happened, but Celestia, knowingly, cut them off and instructed them to just summon the Prince for their long awaited time together. ~ Prince Blueblood had, at best, a tense relationship with his Auntie Celestia, and this was mostly his fault. After all, when one claims familial relation based on royal rank, and then forgets to respect one's elders... well, let's just say that Celestia had exercised the patience of a saint in not disowning him. But, said patience was bearing its fruit, in making a certain pony less unbearable. Blueblood was changing, becoming a different pony altogether. For the most part, he was a willing participant in these changes, but this latest one, which involved him not exactly being a "him" was, to be fair, a little much. "Princess Bluebelle," as she had decided her current self would be called, sighed as the maid brought up word of Auntie's arrival. "I suppose it couldn't be put off forever. I hope she doesn't take the news... badly." What 'badly' would mean in this context, she hardly knew, but she went downstairs, trying not to look like a mare condemned to be hanged. "Oh, hello Auntie." She greeted Celestia, trying to be as casual as possible. Perhaps if she acted normal, this whole awkward business could be pasted over. Or maybe this was all a dream, prank of Auntie Luna. Whatever kept her from babbling ~ As the "prince" made his way to the recieving room of his estate, she very clearly tried to play it cool, which naturally, Celestia would have to do the opposite. All the while the butler trying to tell the Princess what had happened, eventually the Princess had to break character and whisper to him with a smirk "I know," and with a start the butler seemed to finally understand. As Blueblood, or rather Bluebelle came into view and greeted her auntie as cooly as she could, Princess Celestia wore a look of surprise as best as she could. "Greetings Blue...." there she stopped "Oh my! Whatever happened to my nephew?" She said with clearly forced surprise. "Are you sure you are Blueblood, or are you one of his mares?" She said playfully, while desperately trying to keep a straight face. ~ It had been a vain hope. Clearly, Celestia was not going to pass up the occasion to make a bit of a fuss. Really, Blue should have known better. She sighed, not looking forward to giving the explanation again. "Look, I don't know what you've heard, but this was all a magical accident- wait, hold on, what do you mean, one of 'my mares'?" The last phrase had struck a bit of nerve, as she was pretty sure it had reference to one of half a dozen completely unsubstantiated rumors that circulated in the tabloids. ~ Clearly offended the "prince" made reference to the jab that Celestia made. "Do you mean to tell me that the tabloids are comple..te..ly... false..." she couldn't keep the ruse up any more and she started to slowly giggle before finishing the sentence, and at the end finally breaking down almost into full tilt laughter. "My apologies my nephew... or is it niece now?" She said wiping away a tear. "I simply could not help pretending that I knew nothing. Honestly I had wanted to have Luna and Cady come along so we could have a girls day out together, but unfortunately neither was available." Celestia said playfully with a wink. "I have been looking forward to spending the day with you for sometime though, I've been hearing many good things about you lately and wished to catch up." Celestia switched to being rather sincere, honestly seeing the look on 'her' face was rather telling of how she felt about all of this, and even though this was not the last time she was going to have fun with her this day, she did not wish for it to eclipse the true nature, which was to catch up with her now neice. ~ So... she knew all along, did she? Blueblood had never been a chess player, but even he had known better than to challenge Celestia. There were just some sorts of beatings that a sense of self-respect never recovered from. Thus abandoning her attempt to out fox her auntie, Bluebelle sighed, and waited for the storm of laughter to pass. "Frankly, neither nephew nor niece seems to fit right in my head right now." She shook her head, running a hoof through her mane. she paused, looking at her locks. Limp, ragged. Something needed to be done about that. Anyway, back to the matter at hand. "Well, it has been a while, hasn't it?" She tried for and managed to produce a small smile. "I suppose I should get some fresh air, at least. I've been holed up, defending the house against reporters. It's been taking its toll on me." ~ Celestia said as she noticed Princess Bluebelle fiddling with her mane. She could only smile knowingly as she looked upon this. Even if Princess Bluebelle didn't know what to consider herself as right now, she clearly had at least some marish tendencies. With the remark about the reporters, which Celestia had been dealing with her entire trip there, and her Royal Guard escourt having their hooves full she decided to pull out her secret weapon. Celestia instantly opened up both of her saddle bags, revealing hooded cloaks. "Here, put this on, we have a ways to walk, and you and I both would rather avoid reporters, especially if we are going to ditch the escourts that followed me here." Celestia smiled "Naturally if you'd prefer we use the guards and ditch the cloaks we could do that as well" Celestia put on her cloak which concealed not only her wings and etheral mane but her cutie mark as well. She still had her height and horn, but there were still other unicorns in Canterlot that had a tall stature with a horn like Celestia's so she was not worried so long as her defining features as a princess were hidden. ~ It was a measure of the limits of Blue's imagination that she had never put any thought into concealing clothing. Perhaps it was because the hooded cloak is eternally unfashionable, at least when made with rough brown material. On the other hoof, no pony would ever suspect a pony from House Blueblood would ever wear such a thing... "You know, Auntie, that sounds like an excellent idea." She said, though her enthusiasm was tempered by the thought of having to wear something like that. But, she donned it anyhow. It certainly was good at concealing the figure, even one like Bluebelle's. With her somewhat closer-to-average height, almost no signifying features could be determined. "Is it... very far, to where we are going?" The 'princess' remarked, trying to avoid looking at her reflection. The change had done nothing to reduce her vanity, it seemed. Quite the opposite, if anything ~ Bluebelle seemed reluctant to wear the cloak, but did so anyway. Celestia giggled at the thought of such a simple cloak putting Bluebelle out of her comfort zone. At Bluebelle's query Celestia smiled and shook her head "It isn't terribly far, however to avoid people we aren't taking a direct route, so the path is a bit longer than it would normally be. I'm sure you remember the path we used to take from Canterlot Castle to the rear gate of this estate..." Celestia paused for a moment to allow Bluebelle to remember. "The path is an off shoot of that as the place we are heading is not too far from Canterlot Castle, and naturally we will enter through the 'secret' enterance of the place we are going." Celestia made a point to not reveal the details of where they were going, but if Bluebelle remembered that path there were only a few things on the way that they could goto together to have a nice outing. ~ Bluebelle did remember the path, though she couldn't quite recall what was on the way. Gardens? Maybe they were just going to smell the roses? Well, that made sense, she supposed. Auntie was always big on the simple pleasures. "Alright, then." Bluebell started to trot towards the door, but tripped on the hem of her robe and face-planted. "Oof!" She cried out from her very undignified position. "I... need to remember that walking is different in this body." She got up quickly enough, with dignity in tatters, but she pressed on bravely, without any further spillage. "Entrance... I suppose you're not talking about the gardens, then." ~ Seeing Bluebelle fall flat, even the princess had her limits, while she enjoyed pranking ponies, and playing with their misconceptions of her, laughing at a pony's misfortune was not something she would do. At least she wouldn't show it outwardly.... She dusted her off with her hoof gently after Bluebelle had gotten up. "Are you alright Bluebelle...?" Celestia paused, realizing that calling her by that name might be a surprise, though perhaps not considering that she was made privvy to the situation. Celestia naturally lead the way, ensuring to avoid, not only her guards, but also tha paparazzi that they were currently fending off. It was a lovely diversion really, but it wouldn't take long for the guards to realize that they were set up... again... and immediately send out a search party. A while later they arrived at a rather nondescript door with a sliding door for just eyes. With a rhythmic knock Celestia tapped on the door. The eye hole opened and upon setting eyes on the princess the door immediately opened. And the pony at the door graciously greeted the Princess thanking her once again for her patronage. Inside was a rather lavish beauty parlour and spa, with marble columns cascading falls and a rather scerene atmosphere. Celestia inquired to the pony whom opened the door if all the necessary arrangements for their visit had been made, which is to say that the place was rented out for two hours ensuring no other pony other than select staff would be around. Celestia turned to Bluebelle and whispered "I figured it would be best to do something outside of the public's eye" she said with a wink. ~ Upon hearing her new name on Auntie Celestia's lips, the Princess shot her a look, which was hidden under the shadows of her hood. "Did Twilight tell you about this?" It would make sense if she did, the former student being in good correspondence with her mentor and fellow Princess. But... that might mean the full circumstances might have gotten to her as well. Being sick invites pity, but when illness is resulting from having a compromised immune system from a wild night on the town with the Princess of the Night... well, one might say that an accidental gender swap was only karma. With those troubling thoughts, Blue followed her aunt through the twisting byways, not looking around, for fear that would attract the attention of the dreaded press. It was, therefore, a little while before she realized her surroundings. "Wait... I know this place..." She muttered, before the door was opened, admitting the two princesses into the salon. "Oh, yes! I've been here before..." She paused, realizing how that sounded. Clearing her throat, she specified. "They, ah, are good at giving lessons. And securing supplies. You need connections to get, ah, really good conditioner." ~ Celestia smirked at Bluebelle's query. It was true Princess Twilight contacted her about it. A gender swap from treating an ailment was not the most common of things, so Twilight had asked her mentor about it. She didn't go into the details, but it did not take long over all to find the full details. Still, it was not the worst Blueblood, or rather Bluebelle had ever done, so to bring it up was not a real concern. "I did hear it from Twilight, but fear not she did not disclose all the details... " Celestia stopped explaining there, as she heard the story of the night before from her sister, but left the question of how much she knew in the air. Upon arrival Bluebelle expressed that she knew the place. "You do?" Celestia asked with some surprise. As she followed up and tried to cover up how it sounded, Celestia figured out the real reason, and naturally decided to bring it forth. "So apparently you had a mareish side before you became Bluebelle." Celestia said with a devilish smirk "Had I known I would have invited you the previous occasion I patroned this establishment." ~ Hm, well, if Twilight didn't disclose all the details, than neither would Bluebelle. Not unless asked, of course; Auntie wouldn't appreciate prevarication. Nor would avoiding the question be any good anyway, from the way in which she had of getting at the heart of the matter. Blue sighed, partly at the relief of getting free of the tacky robe, and partly in frustration at her auntie's sense of humor. "I never particularly saw why a certain degree of care in one's looks should be exclusive to one sex. After all, if one's overall purpose is best served by looking good, one ought to make every effort. Noblesse oblige, and all that. I just wanted to be able to do the necessary maintenance in-house, so to speak, rather than having to go out every other week. I came here to learn how to do that." She gave a little wave to one of the staff, wondering if she would remember him. Her. Bleah, this was confusing. ~ Celestia smiled "You know you had ponies around who could have shown you such things... I can tell you it isn't easy taking care of my mane" She said with a smile, and really having an etheral mane was not easy to maintain. "There was no need to try and maintain your image among family" Celestia looked at her wave at a pony. "That said, there is nothing wrong with mares or stallions coming to places like these. Though, usually, when I come I do have the place to myself, like we do now, so it is not like I'm aware of the full clientelle of this spa." The time for small talk was almost coming to a close, but they could really engage in catching up when they actually started their spa day. "So since this is my treat to you, what would you like to start off with... just keep in mind I requested minimal staff considering you being Bluebelle." Celestia might be a prankster but she was at least conscientious... ~ "Hm... well, you will recall there was a time before we were really... close in any kind of way." It was true. Before his parents had died, Blueblood had regarded Celestia as a more distant figure, only vaguely associating them together based on rank. It was only after his parents died that he called her Auntie. She was, in fact, at that point the only thing left that he could call family. Even then, it took a while before they could talk candidly on any subject. At least, as equals. He'd gotten a couple of lectures on not being a pompous snob on certain memorable occasions. "In any case, there are some things a stallion prefers to do himself." Not that that applied anymore. Frankly, after the stress of the past week or so, it would take very little inducement for her to surrender herself into the care of the staff entirely. "I think... a massage, to start with. I've been running on nervous energy for too long now." ~ Celestia nodded at her words. It was true, they never really were close. The prince was more or less brought up by the castle staff. Celestia was always too busy, especially since Luna was not around to raise the moon and take care of the night, so often Celestia pulled double duty and nary had time to rest. Celestia wasn't exactly sure how to respond to Bluebelle's response to doing things on her own. Celestia knew the feeling all too well, especially since for so long she didn't really ask for any help after StarSwirl the Bearded had passed on, and her most trusted adviser was no longer by her side. She did nod at the request for a massage though. "A massage does sound nice. I'm sure becoming a mare has been rough for you. You know, if you'd like I could place a few more guards at your estate to deal with the paparazzi until Twilight's magic wears off..." ~ The staff, bless them, had probably been able to predict her preferences just by the look of her. They must have seen enough stressed mares in their time to be able to determine Bluebelle's own state, and the proper remedy. Thus, it took very little time for the tables to be prepped, and the warm room to admit the pair into the caring hooves of the two masseuses. "Ah... Pumice, was it? Yes, I remember you from before. Do you still do that wonderful thing with the hit rocks? Perfect." She sighed, finally starting to relax under the care of the Salon. "Hmmm... more guards... yes, that would be nice, as long as they were willing to take orders from my own Honor Guard captain. You know her, Star Crusader? Duchess of Fet Loch's daughter?" There was a pause, and then a sigh. "You saw her fish me out of the High King's antlers." ~ Perhaps it was the massage, or perhaps it was the stress, but for Blueblood, or in this case, Bluebelle to bring up a memory of her own shortcoming, it was rather rare. "That would be only natural. Much like how my personal guards know my needs..." Celestia paused and said under her breath "and disregard my request for time alone at times"... Clearing her throat and continuing as normal "your honor guard is the same. And it wouldn't be like I'd be sending ranking officers whom would take issue with that." Celestia said with a smile. "Speaking of the High King, he did offer you a rematch if you so desired... are you planning on taking him up on that? Though I'm not sure that would be conducive to IMAGINE." Celestia continued talking as the masseuse used heated rocks to relax the princess of the sun. A treatment she often requested as it does wonders for loosening tense muscles. As the princess melted into what seemed a puddle of relaxation as the massage progressed she looked over at Bluebelle having her massage "Have you ever had them use the heated rocks? It is rather lovely." ~ Bluebelle nodded. She didn't think it would be any trouble, but then, one had to be sure. It was important that she have peace in her house, given all the chaos that seemed to be trying to invade it at every opportunity. "I'll say she is!" The Princess was apparently going to wax effusive on the subject of Star Crusader. "I don't know whether it was you, or the Duchess that assigned her to me, but that was inspired, let me tell you. Sure, she may not smile much, but she's steady as a mooring post, and that means a lot when you're battered by the waves of life. I mean, after this transformation, she didn't even bat an eye, but showed me how to walk without tripping over my back hooves." It must have been the massage; no other explanation could be for Bluebelle opening up. Unless there was something in the fact that a niece and aunt could talk more freely than a nephew and aunt. "As for a rematch... no, thank you. I've had enough of such stuff. Oooohhhh...." Pumice had apparently started the hot rocks on her own back. "Mmmm... once before, yes. She wasn't quite so good at it last time, though. Left a red mark I noticed afterwards."
  6. Rackenhammer: The flyer had gone out to most towns and villages in Equestria: "IMAGINE a future where war is a thing of the past. IMAGINE a world where there are none starved or oppressed. IMAGINE yourself, making this dream come true..." The opening lines were a fair sample of the content. There was a little about the history of the organization, how it was founded after a Viking attack on the Crystal Empire, with a blurb on how the scarcity of resources in the Caribou lands bred fighting and war, and how much more reasonable it would be to make their land richer than deal with periodic attacks and death. That was about it for substance, but it did direct those interested in joining to Blueblood Manor to apply... Honeywing: Honeywing tapped his chin as he read over the flyer. This was certainly intriguing. He had missed the first few round of these, apparently, due to one of his missions. And of course he was always on the lookout for ways to improve his standing. The notice lacked substance, but it was a flyer, not a novel. And every Courier in Equestria knew exactly where to find Blueblood Manor. It was something of a hazing tradition to post newbies to the manor to attend the staff's demands. One short flight later and Honeywing was knocking on the servants entrance. Rackenhammer: Answering the door was the kitchen maid, a mare formidably stiff with propriety. Very few outside of Canterlot knew this, but the higher-ranked servantry had a hierarchy every bit as exact as the nobility itself. The Kitchen-Maid was ranked under the Cook, but not very much far under. Say, #4 or #5 overall. "Here to deliver a message? The master's-" And here she hesitated, "A little indisposed." Honeywing: "Not today, ma'am. I saw this flyer at the headquarters." he said, rolling a wing to shift a satchel forward, out of which he pulled the IMAGINE advertisement. He straightened his shoulders and tossed his mane over to the other side, drawing himself to his full height in the process. It wasn't terribly impressive, really, but he knew how to bear himself, at any rate. "Honestly, came to this door out of habit, but I'm confident you'll get me where I need to be. You seem a capable mare." Rackenhammer: The maid peered down at the flyer, suspiciously at first, but then her eyes opened wide in recognition. "Oh, you're here about that. Usually recruits come through the front door." She looked around, thinking. On the one hand, the Prince had requested no visitors. On the other hand, recruits were in a different class altogether. Maybe it wouldn't hurt. "Look, if you'll go up into the foyer, I'll pass along that you're here, alright?" Honeywing: Recognising a failed attempt when he saw one, Honeywing bowed his head gracefully and trotted off toward the main foyer. It was another room a courier was usually well acquainted with. He didn't recognise the décor, but that was Blueblood, of course. Honeywing was well aware of the prince's reputation. The art was usually the most interesting thing about the room, so Honeywing took his time examining it while he waited. Rackenhammer: The art was... odd. Not in of itself, no, everything was generally of good taste... but it looked as if someone had stopped halfway through in redecorating. There were a mixture old family portraits, and classic collectors pieces... with a set of new paintings, all from one artist of growing talent. Including, oddly enough, a painting that looked like a female version of Prince Blueblood, lying in a bed of roses... Honeywing: Honeywing lingered on this one. He'd heard of gender-reversing effects, usually in hushed whispers around the headquarters as something that had happened to a friend of a friend of a friend, but generally he discredited those as urban legends, not unlike those that said the zebras could bend the workings of a unicorn's spell mid-cast. Instead, he was assuming the artist was either quite imaginative or had found a near-double who happened to be a mare. Although given how masculine the prince was, it was odd to think of any mare as being considered a 'near-double'. Rackenhammer: Indeed, in terms of figure, there was a great contrast between the overall quite masculine sculpted shape of the Prince's body, and the exquisitely feminine curves the painter had captured. but the eyes... the eyes were the same, along with the cutie mark. And over all expression, of a habitual haughtiness covering an inward vulnerability... "Ahem." Behind him was a soft cough, and turning around, Honeywing would see... the mare from the painting. "You were here... as a recruit, am I right?" Honeywing: Nope. Honeywing's brain couldn't accept that. Had to be a trick of the lighting. No, her voice was off, too. Was he having a daydream? No, he wasn't that into mares, and he REALLY wasn't that into Blueblood. Another nightmare? No, he was pretty sure he was awake, and besides, he could track a clear line from the flyer to the foyer. The stallion closed his eyes, took a deep breath, let it out, then opened them ag-nope, still a mare. Well then. He had just lost sixteen bits on a bet. "Recruit? Yes. My name is Honeywing, I'm a courier with the Diplomatic Courier Corps, your grace." Rackenhammer: Bluebell had apparently been waiting for ancillary questions. Things like, "What happened to you?" Or "How long has this been a thing?" or even "Did you fall in love when you looked in a mirror?" But no, this stallion seemed to be on point still, and for that, the mare was grateful. "A messenger? And with experience in the corps! Well, we would be glad to have you. If you'll just follow me to the study, we can go over the details." Honeywing: Honeywing clicked his hooves professionally and drew himself up behind the prince...ss? ready to follow. How did that happen? How long was that a thing? She probably spent hours in front of the mirror, if she was half the pony her reputation said she was. Then again, maybe being a mare changed her? Was this a voluntary thing? Honeywing's mind raced from one question to the next, but he'd have to wait for a more polite time to find answers, or a more diplomatic one, at any rate. One did not join a diplomatic corps without learning tact. Leastwise, one did not stay in one for long. Rackenhammer: However many personal questions the courier may have had, the answers would have to wait, either until the Princess was ready to answer... or until he figured them out for himself. From the sheen of her coat and mane, Bluebelle certainly took no less care of her appearance, however long it took her to get ready in the morning. Still, one could hardly blame the royal person from using their main advantage; after all, Blue would have to rely on brains otherwise, and Faust knew the Prince had shown precious little evidence of those before. In any case, she took a seat behind a desk, looking at Honeywing across it. "I suppose you might want some more information on what you're getting into, if you came from the flier. Wordsworth Psmith has a way with fine words, but he packs so many syllables into so few meanings sometimes..." Honeywing: "I hadn't noticed, your grace." Honeywing lied, blatantly. "But I was curious, yes. Your organisation sounds very philanthropic, but the flyers are sparse on details. Or even the proposed goals or methods, if you'll pardon my bluntness." He had taken a seat and crossed his legs in a very formal pose. Not perhaps the tense eagerness usually found in a servant, especially in a glorified mailcarrier, but certainly not with any undue familiarity with the mare or the situation. Rackenhammer: "Well, there aren't many details. At least, not details set in stone." The Princess had settled down into a practiced explanation, though she managed to deliver it naturally. It didn't sound like a mechanical repetition of rote phrases, as sometimes happened when the upper class talked about their philanthropy. "The three founders, that is, Miss Snowfall of Northern Storm Industries, Countess Frostlace of Stalliongrad, and myself decided to pool our resources and influence to make the world more peaceful. Essentially, we want to look for non-violent solutions for potential or past conflicts. Usually this has to do with scarcity, which can be solved with development and trade. We are currently starting two efforts, one in Whitescar with the caribou, and in Griffonstone, with the, well, griffons." Honeywing: Honeywing listened intently, nodding every now and again. "So you're establishing trade routes, looking for stable merchant relationships, and developing the regions' own industries?" He asked, organising thoughts in his head. He did note that she didn't seem to be using rote or that really annoying voice aristocrats liked to use when talking about 'helping the peasantry'. Maybe her reputation had been inflated, or maybe being a mare had actually changed her. Or maybe she was just really good with the political game. Honeywing wasn't sure yet, but he was also willing to play his cards close to the vest, not that he wore one usually, and find out. Rackenhammer: "More or less. Essentially, if you can't get oranges, we'll make sure you can." The off-hoof, and somewhat cryptic remark was followed up by a question. "Do you know what it takes for you to get an orange in this city?" This was apparently some kind of test, gauging from the way that the Princess was looking at Honeywing, waiting for the answer.. Honeywing: "Foreign oranges or domestic, your grace? Domestic come by way of the train, with the proper produce procurement papers and licenses, I believe the Orange family owns most of the orchards? Foreign requires an additional set of tariffs and a waiting period while Customs examines them to ensure no foreign parasites or diseases are present. As such they're usually not as fresh when they reach the merchants or buyers, unless great care was taken to preserve them, either magical or through carefully controlled temperatures, and therefore most merchants and suppliers charge a premium for their strains." Honeywing says, offhoof. He then coughs and offers "My father's a restraunteur, your grace." Rackenhammer: After listening for a bit, Bluebelle nodded. "So, you have some idea of everything that needs to happen in order for a caribou have orange juice with breakfast. Well, IMAGINE is meant to facilitate all that. Setting it up and getting it running, so to speak. It's a hard task, and we can use all sorts to do it." She got up, lifting a few papers out of the drawer. "There are multiple options, depending upon whether you wish to join us part-time or full time. I can make arrangements with the corps for your transfer, if you wish the latter." Honeywing: Honeywing paused and considered the offer. He could always use the extra bits, and the prestige, of course. Oh, and...wait, why was he hesitating again..? "Hmm...I'll need to consider that, your Grace. Though I may be able to offer some assistance even within the corps if need be. My primary concern is my coltfriend, honestly, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind having me out from under-hoof for a while at any rate." He was going to accept one offer or the other, the only question was how much time he could devote to things. Rackenhammer: "Well, as far as personal considerations go..." Bluebelle looked down at herself, betraying a consciousness of her transformation for the first time this meeting. "Well, I can't say we will be any less demanding than your current position. More so, actually; you'll be applying for hazard pay more often, for one thing." The Princess sighed, and leaned back, rubbing her eyes. "I don't want to sound like I'm dissuading you at the last minute, but frankly I didn't know what I was getting into when I started this. So... I suppose you shouldn't feel frightened if you're unsure yourself." Honeywing: Honeywing shook his head. "Oh, I'm not afraid of either hard work or hazards. My father is a restrauntuer, I mentioned, so I learned early on how to make myself useful. And my mother's family has been guards since as far back as they can trace records, up until my uncle's passing." he said. He considered for another moment before adding, "To be quite frank, your grace, I was expecting to work hard for the position. The Diplomatic Corps favours the silver tongue, but you don't get far without learning how to get things done. Even your household typically has a Courier or two running errands, I would wager." Rackenhammer: "Hm? Well, yes, I suppose so. I have ponies that take care of those sorts of details for me..." Blueblood had been born into a household where there were so many servants that there were servants who managed the servants. IMAGINE probably represented the first time he, or she, had actually been in charge of other ponies in a real position of leadership. "In any case, as you seem up for the work, I don't see why we can't sign you on today. Ah, which sort of shift were you looking for? We'll have more important things for you to do full-time, setting up appointments with high-ranking Caribou for our first big investment meeting." Honeywing: "Most likely part-time for a month or so, to get everything in order, and facilitate a transfer. There were a couple of assignments I really should finish myself if only because the recipients are particular about how their documents are handled, and I can train a replacement more easily than the corps can find somepony else to." Honeywing replied. In truth, he was probably going to spend most of the personal time studying the Caribou, but a good diplomat never let on to either party how long research took. "In the mean time, if there is work that needs doing in the capital, I'm more than willing to do it." Rackenhammer: "Excellent! We'll sign you for a month of part-time, and I'll have Psmith talk to his counterpart in the Corps to co-ordinate your out-processing." Bluebelle selected a few papers from among her stack, and presented them to Honeywing. In truth, he hadn't committed to the long haul quite yet, but the Princess had an instinct about him. Or was attempting to manipulate him in a desperate attempt to get sufficient personnel to accomplish her mission. Honeywing: Honeywing took a few moments to scan through the documents, reading over the finer points and trying to get a sense of the minutiae contained therein. He actually didn't have much of a head for legalese, so tended to overthink contracts, but even still, this one looked fairly straightforward. Salary seemed fair, hazard pay, insurance, everything looked to be in order. "Is there somepony to ask about budgeting?" He asked without much preamble, "I recall you mentioning facilitating trade and tariffs, and I was curious as to how that was going to work, and whether agents needed to work from their stipends." Rackenhammer: "Budgeting?" The question seemed to catch Bluebelle off-guard for a moment, before she heard Honey's explanation. She blinked a bit. "Well, I suppose that'd be me, at present, unless you know an accountant with higher ambitions than dying a bean-counter. At the moment, the founders are funding everything out-of-pocket, pay-as-we-go. We don't actually know how much money would be needed to do these sorts of things yet, so setting a hard budget would be rather pointless. Just... don't be extravagant in your expense sheet, and I think you'll be fine." The Princess let out a whoosh of breath, settling back. Altogether, that had gone well. She'd given the information, practically acquired a recruit, all without the elephant in the room being addressed. Honeywing: Honeywing signed the necessary portions of the application, then separated out his copy and started rolling it up to put in a document tube he had in his saddlebags. Time for the elephant in the room, he supposed. "Your grace, how public is the knowledge of your current condition?" he asked. It wasn't his personal business, though he was extremely curious, but if he was to be working as an attaché of the Princess's political work, he did need to know if he'd need to deflect questions about it, he reasoned to himself. Rackenhammer: Well, there it was. The other hoof, dropping. It wasn't exactly welcome, but it was expected. Though, when it did come, it came slantwise. Bluebell raised an eyebrow at the question itself. "You don't read the tabloids much, do you? It was all over them last weekend. It was as much as I could do, in my position, to let my friends know before the rest of the world." That was no doubt annoying, but if you were a royal, journalistic attention was just part and parcel with the work and rank. Honeywing: Honeywing actually didn't. He'd also been out of town though, so even if he normally did read tabloids he probably wouldn't have known. He cleared his throat and deflected the issue by replying, "May I rephrase it then, to 'How would you prefer any questions asked of me be answered?'? It's likely none of my business how you ended up this way, I mean, but if I'll be working for you..." Rackenhammer: "Change the subject. If they insist, refer them to my calendar. If I don't want to see them, I'll tell them. If they continue to impinge upon my time, I will leave them to what remains of the tender mercies of my butler." From the flatness of her tone, it sounded like the stories last weekend had been produced at the cost of much irritation. Honeywing: Honeywing dipped his head in acknowledgement and resumed securing his copy of the offer in the document tube. "Understood, your grace." he said as he popped the cap on and slid it back into his bag. He went through a mental checklist of things to go over with Glitzen as well, aware that he'd pushed rather past the line of propriety already and more than willing to drop a clearly touchy subject. Rackenhammer: Bluebelle had been, perhaps, a little brusque in dealing with the subject. Then again, this was not the sort of thing she was prepared to talk about with near strangers just at this very moment. Perhaps, when the two of them were better acquainted... the whole story could be told. In any case, once the subject was dropped, her expression softened. "Welcome aboard, Honeywing. I promise you, that by the end of this, we'll have made the world at least a little bit better." Honeywing: Honeywing didn't doubt that, and bowed graciously. "Thank you, your grace. I'll go see to some of my preparations. May I excuse myself, your grace? I can remember the way out." He couldn't, but he was a Pegasus, all he really needed to do was find a balcony no pony was watching and he'd be on his way. Rackenhammer: Bluebelle nodded assent and smiled at Honeywing. "Alright then, go ahead. I'll know where to reach you when we need you. Good day." If the Princess knew he was flying out, she didn't care. She did get up and reach over to shake his hoof. "Until next time." Honeywing: Honeywing was unaccustomed to royalty using the gesture, but he took the princess's hoof and shook it, then bowed again and made his way out of the room, out of the building, and off to his possibly last assignments with the Couriers.
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