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You are hereby cordially invited to attend the Royal Equestrian Guards' annual Ball. This year's event will be held in the illustrious Royal Grande hotel in Canterlot. Security will be handled by a private firm, so please remember to have your invitations and identification with you when you arrive at eight hours past noon five nights before the autumnal equinox. Proceeds from this year's Ball will benefit the Equestrian Services Organization in their efforts to improve interdisciplinary cooperation and morale, as well as to fund improvements to the training grounds and academies for the Wonderbolts, the Royal Equestrian Army, and the Twilight, Solar, and Crystal Guards. Please indicate your meal selection and that of any guests who will be attending with you on the enclosed RSVP postcard no later than three weeks before the event. This is a formal event for guards and civilians to mingle and understand one another. Evening dress is strongly recommended. The Royal Grande was one of the largest hotels in Canterlot, and tonight the entire top two floors had been reserved for processing and housing the annual Guard's Ball. On the floor below, attendees were vetted quickly and efficiently by the hired security, then processed through the registration desks by the maîtres d'hôtel who then passed the guests off to hotel staffers, with the entire operation overseen by the Equestrian Services Organization. On the top floor, the orchestra was playing a selection of light melodies on the stage of the Grande Ballroom and several smaller event halls had been arranged with tables for the various branches of the armed services and policing forces.The lighting was warm and mellow as a summer sunset, and speakers in each room conveyed the orchestra's performance or the occasional interlude or speech to all attendees. Periodically the orchestra would bring a full band onto the stage as well to combine for a symphonic version of one of the REA branches' marches or anthem. True to the spirit of the event, no table was populated entirely by any single group, and even the smallest hall contained seats reserved for civilian ticket holders and donors alike. The seating arrangements had all been planned, with little cards at each place setting to let the attendees know which seat at which table in which room their meal would be served, and hotel staff were busily busing attendees to their assigned places. There were quite literally hundreds of guests seated already, and the rooms looked to be set to accommodate even more before the evening was over. In short, the ESO had done everything in its power to make sure tonight was as stress-free as possible for each and every one of its attending servicemembers, a place and a time where they could let their manes down and just enjoy the evening without the distinctions and duties of rank and regiment. At once formal and informal, exquisite and relaxed, tonight was a night to let down walls and build inroads, and to remind the isolated and insular that the armed forces and its members were a unified whole. Tonight was the Royal Equestrian Guards' Ball.
Name: Licorice Whip Sex: Male Age: stallion Species: Unicorn Eye Colour: Teal Coat: Dark Blue, with a light blue muzzle Mane/Tail: light blue mane with lapis stripes, and a dark blue tail Physique: Average build, a little on the short side Residence: Mostly Canterlot (see special talent) Occupation: Guard Cutie mark: Generally covered up by either a cloak or armour, but it's a magnifying glass made of licorice. Early on in his school career, Licorice was playing this game with his friends when he heard the sounds of a kitten in some distress. After determining that it had fallen into the sewers, Licorice tried to reach the kitten through conventional means, but couldn't fit through the openings to reach it, and since he had never seen the sewer or the kitten, didn't trust himself to pop there just yet. Rather than panic, or find an adult, the colt closed his eyes and thought hard. He knew this kitten was small, and in a dark place. He knew it was a cramped space, and that it was a little bit wet and a little bit cold, and that the kitten would be in trouble if he didn't rescue it soon. So he did something brave. He Stepped based on the contextual clues and hoped. It took him four tries, the first had him in somepony's basement closet with their full grown cat, who was not happy at having her nap interrupted; the second found him in a sewer, but with no pets; the third dropped him into a well with a lost puppy; and the fourth brought him to the kitten he'd found originally. He saw him illuminated briefly in a flash of light as his own cutie mark materialized for his deductive efforts. He Stepped back up to the surface with kitten and puppy in tow and after relinquishing the poor pets to a veterinarian and getting a good look at his flank, Licorice wandered the streets to decide what to do. Unique Traits: Licorice has a light blue patch at the end of his muzzle and some slight mottling on his inner flanks. His signature spell is a form of teleportation called Stepping whereby he can, by focusing on a location or person, move through nothing to reach them. This takes time, depending on the strength of the image that he's got in his head and the metaphysical nearness his current location is to his destination. If the Step fails, he'll instead be shunted to the closest conceptual match to his intended destination, regardless of geographic distance. This spell relies primarily on visual cues, but can be strengthened by auditory or olfactory information. Early on, it was rare for him to reach his intended destination on the first go, but as time went by he grew more adept. Now he's more likely to end up at his intended destination, especially if he know is well, though mistakes still happen. As a result of this method of transit at his disposal, he's remarkably unflappable in most circumstances, though he has been known to interrupt things that his intended destination would rather he not know about. Officially he lives in the barracks of the Solar Guard, but it is not unheard of for him to spend evening out in exotic locations, intentionally or otherwise. Poison Joke Reaction: Any time he tries to cast any spell, he gets teleported to a random, embarrassing location History: Born in Phillydelphia to two confectioners, Licorice knew he had a talent for finding ponies from a very young age. Even before he learned his signature spell that allowed him to literally pop right in next to others, he had a knack for ferreting out where others were based on contextual cues and knowledge of the ponies or dragons in question. In fact, he is to this day the reigning Chestnut Hill hide-and-seek champion, since he tries to go back twice a month to 'defend his title' as a sort of youth outreach program. When he rediscovered his spell in his first year of magic kindergarten, the nature of the neighborhood game shifted from everypony trying to find each other to trying to find ever more creative ways of hiding from Licorice, resulting in some of the more embarrassing fashion and mane-styling trends to crop up in that area. However it was mostly in good fun. Licorice was the first to find his cutie mark in his class, having had it almost five moons before the next classmate to get it, and nearly a dozen before most had theirs. Rather than cop to it, though, he developed a penchant for coats and cloaks around this time that he carried into adulthood, being somewhat embarrassed to have a cutie mark so early, and later for having one made of a candy he didn't actually like, even though his father made it. Given his proclivities for locating and helping ponies in need, most of the Phillydelphia residents expected Licorice to go into the police department, and his courses during high school leaned strongly that way as well, though Licorice himself was characteristically tight-muzzled about it. He even joined the Academy, so it came as quite a shock to most when he was granted an entrance exam for the Royal Guards with an outpost in the city, one for which he'd apparently applied numerous times. He was rejected, but that didn't stop him from continuing to apply and routinely show up for the examinations, losing each heat to somepony with a longer service record. Then one day, something happened. The proctor for the exams postponed them one day, because he'd had a family emergency that turned out to be a missing foal. Licorice found a few pictures of her on the proctor's desk, asked a couple of questions, and then did something the examiners hadn't seen him do before. He vanished in a puff of black smoke. A few minutes later, he reappeared with the missing foal riding safely on his back, a bit rough from her ordeal and babbling about something she'd seen while they were teleporting, but otherwise safe. A letter of commendation was written and passed up the chain of command, and finally Licorice Whip was accepted as a Royal guard, for both his willingness to serve and for his apparent unflappability in the face of the bizarre. These same traits allowed him to, in the fullness of time, move up to a post in Canterlot itself, generally guarding low-ranking diplomatic offices, retainers' quarters, or functionaries. Character Personality: As a very young foal Licorice was boisterous and outgoing, but when he Steps he sees strange and confusing things, and had trouble anchoring the experiences in his day to day life. Rather than letting these experiences break him, he developed a stoic unflappability that has served him well in adulthood. He's calm and reserved, thinking twice before saying anything, and double checking himself before he says that. He often comes off as distant until he speaks his mind, revealing his analytical nature. He's not emotionless by any means, and is deeply empathetic to those around him, he just refrains from either hasty judgement or comment. Once he opens up, he isn't afraid to show his playful side or his sharp mind, and the foals of his hometown know well his reputation for accepting and sometimes perpetrating pranks that are nearly local legends in and of themselves. On the other hoof, it's widely acknowledged that Licorice has no sort of luck, no sense of timing, and that he tends to show up at the worst possible moment for him to logically do so unless the situation is dire. This includes him having materialized, among other places, on top of a teacher's desk while she was grading his mid-terms, inside several prison cells, directly above a swimming pool while in full parade armor, directly below a waterwheel, into the gap between a bolt of lightning and a roof, onto his mother's hospital bed (which she thankfully wasn't in at the time), under a police chief's desk, behind Celestia's throne while she was holding court, and into no fewer than seven batches of his father's licorice while they were drying. Character Summary: Unflappable and collected, clean cut and professional, Licorice is the very image of a sentinel mixed with a hard-boiled detective. His soft side isn't hard to see if you look, but if you aren't careful he'll pop right into your good graces with a gentle smile and a kind word or a prank of such magnitude and scale as to be nearly as much a source of gossip as his near legendary lack of luck.