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SteelEagle

Sights and Sounds and Siren Songs Surround (Open)

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Pathfinder.png

Pathfinder looked at the frost as it ate away at the thing space between her hair on her wings and the wing itself as easily as it did the empty space around her. The air was chilled beyond any reasonable level, ancient cold in the forever north the sort of pegasi legend that they all whispered in dread coming back in full swing to sap away her strength. For normal pegasi it would be enough to send them flashing back to Equestria like foals to mother's bosom. For great pegasi it would be enough to make them take a train after a while. For the greatest pegasi who was ever thought of, Daring Do would just laugh at it and do what she did in a daring manner. For the best Daring Do who actually existed however, despite her many fever dreams and hallucinations to the contrary, it was a fun adventure. Fun as in she just wanted it to be over and had been hallucinating she was having a conversation with her tail half the time.

But eventually, mercifully, she broke through the unending cloud cover and saw the Crystal Kingdom in all of it's splendor. More importantly, the gates. The popsicle pegasus dropped from the clouds erratically and landed at the entrance to one of the gates. Landed? No! More like an awesome crash landing that saw her tumble over and slam into the red crystal gate itself. With. STYLE.

When she was more lucid she would remember why she was there; a special, one of a kind present for her little Snowy Snow Snow McSnowster. But with tiny pegasi revolving around her head, she could hardly even push out one thought.

[colour=#006400]"Hagagah...first."[/colour]

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Coincidentally enough, similar thoughts were going through the head of another pony. At least, he hadn't heard of any other reporters who'd made the trip yet. The tan unicorn emerged onto the open platform of the recently-constructed train station. His hooves took the first few steps with a wobbling gait; the high speeds of the train, faster than any heretofore seen in Equestria, had been disorienting to say the least. After a few steps, however, the shakiness had left him, and he was staring at the surrounding countryside in awe.

From here, Earth Writer could see the Crystal Gate, and the harsh northern snows beyond. Nowhere else was such a direct contrast even possible, but the magic in this land could make such marvels almost seem commonplace. Immediately upon sighting it, he levitated a notebook from the pocket of his shirt, and jotted down this first impression.

That was, indeed, the reason he was here. As a reporter who did work for one of the Canterlot Daily Papers, as well as sporadic contributions Equestrian Geographic, naturally when his editor had learned of the new opening of the rail line to the Crystal Empire, he was the one sent to represent the paper and report his impressions. The journalist had suggested a name for the column, which would soon hopefully be a household phrase to readers across the Heartland:

Notes from a Small Empire

[colour=#8b4513]*This first sight will make an excellent first column. Might finish it in time to get it back on the evening train.* [/colour]On this optimistic note, he trotted forward to get a closer look at the gate, cresting a hill just in time to see a pegasus crash into it!

"[colour=#8b4513]Hang On![/colour]" He called out, stowing away his notebook as he galloped towards the fallen mare. He slowed as he approached; there was something mighty familiar about her. He leaned over to get a closer look.

"[colour=#8b4513]Have... we met somewhere before?[/colour]"

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[colour=#000000]Alexandrite Tilt had a look of iron focus on her face as she made a bold charge with her lance in hoof. A big jousting match was swift approaching and she was determined to hone her thrusting technique to perfection. With enough effort absolute victory over the competition could be guaranteed. She just needed to continue coming out here to the outskirts for the peace to practice. With each powerful thrust made against the air with her mighty lance, she felt ever the more confident. She was a champion and she would most certainly prove it.[/colour]

[colour=#000000]The crystal mare's concentration suddenly broke at the sound of commotion in the distance, off toward the gates. An outsider, one of the winged ones, looked to have crashed into the gate somehow. Alexa sighed. Honestly, she knew not what to make of these strange outsiders. Most of the ones she had encountered struck her as shockingly undisciplined and lackadaisical. It made her seriously question this strange new age her and her kin had suddenly been forced to join. All the same, she was a palace guard--a servant of her beloved Empire. As such, it was her duty to treat these visitors with kindness. if this pony were injured, it was her task to extend hospitality of their benevolent homeland.[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Alexa rushed toward the gates, lance still at her armor clad side. As she got closer, she got a better look at the visitors. The pegasus who had crashed was a strangely attired mare with a mane of gray. Nearby was a tan unicorn stallion with a brown mane; he had on him a notebook, which lead the crystal mare to assume he was another of the countless reporters to flock to the empire since the trains had started running. From the look of them both, they did not seem to have arrived together, but rather the latter had rushed at the sound of the former's crash as Alexa had. Thinking she understood the situation, the dutiful guard and experienced jouster approached the two. She would be the first crystal pony to greet these visitors.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Greetings, outsiders,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she started in a strong voice. [/colour][colour=#ffff00]"I happened to witness your accident, madame,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she said nodding toward the rather ragged looking pegasus mare.[/colour] [colour=#ffff00]"If you feel you are fit to be moved, as a servant of this glorious Empire, it would be my honor to escort you to the nearest medical facility where might you receive the needed attention for the injuries you have sustained."[/colour]

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Heart Healer walked down the road that provided a main artery from the Crystal Gate nearest to the new railway station into town. She paused as she looked out past the gate and into the snow covered wasteland, wondering who might come to visit the Crystal Empire. She knew the allure of a city that recently appeared would attract ponies to her home town, and she wondered how they would be like.

Suddenly a pony seemed to drop from the sky and rather than going through the gate like a rational pony would ended up hitting the gate instead. She quickly galloped over to get a closer look at this pony. Maybe that's what some ponies did beyond the borders of the empire, or maybe she was testing the structural integrity of the gate in her own special way. But for whatever reason, one thing was for certain. The winged mare looked strange dressed in a shirt adorned with little pockets and a hat.

[colour=#800080]"Oh, [/colour][colour=#800080]hello there. I see that you found one of our entryways to the Empire, so good for you."[/colour]

She saw that a serious looking pony clad in armor, no doubt one of the guards protecting the city, had come to the fallen pony's aid. She then noticed a second pony, this one a male unicorn running towards the entrance.

[colour=#800080]"Ah, I see you've found the gate too, but with better success as you didn't actually found it with you head like this mare did. Well, welcome to the Crystal Empire. I'm not the usual welcoming party, but I guess I'll do. My name is Heart Healer. What's your name?" [/colour]

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Diamond Dust had just finished some of her work. It was a nice pinch pot, though it was a bit hard to make with her hooves, she enjoyed it. It would only need a bit more paint, but that could wait till later. She needed to make her way to the gates of the empire. She wasn't sure exactly way she should but it was just her gut feeling, and she always followed her gut. She made her way out of her little craft shop and into the streets.

As she approached the gates she came across three ponies near it. She knew she would get something from this. She approached them.

[colour=#40E0D0]"Hi, my name is Diamond Dust." [/colour][colour=#000000]She said.[/colour]

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Pathfinder.png

Pathfinder's eyes wobbled about for a little while as the likely concussed brain within dealt with another one of her entrances. Why her brain didn't just pack up and leave was a mystery. Some would say because they couldn't, Pathfinder countered that according to Daring Do and the Dangerous Disease the brain could become infected with a disease that did make it leave the head and only fighting the mythical Okeaning Viper Troll King could you stop it before you became it's mechanical zombie forever. They would counter that the book didn't even exist, and she'd reply that it was her leather bound fanfiction masterpiece and proceed to read it to them. Point, Pathfinder. No matter what, it was hard for her to recognize the pony who spoke to her, though she was able to make out his question and knew the answer.

Pathfinder shot back up after Earth Writer spoke, giving him a half-hug because darnit she was just that excited about findiong the Crystal Empire. Today, EVERYPONY was getting a half-hug! It was just that awesome of a day!

[colour=#006400]"Nope, I don't think I've seen you before! Well, I might have a concussion so I could be wrong, but you probably know me. I am the most awesome adventurer of all time. OF ALL TIME!"[/colour] She blasted, giving him a noogie before turning and suddenly CRYSTAL PONY. And a guard one at that, with cool lance and everything! She was so shiny!

Pathfinder did the best thing she could. She trailed her hoof along the lance like it was a cool new toy, all the way up to the pony herself. She then swiftly gave a half-hug.

[colour=#006400]"Ooooh, Crystalized Foalhead Mountain Wood. I haven't seen this since that old castle north of Stalliongrad. It's as hard as, well, Crystal, soft as a feather! I bet [/colour][colour=#006400]you could put five whole minotaurs on this thing and throw them around like toys! And look at you! So shiny!"[/colour] She then put her hoof on the Crystal pony's face and moved it around.

[colour=#006400]"Ooooohhhh, pretty! Very pretty!"[/colour] She said, grinning ear to ear as she started to hover. Right about then two new ponies showed up. Another Crystal pony-

[colour=#008000]"Oooooohhh, preeeeetttyyyy!" [/colour]Pathfinder purred as she rubbed her hoof in that one's face as well. Hey, she had a problem-

And then a new pony who was walking up to the gate.

[colour=#006400]"Hey there Diamond Dust! I'm Pathfinder and these are my brand new friends, Crystal Guard and Crystal Pony Gal-Pal and this Unicorn fella. And now is when I ask the Crystal Guard where to find the Heart!" [/colour]She waved at the new pony before turning back to the Guard.

[colour=#006400]"So, Crystal Guard, where can I find the Crystal Heart? I have the best idea for a present for my Snowy!"[/colour]

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[colour=#000000]The armored mare stood in awe at the baffling behavior from the strange visitor, as two more of her crystal compatriots rode up to investigate the scene. The mare expressed she might be concussed, and from the erratic way she carried herself, Alexa had little doubt it was so. She gave a long sigh as the mare proceeded to get close to her and wrapped herself around her, putting her dirty hooves right up into her face. Her eyes went to Alexa's lance.[/colour]


[colour=#006400]"Ooooh, Crystalized Foalhead Mountain Wood. I haven't seen this since that old castle north of Stalliongrad. It's as hard as, well, Crystal, soft as a feather! I bet [/colour][colour=#006400]you could put five whole minotaurs on this thing and throw them around like toys! And look at you! So shiny!"[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Alexandrite glowered as she pushed the pony back. [/colour][colour=#ffff00]"Five minotaurs? What a barbaric, not to mention impossible thing to suggest. Even crystalized, the wood would break under that pressure easily and no civilized lancer would ever wish to turn her lance on another creature of intelligence," [/colour][colour=#000000]she started grimly, put off by this odd mare.[/colour]

[colour=#000000]The damaged pegasus proceeded to then invade the personal space of both her compatriots, acting every bit as hysterical as before. There was nothing she could do but stare in awe and contempt at the bewildering behavior. Was this sort of thing typical of outsiders? Alexa could only hope it was not so. No. This had to be brought on by the concussion... Yeah. She gave an awkward laugh and then shook her head as the mare came back toward her.[/colour]


[colour=#006400]"So, Crystal Guard, where can I find the Crystal Heart? I have the best idea for a present for my Snowy!"[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Alexandrite grimaced; she loathed the thought of spending more time in this demented pony's company... but at the same time she had a duty as a servant of the empire. Guiding tourists was unfortunately something that fell upon her.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Are you sure you would not like for me to guide you first to a physician? It is becoming increasingly apparent that you have incurred some manner of blunt trauma to your head. It would be prudent to see that that is swiftly treated,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]Alexa started, giving a nod.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"That said, I am off duty today; you have found me in the midst of honing my thrusts for a coming joust. As such, I could be available to guide you and the other outsider through the empire if you so choose. My compatriots are free to join us as well,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she started, nodding toward the other crystal mares.[/colour]

[colour=#000000]She paused a moment and then looked downward. [/colour][colour=#ffff00]"However, while I do attest that the Crystal Heart, our most prized and protected artifact, is something all tourists coming to the Empire should see, you won't find gifts there. We have a number of fine gift shops by the train station, however, and more still in the Market district,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she explained, giving a nod[/colour].
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And now came the locals, all sparkling in the sun. [colour=#8b4513]*How in the wide world of Equestria do they do that?*[/colour] Ever since the Crystal Empire first re-emerged, all kinds of theories and explanations had been put forward by academics and the like, none of which seemed to be attracting anything like consensus. Maddeningly, most of the Crystal Ponies themselves, when asked, generally replied "Why don't you?"

But then, that was part of the fun of being a traveling reporter and geographer. The definition of "Normal" changed depending on where you were.

The stalling greeted the newcomers with a bow, trying to summon all the manner's he'd picked up in Canterlot. "[colour=#8b4513]It is a great pleasure to meet you all. Just to be able to come here is a rare and unexpected privilege for Equestrians.[/colour]" He especially wanted to make a good impression on the guard. There was something about her, not exactly cold, but sharp. Warm, but with a definite edge. [colour=#8b4513]*Like this place, and its crystals.* [/colour] There was something pleasing in the parallel between the Empire and its guard, and it earned her a big smile from him.

The other two mares seemed like more or less ordinary citizens coming to see what all the fuss was about. Ponies were essentially the same everywhere, in that regard.

Right about then, Pathfinder got up and, well, proceeded to be herself. Earth would have recognized her anywhere. "[colour=#8b4513]Now I remember, we met back in Ponyville, back in the line at the kissing booth.[/colour]" He paused, not sure if such things had ever been heard of in the Empire [colour=#8b4513]*Well, that's another thing to put in the article.*[/colour]

[colour=#006400]"So, Crystal Guard, where can I find the Crystal Heart? I have the best idea for a present for my Snowy!"[/colour]

Or there could be an international incident. That could work too.

It had taken the reporter but an instant to put two and two together, and for a second, he thought he was about to witness an arrest, or at least some kind of serious indignation. As it was, she seemed to be mostly concerned with the pegasus' mental state, which was reasonable enough. "[colour=#8b4513]I'd be glad of the company, if you would consent to the tour, and I would also offer my aid in escorting my... fellow countrypony to a place of aid.[/colour]"

He drew out his notebook again. He hadn't been a reporter very long, but he was starting to get a feel for when interesting things were about to happen...

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Lilac Briolette found herself locked outside of her dance company. The nerve! She was the prima ballerina! With an indignant harrumph, the dainty little thing turned on her hooves and trotted away, the sheer pink-and-lavender fabrics of her dress bouncing with her mane as she made her dramatic exit. ‘Take a break,’ they said, ‘You need to rest sometime too,’ they said! What do they know! She could dance until her hooves fell off and she’d still shine the brightest in all the Crystal Empire!

Still, though, if she was being forced into a little free time, there were things she could do that were actually quite interesting. The first thing that occurred to the crystal mare was, of course, the Crystal Gate. A train track had recently been built to connect the Empire to the rest of the world, and though it was causing quite a stir in the districts Lilac hadn’t seen any of the ponies from the outside due to keeping herself cooped up in dance studios. Though she’d much rather be rehearsing, she supposed it couldn’t hurt to go and investigate what all the hubbub was about.

Her answer came quickly as she neared the train station – a small gathering of three locals and two outsiders had already amassed within the gates. The dancer hung back to investigate a moment – two curious crystal bystanders, one grump of a guard, a reporter with a horn protruding from his forehead, and a rather…kooky…winged mare. The prima ballerina could tell that the winged one would be a bit of a handful and that the crystal guard seemed put off by her attitude. Honestly, Lilac couldn’t blame her – the winged mare had her hooves all over the company gathered around her and seemed to lack a sense of personal space.

Well, if she couldn’t dance then she could help out here! Being a stunning and incredibly talented dancer made her quite used to the spotlight, after all – if she could handle adoring fans, she could definitely handle a strange outsider and spare the grumpy guard from having to take the brunt of it all.

[colour=#9966cc]“Greetings, strangers!”[/colour] she finally called out, her voice lilting in a sing-song fashion as she trotted forwards. She held her head high as she moved, making sure her entrance was positively dazzling by stepping where the sunlight shone brightest. The golden threads in her braided pink mane and tail shimmered brightly in the light, reflecting off the sheer pinks and purples of her dress (which matched her lilac coat, of course!). Her appearance was set off by her pink pearl and kunzite-riddled necklace which she wore about her neck with pride.

[colour=#9966cc]“My name is Lilac Briolette, and I am a prima ballerina from one of the many ballet companies in the Crystal Empire. If you’re going on a tour of our beautiful home, I would love to join in.”[/colour]

With all the grace of a dancer, Lilac slipped in between the crystal guard and the Pegasus to spare her from being totally mauled.

[colour=#9966cc]“I haven’t seen the Crystal Heart since the Crystal Fair, myself – it would be perfectly wonderful to see it again today!”[/colour]

The ballerina paid little attention to the others – it’s not that she was ignoring them, but she simply didn’t know what to say at the moment! Perhaps they would take it the wrong way, but for now that was something Lilac would simply have to deal with.

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Without warning, the strange mare walked up to Heart Healer and without saying much of anything other than claiming that she was "pretty" rubbed the pony's cheek with her hoof, leaving a smudge.

[colour=#800080]"Errr... yes, pretty. Um, you haven't met a Crystal Pony before, have you miss, what is your name?"[/colour]

Then the strange mare asked to see the Crystal Heart, adding that it would make a great present.

[colour=#800080]"While we'd be happy to show you the Crystal heart, it really isn't a present. It's very important to us."[/colour]

Hearing that other ponies agreed to assist the mare and the stallion to see the Empire, Heart Healer became relieved. She turned towards the armor clad pony and whispered in her ear.

[colour=#800080]"Not to tell you how to do your job, but I'd watch that strange mare. She sounds like she wants the Heart as a gift."[/colour]

Trying to redirect the conversation, Heart Healer turned her attention to the stallion who now had a notebook in hoof.

[colour=#800080]"So, are you a reporter?" [/colour]

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250px-Ms._Harshwhinny_id_S3E12.png

Returning to the Crystal Empire for the first time since awarding them the next Equestria Games, Miss Harshwhinney planned to spend part of her vacation time here. Seeing a group of ponies conversing, the blonde vest wearing mare decided to mingle with them.

[colour=#FF8C00]"Greetings everypony!" [/colour]the orange furred mare neighed. [colour=#FF8C00]"I am Miss Harshwhinney, it's a pleasure to meet all of you! It's been a while since my last visit here to this wonderful land. I hope that Princess Cadance and Prince Shining Armor are well."[/colour]

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Not every pony who visited the Crystal Empire could be described as being left in a state of all-empowering awe. That wasn’t to say though that the pony in question thought the Empire as completely unremarkable; why, how could anyone question the marvelousness of a realm and race seemingly made entirely out of gleaming crystals. But for the pony in question, a certain Colonel Pummel of Her Majesty’s Royal Equestrian Army, he was not here to gasp in awe blindly like all the other tourists. No... today, he came in order to locate the hidden fractures of the Empire’s sparkling crystals, so to speak.

To be more accurate, the purpose of Col. Pummel’s visit today was to conduct an unannounced inspection of the Crystal Empire as part of his ever-continuing duties as chairpony of the Committee on Equestrian Defense. Pummel could have easily sent one of his subordinates to perform this task, but the old gray pegasus did like any excuse he got to go travel about. Clothed in his officer uniform, the stallion did not expect any crystal pony to recognize a modern military uniform when they saw one, let alone know what a colonel was.

As he exited the train, Col. Pummel carefully observed numerous things about his surroundings... quite alarming things. Despite its location on the farthermost extent of civilization without any natural barriers to speak of, the Crystal Empire’s capital city lacked absolutely any walls to prevent intrusion from wayward creatures; not an encouraging sign. The armor worn by the various guards on duty was beautiful and well-polished beyond all doubt, yet also woefully remained outdated relics of the previous millennium. It looked like somepony will have to tell Princess Cadance to take some serious thought towards modernizing the crystal guardponies.

And wait, what’s this? A soldier performing her guard duties... WITH A LANCE? Fortunately as Col. Pummel trotted in just a bit closer to eavesdrop, he learned that the off-duty guard was actually preparing for a joust... which made perfect sense. Still though, it baffled the pegasus how not only the guard let a clearly dim-witted civilian walk all over her, but he didn’t like the windy unconcise manner in which the guard spoke... probably a result of missing out on the last thousand years of advances in traning doctrine. The ideal modern REA soldier (such as the colonel) would have instead been much more brief and to-the-point with their word choice.

Since it was not Pummel’s place to say anything right there and then, he simply stood there watching; watching with a stoic stare nestled somewhere between indifference and disapproval. Anything he had to say could wait for his report once back in Canterlot.....

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More and more ponies were beginning to crowd around the gate! A dancer had just walked up, and seemingly decided on the spot to accompany them on their tour of the Empire. Not that Earth Writer would have minded, per se, but the crowding in general was giving him a slight case of irrational, nervous excitement.

He tried to walk it out, coming from the gate onto the road, where he heard Heart Healer ask him a question. "[colour=#8b4513]Yep. Was it the hat that tipped you off?[/colour]" He replied with a grin. His hat was more or less part of the "Fleet Street Uniform" that was often seen in Canterlot journalistic circles, though no military pony would have dignified the loose fashion adherence with the title.

Speaking of which... "[colour=#8b4513]Morning, Colonel! Why the long face?[/colour]" It was a little surprising to see an officer of his homeland so far from it, and in full uniform as well! He made a studied contrast with the local guard, and the reporter noted down a few of the key differences in his notebook.

And then there was another tourist, a Miss Harshwinny. Earth nodded to her in greeting. "[colour=#8b4513]This is my first trip myself; already it promises not to be without incident. Good thing, as I'm here for business as much as pleasure.[/colour]"

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[colour=#40E0D0]"Well there is tons to see!" [/colour][colour=#000000]Diamond said. [/colour][colour=#40E0D0]"You know... I could show you guys around." [/colour][colour=#000000]Diamond beamed kind of excited then tried to tune down her happy demeanor. She felt like she really wanted to help the ponies around her but didn't want to scare them like some ponies had done before.[/colour]

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Pathfinder.png

Bahh, this crystal guard was about as much fun as any crystal guard she could remember from foalhood stories. At least those ones had the excuse of being monsters or possessed What was her excuse? Probably didn't have one. Sad to say but she had to work that lance out of her flank before she could flip five minotaurs off of it, which was totally possible- Bravado had done it in Daring Do and the Secret of the Crystal Empire. It had gone out of style after the Crystal Empire returned to the fold, but she'd believe in the fictional exploits of her favorite cast of characters over 'history' and 'facts' any day of the week. Then she had the audacity to somehow be all like, "Hey, you need help." but she didn't know a darn thing about anything.

[colour=#006400]"No reason to be worried, Crystally! I've had like seven infinity concussions, so I'm totally immune to their problems now. And we gotta get to the heart, because if we don't, Snowfall won't be happy and why else would I come here other than to make Snowfall happy? No worries. I'm sure and your trusty lance will keep us safe from any crystal berries that try to attack us. Speaking of, how much do they cost? I don't have much on me but I wonder if they're hard like they are in my imagination,"[/colour] Pathfinder began as she hovered above the guard, inspecting her with a smile. Suddenly, a super pretty ballerina danced into view (whether this was true or not didn't matter, ballerinas always danced about in her imagination) and offered to help with the tour. And also her fellow Equestrian was rearing to go. And they had another crystal pony willing to help, and another friend, and wee and yay!

[colour=#006400]"Wow, seems like we have a regular tour group! You better get hoppin' before the ballerina takes your spot, Crystally!"

OOC- Sorry for not so great post. Brain dead.[/colour]

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Diamond Dust looked all around, confused about this...ballerina dancing about. Something told her that this Daring Do wasn't a immune to all concussion side effects. [colour=#40e0d0]"All...right, why don't we get started." [/colour][colour=#000000]She said waiting on the others to say something.[/colour]

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"[colour=#8B4513]It is a great pleasure to meet you all. Just to be able to come here is a rare and unexpected privilege for Equestrians.[/colour] I[colour=#8B4513]'d be glad of the company, if you would consent to the tour, and I would also offer my aid in escorting my... fellow countrypony to a place of aid.[/colour]"

[colour=#000000]Alexa nodded to the other outsider. This one seemed very polite and well-mannered. The contrast between him and the pegasus was incredibly stark to say the very least. It made her even more confused as to what to think in regards to these outsiders. She gave a polite nod to the stallion regardless.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Then follow along. I would be very pleased to share the majesty of our glorious empire with any honored guest," [/colour][colour=#000000]she said, enjoying herself some. The idea of giving tours of the empire appealed both to her pride in her home and her eccentricities. She was looking forward to showing these two around.[/colour]

[colour=#9966CC]“Greetings, strangers! [/colour][colour=#9966CC]My name is Lilac Briolette, and I am a prima ballerina from one of the many ballet companies in the Crystal Empire. If you’re going on a tour of our beautiful home, I would love to join in. [/colour][colour=#9966CC]I haven’t seen the Crystal Heart since the Crystal Fair, myself – it would be perfectly wonderful to see it again today!”[/colour]

[colour=#000000]The jouster's eyes widened at the sight of another character at the scene. She was a quite beautiful mare with pink mane and lilac coat. She exuded a allure and elegance uncommon even for the empire. Alexandrite didn't have to listen to her introduction to know she was a performer of some esteem. Her being a prima ballerina certainly fit, even if the guard couldn't verify this not having recently had the time to attend a ballet. Whatever else, having such a charming and beautiful entertainer along for the tour would certainly be a boon.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"My pleasure meeting you, milady. We would delight in having you accompany us on the tour,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she said giving a polite bow.[/colour] [colour=#ffff00]"I've always held a certain regard for your art as it's truly not so dissimilar to mine. You and I both act as entertainers, demonstrating our strength and grace to inspire and captivate a crowd."[/colour]

[colour=#800080]"Not to tell you how to do your job, but I'd watch that strange mare. She sounds like she wants the Heart as a gift."[/colour]

[colour=#000000]It was then that one of the first crystal mares to arrive pulled Alexa aside to whisper in her ear. She indicated the pegasus outsider as she spoke. The guard just smiled and shook her head.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Oh, come now. That's ridiculous. Nopony could possibly be so addled as to believe they can take our treasured heart,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]the guard insisted in a not quite as muted voice, shaking her head.[/colour] [colour=#ffff00]"You are assuredly mistaken. I know these outsiders can be somewhat unusual, but that does not mean we have cause to be so needlessly suspicious. I am sure this mare's intentions are pure."[/colour]

[colour=#FF8C00]"Greetings everypony! [/colour][colour=#FF8C00]I am Miss Harshwhinney, it's a pleasure to meet all of you! It's been a while since my last visit here to this wonderful land. I hope that Princess Cadance and Prince Shining Armor are well."[/colour]

[colour=#000000]The guard's eyes widened at the site of yet another newly arriving outsider at the gates. She knew this one's face. She was the game's inspector who had come to the empire proceeding them winning their bid for the games. As a sportspony herself, the games had of course been excellent news to Alexandrite. As such, she was very much eager to treat this mare well.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Ah, Miss Inspector! It's my delight to welcome you back to the empire!"[/colour] [colour=#000000]Alexandrite started, bowing her head slightly and smiling.[/colour] [colour=#ffff00]"The Princess and her Prince should indeed be home at the palace. As it were, I have already agreed to show these fine ponies on a tour of the empire, but we will of course ultimately be headed toward the palace. You are welcome to accompany us if you so desire. Perhaps it will make amends for how you were attended to previously."[/colour]

"[colour=#8B4513]Morning, Colonel! Why the long face?[/colour]"

[colour=#000000]These words from the stallion visitor alerted the guard to yet another guest. She turned to find a strict looking older stallion in a uniform. She still only knew so much of the army of their neighbors in Equestria and how it was organized and hadn't in fact recognized the uniform. Luckily this other guest was here to identify him by rank for her. A colonel, eh? Yet another very important pony who just happened to appear. Alexandrite would do her best to accommodate him. She stepped toward him and gave a salute.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Good day, Colonel! Welcome to the Crystal Empire,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she said in a disciplined fashion.[/colour] [colour=#ffff00]"Might you be here to see Prince Shining Armor? As a member of the Imperial Palace Guard, it would be my honor to escort you to the Palace, however as I was just explaining to the inspector here, I have already agreed to give a tour of this empire to these ponies. You are more than welcome to come along, however."[/colour]

[colour=#006400]"No reason to be worried, Crystally! I've had like seven infinity concussions, so I'm totally immune to their problems now. And we gotta get to the heart, because if we don't, Snowfall won't be happy and why else would I come here other than to make Snowfall happy? No worries. I'm sure and your trusty lance will keep us safe from any crystal berries that try to attack us. Speaking of, how much do they cost? I don't have much on me but I wonder if they're hard like they are in my imagination. [/colour][colour=#006400]Wow, seems like we have a regular tour group! You better get hoppin' before the ballerina takes your spot, Crystally!"[/colour]

[colour=#000000]And then there was this pony... this difficult, difficult pony. The guard really didn't know what to make of her at this point. She didn't suspect her of theft as her compatriot did, but she was definitely... confused. Regardless, Alexandrite would try and treat her as well as she could.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Crystally? Do excuse me. I realize now that I have yet to give my name to any of you. How impolite of me,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she said in a steady voice, facing all of the guests.[/colour] [colour=#ffff00]"I am Alexandrite Tilt, palace guard and champion jouster. It is my pleasure to guide you all around my empire today."[/colour]

[colour=#000000]She gave a small sigh before again focusing in on the pegasus.[/colour] [colour=#ffff00]"I do still worry if you didn't sustain some real damage; your words seem... confused, but if you refuse to seek aid I will not force you,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she said in a low voice.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Crystal berries have no means of attacking anypony; they are just berries with a crystalline shape. They are not particularly hard either, I'm afraid. Nopony would want to eat them if they were... and as for price they are quite affordable when in season. If you wish to try some, it should be no problem to acquire some in the markets,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]the guard explained.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Speaking of which, it's about time we begin the tour. Everyone, follow me,"[/colour][colour=#000000] she said addressing the entire group. It was kind of ironic, here she was leading a number of outsiders, a prima ballerina, a games inspector and a colonel on a tour when it was supposed to be her day off.[/colour]

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[colour=#ff9900]“Huh?”[/colour] Colonel Pummel shook his head as he found his thoughts interrupted by a civilian tourist- nay, more like a journalist judging by that notebook the unicorn kept on his person. Evidently, the civilian had the impression that something was the matter with Pummel, who countered with a small grin; [colour=#ff9900]“Oh, nothing to worry about mister. No need to mind me right now.”[/colour]

Evidently that brief exchange of words with the journalist proved enough to catch the guard’s attention, who in fact did recognize Col. Pummel for the high-ranking REA commander that he was. [colour=#ff9900]“Good day, soldier!”[/colour] the towering pegasus replied, returning the guard’s salute as per military formality; [colour=#ff9900]“Thank you, but I’ve no need to be brought to Captain Armor.”[/colour] Normally it wouldn’t do at all to encourage soldiers to engage in anything reeking of insubordination, but even Pummel lacked enough ultra-seriousness to not give the imperial guard a subtle reminder that Shining Armor remained commissioned as a REA officer. Nopony should ever count on an on-duty Pummel acting so relatively-carefree among his own subordinates though.

Suppressing the smirk on his face, the colonel addressed the crystal guard with a stern but calming authority; [colour=#ff9900]“I’m conducting an unannounced inspection of the Crystal Empire for REA purposes; your superiors don’t need to know I’m here. Carry on with your tour, soldier.”[/colour] Pummel’s inspection required no set plan, so he figured there was no harm in joining the tour group. At least he wouldn’t be lost following Ms. Tilt around.....

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[colour=#800080]Well it was the hat and the notebook you seem to be jotting in," [/colour]Heart Healer replied to the stallion, [colour=#800080]"Either you were making a shopping list or you were reporting something, so I picked the logical one." [/colour]

Heart Healer shrugged at the guards pony's reaction to the strangely dressed mare's actions and words. The mention of Crystal Berries attacking did seem a bit strange. Heart wondered if she should offer her psychological services, but thought against it for now.

Before she could address the rest of the ponies the guard offered to start the tour.

[colour=#800080]"Oh yes, you're all going to love this place! Then again I don't know how other places are, but anyway, on with the tour!"[/colour]

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Simple observation told Earth Writer that Pathfinder did not have immunity to the effects of concussions; more like she'd gotten all the effects, and had no room in her skull left for more. [colour=#8b4513]*Really, threatening berries?* [/colour]

The Crystal guard, fortunately, seemed to fulfill her function as a bastion of common sense. The reporter gave her a polite bow. "[colour=#8b4513]We are indebted, Miss Tilt.[/colour]" A few years in Canterlot had given him a grasp of manners he suspected would serve him well in the more traditional Crystal Empire.

Meanwhile, there were the other members of the group. Earth nodded politely to Heart Healer, "[colour=#8b4513]Well, I don't make a secret of it. Actually, if you wouldn't mind me asking, what do you do? I'm trying to get a picture of what life is like here, and I'm pretty sure that not everyone's an artist or a guard, though not many back at home know about any other kinds of crystal ponies.[/colour]"

As for the colonel, his remarks were a little puzzling to the unicorn. How did the chain of command work, when one factored in ceremonial titles like "Captain of the Guard" with the more standardized ranks? Leaving aside Shining Armor's recent "promotion"... [colour=#8b4513]*Glad I'm not enlisted. And what sort of inspector blabs to all and sundry about a 'surprise inspection?*[/colour]

He kept silent on that note, shifting into listening mode.

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It seemed like their little troupe was growing with every moment! Being totally comfortable with large crowds, Lilac Briolette found that she was not only at ease in this situation – she was actually positively thrilled! If there was one thing she loved to do it was dazzle, and in this case she knew she would feel nothing but pride for her home (which had undergone so very very much in her lifetime) that was sure to stun the tourists. How could it not? A sprawling crystalline metropolis that was absolutely radiant with sunshine and warmth and a spectrum of colour so vibrant it seems alive? She was sure that the world outside her Crystal Empire home was nowhere near as lovely – or was that her ego talking? Oh well!

[colour=#ffa500]"Greetings everypony! I am Miss Harshwhinney, it's a pleasure to meet all of you! It's been a while since my last visit here to this wonderful land. I hope that Princess Cadance and Prince Shining Armor are well."
​[/colour]

[colour=#dda0dd]“Greetings to you as well!”[/colour] Lilac replied, dipping her pretty head politely towards the stranger. She was about to speak up once more when a towering stallion (also with wings!) looking quite striking despite his age and lack of crystal was added into the group. Lilac was always fond of a pony in uniform – the austerity held a beauty that, while different from her own marvellous elegance, was very pleasing to the eye in its own way. Now she had a Crystal Guard and a Colonel (as the reporter had addressed him) from outside the Empire to treat her eyes! Lovely!

[colour=#dda0dd]“And a warm welcome to you as well, Colonel,”[/colour] the ballerina added without missing a beat, batting her eyelashes perhaps a little too noticeably.

Apparently the silvered stallion had distracted her a little too much, however, for as soon as she stopped contemplating the aesthetics of uniforms she realized that she had failed in deflecting another of the kooky winged mare’s bizarre rambles. And she was hoping to spare the Crystal Guard!

[colour=#800080]"My pleasure meeting you, milady. We would delight in having you accompany us on the tour. I've always held a certain regard for your art as it's truly not so dissimilar to mine. You and I both act as entertainers, demonstrating our strength and grace to inspire and captivate a crowd."
[/colour]

The moment the Crystal Guard spoke, Lilac’s attention was immediately plucked in her direction. She did a quick one-over of the silver armour and found herself nodding. Though the winged Colonel’s uniform was very visually impressive, there was no doubt about it – the Crystal Guard’s uniform would always be superior!

[colour=#dda0dd]“Oh no, the pleasure is all mine!”[/colour] Lilac replied enthusiastically, batting her eyelashes once more, [colour=#dda0dd]“And how refreshing it is to hear that! It is always lovely to know one’s passions are appreciated, and I find I do agree with you. I may not look the type but I have always admired the jousts! It is a little less delicate, but equally as graceful in its own way, as you said. Oh, and the suspense!”[/colour]

And the uniform! So striking! Especially to one who is so mindful of appearances.

[colour=#dda0dd]“My, but I’ve been prattling on! I’ll let you take the reins from here,”[/colour] she finished, smiling widely at the lovely Guard, Alexandrite Tilt. She had the sneaking suspicion she would get along swimmingly with this one!

[colour=#ff8c00]“I’m conducting an unannounced inspection of the Crystal Empire for REA purposes; your superiors don’t need to know I’m here. Carry on with your tour, soldier.”
[/colour]

Lilac craned her slender neck backwards to look at the Colonel while he spoke (having sandwiched herself between the kooky one and the guard), a task that was quite easy for a flexible dancer! It seemed as if her little rescue plan would die with the silvered stallion’s statement. She was hoping to come to the aid of Alexandrite, but the Guard was obviously capable of handling this situation, and the ballerina had to step back now, anyhow! It would no doubt leave a poor impression on the Colonel if she made it seem as though a civilian were taking control of this situation…harrumph! Well, in any case…

[colour=#dda0dd]“Well, Colonel,”[/colour] the prima ballerina piped up, hoping to catch the stallion’s eye from over the crowd of other ponies,[colour=#dda0dd] “Though you are obviously busy with official duties, if you have any interest in getting to know the Artists’ distract then by all means, allow me to give you a more in-depth tour at some point during your stay. As a prima ballerina, I know the area quite well!”[/colour]

[colour=#dda0dd]And I would like a much closer look at the tailoring of your uniform. If I can get a good sketch out of this I may be able to make an adaptation of it for my show! And of course it doesn’t hurt that the company would be handsome.’[/colour]

Lilac found that she was in an incredibly good mood. She had been a little miffed and being forced away from rehearsal, but the day was turning out to be very exciting! Her only concern was that it would get a little too exciting. The kooky one seemed harmless for now, but if she did try to get her boring, plain hooves on the Crystal Heart...well. The results would not be in her favour - not if the crystal ponies had anything to say on the matter.

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Silverbolt trotted off the platform slowly, already in awe of this place. The sights before him elicited a large intake of breath as he was stricken dumb by the vibrant colours and crystalline structures that were beyond beautiful. His eyes darted all over the place as he gave his wings a few light flaps to stretch them out after that lengthy train ride. Pulling along a small trunk, he waved to the conductor in farewell as he entered the countryside and the city proper with a look of a wonder on his face. Such beauty and wonderful things beyond his own imagination lay before him as he whistled cheerfully, his thoughts on what he would tell his family upon his return home.

These thoughts persisted until they were interrupted by voices, and he pulled his gaze away from his surroundings long enough to see the ponies congregated as if going on a tour. His eyes fixed on the Colonel and the Crystal Guard, the Guard's armor calling to mind bygone days commonly found in storybooks. The pegasus in modern military garb was also immediately pegged as such in his mind since his father happened to be a military pony as was his grandfather. "Hmm, I wonder what he's doing here? And that other pegasus, she looks nearly identical to Daring Do... My trip has gotten quite interesting already and I have only been here for a few minutes!", he thought to himself as his muzzle turned upwards in a wide smile. He trotted over to the grouped ponies, trunk in tow, greeting them warmly with, "Hello, I hope I'm not interrupting anything! I'm Silverbolt, sir.". The sir was added as an afterthought, directed towards the Colonel as he gave a respectful bow of his head.

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Alexandrite was too uptight. but at least she was doing her job escorting and protecting well to do ponies as well as hardcore super awesome ones like Pathfinder. Not that she needed protection, mind you. No, if anything the poor Crystal pony needed protection from Pathfinder! She led a life of danger and excitement and allies dropped around her like they were a Vinyl Scratch record. Plus Pathfinder charming as all heck and she didn't want to steal her from whatever lucky pony called the tough cutie their special somepon. Besides, ponies like her needed to be uptight! She probably had to fight all sorts of crazy evil, like Crystallized versions of all the monsters she fought on a daily basis, and monsters that tried to eat Cadence herself! Pathfinder also wondered if she fought crystal golems and, if she did so, maybe she could tell Pathfinder if they really did feed off of whatever emotion was most powerful at that time.

[colour=#006400]"Well, I'm really excited for this tour! How long have you been a guard, give or take a thousand years? Ever fought a Crystal Golem? Does it drain emotions? Hey, maybe that's why you're so uptight!" [/colour]She laughed, patting the guard on the helmet. She wondered if Pummel got the joke but probably not. Like most REA officers he had the sense of humor of an ill snake coughing up maneballs and seemed more worried about making sure everypony knew that the Prince was still a mere captain than anything else. Still, he was better than most members of the REA who just yelled at her a lot, and she had certainly met a lot of the REA. Now she could count a second general among them!

Psmith was the fifth reporter she had met in the past year, unless of course he was secretly a writer looking for a burst of inspiration to pen his latest adventure novel(everything else was trash and not being worthy of a writer's attention). Can't blame him, modern equestria was soooo booorrrriiinnnggg. She had only been turned into something unusual twice in the past month and only suffered a dozen arrow wounds. Equestria was getting tamed and soon it would all be this long monotonous white noise that advanced down the walls of reality until all they could do was stare off into the distance blankly. Pathfinder nudged him.

[colour=#006400]"This should give you plenty to write about, I'm sure!" [/colour]Pathfinder winked towards the reporter as she sized up the ballerina. She was graceful, but more so in movements than speech. A certain degree of forced enthusiasm bled out from her, but that reminded Pathfinder of a few ponies she knew, but then again if she ever had to play the part of the little girl in the Ponycracker then she would need all sorts of forced excitement! Super especially if she had to deal with what Daring Do had to during the really tense opening chapters of "Daring Do and the Infernal Schism".

[colour=#006400]"Hey, have you ever danced in the Ponycracker? I hear it's one of the most popular ballets! I know it because of Daring Do," She turned to Heart Healer and involved him in the conversation without a hint of consent, "see in the classic start of, 'Daring Do and the Infernal Schism', Daring Do is attending the ballet when she notices her adversary-slash-friend-slash-love interest Bravado is there too, and when he falls ill..." [/colour]Pathfinder blathered on intensely and directly at Heart Healer as the group followed the impromptu tour, occasionally stopping to ooohhh and awwwww at the pretty surroundings before attacking Heart Healer once more with unwanted Daring Do knowledge.

By the way, toss the Games Inspector out on her big dumb face. Pathfinder was still sad about the games from her youth going to someplace other than Cloudsdale. She had won the orphanages raffle- she had not rigged it, no sir no how scout's honor etc- for a ticket to the games after doing all sorts of inane chores to earn enough points, and what for? A useless ticket. Well, she kept that ticket and someday she'd stick it so far down that Inspector's throat that she'd get cloud vapors in her hoof. Not now, though, not soon...too many ponies and unlike the Inspector, Pathfinder wasn't a lousy buzzkill. Plus Pathfinder was banned from the games on account of the last time she attended an event having gone somewhat mad due to weeks of hunger and chewing on a competitor's seaweed coloured mane. The Inspector was probably to blame for that too!

Pathfinder continued talking as the tour continued, stopping to hear new information and generally have fun. She waved to the new member of the group, a pony who looked quite familiar, then something niggling ate at her.

[colour=#006400]"Hey, so this Crystal Heart...how BRIGHT is it?"[/colour]

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[colour=#FF9900]“Good day, soldier! [/colour][colour=#FF9900]Thank you, but I’ve no need to be brought to Captain Armor. [/colour][colour=#FF9900]I’m conducting an unannounced inspection of the Crystal Empire for REA purposes; your superiors don’t need to know I’m here. Carry on with your tour, soldier.”[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Alexa nodded at the colonel. She noticed the emphasis he put on the prince's REA title, as if perhaps to correct her. For him this was perhaps proper, but for her this hardly seemed like accepted protocol. Shining Armor was after all the prince of her Empire, husband to their exalted regent, Princess Cadance. It hardly seemed there was much point to make fuss over this detail, for the crystal palace guard, it just served as a reminder that in this strange new time so many things remained in an unsure state.... one such thing being her unit's relationship with the greater REA.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Very well, Colonel! In that case, I will merely say that I do hope that you enjoy the tour,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]the crystal mare started to the officer dutifully before turning back to the others[/colour].

"[colour=#8B4513]We are indebted, Miss Tilt.[/colour]"

[colour=#ffff00]"Talk of debts is unnecessary, sir. As a member of the imperial palace guard, I am a servant of the Crystal Empire. To extend a welcoming hoof to outsiders is not a favour, but rather a duty,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]Alexandrite insisted at the words from the stallion who called himself Earth Writer. [/colour]

[colour=#000000]This one was evidently a reporter.This was hardly unusual. Reporters had been coming to the empire at alarming rate since they had returned; evidently in Equestria, accounts of the Crystal Empire were still sought after news to report on. If this one would be writing on them and their culture, that was all the more reason to give the best tour she could.[/colour]

[colour=#DDA0DD]“Oh no, the pleasure is all mine! [/colour][colour=#DDA0DD]And how refreshing it is to hear that! It is always lovely to know one’s passions are appreciated, and I find I do agree with you. I may not look the type but I have always admired the jousts! It is a little less delicate, but equally as graceful in its own way, as you said. Oh, and the suspense! My, but I’ve been prattling on! I’ll let you take the reins from here,”[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Alexa smiled slightly at the response from her fellow crystal mare. She was a dancer, so perhaps it was only natural... but this mare really was quite charming and elegant. That she understood the grace of the joust made her all the more intriguing. The guard was glad to have her on this tour. She spoke as she gave her a nod.[/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Nonsense. Passion is no prattle. I can tell you are an eloquent mare, fully understanding the majesty of our storied homeland and its rich traditions. And I welcome you to join me in showing all that this shining city has to offer to these outsiders. I am sure that you do indeed know the Art District better than I, after all,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]the guard said. [/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"In fact, I'd say I look forward to that leg of the tour. I must say I'm quite curious to learn more about your dance company and where they perform,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she added warmly.[/colour]

"Hello, I hope I'm not interrupting anything! I'm Silverbolt, sir."

[colour=#000000]At the arrival of yet another outsider, Alexa gave a short nod. [/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"Hello there. If you're after a tour, feel free to join us. All are welcome to come along,"[/colour] [colour=#000000]she said.[/colour]

[colour=#006400]"Well, I'm really excited for this tour! How long have you been a guard, give or take a thousand years? Ever fought a Crystal Golem? Does it drain emotions? Hey, maybe that's why you're so uptight!" [/colour]

[colour=#000000]Then there was still this mare. Alexandrite looked at her, thoroughly confused. What was it she talked about? Were these the sorts of baffling tales that the Equestria of today had been telling of her empire in its absence? She supposed it was only logical that the truth could be lost to time... but this all still felt so ridiculous. [/colour]

[colour=#ffff00]"I know nothing of these crystal golems you speak of. Golems are beings born of applied magic; crystal ponies lack a means to give life to such things as your unicorns might have been at one time. I imagine whatever stories you've heard are works of fiction,[/colour]" [colour=#000000]she said in a stark voice, staring at the bizarre pegasus.[/colour] [colour=#ffff00]"My unit did raise our lances against the Dark King, however... and for it our emotions were left drained and twisted for a time as was the case in time with all of my compatriots here in the empire. Stories of that period in our history are not, however, something we favour discussing..."[/colour]

[colour=#000000]The guard trailed off and gave a sigh. "As for me, I've been a guard since I was quite young. My skill with the lance has been well honed since my youth and the victories I won with it at the joust in turn caught the eye of the Guard. As such, I've been at my post likely longer than you might expect given my still relatively young age," she explained. Even if questions came from foolish mares, they deserved answers. She was determined to give a good tour.[/colour]

[colour=#006400]"Hey, so this Crystal Heart...how BRIGHT is it?"[/colour]

[colour=#000000]That said... this was still a rather of silly question. Alexa gave another sigh and nodded.[/colour] [colour=#ffff00]"The heart is quite radiant. It's a difficult thing to express in words alone, but I'm sure when time comes to see it you will find it is worth appreciating."[/colour]

[colour=#000000]The mare stepped ahead, guiding the tour along. [/colour][colour=#ffff00]"But visiting the heart plaza is a ways off. For now, it's best we get this tour under way. From here at the outer gates, it would be most prudent to first show off our fertile farmlands surrounding the city, which provide sustenance for every pony in the empire. Follow me and take the time to admire the lush greenery which is possible in this arctic region only through the magic protection of our Crystal Heart," [/colour][colour=#000000]Alexandrite said as she walked along a path through the farm districts.[/colour]

[colour=#000000]Rolling hills of green could be seen all about. The crystal corn grew tall in the distance while the sweet fragrance of the crystal berry bushes permeated the air. Picturesque crystal farm houses were scattered about, some of which were adjoined by pens housing colourful tiny sheep. The city was a beautiful sight, but in a lot ways, Alexa had always thought these green lands were just as impressive. She hoped the tour group would appreciate them as well.[/colour]

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[colour=#800080]"Well, although the Crystal Empire has its share of artists I'm not one of them," [/colour]Heart Healer said to the in, [colour=#800080]"What i am is a psychologist, one who helps ponies with and concerns in their life." [/colour]

Before she could react, the crystal pink pony was assaulted by the strange pony named Pathfinder who began to summarize a story to her. She tried to interject but the pony continued to explain everything a pony ever wanted to know about the eponymous main character. What made the psychologist worry was how much of a devotion she had to this series. Heart had met her share of ponies who were fans of other ponies or things, but not as devoted as this one. She began to wonder what was the pony's true personality and how much was being manufactured to mirror this Daring Do. She decided a little psychological experiment was in order, something that needed to be subtle so as not to let the subject know what she was doing.

[colour=#800080]"Well Miss Pathfinder, I can see that you are a wealth of information on the subject of Daring, offering more than I could ever expect. I am actually interested in ponies who live outside the borders of the Empire, just as I assume that you are interested in us and our Empire. So how about I ask you something and then you can ask me about either me or the Crystal Empire, within reason of course. I will start. Besides being an avid fan to this Daring Do and reading all the books, what else do you like to do in your spare time?" [/colour]

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