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[Fet Loch] A Cloud Shrouded Vacation (Closed)

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This was no ordinary vacation for Filthy Rich and his daughter, Diamond Tiara. Several weeks back, a chance conversation between Mr. Rich and one of his farmer customers, Carrot Fields, spawned the idea that led the voyage to the Solstice Heights today. Ordinarily, Filthy would have regarded the news that Mr. Fields and his little sister, Purple Haze, were returning to their old town of Fet Loch on a week-long trip to visit relatives as merely just another discussion topic. However, other things happened to come to the stallion’s mind during that conversation.

Earlier that same day, Mr. Rich learned the news that Diamond Tiara gave up on yet another prospective hobby. Even though the filly already found her cutie mark some time ago, she had immense difficulty sticking to things she attempted doing. As the months passed by, her father started thinking that just maybe the real issue with his little angel was that she needed to build up a stronger ethos of perseverance and self-motivation. If Diamond figured out how to cultivate a work-ethic, maybe she’d learn how to stick with projects and what not.

Now then, Filthy didn’t quite remember exactly what prompted the idea to form in his head, but when it associated Fet Loch, a lakeside town nestled in the southeastern moors of the Solstice Heights, as a place uncomfortable for easy-going ponies to live in, a moment of inspiration overtook the middle-aged stallion. Just perhaps… if Diamond Tiara spent some time in Fet Loch, maybe some of that highland ruggedness could rub off onto her! And so, Filthy Rich convinced Carrot Fields to send off Diamond Tiara with Mr. Fields and his filly sister to Fet Loch for the week. After a round of intense negotiations with his daughter, Filthy agreed to join her too in order to get her to go to one of Equestria’s less glamorous vacation spots.

A long, bumpy carriage ride later, the four ponies were finally mere minutes away from arriving in town. It was rather hard to see that fact though, as hovering rain clouds, distant rain-shrouds, and the setting of the sun kept visibility low. The mud-coated road leading to Fet Loch didn’t make travel any easier too, but at least the carriage sheltered the four passengers from the elements. Unless the carriage wheels got stuck, they’d soon be at a cozy bed-and-breakfast where they’d be spending the nights. A hot meal awaited all four ponies too.

“We’re almost there Diamond Tiara!” her tie-wearing father eagerly announced, hoping to pump her up with excitement; “Aren’t you excited.....?”

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“We’re almost there Diamond Tiara! Aren’t you excited.....?”

Diamond Tiara had a lot of pride in her dear ol' daddy. He was a successful businesstaliion who had made a name for himself in Ponyville with his well honed business savvy. He was respected, a cornerstone of the town and community. He also provided for her with practically whatever it is she wanted. In all of Ponyville there couldn't be a single stallion more worthy of respect and adoration.

Sometimes, however, he was just so completely clueless. Diamond wasn't sure she even really understood how or why he got like this? Was being a respectable stallion of business so demanding a world that it called for occasional lapses into madness? Diamond had no idea, but all the same, she couldn't help but groan and roll her eyes.

What even were they doing, going out to the middle of nowhere? She didn't get it. Wasn't Ponyville small enough? Why in all of Equestria would they go to some even tinier little nowhere town for a vacation? It was just stupid. Manehattan, Canterlot, Las Pegasus, Trottingham, Stalliongrad, Corralwood Corral; those were places ponies went to for vacation. Not Fet Loch. What and where even was that? She had never heard of it. It was just dumb and she didn't want to go.

Refusing daddy was hard though, especially when he was insistent. She didn't want any part of this dumb trip, but sometimes she was just so stupidly powerless. Ultimately, she had no choice but to humor him. Thus she was there in the cart with her daddy and two other ponies. Farm ponies, but different farm ponies than that blank flank and her ridiculous family. It was some stallion and a filly, though a filly a little older than Diamond was. They talked weird. Diamond wasn't sure what to make of them.

"Oh yes, daddy... so excited..." Diamond said flatly, emphasizing her bored indifference with a full yawn. "I just can't wait..." she added, hanging her head and giving another sigh.

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Purple Haze was so excited! They were going home! Home, home at last! Where everypony talked normal, and all her friends that she hadn't seen for months lived! And lots and lots of family! And ponies who would understand the nuances in flavor in making a dish with red carrots instead of gold carrots!

There were only a few raw spots. One was the chance of meeting up with that Jerky mcJerkface Jerkington and his new fillyfriend back home ... and the other was Princess Annoyia of Bullydom sitting in the seat next to her, whom Purple was stubbornly trying to ignore. Though her mind drifted idly over the wonderful idea of introducing the two of them to each other, so that they might fancy each other, and start a whirlwind summer romance that would leave them both miserable...

She sighed. She had already talked to Carrot at length about this. Complained at him... he had no idea how much of a problem Diamond Tiara could be. Case in point: A carriage? really? What was wrong with walking? But all that went out of her mind as she crested a hill. She hopped up in her seat, leaning out the carriage's window. "Ooo! Look!" she cried, pointing. "We're here!" She bounced with eagerness.

There, a vast rolling green landscape, the huge, familiar white cliffs. A deep, deep blue lake, and the river rolling down from the mountaintop to feed it and keep it icy cold. Sheep everywhere. Home! "Innit th' most bonnie sight ye've e'er laid eyes on?"

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Carrot Fields definitely had mixed feelings about having Mr. Rich and his little daughter along. He was always the overly polite sort, so he certainly didn't want to refuse Filthy Rich's request that he and Diamond Tiara come along with the ruddy maned farmer pony and his sister, Purple Haze, to their homeland of Fet Loch. He just didn't really understand why they wanted to go, even when the tan earth pony explained his reasoning.

Truth was Carrot was always somewhat leery of Filthy Rich. Oh the owner of Barnyard Bargains seemed straight forward enough, but he was still the owner of what was basically a monopoly on farm supplies for the farmers in the area, something that always created some tension and wariness between the business pony and his customer base. Yet again, by acceding to the request, hopefully their business relationship could be improved, which would be helpful even if Carrot also held to some degree the same disdain his father had for such politicking.

Carrot was far less sure of Diamond Tiara; truth was he had no knowledge of the pink colored filly at all, other than she attended the local primary school Purple went to. He and seen her around in Barnyard Bargins but never spoke to the tiara wearing filly. Still, despite that and his sitter's protests, he had no problem having her along; his big soft spot was for foals and their well-being and tended to see them through rose colored glasses.

Purple excitedly announced they had finally arrived in the valley. Thank Luna, Carrot was just not comfortable with the carriage, he saw it as completely unnecessary and rather ostentatious as he and his sister could easily hike the pass with their packs and saddle bags on their backs. He wanted to get out before the farm, not desiring his father to see them arrive in such fashion.

"Aye Purple it is! Ah hink we can stop haur an' walk lae ay th' way, nae need tae make these braw stallions pullin' th' carriage tae gang onie further. It is only a mile ur tois noo anyway tae baith uir farm an' tae toon. Yoo'll loove seein' th' fowk farm, it is a bonnie site ay staine buildings, it e'en has its ain smithy! Better yit, they ur hostin' th' Heelain Games thes week in toon!"

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"Oh yes, daddy... so excited... I just can't wait..."

That wasn’t the sort of can-do spirit that Diamond Tiara ought to be showing. But then again, the carriage ride was quite long and to be rather plain, rather confining. Filthy Rich would have followed Carrot Top’s advice to simply trot the entire way to Fet Loch, but there was no way Diamond would have agreed to walk to some far-off place she didn’t really want to go to in the first place. Of course, maybe some nice quality time in this place would make Mr. Rich’s little angel amicable to trotting home, so at least there was that.

Right now though, Filthy had a daughter he needed to cheer up. “I know Diamond, this has been a long ride,” the stallion ruffled Diamond’s mane for a few seconds before assuring; “But there’s going to be a hearty meal waiting for us when we get to Mister Top's familiy. And tomorrow after a good night’s rest at the bed-and-breakfast, we’ll be heading off to their smithie the first thing when we wake up! Ha ha ha, I think you’re going to have an experience you’ll never forget.”

"Ooo! Look! We're here! Innit th' most bonnie sight ye've e'er laid eyes on?"

Filthy Rich wouldn’t call the cloud-draped landscape before him beautiful in the conventional sense; maybe if it was sunnier out, it’d be a different story. Still, there was something about glimpsing the moors of Fet Loch for the first time, especially under such unique weather conditions that were hardly ever produced by Ponyville’s weather team. It felt… surreal somehow; like wandering into the distant fogged-out primordial past. However one could describe the countryside in this neck of Equestria though, Mr. Rich ended up profoundly affected by the otherworldly twilit sight.

"Aye Purple it is! Ah hink we can stop haur an' walk lae ay th' way, nae need tae make these braw stallions pullin' th' carriage tae gang onie further. It is only a mile ur tois noo anyway tae baith uir farm an' tae toon. Yoo'll loove seein' th' fowk farm, it is a bonnie site ay staine buildings, it e'en has its ain smithy! Better yit, they ur hostin' th' Heelain Games thes week in toon!"

As Carrot Top expressed his wishes to get out of the carriage, Filthy stuck his head out the window to whistle to the drivers; “Alright sirs, stop here for a moment; we're going to stretch our legs and walk the rest of the way!” Complying with the stallion’s request, the drivers stopped the carriage, whereupon Filthy opened the door and stepped out onto the rain-soaked ground. “Make sure you stop at both the bed-and-breakfast and the farm to drop off our luggage,” Filthy next instructed, hoofing a big fat tip to the head driver; “Anything with a bit sign or a tiara goes to the bed-and-breakfast; the rest goes to the farm. Thank you for the exceptional service that you’ve provided.”

Walking back to the carriage, Mr. Rich happily notified his daughter; “Alright Diamond, we get off here; you can finally get the cramps out of your legs! Air’s really fresh outside too!” Filthy stretched out a foreleg towards Diamond Tiara so she could more easily jump off the carriage.....

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“I know Diamond, this has been a long ride, But there’s going to be a hearty meal waiting for us when we get to Mister Top's familiy. And tomorrow after a good night’s rest at the bed-and-breakfast, we’ll be heading off to their smithie the first thing when we wake up! Ha ha ha, I think you’re going to have an experience you’ll never forget.”

Diamond rolled her eyes and gave a sigh. Did her father really think he would excite her with rustic food and clanging metal? This was just stupid. Seriously, why were they even here. Of all the dumb places in Equestria, why this hole in the ground? It made more sense to go into the Everfree Forest for vacation. Getting eaten by a hungry cragodile was probably a lot more fun than the neverending tedium she had in store for her here.

"Oh yes, daddy, I'm sure it will just be great..." she said, only halfheartedly attempting to mask her sarcasm.

"Ooo! Look! We're here! Innit th' most bonnie sight ye've e'er laid eyes on?"

"Aye Purple it is! Ah hink we can stop haur an' walk lae ay th' way, nae need tae make these braw stallions pullin' th' carriage tae gang onie further. It is only a mile ur tois noo anyway tae baith uir farm an' tae toon. Yoo'll loove seein' th' fowk farm, it is a bonnie site ay staine buildings, it e'en has its ain smithy! Better yit, they ur hostin' th' Heelain Games thes week in toon!"

Diamond seriously could hardly comprehend these two. Couldn't they just talk like normal ponies already? They sure seemed happy to see the place though. DIamond hadn't a clue why. The whole landscape was just dreary and dull. It was like lame parts of Ponyville times fifty. Bleh. The filly just wanted all of this to be over already.

“Alright sirs, stop here for a moment; we're going to stretch our legs and walk the rest of the way!Make sure you stop at both the bed-and-breakfast and the farm to drop off our luggage, Anything with a bit sign or a tiara goes to the bed-and-breakfast; the rest goes to the farm. Thank you for the exceptional service that you’ve provided. Alright Diamond, we get off here; you can finally get the cramps out of your legs! Air’s really fresh outside too!”

As the carriage stopped and Diamond's father moved to usher her from it, DIamond just stared at him, puzzled.

"But Daddy, why are we getting out now? We can barely see the town from here. It's going to take forever walking and it makes no sense since the carriage is just going where we're going anyway," Diamond started in surprise. "My legs might get tired," she added with forced vulnerability.

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Purple Haze ground her teeth at the spoiled little princess. She thought she was soooo great, and she couldn't do the simplest things for herself. She wanted to ... Ooooo, what a bully. She deserved a good bucking. Or at least a good pull. get rid of some of that oh-so-perfect mane and see how much better than everypony she thought she was!

Suddenly Purple straightened up, her eyes widening. Oooo... she knew what she could do. She could be ... *helpful*.

"Dinnae fesh yerself!" she said with a sudden burst of cheerful kindness. "Oi know it's hard, but dinnae worry, ye've a roit hard time at stuff, sure, but if'n ye dinnae start, ye'll ne'er improve! If'n ye fancy it, Oi kin give ye a workout while ye're here!" She threw her forehoof round the other filly's shoulder. "By th' time ye're back tae ponyville, Oi'll have it so ye're all roit! It'll be a mite rough, but we'll get t'rough it taegether!"

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Carrot Fields certainly felt better now he was walking on his own four legs instead of being ferried about in a carriage. He easily lifted his saddlebags and backpacks onto his frame, ready for the remaining jaunt. Now he could, without hindrance, finally experience the refreshing wind, smell the flowers and trees, and feel the good soil of Fet Loch under his hooves. This was life at its best! This was home!

Carrot hoped his and Purple's guests felt the same way, or at least learn to appreciate the place. Surely any pony who spent enough time here would fall in love. Filthy Rich at least appeared amicable to the idea of walking the rest of the way, experiencing the countryside. Little Diamond Tiara though looked to have a harder time with the idea. Perhaps it was because she was small, or she just wasn't used to long walks, no surprise given her father's preference for carriages.

Purple Haze though was being reassuring and friendly towards the tiara wearing filly. Carrot was unsure if the two school age fillies actually got along given his sister's protests when he told her Diamond Tiara and her father were coming along. Maybe it was just Purple having the same general worries as Carrot, as opposed to not liking the fellow earth filly, especially now that his sister was showing her sincere desire to help in her encouragement of Diamond. "Purple is reit, th' joorney can be a wee difficult fur ponies fa arenae used tae it. Ah am sure yoo'll dae fine thocht once ye walked puckle miles. Och Ah know! Since it is yer first joorney, we'll lighten th' load fur ye Diamond Tiara, sae ye can enjoy th' scenery mair!" With that Carrot toss Diamond's luggage case on his back, and figuring since Purple was so willing to be helpful, lifted little Diamond's saddlebags on to Purple's backs along with her own as he knew it wouldn't really burden the farmer filly. "By th' time ye gang back tae Ponyville Diamond, yoo'll be able tae carry jist abit anythin' fur lang periods ay time withit e'en breakin' a sweat, yoo'll see! Fet Loch brings th' best it ay ponies!" It was an exaggeration, but he really hoped the pink filly would be inspired.

Carrot Fields trotted forward down the road towards the direction of the Carrot family farm, which was only a couple miles away now. It was short enough to not stress his guess, but long enough to mention the virtues of Fet Loch. "Great thing about our valley, is it has a long and rich history! We have one of the oldest castles in all of Equestria, it was actually built by the first pegasus immigrants to whole Solstice Heights, long before there was a united Equestria even! Back when the valleys here were just populated by villages of earth ponies. The ponies who made the castle were the McClouds, it was made in honor of their original sky castles the family had. Really neat, huh? One of the McClouds a few decades back became a Wonderbolt, and…" "Great hin' abit uir valley, is it has a lang an' rich history! We hae one ay th' oldest castles in aw ay Equestria, it was actually built by th' first pegasus immigrants tae whole Solstice Heights, lang afair thaur was a united eEquestria e'en! Back when th' valleys haur waur jist populated by villages ay earth ponies. Th' ponies fa made th' castle waur th' McCloods, it was made in honur ay their original sky castles th' fowk hud. Pure neat, huh? One ay th' McCloods ah couple decades back becam a Wonderbolt, and…"

And Carrot could go on all day.

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Diamond Tiara still pouted a little, but the two Fet Loch hosts thankfully pitched in to assure her that she’d be a stronger filly when this vacation was through. The other good thing for Carrot Fields was that he wouldn’t have to bring most of Diamond’s luggage with him; Filthy Rich instructed to carry most of the rest to the bed-and-breakfast. In any event, in case his little girl did get tired; “Ha ha ha, that’s no problem, my sweet little angel. I’ll just carry you piggyback, just like when you were a small foal!” Mr. Rich smiled, knowing how much his daughter outgrew most of their older father-daughter bonding routines.

Once the group started its final leg of the journey, the carriage set of, disappearing into the mist. Mr. Fields used this moment to educate Filthy and Diamond about Fet Loch history, something the business owner found fascinating. As a matter of fact, the stallion remembered seeing a Wonderbolts performance back in his youth when a McCloud was on that team. Mr. Rich hoped they’d have time to tour McCloud Castle sometime during their vacation.

Filthy Rich however wanted to ask Carrot Fields one question on his mind for a while; “Say, is it true that a bunch of prehistoric creatures live in the loch? I’ve heard stories about them, but I wonder if it’ll be possible to see them.” Surely Diamond Tiara would love to see some near-legendary animals?

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“Ha ha ha, that’s no problem, my sweet little angel. I’ll just carry you piggyback, just like when you were a small foal!”

Diamond just shot her father a certain telling look. She wouldn't think twice about having a servant like Randolph carry her; they were paid for that sort of work. She certainly wasn't a baby anymore though. There was no way she was going to get carried by her daddy, even if it meant she'd have to be forced to endure this terrible, pointless unnecessary walk.

"I'll be fine, daddy..." she said through a sigh. "I just don't see the point is all," she added with a small roll of her eyes.

"Dinnae fesh yerself! Oi know it's hard, but dinnae worry, ye've a roit hard time at stuff, sure, but if'n ye dinnae start, ye'll ne'er improve! If'n ye fancy it, Oi kin give ye a workout while ye're here! By th' time ye're back tae ponyville, Oi'll have it so ye're all roit! It'll be a mite rough, but we'll get t'rough it taegether!"

"Purple is reit, th' joorney can be a wee difficult fur ponies fa arenae used tae it. Ah am sure yoo'll dae fine thocht once ye walked puckle miles. Och Ah know! Since it is yer first joorney, we'll lighten th' load fur ye Diamond Tiara, sae ye can enjoy th' scenery mair! By th' time ye gang back tae Ponyville Diamond, yoo'll be able tae carry jist abit anythin' fur lang periods ay time withit e'en breakin' a sweat, yoo'll see! Fet Loch brings th' best it ay ponies!"

The response from her daddy was one thing, the response from these other two was something else. She wasn't really sure what to make of Purple Haze and her brother's words. Of course, most of the reason was probably the fact that they were so hard to understand. Seriously, they needed to learn to talk properly. Who even talks like that? It was like they were speaking another language or something. More then that, they just seemed so weird. Why would she ever want to get used to walking so much? It was simply beneath her.

"Oh my... well doesn't that sound like the funnest thing ever," she spoke to herself, her words drenched in sarcasm. "Made to exert myself past the point where I even recognize it anymore. What more could a filly want...?"

"Great hin' abit uir valley, is it has a lang an' rich history! We hae one ay th' oldest castles in aw ay Equestria, it was actually built by th' first pegasus immigrants tae whole Solstice Heights, lang afair thaur was a united eEquestria e'en! Back when th' valleys haur waur jist populated by villages ay earth ponies. Th' ponies fa made th' castle waur th' McCloods, it was made in honur ay their original sky castles th' fowk hud. Pure neat, huh? One ay th' McCloods ah couple decades back becam a Wonderbolt, and…"

Diamond looked up from her bitter trudging ahead at these few words. "A castle? Really? Why would they build something so nice as that out here in the middle of nowhere?" she said with an amused laugh. Maybe this would be the one thing out here worth seeing.

"Must stick out like a sore hoof..." she added under her breath, casting a glance aside.

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Permission given by Brian Blackberry.

There were times that a pony needed to do something different in their lives, to break up the daily routine. For Carrot Top this was her chance. The orange manned mare had wanted to take a breather from her farming life, and what better way than to trace some of her roots? She remembered how her parents once told her about how her ancestors at one point lived in Fet Loch, a small village east of Canterlot. Yet besides this fact the mare knew little of the place. So she packed and made her way to the village.

As she walked through the area taking in the sights, she happened to catch a glimpse of a few ponies from town coming her way. One was Filthy Rich, a pony that she essentially couldn't be any less thankful to as it was in his store that she met her special somepony. Traveling with him was his daughter who Carrot was admittedly not that close to knowing seeing at how infamously her reputation was of being a spoiled and sometimes bullying filly. The biggest surprise though came when she spotted another stallion and filly duo.

"Cousin?" she said as she walked towards the group, "I didn't know you'd be here! It's been some time since we met. You do remember me, right?"

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Purple got a certain vicious little glee at the look on Diamond Tiara's face, and didn't even really notice her brother's words till suddenly that load was dumped onto her back. What the ... "Oye! Big Brae! Ye're nae listenin' tae me! Ye're nae... *oof* Oye! She'll nae build up 'er strength if'n ye treat her loik a wee baern! Ye wantin' her tae be ..." Nnngh.

It was no use. Of COURSE Carrot would mess this one up. He seemed to have a soft spot and bent over backwards for any filly but herself. She fell in next to Diamond Tiara, glaring up at Carrot, then looked over to Diamond. "We'll start yer trainin' tommorrah, aye? An' Oi'll have ye know till Ponyville took th' title, we were th' breadbasket of Equestria! Our fertile fields were much fought o'er, innae? Rough bit a history there. No room fer a useless frill in Fet Loch."

She grinned and put one hoof on Diamond Tiara's shoulder. "Ach, an' hey, maybe if ye stay round long enough, ye'll nae talk so funny nae more an' lose a bit a that odd accent a yers, aye? Ye've a bonnie opportunity here, ye do!"

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Carrot Fields smiled as he walked along with his saddlebags and Diamond Tiara's luggage, it wasn't much effort for somepony who worked in fields all his life and had to carry much heavier packs on his back in the R.E.A. Purple didn't appear to be as agreeable about easing their guests into the highland climate, "c'mon Purple, uir guests arenae used tae Fet Loch yit, we need tae lit them gie used tae walkin' aroond in th' air ay th' moontains before we can expect them tae carry extra loads, especially a wee filly loch Diamond Tiara, as a wee filly yerself, Ah am sure ye can appreciate 'at!"

What really piqued Carrot's interest was the Rich family appeared to be actually quite interested in the folklore and history of the valley! Carrot chuckled as Filthy Rich asked about the various rumors and legends about the monsters of the lochs. To some degree they were true, in a land of magic creatures, it wasn't too much of a surprise that the more isolated lochs held their own mystical secrets and hidden beasts.

"We hae mony ancient creatures fa sweem th' lochs, some sae mysterioos, sae elusife, nae e'en we ponies ay Fet Loch know if they really exist! One ay th' most famoos thocht is Sally! She is a huge reptile creature that roams Loch Croatoa, especially durin' th' fog covered mornings waur th' mists hide 'er eerie presence! She has eyes ay flam! 'Er whole body glows a blue hue ay magical energy whenever she readies tae strike! Teeth loch razors an' is a hunder hooves taal she is! Woe tae th' ignorant traveler fa disturbs 'er lair!" What Carrot said was true, in a sense. Sally was real, and she had the ability to project what he described her being like as a magical illusion, but that is all it was, an illusion, used to scare creatures away who would otherwise may harm the completely benign and passive Sally, who in all her time has never actually harmed a pony.

It made a great story to the tourists though!

Carrot laughed a Diamond Tiara's assertion, "hoo coods clood castle stain it aroond haur! Look at th' bonnie moontains, aw covered in mist an' cloods, havin' a castle amang them is th' perfect place! Ye dornt e'en see it when th' fog is heavy! Mebbe we'll gie tae see it latter when th' weaither clears some! willnae 'at be excitin'?!" How many true castles are there even in all of Equestria made up of clouds?

As the path opened up and the Carrot family homestead came into view Carrot noticed another pony coming up the way, she looked familiar although he didn't recognize her at first. His memory clicked though when she called him "cousin". Suddenly it dawned on him who this mare was, just in time too before he got in his mind how cute she was. "Guid day!! Coosin carrot top! Ah remember' ye frae th' lest reunion a few years back! Say whaur ur ye livin' these days? Hey Purple! ye remember Carrot Top reit? Carrot, ye remember mah wee sister? Say, ye shoods come wi' us! We ur showin' uir guests th' homesteid an' toon!"

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For a moment Carrot Top wasn't quite sure if her cousin Carrot Fields would recognize her. Despite the fact that the two lived in the same town, they were both busy with their livelihoods as farmers. Granted her appearance did seem familiar to him, but he had an odd look that he almost saw her as a pony to court! Thankfully he recognized her before the two ended up in an embarrassing realization.

Carrot had to listed carefully to the pony's Fet Loch accent. Although the mare was related, her side of the family had long moved from their hometown, long before she ever was born. It was no surprise that she didn't share the accent. Still Carrot Fields's accent harkened back to the roots of her family.

"Nice to see you too. I was wondering if you would recognize me. You're right, I do remember seeing you at the reunion. Actually I live in Ponyville not far from where my parents live. Don't you live in Ponyville too? I could have sworn I remember seeing you in town."

She noticed the filly tagging along with Carrot Fields, one who the stallion said was her sister.

"I kind of remember you too. Your name is Purple your brother said, right? I would definitely like to travel with you! i wanted to come back here to see where our family came from."

Not wanting to ignore the others as part of the group she said, "Hello there Mr. Rich? How's business?" and albeit more reluctantly but still as cordial as she could muster, "And hello to you too Diamond Tiara."

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Diamond Tiara’s father quietly sighed to himself when his offer to carry the filly got rebuffed. But Filthy Rich couldn’t become frustrated at Diamond’s moody attitude. She may not like being dragged to Fet Loch now, but years from now, Diamond would thank her daddy for this opportunity to grow her character. In the world of business, peril lurked anywhere whenever entrepreneurs ignored long-term growth strategies for short-term instant profit gratification. So it was also true of parenting; no matter how much a child complained, their growth into adults must always take precedence over their short-term gratification. As long as Mr. Rich kept that wisdom in mind, he and Diamond Tiara will come out of Fet Loch the stronger.

Carrot Fields meanwhile told the two visitors a legend surrounding a creature named Sally. Filthy Rich could easily imagine the terrifying creature, an aquatic version of those Everfree monsters who never suffered ponies to disturb their habitats. If Sally was indeed like how Mr. Fields claimed, perhaps it wasn’t smart for Diamond Tiara to stick around her home. “You hear what Mister Fields says, Diamond Tiara?” Filthy advised his filly; “Don’t you go and bother Sally during our vacation now, you understand?”

Filthy Rich did not expect to see anyone else from Ponyville during his stay in Fet Loch, so stumbling upon Carrot Top near the homestead was quite a pleasant surprise. Once she greeted her family relatives, the farmer mare came up to Mr. Rich and Miss Tiara. Filthy quickly returned her friendly welcome; “The store’s doing wonderfully Miss Top, thank you for asking. Say, I didn’t expect to meet you here all the way in Fet Loch. Heh, I bet you weren’t expecting me and my lil’ girl here either. So, I take it your carrot farm’s doing splendid?”

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"We'll start yer trainin' tommorrah, aye? An' Oi'll have ye know till Ponyville took th' title, we were th' breadbasket of Equestria! Our fertile fields were much fought o'er, innae? Rough bit a history there. No room fer a useless frill in Fet Loch. Ach, an' hey, maybe if ye stay round long enough, ye'll nae talk so funny nae more an' lose a bit a that odd accent a yers, aye? Ye've a bonnie opportunity here, ye do!"

Before Diamond knew it, the weird talking purple filly was invading her space, leaning on her babbling near incoherently about something or other. Who was this "Bonnie" they kept mentioning? Seriously, how long had these two been living in Ponyville now? You'd think they'd have learned to speak clearly by now. She stepped away from the other filly and shot her a quick look.

"It looks just great... I can't wait," she said with a blatant eyeroll and a sarcastic tone.

“You hear what Mister Fields says, Diamond Tiara? Don’t you go and bother Sally during our vacation now, you understand?”

Diamond smirked at her father's comment. Honestly, as she saw it, agitating some gigantic monster probably was the height of excitement to find out here in this nowhere. She wasn't stupid though. Even if this Sally was probably the most interesting thing to be found anywhere in the general Fet Loch area, Diamond Tiara couldn't exactly see herself going off monster hunting. That kind of thing was for stupid blank flanks who didn't know any better than to put themselves in ridiculous amounts of danger again and again. A mature and sophisticated filly like her knew better than to seek unnecessary risk. Besides... ever since last Nightmare Night, Diamond had been having enough nightmares on her own without needing to go and actively find new ones.

"I understand, Daddy. I won't go looking for Sally, I promise," she said with a nod. It was an easy promise to make. At this point she couldn't see her breaking it, even if she got impossibly bored out here.

"hoo coods clood castle stain it aroond haur! Look at th' bonnie moontains, aw covered in mist an' cloods, havin' a castle amang them is th' perfect place! Ye dornt e'en see it when th' fog is heavy! Mebbe we'll gie tae see it latter when th' weaither clears some! willnae 'at be excitin'?!"

The filly just stared ahead as the stallion responded to her curiosity over the castle. "I see. Well, it does sound like something to see while out here," she said. An old castle was passingly interesting. If she was going to be forced to spend several days out here in this ridiculous place, the least she could do was take a look at the few things out here that might be interesting to see.

About then they crossed paths with another pony. Diamond had seen her around town before she thought, though didn't really know anything about her. Probably not anyone important, though Daddy seemed to know her. Apparently she was a carrot farmer. That made sense. Daddy bought from all the big farmers in Ponyville. More interestingly was that this pony was ostensibly Carrot Fields' cousin. It made some sense given they were both named Carrot, but it was interesting to see that this Carrot actually spoke properly. That was probably a fair indication she hadn't spent so much time out here as the other two.

Whatever the case, DIamond didn't see much reason to care about it at all. She just shrugged and continued along.

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Purple Haze bristled in frustration. "Oi am nae a 'wee lil' filly!" she protested loudly. "Are ye e'en listenin' tae me?! Ye're a - *nnnng* Nae mind." Hrmph. She scowled in frustration as Carrot gave a good tourist-editted version of Sally's story. Heh heh heh. Now THAT was an opportunity for some pranking. She'd have to hold onto the Sally idea for later, when Diamond Tiara was being especially impossible.

She shouldered the second set of packs and groaned. How much did Diamond Tiara even PACK?! This was impossible. What a spoiled brat. And they had how much luggage being brought on ahead? Who even needed this much stuff in the first place? Not like they were bringing along a whole set of cookware or anything. they just needed a pouch of bits, maybe an outfit or two for special occassions. What on Equestria could they possibly have in these things?

"'ello, Top!" Purple finally spoke up as her ire receded down to managable levels. "'ow're ye doin'? Imagine meetin' up wi' ye way out here!" She rolled her eyes at her brother. "An' Oi tol' ye bout seein' her at th' market a few times, ye dumbtail! Or did ye think Oi was talkin' aye some other Carrot Top?" She rolled her eyes and re-adjusted all those bags she was carrying again, growling low in her throat. Stupid Diamond Tiara. Stupid bully. Stupid brother being a stupid sucker for a big pair of foal eyes.

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“The store’s doing wonderfully Miss Top, thank you for asking. Say, I didn’t expect to meet you here all the way in Fet Loch. Heh, I bet you weren’t expecting me and my lil’ girl here either. So, I take it your carrot farm’s doing splendid?”

"Glad to hear that," Carrot Top said as she walked along with the group, "Actually this was something I wanted to do for a while, to see where my family came from. My parents told me about how my grand parents came from here, but I guess things pushed it aside. Oh, my farm? It's doing great, I think it'll be a really good season. In any case, I really didn't expect any of you to be here, so the surprise was on me."

Carrot noticed that Filthy Rich's daughter barely gave a hint of acknowledging her. It appeared that the filly was upset about something, or at the very least bored. Then again she didn't know much about her to know what she liked, something that would spark her interest.

"So Diamond, what would like to see or do here in Fet Loch?"

For a moment Carrot Top wondered if Purple Haze knew the family ties between her and Carrot Fields. It wasn't that the two were brother and sister, and being farmers free time was a luxury. But to her delight the filly recognized her and even teased Carrot Fields for not recognizing the cream colored earth pony.

"I'm doing fine. How are you doing. My, you sure have lots of bags you're carrying. Here, let me take a few off of you."

The earth pony carefully plucked a few bags off the carriage, taking care not to caused the group to fall and hoisted them on the ground. She wondered if they were all Carrot's and Purple's bags, seeing as many had a tiara or a bit symbol on them.

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Carrot Fields kept pointing out various points of interest along the path as they approached the family farm on the outskirts of town, although all the "points of interest" thus far were little more than ponies working in the fields, herds of sheep, and their friendly waving pony shepherds. For Carrot it didn't matter, if it was part of Fet Loch, it was good enough to point out to their guests, how could any pony not love this little corner of the Solstice Heights? " Isnae it aw beautiful? tha' moorns nicht when it is clearer, Purple an' Ah can shaw ye th' McClood sky castle Ah tauld ye abit, reit noo it is hidden in th' mist atween th' moontains ower thaur." Carrot pointed out past the fields and forests, to the not-to-distant outcroppings of stone and grass, mostly covered in a thick band of clouds; it was hard to tell if anything at all existed beyond the uniform gray, but for the stallion, even the misty clouds that obscured were beautiful.

Carrot smiled to his cousin, ignoring his little sister's pointed statements about how she pointed out Carrot Top at the Ponyville market in the past. It could very well be true, but Purple often talked, and talked, and talked at their booth, so how could be possibly remember? "Weel, Purple Haze an' Ah actually live ootside ay Ponyville, jist pest Sweit Apple Acres, but we hae only bin thaur fur a year noo oan uir new farm. Aae th' lest time Ah got tae see ye at th' reunion was weel before then; when Ah was still in th' R.E.A, Ah hink?” Well now that he knew he had even more family in town, it somehow made the place a little more like a true home. "Sae, Carrot Top, whit dae ye dae in Ponyville? Ye mentioned ye live oan yer own; hae a very special somepony?"

As the group came over the next hill, a broad, green valley stood before them. In the center was a town, nestled alongside a small river that emptied into a very long, yet narrow lake, a loch. The town from this distance looks much like Ponyville in size and demeanor, although a little smaller, and with a number more cloud homes floating over the village and surrounding farmsteads. The nearest farmstead along the road was the home of Carrot family.

“Haem sweit haem!” Carrot smiled brightly as they approached the farmsteads. In the center of all the various fields of green was a large dark orange and green house that stood next to a huge barn with goldenrod colored sides and a dark oak roof. It wasn’t the only home and barn among the fields , but its central location and size strongly hinted at its importance as the focal point for the local carrot farmers. Several smaller homes and farm houses dotted the fields. Carrot led the way unerringly towards a home settled next to a large stream that emptied into the nearby river. A small waterwheel creaked ponderously off the side of the smithy that stood downwind of the house, and a red stallion with a short-buzzed golden mane looked up from his anvil.

Setting down his hammer, the stallion came striding out casually, and lifted his eyebrow at Carrot. “Haven’t ye cut 'at mane yit?”

Carrot sighed softly. “Nae, Sir,” he started to say. “Ah-“

The stallion cut him off with a bright and cheerful, “There’s mah wee thistle!” and gathered Purple Haze close for a hug. “Haur, lit me gie those fur ye.” He took the last of the saddlebags from Purple and dumped them on Carrot’s back, grinning and ruffling the little filly’s mane. “Look hoo yoo’ve groon!”

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Despite the nuisance of twilight making the landscape grow darker and darker, Filthy Rich could still see everything that Carrot Fields pointed out to him and Diamond Tiara. The good tidings from Carrot Top’s fields were also very good to hear. It was during the coming the evening that Filthy finally first set eyes on Fet Loch, which based on his far-away look, looked like a charming little town. From his vantage point, it almost reminded the stallion of Ponyville, save for the increased number of cloud houses around. That last observation gave Mr. Rich quite the puzzle, for he would have thought that the constant vapor condensation present in the region made life in the skies a bit more... interruption-filled.

Just as the last rays of sun vanished beyond the horizon, the group arrived at the Carrot Family homestead. For most of his life, Filthy Rich always assumed that no farming operation in Equestria could match that of his hometown Sweet Apple Acres. Based on the decreasing amount of light available, Mr. Rich currently lacked the information needed to correct his opinion. But based on what little he could glimpse in the transition to night, the businesspony wondered whether if indeed the Apple Family orchards had a capable rival farm right here in Fet Loch. He’d have to wait for the rising of the next Celestial Sun.

Standing a short distance behind Mr. Top, Filthy waited patiently for the moment to introduce himself. For now, he took his daughter aside to engage in family small-talk; “Well Diamond Tiara, I like what we’ve seen of Fet Loch so far. Aren’t the shepherds here very friendly?”

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Carrot Top walked along with the group as Carrot Fields pointed out the points of interests. Sure these were mainly farmlands but Fet Loch had a unique charm to it that nowhere else the cream colored mare had seen.

"Ah so you do live close to Sweet Apple Acres then. I guess since you've been there such a short time that I can understand that you're not as familiar like I am. I actually lived in Ponyville all my life but been in my house for a few years now. As for what I do, I'm a farmer just like you are, well a small time farmer. Mine is more like a garden compared to places like Sweet Apple Acres. Anyway, I actually farm vegetables, carrots mainly. Those are actually what made me realize what my talent was and what gave me my cutie mark. As for a special somepony, there's a stallion that I love as much as he loves me named Hayseed and he's a farmer too! And actually if it wasn't for your store Mr. Rich and your sale, we may have not met. So what about you Carrot? Do you have a special somepony that you fancy?"

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"So Diamond, what would like to see or do here in Fet Loch?"

Well, wasn't that the perfect question? Diamond let out a short bitter laugh as she looked up at the barely known adult. Take the carriage back home, she thought to say, though she was sure that if she did her father would call her out on it as rude. She stifled her barb and gave a small cough and then a sigh.

"Well, my, I don't really know yet, Miss Carrot Top. I can just tell that there are so many interesting things here..." she said, rolling her eyes in thinly veiled contempt. "I'm sure I'll just have to discover all of it as I go along."

“Well Diamond Tiara, I like what we’ve seen of Fet Loch so far. Aren’t the shepherds here very friendly?”

And the questions didn't stop. This time they came from her dear father. For as great as a stallion as he undeniably was, he sure was so easily charmed by the simple folk. Maybe it was requisite for him. His business depended on him cutting deals with all the simple farmers and craftsponies around town. Without common ponies, Barnyard Bargains' shelves would be empty. She supposed it was even in the name, really. She had never really got what was marketable in the name of her father's successful store. To her there were few things less appealing than a barnyard. That was a base and stinking place. But that was the point of it she supposed. Barnyard Bargains was not some Manehattan boutique after all. It sold its wares to the throngs of everyday villagers. It was marketing then. Daddy had to understand the simple ponies because he made his money from them. That was his genius and Diamond had nothing but respect for it.

Was this what it took to emulate it though? This sort of tedious venture among ponies so beneath you? If so, she had to admire her father even more for his patience and resolve. She had doubts the same stuff was in her precociously cynical mind. Looking at the Fet Loch shepherds and farmers all she could see were their blotched and muddied coats. She quietly asked herself again why she had to be here and then sighed and looked back toward her father, who she recalled likely was looking for some response.

"Well, isn't it kind of hard to tell, daddy?" she replied quietly. "I mean, I'm having an awfully hard time understanding them for how they speak. Most of the words come out sounding somewhat harsh to my ears, if I'm honest..."

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Purple Haze tended to roll her eyes at Diamond Tiara - and the trip provided plenty an opportunity for her eyes to be rolling more than a pair of dice. If only those dice would stop coming up snake eyes. But she was NOT going to let some spoiled little bully ruin her trip home. She escaped Tiara's drivel by letting her memories drift back to home, and a certain colt she'd been seeing ... which was almost certainly the reason that her da'd sent her off t'live with Carrot. But visiting home meant she'd finally see him again! He hadn't been sending too many letters, but then, it had been a busy season ...

As much as she had been furious with her da last time she'd seen him, leaving her at Carrot's and shouting at him, she still rushed forward to give him a big hug when she saw him coming out of the forge. She fixed her mane with a single swipe of her hoof and giggled at her father. "Heehee! Have ye been growin', too?" she teased him, poking him in his middle with a sly little grin.


He laughed heartily and hoisted her up, ready to drop her on his back, then grunted and put her on the ground again, instead. "Woo! Ye're gettin' tae old tae hie up that way! Regular young mare ye've turned intae!"

Purple puffed up proudly and turned to lift her head towards her big brae Carrot. "See! Told ye!" she crowed. Then she turned back to her father. "Oye! Almost fergot! This 'ere's Mister Rich, an' he's a roit proper sort wi' the bizzo! Rollin' in dosh, he is, but dinnae get a swolled heed 'bout it! An' 'is lil' filly, Diamond Tiara. She's a roit boggin' dowaleen an' no mistake!" She figured there was no chance of Diamond Tiara knowing what that meant. Still, she lowered her voice delivering that insult. "But Oi kin handle it, a'course!"

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Carrot Fields looked sort of down and away when his cousin asked about his personal romantic life, such as it was. There wasn’t any special somepony back in Ponyville, nor here in Fet Loch, in fact none at all, just a young mare who he was quite enamored with who was his friend; he didn’t even know if she had any of the same feelings toward him as he did towards her, and thus far had been too much of a shy dumbtail to broach the subject with the lovely pegasus. He just looked at his cousin Carrot Top with a shy smile, “Weel Ah am afraid nae, weel sort ay, weel, nae really. Thaur was thes one maur, but it turned it she was wi' somepony else, an' thaur is thes pegasus, an' we ur guid friends, sae whit Ah am sayin' is… och Ah don’t ken whit Ah am sayin', really, th' answer is nae..” He felt slightly embarrassed by this revelation, he wasn’t sure why though, it wasn’t that big of a deal, many ponies his age hadn’t really met anypony yet.

At least the old stallion didn’t inquire about it. Then again it wasn’t a surprise, Redd Forge rarely, if ever, asked about Carrot’s life other than questions about his stint in the R.E.A; besides he was too busy doting on Purple haze again. Carrot just rolled his eyes at his little sister’s affirmation that she was now an adult, "Nae quite thaur yit Purple Haze, an' yoo're aye be mah baby sister.." He ruffled her mane and amused himself with the fact the old stallion could lift and toss her on his back. That wouldn't have been a problem for Carrot, who could do so with little effort; he would show them both too if he wasn’t carrying so much luggage at the moment.

Fortunately he didn’t have to introduce their guests, Purple took that upon herself, including a veiled jab at Diamond Tiara that made Carrot’s face cringe for a moment. Well at least his little sister had the sense to say it using the Fet Loch dialect; it was clear Diamond Tiara struggled to understand it, so hopefully what Purple said went right over the pink filly’s head. “Uhh yeah, they’ll be stayin' ower in toon at one ay th' bed an' breakfasts, but Ah figure they coods hae tatties an' neebs haur wi' us.“

Carrot’s father just grunted at him and then turned to the two Ponyvillians and smiled, “Weel excuse mah son, he shoods hae offered tae allaw ye tae stay th' nicht haur. Ah am much mair accommodatin', ye ur aw welcome tae stay haur as uir guests, ye tay Carrot Top, fowk is always welcome!“ The pale red stallion walked up to Filthy Rich and shook his hoof with a strong grip, “Whaur is mah manners! Redd Forge, ay th' Carrots, best blacksmith in th' valley! welcome tae Fet Loch!”

He turned back towards Carrot and frowned once again, “weel don’t jist stain thaur loch a dumbtail, tak' aw uir guests luggage tae th' hoose an' say hello tae yer mother, she misses ye.”

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There was still that tension that Carrot Top could see on Diamond Tiara's face as the group proceeded on their tour of Fet Loch. Even though the filly said that she was interested in seeing everything, the cream colored mare could tell a lie from a mile away! Why Diamond Tiara would have like nothing more than to hop the nearest train to Ponyville, and she would probably do so if it weren't for her dad there.

"Well I'm sure there will be something that will be interesting on this trip for you," Carrot said with a smile to the filly, hoping to cheer her up but certainly not ready to count her chickens before they hatched.

Carrot then realized as Purple Haze rolled her eyes at Diamond Tiara that she may have opened deep wound upon mentioning her cousin's love life. It wasn't her intention, just some small talk to pass the journey. She had an idea of a certain farm mare who Carrot may be having an interest in but to her surprise there was no mention of her at all. Perhaps she misjudged the relationship as it being more than being friendly neighbors. Casually she had to find a way to cheer him up.

"I'm sorry that I upset you cousin, but I'm certain that you'll find a special somepony one day. Why I was looking for a while with no results but wouldn't you know all it took was a chance meeting in a store to spark a romance!"

She loved watching the interaction between Carrot Fields's father and her two cousins. This was the main reason she came here, to learn about her family roots beyond those of her parents.

"Nice to meet you Redd Forge. Err,.. I'm noot sure how you know me as this is actually the first time I've been here in Fet Loch. Guess word travels fast. I also guess since I'm a second cousin to Carrot Fields that makes me a second niece? Family history is a little rocky for me which i why I came here to learn about where my family came from. An I'd be happy to stay in your house as well thanks to your invitation."

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