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A Date with Royalty (Bellosh, Steel, & Raridash)

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Raffles always enjoyed the attention of Flash Sentry; especially the kind that helped out a good cause. For this particular story, the good cause was having Royal Equestria Army serviceponies raise funding for the non-profit Canterlot Army Historical Society, so it can continue preserving the honored legacy of the REA. As it turned out, the higher-ranking supporters of the fundraiser had enough clout and persuasive powers to convince Princess Twilight Sparkle to offer herself as the grand prize of sorts. Technically speaking, whoever got first place would win a date with Equestria’s latest alicorn princess of friendshippy magic.

As it just so happened, PFC. Sentry happened to be a really big fan of Twilight’s. He wasn’t foalish enough to assume that anything more would come out of a single potential date, but all the same, that didn’t stop the stallion from purchasing a couple dozen raffle tickets at least. If Flash lost, well he still would have immensely helped the CAHS’s noble efforts to expand their museum. Fortune favored him however, for the lucky pegasus did indeed managed to get first place in the end. Flash Sentry earned the privilege of taking Twilight Sparkle out on a night on the town!

Flash tried his best not to let jitters get the better of him. This would be his very first date since enlisting in the Army. Would he make a fool of himself in front of royalty? Was his dress uniform up to regulation? What happens if an emergency happens in the middle of the date? Questions ravaged the stallion’s mind, but as the appointed time drew knew, he learned to keep unproductive thoughts at bay. He oughta' do fine enough if he avoided coming off as an attention-starved fanboy.

Due to Flash Sentry’s current assignment in the Crystal Empire, arrangements were made to have Princess Twilight travel north. It didn’t take long to travel from Ponyville to the Empire anyway. Over at the train station, the uniform-wearing Sentry stood at attention waiting for his alicorn date to arrive. Despite brimming with positivity, Flash couldn’t help feeling quite nervous too. Like if he was just about to commence a dangerous combat mission.....

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Twilight would blame Applejack up and down for an idea this foolish getting passed through her head. Granted: It had been a very successful date auction. A lot of bits had been raised for a wonderful cause and Twilight would never deny worthy causes her greatest efforts. Not granted: That she was ready to be this close to strangers. She wasn't sure how this date thing really worked. To be honest, she wasn't sure at all how the romance thing worked. She understood the science behind it, at least. Pheromones, which she had made sure to pump up with some supplements and low-upkeep aural spells. Attraction- dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, cortisol. She understood the factor that vasopressin, oxytocin, and estrogen played and how the chemical reactions inherent in these mixtures were a self-reinforcing cycle, like Pavlov's Diamond Dogs but at a deeper level.

Would Applejack have so casually tossed this idea out there if she knew how awkward Twilight could get? Probably not. When the Princess had been approached to help with the charity drive she had been dumbstruck as how to help. She had initially offered to give a lecture or hold court but both were struck down, initially, in favor of a bluegrass band. That had been a little embarassing. Then she had suggested what she thought was a wild idea- a date auction. She was always uncomfortable with the idea but it was for the greater good. Then it had been a hit. A huge, huge hit. On one hoof it was unremarkable because of course every pony with even the smallest bit of care for her would put money towards a good cause for a night out. On the other, knowing that well over half of the populace had purchased tickets, that half of the populace wanted to date you and would pay money to do so, was both weird and incredibly stressful.

So here she was on a private train to the Crystal Empire and she was as stressed out as she could be. What was her role here, exactly? Applejack had been entirely unhelpful. She had said to do whatever the winner wanted to do within reason but what did that mean. What did that mean? It was so vague and Applejack wouldn't or couldn't get more specific. Gahh! What did that even mean? Was she supposed to be a mentor or a dancer or a beard or a dance partner or a serious long term fillyfriend or what? Twilight's mind hated unknowns outside of science and it hated unknowns that she had willingly waked into doubly so. All she could rely on was her science.

So tonight had been boiled down to science: A date went well when the couple were attracted. Chances are Twilight wouldn't be attracted but this was for the winner's benefit anyway. Her pheromones had been bolstered and her limbic neurological system had been fine-tuned, as were her hormonal levels and the dopamine pathways using her aura's field to intersect and manipulate her date's. Then as long as she could inflame passions and allow the natural chemical reactions involving oxytocin, cortisol, and serotonin to do their work, attraction and a superior date experience would follow. So she had made sure to dress in a very attractive if still modest dress made by Rarity for just such an occasion.

The train came to a stop and soon she was shuffling off, her panic rising but contained. She didn't know who the winner was but she was sure of her guard was, who was positioned directly where the Princess was about to get off. It was always good to have a pony as competent as Radiant around.

“Well, I'm glad to see you. I guess we should go ahead and meet the winner. Lead the way, if you would,” The princess asked politely, her voice showing the smallest strain of her nervousness.

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Radiant Steel was a nervous wreck. That was more a general statement of fact than anything else. There was seldom a moment where it didn't apply, only in the heat of things when her fire kicked in and she only saw purpose. It certainly applied then and there.

Not too long ago Radiant had still been mired in the worst of the worst guard jobs. Late hours, posts that didn't matter. No one took her seriously and when superiors looked her way it was usually to scold her for something that was entirely her fault. Her fortunes had changed upon a certain Nightmare Night, where she had finally had a chance to do something right and had been rewarded for it. She had been promoted, recommended for a few special assignments and finally it felt like she was getting somewhere in her chosen profession. To be personal guard to a princess though... that was still something so very incredible to even think about.

Princess Twilight Sparkle. Radiant wasn't entirely sure what to think of the most recently coronated Equestrian Princess. She was only just about Radiant's age and evidently came from a similar Canterlot background. Now she was a princess. For Radiant, who as a filly wanted to be a princess herself, it was just kind of confusing... and even more so when she had heard the rumors of how a certain guardspony Radiant favored had been seen sharing moments with her previously.

But that was entirely beside the point for today. Radiant was accompanying the princess to the Crystal Empire to act as an official guard while she met with the winner of some date raffle. it sounded like an awkward place to be in in general, and for everyone involved really. She couldn't imagine ever entering something like that, even if it was for time with Princess Celestia herself. She'd just explode from the attention of it. She didn't honestly want to be involved even as a guard... but you couldn't exactly refuse it when you were selected for a special task and princesses were involved.

When the private train they were riding came to station, the princess spoke to her which caused Radiant to nearly jump. She shuffled her hooves and looked at her. "Umm... all right, your highness... f-follow me..." Radiant said, her nerves on fuller display even then the princess. This was her first time coming to the Crystal Empire. She had heard a lot about it, especially from Flash who was frequently stationed there, but there weren't very many places outside Canterlot she had actually seen yet.

Her eyes widened as she stepped off the train, first in disbelief of the sight of the empire. It was truly beautiful and truly unlike anything she could have possibly ever imagined. She could hardly believe that such a place even existed in the world. It was staggering.

And then she saw him and very nearly fell over. It was none other than Flash, standing right there at the train station in his dress uniform. He looked great... even better than usual. Radiant blushed as she looked toward him. Job aside, she supposed there was no harm in saying hi. She stepped toward him. "Flash! W-what a coincidence. I mean, I know you get put up here a lot... but I never thought we'd run into each other today..." she said awkwardly in a somewhat sweetened voice.

"I... er... I'm here on a job myself. What about you? Waiting to escort an important dignitary to the castle or something?" she asked, hoping the princess wouldn't mind a little chatter between friends before they went and found whoever it was who won the raffle. Though come to think of it... for an escort job, dress uniforms did seem kind of strange... shouldn't he just be wearing his armor like Radiant was?
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Flash Sentry felt he must have been living in a small world when he first recognized not Princess Twilight, but rather his comrade in arms Radiant Steel. Unlike Flash, Radiant was in her armored uniform, meaning she was certainly on-duty. That didn’t stop the beaming gentlecolt from instantly cantering towards Cpl. Steel. Hopefully, Twilight would understand if her date got momentarily distracted by greeting a close friend.

“Haha, so good to see ya’ too Radiant!” Flash Sentry joyfully returned his friend’s welcome. When the guard inquired about the reason for the stallion being there, Flash started to blush a little. “Well uhh, actually,” the stallion scratched the back of his neck; “I’ve got, well, a-” Flash never got to finish the sentence, for his eyes right then noticed the young mare behind Radiant Steel, the sight of which made the excited stallion's wings shoot up high.

In reality, this was not the first time that Flash Sentry has met Twilight Sparkle. Ever since the princess first bumped into him in the Crystal Empire, the two maintained a casual acquaintanceship which suited Flash just fine. Sure, Twilight was cute and all, but the stallion never thought beforehoof of romantically pursuing the new princess. And so it was that under the old state of affairs, Twilight and Flash bonded together in harmony.

But then, everything changed when Twilight’s pheromones attacked. The purple alicorn standing behind Radiant Steel was no longer the awkward filly learning the ropes of being a princess that Flash Sentry first met. Now, Twilight Sparkle appeared beyond all doubt the most beautiful mare in all of Equestria, with stunning eyes, a ravishing dress, and a spectacular... everything else! Flash stood there wide-eyed, taking everything in about his astonishing-lovely date. Now, more than anything else, Flash desired Princess Twilight. All of her.

Pumped up for the evening to come, Flash Sentry did the gentlecoltly thing and tipped his hat to the princess, performing a subtle bow in the process. “You look absolutely wonderful,” Flash’s excited eyes looked up into Twilight’s; “Princess Twilight Sparkle.”

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Twilight had to stifle a giggle as she watched Radiant take the city in. It was a wonderful city and a breathtaking sight no matter how many times you visited but the first time a pony saw the Crystal Empire was a time etched in memory. The Empire was not a normal destination for a pony and Twilight knew this, making sure to peruse deployment records for ponies who had not been given a chance to go to the Empire yet. Radiant had not, which made choosing her an even easier proposition. Now this date would be sure to benefit more than just the winner. Of course Radiant was a fine member of the Guard anyway and Twilight felt perfectly safe here, even if her nervousness around royalty was duly noted in her psychological profile. As long as it didn't effect her performance Twilight saw no reason for it to come up and if it ever did come up it was something she'd much rather see Radiant overcome rather than berate her for it.

“It really is a beautiful land, isn't it?” Twilight opined softly. The only better way to experience the Empire was with a friend and Twilight wasn't above anypony else to the level she wouldn't classify herself as Radiant's friend. Speaking of, there was Flash Sentry- he was the winner? Well, this was certainly far less awkward now. She almost felt silly for artificially manipulating the pheromones! Flash would be an easy date. Kind and respectful, a true gentlecolt. Why a mare hadn't picked him out from a lineup of love was beyond her. Oh well. Someday, some way Flash Sentry would find love. And for tonight a nice date was on the docket with a wonderful guard protecting them- and ohh, hat tipping. That was a gentlecolty thing to do! And the two seemed to know one another. Even better.

“Nice to see you too, Flash I'm so happy it was you who won. This won't be awkward in the slightest now!” Twilight stated positively before nodding, “and even better, it seems my choice in guards was serendipitous. Good friends, I take it?” Twilight asked, blissfully ignorant. “And whenever you're ready, Flash.”

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Radiant stared at Flash obliviously. He wasn't answering her for some reason. Was it sensitive information perhaps? As capable a guard as he was, perhaps Flash had been give a special assignment of some sort.

"It's okay. You don't have to say it. I understand if the details of your engagement are confidential," she said with a smile. "I'm just glad to see you again..."

Finding the rare bold moment in her, even as a deep blush began to develop on her face, she decided not to leave it just there. "Since I'm here...perhaps once I get through with my assignment, we could meet up again..." she said hopefully, averting her eyes to the ground.

Just as she did, Flash spoke his complimentary words to the princess. Radiant was left feeling kind of silly. There truly was no way for her to compare, was there? Of course, with the princess stepping off of the train after her, Flash's attentions would be drawn to her. A deep jealous pang hit the pegasus mare.

"Indeed she is, but... she's... umm busy today. I'm here to see her on a da--" Radiant began to speak, but didn't get very far before Twilight spoke up.

Her words made Radiant's entire brain go blank. She said nothing for a long while and just stood there perfectly still.

"Won what?" she eventually started, her eyes staring blankly, unblinking ahead. "R-ready for what?"
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The Flash Sentry that Radiant Steel knew would have dealt with this misunderstanding more delicately, as he deeply cherished their friendship. This new pheromone-influenced Flash Sentry however would be a completely different animal from the usually in-tune stallion. Thanks to magical manipulation, Flash cared for nothing else other than impressing Twilight Sparkle. In fact, his head already clouded itself with visions of Twilight melting in pleasure in the face of Flash’s passionate kisses.

Therefore, Flash Sentry saw every reason to express nothing else but immerse pride at his accomplishment. “They didn’t brief you Radiant?” Flash feigned disbelief even as he smiled widely, walking to Twilight’s side; “I won a date with Princess Twilight! I’ll get to spend the entire evening with the world’s most amazing mare. I still can't believe it, myself...”

Winking confidently at the alluring purple alicorn, Flash offered her his foreleg to take; “Shall we head out, my princess? I can't wait to show you the real Crystal Empire.” Oh boy, was Flash so nervous and excited at the same time. This was the night where everything would finally fall into PFC Sentry's lap, by winning the love of an amazing, beautiful princess that he fantasized over since... a couple minutes ago?

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Hmm, Radiant was acting a bit odd. Maybe she was still recovering from the beauty of the Crystal Empire? Some ponies reacted differently to it. She knew one filly in particular who seemed a bit troubled or put off by it all, as if it was somehow intruding on her own beliefs regarding the grandeur of the Equestrian mainland. Beyond that, everypony who saw the Empire was lost at some point in its overwhelming beauty and reacted in their own ways. Radiant seemed to react a bit bashful and out of sorts, what Twilight assumed was a friendly relationship with Flash taking on the form of something more awkward as a result of the city's effect on the attitudes of those who saw it. Twilight always blamed it on Cadance's boisterous aura of magic which permeated her Empire for the awkwardness of friendships once they entered her domain. Hopefully Radiant could recover before she did something foolish like try to marry a pony on the street- magic effected ponies differently and if Radiant was a romantic she could at least not be a hopeless one!

And then there was Flash Sentry brazenly flirting wildly. He was such a kidder! He was in the Empire much more often so she knew it had more to do with his good charm and personality than anything else. After all, her pheromone inducement wasn't supposed to be so powerful as to make him 'act the fool', as Pinkie would say. Twilight had been prepared for such flirting however and made sure to mess with the vesodilation of her face to prevent his excess flirting from forcing a blush on her. She smiled and played with her styled mane a bit. “Yes, Radiant. He is the winner! Out of six thousand forty seven entrants, he was the lucky winner. What good luck, right? And to think I could have picked any guard to accompany me along for the date and I just so happened to pick two really good friends! You must be very happy, Radiant,” Twilight finished pleasantly as she straightened herself out and allowed her leg to be hooked by her date. “Let us head out then, Flash.”

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As Flash and Twilight spoke to her, Radiant's mind busily imploded. Her brain became a gelatinous mass of empty nothing and she lost awareness of everything that existed. There was nothing, just a blank and empty white void. She stood frozen in place, staring blankly, unable to blink or see. Her jaw stayed just slightly agape long enough for her to drool a little. For several moments, Corporal Radiant Steel was effectively broken.

 

Twilight and Flash had already walked quite a distance from her by the time her mind rebooted. This wasn't possible was it? No! This couldn't possibly be. Of all the things that could happen, this was the worst possible thing. How could it truly be so? She didn't want to be there. No... she didn't want this to even be real.

 

What could she do though? She had no idea. She paced quickly for a few seconds, searching herself desperately. She tried to remember some of the things Inkbrand had taught her, but found little she could use. Thoughts of sabotage entered her mind, though she quickly tried to silence them. She was here in an official capacity as a guard! She couldn't forget that. This was a mission. What would the Colonel think if she tried to sabotage her own mission and step on the affairs of a princess? That might even constitute treason. It wasn't in Radiant whatever the case.

 

No, she had to go along with it. It was torture, impossible torture, but she had to go along with it. There were no other options in front of her. She swallowed deeply and then ran ahead so that she was just behind them. She said not a word to anyone, and just stared vacantly, her mind busily churning at a rapid pace.

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Obsessed with knowing how well he was doing, Flash Sentry overanalyzed every observable behavior expressed by Princess Twilight. Let’s see; cute smile? Check. Playing with her mane? Double-check! Mares tended to do that sort of thing whenever they’re attracted to a guy, or so Flash remembered. And then when Twilight’s leg tenderly hooked onto the stallion’s? That made Flash feel like he was already the luckiest pony in the world. So far, things were going AWESOME!

 

Little did Flash Sentry know it, but his wings subconsciously stretched out upwards in anticipation as he led his alicorn date away from the train station. First, the gentlecolt needed to figure out if Twilight wanted to go out to dinner, and maybe get a feel for what sort of eating establishment she’d prefer. “Did you eat anything on the train ride over?” Flash eagerly kept his attention squarely on the princess; “‘Cause if not, I know where we can get a quick bite. Or we can sit down somewhere, if that’s more your thing.”

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This was moving well far better than she had hoped. She was expecting some awkwardness but for the most part everything was going swimmingly, their personalities meshing well under the stars of good fortune. He was playing the role of a gentlecolt very well and Twilight could play the part of a dutiful date effectively. Even her guard was being sublime. What pattern was she using? Twilight would have to consult the manual for the guard pattern she was traversing but no doubt it was some true 'next level' stuff. Holding up the rear and being able to accurately portray some sort of unhinged loon hiding behind dying eyes must have been some Guard trick to steer attention away while also making any trouble maker more likely to think the Princess was unguarded, drawing them out for easier disposal. Perfect strategy, even if Twilight was happy to see her start to pull back up. She liked her guards close.

 

Back to the date at hoof- was she hungry? If only her date knew the trials and tribulations of being an alicorn. She was always hungry! Nearly fourteen thousand calories daily and that was just the basics. She had a team of royal cooks who used some of the same ingredients that Celestia and Luna had access to, rare produce from across the nation that was deliriously healthy and fit her diet. She had something to eat on the train ride over but by no means was she going to refuse a nice meal with her date. After all, what sort of date would it be if the gentlecolt didn't take the lady out for a meal? It was one of the seventeen successful elements of a date that she had compiled during her research and skipping any single one of them was a recipe for disaster. “I would love a bite to eat. Do you have any place in mind?” Twilight replied, more than well stocked with suggestions due to her experience in the Empire but it'd be rude to steal his thunder.

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Radiant followed along wordlessly, dazed and tormented.

 

There was nothing she could say--nothing she could do. All there was was to watch and see as Flash seemed to fall further into the wily princess' charms. He just seemed so enraptured with her. Neither of them looked or spoke to her again so long that she began to wonder if she hadn't somehow become invisible. She felt small, like she wasn't even there.

 

Twilight suggested that they find a place to eat, but there was no hunger in Radiant, only a great emptiness. As she stumbled after them to wherever they might go, vacant eyed and silent, she began to hope that perhaps she would disappear entirely. Surely that would be better than to have to suffer by what it was she was being made to endure.

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Hmmmm, where in the Crystal Empire would Flash Sentry take an alicorn princess out to dinner? Both the stallion and the mare were suitably dressed up to go to a more fancy restaurant, whereas the two ponies might look out of place at a casual joint. However, Flash neither had the budget or the taste for an ultra-exclusive establishment, and he bet that Twilight wouldn’t be the sort of pony who cared for such a place herself.

 

After eliminating a few choices, Flash Sentry felt confident enough to decide on the best destination. “Well, I know of an Itailian place that opened up here recently. Apparently, Princess Cadence likes eating out there quite a bit. And I know for sure that we’ll be able to get a secluded booth for just the two of us.” The stallion provided his date with a reassuring and anticipatory grin, even as he kept forgetting that his REA friend was on the scene too.

 

 

OOC: I'll leave it to Steel to name the restaurant.

Edited by Bellosh101

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Flash had thought of a great deal. God! He was prepared. Twilight enjoyed companions and friends of hers to have an element of preparation embedded in their personality. Knowing where to go for what was a great tool for a date- according to most of the books she had read on the subject, it showed a passionate desire for the best possible experience for all involved. For a friend, it showed that they valued your time enough to take time away from you for you, to think and plan and consider what made you happy and work something out to scratch those itches. As a member of the Guard, Twilight was concerned that Flash Sentry would develop one of two syndromes. The first was that he would lose such decision making capability as he was under the hooves of his officers until he grew in rank, gaining it back only later in life. But luckily he had instead developed a keener sense of others which served his role well. Perfect.

“Oh, Roaman Delight? Sounds lovely, Flash. I heard that they make fantastic pasta! I haven't had some in a while. Cadance said they sometimes have singers prepared for especially romantic sessions...” Twilight paused. If he had gone all out, she had to be prepared for that. Okay. She would be. But there would have to be a necessary change to his plan. They needed a table for three, for they had a honorable guard with them who counted as a friend as well and she was going to be fed. “But we need to find a table for three. I'm sure it can be arranged- Radiant, do you like pasta at all?” Twilight asked excitedly. This was coming together perfectly! Twilight glanced back- huh, Radiant seemed...discombobulated. She was probably hungry. That or she was faking it so Twilight would look unguarded, luring potential foes in. Possibly? Hmm. Unlike. “Are you all right?”

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Oh yeah, Princess Cadence did mention once or twice that she liked the singers at Roaman Delight. Flash Sentry was pretty much developing the night’s itinerary as he went along; the REA pegasus took into account the possibility that his date might not have wanted to eat at a formal eatery. However, the stallion did not imagine that he would not have much difficulty in procuring somepony to sing at their table. Twilight Sparkle was a princess after all; any dining establishment would work its flanks off to ensure that royalty received the best of service. On that note, Flash also remembered that Roaman’s always kept a booth available for the Crystal Princess and her husband. The stallion bet though that he could score that booth tonight for his royal date.

 

After the two ponies decided on the restaurant, the rest of the walk over was spent on idle chatter. While most of it was spent on catching up on what they had been up to since they last saw each other, Flash Sentry eagerly commented at one point to the lovely mare at his side; “So Twilight, I’m guessing that your friend Rarity made that fabulous dress for you?” Flash felt uncharacteristically compelled to do nothing but keep his gaze on the alluring purple alicorn, but he fought this urge off as best he could to prevent collisions with other ponies or objects. Princesses wouldn’t be impressed by those sorts of accidents, at any rate.

 

Besides, there would been plenty of time to look at the most beautiful princess of all time once the two of them made it to Roaman Delight.

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Twilight was once again put into the best of spirits by Flash Sentry's kindness, somewhat missing how or why he was in such a way of speaking being overly friendly. It was her fault of course but she was too focused in on how her plans were supposed to help others that she didn't understand how or why it may have done otherwise. And even if she did, life was really just one big experiment and he could deal with being a plaything for overactive pheromones. Science! And most importantly, a good time for all. She gave a practiced look of near disinterest as she looked over her dress, fine as it was and littered with all the hallmarks of the greatest designer Twilight dared to know. It was flashy and glamorous without being garish or ridiculous. It may not have stood out in a crowd but it helped Twilight accentuate her features and looked wodnerful, and that was all that a good dress honestly needed to do.

“Yes, it was. She tries to make so many different dresses from me that I worry she'll put herself out of business at this pace. Especially when I'm going out in public, like I'm a walking advertisement for her services,” Twilight chuckled as they neared Romans's, “but it is great nonetheless, I suppose. Thank you for the compliment. We need to get a table for three, let's go in,” she finished quickly, trotting inside. Like parting a sea the crowd, insignificant as it was, parted for her as the servers and waiters nearly fell over themselves to service her. They were taken to booth on the second table, somewhat isolated but with a large, large, large table and magically floating balls of light around them.

“Wow. Looks fancy for sure.”

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“Wow. Looks fancy for sure.”

 

Flash Sentry agreed with this opinion with a whistle of admiration; “Yeah... you don’t say.” Roaman’s had that sort of atmosphere that was both lavish and cozy at the same time. What surprised the stallion most were the floating light balls, having expected the usual candles instead. As it were, the magic orbs somehow made things so that illumination softly shined down on Flash and Twilight’s table like a gentle spotlight. And certainly, the light managed to make Twilight Sparkle… sparkle.

 

“So Twilight,” Flash kept the conversation going even as he tried keeping his glance towards both the dazzling Twilight and the dinner menu as he tried figuring out what to order; “Anything on the menu that you’re aching to try? Hmmm...” the stallion was now more or less mumbling to himself as he focused more on his menu and the possibilities contained therein; “Breadsticks with extra cheese; oh, that sounds interesting…”

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