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PrinceBlueblood

A spark of IMAGINE-ation (ATTN: Rarity and Elderflower)

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Prince Blueblood was three pints deep in the party, and sinking fast.  He wasn't usually the type to get drunk in public; he usually just nursed one drink throughout the night and shot superior looks at the more soused ponies.  After being caught up in the recent invasion of the Crystal Empire by Viking Caribou, however, he'd sought fortification of his tissues in Stalliongrad stout, which had set off a sequence of events that had led to him getting entangled in a cross-cultural diplomatic incident, and challenging a caribou jarl to single combat; surprisingly, not in that order.

 

One would have thought that quite enough for one evening.  But, the night was young, and his Royal Highness was just getting started.  The incident, while somewhat embarrassing, had the quite unusual effect of causing the unicorn to think for a full half-hour on serious subjects.  *Whitescar is poor.  Viking raids were made to not have to be poor anymore.  If Whitescar wasn't poor, we wouldn't have been raided.  I can't fight off a raid, so I can't do anything there.  But if I could make them less poor, they'd be less barbaric...*

 

But how could that be done?  The Prince had money, but he wasn't the best at using it for any particular purpose.  However, here at the party were two mares he knew to be as wealthy as himself, and more used to wielding money and influence as weapons.  They'd been caught up in the recent attacks, too.  Perhaps... perhaps they could come up with something...

 

 

Thus, here he was, leaning against a balcony rail, empty glass beside him.  Blueblood had sent word via the waiters that he wanted to see Miss Frostlace and Miss Snowfall at their earliest convenience, on a matter concerning the prevention of further atrocities.  He was feeling a little unsteady on his hooves when they approached, but he managed to keep a fixed smile on his face.  "Ah, there... you are!"  An exaggerated clarity of speech is the first sign of the non-sober, and given that he sounded like he was giving a recitation at an elocution class... "I suppose you are wondering... why I called you here tonight."

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Frostlace was feeling...rather miffed. She had been in the charming company of a handsome, fun, and flirtatious gryphon up until this moment. And she had been enjoying herself immensely. So imagine her disappointment when a waiter comes up to her and lets her know that Prince Blueblood has summoned her. It had taken considerable effort to hide her frown beneath an amiable countenance. Begrudgingly, and with a playful wink that promised more to come later, Frost allowed the waiter to lead her towards the Prince. She carried a pint of stout before her, wrapped in the blue-gold embrace of her magic, and wondered off-hoof just how many she had actually had to drink that night. Unfortunately, she had lost count, but she hardly felt the effect of it. There was a slight touch of colour to her cheeks, that was all.

By the sight of Blueblood when she had finally reached him, the stallion was faring much worse. She could smell the alcohol on his breath and see how much he was struggling not to appear drunk. Snowfall arrived upon the scene shortly after her old friend had, and before the waiter who had led her here left, the Hoar Witch mare requested a glass of water for the Prince. A playful little grin in Snow’s direction helped lift Frost’s spirits back up - watching a royal make a drunken idiot of himself could prove to be quite the entertainment!

The unicorn took a long pull of stout and offered Prince Blueblood a playful smile, “My first guess was drinking contest,” the mare said in her thick accent, eying Blueblood’s empty glass, “But I thinking your highness has already lost?”

Frost let out a little chime of light-hearted laughter.

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Snowfall was quite surprised to be called for by a prince she hardly knew. There was noticeable overlap in the elite social spheres of Equestria, and perhaps they had in their time attended the same event, but all the same she could not recall ever meeting Prince Blueblood before. From what she knew of him, the reputation of his character was hardly sterling. He was often suggested to be pompous, self-absorbed and a total coward. He was, if was all to be believed, the sort of useless noble whom Snow's father would have lambasted as an entitled waste while he was building up his vision one step at a time. Snow had always been content to believe it as true.

 

And yet, apparently this character wanted her for something. Part of Snow doubted it would be worth her time. She had, after all, lingered far longer than she had expected at the party, and mostly just for the sake of standing there listlessly feeling sorry over things she hadn't the power to change. She had a recently engaged fiancee to regroup with. What use was there meeting with haughty princes at a time like this?

 

Alas, however, it was in its way a royal summons. Who was she to refuse it outright? She could at least see what it was the prince wanted. Resigned, she step off to where she was to meet him. There she found Frostlace. She had not expected to see her dear Hoar Witch friend once again that day. With how they had parted, she expected the mare would have retired from the party by now, her hooves all over the gentlemanly griffon she had left with.

 

Blueblood was visibly drunk, something which quickly told Snowfall this likely wasn't worth her time after all. Some amusing teases from Frostlace lightened her mood, however and brought a small chuckle. "It sure looks like it..." she said, nodding in accord with her dear friend.

 

"The Prince had better hope this is worth our time," she said with a giggle, looking toward Blueblood. "I do very much doubt the Hoar Witch here appreciates being pulled from her latest conquest."

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Hm, tough crowd tonight.  Under normal circumstances, it was hardly likely that the Prince would have dared to summon even one of these pair of formidable mares, and to take on two at once was an act of almost heroic rashness.  It was no accident that their paths had never crossed before; sound instinct had told the Prince that both Frostlace and Snowfall would make a fool out of him in front of everypony if he let them.

 

Sound instinct was currently pickled, however, and the three were quite alone.  Thus, Blueblood charged straight into the breach, listing slightly.  "No!  No more conquests!  No more raids!  No more wars!  We'll stop them... with Oranges!"  He punched the air in front of him to punctuate the point... only to be greeted by baffled silence.  He clarified,  "Fish too, of course.  Mushrooms, maybe.  But mostly oranges!"

 

The continued silence, broken only by the sound of crickets, eventually signified to the Prince that his thoughts were, unfortunately, not being telepathically beamed directly into the brains of his two hearers.  He would have to communicate by means of clumsy words.  "See... caribou... don't have oranges.  We have them, they don't.  But... we have to ship them, see?  They don't grow here.  Y'need ships, I've seen them... coming up from the Gallopagus.   And trains, too.  You know trains, right?"  He asked the industrialist mare, as if she hadn't been the main co-financer of the great Equestria-Aquellia rail line.  "They don't got 'em.  Caribou, I mean.  No trains.  Can't grow oranges, can't ship oranges, too.... poor to buy oranges.  That's bad.  Scurvy, you know, you die from it."

 

He paused for a moment, gulping down his water so fast that he couldn't taste whether or not any alcohol was in it.  From the subsequent increase in slurring, he probably thought there was.  "Shee... If you're... too poor to not die... you steal.  Basic econo...no...nomics.  Now... that's becaushe... the caribou don't have our ships... and trains.  No money for 'em.  But we.... we have money.  You know..."  He raised a wobbling hoof to point at Frostlace.  "You use fruit... north of where it... is.  And you..."  He nearly fell over, pointing back as Snowfall.  "You know trainsh.  And I... can buy both."

 

He took a deep breath, managing to steady himself somewhat as he reached the conclusion of his speech.  "Sho!  We get the... roads 'n boats, we give it to the caribou, the caribou get oranges, and then they stop fighting!"  He finished with a triumphant grin, and tried to take a drink from his empty glass.

 

Hearing Prince Blueblood think out loud was like watching a dog (or pony) walk on two legs.  It was that he could do it at all that was amazing, regardless of whether he did it well.

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At the mention of her latest conquest, Frostlace couldn’t help but make a wistful expression. She nodded her agreement with Snowfall’s statement and took another swig of stout. The gryphon that the Countess had been courting (successfully) had proven himself to be excellent company as well as an exemplary physical specimen. The Hoar Witch had been rather looking forward to spending the night in his company, so if this turned out to be a waste of her time she fully expected a ridiculously attractive striped gryphon who spoke Stallian wrapped up and left on her doorstep courtesy of the prince when she returned home.

He didn’t get off to a good start. Oranges? What sort of nonsense was this drunken mess of a royal blathering about- oh. Oh. The more she listened, the more Frostlace seemed to understand. Luckily for Blueblood the mare was well-educated in the language of drunks; she had her nights in Kuznitza with her foundry stallions to thank for that. She always did hold her drink better than the lot of them. So. Prince Blueblood wanted to bring oranges to the caribou to end all of the world’s violence. She supposed his heart was in the right place, but there were many issues with his plans standing out already.

“Oranges for all, how clever!” Frostlace said with a giggle (and a wink in Snowfall’s direction for good measure), “Peace is not easy as peas is. And caribou are being too proud for charity. I know. I dated one briefly.” Another grin in her old friend’s direction. Who hadn’t Frostlace dated briefly? Still, her point remained. Caribou would not just happily open up their lands to Equestrians who want to shower them with pity and charity in the form of tasty fruit. Everything those creatures had they earned, through toil and tears and blood. Telling them that the world would be better off if they just let ponies start feeding them would end poorly.

“You are onto some things, though,” the Countess continued, her face scrunching up in concentration, “Trains are good. Increased transportations and trades between Whitescar and Equestria would be meaning more resources for caribou without meaning charity. Thoughts Snowfall, moy drug? It would be good thing to hear from the cleverest pony out here.”

Giving her friend a moment to respond, Frostlace cast her gaze around until she saw the same waiter who had brought her here approaching with more water for the inebriated prince. Excellent timing! The pale mare gathered the large glass up in her blue-gold magic and floated it over to hover before Prince Blueblood.

“Here, blagoobraznyy, more waters for you. So you don’t pass out while we discuss oranges!”

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Snowfall listened. As drunk as Blueblood was, he was talking some sense. There was something they could be doing to help change the prevailing attitudes in Whitescar. Economics was something that could ease any tension. Snow's father had firmly believed that.

 

Frost was right too to say that it would likely be an uphill fight to get the caribou to accept their charity. It gave Snowfall pause... as did certain other details.

 

"A caribou?" she started as she looked toward Frostlace for a moment. "I don't even remember there being a caribou..." she laughed. She truly could not recall her friend being entangled with a caribou at any point, though she supposed that was natural. With Frostlace, it was truthfully hard to keep track and Snow had all but abandoned attempting to do just that. "It seems every time I meet you Frostlace, I'm hearing tell of more and more ponies you've been with. With the extent of your conquests I half begin to wonder how it is we never dated."

 

Snowfall laughed and then turned back toward Blueblood and the more serious matters at hoof. She nodded as Frost asked for her thoughts. "I think we are onto something here. It wasn't too long in the history of things that Aquellia and Equestria were not so able to see eye to eye. Bonds have been forged strong in the last few years, however. Just recently we at NSI, in cooperation with the SIlverbeak family and another partner saw the completion of the Trans Equestrian Railroad, connecting Equestria and Aquellia together by rail. It was a difficult feat for sure, having to tunnel through the mountains in the west, but already trade is up and relations are friendlier between us and the griffons than they were before. I don't see how very different the caribou would be. They are more hostile, I suppose, but it is in simply labelling them as a threat which we might cement them only as an enemy."

 

Snow closed her eyes and paused a moment before continuing. "I do not know how feasible it is to build rails to Whitescar however. Tunnelling through mountains is one thing, but to cross the sea to Whitescar is another matter" Snowfall took another moment to picture a map of Equestria in her head. "if it was to be done, the easiest course would likely be to set the rails northeast from this very empire. There is an island west of Whitescar which nearly connects our continent and theirs. Bridges could be built to this island from both sides and like that Crystal Spire and Askr would have a direct line of trade." Snow paused in though a moment more and then nodded. "Although, if we could engineer a tunnel which went under the Crimsonrine sea, we could perhaps instead link Stalliongrad directly to their biggest port of trade, Barn. I only fear that this would be harder to implement with our current technology."

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There was much of pride in Blueblood, but it had not yet reached the point where it overwhelmed the common equine liking for free stuff.  Provided, of course, that the stuff in question was in keeping with the dignity of his station.  Lawn flamingos and the like would provoke an austere refusal icy as the realms outside the influence of the Crystal Heart.

 

But a drink?  Always acceptable, even if it was water.  He only gulped half of it this time, and if the hydration did not clear his head, it at least kept it afloat.  The two mares were listening to the Prince's idea, though one seemed to be more engaged with it than the other.  Still, both were willing to give it consideration, with reservations.  Of course, they needed some correction in their impressions...

 

"Trains on Whitescar, not... to it.  Big shipments... go on big ships.  'S why they're called that."  He made to tap his nose in a gesture to signify cleverness, but hit a little too hard.  It caused him to gasp and blink a little bit, but also cleared his head some more.  "You can get trains from Manehattan to Seaddle, but if you're shipping a lot, you use ships.  I've seen 'em, when I sail.  'S more efficient.  Thing is, when you sail north of there, you get raided.  Got to find some way of... getting ships to Whitescar without that, and then rails to get stuff away from the coast."  

While Prince Blueblood was, in many and most cases, an intellectual nonentity, sea travel was one area where he had something like expertise.  After all, it wasn't for nothing that his cutie mark was a compass rose.

 

The second major objection was more easily covered.  "Charity?  Ah, but they'll be the ones doing most of the work.  We ship the rails, but they gotta build 'em.  Manual labor... ain't charity, and I ought to know."  And it was true; the Prince had just enough experience of 'real work' to know that he was as rubbish at it as he was at real fighting.  "We just make sure that... constructive work feeds them as much as... destructive work."

 

Blueblood was still breathing heavily; this much sustained thought was intense work for, not to mention the chemical handicap he'd imposed on himself in the hours previous.

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Frost let out a chime of laughter and gave her friend a mischievous wink, tossing stray threads of her mane out of her eyes. So Snowfall hadn’t heard of the fling she had with a vagabond caribou who had come through Stalliongrad? Well, there was something to be said in that, since she hadn’t exactly made efforts to hide the fleeting partnership. She supposed the papers could only make bits off of the “Hoar Witch fling” title so many times before their readers got bored. She was awful at playing the part of Countess and often careless about how she let the public view her, but if Frostlace had one thing going for her as a mare with eyes on her it was that she was consistent with her scandals. It made them much less scandalous!

 

“The flings come and they go, moy drug, my friend,” Frostlace replied, her smile almost wistful, “And my heart would crack if I had to seeing you go. Now if you had large beard and big, burly muscle - then I might have caving in to you!”

 

Yet more laughter, this time chased down by a swig of stout. The mare stayed quiet, listening to everything Snowfall and the drunken Prince had to say. Every word, no matter how poignant or slurred, turned this vague idea about oranges and caribou that Blueblood had uttered into something real that they could do. Frost was no soldier, she was not a hero who could run into battle with her horn blazing and change the fate of Equestria, but she had always been driven to do something more. It was how her dedushka had raised her, it was what the cutie mark plastered on her flank represented. Every day of her life she strove to act as a light in the darkness for those who were lost, and was Equestria not lost in a whirlwind of darkness and chaos these days?

What Prince Blueblood proposed was an opportunity to use the unfathomable wealth of the Hoar Witch family for something real and good - something that could bring peace to Equestria and Whitescar. There was no helping it - Frost was fired up.

“The Prince is right, moy drug,” Frost said with a nod, her brow knotted as her thoughts began to barrel forward, “Ships would work best for crossing water. And Hoar Witch Estates has shipyard to its name that we can making good use of. As for this rail…”

Frost looked Blueblood square in the eyes, her expression blazing.

“Is good start. But caribou are having no experience with trains, no knowledge on how to constructing the railways. We need send ponies to oversee and work as well - Snowfall will know this best. It should be joint effort between us and caribou. Also - is important to know our idea of charity and their idea is big different.”

Frost fell quiet for a moment, touching her hoof thoughtfully to her chin pretty chin.

 

“Jukka, my...ahem...conquest you are saying, Snowfall? Jukka had many things to sayabout High King while he was in Stalliongrad - we should reaching out to this King with this plans. His daughter is here in Empire at this party, as well as a respected Jarl of Askr and her clan. But...ah...I am getting much ahead of self. Look at what you have done, Prince! I am all fired up now!”

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