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(Ponyville) Derpy's magical princess muffins! (Open)

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Derpy was curled up in her recliner with her chin resting on the arm. She gazed out the window and absent mindedly chewed on a strand of her hair. No mail delivery for her today since it was the weekend. And it was quite evident that she was bored as a barrel. She already made the weekly batch of muffins so what else did she have to do? Derpy observed a unicorn trotting by and wondered what it would be like to have magic at her disposal. But she wouldn't wanna trade her wings for that. It was be far too weird to loose the ability to fly at this point. Not to mention dangerous thanks to her being such a ditzy doofus all the time. She'd end up forgetting her wings were gone and getting into all kinds of trouble as a result. But why couldn't she have both? Her eyes landed on a pile of crafts on the floor and she stared at them for a moment before looking at the basket of muffins on the counter. The wheels in her head were turning until an idea finally graced her thinker. She gasped at the sheer brilliance and bolted form the chair.

 


 

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After some work, she was done with her setup. A booth sat near her house advertising magical princess muffins. A line of muffins sat atop the table sporting different colored paper horns and wings. Costume supplies were everywhere as well as an assortment of paint and glitter. Derpy decided this silly little idea might help liven up the day if she was lucky. Though she painted the words "buy" on the sign, she didn't really intend to charge for the muffins. The citizens did get them for free on a weekly basis after all. It just sounded good at the time.

 

"Ever wanted to be a princess? Well now you can! Welcome to Derpy's magical muffin booth! Buy a muffin, become a princess! And you don't buy with bits. 'What do I buy it with then?' you ask with a hint of childlike wonder in your voice. Well, my sweet little inquirer. You buy with tips. That's right, tips! Life tips that is. Don't be a greedy goober. Share some of that unfailing wisdom with others!"

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Watermelon Gush was excited that she got to go to Ponyville all by herself! Well her parents were there selling their fruits in the market but it felt like she was allowed to do as she pleased. The filly trotted around town, her tightly braided mane and tail flecked with watermelon seeds bobbing with each step. It was then that she came to a stop at a stand that offered a very curious and fun offer: Buy a Muffin, Become a Princess! Well Watermelon Gush always claimed to be the Princess of Watermelons but sadly she didn't look like a Princess...until now that is! And there was another Princess sitting there explaining what to do. 

 

"Hi there," she said walking up to the stand, "I'm Watermelon Gush, the Princess of Watermelons! So you're a Princess too huh? Are you the Princess of Muffins, or the Princess that makes other ponies Princesses?" 

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The texture of the muffin was a little funky. It was almost like she was chewing on.

 

paper...

 

"Patoo!" Derpy spat a paper horn from her mouth. Whoops. Forgot to remove the decorations first.

 

"I'm Watermelon Gush, the Princess of Watermelons! So you're a Princess too huh? Are you the Princess of Muffins, or the Princess that makes other ponies Princesses?"

 

Derpy looked up from her half-chewed muffin to see a green pony with a red mane with what looked like seeds in them. She was pulling off the whole 'princess of watermelons' thing that's for sure! But as for what kind of princess Derpy was, she hadn't quite thought of that yet. The walleyed mare scratched her chin before coming up with a response. "I guess I'm the princess who makes other ponies princesses. But I also have muffins so... both?" She grinned as she thought about what Watermelon said. "Princess of watermelons, eh? Watermelons are great. I like watermelons. They stave off hunger and quench your thirst. Two in one! Just like an alicorn, am I right?"

 

She gestured to her selection of muffins. "Take your pick! But first you're gonna have to give me a little nugget of knowledge. Maybe something watermelon related?"

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Watermelon Gush waited as the Princess in front of her thought about what she was a Princess of. Wasn't that something obvious that Princesses knew when they declared themselves Princess? Surely there wasn't such silly thing as a Princess of Nothing or a Princess of Indecisiveness! Finally the grey pony explained that she was a Princess of two things: making muffins and ponies Princesses.

 

"A Princess of two things?" Watermelon said as her mouth hung open, "Wow, you must be as powerful as Princess Celestia or Luna! So these muffins you make have mystical powers to make ponies into Princesses, huh? Those must be some magic muffins!" 

 

"Princess of watermelons, eh? Watermelons are great. I like watermelons. They stave off hunger and quench your thirst. Two in one! Just like an alicorn, am I right?"

 

"Well I'm glad that you like them. They do fill you up really well and have as much water in them as a glass of water per slice, sometimes even more. I don't think that Alicorns are tasty so they can't help you not be hungry or thirsty, unless they give out food like me!" 

 

"Take your pick! But first you're gonna have to give me a little nugget of knowledge. Maybe something watermelon related?"

 

The green filly's eyes darted across the booth's table, examining each one. Finally she settled on a nice one with green wings and a horn sticking out of it. 

 

"I'll take that one," she said then remembering that she had to give some kind of knowledge about melons, "Something about melons. Well, you can actually eat the rind of a melon, but it tastes kind of yucky so most don't. Also, if you eat any of the seeds, don't worry because you won't have a watermelon growing in your tummy. I kind of got scared that it would happen when I was little but my parents told me not to worry. Oh, and did you know a watermelon is 90% water? And a watermelon is a berry, like a strawberry or blueberry but grows on a vine rather than a bush or a tree!" 

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Rainbow swooped by the stand on her back, wading through the air as if it were water. It was a lazy weekend day after all! What better way to spend a lazy day than nomming down some delicious treats! Now where would she find some treats?

 

"Come on Tank! Hurry up!" She squinted at the propeller garnished turtle as he puttered along behind her. "Aren't you normally a little faster than this?" She rolled her eyes and then smiled. "Well, it is the weekend after all. Time for relaxing and snacking! Hey look!" She pointed a hoof in the direction of the muffin stand. "Is that Derpy down there? Looks like she's selling something...probably muffins." Rainbow swooped down lower over the muffin stall. "Let's go check it out. I'm hungry enough to eat some muffins for sure!"

 

Rainbow landed and trotted up to the two ponies. "Hey Derpy! What's cookin'? Oh!" She raised an eyebrow quizzically at the watermelony pony. "I think I've seen oyu around before... anyway, hi! I'm Rainbow!" She turned her gaze back to the muffins, not really worrying if she had interrupted a conversation or something. She needed fuel! "So, how much for a uhhhh..." Rainbow looked closely at the treats. "What's going on with these?"

 

Tank flew by at that point, bumping into the top part oft he muffin stand. "Tank! Get down here!" She shook her head. "Geez, some pets. No manners at all!"

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The filly's watermelon facts were super interesting, but one thing in particular caught her attention. "Wait... Watermelons are berries?" Derpy made an explosion noise and leaned over the table. "Mind. Blown. Next thing someone's gonna tell me is that strawberries aren't even berries! I don't even know what's real anymore." She handed the filly the muffin of her choice. "Here you go, o wise melon guru." She rummaged through her alicorn supplies. "And now to become an alicorn! Just give me a sec while I fix it up."

 

"Hey Derpy! What's cookin'?"

 

A familiar voice caused Derpy to spring up from the box with party hats hanging from her head. She looked up to see Rainbow Dash introducing herself to Watermelon Gush before turning her attention back to her.

 

"So, how much for a uhhhh...What's going on with these?"

 

Derpy was about to answer her question when Tank smacked into the wooden sign. Derpy laughed as she watched the silly tortoise.

 

"Geez, some pets. No manners at all!"

 

"Awww he's just a big ol goober." She never thought about getting a pet, but the more she's other ponies happily running around with their companions, the more she entertained the idea of getting one herself. It would have to be something that could put up with her clumsiness though. When Derpy realized she was just staring off into the distance with a grin, she blinked back into focus. "Oh right, sorry. Got a little sidetracked there. To answer your question, these muffins don't cost any bits. But they also don't come cheap either. You gotta give me a piece of valuable knowledge." She assorted the appropriate paint colors and began painting Watermelon's alicorn costume before speaking again. "Hmmmm... How's about you tell me how to pick the perfect pet?"

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"Wait... Watermelons are berries?" Derpy made an explosion noise and leaned over the table. "Mind. Blown. Next thing someone's gonna tell me is that strawberries aren't even berries! I don't even know what's real anymore." 

 

"Yep," Watermelon said, "Oh I knew that they are fruit as I live on a fruit farm, but my parents told me that they were berries! I thought they were a squash type of fruit like a pumpkin! Well I can definitely say that strawberries are berries, so don't worry about that!" 

 

As Watermelon Gush accepted her muffin and prepared herself for her Alicorification or something like that, a rainbow manned Pegasus appeared with a tortoise with a strange contraption that made it fly.

 

 "I think I've seen oyu around before... anyway, hi! I'm Rainbow!"

 

"Hmm... I don't think I've seen you in Solstice Heights where I live. I would have remembered your neat rainbow mane and tail. Anyway, nice to meet you Rainbow! I'm Watermelon Gush, but you can just call me Watermelon like the fruit. Hey, guess we both have names based on what we look like!"

 

Watermelon then happened to glance at the sign that the flying pet happened to bump into to see the name Derpy on it. 

 

"So Princess Derpy, what does Derpy mean anyway? Is that a nickname or for something about you? Is Derpy another name for grey like your coat color?" 

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"Hmm... I don't think I've seen you in Solstice Heights where I live. I would have remembered your neat rainbow mane and tail. Anyway, nice to meet you Rainbow! I'm Watermelon Gush, but you can just call me Watermelon like the fruit. Hey, guess we both have names based on what we look like!"

 

"Solstice Heights huh? Hmm, I guess you're right I probably haven't actually seen you before. But Solstice Heights is pretty rad. It fly up there for extreme workouts sometimes." Rainbow somehow managed to squeeze a bit of bragging into the conversation. "As for names, the full name's actually Rainbow Dash, for," She flexed her wings as she spoke. "obvious reasons."

 

"Anyway, it's great to meet you Watermelon! We should totally hang out sometime!"

 

"Hmmmm... How's about you tell me how to pick the perfect pet?"

 

Now Rainbow turned her attention back on Derpy. The mare was painting a costume of some sort that apparently went with the muffins she was "selling". Leave it to the Derpster to come up with something like this. Totally original and actually pretty fun too!

 

"The perfect pet huh?" Rainbow glanced at Tank who was now puttering in small circles above the stand. "He's just getting a little extra warm up in before our real training later today." She made a robust excuse for her pet. "Hmmm, well your pet has to be into the same kind of stuff you're into. I mean, look at Tank! We get along great cause he's got a need for speed, just like me!"

 

Rainbow's stomach rumbled audibly once she had finished speaking. "Soooo, about these muffins?"

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"Love love love, everypony's gunna bud-du-dee-du, clap clap clap, everypony's gunna doo-de-da-dun-de-daaaaa!"

There seemed to be something almost sickeningly sweet about the day, causing Inkbrand's voice to rise even louder than normal as he wandered the outskirts of Ponyville. The birds were chirping, the wind was whistling through the boroughs, and anypony and everypony threw smiles as wide as the ocean in his direction. Or, maybe those were grimaces. Either or, Inkbrand let himself soak in the beautiful day, singing and trotting along like he hadn't a care in the world.

Which he actually didn't, not at the moment. Huh.

A recent boom in his business had put him on the fast track to the good life - sort of - and not even the substantial debt he'd had to pay that one shop in Canterlot had dampened it. Was it really only a year ago that he'd been struggling to make ends meet, begging and cajoling and maybe not really sort of blackmailing ponies into getting his markings? And now ponies were veritably lining out the door to get some fresh ink from the master. Word of mouth was the best advertisement money could by - and buck, he'd always known it, but to actually see it in progress and reap the results -

Well. Not even a sudden blizzard would have been enough to stop him from bellowing at the top of his lungs.

…Although, this might.

Inkbrand felt more than made his sing-songed voice fall into a bemused sort of humming as the wooden booth came closer into view, mostly because of the grey pony standing behind the counter. And mostly because it was a grey Alicorn standing behind the counter. A few other ponies were milling at the front, but Inkbrand was pretty much distracted by this new Princess that he'd apparently missed hearing about - even though she did look really -

…Oh. What?

The grey stallion was vaguely aware he was staring, not at all inconspicuously either, but he really couldn't help it, a startled, breathy chuckle leaving his lips in understanding. Up close, it became clear that the so-called Alicorn wasn't actually an Alicorn at all, but a Pegasus with some sort of fake horn tied to her head.

Fair enough.

'Derpy's Magical Princess Muffins, huh?' Inkbrand mused silently, eyeing the grey Pegasus some more, 'she can't seriously be charging ponies for some muffins and paper - oh!'

Bucking Flim and Flam's scam perfume! That was why he recognized her - she had been a victim of the two salesponies love-induced potion madness. Or had she just been caught in the middle of it? Inkbrand couldn't remember - in fact, that entire, frantic hour or so was something of a very large and very frustrating blur in his memory banks, running back and forth and chasing away griffons and reveling in sweet grey fur held between his hooves. He was, actually, fairly certain he cared not to remember everything in detail, content to let it sit in the far corners of his mind to never ever ever neverever think about, ever.

Never.

"Selling Princesshood, Derps?" Inkbrand drawled as he finally move closer to the booth, casually leaning one side of his body against the wooden poles as he crossed his forelegs in front of one another. Never mind if the grey Pegasus actually remembered him or not - she'd know him soon enough. "Can't believe you'd hold out on your good buddy Inkbrand."

Now that he was paying attention to anything other than the Pegasus-turned-psuedo-Alicorn, Inkbrand realized that the foal in the area was Watermelon Gush, a cute little blighter he'd played counselor to during a camping trip into Whitetail Woods. The tattoo-clad stallion shot a toothy smile at the red and green filly, a smile that turned up a notch as it passed onto the rainbow-colored mare standing nearby as well. For some reason, he felt like he should know the blue Pegasus, but mostly, Inkbrand's attention couldn't help but rove onto the various…tools Derpy was apparently using to sell her product.

…Was that a paintbrush down there?
 

 

 

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"Hmmm, well your pet has to be into the same kind of stuff you're into. I mean, look at Tank! We get along great cause he's got a need for speed, just like me!"

 

Derpy blinked. "Oh of course! Hmm since I like fun things, I guess they'd have to like fun too. And fly..." She gasped. "Bees are fun, and they make honey I could use for cooking and stuff."

 

"Soooo, about these muffins?"

 

"Oh yeah, sorry!" Derpy said before tossing Rainbow a muffin, confident she would be more than able to safety catch it in her hooves. "Here you go! A fair exchange."

 

"So Princess Derpy, what does Derpy mean anyway? Is that a nickname or for something about you? Is Derpy another name for grey like your coat color?"

 

Derpy grinned. "It's a nickname I gave myself a long time ago and it sorta stuck." She placed a hoof on her chin. "As far as I know, Derpy doesn't mean grey. That would be crazy if it did though."

 

When she finished painting the horn and wings, she lifted them over her head as a presentation. "Tada!" The horn was sea green and matched the filly, but the wings had a watermelon pattern painted on the underside, complete with seeds just like her mane. She offered the new costume to Watermelon. "Here you go! It's still not completely dry though so you gotta be a bit careful. Paint it doesn't wanna dry very fast."

 

Derpy then returned to the box of supplies. "Aaand now for yours, Rainbow."

 

After pulling a party hat from the box, she got to work mixing the proper colors. Her eyes darted from Rainbow to the paint until she felt like she got the proper shade of blue. She hummed to herself as she painted until she heard a new voice.

 

"Selling Princesshood, Derps? Can't believe you'd hold out on your good buddy Inkbrand."

 

She looked up and gazed for a second before a smile graced her features. "Inkybrand! I remember you. How could I forget somepony sweeping me up in their hooves, lavishing me with compliments and trying to give me a smooch? I guess I can't fault you though. I am pretty irresistible." She laughed. "So you want a muffin? You're gonna have to give me a tip then. Let's see..." She caressed her chin as she thought. Her eyes landed on the intricate tattoos on Inkbrand's forearms. Hmmm. Tattoos are pretty neat... She couldn't help but wonder what kind of tattoo she would get.

 

"So... If I was to get a tattoo, what do you think would look best on me?"

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"Solstice Heights huh? Hmm, I guess you're right I probably haven't actually seen you before. But Solstice Heights is pretty rad. It fly up there for extreme workouts sometimes." Rainbow somehow managed to squeeze a bit of bragging into the conversation. "As for names, the full name's actually Rainbow Dash, for," She flexed her wings as she spoke. "obvious reasons. Anyway, it's great to meet you Watermelon! We should totally hang out sometime!"

 

"Extreme workouts in Solstice Heights?" Watermelon Gush said questioning what those might be, "I can carry a watermelon my size across the farm if that's what you mean by doing something extreme. Oh so your last name is for you flying. Well my last name Gush my parents told me was because they were gushing to everypony in town when I was born. Anyway, that would be great visiting me in my town." 

 

As Watermelon waited for her Alicornification, a familiar face appeared singing some kind of tune. It was her bunk counselor that she met during a summer camping trip. For a time the filly forgot about that week but seeing him made it all come back to her. 

 

"Inkbrand! How are you doing?" 

 

Before she could get an answer Derpy explained that her name was a nickname and gave her a set of wings and and a horn that perfectly matched her coloring. 

 

"These are amazing!" Watermelon said with a squee as she put them on, "Now I can be the Watermelon Princess for real. What should I do first to test my Princess powers? I know... flying!"

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…Huh. That was a new one. And still irritating.

But seeing as it was marginally less irritating than simply 'Inky', the grey stallion let it pass with a toothy smile, one that actually loosened into something less sharp and more friendly as the grey Pegasus spoke to him. The fact that she didn't seem ready to deck him for the veritable harassment he had bestowed on her during the entire fiasco of Flim and Flams was definitely a plus, especially considering how he hadn't even been at fault to begin with. Seemed pretty obvious, but there were always those mares that were determined to place themselves on a pedestal by victimizing themselves against every conceived slight, take any chance to become the fair Damsel in Distress - completely disregarding any shady con artists with their magically enhanced perfumes, of course.

Bucking unicorns and their bucking magic.

But no, Derpy Hooves was completely amiable and downright jovial about the whole ordeal, causing an appreciative smile to split Inkbrand's grin wide open. "'Course you are, Derps," he agreed smoothly, a shadow of a wink flitting over his face, "beautiful mare like you? You know you've got all the stallions falling all over themselves."

Flirtatious banter aside, the main event for the booth soon came to light as Derpy Hooves mistakenly mistook his interest in her muffins rather than…well, her muffins. Still, Inkbrand had never been one to turn down free food, and he couldn't help the contemplative raise of one eyebrow as he leant lightly against a side of the booth, golden eyes roving over the grey Pegasus' form in a considering manner.

…Purely for artistic reasons, of course.

"I could just tell you," he stated slowly, tail flicking back and forth as a bubbling, pale pattern rose in his mind, something playful and bouncy and full of spirit. "But where would be the fun in that when I could just show you?" he added abruptly, abruptly bringing his eyes back towards Derpy's as he shot the Pegasus a leer. "My parlor's always open for business." He certainly wouldn't mind if the bubbly Pegasus dropped on by for a visit and subsequent tattooing - though, he'd probably have to store away his more expensive inks and brushes.

No reason to court disaster when disaster was already an avid suitor of his, it seemed.

Thoughts of his tattoo parlor going up in flames was momentarily stymied, however, as Watermelon Gush suddenly spoke up, exclaiming excitement over her new status. Despite himself, Inkbrand couldn't help but chuckle, reaching over to mess up the filly's mane a little bit. "That's a good look for 'ya, Melon," he praised, eyeing the watermelon pattern decorating the fake wings. If Alicorns were any more common to see around Ponyville, he probably wouldn't have questioned the wings and horn from a distance. Derpy wasn't fooling around.

Though, maybe the Pegasus should have worked harder - or not work as hard, as it were - as the small filly abruptly suggested a small test of her newfound powers that she actually didn't possess. "Er," the tattoo-clad stallion started, resisting the urge to grab onto the filly less she search for the nearest cliff to "fly" off of. "Might want to start with something smaller, first. Like…like, eh, hrm…" he hedged, eyes casting around for something the green filly to safely do, before his eyes abruptly alighted onto the various paints and brushes scattered beneath Derpy's booth.

Ah-hah.

"Like, see if you can change some of these flowers to different colors, yeah?" the grey Earth Pony suggested, voice exaggerated as if such a task was too much for a single small filly to accomplish. "Color changing's pretty advanced Unicorn stuff - maybe - so don't worry if you can't do it right away," he made sure to caution.

…Pfft, right. Like he had any experience with Unicorn magic, aside from feeling it invade his privacy time and time again. Still, staring at a bed of flowers attempting to make them change color was a far better alternative to attempting flight, Inkbrand was seventy-six percent sure.
 

 

 

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Rainbow caught the tossed muffin in her muzzle and bit off a piece. it tasted like, blueberries and carrots maybe? it was a little hard to tell but it was good!

 

"Cool! This is pretty good Derpy! Tank, get down here and try this!" Rainbow waited until her pet was hovering nearby and tossed him a piece of the treat. The turtle sniffed it and took a tiny bite. Then he took a bigger bite. "See Derpy, you gotta make sure you get a pet that digs what you're into..."

 

"Selling Princesshood, Derps?"

 

The rainbow hued pony listened for a moment as exchanges went on. How some she hadn't met this guy yet? He seemed pretty cool and Rainbow was sure she knew all the cool ponies in town. Maybe he was from out of town? Sounded like he was into tattoos, also cool!

 

"If this works, I'll be stoked to see what kind of Princess ol' Derpy turns me into!" She smiled a winning smile at the stallion. "I don't think I've met you, which is weird...but anyway, I'm Rainbow Dash." She nodded her chin upwards toward Inkbrand, wondering how he might respond.

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"beautiful mare like you? You know you've got all the stallions falling all over themselves."

 

Derpy snorted. "Don't I know it. Makes my job hard sometimes." She rested her elbow on the stall and flicked her mane back while batting her eyelashes. "I'm practically a health hazard with these killer looks."

 

Looked like Rainbow Dash caught the muffin quite effortlessly. That was good since Derpy half expected it to smack her in the face. When Rainbow called Tank over to try it, the tortoise liked it a lot more than she expected. Who knew tortoises loved muffins?

 

"See Derpy, you gotta make sure you get a pet that digs what you're into..."

 

Derpy grinned. "Maybe Tank needs an alicorn costume too." She grabbed a party hat out of the box and applied sky blue paint to it. Once all the gaps were painted over, she handed it to Rainbow Dash. "Here ya go! Careful though, it's still still a bit drippy."

 

Watermelon Gush seemed really happy with her costume, but Derpy's grin dropped when she announced that she was going to fly. Luckily Inkbrand was on the case, and turned the filly's attention to a much safer activity. No one ever hurt themselves changing the color of flowers, right?

 

Inkbrand didn't exactly answer her question, but he offered to show her in the form of getting an actual tattoo in his actual tattoo parlor. Who knew, right? "Oh, you're a tattoo artist?" she chuckled. "In retrospect, it makes a lot of sense." 

 

The offer was pretty tempting. Hmmm. Derpy's muzzle scrunched as she became lost in the sea of thought. To get a tattoo or not to get a tattoo? Those things were for life, right? She was never really good with decision making, so having that derision permanently pasted to her skin might not be the best idea. She might unfortunately have to pass.

 

Unless...

 

Derpy let out a loud and abrupt gasp, slamming her hooves on the stall and startling a Ponyville citizen in the process. "Do you have temporary tattoos!?"

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"Thanks! I'm a pretty Princess aren't I?" Watermelon Gush said as she climbed up on a stone and prepared for her first flight. It was then that Inkbrand gave another alternative to flying: turning flowers into colors using magic! 

 

"Sure I can try that!" the newly minted Alicorn said as she jumped off the stone, "I'll try flying later." 

 

She noticed a crop of white daisies. These needed colors! Maybe they can be red or green? She knew that seeing other unicorns practicing magic that they usually had their teeth gritted and their face tensed as they cast a really difficult spell. So she focused on the daisies and gritting her teeth and scrunching her face she envisioned the flowers turning another color.  

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Cute, witty, and with a sense of humor? He could almost become distracted enough from her perpetually confused eyes.

Almost.

But big things began small, and Inkbrand consoled himself with the fact that, aside from an expression that made the Pegasus seem liable to keel over at any second, Derpy Hooves was officially an alright gal in his books. Still didn't mean he wanted her rummaging through his things or tossing any more helpful rain showers his way, but the point remained. Surprise surprise, but it was bucking hard as to find a mare in Ponyville that didn't blush red as a tomato at the slightest flirt - or more still, fume hot as a volcano at the sheer audacity of a stallion throwing out a casual tease.

Seriously. What the buck did they want him to do, slap on a bow tie, knock his knees together and blushingly as her to the big dance? As if.

The simultaneously amusing and mortifying image was, thankfully, pushed out of his mind as Derpy Hooves turned back towards the blue Pegasus, also bringing Inkbrand's attention onto the other mare. A greeting was quick to follow as the grey stallion returned the smile with a toothy grin of his own - one that, thankfully, hardly faltered as said mare introduced herself, even if it became slightly incredulous in nature.

But really, who could blame him?

'Oh holy rot, she's serious.'

Even immersed in his back alleys and rave pits and tattoo parlor as he was, it was difficult for anypony to miss news about the valiant Elements of Harmony that had saved Equestria countless times in the past few years. What the buck Princess Celestia was doing up in her ivory tower was anypony's guess, but the grey stallion had met some of the new Elements himself, enough to know some of them by name and face. Rarity's fabulous backside, for instance, was easily recognizable from across town center, while he'd gotten close encounters with Applejack's freckled face a number of times.

And of course, the relatively new Princess of Friendship was a face even a foal could recognize - or he should say, a pair of wings and a horn any foal could recognize.

This particularly element, if Inkbrand was not mistaken (and Equestria knew which she was, he could never remember them) was the famed Pegasus that had supposedly created some sort of sonic burst of wind and color at a young age, a feat that had been, and still was, apparently unprecedented until Rainbow Dash herself. It was almost a little surreal, staring at those rainbow locks and blue body standing in front of him right now, looking no different than any other Pegasus mare - and he honestly wasn't sure why. Ponyville was home to Rainbow Dash as much as it was to Applejack, so he shouldn't have been so surprised.

And, perhaps, just a little bit gleeful, like a foal with a newly discovered toy of epic proportions.

"Inkbrand," the tattoo-clad stallion stated succinctly, returning to leaning against one side of the stall with his forelegs lazily crossed in front of him, "best bucking Tattoo Artist in Equestria. Probably in the whole world, even," he continued, with just a bit of exaggerated, wide-eyed flare on the last claim to show how clearly he knew he was bull-rotting himself. Self-confidence was all well and good, but even Inkbrand wouldn't fool himself into truly believing he was unrivaled in his art.

Even though he totally was.

"Can't say I'm as exited as you are," Inkbrand lamented with a toss of his head towards the paintbrushes and buckets, cheeky grin still firmly in place. "Then again, I have a sneaking suspicion Princesshood wouldn't work on me as well as it would on you." A flash of wink, there and gone as the grey stallion let his gaze linger on the mare's bright red gaze, roving upwards to imagine a horn sprouting upwards above them.

…Huh. Bucking weird. Then again, imagining anypony as an Alicorn was pretty weird anyways, because…well. Alicorn.

Derpy's voice suddenly spoke back up, forcing Inkbrand's attention back onto the grey Pegasus as his smile took on a bit of a sly upturn at her sudden revelation - though, before he could act on it, the mare was just as abruptly slamming her hooves on the surface of her booth, loud and sudden enough to make Inkbrand startle out of his languid lounge against the stall. "Er, yeah, I've got a special grade of semi-permanent ink," he managed after a moment, though the thought of temporary tattoos soured his mood a bit. "But you don't need that weak stuff," he cajoled, leaning an elbow on the stall's surface, "I'd take care of 'ya, right proper and rot."

Bucking temporary tattoos…he hated them, but they were a necessity in his business, dealing with skittish ponies afraid of commitment. Pretty much all of Ponyville.

Which, then, is how Inkbrand became belatedly aware of a certain green-colored filly currently turning purple in the face, teeth gnashed together as she attempted to turn a patch of daises into, presumably, a different color. Momentarily distracted from tattoos at the sight - a rare feat in an of itself - the grey Earth Pony watched for a moment, an expression of exasperated fondness falling over his features. "Told 'ya - hard as, right?" he not-questioned, with a slight shake of his head, "keep at it, 'atta filly."

…She'd figure it out sooner or later, right? Or Derpy would have to explain the whole Alicorn thing to her. Watermelon Gush had been a pretty chill little filly during the camping trip into Whitetail Wood, but Inkbrand really didn't want to be in the area to experience a full-blown meltdown, if it came to that.

…It, probably wouldn't come to that.

'…'

…Nah.
 

 

 

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"Inkbrand, best bucking Tattoo Artist in Equestria. Probably in the whole world, even,"

 

 

Rainbow had no problem meeting ponies that claimed they were the best at something they did! She was the best at everything she did so unless they had some hobby in common or something she would probably hit it off just fine with this Inkbrank fellow. He seemed cool enough. She looked him over again, fixing him with her violet hued gaze. She could tell he was doing the same thing to her which was fine. She'd had run ins with all kinds of stallions, she could handle herself. It was obvious this guy was something of a fillykiller, it was unmistakable in her eyes and his body language. Yep, he was one cool character. She looked him over once more, imagining a pair of wings sprouting from his back. Yep, if he had wings he might have had a chance at challenging her. But no, an earth pony through and through.

 

"Well, great to meet ya Inkbrand! I have seen a couple ponies and griffons around town with your work on them. Sweet job!"

 

Yep, too bad he didn't have the wings. He wasn't a bad looking stallion at all. She gave another toothy smile as his gaze went elsewhere. "Yeah, Derps would look so sick with one of your tats on her! I'd love to see that!"

 

She turned to Watermelon, wondering if those flowers might actually change color. "Not seeing any princess power yet Watermelon...keep trying I guess!"

 

Then Tank cam into view again. He had been puttering near by and now he zoomed down towards the stand. He landed on the counter and nodded his head to Rainbow. She smiled fondly at her pet. "Hey Derps, I think Tank wants a cupcake of his own."

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"Er, yeah, I've got a special grade of semi-permanent ink. But you don't need that weak stuff, I'd take care of 'ya, right proper and rot."

 

Inky didn't seem too keen on temporary tattoos, which wasn't very surprising to be honest, but still. How was she gonna convince him to give her the "weak stuff?" She was certainly interested now, and Rainbow Dash's enthusiasm towards the very idea didn't help. But he wasn't sure she could commit to a permanent one yet. She tapped her chin. "Well, I'd at least use the temporary stuff to figure out what I'd want first. Who knows? I might end up loving one so much that I just have to keep it forever." She gave him a playful smirk. "Think you're good enough to make that happen?"

 

When she noticed Watermelon Gush imitating a unicorn using magic, she had to cover a wide grin that formed on her face. It was so silly and cute. Derpy didn't expect the little filly to actually believe the costume gave her alicorn powers, and she didn't want to break the bad news to her. At least not yet. She'll just keep a close eye on her to make sure she doesn't try to fly from too high of a place.

 

The buzz of propellers caused Derpy to instinctively lean back. When Tank landed on the counter, her surprised expression melted into an endeared one. "Aww. Hello Mr. Tortoise."

 

"Hey Derps, I think Tank wants a cupcake of his own."

 

She blinked. "Oh right, I should've known. Who can resist my amazing cooking, amiright?" She got the muffin and handed it to the little guy. "Here ya go Tank." As for life tips, he's already showing ponies how to be more chill. That, and he can't talk so it wouldn't be fair to expect that out of him. Derpy then glanced from Tank to Rainbow Dash. "Would Tank like an alicorn costume?"

 

 

 

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"Told 'ya - hard as, right?" he not-questioned, with a slight shake of his head, "keep at it, 'atta filly."

 

"Not seeing any princess power yet Watermelon...keep trying I guess!"

 

While Watermelon Gush liked encouragement, this wasn't helping her focus on turning the flowers a different color! The filly tried to focus on the color she wanted but all she saw were the whites of the daisies! As she gritted her teeth, beads of sweat rolled down her face and fell on her wings. There was some globs of paint that weren't dried and when mixing with the sweat became liquid. As Watermelon shook her head in frustration with her eyes closed unbeknownst to her the paint splatters got on the daisies.

 

"Maybe I'm not a strong Princess after all," she said as her ears flopped and her eyes opening, "Maybe it takes practice, like doing math. It was silly to think I'd be able to turn these daisies..."

 

She looked over to see to her shock that the daisies did turn a shade of watermelon green!

 

"I did it! I turned the flowers another color! And now, flying!"

 

Wanted to do something other than have Watermelon give up.

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Well buck him, that sounded like a challenge. He was falling in love.

Just a little.

But buck, this mare was on top of things. No matter how precariously her eyeballs swiveled to and fro around her skull, Derpy Hooves' tongue was probably faster than the rainbow-maned Pegasus standing at his side. "'Course I am," Inkbrand stated aggressively, chest puffing out just a bit as he leaned even further on the wooden tabletop, golden gazes fixed on the grey mare. "And you can bet you'll look so sick with my marks," he continued, with a toss of his head towards Rainbow Dash, "you won't be able to leave bed for days."

The bold flirt was followed by an equally bold wink, but Inkbrand's eyes were already roving the grey Pegasus' body with renewed purpose, eyebrows furrowed on his head. His initial pattern, playful and bubbling and overly innocent, was completely swept away by patterns of color, valorous and dauntless and completely unrepentant as they overtook her otherwise muted color tones.

A bit of aqua edging into dark brown and cobalt, complementary but outstanding against the muted grey…maybe even criss-crossing in tribal to give her a bit of an edge, starkly contrasted against her rounded and spherical cutie mark.

Yeah…yeah, that'd be good.

Thankfully, before he could get too sucked into his fantasies, Inkbrand's common sense won out, reminding him that mares generally disapproved of stallions drooling all over their wooden booths. Among other things. The tattoo-clad stallion managed to tone down his stare a bit as he pulled out two of his business cards from where they were wedged underneath his bandana, almost appearing from thin air. "Stop by my parlor next time you're in Manehatten, babe," he demanded, with a toothy grin as he slid one of the cards across the tabletop towards Derpy Hooves, "and be prepared to make a return trip once you've broken in the new tat."

The other card was abruptly passed off to his opposite hoof, making its way towards Rainbow Dash as Inkbrand sent her a flirty wink. "And you. Save Equestria in sick style." One of the Elements of Harmony wearing his brands? His business would explode so hard it wasn't even funny. Never mind that his business had pretty much exploded anyways.

Among other things.

The contemplation of other things were unexpectedly put on hold, however, as a little voice suddenly explain an intent to fly. So caught in thoughts of patterns streaking across pale blue skin, that it took Inkbrand a moment to remember that a little filly was nearby the booth - and raring to test out her nonexistent powers by jumping off a cliff, it seemed. Inkbrand stared amusedly at the green filly for a moment, before turning his head towards Rainbow Dash with a grin and a shrug of one shoulder. What're 'ya gonna do?

Of the three of them, she was more than likely the most qualified to give an Earth Pony advice on flying.
 

 

 

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"And you. Save Equestria in sick style."

 

Rainbow's mouth dropped open for a brief instant as Inkbrand caught her with her wink. She was taken a little by surprise by what he made her feel. Whew! She hadn't felt this giddy since she had spent the afternoon apple bucking with AJ on the farm a couple days back. The mare shook her head a little to clear it but tried to disguise the movement as a mane flip.

 

"Well, maybe I will." She caught his gaze for a moment, her eyes glimmering. She shrugged back at him, not really sure what to do with the green mare.

 

Rainbow turned to Watermelon with a half smile. "Ummm, I'd leave the flying to the experts... or at least the ponies with actual wings Watermelon. Don't get an ideas about jumping off cliffs or whatever." She wasn't really sure what the mare was capable of but she certainly didn't want to tell an earth pony to literally jump off a cliff.

 

Tank's propelled himself down and sat on the edge of the booth. His eyes blinked as he watched Derpy fixing muffins and costumes. "Apparently he wants a costume!" Rainbow patted her friend on the head. "Ready to be an alitortoise Tank?"

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