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Exploring the Castle (PM for invite)

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Purple Haze washed her hooves one last time, her green hooves feeling all pruny from all the washing - but Little Spice insisted on it.  "You cannot prepare good food with dirty hooves or dirty tools!  You will wash your hooves before you touch ANYTHING!"  And if she dared touch the floor with her forehooves between the sink and the food-prep area?  Wash them again!  She didn't know how he managed to stay perched on his hind-hooves all day long without seeming the least bit awkward, but it was something that she was going to have to learn if she was going to keep on with these lessons.

Little Spice was, amusingly, a huge pony, both height-wise and girth-wise.  Sampled a bit much of his own cooking, but wow, he was amazing at it!  This was only Purple Haze's first day of lessons.  She'd arrived well before sunrise to help prepare breakfast, all excited to be learning from such a lofty example!  Except most of the morning had been involved in taking out the trash, scouring an oven, and other such dirty and unpleasant tasks, but finally, at the end of the morning, he'd allowed her to handle food to help prepare lunch!  ...  Well.  Peel potatoes.  And then watch as he used the peels to make the most scrumptious looking side dish!

But she'd gotten to WATCH him.  And he was brilliant!  She couldn't wait to get home and try a few of his techniques.  The way he handled a knife - his process of cutting apart a bell pepper was swift and looked pretty easy, way faster than her!  And he roasted the peppers in a very different way than her family did... she wondered how that varied the flavor, and resolved to make something spicy and pepper-y tonight for dinner to find out.

But now her morning lessons were done, and the afternoon was all hers.  She pulled the cap from her purple-and-orange mane and tossed it into the laundry.  It was summer vacation, and she knew that she really should get home to help Carrot on the farm, but as long as she got her evening chores done, it'd be all right.  She finally wanted to call on her bestie here at the castle, and see what life was like for her as the glamorous life of a page.  Besides, she had an idea...

A few questions here and there, and she was finally able to locate Sunrise Beach.  There she was, behind the castle, diligently polishing what looked like the last of a huge pile of breastplates.  Seemed being a castle page was about as fun and glory-filled as learning to cook from the castle chef!  "Oye!  That's a roit tall pile a' steel!  Ye dinnae have tae do that e'ery day, do ye?"

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For Sunrise Beach it was another typical Thursday on her summer break.   Every Thursday, all summer long, she was expected to work six hours as a royal page in service of the Princess of Friendship, or more specifically under the captain of the garrison.  The job wasn’t particularly difficult - it was just really boring and not at all glamorous.  Of all the tasks she had as a royal page, shining armor was ironically the dullest of all.  Just sitting there.  Polishing.

 

The captain, an earth pony, had wanted her to use nothing but her hooves, but Princess Twilight felt it was more important for Sunrise to combine the chore with her magic lessons - doing two things at once with her horn.  At the same time, she had to levitate the piece of armor, and shine it with the cloth.  At first, she would rather have had the ‘only hooves’ rule – she could do things with her hooves real easy.  Not being allowed to use her hooves at ALL made for long, long days of frustration and repressed tears as she kept dropping one or the other.  But in the last week, she’d finally started to get used to the task, enough that she could even let her young mind daydreaming about far more exciting things, such as hunky Wonderbolts and the next Hoofball game.

 

Sunrise’s mental moment of glory – a fantasy about a well-placed last-second shot winning the game by bouncing the ball off a bit of magically raised tuff – was disrupted by the sudden, unexpected voice of her bestie, Purple Haze.  The helmet she was shining fell to the floor with a loud series of crashes as it bounced and rolled across the room, making her cringe.  “Purple!  Like, why are you here?!”  Sunrise’s head quickly darted to the left and right, but there was no sign of any of the guards showing up to investigate her embarrassing mistake.  Last thing she needed was another afternoon scrubbing the barracks floor. 

 

As she lifted the helmet to check if there were any scratches, she remembered, “oh right, you got to have those radical cooking lessons in the kitchen and junk!  Like you done already?  You are like, soooo lucky!  I still have to like finish all this armor before I can, like, leave and do whatever cool things you want to do.”

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Purple Haze grinned hugely as Sunrise avoided answering her question.  "Wow, ye sure are in fer it!  I dinnae know ye'd got in trouble so bad!  Tell me all 'bout it, and dinnae leave out one scrap!  'ope it was good enough t'merit alla this!"  Without too much more to say, she picked up another rag and a bit of armor and started scrubbing away - wasn't too much different from all the pots she'd been scrubbing so that her hooves were still pruny.

"As fer wot we're t'do t'day, I dinnae think we kin do anything else but explore th' castle!  We haven't explored it yet, have we?  Here we are, brand new castle, an' we haven't even found th' first secret passage!  That's just not roit!"
 

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Sunrise Beach raised one eyebrow on her incredulous face, trouble? "Like what are you talking about Purple, I'm like, not in trouble or any junk like that!  Why would you…"  Then it dawned on the turquoise filly, her bestie thought that her spit shining the armor and helmets was some kind of punishment! "Waitaminute Like, cuz' I'm doing the helmets here?  Like this is my job!  That's why I do this most days, but totally not everyday, just, ya know… The majority and junk.  Anyway the captain says it's like important and junk to do things like this, to build like character, don't know how though…"   Sunrise looked down at the helmet in front of her with a forlorn expression, it was the most boring part of her job as a page.  "But like I do other stuff too! Like set up targets for lance practice, run messages, attend to the princess, even magic, junk like that."  And cleaning, lots of cleaning, so much cleaning...

 

Purple Haze decided she was going to help with the shining, not that Sunrise would complain, just as long as the captain of the guard didn't make an appearance since she was to do this by herself, but such an inspection was very rare.  Besides it be nice for once to finish early and an extra set of hooves certainly would help…

Sunrise did smile when Purple made a joke about finding secret passages in the castle, or at least she believed her bestie was joking, "wouldn't that be like so awesome though?  If like the Rainbow castle had like sooper secret passages and rooms, like those umm, anna.. Anti.. Anti-chambers!   But this place is like really new and junk, so they won't have that radical stuff until we're really old, like grandparents old, and that's like super old!!"
 

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Purple Haze nodded understandingly.  "Aye, Oi know 'ow that goes, don' Oi?  Learnin' cookin' is mostly washin' pots an' pans, innit?"  She bent to the polishing, making sure the greaves she was polishing was good and shiny.  "Heh.  We should trade off.  Y' help me with my pots, Oi'll help you with yer polishin', an' we're both cleanin' with friendship, ain't we?  S'right proper fer this castle, innit?  Work goes faster when it's shared with friends, dinnit?  That's character!"

"But f' th' castle, well, it's gotta have th' secrets built in from th' start, dinnit?  But since nopony built it, an' it was jes' grown, that means there's secret halls all o'er th' place, but nopony knows bout them, do they?  It's yer job as a junior castle guard t'contribute to th' safety of th' castle an' find all those security holes, innit?  An' Oi'll be a good citizen, givin' freely ah my time t' contribute to th' safety of th' princess..."  She had on a pious, self-sacrificing expression.  With only the twinkle in her eye showing the playful joking.  "Though seriously, Oi think there *must* be secret passages.  All castles 'ave 'em."
 

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Sunrise Beach liked Purple’s first idea, especially since it would mean less work, well probably, hopefully, “like that would be awesome, but do we like have to be sneaky and junk, like ninja ponies?  Cuz’ I know I’m not allowed to have help with these, and isn’t that the same with your pots and pans?  Well like, I’m in anyway, cuz’ its being super-ninja-sneaky helpin’ a friend.”  She struck a martial arts pose she vaguely remembered from a theatre production.

 

She shrunk down a bit, though, as Purple went on about her being a junior guard.  “Actually,” she corrected, feeling embarrassed that Purple thought so much of her.  “You like, have to be a squire and junk to be a junior guard; like, I’m just a page.  Squires get all the radical weapon training and stuff.  Pages just are just, like, they’re just, like, cleaning the armors and junk, and setting up the practice field and junk, and brings out weapons, and props to setup, and attends the princess – though that’s like the least lame part because she’s really, really nice, even though she’s really eggheadish and goes off about something she learned in some old book and obviously it’s not something she’s experienced with but she’s really smart and then she teaches me all this radical magic which is really, really cool.  So I can do awesome stuff like this now cause of her!”  She used her magic to lift up one of the helmets and place it on Purple’s head.

 

“But, welllll, I like really don’t think we’ll find anything, but like I said, I’ll be all so totally ninja-sneaky for a friend, 'specially a bestie!  So we’ll be all ninja-stealth around the castle and cool junk like that!  Except … where would we even start looking?”

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Purple Haze let out a disbelieving noise.  "Yer expectin' me t'believe that in the Castle of Friendship, yeh cannae let yer friends help yeh?  That's jes' ridiculous.  Oi dinnae believe th' Princess approved ah that."

She grinned out from under the helmet and struck a heroic pose of her own.  "An' Oi been thinkin' a'that, haven't I?  Where t'start, that is?"  She settled down with a rag, polishing the next helmet as the over-sized one on her own head kept slipping down over her eyes, and she'd push it back again.  "Sure'n all th' auld stories, secret passages are most often found in th' kitchen, or in th' study, or in th' library.  Oi dinnae see a thing in th' kitchen yet, but it's too busy t'do a serious check.  An' Oi dinnae know where th' study is, but innit th' library th' biggest an' most important room in this castle, fer the princess?  Oi'd wager three bits tae a scrap of wool that if there's a secret passage..."

An hour and entirely too much polish later, the two fillies were done with the pile of armor and standing in the doorway into the massive, wondrous library, looking up at over five floors worth of bookshelves and soaring architecture, crystaline structures and little decorations, and tables everywhere for propping up a book and having a nice read under the magical crystal tree-lamps.  "It'll be here now, won't it?"
 

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"Well, yeah, like, the Princess would be totally fine with you helping, and junk, but it's the guard commander I'm worried about!  He's the one that like, orders me around!"

She put on a freshly cleaned helmet of her own- which managed to not slip forward over her face on account of her horn kept it propped up a little too high on her head.  It was an earth pony or pegasus helm, after all, not a unicorn one.  She struck a puffed-chest pose and lowered her voice to try to mimic Guard Sergeant Armor Lead, "listen up, you tail-plucking, eyebrow-tweezing little beach filly!  Hard work and repetitive cleaning builds character and teaches you to be a better pony with more responsibility in service of the crown!  Blah blah blah!"  The helmet slowly rotated on her horn, til half of her face was hidden behind it.  "Like, maybe Guard Sergent Armor Lead needs a radical lesson in friendship!"  She devolved into a set of giggles with Purple.

It was a lot easier doing the work with a friend around, and she was surprised how quickly they made their way through the whole pile.  She lined it all up on the racks and did her own little inspection, trying to find the tiniest little smudge or scratch, but it all seemed like it'd be perfect.  Then she dashed off with her bestie to go find that library!

"Wooooowwwww.... I always forget that this library is sooooo totally humongo!  I bet it's got, like, every book in all of bookdom.  This is like, where Eggheads go to get lessons on being totally bigger eggheads!  I think it's a public library, since the other one got blown up, so it's all right for us to be here ... They don't need a page for the library.  Like, where do we even start?"

She rubbed at her chin, glanced around at the shelves, and picked the oldest, most decrepit book she could find, and gave it a tug to swivel it out from the shelf like it was a lever.

"Awww!  It's always the first book you grab in the movies!  Oh wait!"  Big, fake, obvious acting voice.  "We're not.  Going to.  Just find.  The right book.  At random!"  Then she chose a different book and gave a tug at it.  Nothing.  "Aw, c'mon!  That ALWAYS supposed to works in the movies!"
 

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So many new things had happened to little Bebop since she moved to Ponyville. She'd made new friends, went on her first date, been involved in some very strange mishaps that occurred in this town. The other week she'd seen a whole bunch of adults in town suddenly turned into fillies and colts her age and some even stranger things. There was only one thing that was important to her that she'd yet to experience; her cutie mark's appearance. To be honest this was getting pretty annoying She was so sure her talent was gonna be music based and she'd practiced all her life and become a really good harmonica player... was she supposed to branch out into  other instruments now or did she have to start looking into new things, it if was the latter case then magical studies seemed like a fun place to start.

So here she was at the (relatively) new library/castle in town. Bebop strolled down the large aisles of shelves and began pull out a book... only to find it wasn't budging, as if something was pulling on the other side. The fillly narrowed her eyes at the shelf and tugged a bit harder with her telekinesis... it budged a bit but was only tugged back again. The let out a huff and this time took ahold of the book with her hoof and just as she was about to put her all into resting the book from the nefarious grasp of the shelf she was promptly yanked to the other side, an entire series of book falling around her as she looked up to see two of her classmates standing over her. 

The filly blinked her eyes and levitated her little notebook up with the words, "Um... hello." written upon it.

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This was it! The opportunity of a lifetime! The (horribly tacky looking) crystal castle of Ponyville loomed in front of Dark Core, the greatest and evilest villain to ever...evil! Rubbing his hooves together he laughed to himself. "Muwahahahah. Looks like the guards are sparse on this hunk of glass." he said with a grin as he crept slowly towards the doors before slipping inside. "This will be my greatest deed yet. Castles ALWAYS have secret passages...if I can find them before that pesky Princess does, I could have my own little lair away from lair right underneath her nose!"

With clearly expert stealth, the colt rolled past a doorway where a guard passed by. Narrowly escaping detection; though the guard just rolled his eyes at the unicorn's antics and went about his patrol. "Too easy. The guards around here must have fluff for brains if thOOF!" falling backwards with a thump, Dark had seemingly ran head first into...uh oh. "Uh. Hello there..."

A guard stood arching a brow at Dark before he smiled. "Hey there little guy. You look a little lost." he said, helping the colt up and brushing the dust off of him. "Looking for somewhere in particular?"

Dark blinked a few times before speaking. "Uhhh...the library?" he said, adjusting his cape and nervously clearing his through. If this worked, this really WAS going to be too easy!

"Oh sure thing! The public library is just down that hall and to the left! Take care now!" the guard said, patting Dark gently on his head, much to the colt's chagrin, before wandering off.

Now that the minor distraction was out of the way, Dark's evil plan could commence once more! Continuing his stealthy trip down the hallway, he slipped quietly into the library and glanced around. So...many...books. You could probably make a hundred book forts out of all of these! A book fort war would be interesting...Dark shook his head quickly, a thought for another time. For now though! He had to find a secret lever. Every good villain knows that libraries are the likeliest of places for hidden passages. It was in so many comics and books! How could it NOT be true?

As he reached up to grab at a book though, the sound of voices caught his ear. Cautiously he hid in an aisle, moving a few books to the side to peer through at who was in the library along with him. One figure he hadn't seen before, didn't matter. The other though easily caught his eye! It was Purple Haze. 'Strange...' he thought. 'What's she doing here I wonder...should I go say hi? Would that be weird? It would probably be weird 'Hey Purple, how's it goin! I just snuck into the castle to find hidden passages, that's not weird right?' ugh...' the unicorn rubbed his face softly and watched the two fillies as the messed around with different books.

 

Were they looking for a passage too? And if so, why? Just as the thought was parsing in his mind however, Dark spotted another pony wander in, just an aisle over from Purple and her friend. 'Jeeze! Is everypony coming to the library today? What's next? The Princess?...Wait no, better not jinx myself...' quietly he watched and tried to stifle a giggle as a stack of books tumbled over onto the poor unfortunate foal.
 

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Purple Haze rolled her eyes as Sunrise hammed it up, stepping along the shelves a bit.  "If yer lookin' fer a secret door switch," she pointed out, "Oi dinnae suppose ye might wannae choose a shelf 'gainst th' wall?"  Then the next book Sunrise picked out looked ... stuck.  Purple blinked and came over to check it out.  "Oi, ye' think ye found one?" she whispered in awe, reaching up to grab hold of it along with Sunrise and give it a firmer *yank*.

Next thing she knew, books were falling everywhere and she was tumbling tail over haunches.  Oooooo, that was a mess.  In the settling chaos, she saw what had the other end of the book - it was just Bebop.  "Oye!  Sorry bout that, Bebop!  Thought it was a switch fer a secret door, dinnai?  Wot're ye fer, then?"  She glanced around for Sunrise.  "Sunrise, ye a'ight?"

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Sunrise got up to her hooves, testing to see how she felt.  A couple sore spots that might become bruises, but nothing more than a day of roughhousing.  "Oh, yeah, I'm, like, totally fine," she said to Purple, with a bright little smile.  Then she realized what had happened.  Books.  Books everywhere.  Books laying open.  Bent pages.  Cracking spines.  Haphazard disaster of unsorted books.  She had wrecked Twilight's perfect sorting system, the one she'd spent all weekend working on.

 

Her eyes went wide and she desperately started picking up books with the soft pink glow of her magic, gathered up more in her forehooves as she sat there on her haunches.  The books started overflowing her forehooves... She had the most lost, tragic expression on her face.  "I don't even know, like, what's next to what! She has this totally strange egghead system that she only understands!  Like, this is totally bogus!  I'm going to be in soooo much trouble!"

 

She floated books over to the shelves, planning to put them back.  It was only then that she noticed the quiet little pony with the floating notebook.  "Oh, hi, Bebop!  OH!  Bebop!  Hey, Purple, it's Bebop!"  She looked over to the mute little filly.  "Do you like, know where these are supposed to go?" she asked with a pleading note of desperation to her voice.

 

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Oh! It was Purple Haze! She was the goalie on the other team in hoofball tryout's the other day. Bebop pulled herself out fo the mess and let out some coughing sounds as well what sounded like the air expulsion of a sneeze. Apparently the castle keeper skipped dusting today. As she brushed her coat off she began to scribble down her reply  to her friend. She levitated the book up so she could see. 

 

"I wasn't looking for secret doors, even though it would be cool if I found one. Actually I was looking for books on magic. I'm trying new things so I can get my cutie mark." 

 

The little filly noticed the sound of desperation in Sunrise's voice. This was at least partly Bebop's fault for not letting go of that book. The brown coated filly walked over and looked at the various books. Bebop took a moment and thought of how the books looked from her side a moment ago. Soon the little fillies horn lit up and all the books that had fallen lifted up off the floor. Bebop then picked up the books that she recognized that were on her side and slid them back into place.
 

Bebop smiled slightly at her friend and wrote out, "I remember all the stuff on my side, give or take a position. I'm not sure about your side so I did the best I could." she was looking a bit worried as well...

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Staring out from behind his hiding spot, Dark craned his neck, trying to better hear just what the three fillies were talking about. Most of it was innane panic from the one he heard Purple call Sunrise, over some weird order the princess kept her books in. The other part was...whatever the smaller one was doing with that notepad. 'Just stack them up, who cares, yeesh...' he thought. 'System, shmystem. So she's got a system? Somepony would just mess it up and she'd make that dragon of hers fix it again..'

One part though, that Purple mentioned, did catch his ear. 'Oooh...So they ARE looking for a secret passageway! That's perfect! If they're looking for a secret switch too, I won't look as weird! Okay Dark, you can do this.' Rubbing his hooves together, the colt took a few deep breaths. It had been a little while since he had got to see Purple Haze. And really he wished it was on different terms. There were too many new faces here! Ones that SHOULD know him as the greatest evil they'd ever have the grace of seeing. "Looking for secrets are we?" he said with a little dramatic flair before slowly stepping out with a grin, giving his dyed red mane a flick to the side. "Perhaps I could lend a hoof? Hello Purple, long time no see!"

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Purple Haze wasn't sitting idle during the cleaning up - while Sunrise was panicking, not knowing how to hold all those books, and Bebop was proceeding much more methodically, Purple just started scooping them up and setting them on the shelves in completely random order.  What did it matter exactly what order they were in?  As long as you found the right shelf, right?  She stopped and paused as she saw the book in her hooves.  "Bygone Griffins of Greatness"  She pursed her lips and forgot to help Bebop with the rest of the books, opening up the book and flipping through a little.  Illustrations of a magnificent griffin city, soaring architecture... and then ... illustrations of the famous griffins, like King Grover and his noble griffin soldiers in their resplendent armor.  She chewed a little on her lower lip as she looked over the illustrations... she'd been interested in griffins ever since that super-handsome griffin had rescued them in the Crystal Empire ... she should probably ... check out this book ... for a school report.  Yeah.  She'd probably need a school report soon ...

Dark Core's entrance distracted her from the book, which she quickly closed and stuffed into her saddlebags.  "Dawn!" she cried, with an obvious joy in her voice.  She hurried over to hug him happily, then pulled back and gave a firm punch to his shoulder with one forehoof.  "Where ye been?  Oi've nae seen ye ferever, 'ave Oi?  Ye jes' disappeared on me!"  Then she remembered her friends.  She turned to say, "Roit!  This's me friend Bebop, this's me bestie Sunrise Beach, an' gals, this's me friend Dark Core.  But Oi call 'im Dawn on account ah his red tips look loik th' sun jes' startin' tae peek o'er th' horizon."
 

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Sunrise let out a strangled noise as she watched Purple stuffing books back on the shelves seemingly at random, and as Bebop let it be known she wasn't sure about the exact locations ... she needed Spike!  No, she can't tell Spike because then Twilight will find out!  She needed the castle librarian, Loreweaver!

"Wait, why are you borrowing that book on griffins?  We can't borrow - oh, wait.  This is a public library.  Sure, you can borrow it."  She kept shoving the books on the shelf as well as she could remember.  "I'll just ... I'll just ... tell Loreweaver that it's not my fault and that it's was careless patrons who made the mess and he'll fix it, and TWILIGHT NEVER HAS TO KNOW!"

She let out an insane little terrified giggle, and then nearly leaped out of her fur as a strange colt suddenly walked up behind them and let on that he knew exactly what they were doing.  "Wait!  What?  Like, who's this guy!?  Now we gotta bring him along too?  Laaaaame! How many ponies are like, going to know about our secret passages!?  Wait, like how do you know who he is Purple?  And why is he dressed like such a goofus maximus?"  It was alright to take Bebop along because she was a hoofball teammate, and teammates always have each other's backs but this new weird colt, Sunrise never seen him before, how could she keep him from spilling the beans?  Well maybe Purple can convince him...

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the approach of the stange pony that Bebop had never seen before she narrowed her eyes a bit at him. He seemed a bit theatrical and when you're not on a stage that always made this filly a bit wary of him. For the time being she was happy to just watch him talking to Purple haze as she looked at the books on the shelf. Trying not to be rude she quickly scribbled down the simple greeting of ,"Hi, my name's Bebop." and held up the notepad for him to see.

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Dark's dyed black pelt was broken by a red blush that tinged his cheek as he returned Purple's hug...just before getting a swift little punch to his shoulder which caused him to wince. Girl didn't know her own strength, but he guessed he deserved that. "Aheh...yeah it has been a while. I guess I just got tied up in some things." the colt rubbed his shoulder gently. He knew FULL well that he just got too wrapped up in reading comics and old poetry.

At Sunrise's comment, the colt's glanced back at his cape. 'Goofus maxim...WHO DOES THIS FILLY THINK SHE IS?!' he thought to himself. 'OOOOH YOU WILL RUE THIS DAY YOU IMPUDENT WELP! I'LL...I'll uh...I'll do something!' is what he wanted to say, though with Purple around he simply couldn't. He'd have to play...ugh. Nice. Putting on a polite smile he dipped his head in Sunrise's direction. "Nice to meet you too. Purple and I met as I was ah....passing by the school one day." Dark decided it was best to omit the part about him getting stuck in a window.

A short moment later, the smaller filly's notepad hovered into his field of vision. He arched a brow softly and leaned over to read it. At least THIS one didn't have some rude comment aimed at him. "Good to meet you as well, Bebop." he added with a nod. Good...Nice. He already felt like he had indigestion. Or maybe that was just the two week old apples he had for breakfast this morning? Clapping his hooves together, Dark gave a grin. "Well now that introductions are over. What's all this about secret passages hm?"

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Purple Haze bristled as Sunrise insulted Dark Core.  "Oye!  He's no a goofus no more'n ye are fer yer gettin' witless o'er Wonderbolts!"  She pulled her chin up aggressively, and even though it made her blush, she said, "Oi think 'is cloak makes 'im look dashin'.  Loik some dark 'ero from a story, comin' in secret tae town tae 'elp ponies out when they cannae 'elp 'emselves.  Loik th' 'ero Fog Bank, Earth pony born tae th' McCloud Pegasus noble family, wot was all misunnerstood an' such."  She'd always loved that story...

She grinned.  Despite him getting stuck in windows and such, she knew he wasn't afraid to go round things the wrong way and try dangerous things.  "Just ye wait, Oi'm sure 'e'll be a roit 'elp.  'e's no useless loik so many ah th' colts 'round 'ere."

She turned to Dark Core and Bebop.  "Anyway, a'ight, you two're drafted in.  Sunrise 'n me.  Well, mostly me, but Sunrise figgers Oi might be roit, anyway, we figgered wot with this bein' a castle, it's gotta 'ave secret passages.  An' since it jes' sprouted up loik a weed, Oi figger nopony knows 'bout where they might be!  We're gaen dash roun' th' castle, an' find ourselves some secret passages!  It'll be a roit hoot, Oi figger!  Ye two foun' us out, so ye gotta 'elp us, now!  It's our duty as loyal citizens tae Princess Twilight!"  Despite her sanctimonious tone at the end, there, she gave Dark Core a wink and a smirk suggesting this was *not* her primary reason for doing this ...

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Sunrise Beach rocked back in surprise at Purple's defensiveness.  Purple never defended Snips and Snails or any of the other goofball colts at school when Sunrise made jokes about them!  She usually laughed along!  What's so special about this colt?

She had a snarky comment ready to go defending the Wonderbolts, when she looked at Purple and her goofy little look at Dark Core.  And the way he looked at her.  Waaaaaait a minute.

Ohhhhhh.... ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... No way!  NO WAY.  ...  WHY?  He wasn't cool, or athletic, or ... Oh. My. Celestia!  The potential for teasing.  This was going to be hi-LAR-ious!

"Yeah.  Yeah, like, all right.  We can bring your... Friend!"  She felt the devious grin rising up.  "But, like, he'd better not do anything totally bogus to screw everything up!  Like, tell ya what.  Bebop and I can search over on thiiiiiis side, and you and him, like, can go allllll the way over on the OTHER side, all by yourselves, all on your lonesome, to go search over there!"  She gave a huge grin, and a wink, and a couple of good nudges into Purple's side.

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Why would there be a secret passage in the new castle? She might understand the idea of the old castle in Everfree having secret passages... but here? in a castle grown purely through the power of friendship? That honestly sounded pretty ridiculous, why would a structure created through the power of magic need to hide anything, shouldn't there be a degree of trust from the princess' own home to allow her to see all it had to offer... or maybe this was just one of those things she was never gonna understand about magic in general; still she wrote down another note.

Bebop walked slowly over to the another bookshelf, pulling out a book carefully this time. Since there was nopony on the other side this time it actually came out! The little filly's eyes scanned through it as she walked back towards the group, only to stumble and catch herself on a sconce fairly low to the wall... and it actually slid out like a switch and somewhere the sound of grinding stone was heard... but there was no sign of change from the walls or the ceiling or the floor. 

With a shrug, The unicorn took a few steps back towards the group, and the floor immediately parted beneath her like a pair of doors having been pushed open. Bebop's eyes went wide with surprise and she promptly began to try to gallop for a second as she just floated in midair. Then she fell. A cloud of dust in her shape being the only sign she was there and her notebook now laying on the ground in front of the trio above. 
 

...

At the near-bottom of the hole in the floor was bebop, Her limbs stretched out in an 'X' shape as she used the friction of her hooves to stop her descent. She was still processing what exactly had happened and while it couldn't be seen from above she had a look of panic on her face. as she felt her 'grip' on the walls slipping and she fell once more... about maybe 3 feet? Turns out she was only a slight drop from a safe landing. It was still pretty dark down here... and well this was gonna be a pain. The unicorn closed her eyes and lit up her horn like a signal flare for the others above to see so that she could show she was okay.

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The embarrassed little blush that stained the villain's cheeks only grew brighter as Purple jumped to his defense. Normally Dark would have just jumped right in to a monologue, rating and raving about how someone could DARE to insult him! The master of all evil! How they would rue the day they dared to cross him, and other empty threats and billowing of hot air. But it seemed like Purple was handling that well enough...she even said his cape looked dashing! The colt mostly stifled the dreamy sigh that came at the compliment.

While Dark wasn't too keen on the whole 'loyal citizens' shtick, the quick wink Purple gave him reassured him that just perhaps the filly had something much more devious...well, maybe not devious, she was too sweet for that...but mischievous in mind! These other two on the other hoof...the meddling metal mouthed miss was going to be a thorn in his side. At least the other one was quiet and seemed to stay out of the way!...Missing Sunrise's 'subtle' teasing of Purple and him, Dark glanced around...where WAS the other one anyway? Surely they didn't run off to get the guards or something! He hadn't even done anything!...Yet.

A small little flash out of the corner of the caped unicorn's eye caught his attention though. A hole in the floor had opened up! That little brat beat him to it! How DARE she mess this up! He was supposed to be the one finding the passage and impressing Purple! Why was fate so cruel to good villains? "Hrmph..." he grumbled quietly to himself as he glanced down the hole. With a look over his shoulder he let out a whistle. "Hey girls! I think uh...Bebop was it? I thiiiiink she may have found something." Dark said, nodding his head towards the opening in the floor.

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Purple rolled her eyes at Sunrise.  "It's nae like that, Sunny.  'e's already got a fillyfriend," she explained.  She didn't sound all that thrilled about it, but she had to be realistic.  At least, he'd had a fillyfriend last time she'd seen him.  It could have changed, but she wasn't going to be holding out any hope on it.

Happily, Bebop's brief tussle with gravity cut that conversation short.  "Aye, good onya, Bebop!" she called, running over towards the pit.  She looked down inside to see that Bebop was safe at the bottom, lighting it up for them.  That didn't look *too* bad... "Comin' down!"  She leaped off the edge, ready to hit and roll when she hit the bottom... except... then she didn't hit.  Without Bebop's inspired slow-down, the magic in the pit caught her a couple feet up, lowering her slowly to the floor.  "Oh, that's roit spif!" she cried, then called up, "It's safe!  Comon down!"

She looked around in the light of Bebop's horn - though that was starting to become unnecessary.  She'd been expecting, from the old stories, cobweb laden narrow stone corridors all dark and dank... but she supposed the castle was new enough that the spiders hadn't finished moving in yet.  It was a neat and tidy little purple crystal corridor - true, it was narrow, at least that was true.  And several small crystal growths in the walls lit up as if they were lanterns, showing several passages going off in different directions.  "Whooooaaaaah... I cannae b'lieve it!  It is a secret passage, innit it?"  She peered down the various corridors, but nothing obvious stood out showing where they went.  "Which one do we take, then?"

She should probably make a map of the castle, if it was this complex.  She pulled off her saddlebags and pulled out a notepad of her own, marking the start of the hidden passages section.  This would be useful for when she was up to no good!

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Sunrise Beach was pretty sure her bestie Purple Haze had some sort of infatuation with this 'Dark Core' colt.  Why, she couldn't figure out.  Still, her bestie's crush was all for naught as it turned out the unicorn colt had a fillyfriend, "well, like, you're waaay too bangin' for a dorktacular colt like him, anyway, but since he knows like, what we plan to do and junk and you know him and stuff, I guess we'll have to take him along."

 

The turquoise filly didn't really think they'd ever find anything, but Bebop showed her wrong.  And right in the library, too!  Just like in those crazy bit store adventure novels!  She wondered how deep the new shaft was, but Purple had brazenly leaped in and yelled it was safe, and Sunrise, well, she was no lame-o wuss, she leaped right in after her bestie!  Her eyes widened with excitement as she was caught by an unseen force part way down, floating her lazily to the bottom.  "Whoa ho ho!  This is sooo coool!"

 

Sunrise lit up her own horn with a soft pink glow which beautifully reflected off the various tints and shades of purples and blues of the crystals that made up the walls and floor of the corridor, causing a beautiful shimmering effect of various analogous colors.  "Whoooaahoo!  You were right Purple!  This. Is. So. Outrageously radicool!!  Magical too, after all something like, allowed us to float down here like feathers!  Maybe, just maybe, we were meant to find this path, like a destiny or something!"

 

She was all ready to start the exploration, but there was still one pony to deal with.  Much as she wanted to, she didn't trust Dark Core enough to leave him behind where he might possibly spill the beans.  She smirked as she looked back up, "yo, Dawn Core or whatever, going to like, jump down, or are ya not a brave as us fillies?"  She turned to BeBop and Purple, "think he'll do it?  Hate to try and drag him down with magic and junk 'cuz I don't think we should let him tell anypony, that would be sooooo bogus!  Oh and which way should we go?  Like, left or right?"

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"Yeah... It's really 'good on me' she thought to herself." Her face momentarily betraying the annoyance. Thankfully she was still down here so nopony saw that shortlived scowl before she picked herself up and stood away as her friends... floated... down.

 

... ... ...

Bebop's eye gave a twitch and she just looked at a wall behind with contempt. Apparently the castle wasn't very fond of her, she didn't get any floating magic on her way down. Her hooves were still hot from the friction of sliding down. 

 

In response to Sunrise's and Haze's questions on which way they should go, Bebop fished around in her Backpack and pulled out a marker and a bit. With a bit of careful telekinesis she wrote down a simple letter on one side of the coin and then the other. The filly held up the marked bit, on the head's side it now had an 'L' marked over it and on the tails side was an 'R'. She flipped the coin up high and clapped her hooves together when it came back to her level before tilting her right one to expose the 'heads' side came out on top.

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