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[Sponsored] The Empress from the East (Palace Gardens)

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Long Guo: a country in the East that many in Equestria may have heard of, but know precious little about. This land, from whence the Qilin and Longma come, has been ruled by emperors and empresses for more than two thousand years. Many stories speak of the majesty and splendor of the Imperial Count; just as many tales attest to the ultra-seclusion enjoyed by the emperors. Less than a few dozen ponies throughout the last century have earned the privilege of seeing a monarch of Long Guo with their own eyes. And no emperor or empress in history has ever embarked on a state visit to Equestria.

 

.....Until now.

 

On this night, the newly-crowned Empress of Long Guo is set to make her first public appearance on Equestrian soil at the Grand Galloping Gala. For that matter, this will be the first time the Qilin mare will be in front of a crowd since her coronation ceremony a few weeks ago. It should have been her father, the Emperor, that would be attending the Gala. After all, it had been his idea to make the historic visit to Equestria. Alas, the former Emperor... would not be coming; it now fell upon his daughter to permanently assume the responsibilities of the Dragon Throne until she too was ready to pass along her duties to a successor.

 

The purpose of appearing at the Grand Galloping Gala: to symbolically reinforce the ties between Long Guo and Equestria with the donation of a gift. And not just any gift, for Canterlot Castle would soon receive a new feathered resident, and a most rare and legendary one at that. Yes, the Empress planned to present one of the fabled fenghuang; phoenix-like avians endowed with rainbow plumage and extremely long life. In other words; the perfect companion for Princess Celestia’s pet phoenix.

 

As planned, the gifting ceremony wouldn’t feature much pomp and circumstance. It was to be a subdued occasion, with the Empress mingling with the crowd in the Palace Gardens for a little while before the fenghuang (a male) would be brought out and introduced to its Equestrian counterpart. What few maids the Empress will bring to the event would be busy brewing and serving everypony tea, a customary beverage of Long Guo.

 

Despite being a master of concealing emotion, the Empress felt anxiety for the night to come. As she should be; this was the first event in history where a ruler of Long Guo was expected to converse with a crowd of foreign ponies; many of those being very important ponies at that. As such, the untested Empress needed to inspire confidence as a fit ruler, a worthy ally. For the sake of her country, the Qilin mare must give off the perfect first impression.

 

Fortunately, the Empress had tools up her sleeve to bedazzle ponies. As she stepped out into the Gardens, anypony present would see the spectacular red diyi the Qilin wore; a formal garment of Long Guo embroidered with serpentine dragon symbols and made of shimmersilk, which billowed with only the tiniest breeze and magically sparkled of its own accord. Shimmersilk outfits were the most expensive in the world; naturally, the the Empress was one of the few able to afford the sky-high price. The mare wore on her head the traditional crown of an Empress; a beautiful phoenix crown of blue feathers and red gemstones.


If there was one lady at tonight’s Gala who defined the expression “dress to impress”, it would surely be the Empress of Long Guo.....

 

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Fluttershy was unsure whether to be excited, or terrified.  Pinkie had once described the sensation as 'nervousited,' but that just brushed what the pegasus was feeling.  On one hoof, tonight would be a once-in-a-lifetime event!  Not only was the The Empress of Long Guo coming to Canterlot for the first time ever, she was bringing a fenghuang as a gift for the princesses!  Fluttershy had only ever read about the beautiful birds, and she had never thought that she would get a chance to meet one!  And the Empress herself was a Quilin, a species rarely seen in Equestria.  She felt like she could burst from the questions she wanted to ask!

 

On the other hoof...  the Princesses had asked Fluttershy to officially greet the Empress on their behalf and accept the gift of the fenghuang.  The mare was never good at being in front of a crowd, and now she had to perform a ceremony with all of the nobility of Canterlot watching!  Her hooves practically itched with a subconscious desire to flee the scene.

 

Fluttershy took a deep breath to steady herself.  She'd gone over and over the ceremony with Rarity and Twilight.  Her friends had insisted on teaching her the finer points of etiquette for dealing with Long Guo royalty.  They'd rehearsed what Fluttershy would say over and over.  But there was a big difference between rehearsal and the real thing.  

 

Nervously, Fluttershy checked her outfit.  Rarity had, of course, made gowns for all of the girls again this year.  The unicorn had been inspired by the Empress' attendance, and Fluttershy's blue dress showed Eastern styling with Rarity's special touch.  Finding nothing wrong with the dress, Fluttershy instead twitched her wings, making sure every feather was in place.  However, she was interrupted by a trilling call above her head.  

 

The peagsus looked up to the top of the tall perch she stood beside.  A brilliant red and orange bird looked down at her, a questioning look in her eye.  Sighing, Fluttershy apologized.  "I'm sorry, Philomena," she said, her eyes dropping.  "I'm j-just so nervous!"

 

Philomena the phoenix had been preened to the point that her already bright plumage looked as though it could burst into flame.  She, however, sat on her perch calmly, feathers in perfect order.  The phoenix squawked again, but seemed to have a smile on her beak.  

 

Fluttershy looked back up at the bird, a smile spreading across her face as well."OK, you're right.  We'll do this together." she told Philomena.

 

At that moment, a tall, horned creature entered the garden.  The Quilin Empress wore a striking red silk garment, and a stunning crown.  However, what really drew Fluttershy's attention was the Empress herself.  The pegasus had never seen a Quilin in pony before, and, though she she looked very much like a pony, her draconic heritage shown through strongly.  Fluttershy's eyes went wide, her natural fear of dragons trying to take hold.  She fought down the fear.  She had been expecting this.  

 

Being careful not to look in the Empress' eyes, Fluttershy bowed down in front of the Quilin.  "E-Empress.  You honor us with your presence."  She said formally.
 

Edited by Corsair

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While likely the most important, the Empress was not the only member of Long Guo Royalty attending tonight's Gala. Having helped plan this trip far in advance, another young Qilin stood to the right of Empress Yuè. His attire was just as immaculate as the Empress': a white and gold mianfu made of shimmersilk, the imperial crest that adorned the back seemed to sparkle and glint at the slightest twinkle of light that struck it. Prince Lián—the Empress' brother—was more than elated to be at the Grand Galloping Gala and that happiness showed in the content smile he wore on his face as they made their way into the Canterlot Gardens. This was for a number of reasons but chief among them was that Yuè, who had been becoming a bit less social than she once was, was finally breaking with tradition and the old tired ways to be part of the world. Secondly was the fact he finally got to visit Equestria, something he had been interested in since he heard stories about it back home. This was sure to be an interesting evening!
 

Having taken a slower stride than his sister as they made their way to the gardens, to give her ample time to awe onlookers before he arrived to do the same, Lián was met with a sight that still he had not grown used to. A kind looking, albeit nervous, yellow pegasus had bowed before Yuè. It was the typical reaction of those greeting an Emperor or Empress, and one Lián had come to feel was...a little demeaning. Respect was one thing, anypony worth their salt could show respect without the need to bow or grovel. But the young stallion held his tongue, as much as the brotherly side of him wanted to tease his 'younger' sister, he knew tonight was important to her. He just hoped that she would be able to loosen up more here than she did at home.

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tumblr_static_my_little_pony_flim_avatarFlim

201px-Flam_unbelievable_S02E15.pngFlam

 

Quickly entering the Palace Gardens were a pair of unicorn brothers who seemed a bit nervous and out of place.  They were Flim and Flam, who were attired in identical business jackets rather than their standard straw hats and striped blazers.

 

"Well Flam, you got us tickets to this grand affair, are you certain THEY will be here?"

 

"Of course I am, Flim!  Wasn't that our plan all along?"

 

"Yes brother, meet with the royalty of Long Guo and secure our apple cider making franchise in that land.  After all, I do believe the ponies of Equestria are rather, predisposed, towards us."

 

"True brother, after that incident with our wonderful miracle tonic, it's hard for us to sell anything else in this territory."

 

"Look brother!  There they are!  They MUST be Long Guo royalty by the way they are dressed."

 

The eager brothers slowly walked up to where the Empress Yue, Prince Lian and Fluttershy.  Ignoring the shy Pegasus mare, the two unicorn stallions bowed in front of the royal pair.

 

"Your majesties!  I am Flim, and this is my brother Flam."

 

"Tis a great honor to meet you both!"  

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Spoiler

medium.jijing_fengbao_by_kitsune85-da237

 

Life was indeed a circle, oftentimes wrapping itself back to the start in ways that nopony could predict. Such was the case now for a Qilin named Jijing Fengbao. The former legendary martial arts warrior had left his homeland in the East to see other lands and train the ponies he heard of in Equestria. Now he heard word of none other than the Princess and Princess from Long Guo were visiting nearby Canterlot, the elder Qilin felt the need to greet them. And so, he dressed himself in his traditional ceremonial uniform, not the one he used while stopping raiders or training his pupils but one for such an occasion as this. It was a simple white robe adorned with silvery accents along the front and sleeves. He made his journey to Canterlot, marveling at the grandeur at the city while feeling nostalgic of remembering the cities of his homeland. 

 

He learned that the Princes and Princess were to be in the garden, to which the Qilin made haste there. There were other ponies there, including two brothers. He was uncertain of the two as they looked rather untrustworthy, but he would not rush to conclusion unless needed to. He approached the two Quilin and gave a traditional bow, front hooves opened towards them as a gesture to say he bore no weapons or ill-will. 

 

"Princess Yue, Prince Lian. Zhè shì yī zhǒng róngyù, yǐ mǎnzú nǐmen liǎ," which translated meant "It is an honor to meet you." 

 

Spoiler

Going to be using Google translator in Simplified Chinese for his traditional Long Guo language.

 

Also to give you an idea of his attire think this just fitting a Qilin: 

 

Image result for martial arts uniforms

 

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The first pony that the Empress took notice of was a yellow-coated mare, the pegasus named Fluttershy who’d be serving the role of host. Perched next to this pony was a magnificent bird of fiery hues; a creature that couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than an Equestrian Phoenix. Impressive... most impressive. The Empress also appreciated how her host’s blue dress incorporated the fashion styles of the people of Long Guo. Whatever feelings of amazement were experienced by the white yellow-tinted Qilin however, she kept a serene and collected demeanor as she slowly strode towards Fluttershy.

 

The Empress took further note of her host, who rather reminded the Qilin of a palace servant fresh on the job, sent into shock upon glimpsing their beloved imperial monarch up close for the first time. “Fluttershy,” the Empress respectfully bent her head forward, although not bending as low as the other mare; “We are honored to be your guests.” Truthfully, Fluttershy wasn’t required by etiquette to bow to an empress who wasn’t her sovereign, but the Qilin didn’t see fit to make it known to everyone within hearing range that her host had committed a deviance of protocol.

 

---

 

As this ceremony was intended to be a more casual occasion, that meant anypony had free reign to greet the Empress and her brother Prince Lián. The first two to make use of this rare opportunity were a pair of unicorns, the brothers Flim and Flam. Keeping her characteristic poker face intact, the Empress found it offputting that this brotherly duo wore business suits at the Grand Galloping Gala, when all the other stallions she’d glimpsed at so far wore more formal attire.

 

Nonetheless, it’d be rude not to return their greetings. “Gentlecolts,” she repeated the same bow she used on Fluttershy; “We welcome this opportunity to meet the both of you.”

 

---

 

It was a surprise to see a Qilin from their homeland in attendance. In formal events back in Long Guo, an emperor or empress traditionally never intermingled this closely with other guests. Usually they’d sit off to the side on a luxurious throne, while servants carefully screened and shepherded greeters one-by-one. The Empress wondered what this elder Qilin would think seeing the ruler of Long Guo act in such an informal manner.


Yuè also was reminded of the fact that despite her imperial crown, she was still practically a princess in all but name. Her relatively young age, her lack of “proper” knowledge in matters of imperial governance, her lack of a consort; it would probably be years yet before Yuè truly felt at-ease as Empress of Long Guo. All that being said, the Empress didn't express doubt as she cordially returned the Elder's greeting with a nod of her head; [It is always a honor,] she spoke in the tongue of the Long Sun; [To receive the blessings of our elders.]

 

Spoiler

No way I'm doing Chinese dialogue; I'd probably just screw it all up, haha.

 

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Last time she had been to the Gala, Serendipity had been greeted with nothing short of a night to remember courtesy of a certain sweet bartender. Considering that, the Las Pegasus hotshot felt it was high time to test her luck at the event once more and see where the night might take her.

 

And where it likely would have taken her was the bar as it had before, were it not for something she so happened to hear. The Empress of Long Guo was making an audience there that day. Serendipity had never been to Long Guo though it wasn't unheard of for a Quilin to take a seat at her table at the High Stakes and test his luck. She had found an interest in the culture and that fact coupled with the excitement of meeting an empress had combined to guide her in that very direction.

 

Serendipity had dressed well for the occasion, buying with well earned money a deep violet dress which clung tight to the curves of her pale lavender body. Her midnight blue mane still hung messily about her as usual and her favorite pair of sunglasses remained as ever on her nose. The comely pegasus noticed with delight that her chic and stylish look drew more than a few eyes as she strut through the castle on her way to the palace gardens.

 

There her eyes beheld a number of Quilin, more than she had ever seen in one place by a long shot. She supposed this was to be expected, and regardless of it, she found no difficulty in tracking down the empress herself, for one of the Quilin there hada  beauty and command to her that was impossible to ignore. Serendipity was about to approach her, when her attention was arrested by another quite beautiful sight.

 

It was a yellow pegasus mare with long and gorgeous pink hair clad in a blue dress in the Long Guo style. She had a phoenix with her. Serendipity smiled at the sight of her, looking strangely timid there at the gala. She kept her eyes on the bird as she made her approach.

 

"Oh my, I've never seen such an incredibly lovely creature," she said once near to the yellow mare. She then lowered her shades and with a playful wink added , "and the bird is pretty nice too!"

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Ah, Fluttershy! She was one the ones Lián had been told about. Her name seemed adorably appropriate with her nervous ways, he would have to remember to get the gift he had prepared for her—as well as the others that were mentioned to him—later in the evening. As for now, he didn't wish to take the primary focus away from Yuè, this was her time to shine and Lián did not want to break the serenity of the moment...Though it would seem that serenity never lasts.
 

The arrival of a pair of twins (oh the irony there) broke the quiet moment. Lián softly arched a brow at the brother's choice of dress for this evening. That they would come in business suits rather than something more casual to enjoy the evening in already spoke volumes in his mind. But it was better not to judge someone by their state of dress alone, only their character. Still, it nagged at him. Yuè handled it with aplomb though, which put the stallion at ease for the time being.
 

The next arrival was more of a surprise than that of the...unique brothers of Flim and Flam. A homeland Qilin was the last thing he had expected to see while attending the Gala but it was certainly a welcome surprise, Lián gave the same polite nod of acknowledgement he had given the other visitors that arrive before him. [It's our honor, thank you.] Just when Lián thought the rush was over, haha as if. Another pony joined in the greetings. At this rate it would be no surprise to the Qilin if Fluttershy fled, the poor dear.
 

This one was certainly an attractive arrival to be sure. And from the way that she carried herself, she full well knew it! He wondered just how many ponies here would have the same confidence, and would they have the inner beauty to back up the superficial. What Lián did not expect at all, however, was for this guest to flirt, and it was obvious to anypony that's what it was, with the soft spoken pegasus mare. Lián couldn't help himself, smiling softly and letting out a light chuckle, it would be interesting to see just how she reacted to the sudden attention.

 

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Gy9Z4Bbl.jpg

There was a faint bu repeating noise coming down the corridors to the room, to those with less sharp ears they might mistake for a birdcall from a rather stubborn, loudmouthed bird. As it grew closer however it became clear it belonged to something capable of sentient speech, in this case that speech being peppered with the soudn of a cockney accent as it's owner rushed into the scene. 

"waitwaitwaitwaitwaitwaitWAITWAITWAITWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT!" The galloping unicorn charged out the entrance to the garden skidding on her hooves with an aidible screech for the short period her hooves met the marble. The mare's horn was a glow with her magic aura so she was apparently holding something as she made her way hear. It seems momentum wasn't on her side however as she tumbled through the grass, toward the group and ... right past them harmless as she landed in a verdant looking bush. Soon after that rather dramatic entrance to the garden a portrait neatly placed in a frame, held aloft by baby blue magic floated into the scene. Momentarily, it divided the group  and looked to be about to fall forward on to the pony side of the conversation... 

But just in time the mare who brought this with her poked her head out of the bush, coughing noticeably before levitating it over to rest neatly against a pillar for everyone to see... but mostly just to keep it out of harms way. The glow around it soon faded as artist coughed and hacked from the pollen count of this area, pinching her own nose shut with magic.

 

Masmo38.png

"Y-yer... *cough* I ... I managed to finally find a frame fer it!" The mare coughed and sniffed a few times as she tried to free herself from this dastardly bush, her enthused attempts managing to succeed in extricating her from the green grasp of the foliage for her to fall flat on her back and look at everyone from an upside down angle. "Oh... Hey there, Fluttershy... And Seren! How've yeh all been?!" The mare coughed and sniffled in annoyance. Bloody allergies would be the death of her. 

The painter gave the empress and her entourage the amusing spectacle of a bow executed while on one's back and smiled, "Um Nice to meet the rest of our envoys from the east!"

 

 

Edited by Pretzelpony
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Few of the Viking Caribou of Whitescar dared to imagine one of their number ever stepping hoof in Canterlot.  If they dreamed of such things, though, it could fairly be said that such dreams were of the sort that most ponies would call nightmares.  But be they ever so wild, neither the dreams of ponies nor caribou had thought before of Caribou coming to the Pony capital as part of a peace delegation.

 

And yet, such was the reality!  A small party of caribou, led by the famous Jarl Sigrun of Clan Askr, were indeed at the Grand Galloping Gala, representing their kind among the elites of the nations, and hopefully taking steps towards a future that had less raiding and more trading.  At least, that was Halvard of Clan Breen's angle.  He had attended this event on Sigrun's ticket as her date, along with her adopted son Limi, who was staying as a kind of permanent liason and cultural ambassador.  The party had split up as their business demanded; Limi was attending to his own date in the Ballroom, Sigrun relaxing in the lounge after the efforts of politicking.  Halvard planned to join her soon, but it would be a shame to waste such an opportunity to talk with an Empress!  And perhaps open up Long Guo as a market?

 

It was a handsome bull, then, that strolled into the moonlit gardens.  Halvard was built well, if slightly stockily, bearing on his head a proud if not especially excessive pair of antlers.  His beard was cut rather more neatly than was usual, and the set of armor he wore was designed as much or more for looking good as for being functional (though it could certainly take a few whacks, were any foolish enough to try).  Perhaps the most striking thing about him, however, arose from the clan ritual of painting themselves blue.  Or perhaps it wasn't so striking, in a land where all were colored like the rainbow.  Still, stature, shiny armor, heavy tread, handsome bull.  Not a sight easily ignored.

 

As expected, the Empress was already dangerously close to being swamped with guests, both those with mere curiosity, and also those with agendas of varying degrees of benignity.  Particularly, those two chaps in the suits and hats... they looked vaguely familiar, in fact...  He walked up behind them, placing a sabatoned hoof on the back of the moustached one in a gentle and friendly manner, though the stallion would be able to feel the cold metal.  "Well, hello there!  Seems Equestrians always get in early.  Come to underprice trade agreements, no doubt?"  He laughed, the caribou not being known for letting their own jokes pass without comment.

 

"Come to that, though, I wanted to ask you a question.  A bottle bearing your images actually made it's way up to my homeland, but for the life of us, we could not figure out what it's contents were.  It tasted vile, but had no medicinal purposes.  Attempts to use it as a cleaner proved fruitless, and disposal efforts proved that it could fertilize nothing except weeds!  We'd never seen anything like it, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity."

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Flim and Flam were now VERY nervous.  Apparently, some of the infamous 'Flim and Flam Miracle Tonic' had made it's way into Long Guo.  Now the crafty unicorn brothers needed to think fast.  What would they say?  How would they explain the tonic?  If they admitted what it really was, they risked getting sent away, perhaps 'air mail' style, by this rather large caribou.  After some curious 'eye contact' between them, the pair of peddling brothers came up with an, explanation they hoped would be acceptable.

 

"Oh, I see you found our famous, health drink, friend!"

 

"Yeah, that's it!  This healthy elixir is loaded with vitamins, plenty of apple and beet juice in it."

 

"It is, an acquired taste, you see.  A true health drink never tastes good.  If it tasted good, then it wouldn't be a health drink then, would it?"

 

"Actually, we have discontinued that product.  We've decided to concentrate on something new, a beverage with superior taste and texture!"

 

"Yes, the living end of liquid refreshment!  It is THIS product we wish to offer for purchase, the one.."

 

"The only!"

 

"Flim Flam Apple Cider!" the brothers sang in unison, each unicorn pulling out a bottle of their fresh cider from under their suitcoats.  Good thing each brother thought to sneak a bottle of their cider into the Gala with them.  Not exactly the grandest sales pitch, but it was the best they could come up with at the spur of the moment.

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Perhaps he had been a bit too formal. After all, this was an informal occasion in a garden despite being in a formal place of a castle. Jijing could see that the Princess was surprised, and he had to realize that even though she was a Princess she was young. She did seem mature for her age due to her training. The Princess did return her reply to the Qilin in their native tongue as did the Prince

 

"How is the well of the homeland?" Jijing said shifting to the common Equestrian tongue, "It has been a few months since I left to travel Equestria."

 

There was another pony, a yellow Pegasus, who accompanied the Princess. He knew that she was to aid in the upcoming ceremony, yet she seemed a little... shy. 

 

"Greetings," the Qilin said calmly to the mare, "I thank you for hosting the Princess and Prince from my homeland. Yet you seem, if I may say, timid at this task."

 

His attention was directed towards another interesting sight, a Caribou from Whitscar. The Caribou were certainly a hardy group, and the Qilin did see a few in his lifetime visiting the villages. This one was a rather strong looking bull, one who looked of some great importance. The Caribou, it seemed, had a certain ax to grind with the two brothers about a certain product that made its way to Whitscar. But those crafty ponies did have a counter, another product in the form of Apple Cider. Jijing needed to keep an eye on them so they didn't try anything unscrupulous with the Royal family. 

 

 

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At the Empress' greeting, Fluttershy rose from her bow, but still she avoided eye contact with the Quilin.  That was one of the things that had been clear in the books Twilight had found on Long Gou: looking into the eyes of the Emperor or Empress was considered a grave insult.  Fluttershy did, however, take note of the Quilin stallion that followed the Empress.  He wore similar garb, the fine workmanship clear to the pegasus' trained eye.  She was no Rarity, but she could certainly appreciate beautiful clothing. 

 

The stallion bore a striking resemblance to the Empress, which identified him as the Empress' twin brother.  Fluttershy gave a smaller respectful bow of her head toward him, saying "Greetings to you as well, Prince Hēi Lián."  Fluttershy stepped back a pace, addressing the Empress and her brother.  "On behalf of the Princesses of Equestria, I welcome you.  May the sun shine forever shine on the friendships formed here today."

 

The pegasus took a deep breath, glad that she had gotten the formal greeting right.  Next, she was supposed to present Philomena to the vistors.  However, before that could happen, two stallions approached the Empress.  Two very familiar stallions...  "The Flim-Flam Brothers!"  she gasped, her eyes narrowing to pin points.  What were they doing here??  Fluttershy remembered all too well when the brothers had tried to force Applejack to give up her farm, and she had heard the story of how they had sold a fake medicine to Granny Smith.  If those two wanted to meet then Empress, it could not be for anything good.  But, what to do about it?  Would the Empress even know what a 'con-artist' was?

 

Again, before the pegasus could react, several creatures arrived  at once, none of which was a part of the ceremony....  The first was another Quilin, who spoke to the Empress in their native language.  Then, a pegasus mare in a tight-fitting dress and sunglasses approacher Philomena and herself.  It took a moment for Fluttershy to process what the mare said.  "Oh yes, Philomena is quite... wait, what??"  She blushed hotly as the import of the words hit her. 

 

Fluttershy turned her head to hide behind her mane, and saw another familiar pony enter the garden.  At high speed.  Followed by what appeared to be a painting?  The pony then proceeded to crash into a bush.  That was enough to shake Fluttershy out of her stunned state.  "Oh my goodness!" she cried out, bringing her hooves up to her mouth.  She turned back to the Empress, and giving a quick bow, said to her "Please, excuse me for a moment."  She then flitted over to the mare in the bushes.  "Goodness, Presteza, are you OK?" she asked, concerned.

 

As Fluttershy helped extract the artist mare from the bush, yet another creature approached the Empress.  When the pegasus noted him, a spike of fear went through her heart.  A caribou!  Caribou were know to be a warrior race, and had been behind that horrible attack on the Crystal Empire!  Not to mention that this bull was huge, towering over the rest of the assembled beings.  However, the bull appeared to have turned his attention to Flim and Flam.  The brothers were looking distinctly nervous under his gaze.  That, however, did not stop them from starting their sales pitch to the Empress. 

 

No no no!  This was not supposed to be how this evening went!  Fluttershy gathered up her hard-won confidence.  Even as the older Quilin stallion commented on her timidness, the pegasus raised her voice to the assembled croud.  "Gentle beings, PLEASE!" she called out taking back her place before the Empress, and beside Philomena on her perch.  The phoenix appeared to be hiding a laugh behind her wing at the whole scene.

 

Taking a calming breath, Fluttershy once again addressed the Empress.  "Empress Yù Yuè, may I present the Phoenix Philomena, companion to Her Highness, Princess Celestia."

Edited by Corsair
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So much excitement had happened in such a short amount of time. A rather imposing caribou arrived, intimidating the...what was their name? Flip Flop Brothers?...Something like that. The way they tried to cover their flanks after the antlered visitor startled them was more than a little suspicious. But the Prince had other worries on his mind, as barreling through the gardens came a panicked unicorn carrying a painting in her magical grasp. This in and of itself was enough to give Lián pause, let alone the fact of just who the subject of the portrait was! He gave a smile to his sister before breaking away from her side to help Fluttershy extract the painter from her bushy prison. "Thank you for your kind welcome, Lady Fluttershy. Don't let me forget, I have a gift for you later after the ceremony. As well as ones for your friends." he said with a little grin as he helped to dust the painter off.
 

"You've made quite the entrance here, miss." the prince exhaled softly, letting a small out of smoke trail from his mouth that gripped a twig lodged in the unicorn's mane. With the feeling of a gentle breeze the stick was extracted and fell to the ground. Mostly just to show off, but it was far easier than trying to untangle it with his hooves. "Should I assume you are the one who painted this portrait? If so you've done a lovely job at it. I'm rather jealous!" Lián dug through his mianfu and pulled out a little yellow handkerchief and passed it to the sniffling mare. His actions likely got a few looks from any of the other nobles who traveled with the royal siblings today. Lián was never one to avoid those 'below his station', as they put it.

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The brothers' nervous explication of what the useless substance actually was did not increase the stock of confidence Halvard was willing to allow them as honest merchants.  He straightened his mouth and raised one eyebrow, giving his face a much sterner look to it.  And on a caribou, a stern look could be a rather fearsome thing.  "Is that so?  Well, I myself would have preferred our local herbalists; your stuff just made us feel ill.  I suppose, though, that it may possible have spoiled on the long journey."  He wasn't willing to call them out as frauds just yet; Sigrun had let him know that their conduct tonight ought to be more circumspect and diplomatic than usual.  Still, were he at home, Flim and Flam would have the fear of the gods put in them!  The Vakstyra, guardians of the roads and trading posts in Whitescar, did not look kindly upon merchants seeking to palm off sub-par goods.

 

Apparently however, even this mild deviation from protocol was considered unacceptable.  Even the shyest of the locals was willing to raise her voice to get the introductions back on track.  Halvard removed his hoof from Flam's back, and even looked a little chastened as he stepped back.  *You can't go on like you're at home; not if you want to convince everyone here that you're not an unreasonable barbarian.*  

 

After Fluttershy had made her introductions, the caribou bull bowed himself, though only from the waist.  "And I, if I may be so bold as to carry my own introduction, am Halvard of Clan Breen, and the Vakstyra of Whitescar."  He smiled at the Empress, not following the yellow mare's example, though, in that he looked Yue in the eyes.  As far as he was concerned, it was the height of rudeness not to.  It was a sign of untrustworthiness as well, and that was the last impression he wanted to make!  "I bear a gift from our High King, and the Jarls of our land..."  Reaching behind his chestplate, he brought out a small pouch which fell open in his hoof.  There, poised delicately upon it, was a figurine carved in amber, the jewel of the northern lands.  Out of one piece emerged three figures, a Qilin and Longma, standing in the center of a curled Eastern Dragon.  The details were sparse, but it could clearly be seen to be meant for the first Emperor and Empress, receiving their blessing from the Long.

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Flam breathed a sigh of relief and he felt the heavy hoof of the rather massive caribou.  However, neither Flim nor Flam were in a mood to celebrate.  Both realized that they came VERY close to receiving a thrashing from the towering visitor from the north.  Luckily from them, Halvard hadn't tried to publicly discredit them, so far.  As the caribou moved away from the unicorn brothers to make a grand presentation, Flim and Flam quickly huddled up to hold a whispered conversation among themselves.

 

"Flam, it appears YOUR plan has failed, miserably."

 

"MY plan, Flim?  I do recall YOU were all for it!  Is it MY fault that these caribou somehow got our old tonic and that the big guy refused to even try the one product we were trying to peddle?"

 

"You are correct, dear brother.  Who could ever anticipate what caribou will do?"

 

"While the attention is away from us, perhaps now would be a good time to escape.."

 

"Escape?  Escaping would be admitting defeat!  The Flim Flam Brothers will not be stopped THIS time!"

 

"Do you have a plan, Flim?"

 

"Indeed I do, but we must hurry, come with me, I will explain along the way."

 

Quickly, the unicorn brothers flee from the area.  Moments later, now dressed in the same uniforms as the other waiters at the Gala, Flim and Flam make their way straight to the Empress, bypassing all others in their path.  Reaching her, the two brothers poured some of their fresh apple cider into a glass goblet and presented it to her on a tray.

 

"A refreshing drink for you, your highness!"

 

"Compliments of the Flim Flam Brothers, who are it's creator!"

 

Plan B was now in full swing.  Giving the drink directly to the Empress, the brothers hoped she'd enjoy it so much, she'd ask more about it, allowing the ambitious brothers to give her a direct (and hopefully, more successful) sales pitch. 

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Serendipity gave a small giggle at the confused reaction and oh so adorable blush her flirting elicited. This mare was seriously adorable with her shy little reactions. She opened her mouth promptly so as to not let a moment wait, but before her second strike could be enacted, she was unfortunately interrupted. A mare was speeding toward them from who knows where at an alarming rate! 

 

Luckily, the mare failed to collide with anything but a bush nearby. Unluckily, the moment was ruined and the pretty yellow mare's attention was diverted. Seren was frustrated for a moment, until she happened to hear her name from the mare in the bush. She took another look, and sure enough this was a pony she knew well. She was called Presteza and once upon a time her and Serendipity had shared in an adventure together. The two of them, along with a rather aloof pegasus in a cute hat apparently called Pathfinder (though Serendipity still kind of wondered if this was really her name) had together found the lost city of El Coltrado in Unyasi. It had been a tolling ordeal and she had learned a lot from it, even if the fact that despite her best efforts she hadn't gotten anywhere with either of her pretty comrades.

 

From that experience, Seren was pretty sure that cute as she was, Pressy was a lost cause herself when it came to the flirting, but Seren's luck might have been good regardless, for it appeared that the painter pony and the yellow beauty who wa her current target were acquainted somewho. Perhaps her old adventuing pal was the key she needed to get to know her better.

 

"Oho, Pressy! Been far too long, pal," she said with a winning grin as her friend was promptly extracted from the bush by a quilin and the pretty yellow mare. "I was just talking to this lovely mare when you decided to pay us a visit. Sounds like you two know each, huh?"

 

She glanced smilingly toward the yellow mare as she added. "I don't suppose you'd mind introducing us?"

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With the initial greeting ritual out of the way, the time came for Empress Yuè to work the crowd for a few minutes. Based on an initial appraisal of Fluttershy’s reaction, it seemed that the unicorns Flim and Flam were not entirely welcomed with open forelegs in this particular corner of the world. Yuè would have inquired further, but the unicorn brothers found themselves distracted by the likes of an armored Viking Caribou. As other guests were clamoring for the Empress’s time, the royal Qilin did not have an opportunity to listen in on the Flim-Flam Brothers’ lively sales pitch.

 

---

 

“The Dragon Kingdom is in good hooves,” the Empress affirmed with confidence to the elder Qilin, “I will do everything in my power to continue on the path of prosperity blazed by my late father. Rest assured, the well-being of my subjects is always at the forefront of my mind.”

 

The Empress realized that she had yet to learn the elder’s name; “I do not believe I’ve had the pleasure of learning your name yet, Wise Elder.”

 

---

 

Whatever the Empress was engaged in, it was interrupted by commotion from a nearby bush. A head popping out from the bush showed it was Presteza, Yuè’s newest addition to the Imperial Household’s staff of artists. Resting on a column was the artwork that landed the unicorn mare the highly coveted gig; a painting of Yù Yuè depicting her without any of the customary imperial regalia. She looked just like any other Long Sun without her robes or crown... meaning that the unicorn’s art would create quite a scandal in the halls of the Imperial Palace.

 

Yuè covered her mouth as Presteza commenced a bow while lying on her back, successfully holding back an ungraceful laugh. Few things fazed the Empress, but some spectacles were just that funny. “I’m so glad that you could join us Presteza,” a smile lingered on the Qilin’s face as she beckoned a tea-serving hoofmaiden on over; “May I tempt you with a cup of soothing jasmine tea?”

 

---

 

Halvard of Whitescar, the distinctive blue-coated bull, was the next dignitary to make his introduction. Yuè performed her usual bow as usual, after which the caribou dignitary brought out a gift meant for the Empress. Such imagery was intimately familiar to Qilin and Longma; the historic moment when the Champions, Xi Hua and Xiao Huo, made the Pact with the wise Elder Dragons. It was unquestionably a lovely work of craftsbouship; one the Empress intended to cherish.

 

“This figurine is beautiful beyond all measure,” Yuè lavished her praise, delicately taking the object from Halvard’s hoof; “I will see to it that this gesture of friendship between our lands is properly reciprocated.” In other words, that a caribou emissary will be receiving a gift of their own during the next diplomatic function in Long Guo.

 

---

 

A pair of suspiciously familiar waiters made a move to serve a drink to the Empress, but an outcry from Fluttershy diverted all of Yuè’s attention. Apparently, there was a hidden depth of assertiveness behind the mare’s shy exterior. From a glance, it also seemed that Princess Celestia’s phoenix was... concealing laughter? Was that legendary bird the mischief-causing sort? Only time could tell.


Still holding the waiters' glass in her hoof, Yuè exchanged further words with Fluttershy. “Philomena is a lovely creature to behold. If it is permissible,” the Qilin stretched a hoof toward the phoenix; “...May I have a closer look at her?”

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The painter grinned a bit at Fluttershy, "Great ta see ya again, Luv!" Fluttershy soon found herself in a quick, happy hug from the enthusiastic artist."Fresco's been wonderin' how you're doin'! What have ya been up to lately?" It'd been way too long since she'd gotten to see her pet providing friend from Ponyville. The assisting hoof of another pony-- oh wait, no!  A qilin's hoof came in to help her out of her predicament and thanks to their assistance... and thanks to that nifty breath magic, her mane had been -relatively- cleaned up. "Thank ya, Yer Highness!" chirped the overeager mare as she was offered that hoofkerchief and undid the magic hold on her muzzle.

 

As she expected the tingling feel in the back of her muzzle flared up the second she exposed her sinuses to the evils of pollen all around them and the moment she did she seized the offered kerchief and sneezed several times into it, each tim her horn producing small  flashes like fireworks. Once there was a lull in her sternutations she blew harshly into it and put it into her saddlebag, "Sorry about that! Nose didn't gimme a chance ta say thanks... so thanks!" With a wet sounding sniff she bowed politely, "I promise I'll return this to ya after I clean it up!" 

 

At the prince's kind word's the mare blushed, but smiled proudly. "If ya'd like I can do one fer you too sometime, Yer princeliness." Soon Seren sauntered into the scene, it was awesome to see her again. After all they'd been through in El coltrado it'd be a shame if they'd never met again to share stories and stuff. From what she remember Seren was a bit of the flirty type, nothing wrong with that really. Looks like she had her eye on Fluttershy tonight. The request for introduction was... actually pretty reasonable. After clearing her throat a moment she spoke up, "Fluttershy, this is my good friend, Serendipity! She's a clever mare who was with me on what might've been my biggest adventure yet! Seren, Meet Fluttershy! She's one who introduced me to my most longstanding travellin' buddy; Fresco! ... Aaaand the rest I'm pretty sure ya know about unless ya've been livin' under a rock. Y'know, Element of Kindness and all that?"

 

Speaking of her most constant companion, a small snout in the shape of an upside down heart pushed it's way out from under the flaps of her saddlebags. A squeak was uttered and then another as a small fruitbat fluttered oout and around the gardens a few times before landing on the prince's head and pulling himself forward by his wings so he could look him right in the eyes... and squeak at him happily. In the close proximity to the princess's nostrils he would detect the distinct aroma of grapes coming off the little fellow.

 

Now that she wasn't on her back, Presteza could actually give a proper bow this time. "I swear empress" She began, "Yer even -more- divine than yer aide from before made ya sound." Tea sounded perfect right now, even though the name 'Jasmine' might prove a bit problematic if it was too aromatic. To counter this the mare held her breath as she took a sip of the offered tea and let out a contented sigh. "Note to self, one o' the first things I gotta learn in yer land is the language... especially how ta say 'thank ya!"  She smiled eagerly at the servant and then at the princess. 

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The grace with which the Empress had received Halvard's gift was impeccable.  The caribou made a note to study the mannerisms of these Qilin more closely, as they no doubt held a great deal more experience in matters of diplomacy than him.  Or most caribou, for that matter.  Still, even if he was outclassed, the only way to improve in any skill was to go up against those who were superior.  That philosophy had brought him to the Saarvergerg arena, and he left with a better set of fighting skills, a bag of gold, and a new mate, so that had obviously been wisdom.

 

Bowing back, then, Halvard gave diplomacy his best go.  "It will be gift enough, Empress, if the roads and seas between our lands could be kept open.  Our clan in particular have concerned themselves much with these matters, as we have found trade to be an excellent means of replacing war with peace.  And it is the High King's aim to do so outside of our borders, as well as within."  There, message delivered.  More high-level than he was comfortable with, to be honest.  He would have much preferred to tug the ear of one of Yue's bureaucrats and hammer out the nitty-gritty of establishing a Vakstrya station in Long Kong.  Still, before one got to that point, one had to start with ensuring that the very idea was acceptable.  One step at a time... and before you know it, you've crossed a continent.

 

Such a course would naturally have diversions along the way.  Irritating salesponies, for one thing.  Not that the Empress seemed to care much for their thinly-disguised pitch.  Halvard's attention, however, was now available to spare, and the brothers now dealt with the full force of it.  "Well, well, persistent bunch, are you?  Well, I suppose one can't fault brewers for their confidence in their own product.  But let's see if it's justified, shall we?"  And without waiting for any kind of permission, the bull swiped the goblet and took a swig.  A cautious one, considering the effects of the last beverage...

"Hm.... hmm...."  He pulled it back from his lips, staring into the goblet.  "Not... bad.  Not nearly as bad as I had expected.  Decidedly drinkable... but I had better cider on my journey through Equestria to here."  He replaced the goblet, nodding respectfully at the two stallions.  "Still, I have no doubt that with five or ten years of honest effort, you might make yourselves master-brewers.  My advice would be to spend more time in your cellars perfecting your product, and less time in trying to convince others that it is already perfect."  Probably not the ringing endorsement the brothers had been looking for, but it was fair.  Flim and Flam could make decent cider, if they weren't engaging in any chicanery.

 

That diplomatic business done, Halvard considered returning to the lounge, where he knew Sigrun would be waiting for him... but, it would be a little anticlimatical to depart so abruptly.  Perhaps he should get a few introductions to the others present?  He walked over to the other group, consisting of the artist, the Empress' brother, and another guest from Equestria.  The shy yellow pegasus seemed busy with the Empress, but the bull felt up to the social task of engaging with the others.  "Well, now that's certainly a fine piece!"  He nodded at the portrait of the Empress.  In conversing with artisans, complimenting their work was always a safe opening.  Halvard had gotten several discounts on armor pieces by so doing.  "You wouldn't happen to be the artist that traveled through our homeland some time ago?  I saw a work in the hall of Jarl Sigrun that seemed similar in style."

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“The Dragon Kingdom is in good hooves,” the Empress affirmed with confidence to the elder Qilin, “I will do everything in my power to continue on the path of prosperity blazed by my late father. Rest assured, the well-being of my subjects is always at the forefront of my mind.”

 

The Empress realized that she had yet to learn the elder’s name; “I do not believe I’ve had the pleasure of learning your name yet, Wise Elder.”

 

"I am glad to hear that our homeland is both peaceful and prosperous. Your father was a great leader, as I remember hearing of his power tempered with wisdom and compassion. I have no doubt that you will carry on his legacy well and forge your own among the leaders of Long Guo."

 

The Qilin realize that he made two errors in his approach. The first was he didn't introduce himself. The second was he didn't present his gift to the Princess and Prince. Perhaps his age was clouding his mind a little as well as being away from the customs of home. 

 

"Ah, but where are my manners? I am Jijing Fengbao. For many years I was one of the Shifu of the sanctuary in Fenghuang Valley where I trained new warriors on the path of harmony and self defense. I also traveled across the lands to repel any raiders who threatened the land and the Qilin who dwelt there. Now that I am older and my strength not what it used to be I decided to visit beyond the lands of my home, training others and learning as much as I can."

 

He paused after his speech before presenting something wrapped in a cloth. Unrolling the cloth revealed a once very formidable spear but now broken in half. 

 

"This spear may be familiar to you Prince and Princess. It was the weapon of the raider Xuè Zhǎo who attacked several villages. I faced him and this spear he wielded it, but rather than attack him, I made a deal that if I shattered his weapon he would have to surrender. He agreed and it our combat I broke this very spear and brought an end to his tyranny. This is my gift to you. May it remind you both that while many might use force to achieve power, the mind always conquers force."

 

The sound of the yellow Fluttershy speaking made the Qilin take notice. Perhaps this was a way of coping when there were many ponies and such talking to her. She then presented the phoenix that she had, explaining it was Princess Celestia's.

 

"A very interesting species indeed," he said, "I was once told that a phoenix's tears could heal even the most grievous of wounds or poisoning. Seeing as you have an affinity towards animals with Philomena being docile towards you, have you ever confirmed this to be true?"

 

The two brothers offered the Princess a drink of their cider, which made Jijing wonder. They didn't seem like the type to poison a Princess, but hearing how the Caribou mentioned strange concoctions the unicorns made, he couldn't drop his guard. He of course trusted the judgment of the nobility, and hoped that no ill will would come. 

 

Spoiler

"Jijing Fengbao" roughly means "Silent Storm." Xue Zhao means "Blood Claw." I wanted to add a little "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" into the lore of the weapon. 

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Fluttershy took a relieved breath as the gathering seemed to have calmed down.  Flim and Flam had scampered off with their tails between their legs.  The large caribou bull that had scared them off appeared to be something of an Ambassador himself, describing himself as a ' Vakstyra.'  Fluttershy did not know what the title meant, but he had come bearing a gift from the Caribou High King.  And while he was large and intimidating, he had backed down at her exclamation. 

 

Fluttershy was surprised when the Empress and her brother both approached to help Preteza.  The Prince thanked her, and then mentioned that he had a gift for her?  "Oh!  Oh no, your Highness, you don't have to do that!" she said, demurely.  Smiling, she added, "Just the chance to meet... I mean see a fenghuang is gift enough!"

 

The exchange between Empress Yuè and Presteza surprised her even more.  "Presteza, you know the empress?" she asked, her mouth agape.  How had the artist managed that already?  Then she saw the painting that the unicorn had been carrying with her.  Fluttershy knew from experience just how quickly Presteza could paint, but this portrait looked to be particularly well done. 

 

Fluttershy took careful note of the interaction between the artist and the Empress.  While the Empress was formal, she was not unfriendly.  So far, she had responded to every creature that had spoken to her, and none of the other had followed what was supposed to be the proper protocol.  Even the older Quilin, who it appears was some sort of a monk, or teacher, had looked directly at the Empress.  A touch a panic hit Fluttershy;  If that part of the briefing was wrong, what else might be wrong??  She quickly calmed, however.  If anything, this should make the meeting easier. 

 

Presteza certainly was not standing on any kind of ceremony, as she introduced Fluttershy to the mare who had been flirting with her.  The yellow pegasus blushed when the artist added in the part about her being the "Element of Kindness."  While she was proud of the things she and her friends had done together, she would never be comfortable with being a celebrity because of it.  Being a model had been bad enough...  being a hero to Equestria?  It was attention she really didn't want.  She did, however greet the other pegasus politely.  "I-it's nice to meet you, Miss Serendipity."

 

When the Empress spoke to Fluttershy again, the pegasus slowly raised her eyes to the other mare, hoping that this was OK.  "Oh, of course, Hour Highness!" she answered, then turned to Philomena's perch.  The phoenix was drinking in the attention.  Fluttershy raised a hoof to her, and the bird stepped onto it.  As she was presented to the Empress, the phoenix spread her wings to show off. 

 

At the same time, Fluttershy spotted another familiar avian.  "Fresco!  What are you doing!" she scolded the fruitbat.  "It's not polite to to climb on other creatures like that!"  The fruitbat also caught the attention of Philomena, who suddenly got a predatory look in her eye.  Seeing this, Fluttershy told the bird, "Oh no, Philomena.  You leave Fresco alone.  He's a friend, not food!

 

Seeing the Empress looking at her, Fluttershy flinched a little.  "Forgive me, your highness.  M-my Special Talent is communicating with animals.  Sometimes I forget others can't understand them as well as I can...

 

Just then, two suspiciously familiar waiters approached the Empress.  Fluttershy's eyes narrowed.  Really?  Did the brothers actually think this would work?  Well, at least it was the cider they were trying to sell this time.  The cider that had made back in Ponyville was good, but the way they went about it...  wait, that... just might work!  Gathering up her courage again, she asked the brothers "And where did you get the apples to make this cider?  I know that nopony in the Apple family will sell to you after what you tried to do..."

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Flim and Flam were very frustrated.  Plan 'B' had been, so far, a complete flop.  Dressed as waiters, they had delivered a goblet of their best apple cider to the Empress to drink, telling her it's origin and, alas, the other dignitaries in line whisked her attention away from the unicorn brothers.  On top of that, as far as they could see, the Empress hadn't even tasted the cider yet. The brothers began a hushed tone conversation:

 

"Now what do we do?  If we try to force the Empress to drink our cider, that hulking colossus of a guard will certainly vanquish us."

 

"But if she doesn't drink it, how will she ever know how delicious it is?   How will we sell her subjects our cider?"

 

"Well brother, do you have any other ideas?"

 

"None at the moment, do you have any?"

 

As Flim and Flam pondered their options, they are surprised when Fluttershy approached them, asking them how they got apples to make new cider.  Quickly dismissing the idea of denying their true identities, the disguised unicorn brothers came up with an explanation they whispered to the Pegasus mare.

 

"We have suppliers outside of the Apple Family, my dear."

 

"Indeed, there are other apple groves in Equestria aside from Sweet Apple Acres."

 

"Say, YOU have some pull with the Empress.  Would you mind arranging a quick meeting for us with her?"

 

"We can certainly make it worth your while, how many bits will it take?"

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Serendipity was surprised and impressed by the introduction she recieved. Element of Kindness, huh? Not only was this mare super cute, she was also somepony really important, not to mention sweet. Serendipity couldn't help but grin at the way she said "Miss Serendipity". 

 

"Likewise," she said with a bright smile. "I've heard all about the Elements of Harmony. Everyone talks about you guys, even back in Las Pegasus, but they haven't said near enough about how pretty you are."

 

Turning back to her adventuing pal, Seren gave a chuckle. "I never knew you had such esteemed friends, Pressy. You really get around, I guess. Good to know how your pal Fresco and you came together though. I was always meaning to ask you that back in Unyasi."

 

"Speaking of esteemed friends, you're doing the portraits of royalty now? How'd you land that gig?" She laughed again and then glanced toward the Empress. It would be impolite to be in the presence of someone on this level this long without introducing oneself, she supposed. She sauntered toward the pretty quilin, removed her shades and flashed a winning smile.

 

"Hello there, Empress. I'm Serendipity, an associate of your artist friend here," she said with cheer. She wasn't sure she knew exactly how to talk to royalty, so she just opted to be herself. "If you're ever inclined to visit Las Pegasus, look me up. I can totally hook you up. My dad owns one of the High Stakes, one of the most happening resorts in town!"

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The princess of friendship trotted through the halls of the castle, headed for the gardens.

 

Twilight was more than excited! This was a momentous occasion to say the least. The Empress of Long Guo herself, along with an entourage from the lands of the east were here! They were making a royal appearance at the Grand Galloping Gala! 

 

Fluttershy had been hoof picked by Twilight to handle the affairs of welcoming the esteemed guests. The yellow pegasus might be a bit soft spoken, but she was the perfect choice to welcome their visitors. 

 

The princess' heart skipped a beat as she stepped onto the lush lawn of the gardens. Her gala dressed glimmered as she took stock of what was before her. It looked like the greetings were in full swing. There were dignitaries from Long Gou, vikings from Whitescar a variety of ponies including the shifty Flim and Flam, and of course Fluttershy. Twilight smiled at her friend and gave her a soft look to let her know they would talk in a few minutes. For now, she had a formal greeting to preform.

 

She noticed a few ponies were offering greetings to the empress. Once they had completed Twilight stepped forward. She stood before the most elegant of qilin.

 

"Empress."

 

The Princess of Friendship inclined her head in the formal manner, placing one foreleg slightly forward as she did so. 

 

"It is my honor as the Princess of Friendship, as well of the honor of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, to welcome you and your court to Canterlot. We are so very pleased to have the leadership of Long Guo with us on the most auspicious of occasions."

 

She lifted her head and smiled. "I trust Fluttershy has been officiating the greetings to your liking?"

 

 

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