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SteelEagle

By No Means Perfect! (SPONSORED- Ponyville)

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Spike did have to admit, although the idea of visiting Whitescar was exciting...wasn't there still some civil unrest going over there? And did she say something about trolls? It'd probably be fine though! He couldn't say something as silly as 'Nothing bad ever happens at a wedding!' because then he'd have to worry that his snout may grow out ten feet or something. And obviously Sigrun and Halvard would prepare for something like wedding crashers so there'd probably be tonnes of guards there! All super strong vikings ready to kick some butt! Or something like that. Spike stood proudly and nodded when Sigrun acknowledged him. "That's right! You don't get to be a number one assistant by dilly dallying!" he said with a nod. Knowing full well he was great at dilly dallying.


But even Luna was praising his assisting prowess, he totally wasn't letting it all go to his head though. Okay. He wasn't letting it go to his head too much. At least no one was getting him started on how he saved the Crystal Empire and had a really cool statue made of him. He's already hard to shut up sometimes. Spike shrugged softly. "I dunno, but it seems like uh...obsession?"

 

Speaking of shutting up, this 'Bolt' didn't seem to have that term in his personal dictionary, and if he talked even half as fast as he ran, no one would ever get a word in edgewise. And aaaas if this guy could ever replace him. I mean sure he was fast and good looking, but the attitude was waaay wrong. At least he was making an attempt at trying, Spike had to give him that. "I already know dragon stuff. I was Dragon Lord." he commented, puffing his chest up proudly. Sure it was like, for five minutes, but that counts!


Before the baby dragon could get anymore braggadocious, Fluttershy chimed in. "Bird seed? I think so, Owlowiscious doesn't really eat the stuff, but I think Starlight has a bird feeder she hangs outside her window. It should be in one of the pantries. I can help you look for it if you want."

Edited by Dubstep
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Bolt did a double take when Spike piped up quickly responding. "You! We're Dragon Lord? I mean you're just a hatchling but if you're Twilight's helper you can't be telling porkies because I know you lot are super into that honesty stuff. The one who wears the hat and kicks trees for a living represents that right?" He asked before remembering what Spike said before he went off track. "Respect little dude! That's a major achievement." Bolt finally felt more at home now he was around another dragon who understood him. Before bumping into Spike he felt like every creature who overheard him was giving him looks as if bragging was bad, showing off was in Bolt's blood he was a natural showmen. Somewhat relived by Spike's major brag after congratulating him Bolt couldn't help but stroke his own ego. "By dragon stuff I meant like fighting, stunts and my personal favorite slaying monsters. I once strangled a hydra with it's own tail, it's skulls made great cave decorations." He gave a wicked smile and gnashed his fangs together looking down at the baby dragon. "After my chat if your boss come find me later and I'll show you something real amazing." 

(I noticed your clever word play about if Bolt could talk as fast as he could move but I just wanted to clear something up. While Bolt's wings we're large he was a very weak flyer probably worse than Fluttershy. He used his wings to break and turn tight corners, his speed comes from his feet not his flight.)

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The morning seemed to fly by all to quickly, and her meeting with Celestia in the morning before the events quite a success. However, it almost put her drastically behind schedule. Thankfully she managed to barely make the last train heading to Ponyville for the evening. She was already a bit lat and she could see other ponies already starting to make their way into the town square for the event. It dawned on her though that she might actually not be able to make it back to Canterlot in time to make that ceremony as well. The train ride here was a couple hours at least, and by the time she left the event here to get to Canterlot, it would already be over. Although that wasn't to say there wouldn't be stragglers from the event, but most would want to go home and spend the rest of the evening with their families. After looking around for a bit she sighed. She would just stay here for the night. She had so many plans for both events but there were only so many hours in a day. Instead she'd just have to make the most of the event and the ponies here. She was sure there would be plenty to enjoy the event with.

 

That being said, as soon as she got there she could instantly tell that she was spot on the nose about the ponies that were here. For the most part she couldn't recognize hardly any of them, and the ones that she did recognize, weren't really native to Ponyville, Twilight being the exception of course. Out of the crowd of ponies she picked up Sigrin. The Jarl of Whitescar could easily stand out in any crowd as well as both Princess Twilight and Princess Luna of course. Aside from that though, everypony here seemed to be a new face. That gave her a lot of opportunities to make new friends and possibly new business acquaintances as well. With her franchise, there really wasn't a shortage of where she could put her store. While she was content on owning five stores, she wouldn't hesitate to put another on in a new region. The thought of Las Pegasus came back to her. She could probably make make even more out there with the casinos. She paused herself though. If she did go out there, then she could potentially fall into the trap that Lens had talked about before. She shook her head. There really wasn't a need to expand at all. She was happy, and that's what Hearth's warming was about. Being happy with Friends and Family.

 

Truth be told she probably should have paid a visit to her mother up in Hoofington. She.... actually couldn't remember when the last time that it was that she had been able to spend time with her mother during the holidays. Although according to her mother, her father never forgave her for running away. It was too bad for him because he would never get to see how successful she had become in spite of him. Nevertheless, it was as it was. Maybe her mother might have come to Ponyville for the event. She didn't know. Ponies came from all over for events like this, and the crowd that had gathered was evident of that. She simply didn't know where to start first.

 

Pushing herself forward though, she made her way to the gift table. The size of her gift wasn't much, it was a simple four by three by one box, extravagantly wrapped. Inside the wrapped box, was a brilliant white sapphire cut into the shape of a snowflake, with blue topaz inlays where the gaps of the snowflakes were. The gems were of the highest quality that she could afford, which were near perfect. The sapphire itself was a twenty karat gem, and would instantly put cheer on anypony's face that was lucky enough to gain the present. Her only hope is that the pony would cherish the gift that they received instead of being inclined to sell it for the value that it had.  She placed it on the table with a smile, making sure the tag that said Merry Hearth's Warming was facing outward. She then scanned the room and started making her way towards where Sigrin was, walking slowly as to not interrupt any conversations as she was moving.

 

~~~~Wind Dancer~~~

 

Ahh Ponyville. It was such a quiet little town compared to the bustling city of Las Pegasus. Though in population it looked like it was starting to gain ground. that was to be expected though considering it was where one of the princesses lived now. Ponies naturally flocked to royalty, thinking that living in the same city as a princess made them special or entitled. After living in Las Pegasus for a few years and doing her dancing gigs in parks in between the occasional set up gigs that the casinos hired her for, she could tell you that the only ponies that were entitled to anything were those that gave others a chance. Everypony else is a shark, looking to gain prosperity at the expense of somepony else. Unfortunately in Los Pegasus, There were only sharks for the most part. Wind Dancer loved, living there, don't get her wrong, but it definitely wasn't a city like any other in Equestria. Your friendships were determined most of the time by how many bits you had. If you were generally on the poor side of the district, then you had a lot of good friends, but they were also poor. If you had bits, you were expected to leave the poor district.

 

Another thing that Ponyville had was snow, and lots of it. She would definitely have to be careful when she started dancing here less she wanted to start a blizzard. It would be even easier to do so now that she had full functionality of her wing back. She just had to be careful when landing because her left knee was starting to show signs of some deterioration. every once in a while she would step wrong and be reminded of that. Tonight though, was going to be fun. She hadn't been to one of these national events in forever and found that it would be a good opportunity to meet some new ponies and extend her contact list. She didn't really know anypony here and just looked around for a bit. She sat her gift down on the table, a simple gift card to one of the casinos... granted there was enough on the card to be nearly an all expenses paid trip, the ponies just needed to get there. It was also at the casino that she performed the most at, so maybe they would come and see one of her shows while they were there!! That would be lovely! For now though, she would just walk and mingle with the crowd. Everypony seemed to be in conversations already so she just made her way to the snack table and took a look at the muchnies.

 

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"Oh my gosh i can't believe it's finally here!!! My favorite time of year!!!" Aloe smiled as she bounced around excitedly. She zipped around in her spa making sure everything was absolutely perfect in every basket that she made. She had made twenty!!! she was absolutely positive that everypony present would love them!! Inside each spa basket was an assortment of shampoos, conditioners, lotions, soaps and bath scents, and on top of everything else, every basket contained a free spa package! The package was random and ranged from their simple package to their extravagant packages. Oh she could barely contain her excitement before she zipped by one of the windows. "OH my gosh!!! it's already starting!!! I'm late!!! Oh why did my sister have to be the one that was gifted with punctuality..." she said to herself as she quickly loaded the baskets onto the card and made haste to the town square, although being gentle enough to not lose or toss her cargo. most of it was breakable so it wouldn't do good if she got to the party and everything was broken. Oh the reputation that would put on their Spa!

 

She didn't have much time to think about it though as she noticed a changling in the distance barreling towards Town Square before sliding on something and careening into a wall another pony seemed to head over towards her and Aloe followed suit catching up with them just in time to hear the stallion ask if she was alright. "Yes, I saw the crash while I was walking up myself. Everything okay?" she asked to the changling and awaiting a response.

 

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Luna offered a kind smile to Fluttershy. "Yes, I am quite sure thou can take care of the situation." She hadn't figured she would be able to help, but it was always nice to offer a helping hoof. If anypony was capable of dealing with upset birdies it was the yellow pegasus.

 

The Princess of the Night continued to listen to the various conversations happening around her. It was fun to be a part of all this though it was also a bit draining. She had never been one for large crowds and this was quickly turning in to just that! She glanced around and noticed the beige stallion standing not too far away. He seemed a bit flustered as well. It showed in the blush on his face. 

 

She recognized this one. His name had escaped her, but she had seen his dreams. Luna moved casually towards him and offered a greeting.

 

"Good evening to thee," 

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Ejaz paused as he noticed Luna approaching him and felt the blush on his cheeks intensifying. After a moment the biege pegasus forced the blush away and gave a small shy smile in a kind silent greeting.

 

“H-hello miss..” The pegasus awkwardly greeted before glancing around and nodding in agreement with her statement.

 

“And... I agree and say yes... i-it is a beautiful evening...” Ejaz states softly as he glanced at Luna. The mechanic definitely remembered seeing her in one of his dreams, years ago when he was a little colt, it was partly what got him to start exploring the world and end up where he was. However, Ejaz had no mind to bring it up, as he wasn’t sure if Luna would remember.

 

“I um... My name is Ejaz... Ejaz Ferron It’s uh... it’s a pleasure to meet you miss Luna..” Ejaz informs with a sheepish smile and some awkwardness in his voice, feeling that the introduction was sudden and a bit left-sided.

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As Boulder Dash was finishing the tree and making sure everything was perfect, he stood up and adjusted his winter cap and admired his work.  Pleased with what he saw he turned to take part in the town festival when he heard what sounded like a crashing noise.  Turning to the source of the noise he saw a group of ponies gathering around a plot of upturned snow and now crystals.  Walking up to the group, he came up behind a pink mare with a light blue mane.

 

"Everything ok Ma'am?" He asked in his country drawl and a tip of his cap.  "Heard a hub bub and wanted to make sure every pony was ok" he explained.

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Halvard gave a deep booming laugh, which may not have had the intended effect of putting Ejaz at his ease.  Might have actually made him more nervous.  Oh, well... "Funny thing, I haven't either.  That puts us on an even playing field.  Though a contest isn't quite so much fun with just two..."  At that thought, the pair of them were approached by Princess Luna!  The impact was.... perhaps less for Halvard than it would be for one of her own subjects.  Instead of a bow of reverence, he gave her a comradely pat on the back.  "How about you, your majesty?  Want to join in?"  It might have been shocking to see for ponies, but it was understandable for caribou.  Their royalty were less insistent about personal space at a party.  By necessity!  Longhouses could get packed in the winter.

 

Looking out to the crowd, he extended the invitation.  "Open for all!  Take the bragging rights home with you, if you can earn them!"

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Ejaz whipped his head to look at Halvard when he had laughed, smiling sheepishly and chuckling quietly once he heard the caribu admit to not having tried any himself. Ejaz then blinked when he saw Halvard talk to Luna with such casualty and ease, wondering what the princess would think of such an attitude before his eyes widened when the caribou had invited everyone else. Ejaz suddenly feeling very self-conscious and insecure, now he could definitely handle sociallizing with a group more than individually (as he had less talking to do when others were involved) but the thought of having everybody present almost directly involved in his activites (even if it was with somepony else) gave the beige pegasus a sudden claustrophobic feeling that made his heart jump into his throat.

 

Though all this panicking that was going on inside him didn’t show through his body language (which was rather calm and almost nonchalant) it did however, convey through his wide red dots for eyes that stared out towards the other ponies with caution and even a bit of fear.

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To Fluttershy, the teal pegasus tapped her chin "I see, I'll have to plan a trip to- Wait, Mage Meadowbrook. As in THE Mage Meadowbrook? She was instrumental in the foundation and spread of alchemy in Equestria! I grew up on a steady diet of her stories during my studies! She was REAL? And she's still alive?! Omigosh, omigosh, omigosh!" She fluttered in place, nearly doubling herself in the effort to contain her excitement. It did odd things to the chain of snowflakes dyed into her pelt, making them dance and squirm. She settled suddenly and shook her head. "Wait, first things first."

 

Windy cocked her head to one side and bit her lower lip as she faced the princess. "I mean. Obviously I'd need to meet her first to figure out if she wants a temporary shift like mine are or something more permanent. I...think I can manage a permanent change, but I'd need to go over a couple of things with her. Technically the temporary tonic is safer, in that I've actually tested it." 

 

She blushed and gestured down at herself with a wing. "But without getting too...technical I'm only mostly a mare like this. I don't get a lot of volunteers to test a long-term option, and I'm limited to theory without testing." The mare fidgeted a little, then coughed and added "Like I said, I'll be in town for a few more days, and planned to do a consult or three. Though..."

 

She glanced over Twilight's shoulder briefly. "Princess Twilight, would you mind terribly if I took my 'magic potion' back? I think I can see someone else that might need it.

 

~~

 

A teal mare slid in close to the beige pegasus and whispered, "Hey, no pressure but I do have a solution here that might help." She produced the vial of the stoppered red liquid and held it up for inspection. "It's a fairly simple recipe for me, but I've given it to a lot of ponies who ended up able to do the things they wanted with a lot more confidence. No charge, it's the giving season."

 

She hoofed him the 'potion' and winked at the assembled 'bou with the eye facing away from him to (hopefully) let them know there was no trickery involved. She then turned to face them and spoke up "I've heard of the legendary mead of the Northern Gods, won in a drinking challenge by brave heroes. Will you be able to face them when a simple pony mare from Rainbow Falls bests you? If so I'll take up the call!"

 

It was this precise moment, with one hoof pointing defiance at the viking assembly, that the crystal spell finally figured out what parts of her locks it could work on and her shampoo figured out what parts IT could work on, combining into a luxurious sparkling mane and tail that flowed in a breeze that didn't exist. She felt it happen, and wished somepony had a camera because she would probably NEVER get the chance to see it again.

 

Spoiler

FYI: Not Luna/Tia sparkling, just a crystal mane caught in a majestic breeze.

 

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"You no fun Moto. We supposed to announce that together." said the familiar voice.

 

Indeed, wearing winter variation of his standard getup Swift Squall approached the scene. What was notable, he wasn't 'crystallized' like the rest of the assembled characters. His arrival must've been the most recent development.

"Sorry for the wait Love. But, oh my.So many familiar faces today. Is that Ice back there? And Spring, Luna Miss Fluttershy, Miss Sparkle....Sigrun."  unicorns eyes flickered with excitement while he spoke the name of caribou Jarl, one of his legs unwittingly moving towards to his blade.

".....No...not today." he mused while returning his limb to the ground, before turning his head to meet the gaze of statuesque cow.

"There is time and place for everything. As much as I loathe to admit it. I was looking forward to compare how much our skills have grown but....." he paused.

"You still have the task ahead of yourself, it's it Jarl Askr? Is that why you came here today? Because of our holiday.....and the history behind it? " noblepony asked. ".....You see something familiar in the story from ages long past, don't you." he added before stopping again.

"Sorry, I soured the mood. However I will second what my Love has said. When you two will decide the time and place to intertwine your lives, we will be there, to witness it."

 

Unicorn's gaze then shifted to another familiar face.

"Spring...." he said before quickly making his way to his changeling friend.

"Spring...are you alright?" Swift asked. The tone in witch he asked the question made it clear wasn't meaning her physical condition. Noblepony knew her better then most, so it was no secret for him that she was going through the rough spot.

"You should take more care of yourself."  he mused as he lifted his hoof to dust her off. "If something would happen to you, who would I banter with?" Squall said, but the warm smile that he wore made it clear what he really meant.

 

"So this flash I saw from above and...sparkling following it is yours doing Miss Sparkle? To be honest I am not surprised. That's the bad habit of yours Miss Twilight." Swift said to purple princess. "One of my teachers once told me: I fear not the sword who has practiced 10,000 strikes once, but I fear the blade that practiced one slash 10,000 times.'." swordpony said with the slight nod at the memory. "Aside from Luna here perhaps, you have larger repertoire of spells and sorcery then rest of assembled here combined. But how many of them you cast more then once Miss Sparkle?" he pointed out.

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Ejaz jumped slightly as he noticed the teal mare coming up close behind him, awkwardly and in stunned silence did Ejaz catch the potion with his wings, and watched with utter confusion as she stated what they were before sliding away. Ejaz continued to watch as she announced her challenge and then her sudden transformation, the pegasus raising an eyebrow at this before turning his attention away. Yes he wanted some form of interaction, but this was almost too much, the beige stallion’s ears did flick towards Twilight once he heard Swift Squall practically mock her, and glared at the other stallion. Those kinds of attitudes utter ticked him off, and this was no different. A part of him wanted to walk in and scold Swift, defending the alicon in the process, however, Ejaz gave Twilight some faith, and instead decided to just listen for now and see what happens next.

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“Obsession... right...” Kojo mused next to his fellow small dragon. One unfortunate difference for him was that Spike still had some growing to do. He didn’t mind too much though, he could still do his work, and it helped other ponies accept him. 

 

Speaking of other ponies, it seemed one was involved in some drinking contest with a caribou that just got opened to all. The stallion didn’t seem to care for that idea much... though a mare soon slid in with a bottle of... nothing special from what he could see. Was she trying one of them... what were they called? Placebos? Yeah, that sounded right. He shrugged, not wanting to ruin the effect for the stallion, simply heading over to the small group. 

 

“Well, eggnogg is mighty tasty. Sure, Ah’ll give it a whirl.” The dragon nodded, smiling at them until he overheard a unicorn talking to Twilight. He frowned a bit, in the same boat as the beige pegasus as far as that situation went. 

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Twilight nodded, giving the vial back to Windwright. She had several thoughts on the whole Valen affair but those in the know had given her more dramatic insight. She was busy for now, but Twilight knew Windwright could accomplish this task. It would be a great gift to the Oranges to have this problem solved and then Valen could live live on the terms chosen, not given. “We can talk about this later, when you're less busy perhaps? There is honestly a great deal to go over.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
She remembered who he was now! Rarity hired a private investigator while in Las Pegasus and this was the stallion in question. Rarity had good things to say about his dedication, even if series of events still confused her. He was a quality private investigator whose dedication was not possibly question, who had an eye for detail but sometimes missed the bigger picture. No great sin. Effort alone account for much of what made a pony special and when somepony dedicated themselves to something, they could turn out to be something special. “Well, I'm sure you'll be able to keep a close on libra. Happy Hearthswarming Lens. Make sure to enjoy the festivities, detective,” she said, allowing him to separate from her so he could extend out into the wider party.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There was a stallion who was flying above, who had until now not been greatly involved. She noticed what looked like...a blush? Yes, she was used to it by now. Ever since she had ascended to the role of Princess of Friendship she had a great deal of ponies that looked up to her. Well-wishers and admirers alike flooded her with letters and proposals (of all kinds). She didn't mind it as much as she used to. It didn't mean it wasn't awkward for her but she looked past it. She was about to call him down and get him to talk, but her caribou friends challenged him to a drinking contest. Well! That was a good way to get some caribou friends.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the massive rush of conversations she had almost forgotten Fire Walker. How could she though? As Princess, Twilight had access to the reports detailing the effectiveness and quality of each guard pony and few of them were as good as she. That was one of the reasons that she had requested Fire guard Applejack when Applejack needed to head deep into the Everfree. Of course she wanted to hear back from Applejack regarding Fire's quality because she had more plans in store for the Guard should she pass the all-important friend test. Fire Walker was a wonderful guard and somepony that could be trusted. When Fire was free, Twilight came up to her with a wide smile. “Fire Walker! I am so glad you were able to come to tonight's festivities. When this all dies down I have something I'd like to speak to you about, an offer I think you'll enjoy,” Twilight said with great enthusiasm, ignorant of Fire's dislike.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
She opened up Bolt's gift, It was wrapped with more care than she would have believed.** OOC: MESSAGE ME ON DISCORD AS TO WHAT YOU WANT THIS TO BE. AT THE MOMENT I CANNOT REMEMBER AND AM DISORIENTED. **
She couldn't help but be surprised mostly at the source. She had never seen this dragon before and in just a few moments he had thrown a thousand different attempts at impressing and general wooing, yet the present wasn't half bad. She didn't think much of the wooing or attempts to impress, but she did think highly of a dragon who bucked convention and gave rather than took. "Thank you, Bolt. I must say that you are one surprising Dragon!"

She put it away in her saddlebag, smiling. “A gift given is a sure sign of the sort of value this holiday represents. Hearth's Warming Eve represents the light and care of friendship that sparks so brightly within all of us. When shared, it is the most powerful element in all of creation. Powerful enough to shield a nation from monsters from the Id by its mere existence. Powerful enough to defeat Changelings and monsters of all stripes time and time again. Friendship is Magic- without friendship, we never would have won. Without friends, none of us would be here,” she said, deciding to cut her lecture short as it seemed a good old fashioned caribou drinking game was about to begin among other things. Those could get rowdy. “Enjoy the festivities tonight, Bolt, and reflect on the fact that the strongest abilities of all come from the warmest of hearts.”

Bolt was a unique case to be sure. His continued bragging was more than a little vexing but she understood him well enough even through this manner of interaction that she knew he was trying awfully hard to be friendly and kind. Spike and Ember were rare examples of their breed. Most Dragons had more in common with Bolt and his braggadocios ways than Twilight would care to believe. He was trying- that was enough for her.

 

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The aforementioned caribou were all slightly put off by her magical outburst. She felt bad but only in-somuch as she couldn't have used her magic to do something more appropriate for them. It was such a wonder that they could even find the time to fall in love with how busy they must be, not to mention the other thousand factors conspiring against their future. To find the time to not only love but desire commitment? That was truly special. Her mind swam with the many geo-political effects this would have. Far more than that she couldn't even begin to express just how happy she was for them all. As the drinking contest started to get prepped, her tail wagged around and she hovered in place, her hooves clasped together in excitement.

“Oooh, I have so many ideas on what to get you two. I made a list of possible wedding gifts to be given to couples, and I have it broken down into many different possible couplings and then subvided among the many different situations the coupling might take place under,” she clopped her hooves together in mid-air, eyes closed, as she imagined going over the list. “I haven't had an honest chance at shopping for a wedding present yet!” Her eyes opened, starry all the way. “Think of the list scouring and then the list-rebuilding!” She squeed. She was in a great mood, everything was great and happy.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And then Squall showed up and antagonized her mildly. Twilight appreciated the quality of Swift's skills which enabled him to become involved in many things. She disliked intensely the overriding air of arrogance and the lack of social graces he seemed to revel in. She sighed as he needled her, though she did think of a proper answer. She could always just teleport him into aetheric space between the filament of reality to experience time where sensation was timeless, but decided against it.

“Oh, by my last count...over three-hundred and sixteen spells to a degree of mastery. Around another four-hundred near it. A thousand or so others I know well enough. Only a few of them involved decor. None of them did what I wanted to do tonight, so I tried something new,” she sighed, “nice to see you, Squall. How was the trip here?”
 

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Lens was certainly impressed by just how gracious, yet how personal Princess Twilight came across, she blended royalty with informality, it was a refreshing experience having the conversation with her, but he was somewhat glad to be dismissed before the next group of ponies came along to speak to her; some of the ponies coming along looked like they may need Twilight's full attention to dance around their rude nature. He bows slightly to her "Happy Hearthswarming, Princess Twilight. I do hope you'll get all the things that you may want." he blushed a bit at being recognised as a detective, especially since most ponies who hadn't worked with him saw him more as an issue than anything else, so when he was recognised, he was a bit humbled at being so. He quickly wanders away, looking for where to go to now.

Spotting a pony alone by the snack table he sighs with relief, walking over and looking at the spread in front of him "I'm not sure I even know how to pronounce half of this stuff..." he mumbles to himself, trying to look for anything familiar to him, he tilts his head while trying to read what one item was, "Now that can't be a real word..." He looks to the mare next to him, looking back down to the table before doing a double take; he was sure he had seen this mare's image on posters around one of the local casinos near him. He found himself staring for a few seconds in disbelief before shaking his head clear and looking back to the table "Ah, roasted chestnuts. Something I know at last." he sighs with relief, the snack being very popular with the less well off ponies in the Ground District of Las Pegasus, as a cheap and filling holiday snack.

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Squall sighted deeply, as much at himself as at Twilight. The insensitive bluntness that he displayed at times was a problem of him that he was aware of. Swift massaged his tmeple was he tried again to explain what he meant without being rude.

"That's what I was talking about. I asked a rhetorical question and you give precise numbers Miss Sparkle...." he stopped when he realized that he was doing that again.

 

"Apologies. Please understand, I am have no intention of being crass. I just...." he paused, clearly embarrassed by his own insensitivity.

 

"Let's try this again. Miss Twilight, you are one of the most brilliant ponies I ever met, and I walked across five continents. You have incredible amounts of theoretical and practical knowledge, and your logical thinking is honed to such degree that if it was a blade it would cleave Eponnine Mountains in half." noblepony said.

"Which is precisely a problem. Please forgive me if I come as judgmental, but during our talks, and from the Friendship Journal you and your friends published - fascinating lecture by the way - I got an impression that you have tendency to over-analyze things. Something that I myself are very guilty of to be honest, although the mutual acquaintance of ours helped me to remedy this somewhat." Swift paused as his thought drifted a certain draconequus. He couldn't help but roll his eyes remembering some of the antics Discord got him into

 

"Well it's good to see you too Miss Sparkle. Since most of my Love's family lives here, I decided to drop by. Quite literally I must add." he said as he raised his gaze to the sky. High above a shadow of massive object could be seen, hidden behind a cloud cover. It had to be as big as an airship, but the shape was not quite right. "After that mess with a Storm King, I begun to think that our military equipment is...well..to be blunt, obsolete. I don't know if Celestia shares the same sentiment, but I feel that it is about time that we make some upgrades. I just hope that this concept vessel will be enough for her to to agree with me. I prefer for our nation not to go through such curb-stomp again." he confessed.

 

"But back to the other topic. From what I understand this enchanting...." Squall waved his hoof around. "..effect wasn't exactly intentional. Please tell me, what were you feeling before you cast the spell that caused this?"

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"Princess Luna!" Sigrun bowed her head, not as deeply as before though: She needed to spare her neck the strain of bowing all night. "Happy Hearthswarming, It's a pleasure to finally meet you. Would you be interested in attending the wedding between Halvard and myself? It will be a bit different from Equestrian weddings, but hopefully not to an alienating degree."

 

 

Calder's apology brought a warm smile to the cow's lips,"I understand, Calder I was a bit shorter not before all..." She gestured to her appearance, "This happened." The slow ascent was also a confusing one as the furry cow was lifted up with the power of Twilight's magic. She'd heard of the violet princess' prowess with magic but this was an impressive feat! Being held up by magic though was not something she was terribly fond of given stories she'd grown up on:Ones of past wars with magic users and caribou who forgot their armor ending messily when they headed in a direction not unlike this predicament. Thankfully she was set back down not long after Twilight and Fluttershy accepted the invitation, "Right now It's being planned out for maybe three months from now? A marriage back home between two high ranking members of prominent clans is a very complicated event." 

 

"It will likely be held at the major keep of either Clan Breen or Askr. As for the date It hasn't been given a solid one just yet." Looking to Fire though she scooted closer just as the pony did, "Also it's actually 'Chieftain Sigrun' as much I'd love the title, I'm no queen."Swift squall... if she recalled that name correctly, he was one of the first ponies she'd met so long ago back when the rebels assisted on the sacking of the Crystal empire. Their first meeting could have gone better, but over time she considered him something of an ally. With a delighted smiled and gentle hug to her side, "I'd be honored to attend you're wedding as well, Miss Fire."

 

And there was the stallion in question now! Arriving fashionably late and a bit eager for a scuffle it seemed, she admired the restraint he showed shortly after approaching her. "Perhaps I do... I have my suspicions and curiosities but it is beyond my ability to really investigate further."

 

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Ejaz honestly didn’t know what to say, there were already a lot starting to get involved and walked over, it wasn’t soon until Ejaz felt a little uncomfortable with all these strangers. While their friendly attitudes did help to calm his nerves a little, it wasn’t enough to keep Ejaz from quietly slinking out from the center of the group just to breathe a little. Inside he was incredibly happy that he wasn’t going to be alone this year, buy there were just certain parts that wished he didn’t meet so many strangers in such a short moment. Not to mention that mare that gave him a potion, Ejaz’s gaze turned down to the bottle in his wings, a small frown forming as he utterly hated performance enhancing potions or anything of the sort, but since he didn’t want to just drop it in a random spot for some other poor creature to end up consuming it, Ejaz carried it with him and wandered closer to Twilight’s group (since it was smaller than the one that had formed around him).

 

There the stallion listened quietly to Swift and Twilight, smiling ever so slightly as she had responded, and feeling a little less angry when Swift apologized for his behavoir. Ejaz glanced back at the larger group that kinda overwhelmed him with curiosity before returning his attention to the conversations of the smaller group, a part of him wondering if he should head back or just kinda hover around, though considering how quickly things had escelated when he went from interacting with just Luna to suddenly a fair sized group of others, some parts of Ejaz -the ones that didn’t mind being alone- favored the latter decision, while others favored the former choice, which ultimately just put the biege pegasus at a standstill.

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Fire Walker always liked Spike. While she rarely ever actually interacted with the little dragon boy, she always thought well of him. When she lived in Canterlot, she would sometimes catch the purple guy and Twilight as they cantered about with more than a few books in tow. The unicorn (which she was back then) would have a few stacks floating alongside her, while the dragon would seem to be carrying his body weight in tomes. Do dragons have ant strength? His cheerful little voice would also brighten up any room he entered. And it now seemed that he had an big imagination as well. He was the dragon lord? Ha! What a joker!
 
Being the traditional and respectful sort, the officer made sure to give a slight bow as the ‘Princess Of The Night’ walked by. “Wishing you an most merry of Hearth’s Warming Eve.” It then dawned on her. It was Princess Luna that helped escalate her relationship with Swift Squall. It was awhile back when she stood guard with the princess as they toured an cute little ‘themed’ tavern. The pair ran into Swift, and while the young officer properly greeted the stallion, the princess, who knew they were a couple, insisted that they spend a little time together. The Alicorn did not need a foal-sitter! She even went so far as drag the Pegasus right into the unicorn’s path with her magic. This was the very first time Fire had looked directly into Swift’s wondrous jade colored eyes. A sight she never grew tired of.
 
With this image in her mind, she bounced up a little as she heard fiancé's voice. “I was whispering dear.” He was very good at reading lips. “I did not want to wake you.” After the very large meal they all had, more than a few members retired to the couch, floor, bedrooms, space near the fireplace, etc to take a nap. Swift was one of them.  It had been a very busy day for the pair. Her husband to be got to meet every single one of her siblings along with their wives and children. A few of the heartier brothers who knew about the unicorn's sword skills even dared to challenge him to a mock duel. Only the eldest brother Cordy was even remotely a match against the orange stallion.
 
“Oh, and I’m apparently an crystal pony.”, sure enough, the mare was very crystal-ly, “I really hope this is not permanent.”, she whispered, “And I’ve been invited to her wedding.”, she glanced over at the Caribou (soon to be?) queen.
 
While her magical antics did give the mare a slight bit of bother, Fire Walker still respected the purple princess. Even before she ascended into Alicorn-Hood, Twilight had helped save the world more than a few times. “Anything you wish, your highness.
 
The officer let out a grunt when her beloved mentioned the ‘Storm King’. This whole debacle annoyed the Pegasus to no end. They had a massive event in the center of Equestria right by the castle. All the princesses were there, along with many very important ponies from all over the kingdom. Add to that, an Songbird Serenade concert...And how many of the guard were stationed? Not a one! This allowed an fuzzy buffoon and an unicorn with a broken horn to somehow conquer the capital city without breaking a sweat. And while things did work out at the end, it was still not a very proud day for Equestria. There had also been more than a few requests to have the severed stone head of the so called 'Storm King' to be installed in one of the R.E.A stallion bathrooms to be used as an urinal, but those requests had been denied. The rest of his forces had apparently been giving amnesty, since ponies were an EXTREMELY forgiving race.
 
"Oh right. Chieftain.", the mare's crystal cheeks managed to turn even redder, "Many pardons on that. But you and your soon to be husband do very much look the part." Needing to find the right gift for the Caribou would make an most excellent excuse to do some heavy research on  Sigrun's culture.  Fire Walker paused to listen to Twilight's short speech. "Chieftain, do your people celebrate any sort of winter holiday?"
 
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Well, well!  It seemed that there would indeed be takers to his challenge!  Not that Halvard was in any way worried; he may not have been much of a tribalist, compared to others of his kind, but he still held caribou drinking superiority as an axiomatic truth, which he would be only too willing to demonstrate by experiment.

 

Nonetheless, he would perhaps have to share the bragging throne with the Equine kind!  That mare's boast was one of the finest he'd personally heard.  "Aye, we'll pour one out for your brave facing of inevitable and unenviable odds, defeat that may yet crown itself in glory, merely for the courage to take up the challenge!"  He laughed, in fine good humor that was diminished not a whit by the next acception being by a dragon.  Now there would be a victory actually worth bragging about!  It would warrant little attention that a caribou bull could outdrink a pegasus mare, but a dragon, even a small one?  That would actually be a challenge.  

 

"Happy to have you along... what was your name?  Yours too, actually."  He turned back to the mare, and the stallion for that matter.  None of them knew each other's names; in fact. Halvard hadn't introduced himself!  Silly him; time to remedy that.  "I am Halvard of Clan Breen, a name you should remember when everyone asks why there's no more eggnog left."

 

Looking over to his mate and... hm, what was Calder?  Technically a protege, but the blue bull had started to think of him more as a son than anything else.  He'd actually been considering for a little while now actually adopting the young bull as such, but wasn't yet sure how well the young one would take it, given his previous family experiences.  Well, Sigrun was currently busy talking with others, but Calder looked free.  "Last call, Calder.  You want in on this?"

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Calder was in many ways thankful no bull or pony took note of his tiny outburst of rather unbull like panicked screaming when he was picked up. Other than Halvard remarking to him that this was part of why they wanted to be peaceful with the ponies. Well he only say a rather small and gentle showing of power it left it’s mark on Calder as he only nodded gently at Halvard and was for a short moment, lost in his thoughts as he stays close behind Sigrun for safety before relaxing. Panicked two times in the span of a first meeting, he really was the most disappointing caribou to live. At least he can be thankful that Halvard tolerated him at all, let alone acted so nice. The bull must only do so out of raw pitty most days.

 

Being spoken to finly shakes him out of his self loathing and worry as Halvard asked if he wanted to join something. “Huh?” He asked blankly before his brain got back too speed. “Oh, drinking contest was it?” He asked in their native tongue before adding more. “I like the sound of that, are we teaming up? If we are we may wish to contact a hospital to be on standby. I do not put much faith in a pony beating us.” he says with smile, now drinking… that was something he was not a failure at! Not at all, runt or not he handles his drinks like the best of them and took some amount of pride in his ability to stay drink to drink with much bigger bulls.

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Boulder Dash turned his head up at the sound of one of Princess Twilight's royal guests announcing a drinking contest of eggnog, a popular beverage around during the season.  Normally he stayed out of politics, wise words from his grandpa.......but maybe now how would his father react to him not accepting a contest of drink.  Smiling proudly and knowing deep down what to do, he walked over to Halvard and bowed to him for a moment with a smile.

 

"Good evening Suh, ya'll can call me Boulder Dash.  I wish to accept your challenge of drink on behalf of the fine ponies of Ponyville.  Though I most inform you as both a country stallion and a sailor I fight hard and battle bravely for my town's honer" he said tipping his hat to him and smiling in a challenging way.

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"Call me Windwright, Pineson and Sunshinesdottir and alchemist of some renown. I drink for the reputation of Rainbow Falls and my husband Stormwatcher. Recounting my exploits would take a week and a day, and features the creation of over a dozen medicines, the cultivation of a dozen plants, and the destruction of a cottage in Las Pegasus." she announces loudly, turning to face the crowd in a slow arc. Her education had clearly been storied to include working a crowd and 'bou boasting. She meandered as she did and ended up near Ejaz, smirking at the Caribou with a playful glint in her eye.

 

"C'mon, it's fun. Just brag about stuff you've done, use your dad's first name and -son, then go on about things. Just don't lie, you get in trouble if you get caught making stuff up." She said quickly out of the corner of her mouth, trying to pull the stallion into the festivities. She didn't see the punch on her quick glance over so assumed he'd already drank it.

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With the impending lecture finally dropped Bolt listened intently hoping to find some wisdom in her words, he was sorely disappointed when the topic was nothing but friendship. To add insult to injury Bolt was rather hurt that Twilight didn't even address his offer to lend favours to the alicorn, it was his way of having an excuse to get on her good side. Well at least she liked the present he told himself as he felt his enthusiasm deflate. "Yeah, you to Twi, Happy Hearths Warming and a prosperous new year." Is all he said flicking a two clawed wave over his shoulder as he zipped back into the sea of creatures at the party. Exhaling embers Bolt couldn't help but feel taken aback by Twilight's reactions, normally the prospects of the upcoming drinking game would give him cause to join in. After all getting drunk and showing off at the same time was like a siren call to the dragon, however due to his recent encounter that song fell upon deaf ears. Parking his behind at one of the many benches he used one hand to hold up his head while the claws on the other idly scratched markings into the table. In time his foot would rapidly thump the ground as he grew restless wandering through his troubled mind. 

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Reinforcing the notion that whatever happened was a minor mishap, rather than an attack of some sort, a few ponies approached Naj as she recovered from both the impact and the discovery.  Or at least, one pony, a unicorn.  The other, curiously enough, was a dragon.  Rather than concerned for their own safety, they were concerned for Naj's well being, which she belatedly realized might have been reasonable.  She had been moving fairly fast when she hit the wall.

 

Naj waved off their concerns all the same.  “I'm alright, I'm alright...”  She rubbed her forehead with a hoof as she responded.  “I've had worse than this.  Just give me a minute or two, and I'll be fine.”  Not wanting them to fret over her too much- she really would be fine- she shifted subjects.  “ 'Hearth's warming magic', huh?”  That had been the explanation offered.  “Not what I would have expected...though, the last time I saw a magic burst on a holiday, things were-”  She coughed all of a sudden, as she realized where that topic could lead, and how it probably wasn't the best subject for the holidays.  “That was, um, a different sort of thing,” she finished awkwardly.

 

It turned out to be a good thing that Naj recovered quickly, as she was then greeted by Ponyville's resident princess herself.  Twilight was apparently quite pleased with Naj's presence, having worried about whether the changeling would show up or not.  Naj supposed that settled the issue of whether or not she'd be staying for the party.  Even after galloping into town, she hadn't been sure.  If the town was safe, she wasn't sure she was needed.  However, when a princess expressed hope that she'd show up, the changeling couldn't bring herself to refuse.  “Ahh...I guess it's a good thing I came down, then!”  Twilight was more casual than any leader she'd known before, but she hadn't fully shaken her old way of thinking toward her leaders.

 

Twilight confirmed that it was in fact Hearthswarming magic, in particular a spell that went out of control.  Naj nodded, unsure quite what to say to that at first.  It seemed understandable, especially with more complex or wider reaching spells, though she couldn't say for sure.  “Well, any mistake you can walk away from is a good one, right?  I think it turned out pretty well, all things considered.”  Beyond that, she wasn't sure what to say to the princess.  She shuffled awkwardly for a moment.

 

Fortunately Naj was saved from having to find something when she spotted, and perhaps more importantly was spotted by a pony she knew more closely.  They'd worked together a few times in the past, and then there was that mess at the new daycare centre, which was best left unmentioned.  “Fire!  It's been a while!”  She waved as the pegasus approached.  Fire gave the changeling a once-over, before offering her own explanation with noticeable hint of irritation.  Naj could kind of understand the annoyance, altough she had something of a different perspective.  “Yeah, that's a relief.  My first thought had been something a lot worse.”  Now it was Naj's turn to look over her companion.  “For what it's worth, I think the look works, if maybe a little on-the-nose.”

 

And where Fire Walker was, her partner often wasn't far behind.  It wasn't long before Swift Squall had come to check up on her as well.  Of course, he knew what Naj did for a living, so he wasn't asking about her physical state.  She found the banter a welcome distraction, and replied in kind.  “Ahh, you're a capable pony Squall, I'm sure you'll frustrate someone else soon enough,” she said with a grin, though  it only took a moment for her to get more serious again.  “But I'm...surviving, I guess.  I'm not entirely sure where I'm going, but I'm still going, and that has to count for something, right?”

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Ejaz paused as he heard Halvard ask for his name, and the pegasus looked over with a tilt of his head before a small smile graced his features.

 

“Ejaz... My name is Ejaz Ferron, it’s a pleasure to meet you...” The pegasus introduces, calling back towards the Caribou since the stallion had snuck away earlier. The male then looked back over at Twilight as he heard Bolt’s voice, abd tilted his head at the dragon curiously as he faintly recognized the flying lizard, but since he couldn’t exactly place where, the beige pegasus dismissed his thought.

 

However, it seemed the state known as confusion wasn’t done with Ejaz as the sound of Windwright bragging while introducinv herself reached his ears, Ejaz looking over with a raised eyebrow. He could never see the point of bragging, why do it? He knew most did it soely to impress, but if someone bragged and couldn’t keep up with it, then wouldn’t the embarrassment hurt that much more? The more Ejaz thought, the more he figured that if somepony really wanted to impress others, then instead of bragging, they should downplay themselves, lower others expectations (though not too much, just so that they don’t expect the non-standard things one can do), so that when one does something really spectacular, it truly surprised and impresses those who witness it.

 

After thinking about ways to impress somepony, Ejaz discarded the train of thought as impressing others wasn’t his goal. Suddenly, the beige stallion was brought back to reality as Windwright approached him closely and whispered to him. At first, the pegasus blushed from the proximity and glanced away before the mare’s words reached his ears, Ejaz sighed as he glanced at Windright and held the potion out to her with one of his large wings.

 

“Well... Two things... one, I don’t know the name of my dad, and two, even if I did, I don’t fancy perfomance enhacinv potions like this.... Or any of the things similar to it.... So thank you for the offer, but I kindly decline.” Ejaz softly states with an apologetic but stern expression, as if silently stating that he wasn’t changing his mind any time soon.

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