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Off to the side of the events, just out of sight from the bleachers, a large white sunshade was stretched over tall wooden poles, making a tent to rest out of the sunlight and heat.  Underneath could be found seats for relaxing, supplies for hydrating, and spaces for stretching in order to warm up and cool down from the events of the Iron Pony.  Athletes could come here to decompress between events, and mingle with other competitors, as well as any interested audience members.  A small table with pens and paper was provided for the distribution of autographs too!

 

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"Uuurrraaaagghgghhh...."  Feng Yinhaitao was currently doing some full body stretches, following by a set of crunches, all in the hopes of lightening the lump that 17 cupcakes had made in his stomach.  Really, he supposed an eating contest was there for variety only, but he couldn't resist after seeing his friend compete in scarfing down those baked beauties!  It was good practice, he told himself, for when he might need to eat in a hurried situation as a part of his Watcher duties.  Not a case of eyes being bigger than stomachs, no siree!

 

Taking a gulp of cold water, he sighed, resisting the urge to flop and sprawl over one of the chairs.  Couldn't have a Long Guo cultural ambassador in so undignified a situation, could he?  *Beeeelllllccchh*  Welp, too late.  With another sigh, he flopped frontside-down on the chair, letting the seat compress his stomach.  That felt better, slightly.  "Mph, mistakes were made..."  He muttered to himself.  Thank the Long the Empress couldn't see him now.

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“And that is why I don’t eat junk.” Without making a sound a mare was standing in front of Feng, leaning down to be eye level with the lazy male he was greeted with a pair of blueish green eyes that had nothing nice or warm about them. Her gaze hit as hard as a spear to the chest as he felt her judgement. The armored pulled her eyes away, standing tall with a shake of her head she took a few steps away. “I must say, I was impressed by you. Somewhat. I saw a shred of real talent. So i’m despanted to see you laying about full of junk and sweets. Helpless. I’d never let myself be like that.” She snorted well looking at the others milling about. “But than few here care about such things… fun and games or something.” Her tone was just as heartless as her glaring eyes.

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Feng opened one eye, letting his pupil roam over the hard-edged mare who addressed him.  "A cultural ambassador should show trust in his hosts.  Trust that they have made a space safe enough to be helpless is a high compliment.  An upset stomach is a small sacrifice for the sake of a greater mission."  The twinkling in his one open pupil and small grin showed that his circumstances had not displaced his playful spirit; he was just in too good a mood to rise to her bait.

 

"I'll grant, though, you did the hydroplaning over mud better than me.  I'll remember to take the opening leap next time, though I think the finesse on the landing I shall have to practice."  It was only fair, he felt, to return a compliment, if only a half-plotted one.  The coldness in her manner struck him less as an insult, though, and more as a challenge.  He'd picked up friendships from outcasts and recluses, but this would be his greatest triumph yet!

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The mare flicked her ears not looking at Feng as he spoke. But his compliment did make her tail twitch as her head turned to look at him with a side glare. “Safe?” She says with a small grin on her lips. “Safe is like a ship. The more safe one says it is the faster such a hope sinks to the bottom of the sea. But… Thank you.” She added the last part with a tiny wave of a hoof before she looked away. “I… Was very impressed by the sky dive. I wish for wings sometimes. Maybe why I love my airships so much. More free up there.” She stands there for a few moments before finly turning sound to face Feng more proper. “What is your name? Not mangled by some pony that can’t say words with more than five letters.”

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Pathfinder wished she could have competed in this year's Iron Pony but truth was that she was already the owner of the perfect score in the Cloud Diving event last time it was held. Why ruin perfection? Heh, she wished that was why. The real reason was that she had arrived late, and she had arrived tired from the trip. She felt lower energy than normal lately. She only visited five ruins and six unexplored caves between here and Stalliongrad, a real low-point in her adventuring career. Maybe she was sick, but she generally knew if she was sick because she bled really well and she wasn't bleeding or feeling like her brain was melting, which it did at least once before...her memory was fuzzy. Did the acidic mind worms eat memories or feelings? More research needed, but next time not with her head while knocked out in a ruin. Was she seriously injured? She didn't think so. She kept a log of all her injuries because injuries made heroines really cool and she was a really cool heroine.
 

A really cool heroine who was not going to be able to defend her crown, phooey. Nonetheless, she had arrived in town and saw the event underway. She also saw a nice place to land and relax while she decided what to do with herself for the rest of the day. It was occupied by two figures- one looked like he belonged in Long Guo, the other looked like she belonged in a dungeon, and both were excellent ponies to hang out with no doubt. She was good at first impressions. Never wrong, and if she was ever wrong, she was only wrong because they would betray her and become super cool villains like in the books so she was STILL right! Pathfinder flew down, did a few loops, thought about dropping smoke bombs but decided against it, and then came in for a screeching landing that kicked up some dust.
 

"Well, look at you two! Somelongma looks like he's full of cupcakes. Silly, what if a giant earthworm tried to eat you! You'd be too big to fly away!" She said while ignoring his personal space and poking his stomach. "Not that I can blame you too much. This place makes some killer cupcakes. And I don't mean killer as in violent, Tempest, though you might like that more than just pink and fluffy treats," she tittered while bounding over. "So, what has the infamous Berrytwist been up to? Weren't you one of those who attended that Changeling hotel...resort...thing?" She giggled. "I wanted to go but then I remembered that Snowfall likes to go adventuring in ruins too so my fantasies all came to life. Some ponies, right?" She said, wlbowing the tempestual half-a-corn. She then fluttered over to the autograph desk and took her position, hooves on table as she leaned back.
"You two look like the reasonably athletic type. Whatcha compete in so far?"

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Unlike a certain imperial guard, Yanhua was finding herself fairly content after gorging herself on cupcakes earlier. She always did seem to have  a big stomach even when she was little.  Now with the fresh chance to see the world more she could expose herself to more food and recipes! Such aspirations would have to wait as she caught wind of her dear friend Feng down by the pavillion. She qualified as one of those competing , even if she did only really do the cupcake eating contest. 

 

She took her time walking up, enjoying the sight of the stallion's stretches. The chef could just be admiring his form while exercising... she needed a role model after all if she was going to work off those cupcakes later. That's it... and nothing else. The sudden belch caught Yanhua off guard. What started out as a stifled snicker soon turned to a short fit of laughter that completely gave away her presence. Once all those chuckles were out of her system she made her way over to the tuckered stallion. Soon noticing that some dark purple unicorn approached him first. Something inside her flared up and she picked up speed... only for another mare to join in. 

Only really paying enough attention to hear parts of Feng and Tempest's conversation, the cook finally arrived to hear something from the earthy looking pegasus. "Nonsense." She sauntered up with her usual smile and unopening eyes, "If we ran into such a worm I'd scare it away. That is if Feng hadn't already intimidated such a beast with his natural presence."  Now in range, she dipped her head to the pair of equestrians. "Yanhua. Head chef of the Long Sun Dynasty. It's a pleasure to meet you."

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"Ugh." After spending a moment to try to fly off all the extra calories she gained during the cupcake contest, Smolder found a nice and comfortable spot to sit. What was with those little cakes? She was a dragon! She could punch rocks into dust and eat gems! Gems! Those were thick and rocky! Cupcakes were soft and fluffy like an newborn kitten or a cloud. After a moment of pondered she was pretty sure it had to do with the milk. She wasn't a mammal and therefore her stomach was not used to milk. Good. But as she turned her attention to the small gathering of spectators and games attendees, a pony caught her eye. An armored mare, which was odd seeing, considering this was an fun little Ponyville event..And she was not wearing that 'Twilight Guard' armor she had seen a few stout ponies had worn before. Also, her horn was busted. Ouch.
 
She appeared to be picking on that strange pony-dragon person.....They were both at the obstacle course! That's where she had seen then before. It wasn't her business to reply, but she was feeling rather salty after her poor performances at the games so far. Still, she would keep quiet for the moment and just relax. Then a strange mare dressed as Daring Doo appeared....Was she there to pose for pictures? For now, Smolder would just rest and do a little pony-watching..
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Nensho was the next one to arrive at the tent, looking around at the crowd comprised mostly of others that had competed in the obstacle course. There were a couple he didn’t recognize, though he felt like that female kirin was in the stands at least... assuming she was a kirin... she didn’t smell like any he’d met before. Then again, he didn’t think he’d met any royal bakers in the past.

 

Oh well though, he saw no reason to press the issue at the moment. Instead, the disguised okami sat down in the grass nearby, doing some sunbathing while listening to the conversations, his ear twitching occasionally. 

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Slowly, Feng was starting to get a higher resolution picture of the mohawked mare's character; it wasn't all that dissimilar to the half-affected pessimism he often encountered from his fellow watchers.  He probably encountered it more than most through efforts from his colleagues to balance him out, which he felt was fair enough.  This sense of familiarity caused him to ease up further, finally beginning to slide himself off the chair.  "My name is Fēng Yīnhǎitāo.  I'm told in your language it means something like Maple Mountain, but that's not quite right; that would be Fēng shān."  He shrugged, turning around to face Tempest eye-to-eye.  That would incidentally give her a glimpse of his cutie mark, a maple leaf atop an upside-down mountain.  

 

"And you're right about the wings."  He agreed with a grin.  "I wouldn't trade mine for y- er, anything."  He just barely cut himself off in time from saying 'your horn', upon seeing how it was broken.  Seeking desperately to change the subject, his rapidly oscillating mind hit upon his semi-constant obsession.  "Well, save perhaps for the affections of Empress Yu Yue.  I'd ground myself for that."  Perhaps not the most politic thing for Feng to say in the presence of Yanhua, but that's what she got for fixing on someone so oblivious at times.

 

Speaking of, both she and a new mare were approaching the pair, the other a pegasus who struck him as the sort he was occasionally called to remove from the presence of his Empress.  He also couldn't help but reflect that he'd have probably wound up like Pathfinder had his Imperial Watch training not straightened him out.  Well, kept him from folding entirely, at least.  "Ha, right.  When monsters show up, I'm the guy who keeps them busy so everylong else can run away."  He flashed his old friend a grin as he echoed.  "Ah, yes.  A reputation backed by appearance is often enough... but I don't think worms have eyes.  Maybe they do and we can't see them?  I'll have to ask the royal herbalist when we get home."

 

He took a quick glance around towards the others, but as they didn't seem interested in the conversation, he wasn't sure what to say to them.

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“I’m Tempest Shadow.” She says in a rather deadpan way looking at Feng's wings. “I like the name… Yours is not too bad.” She added with soft smirk as she warmed up to speaking to him. “But I'd never give up something for somepony. Ever. Take my word Fēng, it's not worth it. It never is. You will only be seen as some crippled thing to take pity on… or make fun of.” She looked away on that remark, looking pained too have even said it before looking back at Fēng. She was just about to speak more when the most bothersome mare in the wor- No this one was not pink. The new second place winner of being utterly intolerable showed up.

 

“I did not ask nor want you to speak to me…” Tempest growls at the odd pony. She was not at all shocked she knew the name Tempest. Almost every pony knew what her and what she did. It was no small news after all. But hearing the name Berry Twist Dropped sent her from just being intolerable to somepony to hate with the rage of a volcano. “WHAT!?” she barked out in a rage storming after Pathfinder, horn sparking with snaps of electricity that ran down her black armor. “How do you know that name? Was it the pink one?” she demanded, flaty just ignoring all other things as she hyperfixated on that one small detail.

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Boulder Dash trotted into the pavillion wiping some sweat from his brow with a towel and sipping from a flask that smell like anything other then water.  He cracked his large thick neck and sighed as he recharged.  As the whiskey went down his throat and burned his insides, he smiled in his satisfaction as he corked it and placed it in his saddle bags.

 

A few loud belches caused him to look up and notice the other contestants.  Particularly the one named Feng.  Walking up he tipped his hat to him and said, "Nice moves out thar suh.  Ya moved good fast out on that track and I can respect someone what ain't afraid of a little sweat and hard work.  Names Boulder Dash."

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"You shouldn't have eaten' those cupcakes," Alizarin said, her grumpy voice growling as she talked. She was covered in sweat, but she had a nice frozen towel over her neck. It was cooling off fast, but her muscles tensed from the running and jumping she had to do. She was going to be so sore in the morning. The small mare was walking funny too, like she had spurs poking her every movement. 

 

"Yeah- well- they sounded good at the time, Als." The tan Pegasus walked side by side with Ali, hunching over like she was going to throw up at any second. Her face was tinted green, as the duo walked to the tent as their own slow pace. The sun wasn't helping either, as it was way too hot. It made Golden Daze feel even more sick. "Dude, I might need a bowl. The sugar is still radiating through my veins." 

 

The farm pony rolled her eyes, huffing aloud as they found themselves closer to the tent. "We're almost there, Golden. Just lift up ur head 'n keep walkin'." 

 

As the two got there, a blue Pegasus met them halfway, soaked from the Ponyville lake. "Hey, Daze. Hi, Ali." 

 

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Daze looked at the wet mare, smiling greatly. "Hey, Finnie! I watched your dive. Absolutely awesome! I didn't know a weirdo like you had it in 'ya."

 

Sea Salt grinned, "Thanks, mate." Ali just stared at the Pegasus, not recognizing her. She was too exhausted to think anyway, as her muscles ached. 

 

As the trio got to the tent, they each sat down next to each other, absolutely exhausted from their day of competing. They all sat in silence, watching all the other creatures talking to each other. Ali and Finnie felt awkward, as Daze tried to not lose all the food in her belly. She didn't look so good. Finnie relaxed her body, watching some orange dragon who seemed to be pony-watching as well. Good, they weren't the only weirdos watching them. Her wings relaxed too much, trying to let the sun heat them up, but they touched Ali's back, making her jump. 

 

"Ah! I'm so sorry, mate, I didn't think you were that clos-"

 

"You nasty wet vermin, don't touch mah back!" 

 

"Be nice, Als. Finnie didn't- mean it," Daze tried to spit out, as she burped. 

 

Ali scrunched up her nose in disgust. "You're nasty too." 

 

Daze's signature smirk appeared on her face, as she let out an attractive laugh. "Oh- you silly grumpy shorty- you know you love me." 

 

Ali pouted, her eyebrows furrowed, as she listened to the conversation that was happening in the middle of the tent, distracting herself from the other two feathered ponies. Daze just looked at Finnie and they laughed together, relaxing in the nice shade and enjoying every creature's company. They couldn't help but sit close to each other, wrapping their wings together and keeping each other cool. Good thing Finnie was cold from the water. 

 

The three tired ponies watched from the side, Ali not wanting to talk, Finnie enjoying the nice weather, and Daze wanting to say something, but feeling awkward if she did. She recognized the cupcake competitors, but just wanted to wait and see if anypony talked to her first. Not a bold choice like she'd normally have, but she couldn't just walk into the middle of the conversation. That would be rude. 

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"Heh."  Feng let out a laugh at Tempest's advice that sounded like he'd been given a forceful tap to the solar plexus.  "You get used to that eventually.  My ancestry earned me pity, contempt, mockery, and just outright being ignored when I was a foal.  Of the four, I think I liked pity the best."  Bitter memories of a past left behind didn't take his mood down long, though, and soon his grin was just as cheeky as before.  "And come on, get some perspective here.  Empress.  That'll cause more jealousy than anything else, mark my words."  Oh, Feng, you poor sweet stupid colt, unable to see what your careless words can do to your friends...

 

Tempests sudden distraction freed up Feng's attention to address the onlookers, which he did with a smile and wave.  "Hey there, did you come up for an autograph?"  He addressed them all more or less generally.

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Nensho hummed slightly as he listened to the others talk among themselves, though he found himself mostly focusing on that chef. Oof, that sounded pretty familiar, seemed they were in a similar boat if he was reading her correctly. Rolling onto his feet, he stood up and stretched before making his way over to the mare. 

 

"Well, looks like we have something in common besides coming from the east." He whispered to Yanhua, trying not to interrupt the other conversations around him. "I know it can be tough, but it's nice to be around them at least."

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Yanhua was hoping to involve herself in the conversation but as soon she got the words up, Feng brought up the empress and felt as if somepony just shot an arrow in her side.  Her eye twitched, though it was difficult to notice: seeing as both eyes were still closed. When Feng continued that thought about the monsters, much of the wind was sucked out of her sails.  "Y-yeah... I'm... sure the herbalist would know." Tempest might be able to feel the gaze on her from the kirin with the unopening eyes, particularly on her horn for the time being, eyes momentarily opening when she saw the sparks. 

 

She casually took a step back from the possibly dangerous mare. Eyes only barely opening as the possibility of Feng being harmed crossed her mind... But soon something caught her attention: Some Scent on the wind. The mare sniffed softly and perked up a moment, was that... wolf? Another wolf? She'd smelled someone like her in this town since she'd arrived but it was one she knew. This one seemed different.  She turned her head a moment towards Nensho on his lonesome. The stallion was making his way over, seemed she'd been noticed as well. 

A whisper, thank goodness. She'd hate to have been outed by a possible friend beside her crush, "Seems that we do..." She whispered back. Another mention of the Empress Made Yanhua shudder. The words feeling like a bludgeon that dealt a blow right to her gut. This was getting Stressful, having a troubled mind was a surefire way to have her disguise start to tear. "If you don't mind, friend. I'm under cover at the moment... but it's been too long since I've gotten to speak with another so like myself. Well, there's one back home but we're still a bit different."Somewhere in the palace Wuya had probably dealt with a sudden sneeze, "This whispering will probably start looking suspicious so..."

She turned to Nensho and smiled, "I don't think you were around for my introduction. I'm Yanhua, Chef of the Long sun Dynasty. This is Feng of the Watch, Tempest Berrytwist Shadow and ... I don't believe I've gotten our earthy friend's name."

 

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Daze's ears perked up when she heard somepony speak to them, making her smile, but what he said made her huff. The Pegasus opened up her mouth to say something, but somepony else beat her to a snarky response. "Don't flatter 'urself, scaly." Daze couldn't help but burst out laughing, causing her to then gag and take in a deep breath. 

 

"I almost lost my cupcakes there," she said, trying to hold in her laugh. Ali rolled her eyes, standing up and stretching her little legs. Her body was a sticky, sweaty mess, and she felt very bothered. The farm pony's iced towel was now melting, making her throw it far from her. She thought it hit somepony, but she didn't really care, she just gave a meek glare towards the brown.. stallion?

 

Finnie just stared at the stranger, standing up and letting the water from her mane drip and roll down her face. "I saw your dive, mate. It was pretty breathtaking. I wish I had moves like that." Her voice was soft and smooth, yet deep like a tomboy's. Daze looked at her after she said that, making her slowly fly into the air and hug the soft hippie from behind. 

 

"Ha! Finnie, you blew him out of the water!" she paused, realizing her unintentional joke. "Quite literally!" 

 

"Nah, I don't think so. You really did outstanding, mate. I'm glad I got some good competition in the water. I bet my show back home would kill to have you preform tricks with me and my fish."

 

Ali glared at the both of them now, mainly at Finnie. "U're too nice to this bug," her voice hissed.

 

"Ali, you gotta let out your anger somehow, you seem tense, mate." She sat back down. "Just let the wind-"

 

"-Don't go all 'hippie dippy' on me. I ain't into it."

 

The tan Pegasus sighed, flying over to Feng smoothly with a couple loops, "Sorry about the little one, she's a firecracker." 

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Nensho blinked a bit at Yanhua's response, confused for a bit before he realized what she was talking about. Well, there was that mystery solved at least. He shrugged to himself as she reintroduced herself, Feng, and two others. Yep, they were all runners on the course, aside from Yanhua herself, but still.

 

"Nice to meet you all. Contrary to how the announcer pronounced it though, My name is Nensho Ha. You guys had some good runs through that course, looks like it'll be a close competition in the end." He smiled, nodding to the fellow obstacle course runners.

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Holy Smoke! Even she knew who Tempest Shadow was. The last major invasion.....Or was it, the second to last invasion of Canterlot...This had all happened before the school.. The dragon had read about it in an stash on old newspapers she found in the school's library. The armored pony, who for some reason was still wearing her armor, had joined forces with some creep named the Storm King.. They invaded Canterlot with a army of monsters....But was defeated and killed....For some reason, his second in command was not only spared, but granted her freedom. What's with that? She should have at least spent a few decades rotting away in jail. Or even sent to Tartarus, like Cozy was. This same Storm King along with his army also chased her friend Silverstream and her people into hiding...Into the sea....Wonder what the Hippogriff would do, knowing an ally of the King was still up and about?
 
For such a cool look pony, this Tempest sure was rather grumpy....And not in a cool, loner sort of way that ends up saving the town and ending up with the girl...Or guy. Just a sad sort. But what was it that the mare in the costume called her? Berrytwist? Was that her real name? Were they going to fight? Thankfully a nearby vendor was selling popcorn, which Smolder quickly scrambled over and purchased.
 
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This was going to be good! The young dragon greedily gobbled up the popped corn and watched the strange unicorn from a comfortable distance. Would something cool happen, or would they just sing a happy little pony song and dance around?
 
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Tempest Berrytwist Fizzlepop Shadow was one moody pony, living up to her reputation. She came charging at Pathfinder, who could only manage an impish smile as she took flight and landed on a tree branch, like a cat hiding up in a tree. She wasn't trying to be mean or rude, honestly. Berrytwist Fuzzlejuice or whatever it was? Cool name, sure. Not as cool as Tempest Shadow though. Probably why she was so up in arms about it. “You mean Pinkie Pie? Huh, I guess that would have been easy enough. Maybe I should have just asked her!” She said as she leapt to another branch. “Actually, I just broke into the Royal Archives and the REA's intelligence branch in Manehattan on my way to picking up my wife a new seashell-inspired dress. They weren't telling ponies much about the invasion but I wanted answers, so I got them!” She said as she took off and glided down next to the popcorn stand. She took some. “Hey, get some of this stuff. It isn't super buttery. A little buttery but a little buttery is okay, right?”

She laughed, then looked at Smolder. “Oooh, cool. A dragoness! You look like the adventurous sort, too. Tough-minded probably, guts and fire and all that. Seen any ruins lately? I borrowed Spike once for a ruin that I thought needed a dragon for part of a door opening ritual. Turned out it just activated defense golems. Twilight wasn't happy about that!” She raised her front hoof to mimic a hoof puppet and did her best Twilight impersonation. “'Stop stealing my assistant, my books, and my classified relics for your little trips!'” She waved her hoof dismissively with a longing smile. “That Twilight, what a card! Oh, what I was trying to say is that I think there is a ruin nearby that needs a dragonESS for a door opening ritual. Wanna go? It'll be totally fun. There aren't any golems left to fight, but I'm sure there are all sorts of goodies behind that door!” She said super cheerfully, excited to bring a new partner around.

Of course she was also keeping aware of the fact that she was being chased, or likely was by an angry half-a-corn, so she dodged out of the way and did a flip, landing next to Fengy. “Good to know. I mean a lot of creatures say they have this cool reputation but you look like you do. You have the smell of...Imperial Watch, probably. You know, I always found Huangjing a pretty fun place but I don't get there enough. If somepony wants adventure, what would a super cool, never afraid, stalwart, brave, main character of a novel like yourself recommend they go?” She asked as she did a short hop, dodge, flip, and twist in place. She then flew off, landing next to a stand that sold cherry fritters. She threw bits down on the table, an unknown amount, and then grabbed some pies. She then took off and dropped the fritters off on the autograph table as the clerk at the stand counted the bits- and finally smiled.

“Six fritters on the table, no cost to you! Get them while they're hot, fillies and colts!”

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"Come on, come on, come on!" Pinkie bounced about, impatient to get to the pavilion.  She nudged the changling next to her who looked down on the pinkest of mares with a slightly jaundiced eye.

 

"Are you sure Pinkie?" He glanced at the fair number of creatures that were in the tented area already. That was a lot of meeting and greeting! "I'm not even sure half of them would even care."

 

"Care? Care?!" Ponk pulled the changling King's head down close to hers. "Of course they'll care! Who wouldn't want to show the ropes to the King of the changlings?" She had promised Thorax that when he next came to town she'd help him get to know other ponies. He was still practicing his friendship skills and this was a perfect opportunity! "Come on now big guy! Let's go mingle!"

 

Thorax was going to say something but before he could she had bounded ahead of him and entered the pavilion.

 

"OOoooooo!" She eyed the cherry treats that Pathfinder had just laid out. "Those look delish!" She smiled broadly at her favorite Daring Doo enthusiast. "Hey there Pathfinder!" She scooped up a cherry fritter and crammed it in her mouth. "Mmmph! You break your cloud diving record from last year? Gulp!" She glanced around, wondering where Thorax had gotten to.

 

The King entered the pavilion and looked about quietly. He was a bit on the reserved side when around creatures he hadn't met. His demeanor seemed to radiate confidence which had proved useful a time or two. There was a large group of creatures in front of him and so he moved in that direction. Ah! There was someone he knew. He trotted up to Smolder.

 

"Hello there young dragoness!" He smiled down at the friend of his Ocellus. "How have you fared in the games thus far?" 

 

Pinkie also bounced in the direction of the gathering of ponies and others. She noticed one mare mention something about fish and that same mare was all wet!

 

"Hi there! You say you've got pet fish?" She grinning and searched through her mane for a moment before producing Gummy. "This is my pet Gummy!" The toothless gator blinked slowly at Sea Salt. He'd been sleeping and wasn't in the mood to be awake yet. "Ooooo! Were you just competing in one of the challenges?" She smiled broadly while barraging the mare she didn't even know with questions. "My name's Pinkie Pie by the way. What's yours?" She was a lot to take in but most ponies couldn't help but smile upon meeting Ponyville's resident friend making machine.  

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Finnie spots a pink pony bouncing towards her, which lifted her spirits up more than she thought possible. The mare was bouncy and happy, and she seemed very fun to be around. Kind of like her own sister. The sudden thought of the similarities made her smile, as the pink pony inched more towards her and the other group of ponies. Pinkie seemed to know literally every pony, and that seemed really cool to the blue Pegasus. Was she supposed to know her too?

 

Ali noticed the optimistic pony come closer, and her grouchy face became, well, more grouchy. "If that pony comes any more near me, I'm gonna flip mah horseshoe." 

 

Soon the pink earth pony was next to Finnie, and she felt an automatic sense of happiness. "I own quite a few fish, mate." The blue Pegasus smiled warmly, feeling a very calm sensation come over her. Soon, an alligator was presented in front of her, making her eyes grow big with excitement. "Woah! I've never seen one of this buggers up close before." She then approached Gummy slowly, completely fascinated by the green creature. As she was staring at him, the fluffy mare continued to talk. After gawking over the alligator, she opened her mouth to speak. "I competed over at the cloud dive."

 

Finnie felt relaxed at this moment, her eyes fluttering calmly. Ali was sitting behind her, being a grumpy little pony as she normally was. "Nice to meet you, Pinkie Pie. I'm Sea Salt. Most call me Finnie." The quiet mare smiled again, enjoying the other pony's company.  

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Tempest’s eye twitched with anger as she wached the pegasus jump about in to a tree like some blasted cat! How she’d love to push a hoof down on her stu- Taking a deep breath Tempest sits down and shuts her eyes. Anger management! The deep breathing exercises was paying off after all. Clearing her mind she took it to happily places… Well what she viewed as happily places were extremely different to what most called happy but it worked for her… Until she heard a voice. The pink one. Well she and all the six were worthy of respect it did nothing to make her like some of them. 


Grunting, she opens her eyes and got up. Today was not the day she got zapped in to stone for snapping. Walking back to her seat next to Feng she opens a saddle bag and pulls out a big bottle of Captain Maregin and falls in to her seat. Today was going to be a long one. “Sometimes I honestly regret not joining the Black Sails.” She says to no pony before taking several big gulps of her rum.

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It was not too much to say that Feng was a bit taken aback by the reaction to his question.  Bug?  Where had that come from?  At least the teal one was nice, though altogether the puncture at his ego, and his ability to be diplomatic, did cause him to figuratively back into the shell he constructed for his on-duty persona.  "Ahem, well, of course, I'd ask for yours too.  They would make a good presentation on return to the Empress.  That goes for all of you, by the way."  He waved a wing at the whole company, before turning back to Sea Salt.  "And I am sorry, but I must return home after the competition.  It is a long way back to Huangjing, but if you ever decide to make the journey, the Palace is open to visitors."

 

Pathfinder's continued chattering only confirmed Feng's first impression of her; he definitely was going to be called upon to remove her from the premises next time she visited the Imperial.  Openly bragging about criminal activities?  "You do realize, of course, that as a Watcher, I would have to arrest you if we met in Long Guo, right?"  The Watcher's shell cracked again with a grin as the longma continued, "There are always old tombs in the mountains that we can't be bothered to regularly patrol.  Bandits often hold up in them; would be nice to have a civic-minded sort clear them out from time to time."

 

Speak of the bug, there came one who fairly bore that label!  Along with a Pink friend of his, bringing with her not only an air of friendliness and joy, but also a mental association link that finally placed Tempest Shadow in her context.  "Wait, wait a minute...."  He turned back to the maroon mare.  "You know her, and I think I remember from where."  He gave her a look of much deeper appraisal than before; not just a mask of professionalism, but the actual real deal.  "It is... interesting to meet you in person."  He was fully standing up straight now, seemingly relaxed, though a trained eye could see he was 'at the ready' for something to happen.  Not that he really expected it, but... something might.

 

And yet, the first thing he did was rather unexpected.  He went over to the little table, taking up a pen and some paper (ignoring the pastries as the cupcakes within were as yet not amenable to further companionship), and walked back.  "I think I would like to get your autograph first."  He said to Tempest, offering the implements.  "Whichever name you prefer."

Edited by PrinceBlueblood
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It was looking as if the other competitors were getting wrapped up in their own conversations now. Yanhua already felt rather demoralized  after Feng's repeated mentions of the empress. Truth be told one of the reasons she'd come along was the chance to spend some time with Feng, but even so far from the courts it seemed his mind was off his duties and his beloved empress. As these thoughts swirled about in her head, Yanhua ended up exhaling a puff of flame through her nostrils: a tell tale sign of her being miffed.

 

The still nameless pegasus seemed keen to offer pastries, but rather than eat any of them Yanhua simply looked over them. They looked nice enough, but like Feng she wasn't in the mood for more sweets.  When Nensho formally introduced himself, wheels started clicking. "Hm...  You came with that pony kirin with the blue and purple mane, didn't you?" She thought back to the familiarity he had displayed with another one of the contestants who seemed to have left the obstacle course considerably messier than some.

 

She took note of Feng's tone when addressing the mare with the broken horn, "Is Miss Berrytwist shadow supposed to be somepony important?" If there was one thing Yanhua knew little about it was Equestria's recent events, " Are you some war hero who lost their horn in a great battle?" She asked rather bluntly as she leaned in  a bit closer towards the lightly seething armored mare.

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Nensho hummed slightly, shrugging as nobody but Yanhua seemed to respond to his introduction. Oh well, they seemed rather busy with their own conversations anyhow. He turned his attention back to Yanhua as he floated one of the offered treats over to himself. 

 

“Yeah, she’s an old childhood friend of mine. It’s kinda evolved since then on my end though, I feel like you can relate to where I am now with her though.” He said before taking a bite out of the pastry, humming at the good taste. 

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