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A Quiet Retreat to the Gardens (Open!)


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Lilac Briolette closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath, intoxicated by the heady floral perfume that filled the garden around her. She had retreated from the bustling crowd of ponies gathered within the palace for the Gala, wishing for a few moments of peace and quiet. Though as a prima ballerina from the Crystal Empire she was quite used to crowds and the demands of high society mingling, the shimmering dancer still needed a few moments of escape from time to time. And what an escape! These gardens were an absolute treat. Though the sheer amount of ponies gathered in Canterlot for the Grand Galloping Gala took away the element of total privacy she had hoped to find hidden amongst the lovely flora, Lilac still felt totally tranquil. The beauty of this place was…indescribable. For a mare whose norm was an abundance of crystalline, geometric radiance, the sheer organic quality of every element of Canterlot was overwhelming. For an artist, it was inspiring.

Lilac, after all, was a prima ballerina just learning to step away from the rigid tradition and technique of her art form, aiming to blend a more intuitive and flowing nature of lyrical dance into her ballet. And what better inspiration for a crystal pony trying to move away from rigidly defined technique than a world bursting with loose, swirling, divinely beautiful natural shapes?

Beaming, the lithe pony stepped softly through rows of night-blooming flowers and chirping critters. Her silken train followed behind her, a clever little charm it had been imbibed with here in Canterlot helping it resist any dirt or stain. Lilac was garbed in a much more formal interpretation of her usual tastes: shimmering ivory sheers and silks layered in a loose, flowing manner with few rose gold pins and ropes cinching the fabrics so that they flattered her shape. To accent the golden threads in her mane was a stream of pale gold fabric running from bodice to train on her left side. Her jewelry and shoes, of course, were all made of vines of rose gold set with pink pearls and kunzite to flatter her natural palette. And last but not least, the prima ballerina wore her mane and tail in loose braids with an artful (not to mention elegant) messiness held in place with ties of her own hair woven around itself and set with kunzite flowers.

Her appearance had been meticulously planned: it was critical for an artist of her status representing the Crystal Empire to appear as stunningly well-groomed as possible, and so she had spent a great deal of time with assistants to make sure every stray hair was soothed into place and every facet of her crystalline form shone brilliantly.

Reflecting on just how much effort had gone into making her appearance absolutely perfect, Lilac felt more than a little guilty hiding away in the gardens instead of standing proudly in the Grand Ballroom, playing the part of the delicate dancer. And so, after one more deep breath, she strolled back towards the sound of voices among the flowers in order to mingle out in the balmy night air.

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Not all ponies at the Grand Galloping Gala were big fans of the new changes. Take magic counselor Ingrid Marie for example, who for many years has had the privilege of attending the event over to her job at Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. The middle-aged unicorn was no elitist by any stretch, but she was far better adjusted to smaller crowds in years past. That wasn’t the case with the Gala this time around, as pretty much everypony in Equestria was allowed to attend.

This meant overcrowded corridors everywhere, and hardly any room to trot through without having to be careful not to collide into a pony. And by Celestia’s mane, why in the world did they take the snack table out of the Grand Ballroom and into the one chamber that just happened to have the most amount of ponies possible? Ugggggh, and those Dance Hall ponies; many of them clearly had never attended a formal before. They may have coughed up dough for fancy dresses, but they utterly lacked any manners. Why, only blasted pony even destroyed an ice sculpture just to get a frozen cube for her stupid little drink. And this wasn’t getting into how nopony seemed to bother making sure all the children in the daycare room didn’t misbehave.

Ms. Marie could safely say that this has been the worst managed Grand Galloping Gala she had ever seen in her life. Those event organizers either ought to learn how to handle mass crowds better, or once again restrict the attendance numbers at the Gala… hopefully the latter. Needing some peace and quiet, Ingrid found herself wandering over to the back gardens, the one place not infested with ponies. Way out here, the unicorn could relax by getting in touch with nature… and an excuse to use her “connecting” spell on the local flora to feel how well they’re all doing.

The counselor herself wasn’t all that dressed up for the occasion, ditching her usual everyday attire for a pristine pearl necklace purchased right in seaside Hoofington; the pearl hunting capital of Equestria. Selecting a spot where she could still hear the murmuring of the crowd without it being overpowering, the beige unicorn laid down by a flower patch and closed her eyes to begin something resembling magic-assisted meditation; letting a red aura reach out from her horn and having it gently meet a nearby tree.

Little did Ingrid Marie know that a crystal pony was heading in her direction.....

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Alexandrite Tilt smiled as she sat atop a rock in the garden, a small but colorful bird chirping as it perched atop her extended hoof. The Canterlot Castle gardens were even more serene and beautiful than the crystal mare would have expected. She had been impressed by a number of things in this, her first visit to the capital of Equestria, but few so much as this. She could think of nowhere in the Crystal Empire that compared. It was the sort of place where the champion jouster could lose herself in deep meditation.

Alexa had been serving the Empire faithfully as a member of the Imperial Guard since its return from the dark king's curse. She hadn't actually even considered leaving, even as visitors from outside the empire became increasingly common in the Empire. After several months however, she did start to get at least a little curious. In the end, she decided it was probably worth visiting this new world outside of the Empire. The Grand Galloping Gala seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that. Evidently, it was Equestria's most venerable social gathering and this year it would be open to ponies from all across the land, and of which could come and greet the land's princesses should they wish.

The event had been immediately intriguing to the jouster. Such openness of invitation would have been unthinkable in the era from which she had originated due to the dangers of malevolent fiends like Sombra. The world had really gotten kinder, safer and more harmonious in their thousand year absence she supposed. Either way, she knew her brothers and sisters at arms in the REA guards would be there in case something did go unexpectedly awry. Curiosity had invariably prompted her to take a few weeks off from guard duty for her visit to Equestria, and thus far she had liked what she had seen, even if the land and the ponies were both so very different from what she was used too.

The Gala itself thus far had been... interesting. Dressed in a flowing, white-lined medium violet gown, her mane done up in an elaborate bun, the crystal mare had strode into the gala, eager to see what it had offered. She had started at the "Dance Hall" , and with its giant crowds and blaring music unlike anything she had ever heard before she had quickly concluded it wasn't for her. The grand ballroom was more elegant and more in line with her understanding of a dance hall back home in the empire in terms both of music and crowd; she had mingled with ponies there for awhile, but even back home she felt just a touch out of place in such formal settings. She was still very much intent on visiting the throne room before the night was through, but for now she had decided to spend some time in the castle garden. As peaceful and pleasant as it was, she couldn't help but feel it'd be hard to leave when she ultimately decided to.

Nodding quietly as the little bird flew off into the trees, she let her eyes search the garden once more. That's when she spotted her. The immaculate beauty of the crystal mare passing by shone just as it had on stage and left little doubt that this was the one and only Lilac Briolette, a friend and a fellow crystal pony. She was the prima ballerina of a ballet company back in the Empire. Alexa could still remember meeting her and then later attending the premier of her company's production of La Bayamare. Her performance had been outright mesmerizing in its beauty and the mare herself was lovely and personable. Alexa hadn't seen her much since then, so she was quite shocked to see her again here in this foreign land. Shocked and yet delighted.

"Miss Briolette!" she called out, jumping to her hooves and cantering toward the other mare, taking just a moment to make sure her dress was straight. "I wasn't expecting to see you here at the Gala. It's been far too lo--"

Alexandrite was very suddenly cut off when she happened to trip on something and fall over forward. This would have been shameful enough, especially in front of such an elegant mare as Lilac, but the realization that what she had tripped over was a unicorn mare lying in the grass only made matters much worse.

"Ugh..." Alexa groaned as she picked up and dusted off her dress. "My sincere apologies, miss... I didn't see you there," she said, looking toward the unfamiliar mare.
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Crowds were things both exhilarating and exhausting, especially if you were trying to talk to anypony in them. Not that Earth Writer was one to try, under normal circumstances, but as a reporter, interviews were part of the stock-in-trade, and the new developments at the Gala were nothing if not newsworthy. Up until last year, it had been such an isolated affair that even the tabloids tended only to write perfunctory columns about it, but after the Great Gala Disaster (as it was informally called), it warranted a lot more attention. And now, with so many different ponies coming in, and even a few non-ponies from Aquellia and Unyasi, well!

*Well, it's certainly not boring.* The unicorn stallion thought as he beat a retreat from the madding crowd. The garden was more sparsely occupied, and would probably be a better venue for questions. He readjusted his cream-colored suit, and matching trilbee. No need to come off as a nosey journalist; if you were polite, ponies were happy to talk to you, and generally didn't mind it if you asked to print their remarks.

He went off in search of another interviewee, and was just in time to see a crystal pony trip over another guest. "Hold on! I'm coming." He strode over to help the pair up, and was surprised to see that he recognized a face. "Why, miss Tilt, fancy meeting you here! I don't know if you remember me? I'm Earth Writer, you showed me around the Empire when I visited a few months ago?" And was that... yes, it was. "Ha! And the Lilac Briolette! Well, this is certainly a pleasant surprise. And how are you all enjoying the Gala so far?"

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Just leaving the ballroom was a seemingly nervous looking young mare. Trying to mingle with some of her parent's friends had ended as it usually did: Awkwardly. I was strange for her, She never seemed to get along with the more snooty members of the Trottingham "Elite". The daughter of two very Rich and talented Magic using unicorns from the city she always loved the commonpony to the privileged type of pony she would deal with through all the fancy parties in her Foalhood.

Presteza had been in the papers of trottingham twice in her life, one was a fairly small article about her magical problems despite her pedigree, the second time was on the front page for her first painting: One of the most beautiful landscape portraits of Trottingham park in years and the leak about her going on a journey across Equestria with her brother by the staff at the manor. It had been so long since she'd seen her parents and her brother and her mother and father practically begged her to come here. She may have been out of her element and dolled up in an expensive and fancy ballgown complete with a tiara, Horseshoe slippers and a much more clean and tidy looking mane do that removed her paintbrush motif style she loved... but she loved her family more and this is what made her parent's smile, even if she did just look like a larger version of her childhood self minus what she felt made her her.

Looking out into the Garden she tilted her head a bit when she noticed some more interesting looking ponies further in. She still wasn't sure about them so she approached slowly and spoke up,"'Evenin'! ahem... er I mean Good evening" she said in her more "respectable" tone Her parents had taught her to speak in at the social functions as a filly.

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Rusty grumbled as he stood at the edge of the crowd, feeling quite annoyed at being taken away from the food bar. He had a right to his grape juice. He straightened out his royal looking suit, and fixed up normally unkempt main and tail. Afterwards, he began trotting along curiously, deciding that he might as well stay at the gala since he was already at it, and not leave just because a food vendor 'got him all fired up' over some grape juice. Heck, maybe he would even see somepony he knows here, though he doubted it.

((Edit)) A waiter suddenly came up to him, "Hello... this was sent to you by a friend. They are waiting for you by the juice bar..." he gives Rusty the drink, then simply walks away. Rusty, seeing that this drink is his favorite, grape juice, drinks it down immedieitly, wondering who could of done him such a kindness. He begins trotting towards the juice bar, being careful to avoid guards. ((No longer in this RP thread))

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