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Rarity's Fabulous and Frightful Fashions: Nightmare Night Costume Show and Contest


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More newcomers called for more exotic charm, and Psmith was an overflowing fountain of it. It was true that many Saddle Arabians had come off as curt or tongue-tied in front of foreigners; that was mostly because they tended, like most equines, to be more eloquent in their native tongue. You'd have thought most travel writers would know that, but it was only lately that the two cultures had really begun to understand each other. Most of that was due to the outreaches of the Princesses.

To the ersatz officer, however, it was of lesser concern. To the... what was that supposed to be? The unicorn decided just to wing it. "Bearer of the secret key, may no doors you wish open be shut, and none you wish shut be open!" There. The next was easier; the schoolcolt had been blessed with a classical education. "Fountain of beauty, inspirer of epics! May I, poor bard, be blessed in my tricks." Rhyme was only appropriate for this one.

He straightened up to adjust his jacket and sash, in time to hear the eruption of Shards. Psmith clicked his tongue deprecatorily. "Was it fear, or majesty it inspired, selim? Alas, neither. A true royal disregards the common error, winning the loyalty that supports the great wish, 'may she live forever!'" He looked over to Princess Celestia when he said so, feeling that she might back up this flowery bit of wisdom.

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At least he wasn't late. Well, he wouldn't have been late if he had showed up during the contest either, apparently, but punctuality is important!

To the colt who addressed him as 'Knight of the Book', he had to appreciate his enthusiasm... And his attention to detail for his costume! He had only seem pictures of Saddle Arabian troops, but this foal had it down to a T! He decided to get in character as well and join the fun! Well... As in character as he could get without being rude. An actual Inquisitor probably would've taken offense to the title he was greeted with. "The Empress protects, brave officer! May she bless you and your charges with the might of a million suns!"

He had to admit, a lot of the costumes were quite impressive! Foals seemed a lot more creative these days, rather than the generic costumes he saw when he was younger.

As he went on to line up, he figured he would muster up some courage and say "Good luck, your majesty!". Yup. That was a killer. Maybe when he decides to get REALLY brave, he might say FIVE words to her!

But then he saw... Rarity? "Miss Rarity...? Weren't you just over th-OH!" He realised it wasn't Rarity! In fact it wasn't even a mare! Aside from being surprised, he was impressed! "Wow! You got her look down pretty good!" Pretty good? You totally just mistook him for the real thing, silly.

The Crystal filly's outburst jolted him a bit... But he knew better than to get involved. Well, he didn't really want to get involved in the first place. Wasn't his style... Besides, he didn't feel liek getting embarrassed by an ornery filly if he tried to ask her ot behave. He'd never live that down.

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When Swift Squall reached int his memories of celebrating Nightmare Night, he had to admit that they were vague. Oh sure as small colt back in Manehattan Swift participated in the holiday. It was just that....he didn't have anypony to share they joy with. Not attending into a school and instead being taught by private tutors have gotten him much, much better education then other kids his age...but at the price of not having anypony to hang out with. And after he stopped being the kid....well there always was something much urgent to do.

But not this year and certainly NOT alone anymore. Squall now had friends, a group of ponies dear and precious to him - especially her. Noblestallion also learned long ago from his Father that the best form of expressing gratitude was sharing the 'fun' (whatever this fun his parent had in mind) together. And what better occasion then the Night where the horrors and laughter met, and everything became a bit silly?

So he started preparing a costume. And not a weeks but months prior. A expansive orders send too skilled blacksmiths and enchanters? However pricey it was, Squall knew that memories of today would be priceless.

So here he was. A Ponyville, small town that got much, much renown in short time. A totally justified renown he also heard.

A muffled clanking followed him as he made his way towards the meeting point. A few ponies that he trotted past by watched him in surprise. And no wonder.

Even if costume wasn't not his own hooves doing, the idea belonged to him. He wanted his masquerade as perfect as possible...and he succeed.

A dark, heavy armor adorned with a skull motifs, the matching dark and tattered cape made him look massive and imposing. But most importantly, a custom made blade, glowing faintly with icy-blue light, even when sheeted and also adorned with bony motifs. But that wasn't all. When pieces of the costume were worn together Squall coat and mane was turned into morbid gray and white respectively, armor appeared to be covered in thin layer of ice(small icicles included), his eyes glowed blue and his voice was made deeper, raspy and echo-y with POWER and EVIL....actually not that far off from Royal Canterlot Voice. It was made possible thanks to large amounts of spells grafted into the gear. All just for show, but how spectacular one.

Overall unicorn stallion made sure to appear this Nightmare Night as the dreaded book series villain, the merciless Ghoul King!

Well, Swift Squall costume was fantastic, but his sweetheart, Fire Walker or Moto as he liked calling her wasn't here! They were arranged to meet under establishment known as 'Carousel Boutique', hang out together and then take care of the Fire's sister - Wind Walker. But stallion couldn't spot any traces of familiar red colors. Was he to late? Or early? Swordstallion made a sight that echoed through the air.

"Well, maybe the owner of this place would know something." he deducted, aloud making the air around him vibrate with sound. Uhhhh...maybe he should decide with less hammy sound effect. Everything Squall was saying with this hamlet on his head sounded like threat of approaching DOOOOM! that made even him uneasy. Oh well, no time to regrets now.

He made his entrance, approaching the ponies and asked right of the bat.

"Greeting and apologizes. Has anypony seen....?" his words, while still reverberating and EVIL sounding died out. First some mare....one that he recognized as no one other as Harmony Champion's, Lady Rarity. And the second one was no pony other then Celestia herself. Well costume or not it's kind off hard to hide who you are, when your height is twice that off full grown stallion. Still, the costume was impressive and Princess certainly would have great chances in contest. Wait, wait,wait....contest? Then they surely think that he....

"Ehm.....I think we have small misunderstanding here..." swordstallion started, attempting to explain this mistake.

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Cashmere smiled kindly at the stallion that mistook him for Rarity, and flipped his mane "Thank you darling, now I'm going to be generous and grant everyone the gift of silence" Cashmere's horn glew and he levitated up an Apple from the table and quickly used his magic, shoving it into Flakey's gaping, crying , annoying maw.

He approached her firmly 'Young lady I do not care if you are your mothers little princess, you are in Miss Rarity's home, and insulting her guests, and being very disrespectful in front of Princess Celestia and everyone else, I suggest you work on your attitude and grow up a little before you attend big pony things, Now BEHAVE PLEASE your MAJESTY"

Cashmere was NOT amused.

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((ooc: reading the last couple posts, I do want you all to keep in mind that Equestria is not the real world. Familiar works of fiction are not necessarily going to exist there [and especially so if there are video games, as Equestria isn't so advanced when it comes to that at the moment]. You should be wary of importing characters directly from other sources as costumes ideas. You can of course, try and change it up and make the ideas more of a pony version of itself if you have to.))

((ooc: Just to be clear, I did not mean to imply The Iliad and The Odyssey actually exist in Equestria, just using them as examples of epic poetry. And by ancient mythology, I was referring to waaay pre-Harthswarming.))

Two more ponies approached, both asking for entrance in the competition. One had a spiked mane and an unusual large key, the other was dressed in a rather classical looking robe and an accompanying tiara. Rarity nodded and smiled to them both.

"By all means, darlings. New entrants will be allowed up until the point I have to decide who the winners are!" she explained in a warm voice. "Just line up on the stage with everypony else."

Calliope sighed, relieved.

"Oh! Good! Wouldn't want to intrude!"

To the ersatz officer, however, it was of lesser concern. To the... what was that supposed to be? The unicorn decided just to wing it. "Bearer of the secret key, may no doors you wish open be shut, and none you wish shut be open!" There. The next was easier; the schoolcolt had been blessed with a classical education. "Fountain of beauty, inspirer of epics! May I, poor bard, be blessed in my tricks." Rhyme was only appropriate for this one.

Hearing the Saddle Arabian costumed stallion address her in verse, she decided to respond in kind as best she could in kind.

"Why thank you kind sir. May your economy of resource flourish as long as you live."

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Fire Walker was surprised when she got the letter. Sir Swift Squall actually wanted to attend 'Nightmare Night' in Ponyville! This was ever so convenient considering she had already planned on visiting the little village with her sister, Wind Walker. With the sudden change of plans at hoof, the Pegasus mare was able to convince her father to escort the little filly to an event planned for the local and visiting children. The train ride to Ponyville was mostly pleasant once she was able to drown out the constant mutterings and grumblings that came from her sibling, who was none too keen about the costume she had to wear.

Thankfully Great Aunt Modiste had stopped making the elder mare Nightmare Night costumes, and the R.E.A. guard was able to enjoy the festivities in a costume of her own liking. The mare sported a fine replica 'uniform' inspired by the famous aerial acrobatic team, the Wonderbolts. She wore a form-fitting azure blue and gold colored bodysuit that concealed all but her wings, snout, ears and mane, which she wore long. After letting her hooves touch solid ground, she slowly glanced about and found what she was looking for, the costume contest! But first, she wanted to find her very special some-pony. "Where the hay is he?", she glanced around a the assortment of ponies who had festooned themselves with an variety of costumes of differing styles and quality. Her jaw nearly dropped as she spied the good Princess Of The Sun, who was dressed as what appeared to be an Phoenix.

As she drew closer to the crowed, she gave a proper salute to the adorable filly who was dressed in officer finery. "Captain", the real First Lieutenant of the Royal Equestrian Army greeted the girl before moving towards the princess. Once she was within the proper distance of the princess, she bowed ,"Your majesty. Lovely costume." Princess Celestia did look magnificent in her Nightmare Night apparel, then again, she would have no problem looking incredible in a cardboard box. When you go it, you got it.

And speaking of magnificent, the mare spotted Lady Rarity who appeared to be running the show and contest. The costumed pony quickly joined up with the line when she noticed a stallion dressed in rather fine armor. While her costume cost only a handful of bits and the help of her mother who was a skilled seamstress, Swift Squall probably spent a small fortune getting his costume done by skilled costume designers who probably made the same special clothing one would find on stage, or at least it appeared to be so. The very convincing costume effectively concealed the pony's true identity, but when he opened up his mouth, Fire Walker knew who it was.

"Swift!", she called out as she made her way towards her colt-friend. "How am I going to?", she had planned on giving him a friendly hug, but was worried that she would either ruin his costume or impale herself on his spiked horse-shoes. Instead, she gave him a friendly kiss on his exposed snout. "Very impressive getup you have there. I like it, but I'd hate to tell you that I'm rooting for the kid over there.", she glanced over at 'officer' Apple Bloom, "Thank goodness Wind isn't here. These costumes are amazing."

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"Ah guess yer right, Rarity. Ah'm as focused as the sun through a magnifying glass- hehehe, no pun intended,"

"Good, good. Focus is the path to success in any competition. Strike hard, strike fast and strike true and you'll find it possible to even best royalty," Rarity said in a serious voice to the young filly before casting a playful glance at Celestia. Part of her had wondered if Apple Bloom might prove a nuisance; what she knew of the child certainly supported. Observing her now, the mare became increasingly convinced she wouldn't get in the way of the event. On her own this little wasn't going to be more than Rarity could handle.


"Thank you darling, now I'm going to be generous and grant everyone the gift of silenceYoung lady I do not care if you are your mothers little princess, you are in Miss Rarity's home, and insulting her guests, and being very disrespectful in front of Princess Celestia and everyone else, I suggest you work on your attitude and grow up a little before you attend big pony things, Now BEHAVE PLEASE your MAJESTY"

An amusing exchange then transpired. The filly dressed as Chrysalis continued to deliver a quite effective impersonation of the changeling queen, complete with over dramatic demands. It drew her criticism form the one dressed as the foreign officer, but then the stallion dressed as Rarity took further action and shoved an apple, which was in convenient place on Rarity's judging table, right into the filly's mouth to shut her up. Rarity laughed and clapped her hooves together at this. Absolutely brilliant. How she wouldn't relish the opportunity to do the very same to the real Chrysalis. That would be a delightful laugh.

"Excellent, darling!" she started with a smile. "How very much called for," she added nodding. "Not only do you show impeccable sense in choosing a subject for your costume, but a true knack for efficiently solving problems. Miss Rarity is certainly impressed."

"Greeting and apologizes. Has anypony seen....? Ehm.....I think we have small misunderstanding here..."

Rarity's attention was distracted by the approach of a new pony. He had some sort of distorting effect on his voice, which leant it a deep and ominous sense of power. Which was fitting for the costume accompanying it was deliciously frightful. Most of the costumes thus far had avoided traditional scary elements in favor of more fun ideas. Wasn't fear and terror what Nightmare Night was supposed to be about though? Too few these days tended toward the ghoulish in selecting their seasonal ensemble. That just made Rarity approve of this costume, this imposing dark warrior emblazoned in skulls and looking cold as ice, all the more. The show was Rarity's Fabulous and Frightening Fashions, after all, and this was one costume that went to check both boxes.

Unfortunately, she wasn't sure he was here for the costume. He seemed to be looking to meet somepony... and sure enough, she showed up quickly. This one's costume wasn't near as exciting. She was dressed like one of those fliers in that fight team that was popular. It was a decent costume at the least though, and the mare looked quite good in it. Rarity was quite keen in convincing them both to stick around.

"Welcome, darlings! You'll be delighted to hear that you're not too late to join the contest! In fact, I would be most pleased if you were to join us!" she started excitedly. "Your costumes are both quite eye catching after all." She nodded and smiled. "There are prizes for the winners and beautiful ribbons for everypony!"

She gave another nod and then trotted to the chair she had prepared behind her judging table. "Which I suppose I should now get into since we have such a good number of contestants," she said, sitting down and panning her head to look out at everypony. "First prize shall win this delightful blue ribbon as well as a bag of candy, a basket of fresh apples from Ponyville's own Sweet Apple Acres and a special secret prize," she said, holding up the first place ribbon and a large bag full of candies she had prepared; the basket of apples was on display nearby, one apple missing. "Second prize will get a red ribbon, a bag of candy and a secret prize, third a yellow ribbon and a bag of candy. Everypony else will get a piece of candy and a purple ribbon for taking part in this fun event," she indicated the rest of the prizes; two bags of candies and a basket of candies were prepared, along with the needed ribbons.

"That out of the way, I think we can start this off," Rarity continued. "How it will work is as follows. You will each be given a few minutes to show off your costume as the music plays. Take this time to strike your best poses and show off the mobility, functionality and features your costume might have. Once your time is done, take a few more moments to explain the concept for your costume: what was it made from? What inspired you to choose it? And so on."

"Please keep in mind that the contest will be judged not only on the costumes themselves but on style and ingenuity as well, and do your best to leave us all impressed!" she concluded with a nod. She was excited and ready to see the show begin.

((ooc: Okay, so how I want this to happen is that you can all now each make a "competition post" where you have your pony pose and show off their costume and them talk briefly about it. You should make these posts by Wednesday night if possible, as Rarity wants to have winners decided by the time actual Nightmare Night (Halloween) comes around. There is no order the contestants have to go in and how you want to approach these is up to you, but aiming to impress is always a good strategy. New contestants are still welcome too, just have them line up and have them give their competition post if you want. It's completely okay. Good luck! ;)))

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"Hehe, That's a relief, dear. The changelings I encountered were such frightful, awful creatures. We wouldn't want any of them around," Rarity said, smirking slightly, wondering how this one might react.

The Mare looked down a second before nodding in affirmation,"Yea... Mah family can vouch for that, they were in Canterlot during the invasion. They were really scared for awhile even after it was over." Aria chuckled a bit wryly,"Do ya think the costume could be in bad taste then, Miss rarity?" she asked starting to seem a little sad. She would leave this competition if the host wanted her to, but at the moment the memory of how her family had looked at her for awhile after the changeling invasion seemed to hang heavy in her mind before she snapped out of it and tried to return to a slightly more cheerful disposition.

"But yeah... I seem ta have a bit o' trouble getting into the scary mindset, Ah was kinda a big scaredy ca--" her eyes went wide at the sight of horrifying sight of the Stallion dressed as the ghoul king. She'd read alot of the Ghoul king's book series. She was the kind of pony (or changeling) that was scared fairly easy but always seemed to be drawn to scary stuff and sweet Celestia was the Ghoul King Frightening! Almost reflexive the changeling darted behind the princess shivering behind her as if she was a foal looking to it's mother for protection. This lasted about a minute before she blushed heavily and looked down and took a few steps away from Celestia,"S-Sorry about that Princess... " she said hanging her head and going over to the stallion dressed as the horrifying figure with a fierce blush on her face.

"A-and to you too mister... uh... What was your name again Mister?" she said an embarrassed grin on her face.

Once on stage she decided she would let a few of the other contestants go first so as to get an idea as to what to do.

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When Pigpen heard Rarity's instructions, the dapper looking stallion hopped into the spotlight. This was just the opportunity he was looking for the show off his little 'surprise' to the crowd.

"Greetin's ladies an' gentlecolts! Allow me ta introduced meself! They call me Topper, the proper Trottingham gentlecolt. All is jolly good when I'm around, that is, until I take a drink of me special formula!"

As he spoke, Pigpen now posed in a dramatic fashion, producing a small vile of green liquid from his coat as if by magic. Then he drank it down before turning to the audience again.

"For you see, I have a terrible secret. When I have a swig of my homemade brew, I begin to change, change into a hideous MONSTER!"

Pigpen then proceeded to twirl himself around, spinning very fast and when he stopped, he now wore a huge set of fangs and his face was all green, roaring and snarling, lifting his front hooves in the air as if he was now going to leap out into the crowd and go berzerk! When his time expired, he reverted back to his former dapper personality, though still wearing the green makeup and fangs.

"Jolly good show, I now will take my leave!" he said, stepping out of the spotlight and returning to his former place in the 'lineup'.

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It seemed that there were some last-minute entrances, Psmith observed. A quite impressive-looking one the first was, though the colt had to snicker at the disconnect between the deep, fearsome tones and the mundane, worried words. A bit like Tirek trying to order a pizza; it was just an inherently funny thing.

He would have favored the newcomer with some flowery Arabian Prose, but the Ghoul Lord had just met up with his marefriend the Wonderbolt, and besides, the unicorn would need to save it for his competitive appearance!

The music gave him the perfect cue; the track had just switched, and the new song was beginning with the howling of the winds. "The sun has long departed these Arabian dunes, but by the pale light of the stars, the traveler could just see the the mysterious figure close upon him. A beam of moonlight spills over the clouds and reveals..."

He stepped out from the shadows into the limelight of the stage, drawing his scimitar so it caught the light. "I, Psmith bin Psmith, noble officer of the sultan's Janneighsarry corps. Yes, my little ponies, the Arabian Nights have come to life on this night, bringing the magic mystery of the desert."

He strutted across the stage, letting the light catch the bright colors of his jacket and buttons, showing off his purple sash and white robes. The fez was still at the jaunty angle he had set it at earlier, and with the sword waving, he looked the proper soldier of the desert. "Ah, but you know this is no ordinary night, and indeed, it is no ordinary task that has brought this officer here from the desert lands. Oh, but it is dark purpose; he pursues the ghouls that have escaped from the City of Brass. For it is their plan tonight..." Psmith's horn began to glow, drawing the shadows behind him into crowd of shapes; the music continued in low, moaning tones, "To march into the towns of Equestria... and FEAST!"

With a flare of the stagelights, the shadowed figures seemed to leap out at Psmith, who whirled to face them, sword in hand-

And then the illusion dissipated, to the audible disappointment of the crown. Psmith gave them a smile as he put back his sword. "Ah, but do you not remember the Arabian Nights? You must keep the storyteller alive if you wish to hear the end of the tale! And he is starving for candy." With a wink, the Janneighssary departed from the stage.

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"Young lady I do not care if you are your mothers little princess, you are in Miss Rarity's home, and insulting her guests, and being very disrespectful in front of Princess Celestia and everyone else, I suggest you work on your attitude and grow up a little before you attend big pony things, Now BEHAVE PLEASE your MAJESTY"

"Excellent, darling! How very much called for. Not only do you show impeccable sense in choosing a subject for your costume, but a true knack for efficiently solving problems. Miss Rarity is certainly impressed."

What an absolute surprise; the guy who dresses up just like the judge goes out of his way to be Rarity’s personal pet and stick an apple in Flakey’s mouth. And that Rarity… that TURNCOAT! Rarity egged the stupid stallion on his lameness while acting like she and Flakey Shards never worked together in that fashion show at all! For the first time in her short life, the crystal filly experienced how betrayal by somepony she thought kinda cool felt like… and she hated it to her very core!!!

But now, since surely everypony’s paying attention to her incessant complaints, Flakey Shards felt she had everypony’s attention. Time for some Flakey-style… for her next feat in manipulating marks, she’d turn on the waterworks to cast Rarity and her new lapdog as bullies! First Flakey’s eyes started watering up as she “glumly” took the stage, then she gently let the apple fall out of her mouth. “I’m… I’m sorry you all had to listen to that everypony,” the filly radically changed her voice, now sounding weak and fragile like a special snowflake; “It’s just that… where I go to school..... I always get made fun of by all my classmates.”

Flakey would have liked a pianist around to play a sorrowful tune to accompany her sickeningly sweet performance, but her angelic voice of sadness would have to do. “Last time I was in a costume costume… they all made fun of the costume I wore..... and they all called it such nasty names.” *SNIFF* “I… I can’t bear to repeat what they said here.” *SNIFF* *SNIFF* “I hoped the ponies here would be a lot nicer… but apparently… I was… I was wrong.”

To complete her emotional tour de force, the Chrysalis filly dipped her head low and let one crocodile tear drop to the ground; “I didn’t mean to be so defensive… I bet nopony will ever like me now.....” Flakey Shards knew that rotten ole’ Rarity would never give her an award in a million years, but if Flakey could turn her into the villain of Nightmare Night, that would be more than enough of a victory for the rotten crystal filly.....

*OOC Note: to save time, I’m going to count this as Flakey’s trip up to the stage to display her costume.*

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star sprite decided it was the best moment to do his show after an awe inspiring stage performing and a little filly who made most of the participants a bit sadder. star sprite walks up to the stage in a very brave walk like one that a hero would do on his way back to the castle. he gets on the stage and gets ready. the music he picked made it even better, the song had some touching moments in it and some that make you just want to dance.he talks loudly " You might wonder who This mysterious pony is on the stage, but I only have one thing for you." with a quick jab of his head he pulls out the sword with his mouth and quickly jumps in the air and does a 180 degree turn. on the wall with a pattern of light was a giant pattern of light which looked light a key hole. a beam of light comes out of the key and "opens" the key hole. with this the lights on the wall turns into a galaxy that move from one planet to another. and from the wall jumped a pattern of light that looked like a large black toad with yellow eyes. star sprite with fierce power used the key like a sword and the pattern of lights disappeared. he turns toward rarity and puts his key back on his back and quickly puts on a black robe on his costume. star sprite a little out of breath started to describe his costume. " My costume is about a pony lore that I heard of about a cloaked hero/villain. this pony travels to different worlds by using this "key blade" to unlock routes like opening doors. he is a hero because he defeats evil shadow creatures on his his adventure, and he is said to be bad because he's a heartless clone of a hero and is said to just have been following in his path. he is also said to be in an organization where they wear black cloaks like the one on me. This is only folk lore so don't quote me on it. if any of you would like to know more about this amazing being of folk lore you can ask me here or send me a letter at the university of clouds dale." star sprite smiles and looks at rarity in the eyes and mods his head then gets off the stage. he then quickly takes of his black cloak.

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It was time for the contest! Apple Bloom had to stop herself from jumping up and down in place, as excited as a junebug in...well...june! She always loved a good competition. Part of the family blood, she figured. She even had a habit of making games outta things that weren't even games to begin with, which sometimes messed with the harvest when "Find the Red Apple" turned into, "No Really, Find the Red Apple or Don't Have Dinner". How could anypony blame her? Her sister was a competitive soul and Apple Bloom had her own growing collection of ribbons to show her success. Or, well, mostly failures, but the fact that they handed out ribbons and trophies for participation just about everywhere certainly lifted her spirits a few stages.

But one pony's spirits certainly weren't raised by the costumes and goings on. In fact, she froze after what seemed like a half second of speech, scared by a costume. Apple Bloom didn't blame or nothin', it wasn't a big deal to get stage fright. Or just regular fright! Or on Nightmare Night, get a real double dose of the process right up your keister. After a minute or so of awkward silence, the pony gave up the ghost and fell back on stage, her time in the awkward conversation over not nearly as quick as it had begun.

The first contestant was Topper, a stallion who didn't smell at all and certainly looked the part. It was also nice that he had some sort of story made up to explain his costume. It wouldn't be a common thing she planned on seeing, especially with the prevalence of established characters as costume. But Topper finishes his costume show off with energy and pizzazz, earning a smile from Apple Bloom and some applause as well. The next competitor was the overly purple prose stallion dressed as an Saddle Arabian officer, who did as she expected and continued being overly purple prose. But at least he went full-on with his costume and character, so her smile grew and so did her applause.

The next filly was not a filly that Apple Bloom liked very much, judging from the conversations she had been having around the boutique, and that only grew with the sob story she told. Her attitude changed too much for Apple Bloom to buy into it, so she was relatively stonefaced as she continued. Too bad for her because otherwise it was a pretty dandy little outfit. No smiled or applause, just nervous excitement as the next one followed. Apple Bloom had heard of many legends but this one was new. It wasn't fantastic, but it was nice enough. A smile was the next contestant's award. Finally it was Apple Bloom's turn, she coughed to clear her throat and then trotted out.

Chest puffed out proudly, she trotted out rather determined. She found Rarity and Princess Celestia, smile wide.

"Well, Ah don't have any sort of character or story 'tached to this costume, so it might not be as entertaining as others. But Ah decided ta go as an REA Officer on account of a family friend named Carrot Fields. He was in the REA for a while and he is a pretty good stallion, so Ah got interested in tha REA some more so Ah started ta read all about it. They're all about loyalty and honor, and that's like the Apple family and us always being about loyalty and good ol' fashioned family pride. So Ah decided ta go as an officer, since Ah could make what Ah needed. This here's an accurate enough replica of an officer's dress uniform, garrisoned in Manehattan," She started twirling slowly in place, drawing emphasis to the attention to detail as she continued, "some of it's hoofmade, other things were sorta cobbled together but all in all, Ah think Ah look pretty good! Yer confidence in me is completely justified, Princess Celestia! Why, in this uniform I feel as if I could karate chop my way through a whole slew of dragons!" Apple Bloom beamed and ended, saluting her real Princess as well as the one dressing as a Princess before doing a karate kick in mid-air, landing awkwardly confused, and hopping back in line with a smile.

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"You are quite a charmin', bird. melady,"

The pony dressed as Topper extended his compliments to Celestia. Celestia was still certain she knew who this pony was, but still couldn’t place it. “Thank you for your kind words Topper. You are rather charming yourself.” Celestia replied graciously. “I wish you the best of luck in the competition.”

Aria chuckled and shook her head,"o' course not... Why steal love when you can earn it without lyin' to ponies?" Even if the princess did know she was really a changeling it didn't seem to matter to Aria seeing as the princess of the sun was just as kind looking as she envisioned. "Good luck to ya Miss Phoenix! may the best costume win!"

It was no doubt to Celestia that this was a real changeling. Especially since a pony in disguise would merely play along as their character, which is to say, they would make the threat of stealing love, much like how Apple Bloom was acting like an actual Captain of the REA. “Pardon me for being forward miss changeling, but I must know, how did you remain in Canterlot when Cadence’s and Shining Armour’s spell evicted the changeling forces from the city?” Celestia asked, curious to how a changeling was able to remain despite by all evidence changelings being forced out in their entirety from the city. Though Celestia didn’t mind this changeling’s presence, as they didn’t seem to pose a threat, however Celestia also felt the need to make it clear that they were not in costume, but rather an actual changeling. Surely Rarity would not wish to award the prize to somepony or in this case some changeling not in an actual costume.

"Well Princess I certainly hope you get to make more costumes, you have a right talent for it and the work is amazing, I'm a designer myself and I cannot help but love good quality craftmanship such as you have done"

Celestia smiled, she had put quite a bit of effort into her costume, to the point where she actively denied the aide of the Canterlot Castle hands, whom wished to help her create her costume once they caught wind of her making it. She could have easily made her task easier, but she had heard that it is more customary for ponies to make their own, and felt it was only right to put in the same amount of effort as her subjects. “I thank you for your kind words. I’m not sure how good or bad I am at designing anything. I merely copied the visage of my pet Philomena, and it was no easy or quick task either. I do not think my craftsmanship is as good as your own or that of our host, Princess Rarity.” Celestia passed off her praise and directed it to her complimenter and host, whose work seemed far better than her own.

Rarity giggled elatedly at the words said to her by the pony princess. There was certainly something fulfilling about receiving such lavish praise from Celestia herself, especially considering what her costume was. For someone who took great pride in her ability to make herself look beautiful, it was positively invaluable to receive such compliments.

"I do look quite lovely like this, I suppose," Rarity said, smiling at the princess. "The color I put into the mane really stands out and the crown, collar and shoes have the look of craftsmanship and detail not so far off the real things."

"Of course, any loveliness I could manage is only in emulating the great loveliness of the so very lovely inspiration," the mare added, giggling coyly.

“You do indeed Princess Rarity. If I didn’t know better I’d have sworn your crown, collar and shoes were removed directly from Canterlot Castle. But of course, someone as generous as yourself would not steal to meet her own end.” Celestia continued complimenting her host in earnest. Only to receive a compliment of her own from her gracious host.

“Oh Princess Rarity, you flatter me. I am no more lovely than any number of my subjects, yourself included. Even one of your guests chose to emulate your lovliness in his costume.”

"Ah'm on it, Yer Majesty. Nopony's gonna get gobbled up or taken under mah watch!"

Celestia chucked with Apple Bloom’s energetic response.“Ponyville, nay, all of Equestria rests in your hooves Captain Apple Bloom!” Celestia said with a solemn tone, again seeming as though she was talking to an actual captain. “May you protect us all from enemies of Equestria.” As Celestia looked towards the young crystal filly dressed as Queen Chrysalis and the actual changeling.

"Good luck, your majesty!"

“And to you as well. May the best pony win.” Celestia replied graciously. She hoped that she would not gain any special consideration due to whom she was. After all she wished for above else, for contests to be fair, including the ones she judged herself.


"Was it fear, or majesty it inspired, selim? Alas, neither. A true royal disregards the common error, winning the loyalty that supports the great wish, 'may she live forever!'" He looked over to Princess Celestia when he said so, feeling that she might back up this flowery bit of wisdom.

Cashmere smiled kindly at the stallion that mistook him for Rarity, and flipped his mane "Thank you darling, now I'm going to be generous and grant everyone the gift of silence" Cashmere's horn glew and he levitated up an Apple from the table and quickly used his magic, shoving it into Flakey's gaping, crying , annoying maw.

He approached her firmly 'Young lady I do not care if you are your mothers little princess, you are in Miss Rarity's home, and insulting her guests, and being very disrespectful in front of Princess Celestia and everyone else, I suggest you work on your attitude and grow up a little before you attend big pony things, Now BEHAVE PLEASE your MAJESTY"

Cashmere was NOT amused.

"Excellent, darling!" she started with a smile. "How very much called for," she added nodding. "Not only do you show impeccable sense in choosing a subject for your costume, but a true knack for efficiently solving problems. Miss Rarity is certainly impressed."

Celestia remained mostly quiet throughout the outburst and the subsequent response of the other ponies, however too much was too much. She was not pleased with how everything turned out. While everyone was right in their feelings of wishing to discipline the young filly there were simply better ways to do it, gagging her and scolding her harshly was not the way. She finally felt it was time to speak up. However before she could the filly had made a teary display on the stage and came back down. Celestia had seen such displays before, most often from students under her very charge in her School for Gifted Unicorns. After a thousand years you learn to discern true emotion from false ones. Though the filly did not deserve what she got, she did not deserve any quarter, nor did those around her deserve to be emotionally manipulated by a filly who clearly knew she was wrong and attempting to garner sympathy.

As the filly came down from stage Celestia cleared her throat. “I am quite sorry you feel that way your majesty, but a false display of tears is no way to gain sympathy when you know you are wrong.” Celestia began, but she knew the filly would not be the only one to be scolded. “You acted immaturely, but that isn’t to say you were wrong in your feelings, but a true leader, as the Saddle Arabian said, would react differently. Instead of outbursts, a leader would react with grace and dignity, or in the case of Queen Chrysalis with a calm cool and chilling words to make those around them understand a mistake has been made. True leaders are judged by how they act and do, and even in the face of adversity they show only the dignity of being a leader. Always remember that.” Celestia said as only a true leader could. “However, you are not the only one whom acted poorly young filly.” Celestia stated as she looked at Cashmere and Rarity.

“Miss Rarity” Celestia started looking at Cashmere whom was dressed as their host and Celestia didn’t exactly know his name. “While I understand why you did what you did, you still chose to gag a young filly. No matter how brazen or obnoxious they were being, there are always better ways to teach colts and fillies alike proper manners that don’t require gagging or being overly harsh. Simply explaining their folly often works well enough.” Celestia explained as she turned to Rarity.

“And Princess Rarity…” She started with a tone of disappointment. “I am surprised you would applaud such drastic behaviors. Would you like it if someone gagged Sweetie Belle or one of her friends if they were being loud and obnoxious? I’m sure you have had to deal with any of the three being a bit boisterous.” Celestia said while glancing over at Apple Bloom. “If you are going to dress like me, even if you do the costume well, should also consider how I would react in a situation. And harshly punishing a filly like that would not be something that I would condone, let alone applaud.” For the first time of the night, Celestia had chosen to shed the playful attitude she had taken on hoping to have fun. She felt the need to correct the injustice that she had witnessed and make clear her position as the Princess of the Sun. This may not be her house, but this was her kingdom, and everyone should be treated fairly, even the smallest fillies.

((OOC: This is the start of the competition post, I do apologize for the long pretext. Also please note that I started this post before SteelEagle made his post so please try to keep in mind that Celestia’s words to AppleBloom were meant for before she went on stage. Thank you))

Celestia noticed that Apple Bloom had dismounted the stage by that point and figured that now was as good of time as any to do her presentation of her costume. Not to be outdone by anyone else Celestia spread her wings wide and with a bit of magic and a flap of her wings she made it look like she was a Phoenix on fire as she ascended to the stage. Her tail and mane shining as bright as fire and her wing extended on stage, she landed as gracefully as an actual Pheonix would to a perch. She even chose to preen her wing as she has seen Philomena do so many times before, trying to seem as birdlike as possible. “I am the bird of legend and splendour, the graceful Phoenix.” Celestia began as she relaxed her wings on stage looking proud and regal. “When I die, it is in a blaze of fire, only to rise from the ashes just as regal as I was when I was in my prime.” Celestia explained her costume. After all Phoenixes were rare, and not everyone was fortunate to have one as a pet. Even Fluttershy did not know what a Phoenix was at first before Celestia had told her. “As for the costume, though I have the means to have it made for me, I chose to craft this myself out of a silk that looked very similar to the shimmer of the feathers of a Phoenix, and the same colour. Using my pet Philomena as a guide I then proceeded to dye my own hair in colours that would match a real Phoenix. And naturally, as some might guess, my mane is not the easiest to dye, so I used my magic to darken it to flamelike colours and use it’s ethereal properties to my advantage in creating the illusion of fire, like you might see of a Phoenix in flight.” Celestia finished the presentation of her costume. Celestia smiled and looked at Princess Rarity, whom she had only just scolded “I do hope this presentation has pleased you Princess Rarity.” Celestia said with a bow to acknowledge her hosts own lovely costume.

Just as Celestia used magic to ascend to the stage, she used the same magic coming off. Looking like a Phoenix coming down off the stage just as she looked going on. She cantered towards the congregation of the other finished contestants and complimented them on their efforts. “You all did so well. It looks like Princess Rarity will have some task in deciding a winner.”

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“Yes! We’re here for the contest Lady, er.”, the red Pegasus corrected herself, “Princess Rarity.” While she had only encountered the lovely mare only once before and it was briefly at a wedding, Fire Walker was very familiar with the famous clothing designer and occasional savior of the world. Once she situated, the mare kept close to the ‘Ghoul King’ and patiently waited for her turn to come up for her presentation. As she waited, she managed to watch the drama that enfolded with the small crystal pony filly. While she was behaving most inappropriately for the event, she was still just a child. The R.E.A guard glared at the unicorn stallion as he managed to temporarily silence the ‘Queen’. It was very obvious to Swift Squall that she wanted to do something.

“I know she was behaving like a little brat.”, she whispered to her companion, “But she is still a child and one that went through an good deal of distress when King Sombra not only conquered their kingdom, but forced them all into slavery and eventually left their entire society lost in time.”, she sounded rather disgusted, “ I know it was unbearable for the adults, but the foals were probably hit the hardest. What sort of life did that poor little girl have to endure? Wind Walker told me she has met some Crystal Pony children and they were usually antisocial at the least and sometimes outright angry. I can understand why they behave this way and pray that the Crystal Ponies are able to reach out to their youngest generation before they lose them as well.”

The mare smiled as Princess Celestia shared her concerns and mild displeasure with the crowd’s attitude toward the little filly known as Flakey Shards. Feeling a little better, she waited once the good co-ruler of Equestria was finished with her presentation before deciding it would be her turn. As she slowly made her way towards the stage, she unfurled her wings rather gracefully. Once in sight, she spoke up, "I'm Fire Walker, First Lieutenant of the Royal Equestrian Army. One of the things I like about Nightmare Night is that for one night, you can be any-pony or any creature you want to be. I know I'll never make it to the Wonderbolts, but I can at least pretend to be one just for a little bit."

As she finished her short speech, the Pegasus pony bolted into the air. Once she was at an acceptable distance, but still visible by the attendees and audience members, the speedy mare broke into a couple loops, followed by a few rolls and then topped it off with a barrel roll. Once her selection of 'stunts she could do without breaking her neck' collection had been used up, the fiery pony broke into a hammerhead stall and quickly found her way back onto the ground where she had started. She gave off a friendly smile and quickly made her way off the stage.

"Wow, I've never actually performed in front of a crowd before.", she whispered to Swift Squall, "How did I do?"

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"Yea... Mah family can vouch for that, they were in Canterlot during the invasion. They were really scared for awhile even after it was over. Do ya think the costume could be in bad taste then, Miss rarity?"

"Oh, nonsense darling! It's Nightmare Night! I think a realistic fear like changelings hiding as they might be where we least expect it, is a perfectly fine choice of costume," Rarity assured the changeling mare, shaking her head.

"But yeah... I seem ta have a bit o' trouble getting into the scary mindset, Ah was kinda a big scaredy ca--"

She watched then as the changeling was terrified by the ghoulish warrior. This was somewhat suspect. Ponies were typically scared of changelings from what she understood. Wouldn't dressing as a changeling mean getting into a scary mindset? Either way, Celestia seemed very much suspicious of this one. Rarity couldn't understand why exactly. Regardless of authenticity, she could tell that this particular changeling wasn't going to be launching any kind of invasion anytime soon.

“And Princess Rarity…I am surprised you would applaud such drastic behaviors. Would you like it if someone gagged Sweetie Belle or one of her friends if they were being loud and obnoxious? I’m sure you have had to deal with any of the three being a bit boisterous. If you are going to dress like me, even if you do the costume well, should also consider how I would react in a situation. And harshly punishing a filly like that would not be something that I would condone, let alone applaud.”

At this from Celestia, the mare realized she had allowed herself to make a mistake. It wasn't like Rarity to act in such a hostile fashion. She bowed to the princess solemnly and spoke, "My deepest apologies, your Majesty. I haven't a clue what came over me. You are of course absolutely right!"

Soon the ponies on the stage had begun the show. A number of un-costumed or simply costumed ponies gathered behind the judges table as an audience as the spooky music continued. The gentlecolt in the hat went first. He explained his character well, had some good poses and ended on a crowd pleasing reveal--briefly becoming a monster of sorts. Rarity nodded in approval and made some notes on a pad she had prepared while the audience clapped. She wasn't going to be giving immediate feedback to the contestants. All judging would come at the end.

Following the distinguished Topper, the well-spoken colt in the foreign garb had his show. He was showy as expected, working the crowd well with illusions and swordplay. It was impressive. Rarity made her notes on the performance as the next began. It was the child dressed as Chrysalis. Rather than showing off her costume or explaining anything, she used her time on stage to act like a pathetic mewling baby. Honestly, if Celestia wasn't there she might have done something about it. A few in the crowd seemed sympathetic though. Needless to say, Rarity had nothing nice to say in her notes on this one.

Following that was the unusually costumed stallion carrying the key. He swung his prop around well and had some nice light effects prepared. The crowd approved and Rarity had to say it wasn't a bad show. She wasn't at all familiar with the unusual sounding folklore the character evidently came from, however. Following him was Apple Bloom. Her performance was comparatively simple. The action of it amounted to a twirl and a well timed salute. Her confidence and inspiration were clear however. The crowd applauded and Rarity made some positive notes on her pad.

Apple Bloom was followed by Princess Celestia. The Princess put on a show as graceful and captivating as Rarity would have expected. She nodded rapidly as she quickly scribbled some notes and the crowd applauded. The pony who followed her, dressed as the flight team member, put on a suitable set of aerial acrobatics to excite the crowd. Not a bad display.

"Excellent job everypony so far," Rarity said nodding and giving a smile. "Now, who's next?"

((ooc: as a reminder, try and make competition posts by tonight if you can. All who enter will be judged in the contest but your lovely judge is far more likely to pick your character as a winner if they have an exciting performance!))

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Aria smiled at the various performances, particularly at the grand theatrics of "Psmith Bin Psmith" to the point she gave him a bit of applause. Flakey shards was a different matter however, with her she merely gave her a look of irritation and sighing.

When it was her turn she couldn't help but grin wide and inadvertently showing off her prominent fangs before calming herself down. It had been a long time since the traveling singer had been on a large stage such as this one, not since she sang duets with her sister in Dodge Junction. While she may not have been any sort of professional actor she did know a few things about getting into character and also using what she did have to be intimidating. Taking a deep breath as she felt the eyes of their judge upon her Aria spoked in a loud, powerful, and resonant voice ultimately deciding on doing her perceived impression of a high ranking changeling drone.

"Foals! While my queen may be weaker... and uh smaller than I thought she'd be. The mighty swarm of the changelings shall not be abolished! While I may have been expelled from canterlot and separated from my hive my queen and I shall slowly bide our time and feast upon the love of your citizens while the hive regroups! Also, Do not bother to put guards around your settlements and towns during Hearts and hooves day... we are totally NOT planning a silent invasion for that time"

The changeling certainly wasn't taking this seriously or at least not entirely seriously seeing as she gave a rather overly hammy performance... and implied some rather suspicious denial about a plan on hearts and hooves day. Honestly she had no idea of what the changelings planned for the future but she thought she may as well get into the expected mindset for her character. With slight blush on her cheeks from her performance she looked to the Rarity and mouthed the words,"How was that? did Ah do a good impression?"

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"Swift!", she called out as she made her way towards her colt-friend. "How am I going to?"

"Moto! I was looking for you. Next time we need to inform each other what costume we would wear beforehoof." he started. However his sweetheart pulled stallions attention into...other directions.

"You...you look..uuhhh....how should I put it?" he said in an attempt to buy some time. In truth he knew perfectly well what he liked about this form fitting, curves revealing uniform. But in the company of kids Swift couldn't tell that - it had to wait for the moment when the would be in private. Still, the through itself was enough to made him blush so hard, that it broke even through the illusionary morbid white of his 'coat' for a second.

"I...like it. In every sense of the word." swordstallion managed to find diplomatic answer.

"A-and to you too mister... uh... What was your name again Mister?" she said an embarrassed grin on her face.

"I am Swift Squall of Fillydelphia. Heir of the Noble House of Squallcoast." unicorn said proudly. But before he could start a proper conversation...

"Very impressive getup you have there. I like it, but I'd hate to tell you that I'm rooting for the kid over there.", she glanced over at 'officer' Apple Bloom


"Ohhh....is that so?" Squall wasn't really interested in that sort of competition at first. However if it was pony who knew how to press stallion's buttons it was Fire. "A thousand kisses you will own me if...no, when I win."

Swordstallion already knew that his costume was superior to that of everypony else. While he had a triumph card in his sleeve there is also one way to improve his chances of winning. And it was getting into the role perfectly.

With that realization stallion stance changed. Now his body language was of the royal confidence of the Ghoul King. Others may not realized this but the competition didn't started nor did ended along each of displays on scene. The spectators observed them all the time, so it was natural to stay in-character all the time as well.

So Squall stood and observed carefully, looking as if he owned the place and others where beneath him. It was appropriate of course, he was cosplaying as the villain.

When Fire left the stage and asked about her display he whispered "Your flying improved." he whispered back. But there wasn't time for longer conversation right now, Swift decided it was his turn and he was dead set on beating everypony else! After all a thousand kisses were worth it.

And he started acting even before coming to stage.

With slow, sarcastic clapping of his armored hooves he made his way to the scene.

"Impressive and amusing display all of you had presented." Ghoul King said. Squall modulated his voice to give it rougher edge which combined with magical echo and distortion made him sound even more threatening and EVIL. He was also speaking to other participants, something that they forgot to do.

"So full of dreams and life there were...disgusting." the last work had a shade of anger in it "Make no mistake. You will fall today. What stands between you and ME? Phoenix? Even fire bird's are not eternal. It's flames will be extinguished, and along with them your h o p e s....." Ghoul King said slooowly while reveling a sheathed runeblade, until now hidden beneath the tattered black cape.

"Your minds, will be crushed and twisted into loyalty for me. Your bodies, broken and raised again into servitude. And you souls...Hahahaha...." Swift give a really deep and sinister laugh while drawing the blade "Your souls will provide a fine nourishment." with the drawing of the sword scenery changed. The Nightmare Night decoration remained untouched by the illusion, but the scene and the ground below it in the radius of 200 meters was changed into a surface of ice and snow. A very realistic one - they could even hear a snow cracking under their hooves. The only that give illusion alway was the lack of cold. But giving a cold shiver was the thing that Swift Squall, no Ghoul King was happy to provide.

"And you..." unicorn pointed the sword at the crow behind judge table, as the illusionary snow started to fall. Decided that his rivals had enough of his attention Squall shifted it towards the audience.

"I know what your thinking. The 'good' will always triumph in the end right? Always be a shining knight to save the day. But there is power that no knight can conquer." Swift monologued, gesticulating heavily with both levitating and his armored hoof. "A realm always growing, the realm that you pretend not to remember. To disrespectfully ignore!" Ghoul King raspy voice now gained a edge of anger, as sharp as ice shard. He walked off stage on illusionary sheet of ice below, dragging his cape behind him. The runes on the blade surface started to glow ominously and the icy light coming through visors of crown-helmet gained a characteristic of the smoke, dragging behind helmet owner as well.

"An empire always present, Empire of the Dead. MY EMPIRE!" Ghoul King roared furiously and in sudden dynamic movement he thrusted the weapon into the 'ice' beneath him. Burst of force blown the small snow mounds away, showing the cracks in the frozen surface. Cracks the deepened and widened. And under it something stirred.

"But in one thing..." unicorn started, as first pieces of ice were thrown into the air. He didn't even moved when gigantic skeletal claw rended the icy surface next to him. "...you were right..." cold fragments bulged as spiky spine,skeletal wings and horns behind Ghoul King pushed them apart.

"...All rulers have to learn..." he continued as reanimated, sky dragon skeleton, dragged itself from it's icy prison. It's empty sockets unexpectedly glowed with light...the same one as the Ghoul King. The undead monstrosity climbed on the Carousel Boutique. Thanks harmony it wasn't real, otherwise the building would collapse under the weigh of such thing. But aside from that everything was frighteningly detailed, realistic looking and sounding.

"...too inspire the hearts of their subjects." Ghoul King finally looked at his unholy creation. The blue glowing orb in it's empty ribcage looked somewhat ironic after Dark Ruler words. Squall waved Ghoul King sword replica and illusionary dragon spread it's wings, still possessing tattered membrane - no doubt preserved by 'cold' and 'frost'. The beast took the skies and encircled the air above town before gliding just over stage with a might roar. Afterwards beast landed again, but this time on the Town Hall, like some sort of gigantic bird-of-pray.

"But enough words. I foretold the feast of souls and RIMESORROW HUNGERS!

Ghoul King the leaped back onto the stage in explosive motion, then dashing towards the judge table. Rimesorrow held low, shot upward in the rising slash....

But before it could bisect the table cosplayer stopped in his tracks, his figure so dynamic a second ago now like wax statue.

Swift Squall, content with the show he give relaxed and lowered the weapon. He than sheeted the blade making the ice, blizzard and undead dragon disappear. Finally he took his helmet off - this act gave him back his orange coat, emerald mane and eyes and the normal, not EVIL and BOOMING voice.

I hope it was enjoyable. And I apologize. I didn't meant to scare anypony...too much." he explained.

"Why I choose Ghoul King as my costume? There were many reasons. First he was driving character in his book series, both as the hero and later the villain. And he was believable in his evilness. He didn't made errors, was savvy unlike most wicked characters and refused to hold idiot ball. He also had a sense of theatric that I also share. But the biggest reason...the biggest reason is that it just more fun to play the villain. They also seem to have better fashion sense." he smiled and walked away to his mare-friend. This time giving her the kiss on the exposed snout.

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“I am quite sorry you feel that way your majesty, but a false display of tears is no way to gain sympathy when you know you are wrong...... True leaders are judged by how they act and do, and even in the face of adversity they show only the dignity of being a leader. Always remember that.”

Awwwww, no fair! How did Princess Celestia see right through Flakey’s elaborate display of tears? Thanks to that, all chances of total victory blew away like dust in the wind. Ugggh, stupid royal grown-up. Still though… the crystal filly could still count her blessings; Celestia didn’t seem interested in actually punishing her, meaning Flakey would trot away from this scot-free. Another day will dawn, and she could keep on living life as her usual self. And maybe… just maybe she’d take the alicorn’s advice and act coldly threatening the next time somepony wrongs her.

And what’s this? Celestia’s nagging on Flakey’s other tormentors too? How awesome! The vengeful filly particularly enjoyed seeing traitorous Rarity scrape and bow after receiving her just desserts. Flakey Shards guessed that the phoenix-dressed princess would unquestionably win the contest, if only because the judge needed to get back into her ruler’s good graces.

Despite all of that however, a tiny bit of Flakey felt… empty somehow. It was the same emptiness she felt upon realizing that she’d never see her cool trickster uncle, Lucky Gem, ever again, for he had been away from the Crystal Empire when it vanished. Flakey did not want to admit it, but being rejected by somepony she almost called a cool role model didn’t truthfully feel all that great. Knowing she only achieved a pyrrhic victory at best, the fake Chrysalis merely muttered to Celestia a dismissive; “Meh, whatever,” before walking off the stage. No point in showing off her costume officially; she’d be cheated out of any meaningful award, at any rate.....

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Cashmere listened to the Princess, but he saw that the foal was quite happy to get away with just a light scoulding, he straightened his shoulders and bowed in respect, before nodding "Yes your highness.."

After that he glanced at the stage and took a breath walking forward, his costume really didn't seem like that much, his mane and tail dyed and curled expertly, his coat dyed a almost white grey, the diamonds glistening on his flake... Cashmere shut his eyes as he walked forward, walking out with elegance and grace, flicking his horn so that it glew with his magic "I am Miss Rarity, Owner of the Carosel Botique, The element of Generosity, and a independant and hardworking mare" He moved a hoof to his chest gently and opened his eyes, his voice soft and feminine.

"I am a hard worker, I own my own buisness and am truly a artist! My work dazzles, and I express myself in the most elegant and beautiful way possible, I am a artist.." The magic summoned some matterials out of a bag he had tucked under the stage, a bought of cloth, a needle and thread, they floated in the air, and he focused hard, making the practiced pattern in his head spring to life, the scissors flew, the needle flashed, and in the end it was a simple but elegant vest that he gently sat in front of a stallion that had been in the audience winking at him flirtingly.

"And I couldn't be happier to share my talents with you darlings"

With that he turned and bowed to Rarity and walked off stage, humming happily, she had truly made an impression on him, in their times they had met Cashmere had grown to respect the self made mare, and hoped to follow in her hoofsteps one day.

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The performances continued. The potentially real changeling showed tried to play to the part, though seemed not entirely committed to it. She was not a bad actor and did the voice quite well. She somehow seemed to fall just short on knowing what an actual changeling invader might say, however. It was cute, but there was no menace. The crowd gave her an applause though and at the words she mouthed, Rarity smiled and nodded her head.

Now, when it came to terror the next contestant, the Ghoul King, did not disappoint. He went all out with the theatrics. it was over the top to an extent, but wasn't that pitch perfect for the day it was? His enthusiasm was hard not to appreciate. The crowd cheered as Rarity made her notes.

Cashmere followed and as one might expect given his costume selection, went straight for the flattery. This one was definitely trying to make a direct appeal to the judges and one had to appreciate how he threw himself into the part even if they weren't Miss Rarity. The audience clapped and the judge smiled and made some more notes on her pad.

After everypony had had a chance to show off their costume, Rarity nodded. It looked like the contest was at its end--the judgement was to begin now! Rarity looked at her notes for several minutes, thinking it over and making more marks. It was a tough decision, one that required much deliberation. So many of the costumes were so very good. A contest needed a winner, after all. It took a few moments of careful consideration, but in time she had three names she had confidence in. First she had things to say to the rest however. She grabbed two baskets from her table, one of participation ribbons and the other of chocolate candies.

She moved toward Cashmere first. She pinned one of the ribbons in his tail and handed him a chocolate. "Oh how I wanted to pick you as a winner. Your costume choice was stellar and you showed style and swagger that could perhaps give even the real Miss Rarity a run for her money," she said, giggling. "It's just a case of the competition being so strong and the costume itself being just a little simple in design."

She moved from Cashmere to Calliope next. She smiled. "Your costume is very much classy," she said pinning a ribbon to the robe and placing a chocolate in the pony's hoof. "I really thank you for coming out tonight," she added with a smile.

Next she approached Fire Walker. "You put on quite an impressive show up there! Truly it was reminiscent of the real thing," she said as she carefully pinned the ribbon to the pony's costume and left her with a chocolate. "However, while you wear it well, the costume itself has become a somewhat typical one, I think."

She stepped toward Aria then, putting the ribbon in her mane and tossing her a chocolate. "Your 'magic' costume is very eye catching and indeed looks much like the real thing. That said, while you did try to get into the act, I'm not sure I saw the menace of a real changeling invader on that stage however. Trust me, a real changeling wouldn't be revealing her secrets to readily," she said with a grin.

Following Aria, Rarity went to Star Sprite. She pinned a ribbon on his costume and gave him a chocolate. "Your performance was first rate and I could tell you put a lot into it. However, maybe it's just personal ignorance, but the lore you drew from is not something I can claim familiarity with so the costume itself was something I had a hard time wrapping my head around. A great effort all the same."

Next was Sketch, who just like the others she pinned with a ribbon and left with a chocolate. "The detail and execution is simply exquisite, but the show was a little flat. All the same, were the competition any weaker you might have had a chance, darling!"

She looked then to Topper. She pinned the ribbon to his hat and left him with a chocolate. "I loved the show, especially the monster reveal and you were so dapper and charming up there. Alas, it's a shame that I can only recognize that with a participation prize."

Psmith was the next pony she approached. She pinned the ribbon on the costume and left the chocolate with him as with the others. "Your show was as eloquent as your words. Truly one of the very best of the night. You were let down only by the fact that there were simply other costumes I preferred."

Rarity then approached Flakey. "Here! Be grateful you even get this," she snapped as she threw a chocolate and ribbon her way and then turned back around quickly.

"And that leaves us with just three ponies! But who is the winner?" she started with a giggle as her eyes went from Squall to Apple Bloom to Celestia. She then gave a nod as she left a bag of candy with each of them.

"In third place, bringing so much sweetness to the REA with her costume, is young Apple Bloom!" Rarity started excitedly, clapping her hooves together. A questionable choice she supposed, but one that needed to made. Apple Bloom was the youngest in the competition. She deserved the memory of placing. What better than a third prize ribbon and a bag full of candy to keep a rambunctious little pony good and happy and out of the manes of adults with plans for the night. She pinned the ribbon on Apple Bloom's uniform and smiled at her. That left the Ghoul King and the Phoenix.

"Now then! The winner of the grand prize!" Rarity started, tense music starting up just as she called out. "No costume was quite so extravagant and in the spirit of the day, as this! With his exquisitely fiendish, frightening and fabulous facade, the winner of Rarity's Frightening and Fabulous Fashions' is... the Ghoul King!"

She approached Swift Squall with a smile as the crowd applauded. "Congratulations! You win our first place ribbon and this lovely basket of fresh apples from Sweet Apple Acres along with your bag of candy!" she said as she reached to pin the ribbon to the ghoulishly dressed pony. "You also get that secret special prize..." she began, smirking as she grabbed the ponies mask. "A kiss from Ponyville's lovely one and only Miss Rarity!" She snickered as she then pulled up the stallion's helmet and revealed the pony's face and placed a quick kiss on his mouth while he was still off guard. Oh how bold and devious she was! She turned away from the no doubt stunned pony as the crowd oohed in envy.

"And of course, everypony give a hoof of applause now for our second place for the day, ponykind's one and only Princess Celestia, whose poise, grace and perfect costume could only have been born from the heart," Rarity spoke as she walked up to the princess. The crowd applauded. "Oh, princess. How cruel of you to come here to compete today! How were your subjects to compete with such pure class?" Rarity giggled and then pinned the second place ribbon to the royal mare. "And of course the second place winner gets the special prize as well!" she started with a cheerful nod before proping herself up on her hooves and kissing the princess! She couldn't even believe herself. This would be one to tell her friends for sure.

Rarity smiled as she watched for reactions. Oh, how much fun this had been, but as she saw it, the fun was truly only just starting!
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Pigpen smiled as he received his ribbon and chocolate from Rarity. Even though he didn't 'place' in the costume competition, the dapper costumed stallion was still satisfied with his performance tonight. No pony, not even the all knowing Co-Ruler of Equestria, recognized him as being Ponyville's one and only garbage collection pony. Wanting to 'play his role' to the last, Topper proceeded to walk over and congraduate all of the winners, starting with Apple Bloom.

"Good show, young filly! A very noble effort indeed! You are indeed worthy of your award!"

Pigpen then approached Princess Celestia.

"I must say, that was a dazzling display, your highness," he said with a respectful bow, "you'll always be Number One in me own book, sweetie."

Topper punctuated his last line with a playful wink at the Princess. Then he walked over to Swift Squall.

"Magnificent performance, lad! Truly rippin' good acting an' special effects! This is indeed a moment to be proud of!"

Pigpen just had to rush over to Rarity. After all, she has been, as always, the perfect party hostess.

"My dear Princess, you are elegant to a tee! Your keen judgment is only matched by your charming beauty," Topper said as he respectfully bowed and kissed her front hoof. Now Pigpen was REALLY getting buried in the part and loving every moment of it.

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Psmith had watched the remaining performances with a certain degree of amusement, and in some cases, impressment. The Ghoul King, especially, had a performance which was undeniably the best. Of course, the fact that he was probably the oldest and most experienced magic-user competing probably had something to do with it, plus the fact that he had the most resources for his costume, Princess Celestia excepted.

So, when the results were announced, the colt could not say he was surprised at the winners... he was rather disappointed not to be among them. Sure, it wouldn't have been sporting of him to show it, but he was. After putting all the effort and research into making his costume accurate, and in matching his performance in literary style to his source of inspiration, The Arabian Nights, to be so thoroughly outshone by those he couldn't hope to match did get to him a little.

He received his ribbon and chocolate with as much grace as he could muster, remarking, "Ah, but such is fate. We run against preferences like a ship to the rocks. Fair for the winners, though, age brackets notwithstanding." Indeed, he couldn't help but think that setting up age brackets in the contest might be slightly fairer, in allowing the younger competitors, who naturally wouldn't have the resources or performance skills of their elders, to not have to rely on judge sympathy. He refrained from saying so aloud, of course, and went up to the winner, giving him a sword salute in congratulations.

"A worthy rival you were, offendi. If we, our characters of our kind, were to meet on some literary battlefield, I should buy that book. It would be fitting, considering that the legendary origin of ghouls are the Saddle Arabian deserts. Perhaps we might put on a show later?"

There was one other, he felt, that might be worth talking to, and that was the little crystal filly who had dressed up as Chrysalis. As one of the few ponies who had not been scolded by the Princess in that affair, he felt his words might carry some weight and wisdom. "A word to your tactical approach, comrade Chrysalis? A simple apology for getting too deep into character might well have salvaged your performance. You really do the whiney, evil, bullying persona very realistically, but it elicits irritation more than fright. But worry not! You are young, and you have time to learn." Being a bit kinder than either of the lady Rarities, he felt, might mean she would listen to him, perhaps.

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star sprite knew that this is the perfect choice for champions so he can't complain, he decided that he would compliment the winners because they deserved to win. He decided to talk to the winner first. who of course is swift squall.

" amazing performance sir, you surely do deserve first place, it's like you're a born actor!"

starsprite was chuckling as he aproached princess celestia.

" you were amazing princess celestia, you where probably almost tied for first."

Starsprite then walked to the filly named apple bloom.

" you had a great performance apple bloom, hey maybe if you practice enough next year you'll win!"

he then walked to the host, rarity

" Thank you miss rarity for letting me join the competition" he said with a happy smile " i hope if you have it next year that i can come again"

he then went to the other participants and said good job to everyone and gave them a hood shake. but when he got to flakey he gave her a disgusting look and walked past her.

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As the contestants began to converse with one another the mare looked upward at the sky and smirked a devious smirk. The hour had finally arrived. It was time for the show to really begin!

"Thank you for joining me tonight, all my darling friends. This contest has been a true delight. You've allowed me to see so many pretty and wonderful costumes," she started with a giggle.

"That said, the truth of the matter is that the real winner tonight is none of you. When it comes to winning costume, when it comes to the frightening and the fabulous, there is only one winner tonight and it is the 'Miss Rarity' you see in front of you," her voice got louder as she looked at them all. her soft giggle became a deeper chuckle.

"Now, friends! Strike!" she shouted boldly, her eyes becoming solid and glowing bright pink. All at once several blasts of energy came from the audience behind her. They pinpointed the ribbons each contestant wore. These ribbons, each of which contained a catalyst for fast growing cocoon, which quickly began to overtake and enevolope each of them. Rarity shot a pink blast from her own horn right at Celestia's ribbon, to make especially sure that her cocoon would materialize in time.

"You see, my darling contestants, I am not Miss Rarity at all. I am called Luxuria, and I am here to see that my Queen is succesful in her plan to conquer this ridiculous little town," the mare cackled as a pink glow surrounder her. Her white coat suddenly turned very close to black and she grew just slightly taller and thinner. Her mane turned a bright pink to match her glowing, iris-free eyes. Numerous holes appeared in her hooves and mane. She decided to leave tthe crown, shoes and collar of Celestia in place, but turned them a lustrous black.

"You can only imagine how I must have felt in seeing you show up at my little show, princess," Luxuria spoke as she glanced at the cocooned Celestia. "But even when I slipped in my act you never once considered that I might be the real Rarity. You let your guard down, and for it, I've had an easier time capturing you then even my Queen had! Oh how the great do fall."

She looked toward Aria in her own cocoon then and laughed. "You were another unexpected element, my dear. I had never imagined I might see a changeling here I didn't account for. Watching you it was quick to conclude, however, that you were hardly a changeling at all! Even as our princess here cast suspicious looks and questions your way, I could tell that you had no loyalty to our queen! Truly shameful. You have betrayed your birthright and for it you shall meet the same fate as these miserable ponies!"

Luxuria turned and gave a gleeful spin. "Now then. Hold still in your little cocoons, while we consume your delicious love. Struggling will just make it harder for you." she started as her changelings surrounded the cocooned ponies and she let out a diabolical laugh. She went to work right away, siphoning energy from Celestia through her cocoon.
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