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[Cloudsdale] Music of Empty Halls


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Starlight Melody walked silently through the door that led to the Racing Hall of Fame where the achievements of ponies from the past and present were displayed proudly. She paused, looking around her and smiling for this was one of her favorite places to come and be alone. Here ponies rarely came unless a race was going on and only a few actually came everyday to relive memories or wish well of their past loved ones. The main reason she chose to travel here on those quiet days was because of the acoustics of the place. They were amazing and a wonderful area for her to practice and hone her talent as a singer.

There was the soft echo of her hooves as she headed to the middle of the large and open room, only a few elderly ponies present today as she splayed her wings and bowed to them. "I apologize if I may disturb you, but I need to practice." She smiled as the few in the room were actually alright with her singing, having grown accustomed to her wonderful voice as they sat and enjoyed the shrine to famous racers.

Closing her soft indigo orbs Starlight Melody inhaled a deep breath as she got into the perfect stance for singing properly and projecting her voice. Counting an imaginary beat in her head she started singing the National Anthem for Equestria, her voice carrying perfectly within the hall and the elders looking amazed as she sang so beautifully. She sang with all her heart before finally letting the tune drift off as the song came to an end. Her sides shifting rapidly as she lost the control over her breathing that time, but didn't loose her projection during the song.

"Ah... that felt nice..." She smiled, feeling accomplished before closing her eyes and moving into a more haunting melody full of strong emotion. It was an old pony song about two ponies that fell in love and a favorite one for every pony. It was also a lengthy song and something Starlight knew would really test her capabilities and stamina. If she was to one day perform for the Princess, she needed to be able to sing any song that was requested of her and sing it properly.

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Zephyr was still fairly new to Cloudsdale and had not made any friends. If he wasn't working in the Rainbow Factory or delivering a package, he usually went home. He had a small studio apartment sized place only for himself. It wasn't much, but enough for him and the few possessions he had. Zephyr didn't like the busy pubs and hang out places as he couldn't muster up the courage to approach anypony he wasn't already acquainted with, nor did he know how.

Since he had no friends or any obligations other than work, he had plenty of time to himself to explore Cloudsdale. Often times, he liked to find places that had few or no ponies around to get away from the busy bustle of the city. He could go home, but liked the change of scenary from time to time. Sometimes he got a bit lost, though finding his way back home had never proved to be that hard of a task.

Despite all this, Zephyr wanted somepony he could call a friend. He wasn't very social at the factory and when he was delivering, he went alone. Zephyr wasn't used to civilized living and socializing. He was always afraid of saying the wrong thing and turning a potential friend away.

Today was like any other day. He had just finished work at the factory and didn't want to go home. Instead he wanted to go searching around again, somewhere new. Cloudsdale was quite an expansive city with many places dedicated to fliers of all kinds. He had found one such structure which he had never seen or heard of. It seemed to be a place dedicated to the remembrance of great racers. Zephyr wasn't much of a racer, he wasn't very fast, he was more into aerobatics. As Zephyr approached the inside, he could hear something, or rather somepony. Curious, he followed the sound and as every second passed, the sound became more vivid. He heard a beautiful singing voice. Singing, he thought. Singing wasn't something he heard often, and definitely not this beautiful. Entrigued, he sped up to a trot and saw what had made the sound. It was a dark colored pegasus mare. She seemed enraptured in her singing and unaware of what was around her. Zephyr even had to admit, the singing was very good, the best he had ever heard, though he had not heard much singing.

He stopped and only watched and listened to her singing a few trots away. The singing was rather alluring. There were other, older ponies, that looked as if they were there for reasons aside from the singing mare. They did not seem to mind her, and looked like they enjoyed it.

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As the song came to an end her eyes opened with a bright smile plastered on her face as she flexed her wings. She had done it! She managed to sing such a lengthy tune all on her own and without faltering. Those indigo orbs glittered with her success as she bowed to the elder ponies that clapped softly in approval for the well done song.

Her head turned, moving to get some water to wet her parched throat. Her voice was her life and she took great care of her health in order to ensure she could sing for her entire life. However, the sight of a pony near her age startled her. "Oh... uh... hi there." She laughed nervously as the stallion pony was also not something she ever expected to run into at this place.

Starlight knew every pony that usually came here, giving them free shows during her practice time and enjoying their company. This dark green Pegasus was new and also felt like he wasn't originally from the area like herself. He seemed a little socially awkward and unsure pony and could tell it was because of a rough history. "My name's Starlight Melody... You can call me either Starlight, Star, or even Mel. What's your name?"

She extended a hoof to him in greeting, wings rustling against her sides and showing off her cutie mark for a moment. Indigo mane was tossed out of her eyes and settling back into shimmering waves against her neck. The long tail also shifted to try and get the hair to settle back into place as well.

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As the mare finished her song and spread out her wings, Zephyr got a good look at her. She was quite exotic looking in Zephyr's eyes. It was clear she enjoyed singing from her smile and the twinkle in her eyes. As she turned, she noticed Zephyr and he seemed to startle her. He did get a bit close to her when she was singing. Zephyr thought maybe he had already upset the mare because of this, but that thought was quickly removed when she said hi and laughed.

Then she spoke her name, Starlight Melody... Zephyr found it as exotic as her coat and mane colors, he liked the name a lot. He was so caught up in thought in thinking about her name that he almost missed it when she asked for his. She extended a hoof to greet him and Zephyr nearly took a step back when she did this, not many ponies greeted him in this way. He displayed a clear look of confusion for a moment, and she moved her mane out of her eyes. Her mane seemed to have an amazing glimmer as it waved back, Zephyr found it beautiful.

It took a moment for Zephyr to think to respond to her question. He realized he had hesitated and got a little nervous. On top of not having much of a social life, he had almost never talked to mares, he saw them as easier, weaker targets to take from.

"Oh uh... I'm uh... Zephyr Burst. I saw your singing and... wait..."

Zephyr showed clear signs of frustration as he grimaced, not at the mare, but just a general frustration. His speaking sped up a notch.

"I mean I heard your singing and I wanted to come and see who it was."

Zephyr leaned forward slightly. His nervousness visible, but not as bad.

"It sounded amazing! I mean I haven't heard that many singers, but yours is the best I've ever heard!"

Zephyr's look of frustration cleared and he smiled. He was pretty sure that, despite the awkward start, it was a good greeting and was quite happy with himself that he even threw in a compliment.

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Starlight Melody tilted her head to the side, smiling kindly as the pegasus pony looked a little baffled by her. It was the first time anypony ever became speechless after meeting her and it excited her slightly. She never imagined that she could ever get such a first time response like this until after she became famous.

Another giggled bubbled past her lips as the others verbal response was adorable. "Pleasure to meet you Zephyr. Thanks for the compliment, but I highly doubt I am as good as you claim me to be." She laughed nervously for it was a little embarrassing still to hear such praise come from anypony, much less a stranger. "I still have a long way to go to really be as amazing as you describe me.

The young mare's wings fidgeted against her side as she took a small step forward. "Uh... are you hungry by any chance? I know this nice little place to grab a quick bite to eat and for a decent price. Starlight thought it would be nice to make a friend of this pony and also just eat a meal with somepony for once instead of alone. As she spoke, the mare was heading towards the small fountain placed in the hall with water running out of it. She wasn't going to forget that she needed the cool liquid in order to soothe the heat in the back of her throat and so took a happy helping of the freely provided water and looking relieved.

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Pleasure to meet me? Zephyr thought. Does this mean she won't run away? That she'll speak with me more? This was great to hear. He thought it odd that she would think less of her singing. He cocked his head a bit as he was confused she would say something like that. It was certainly unlike anything he had ever heard.

Then she ask if he wanted to go eat dinner with her. With me? he thought. So then she does want to get to know me? Maybe this friend thing isn't as hard as it seems to be. Thoughts raced through his head as he stared at Starlight walking to the fountain. Wait!? I have to answer!

He trotted over to the fountain as he spoke.

"Uh, of course! I haven't eaten in awhile and would really like that!"

He stopped beside the mare, who was still drinking. The thought of food made his stomach rumble, to which his ears drooped due to embarrassment. He tried to cover up his embarrassment with a response.

"Well my stomach would love to eat with you."

It wasn't until after speaking this, that he realized how badly it could be taken, but it was already out there. Zephyr kept a smile, but in his mind, he was worried again. This friend making thing is so stressful.

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Starlight Melody almost shivered in delight as the water washed down over her parched throat and soothed the irritated tissues. She pulled away from the small drinking fountain, licking her lips and turning to face him. "Wonderful... its actually this place's little cafe. Mostly the older ponies go in there before leaving and I haven't really gone inside yet." She explained with a smile on her face, pointing a hoof towards the little cafe hidden behind a large cloud pillar.

"You're cute. Relax and lighten up. You should just act yourself even if you feel like it might be foolish. I'd rather speak to an honest and awkward pony than one trying to hard at pleasing me." Starlight nudged him slightly with her hoof, pushing him towards the direction of the cafe, giggling some more for this pony sure was a little odd and almost made her think of a young foal.

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Zephyr looked in the direct Starlight pointed. He hadn't even noticed there was anything else here. He was so focused on the mare and his own nervousness that he even forgot there were others in the room with them. He felt a nudge on his side and looked at Starlight, who was giving him a light push. Zephyr understood and smiled as he began walking toward the cafe.

What Starlight said was right. There was no need for him to be so nervous about everything. He decided he would try his best at this. He could keep his composure when robbing ponies and during tussles, why not this too?

As he walked, he looked at Starlight.

"I really don't think you should think of your singing like that. I may have not heard that many singers, but yours is honestly the best I've ever heard by far."

Starlight's cutie mark flashed back in his memory, he got a good look at it when she introduced herself. A curious thought entered his mind.

"Do you want to be a singer?"

Zephyr was feeling better since she told him to calm down. Knowing that she could sense his nervous demeanor calmed his mind. It didn't completely remove his nervous thoughts, but she seemed very tolerable and Zephyr felt as the evening went on, he would gradually relax more.

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As they walked towards the cafe, Starlight looked a little embarrassed and flustered as he brought up her singing once more. She was actually used to this kind of discussion for a lot of other ponies were all saying the same thing. That she should take more pride in her voice, but the pride part made her nervous. Ponies didn't like those that bragged too much and so she kept telling herself she still need practice and honing her talent even more.

"I've actually heard that alot. I am thankful for the compliment, however I still feel there is even more work to do and room for my voice to grow." She replied, her tail swishing to the side as deep down she did take pride in her voice and felt it was amazing, just not amazing enough to perform for the princess.

"Ah... more like a star through my singing. I dream to be able to sing for the Princesses one day. It would be the greatest honor to be able to do that..." Starlight's eyes sparkled as she spoke, showing she was truly hopeful for that chance. "What about you? What do you aspire to? Her footsteps paused as they reached the cafe and saw they could seat themselves.

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Zephyr caught on to Starlight's embarrassment at the mention of her singing. She definitely had ambition wanting to sing for the princesses and become a well known singer. That ambition was far beyond anything Zephyr had thought about.

"What do you aspire to?"

What a question to be asked. He never thought about it nor was he ever asked. Zephyr wanted to avoid the question, maybe he could sidetrack her by bringing up her singing some more. No, that would be rude, she didn't want to talk about her singing. The truth was the best choice, she did say she liked that the most.

"No one has ever asked me that before."

Zephyr looked down and shuffled his front right leg, somewhat digging at the ground.

"I don't really know, I never thought about it."

He looked back up to Starlight, whose eyes always gave off the vibe that she understood everything, not judgmental in the least bit. It was a bit dis-concerting to Zephyr that a pony like this would ever talk to him, though with that brought comforting thoughts.

"The only thing I ever wanted was to be happy. I'm just not sure how to go about that..."

Zephyr paused momentarily.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't be so dramatic. What do you think about that? Where do you find happiness?"

Zephyr kept a smile to keep the mood light.

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"I can't believe this!! Less than a month before the next competition and Sapphire Shores cancels on us?! This is a disaster! How am I ever going to find another voice talent to sing the invocations?" Madden spoke in frustration to himself as he walked into the Racing Hall of Fame. Instead of lamenting on his recent misfortune, he decided to cheer himself up doing the one thing he likes do more than anything: commentary.

The Cloudsdale Racing Hall of Fame was a sacred place near the Colosseum where pegasi, both young and old, trotted through to remember the great pony racers in Equestria's history, as well as inspire their ponyselves to achieve such a tribute in the near future. This hall would be filled everyday with fans and young athletes to look upon the great flyers that were. Except, it wasn't always filled. Often times it was nearly empty and gave wind for silly stories about historical flyers' ghosts that occupied the vacant space. Clousdale was often mistaken for a sports city. Everypony outside of Cloudsdale talks big game about the athleticism and competition that runs in and throughout the city in the sky. But the truth is, there's a whole lot more in the city than just racing and figurative flying. Cloudsdale also single-hoofedly creates the organized weather all accross Equestria, takes care of flying animals that cannot be tamed by earth ponies, and even inspires other recreational artistic activities, like singing.

Today, the hall was echoing only a few pony voices. One of which was named Madden, an middle-aged stallion who at one time used to be a great flyer, but is now a full time sports analyst for sporting events in Cloudsdale and other places. He was with a few tourist ponies who had come by to visit the hall. Madden wasn't paid any wage for his tour guidance, but every time he was seen in the hall with other ponies, he was always lecturing them on the great flyers of the past and even included a few details of his own accomplishments. His commentary was ceased, however, when a rather loud singing voice was heard from the other end of the hall. The voice was sublime. And when the young mare who was singing noticed everypony was looking at her, she apologized if she had been too loud and bowed before the ponies. The ponies, however, seemed to enjoy her voice and used it to observe the hall's surroundings even better than before.

Madden, on the other hand, wasn't too happy about having somepony's singing voice, as beautiful as it may sound, keep him from vocalizing his 'brilliant' commentary. But a few moments later, he heard her sing Equestria's National Anthem. When he realized the potential this young mare had and saw that a replacement for the invocations could be filled, he knew that he must speak to her before she got a away. But he could only hear her voice echo through the halls. Where in Equestria did she go?

Madden was running through the halls. Sometimes, the halls were a bit of a maze. He knew these halls very well, but not well enough to understand the acoustics of the place. It sounded like her voice was coming from everywhere. And then, her voice stopped, and he heard nothing. Madden looked around and saw several ponies of all ages. He saw an orange pony giving his little sister a pony ride. He noticed an elderly couple inching their way to the closest restroom. And he also saw other pairings, a dark green pony talking nervously with a young black mare. Madden was so frustrated. He was so wrapped up in his story-telling that he never even noticed what she looked like. His talent-finding lifeline was lost.

Madden walked outside and sat at a table at the cafe next to the Hall of Fame. He ordered a tall milkshake with two energy shots and cupped his hooves over his face in disappointment. His love for his own voice has been known to cause him to oversee important things. This was no exception.

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The young mare just quietly listened to him respond, taking a quick peek at his flank to see what his cutie mark looked like. Her mane falling in front of her eyes again slightly before she flipped it back with one fluid motion of her head. There was a moment of silence as the question was presented to her, a slight frown on her face as she tried to figure out how to word a proper response.

"Its not being dramatic at all. I think we have all gone through such a moment in our lives at least once." She smiled reassuringly, catching the sight of a pony that didn't usually frequent the place entering the cafe. As the waitress came by, Starlight order herself a fresh salad and crisp water to drink for she wasn't actually that hungry. "Hmm... I wonder. Where do I find happiness..."

The silence resumed as she continued thinking and let out a light and airy laugh. "I'd have to say I find my happiness through my singing. I also find it through having a good time with friends and making new friends." She was beaming, hoping Zephyr would understand she was already willing to deem him a friend despite only knowing him for a very short period of time. "Everypony is different so I'm not sure if I can be any help. However, I will say this. You need to have faith in yourself first before the path becomes clear. Its something my mother told me when I was a young filly."

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Once again she did not judge Zephyr, but instead understood. He felt comfortable and decided he could speak his mind to her.

After Starlight had ordered her salad and water, Zephyr ordered himself a daffodil sandwich and looked back to Starlight, wanting to hear what she would say to his question. Her answer brought him more joy than he could ever remember. She wanted to be friends. Her answer along with her small order made it clear. It was obvious she wasn't hungry so she must've invited him over to talk more. This was a day he knew he would never forget.

"You need to have faith in yourself first before the path becomes clear. Its something my mother told me when I was a young filly."

It's no wonder she's such a delight to be around.

"Well your mother is very smart for saying that. I wish I had..."

Zephyr paused. While he felt comfortable with her, there were topics about his past he would rather not bring up as it could lead down an unfortunate path, at least in Zephyr's mind. He knew this was a topic he wouldn't be able to share with just anypony. Starlight may be his only friend, but he felt he needed to know her more and decided he better be careful with anything about his past. This was definitely going to take some time to figure out.

He decided instead to bring the topic back to her singing, but in a different way. She seemed to like the praise, but at the same time, was embarrassed.

"So... you find happiness in your singing. Are there any places where you could sing to a bigger crowd? You said you want to be a famous singer. I think the best way to do that is to get your voice heard by more ponies. There have to be lots of opportunities out there."

Zephyr suddenly got a great idea. He spent his life taking from others, but what if he tried to help someone. The thought of helping another pony gave him another sense of joy. His voice rising with excitement.

"I know, I could help you find places to sing and get you heard more! Would you let me do that?!"

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Madden was on his day off. Normally, he'd be finishing his "Daily Sports Wrap Up" program on ESRN, a sports radio station that broadcasted all over Equestria. Unfortunately, his day off was more of a day of bad news.

Very quickly, Madden's waiter delivered his drink to the table he was sitting at. The waiter pony obviously knew who he was and desired some star-stunned attention. It wasn't every day somepony got to meet a famous radio announcer. Madden, still showing his disappointment for losing sight of the wonderful singing voice he had heard, looked up at the waiter who was waiting for some kind of reply. Madden rolled his eyes. He knew what it was. Everypony loved to hear his voice in person, since it's only on the radio that they actually heard them. Madden smiled real big, looked at the waiter, and said in a huge announcer voice, "THANK YOU!" Immediately, Madden dropped his smile back to his miserable self. Big announcer or not, he was just a pale blue pony with a milkshake.

Madden didn't just announce for big events, he also helped organize them. It was his job and purpose to organize these events behind the scenes so that when the big event went live, he could do his announcing while leaving the ponies he set in place perform their own duties. The cancelling of Sapphire Shores was stressing out Madden more than ever and if he didn't find a replacement soon enough, it would be worst than last year when a young filly who won a contest to sing the anthem lost her voice the day of annual pegasus sprint finals.

After Madden gave his shout-out to the waiter who in the end, much appreciated it, several ponies sitting in and around the cafe had heard him announce his thanks. This gave more attention to him, and some ponies remarked among themselves instantly.

"Oh WOW! Don't you know who that is? It's Madden from ESRN!

"Cool, I don't think I've ever seen him in person."

"Do you think he'll give me his autograph?"

Madden loved attention. But in times like now, where he is stressing out trying to think of a solution to his problems, it was the last thing he wanted. Madden stood still and sighed as he sipped his milkshake with everypony watching. He hoped that if he ignored them for a short while, they'd stop making a big deal about it. All he wanted now was a quiet time where he could figure out who would be willing to come to Cloudsdale to sing on such short notice.

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There was an obvious shift in the atmosphere around them as Zephyr trailed off with his reply. The words were unspoken and yet hung in the air between them as she felt a pang of empathy for the pegasus sitting across from her. The loos of life was never easy to handle, but was something that had to happen in order to maintain a balance.

Starlight knew it was something he wouldn't want to easily share and thus knew not to mention nor push the topic further. It would be highly rude of her if she did and probably break the slowly blooming trust between them. So when the topic came back to her own singing she let the almost forced topic transition take place. The mood between them quickly becoming forgotten and replaced with a lighter and more hopeful feel.

"Well there are, but I don't have enough reputation to apply for a time slot to perform or I just lack the power of a big name behind me. Though I keep trying in the hopes I become a backup or a fill in." She smiled softly for she wasn't going to give up despite the recent pot holes in her career. Being alone as she strived for her goals didn't help her success either.

"You would do that? Are you sure its alright? That's like asking to become my manager and it would keep you very busy..." Starlight felt a little guilty just accepting an offer if the other pony didn't know just how heavy the actual workload would be. Though the help would be wonderful in getting her name out there even more and exposing her voice to more of Equestria.

It was then she heard a commotion nearby in the cafe. All the ponies were excited about somepony or something that must be famous or else the peaceful air would have remained. She turned her head, blinking as she saw a few ponies gathered and whispering about a very familiar pony sitting alone at a table. "It couldn't be... Why would such a pony like him be here?" She turned, looking at Zephyr and pointing to the other pony's table.

"He might be able to give us some tips... If he is the pony I think he is..." She smiled, moving to head to the famous pony's table to introduce herself.

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Hmm, a manager? That sounded like something way beyond his expertise. Yet Zephyr wanted to help her, she clearly had the voice and singing ability for something bigger than what she was doing now. He wanted to see it happen, even if it did keep him busy like Starlight had said. It was a way to help another pony out.

Starlight's attention turned away to an unfamiliar pony. It seems she, along with everypony else in the cafe, knew who this pony was. She even pointed the pony out to Zephyr and wanted to go talk with him. He couldn't help but feel a little jealous when she seemed to deny Zephyr's offer and instead would ask this other pony for help. He kept his smile and was still happy to be around his new friend. She did say "He might be able to give us some tips". She wasn't cutting him out.

Zephyr followed beside her toward the light blue pegasus. He wanted to reassure her that he would be up to the task.

"Of course! It would be more than all right! I would be happy to help you in any way I can."

Zephyr looked to her while he spoke. He was also curious about this other pony.

"So who do you think this pony is?"

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Madden had done a pretty fair job ignoring the cafe ponies for the moment. His thoughts lingered and dwelled on his problems. He even began imagining worst situations that could happen in the near future. Maybe Princess Celestia would banish me for failing to find an appropriate singer. Maybe I'll become on of the most wanted ponies in Equestria for running away from my troubles. Madden wasn't always this pessimistic, but he figured if he could hope for the worst, the situation wouldn't end up so disastrous in the end. It was these thoughts that somehow helped him cope with what stress was to come. Between his meditation and his milkshake, he began gaining his composure once again. His milkshake was very good.

For the moment, all of the ponies were excited to see him in a casual cafe in Cloudsdale, but they were keeping his distance as if he was a strong bear in a cage at the zoo. If it really was a zoo, and Madden really was a bear, the situation probably wouldn't look any different. No pony had enough courage to approach him. But then, a dark beautiful mare trotted up to Madden's talbe he was sitting at. She seemed to have no fear of talking to somepony as famous as he was. She also had a sparkle in her eye of curiosity that was different from what most fans would give. Madden found her fascinating as she walked towards him. But then he realized it was truly him she was walking towards, and he immediately tried to cover his persona with a menu. She probably just wants an autograph, Madden thought.

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Star was actually willing to let Zephyr be her manager, but just hoped the stress of the job and the pressure wouldn't be too hard on him. Making sure she wasn't alone, Star peeked over her shoulder at Zephyr and felt a little boost of resolve as he followed. "Thanks for coming with me... This pony is a famous announcer. I've heard of him quite a few number of times. He's done work with Sapphire Shores." She whispered to him softly before giggling lightly and looking at the pony failing to hide himself behind a menu.

Star knew she was being very bold and down right forward, but this seemed like a once in a life time chance for her to get her career moving. Her eyes peered around the menu to look at Madden head on and gently pushed the menu flat onto the table. "Excuse me. You are Madden right? My name is Starlight Melody." She smiled warmly as her voice held a melodic undertone when she spoke, her hoof moving away from the menu as she returned the proper distance between them.

"I have a few questions for you... along with my friend here... Zephyr. You see... I'm trying to get my music career off the ground and we both could use some pointers. Zephyr as my official manager and myself as the singer."

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This was exciting, he had no idea what he was supposed to do, but he'd figure it out. He didn't know who this pony was or the Sapphire Shores that Starlight mentioned, but if Madden could help her, Zephyr would help convince Madden that she is the greatest singer around. There was a growing excitement in Zephyr when Starlight mentioned him as her official manager. When she had finished her introduction, Zephyr couldn't help himself, he had to interject something... anything. This pony needed to know what Starlight could do.

He looked at Madden, who didn't look all that pleased at their arrival, but Zephyr would try to fix that if he could. He was excited, but kept his voice as calm as he could.

"Not just any singer. She's the greatest singer in Cloudsdale, no uh... in Equestria! If you could have heard her earlier in the halls, you would know that she sings as beautifully as she looks!"

Coming up with something to say was hard. This was all he could think of, there had to be a way to elaborate more. Despite his excitement, Zephyr was lost on how to continue.

He thought to himself, maybe I should just leave it at that, we haven't even heard what this Madden fellow had to say to us. Yes, perhaps it would be best to keep quiet. Zephyr knew he wasn't that great with words and the more he spoke, the higher the chances he may say something to ruin things.

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As Madden carefully studied the size of the text in the sandwich section of the menu, the pony that had walked up to his table had the audacity to pull down the menu and look him square in the eye. Madden hadn't often seen a pony which this much boldness. He was already fairly impressed by that alone. However, He was not about to give a free autograph out just because she had spunk.

"Excuse me. You are Madden right? My name is Starlight Melody." Madden loosened his jaw when she spoke. Her voice was pleasant and her facial expressions were warm and light-hearted. "I have a few questions for you... along with my friend here... Zephyr. You see... I'm trying to get my music career off the ground and we both could use some pointers. Zephyr as my official manager and myself as the singer."

Madden noticed the following pony behind her. He didn't really look like a manager and he was wondering to himself if this was some kind of prank his radio station colleagues were playing on him; they did that a lot. Madden smirked and raised his right eyebrow. "Oh really? You are," Madden pointed at her in question, "a singer?" Madden chuckled a little. He was about to add to his question when the dark green 'manager' stepped up in front of Starlight to make a point.

"Not just any singer. She's the greatest singer in Cloudsdale, no uh... in Equestria!" Zephyr seemed to know what he was talking about. His voice was received with confidence, but the details he spent almost sounded like he had just met the mare.

Madden smirked even more at the ponies exaggeration. He attempted to respond. "Oh really? Well..."

"If you could have heard her earlier in the halls, you would know that she sings as beautifully as she looks!"

Madden's smirk fell to a realization. He jumped up and shouted, "This is the pony that sung in the Racing Hall of Fame earlier!?" Madden looked around at everypony starring, again. Madden calmed down and played it cool. He sat back down on his rump and crossed his right hind leg over his left to promote a considering thought. "I mean, yeah I heard her earlier, she was pretty good, I guess." Madden was excited to not only meet the pony that sung beautifully in the halls, but also that they miraculously came to him. He knew that she could save his butt in finding a singer for the event, but he wasn't going to just give it to her. He had to be sure that she was ready for the performance, and that more importantly, his casual-looking manager had the behind-the-scenes know-how to get her to perform at the top of her ability. Madden turned at Zephyr who was now perspiring slightly. "How many gigs have you gotten her?"

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Zephyr jumped back slightly due to Madden's sudden excitement. He actually heard her earlier and was clear he thought she was great. But that excitement quickly fell off to a more composed demeanor.

"I mean, yeah I heard her earlier, she was pretty good, I guess."

He had the audacity to speak her singing down like that? This was upsetting. How dare he say that after hearing her sing. Despite this, Zephyr kept quiet, he was still a bit nervous and didn't want to mess anything up for Starlight.

"How many gigs have you gotten her?"

This question made him even more nervous, and he wasn't able to hide it at all. His ears fell and his whole body seemed to sink lower.

"Um, well..."

What if I just feigned confidence and told him some arbitrary number... no, a lie could hurt Starlight's chances, and she wouldn't approve of such things.

"None. We just met, but I told her I would help her get herself out there in any way I can... Um, I don't know what a manager actually does."

He felt like hiding under the table.

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Starlight smiled as Zephyr found his confidence and added in his beliefs in her abilities. She was silent, flushing slightly at the praise to her voice again as she watched the interaction between the two. Madden's response to the last bit of praise made her jump in freight. "Uh... Yes I am..." She replied for there couldn't be any other pony that was possibly singing before her. Her heart skipped a beat as a first wave of true nervousness hit her.

She stepped back in before anything unsettling could be said to hurt Zephyr as she cleared her throat. "What does that matter anyway? The fact is you hear my singing... and judging from that reaction..." She smiled with a small hint of deviousness about her as her eyes glittered in pride.

"I have to have some shred of talent and you heard it. In fact... I will perform right here to prove it..." She took a few steps back after taking a sip of water for the sake of her throat. Without music or direction or anything, she opened her mouth and sang. The melody was more a beat and free than what she sang earlier, but it also showed the true range and ability of her vocals as her voice came out loud and clear despite the acoustics of the cafe.

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Madden was disappointed that Zephyr had only been Starlight's manager for less than a day and that he admitted he didn't even know what a manager did. However, all of the discouraging inexperience was balanced by Starlight's talents as she sung her beautiful song at the cafe. The entire cafe was glittered with ponies tranced by Starlight's melody. Not only could Madden hear how well she could sing, but he could also see the affect she had on other ponies. No one seemed to care that Madden was even there anymore.

"Ok. Ok. I tell ya what. I've been needing somepony to fill a spot this evening at 5 P.M. at the Cloudsdale Auditorium's South Stage. They need a singer to sing a song for about 5 minutes. If you can perform at this event and show me that you can perform under pressure, I will open doors for you." Madden made several dramatic gestures as he spoke to try and amplify his statements. If these gestures worked at events that he announced at, then they must work in in person, right?

Madden turned to Zephyr who was half hidden under the table. "And you, my friend. If Miss Starlight here is able to do what we all think she can do, they I'll teach you a little about managing. How's that sound?" One of Madden's drives was helping younger ponies fill their aspirations. Although, usually, it was more for athletic reasons and Madden didn't know anything the music industry, he could still use his showmanship experience to teach them perceptions.

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Wow was that singing wonderful. Everypony in the cafe was enjoying her singing, including Madden himself. Another thought was etched in Zephyr's mind as he listened to Starlight's song, but that would have to wait.

Tension lifted as Madden offered Starlight a chance to sing at an event later that evening. In fact, Zephyr was excited to hear that and looked to Starlight to see her expression, which he was sure she would be filled with far more excitement than himself. The tension in Zephyr's stomach lifted more when Madden offered to teach Zephyr something about managing. He stood up, placing his hooves on the table and leaned forward just a little.

"Oh of course! Anything you can share with me, I would be happy to know!"

His wings lifting a little with his excitement at the offer.

"I won't let anypony down."

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Starlight's eyes went wide with shock at this news for it really wasn't enough time to plan out her first performance much less have everything she needed to go on stage tonight. However, this was a rare chance and she was NOT going to pass it up just because of some slithering fears and doubt were working their way into her confidence. Those wings shifted, unfolding slightly before snapping down tight against her sides as she quickly turned that worried expression into a bright and excited smile.

"I can do it! I will accept such an offer, however..." Her expression changed once more into one of seriousness as she helped herself to a seat for they would probably need to plan things out. "Will there be a wardrobe provided and all that jazz or will I need to find my own outfit for the evening? Also what about forms of payment since money must always be exchanged for offers of services? I can do this job... I might be a little nervous at first but I want to become a star and promise to not fail at this."

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