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47th Annual Cider Season (Open to all)


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The rooster crows at the first light. As the sun peeks over the horizon, settled fog is exposed in the valleys of the apple orchard giving it the nonverbal command to quickly disperse. Conditions were perfect. It was a relatively beautiful day with a chilly breeze to remind all living creatures of the coming holiday seasons, the first of which was to be a Ponyville tradition known by ponies far and wide. It was cider season at Sweet Apple Acres!

 

Along the road back to Ponyville from the farm were rows and rows of tents where ponies camped last night in an attempt to try and beat the crowds. The famous cider had created an insane demand for its taste, but the Apple family way of doing things would only yield so much cider for so many ponies to drink. Applejack would always assure everypony that there would be enough cider for all as long as ponies were willing to not take shortcuts and wait for the process of making the best cider in Equestria. And even though she would always be faced with criticism of short supply, she would be right all along and in time everyone would eventually go home happy and Applejack would be able to take a few barrels of cider for her family and herself for the next few weeks.

 

The season wouldn't officially start for another hour or so, but even so several ponies were getting restless in their cooperative lines waiting behind the great cider counter set up at where the farm paths meet the road. The counter was adorned with all the spigots and tools needed to uncork new barrels and squeeze the apple nectar into wooden tankards, which were clean ready for their first pour. Applejack allowed ponies to bring their own vessels for the cider, but if not, she had a rotation of clean mugs ready for every customer that needed them. The sign above told everything everycreature probably already knew.

 

'Two bits for a cup, limit one per pony per day.'

 

"Apple Bloom, could you bring over that spare pump, I think this one might quit on us at some point." Applejack yelled lovingly to her little sister as the orange mare looked over her counter for problems to minimize. To Applejack this was like any other day, it just had the higher volume of customers and slightly more tourism. Ever since the debacle from Flim and Flam trying to put the farm out of business, a healthy coating of sympathy and appreciation covered the cider season operation, with some ponies offering their help on the back end to make more cider and clean equipment involved in the process. Of course, Applejack was more than willing to pay a fair wage to the ones who earned it.

 

She stepped out onto the road and looked down it, seeing the long line of ponies getting excited for their cider breakfast. The low sun reflected off the luster of the Ponyville road. "Howdy! How ya'll doing this morning? You guys ready for cider season to start?" Cider season wouldn't start for several minutes, but it was still nice to have a little moment to make small talk with the colorful ponies of Ponyville to help them manage their expectations and to gauge how impatient the crowd might become this year.

 

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Magnus stretched as he awoke inside his tent. It was fairly small and plain, but it served its purpose. Even with his noble status, he doubted he could ever truly go back to opulent possessions. Even his bed at home was nothing fancy. Pretty much everything fancy in his home was just there to placate any other nobles that might visit. Living a life like his taught you to put more stock in function than form. 

 

In any case, he soon enough exited the tent after collecting his things, which was mostly just his bags, a traveling cloak, and his sword at the moment. Figuring there was no point in leaving the tent up, he packed it away before starting some morning exercise. At the voice calling out to the line at large, he looked over to see the mare that spoke, Applejack if he remembered right. 

 

“I have heard good things about the cider produced here. I’m looking forwards to seeing if they were telling the truth.” He said, continuing his exercises as he did. The unicorn nodded to AJ before starting in on some push-ups. 

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Farm life was much more intense than Taira had thought.  Back home and back in time he used to talk to many of the pony farmers back in Neighpon. He got to learn about their various struggles and through what magic he had he'd try to make things easier for them. This was the first time he'd had to help out in person on a farm. He'd pulled the plow, helped plant seeds, Dug holes for the seed (He was very good at that), and even carried big bags to and from the barn. It certainly gave this old dog a workout he hadn't gotten to indulge in for years upon years. He felt like he'd actually gained some muscle since he'd come to Ponyville, how delightful!

 

 

When Applejack told him that a big event was coming up, Taira was ecstatic. The Running of the Leaves was so much fun! He could only imagine how much fun Cider Season might be. He listened carefully to the instructions, he certainly hoped he would be able to try some by the end of the day. The sweet scent of autumn was on the wind, Taira started his day with a big yawn and stretch before he headed out of the guest room. After breakfast he did some stretches in front of the house to prepare himself for the day, enjoying the cool, crisp air filling his lungs as he took a deep breath.  

 

Barrels were being rolled in with care by their newest volunteer, "So, we use these to make drinks. Right?" The wolf sniffed curiously at the barrels as they were moved along. The Apples smelled absolutely amazing, this crop must be one of the better ones. With a smile he rolled them into place, "You wanted me on the Cider press, right?"

 

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Gallus didn't really care that this was supposed yo be the best cider in Equestria. He also didn't really care that he had been in detention the one time that Professor Applejack had brought in some mugs.  What he did care about and he cared a lot about was when Sandbar laughed and said he thought Gallus would cough and hack the first time he had a mug.

Gallus wasn't going to let some four-legged snack food tell him what he can and cannot do.

So that was why Gallus found himself camped out in front of the Sweet Apple Acres cider sale booth. He hadn't arrived early like it had been suggested by just about everycreature because=- well, honestly, it was just cider. He didn't expect ponies and otherkin from far and wide to waste all their time by camping out in front of the farm like this. He had arrived the night before and was shocked to see how long the line was. Maybe he could understand why young students and kids like him- not that he was a kid, but others were kids of course- could do this but adults? He had even yelled out last night when he arrived, "don't you all have jobs?!?!" 

 

Luckily nocreature had taken too deep a notice of him.
 

But it did present a problem because Gallus hated to wait and he especially hated to wait when he was here just to make Sandbar eat his words. So as everycreature else waited patiently for their turn to come up in the endless line arrayed in front of him, a line that seemingly stretched beyond all relatively compared to the fact they were waiting for cider, Gallus made plans. He flew from tree to tree, slowly making his way towards the front of the line the night before. When the light fell, he made his move. Unlike evercreature else who had brought tents or large, bulky bags and had campfires, Gallus just hada sleeping roll for a pillow. He slid his way in between two tents and took a quick cat powernap.
 

When he woke up many, many hours later? Well, yeah. He had two perturbed looking ponies on either side of them. Neither could puncture his defense- he had always been there, they just hadn't seen him- and so even with their baleful glares piercing him he took his victory sip of water joyfully. He made himself comfortable and worked on nothing at all, instead just lazily enjoying the nice breeze that bracketed beautifully the rippling trees of Sweet Apple Acres. He'd been down around these trees  and the family that owned them once or twice before. It was impressive, sure. A lot of farming and working and sweating and grunting to produce some sugar fruit that Equestrians seemed to subsist to the exclusion of all other things. He appreciated all the work that went it as only a griffon with a love-hate relationship with work ethic could: Very little because he felt like they could just catch some fish, and also very impressed by it.
 

He had worked hard before in his life but never by choice. They did. It was a move full of integrity and a showcase of Equestrian spirit and some other fine words and ideals that came across as hopelessly naive to a resident of Griffonstone. What was really shocking is that the longer he stayed in Equestria the more he started to realize that the wool had been over his eyes for as long as he had lived, and it was these ponies that were pulling it off and allowing him to see through a muted haze of the world into the bright, pastel colored reality he denied. Damn ponies and their relentless optimism, they drove him to drink!
 

Their cider.
Mostly to throw it back in Sandbar's face when he downed a mug without sputtering, the four legged salmon.

"Howdy! How ya'll doing this morning? You guys ready for cider season to start?" 

 

Gallus leaned out and away from the ponies next to him to shoot a friendly smile at his professor. He liked her. She wore her emotions on her sleeve and wasn't very good at deception, so he felt pretty confident around her. "Hey there, Professor. I heard you have some decent-to-okay cider, thought I'd give it a try," he said loud enough for her to hear. He was close, but not at the front, and certainly not close enough to speak normally after all. 

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Upon hearing the gray unicorn's optimism, Applejack perked up to respond to his curiosity. "Yup. All that and more. We stand by our cider the same way you do. You will leave here wanting more."

 

She heard a snarky blue griffon several ponies back yell his patented indifference, almost seeming like a small jab to how over-hyped he may have thought the cider was. Before Applejack could respond, several ponies chuckled at the arrogance. She smirked. "Tell ya what, fledglin'. If you do in fact end up liking my cider, you must tell everygriff in Griffonstone about it, so that next year, you can compete with all the griffons to get in line to taste my decent-to-okay cider."

 

Taira had called behind Applejack. He wanted to know if he was pressing apples like they had discussed. "Mornin' Taira! We have three cider presses. One of them is kind of broken right now, so to start, you will be on one and Big Mac will be on the other. I need you to press all day." Applejack inflected her voice to illustrate that this was a warning as much as it was a command. Cider pressing was easy if a pony was only doing it for a short time. "As long as Granny has you filled up with approved apples, I need you to be on that treadmill like yer runnin' from some demons or sum'm. And don't you use magic. We can taste the difference."

 

Applejack had built trust with Taira ever since he arrived to pay his end of the bargain. A bargain Applejack was willing to talk down, but the creature seemed insistent that he remain loyal to his wager. She only required him to do things related to the farm like an earth pony would. For the most part Taira had obeyed that premise, but she decided to remind him again on this important event. "If you need a break, just let me know." A stock of barrels for the first pour were already ready to serve, but new apples were being sorted and thrown into the press as the preparations to start the sale were ending.

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Magnus hummed to himself slightly at the mare’s confident response, his exercises winding down now as he settled back into his spot in line. He looked back towards the griffon that she responded to next, watching the bird’s reaction before noticing what was apparently a new helper on the farm. Well, this one was interesting, an okami was a rare sight, especially one so openly themself and working on a farm. Perhaps that was something to ask him after getting through this line. 

 

“I am not standing by anything yet. I came to find out the truth for myself, I don’t tend to just take others’ words on it.” The unicorn responded simply, waiting for the booth to open up for the day.

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A black griffon poked her head out from her tent, only to be driven back in due to the sun's happy rays that met her eyes straight on. "Hok a chanik...", she grumbled to herself. Her silly Ponyville friends managed to convince her that the Apple family made the best cider of all time. Everything else was utter schlock when compared to this famous, fabled beverage. The griffon had her doubts, and she had some of the best Rockwington Dry Ciders one could try....Canterlot Estate No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider.....Froggy Bottom Hoofmade Cider. And even Angry Appleloosa Old Timey Western Cider. This was all crap when compared to the Apple's, they said. And you couldn't just shlep on down to the nearest Cantermart and snatch a six pack from their coolers. Nope! You had to visit Sweet Apple Acres on a certain date and be ready to wait. For a long time. Maybe event rent. a pup tent. Do it, or you'll regret it.
 
There were plenty of things she regretted in her life. One was a permanent marking on her right claw. Pretty blue markings. Done by an artist who dumped her during what was to be a very happy day for her. And now she was in an tent. Waiting for a mug of cider. After letting out a sigh, she pushed her tent flap open again. Thankfully she was ready for the light this time.
 
One of the famers, a pony she knew as Applejack had greeted the little tent city. The line had gotten a good deal longer since the night. Wow. She took a good look at the nearly endless row of tents behind her. Ahead of her was a cute griffon....Oh. He was a little on the young side. A boychik. One with a rather unique bright blue coat. Was he there when she set up her tent? Did he cut in line? He called the farmer an 'Professor'. Heh. Typical griffon snark. Hearing the name, 'Griffonstone' did sorrow her mood just a little. Did the kid come from that dump? She had heard they were -trying- to fix up those ancient pile of ruins, but it wasn't worth it. And the cider BETTER not be decent. Or even just good.
 
She heard 'Big Mac's name called. The last time she ran into that big stallion, they were fleeing from an horde of angry and probably mutated termites. Hopefully they took care of that mess before they started on the cider. Even the best drink would go in the bin the second she saw an nasty little bug floating around in it.
 
Since she still had time before the line started to move, the griffon started to roll up her tent. Hopefully they would be able to finish this quickly, so she could get her deposit on the tent back. She gave he young griffon an 'Morning' before she turned and nodded politely at the unicorn as she continued to work on her tent.
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Gallus replied with a cocksure grin. No doubt her cider would be worth it but he couldn't act like it was a closed deal now, could he? Besides, how could he ever deny the chance at razzing one of Equestria's heroines? "Deal, Professor. Next time I'm in Griffonstone I'll tell them all about it, assuming all the boasting is true," Gallus said with a laugh. The caveat being that he didn't plan on returning to Griffonstone unless forced and if her work was half as good as advertised then he would be happy to talk about it. He just had to wonder if there was a secret code word to get the good stuff. He didn't have to follow their pony drinking laws, right? Griffons aged differently. He was technically an adult and could drink if he wanted. Or at least he would say that and hope they didn't challenge him on it too much.

 

His mind wandered as he imagined just what he could get away with if he pursued that logic. Probably a fair bit until either Fluttershy or Twilight found out about it and then he'd get in a fair bit of trouble. Until that point though? Being treated like an adult griffon would be pretty nice. Had to be, right? Maybe lost in some old Equestrian law was the right for a Griffon to hunt down some wayward sheep and get some meat inside of him. That was something he missed. Harmony was great and all but veal was simply delicious. He was content in this thought process until he turned over to the sound of somecreature saying hello.

 

Oh sweet feathers, look at her chest plumage!
No don't let her catch you staring!


He looked at her, then down, then away. She had such good chest plumage, damn. He then shook his head and replied with full confidence. "H-hey, yeah. Nice to see another g-griffon out here, haha!" he replied with extreme coolness and calmness. She also had cool coloration. You didn't see a lot of very dark shades among griffons from Griffonstone anymore and he always found it kind of...hot. Plus she had these cool markings on her talons. Were those natural? He wanted to look but he also didn't want to look at all because if he did look he was gonna try to sneak another peak of her awesome chest plumage.

Well maybe just a peak...
AT THE CIDER GALLUS COME ON!

 

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Apple Bloom took a deep, deep breath of her home's sweet air. Sweet Apple Acres was the best smelling land in all of Equestria because what came from it was the dual pleasing smell of apples and the familiar process of cidermaking. It was that time of year! That very special, very lucrative, time of year when the family's efforts became unnaturally focused on a single style of product and the time of year when everypony turned their eyes to Sweet Apple Acres. What would this year's vintage taste like? How would it hold? Ponies had so many questions and who could blame them. Sweet Apple Acres Cider was the best Cider in Equestria, maybe the whole world- no, definitely the whole world. She felt confident in that assertion. She also felt confident that this year she could actually help out a whole lot and actually earn her place at the Apples' celebratory table when all this was said and done.

 

Sure she helped out but this year she wanted to *work*. She had brushed up on her sales techniques in case Applejack needed her to help push their family's fine product along. It spoke for itself but still you needed somepony up there to do the deed. She had her old bullhorn on hoof because she knew she could hype it up lie nopony's business. When you had as much passion for it as she did the job pretty much did itself! Inventory management is a pretty big deal so while it was super boring it was also just another way she could help ensure this was the best season ever.
Security? She was super tough!
Apple pressing? Super tough!
Managing the barrels heading off the farm elsewhere? Super smart!
There was no task that she could not complete and she would be happy if she could have Applejack look at her at some point and think to herself, "that young mare is pulling her weight and then some!"

 

Apple Bloom trotted next to Applejack and was nearly jumping in place, such was her excitement. Of course despite being a young mare she had all the energy of an over-caffeinated filly to let out today. She had been storing it up after all!
"Ah'm ready ta help! Where ya need me? Salespony, hypepony, inventory management, Flim n' Flam looker outerer! Whatcha need?" She asked with a wide grin, looking around with eyes seeking jobs and work for her to do.

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It was odd for Midnight to sleep during the night for once, though he had tried his best. The bat pony would yawn and stretch within his tent. "Normally I'm just finishing my shift at this time...." he would mumble to himself. "This better be worth it..." Just barley awake, Midnight unzipped his tent to see Celestia's sunrise just start to creep over the hills of nearby apple trees. "Well, looks like I have a little bit of time still," as he took out a book and began to read. A few chapters, his ear would twitch as he could hear others emerging from their tents. Putting his book down, he would unzip his tent and step out into the morning dawn. His eyes would squint from the bright light before he grabbed a pare of sunglasses. "Ok, lets do this," he would say under his breath.

 

Joining the line, he would yawn. "Morning everypony," the areion would say, stifling another yawn. Midnight would turn his attention to his campsite and quickly pack up his tent and other belongings. Being a member of the Lunar Guard had its perks, including standard issue camping equipment that was made to be packed and unpacked in a flash. He would look around to attempt to see if anypony he knew in line. He would see a unicorn and two griffons in front of him and an endless row of tents behind him.

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Bellissima Stella: talented, beautiful, and had a heart of gold and a kind soul. Ha! Maybe half of those are correct. This popstar princess was all looks and no personality, but most didn't know that. It took a while for anypony to actually catch onto her snooty, cocky self. This mare wasn't one to mess with, yet with her popularity growing, one did not look at her for her personality, but her talent. And she knew that. Why would a growing singer be stuck in a line waiting for some high class cider, though? Who knew. 

 

But there Bell was, sleeping peaceful in her very large tent, behind a couple ponies and griffons in line. The sky was clear, and the sun had just risen over the shelter she had made with a quick spell. She remembered she didn't really speak to anypony the night before as she set up her tent. The tall unicorn knew though in the morning she'd have to talk to somepony, because this was Ponyville. Ponyville met ponies liked to make friends. Bell wasn't much for friends, and that could be a problem. 

 

The high class unicorn already rehearsed what she'd say in the morning though, probably a few times over. She'd smile, flutter her long lashes, and tell everypony a good morning. Seemed easy enough. Maybe somepony would recognize her, hopefully. She loved the attention. 

 

But this wasn't about her, it was about the cider. She heard from countless news papers that it was cider season, and she wanted to put her own opinion in. Apple family cider. Bell loved cider herself, it was sweet and juicy. Her favorite fruit was apples anyway, so it made sense. There was no class on a tree farm, but she could deal with it. She didn't need marble floors and chandeliers to be happy- though, it would make her a little less grossed out from the dirty ground. 

 

The pink unicorn woke up quite late, later than everypony else. The mare needed her beauty sleep after all. A tired Bell was a grumpy Bell, and no pony needed that. So, when she woke up, she slowly got herself out of her sleeping bag and grabbed a hairbrush to get all the tangles out from her very long, colorful wavy mane. As she was brushing herself out, she heard creatures talking from outside. Bell knew she should probably go outside now. 

 

The mare trotted to the front of her tent and zipped it open, peeking her head out and looking around. She squinted from the sudden brightness, groaning as it shocked her eyes. "Why doesn't the sun ever warn precious 'ol me? It could blind any poor onlooker trying to get some sunshine!" Her nose scrunched up, bringing her whole body out of the tent and setting her hooves on the dirty ground. "Elch! Who dares live on this filth?" she questioned quietly to herself, huffing then turning towards the voices near her. She then put the fakest smile on her face. 

 

"Good morning, everypony! How are we all this kind morning?" 

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Prince Blueblood, Head of House Platinum, foremost of the Canterlot Nobility, hereditary head of the Equestrian Unicorns, and part-time Princess (very long story) had recently added to his list of titles.  As Twilight Sparkle had been selected to be the new Head of State, she had devolved her duties at the School of Friendship to him, making Blueblood the new Archancellor.  No doubt she sought to make use of his extensive experience with diplomacy to continue international outreach, as well as his domestic political connections to shepherd the fledging academy around the pitfalls and traps laid in for it by obstructive bureaucrats and obstreperous nobles.

 

And it had to be said, that despite his superficial reputation for superficiality, he did take these duties seriously, even to the point of taking up temporary residence in Ponyville, and trying to fit into the local life of the place.  He would find himself often bemused at the differences in the social scenes between a growing but still small town and Canterlot, the city of his birth.  It was in some respects quieter, of course, but more than the mere reduction of activity, what struck him was the unanimity of it when it came.  For instance, Canterlot would often receive special shipments of food or drink, as highly prized among his class as any cider, but only his class tended to show up to such events.  For the Apple Family Cider Season?  Literally everypony in town was here, and that wasn't counting the out-of-towners.  No wonder it was one mug per pony...

 

He had, of course, reserved his spot with an extra-large tent, not to show off, or at least, not just to show off.  He had some office work that still needed done, cider or not, and made a small workspace to finish up papers by lamplight before turning in the night before.  This, naturally, led to a late wake up time, further extended by a thorough mane-brushing before emerging to greet the morning, along with a striking unicorn that had been his neighbor in line.

 

"Oh, well fancy that!"  He remarked upon laying eyes on Belissima Stella.  "It is a good morning indeed, but I can't help but wonder, have I seen you somewhere before?"  Seeing how a pony reacted to that question was a good way for Blueblood to get a sense of their character.  Most ponies around here, would deny, truthfully, that their social circles had ever intersected.  Some would do some humbly, others defiantly, still others in such a manner that betrayed desperation to enter his rarified world.

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Waking up at the crack of dawn was not something that Dunnie was used to. At least, not anymore. However, camping was an exception no matter how close to civilization the camping was. These were also unusual circumstances for the mare, it seemed that Blueblood's collection of expensive drink would not be complete without some of that famous Ponyville cider, made by none other than the Apple family. Dunnie knew well enough that this was a popular enough occasion for the locals and some out-of-towners to break out the tents, so this had better be some good cider!

She was trotting back along the endless stream of tents. Ponies waking up, milling about, preparing food or drink to start the day of waiting in line. Fortunately for her, she had a spot saved for her closer to the front of the line. Surprisingly so, since she had just arrived yesterday to find that her quarry had been camping early enough for him to get a good spot. Fresher cider, or something like that.

As she trotted back up, she noticed that Blueblood was already awake and talking to a neighbor. She smiled and trotted past the pale pink pony and took a spot up next to Blueblood, where she would plant a kiss on the side of his muzzle. "Good morning." She opened up her wing to reveal a paper bag. "Got us some breakfast! For some reason, though, the only place open was the fast food restaurant." Guess they couldn't ditch work to snatch up some limited time cider. "Is this your friend?" She certainly was pretty, and definitely did not look like a local. A Canterlot native would not be far fetched.

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After spending a short minute with her customers who were all collecting themselves and coming out of their tents, Applejack trotted back to the business side of the selling booth and greeted her little sister's excited attitude. "Heh heh. Alright, AB. I want you on sellin' and pourin' duty. You can make sure the bits are being collected properly and you can be in charge of the cider pump. No one gets a drink without your permission." Applejack relayed to her the responsibility she was to hold, knowing full well she would take control of it like she owned the place. In several ways though, Apple Bloom did own a piece of what was going on. "I don't expect anyone to get irate today, but in case they do, you just let them know that you control the flow. Ain't nobody gonna get impatient with a strong cute little filly who delivers the goods!"

 

Applejack glanced at Granny Smith's pocket watch and saw the clock within striking distance of the beginning of the sale. She knew that the first day was always the most hectic, but she was sure that they made enough cider for the first day to make several customers happy. The only worry is how many would be soured that they weren't able to try the first batch. Applejack leaned towards the megaphone and started speaking to everyone standing in the road. "Alright, ya'll. It's that time you've been waiting for all year. It's officially cider season!"

 

Almost immediately, the booth was crowded by excited ponies and creatures reaching for a taste. Hooves, talons, wings, and claws all shoved for their chance to be allowed to drop two golden bits into the coffer on the table. What looked like a neat line of four-legged civilians was quickly turned into a mob of customers who were more keenly aware of the number of barrels waiting to be emptied more than their place in line. A line? This was no line. This was a free-for-all. Applejack quickly guarded the space by the keg so that Apple Bloom would have space to work. "Take it easy, everypo-, I mean, everyone. Be patient, and there will be enough cider for all."

 

Current fresh cider supply: 100%

Spoiler

Out of character: Cider supply will deplete over time. The only way your character gets cider is if Apple Bloom serves you. When cider is gone, the day will reset and everyone will be put back in 'line'. This cycle will continue indefinitely.

 

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They weren't kidding. Silverstream thought it strange that so many would camp out in order to drink a single cup of cider. To be fair, a lot of common things were peculiar to the hippogriff, but this was definitely an oddity on many scales. Silverstream decided to head over to the farm to see what the fuss was about, and well, she still wasn't sure.  She could barely make out the words on the signage by the farm because she was standing so far back in what she guessed was the back of the line.

 

Squinting, she looked ahead to see if she could recognize any students from the academy who decided to get up so early. She saw a lot of ponies she had never seen before. They may have not been from Ponyville. And she also saw non-ponies as well. And was that Gallus? It was! Positioned a few hundred meters from where she was standing, she could just make out his signature bright blue coloration. "Gallus!" She impatiently yelled, much to the detriment of those standing around her.

 

It didn't appear that Gallus heard her, so she decided to fly up to where he was. A short minute later, she arrived hovering over her griffon friend and yelled again. "Gallus! This is absolutely insane! How long have you been in line?"

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Taira was nothing if not a wolf of his word. He'd promised not to take any shortcuts with magic while he worked and he was going to stick to that. "Thanks to your family's filling breakfast I'm sure I won't get tired for  some time. " He did a few preparatory stretches before bowing his head, "I'll do you proud, Applejack." 

Thank goodness it was only running he needed to do. If there was one thing Taira did it was run. Well, running and lollygagging.  Taking the silver in the running of the leaves was more than enough in his mind he was capable of doing a long distance run. If anything, this would improve his stamina.

 

Seeing the apples already being tossed into the press, Taira didn't waste his time. The swift yokai making his way onto the treadmill and taking his place. He started slow at first, just getting  feel to this device. Did she call it a treadmill? Such a curious term. Dwelling on it for too long might affect his performance so he pushed on and in good time made it to a sprint. The stone grinder on the big vats went to work in perfect pace with the Lupine powering it. His run was visibly different to a pony's gallop, more like  a speedy series of bounds as he made good time on the device. 
 

Soon he caught the scent of something on the air, "Hm! Blueblood is in town... I'll have to bother him once the day is done!" he thought to himself. While Taira was onthe mill he couldn't quite allow himself a distraction but he was happy to see a friend again. 

 

 

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The griffoness could not help but grin just a little as she spied the cute blue griffon through the corner of her eye, checking her out. She was that way too when she was his age. Always hanging around with her friends in Canterlot.  Fire Walker was the military minded tough-girl. Presteza was the creative and cute planner. Docket was the brains. Together they......Wow....Something else caught her eye. Towards the farm, there was a rather large wolf-dog-thing? Did the Apples trade away their Border Collie for that big fella? Apparently they were ready to make a big batch. Hopefully enough for every creature. From what she had been told, the cider was made on the spot. Fresh with an proper head. Shame it wasn't hard cider.
 
There were a few other interesting folk nearby. From a rather adorable and fuzzy bat-pony in sun-glasses. Wait a second? Were those dragon-wings? He almost looked like Wind Walker's little fuzzy 'Draco The Dragon-Pony' plush doll she used to have on her at all times.Was Draco for real? Further down was an rather attractive mare that seemed to be offended by the very idea that she was standing on an dirty, unpaved path. Still, she was a cutie.
 
Griffons were born with incredible eye-sight, so she could see Prince Blueblood...And she was sure her old friend Fire Walker had been pulling her tail. Said he used magic and turned himself into a mare. Ha. Even said former colt-friend Dunder did the same. Poor gal must have been drinking some of Swift Squall's stronger wines he had in his cellar. Squall Sherry....And speaking of Dunder...That mare did look a little like.....Nah.
 
It was probably a good idea to dissemble her tent and roll it up, which she started to. The griffon did not want to lose her deposit. "Huh....", she caught sight of a creature she had only heard stories about. An Hippogriff, and a rather pretty little on at that. She seemed to know the bluey and even called him out. Gallus. An proper, heroic griffon name. She liked him even more. They were probably school-mates over the nearby school. Being an bit of the beaky side, she decided to listen in to their conversation as she finished putting her tent back into its bag. Was it always this small? Oh feathers.
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Selling and pouring duty?! That was the most important job she could e given! It was her job to collect all the bits and make sure nopony got away with fleecing them out of a hard-earned bit. Or paid too much for their drink, that too. And the pouring too, that could be a lot of fun! She liked to full the cider cups big and tall to the brim with the cider. She couldn't help but want to share her family's good fortune with the fortunately fortunate townsponies and creatures of Ponyville, after all. Apple Bloom jumped up and down for a second before catching herself getting too excited.

“Woo-hoo- uhh, Ah mean, aye aye cap'ain!” Apple Bloom said studiously, snapping off a salute as she went and inspected the tools of her trade. She had a big chest for the bits, a lock-box sort of deal with the Apple family logo on it. The cider pump was clean and attached to a multitude of barrels of cider. She had seen the construction of one of these before. It took some pumping to start because it siphoned off barrels further away to start with. That way once it started flowing, it kept on flowing. She took stock of everything she had and felt confident about her ability to handle it when she heard and felt the line give way to a mob as Applejack announced the season had begun.

Apple Bloom reared back as the mob rushed the stand, emboldened finally when Applejack took control of the situation. She took a few deep breaths and calmed herself over the din of voices, many of whom were clamoring for cider. She took a mug and filled it up, pumping for a few seconds before she got anything. Once she started getting it however it went quick and the first mug was poured just right, a tony bit of foam leaking off the side as she turned back to the crowd.
“Two bits! Y'all are forgettin' yer bits!” She yelled over the din. The crowd paused, realized it was being a collective fool, and started throwing bits two at a time at the filly.

 

Oh nelly!

Apple Bloom moved like a mare on fire, taking bits and pumping cider as fast as she could. Two bits, mug. Two bits mug. Two bits mug.
“Y'all have a nice one!”
Two bits, mug.
“Well, ain't you lookin' nice there with that mug! Remember ta use it if you come back or return it!”
Two bits, mug. Two bits, mug. A bit of spillage there, a bit of spillage there. No big deal.
“Drink up fast, that one's real foamy!”
Two bits, mug. Two bits, mug. Apple Bloom tried to have a quick talk with everypony but there was so many.
“Have a good'n Mister Ca-”
“Say hi ta Twist fo-”
“What a charm-”

Two bits, mug. Two bits, mug.
 

Then it was Bellisima Stella's turn.
Apple Bloom knew Stella a little bit on account of her music. Sure she wasn't a Coloratura, Songbird Serenade, or a Sapphire Shores, but she was the newest of the bunch and she had an aggressively self-assured tone in her music. At least to Apple Bloom's ears. She didn't hear much of it on the farm but it was pretty popular on town.
“Howdy there, Mrs. Stella! It's real nice seein' a famous pony here on tha farm!” Apple Bloom said, squeeing with excitement as she poured a mug and sent it over once the bits were paid.


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Gallus for his part was just happy to have been broken out of his momentary, embarrassing mini-obsession with that griffon's rockin' chest plumage when the line started moving. Oh wait, did he say line was moving? He meant it lost all cohesion and became a tidal wave without form that surged forward. He lost his position and was caught up in it. He lost track of everycreature else in line, including the griffon. Luckily he grabbed his bits because if he had managed to get to the front of this mess and didn't have the bits to pay for it he was sure that the Apples would give him the stink eye to end all stink eyes and the cider mad mob might very literally destroy him. He didn't do well when being destroyed. Just ask Yona in any Yak sports game, it got really bad really fast for him.

 

He was saved from any further panic by the arrival of Silverstream, who despite her own shock at the entire event was a calming influence on Gallus. He gave a short, guttural laugh. “This is pretty intense, right? Kinda cool. I wonder what they have in that cider that's made everycreature so nuts for it. I've been here since last night, had nothing to really do. So I snuck thr- I mean, uhh, whatever. I've been here since last night. I had a pretty killer spot in line too,” he said as he looked out over the mob. “Had being the important word. It's total chaos now, right?” He said with a nervous laugh. He didn't like this kind of crowd. Made him feel real nervous, real small feeling. A lot of sound and yelling, even happy like this, kind of triggered deep seated memories. He shook his head, getting his mind off of that. Happy times. Cider, Silverstream, friends, hobbies, teasing Smolder, great plumage Griffon. Yeah better.
“So, what brings you here Silver?”

@GoldenDaze

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Magnus simply returned the female griffon’s nod, looking around at the rest of the line. Was that Blueblood back there? Huh, well that’s fine. 

 

When the line devolved into a mob, he growled in annoyance before starting to fight his way to the front. If they wanted to play this way, he was more than willing to reciprocate as he pushed through the crowd. 

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The gorgeous mare was fixated on her mane when she heard a deep, confident voice. The voice was rather familiar, something she's heard before. Her eyes caught him curiously, his tall stature barely taller than her own. He was muscular, with a beautifully flowy mane that she really admired. He was blonde, which really came off as a normal royal color, as with his bright white coat. The mare was fascinated by him, even just from the first look. He probably had a million mares all over him. She could completely understand that, but she did have a little self control.

 

She looked at him with a glint of curiousness in her eyes, "Ah- why yes! You've probably seen me before. I'm the one and only, Bellissima Stella." She went and bowed traditionally, like a normal sophisticated mare would. Bell was proper, and respectful, only at first though. "You look familiar yourself, yes?" She looked ahead, as the line in front of her started moving. 

 

Everypony seemed to be enjoying each other on the farm, as Bell would expect in Ponyville, or close to Ponyville. This seemed to be the friendliest place in Equestria after all, or so she's heard. She wasn't keen on such positivity, as she grew up solo and only knew how to rely on herself. Bell was used to all the conversation around her though, as everywhere she went there seemed to be a group of ponies around her. The pink unicorn was keen on attention.

 

Anyhow, the line was moving rather quickly, and faster than she was aware, she was already in the front of the line. Then there stood a little yellow earth pony, who looked to be rather excited to see her. Bell shrugged at her optimism, then smiled at herself for the sudden attention she was receiving. The little filly began talking, which made Bell nod her head. "Hello, there. I'm glad to be here!" The unicorn then put on the fakest, largest smile she could muster. "I couldn't dare not show up for this cider! I heard it was the best in Equestria, anyhow."

 

The slender unicorn went for her bag, pulling out four bits: two for the cider, and two as a tip to the little filly. Surely the tip would keep the little filly satisfied with how amazing Bell is, surely. She used her magic to levitate the bits into the pile, and she looked at Apple Bloom with a smile. "That will be enough, yes? Surely it shall."

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Midnight would watch as the orderly line around him turned into a mob of creatures, though mostly ponies. “Oh for the love of Luna, doesn’t anyone know how a line works!” He would exclaim before sigh deeply as he observed the chaos before them. “I guess not....” he would mumble just loud enough that those next to him could hear.

 

Staring at the mob, he would begin to devise a plan. He would watch the unicorn that was a few creatures in front of him try to force his way to the front. Perhaps he could use his stealth and sneak through the mob. That’s what he would do.

 

 Looking around once more before attempting to sneak through, he would notice the griffoness just in front of him seeming to have trouble with her tent. With a small sigh he would remember his training. He could wait a few moment and help a pony...er creature in need... then be stealthy.

 

 Taking a few steps closer to her, he would clear his throat. “Excuse me miss, can I assist you in packing your tent? Us in the Lunar Guard are quite pro-.” He would stop suddenly as the aroma of the freshly trapped barrel of cider reached his nose. His would pucker his lips in anticipation, barring his fangs for a moment as all he could think about was that sweet smell. After a few seconds the effect would wear off. “Sorry about that,” he would chuckle. “Where was I, oh right, we’re good at camping tasks and such.”

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"Oh! Wow!" Silverstream was easily impressed by the sights of creation and collaboration. A simple tool invented by ancient earth ponies would even cause a paradigm shift in the hippogriffon's mind in the right context. Eventually, she answered Gallus' small talk. "I just decided to see what it was going to be like today over here. I didn't realize it was going to be this big of a deal. That must be the best drink ever!  But I was in line way back there." Silverstream acknowledged the line had ceased it's integrity, but she was not about to suggest following the mob. Although she could be talked into making a dash for the front, if Smolder were here.

 

She looked around at all the different ponies and creatures around her. Silverstream was very observant, and liked to creature-watch sometimes in the parks of Ponyville. The way others around her acted was all interesting to her. Suddenly, her eyes caught a glance at something she had never seen before. It was so disrupting to her, she had to blink a few times, rub her eyes, and look again with more focused vision aided by her talon on her forehead aiming her sight-line. What she saw was incredible. "Is that a pony? WITH BAT WINGS!?" Silverstream screeched happily. She flew towards the mysterious pony chuckling all the way. When she got closer to the batpony, while not making eye contact, she looked at his extremities. With disregard for personal space, she softly grabbed one of the batpony's wings and looked under it to examine his appendage.

 

 

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The customers were rabid. But with enough force, Applejack was able to get them to act at least a little bit civil. After a half dozen customers, Apple Bloom started getting into the swing of things, and the movement of cider was becoming routine. The customers were still overly excited though. Applejack couldn't blame them, the cider was darn good. But sometimes she wondered if her loyal patrons were more obsessed with the fruit than she was.

 

As the pump was working as intended, barrels of cider were quickly emptying. As they emptied, Applejack would relay it towards the filling spigot that was piped from the press. As Taira's efforts were made, cider was slowly filling up a barrel. But as Applejack retrieved the next empty barrel, she could only set it aside as despite the canine's hurried gait, he filling faucet was still only beginning to fill the first barrel. She sighed, having known this would be the pace. "Yeah. we're going to run out today pretty fast. Taira, when we run out of cider, you'll just have to keep running past our sellin' window. The more time you put on the mill the more we'll be able to stock up for the next day. I may even help you too, if I can figure out what part I need to replace on that spare mill." Applejack maintained a calm pace as she trotted to other parts of the operation, and perhaps bucking some apples off a couple trees.

 

Current fresh cider supply: 63%

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Was this even the same bag her tent originally came in? Somehow the large tent that could fit two full griffons came out of a bag that would be too small for one single apple. Setting up had been easy. Just pull tab A. Walla! You got yourself a tent. However, there was no simple tab to put it back in. You had to fold it up like sixty times to get it to fit just right.
 
Just as she was on fold number forty two, an excited mob of creatures rushed in....”Hey!”, she growled. Too late! The poor griffon and her tent were carried along with the thirsty mob and promptly planted a little closer to the farmers and their apple cider machines.  She gave any creature an nasty snarl if they dared to cut ahead of her. Still, the cute blue griffon continued to grab her attention. He had an old griffon name. It meant someone who was bold...daring...reckless. One with full chutzpah!  A proper hero. One who would look rather impressive in a pair of her armor once he got a little older. Gold and blue. She could see it. Golden armor. Not that awful steel armor that breaks apart with one hit! She managed to hear a little bit of his conversation? He didn't have anything to do? Really? He should be fighting off all the gals who wanna give him smooches!
 
A pleasant voice snapped her out of her train of thought. It was the adorable bat-pony. There was an proper, restful word she had heard her friend Fire Walker and her goofy husband to be, Swift Squall said to call them. But she forgot it and bat-pony was fun to say and easier to remember. So the heck with Fire and her big red flank and Swift with his snooty, snooty snout.  "Oh hey....", his little odd show did cause the griffon to pause as well. He almost looked like he wanted a kiss. Once he was finished, the black bird continued, "Yeah. This thing just doesn't want to go in the bag. Almost want to just chuck it in the can over there, but then I'd loose my deposit.  I....er...the hay?" as ponies would say.
 
The Hippogriff was getting her claws allover the poor guy. "Hey you pink shmendrik!", she growled. The blacksmith was starting to say 'hey' a lot today. What was with that? She wanted to scare her away with a swipe of her claws, but there was a good chance she would hit her, and that would not look. Hitting a teenager and all. Or young adult. She was not sure. "You don't go grabbing a guy's wings! Especially if you don't go asking first!", she cawed.
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Apple Bloom had to stop herself from giving a bit of an impish squeal. Why, Stella was even prettier and nicer inpony than she had imagined! She even hooved over her bits with grace as Apple Bloom talked up the cider she now held in her hooves. “Oh, its real good! This year's vintage got tha intense passionfruit-like aroma of freshly picked and pressed Jonagold and Porter’s Perfection apples, flourishin' all nice like! Try it, you'll be hooked,” she said confidently before the rush of customers once more stole her attention.

Two bits, mug. Two bits, mug.
“See ya!”
Two bits, mug.
“Chiao!”
Two bits, mug. Two bits, mug.
“Ahriivahderchi!”
Two bits, mug.

This is really hectic...but kinda fun!

Another customer, a more regal sort. Apple Bloom knew this fella well enough. He was Prince Blueblood after all, and anypony who knew anything knew about the little side nobility that didn't much matter to anypony but themselves. Blueblood had a poor reputation at one point but his work with IMAGINE had turned that around pretty well, and everypony liked Princess Bluebelle! She was the Chancellor of the big school after all. So was Blueblood. Bluebloodbelle? It was hard to get it all right. She reckoned she'd just be as simple-minded about it as possible. If she got it wrong how could anypony be angry at her?

“Hey there, Chancellor Blueblood! Fancy seein' yer fancy self this mornin'. Ah forgot, was it cold or hot drinks that did all the magical thingamajig?” She asked as she took his bits and sent over a foaming mug of ice-cold cider his way.

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So that was Silverstream's excuse? Well, knowing her, he could safely file that as a reason and less of an excuse. She rarely needed good cause to do anything at all as simple flights of fancy were things that well suited her on any given day. Still, she had better things to do than waste her time on this 'line'. “For all this? The cider better beat the expectations. I mean, its just an fruit drink. How big of a deal could it possibly be?” He said, looking around. “I guess a big deal. Maybe ponies in these parts are just really bored. It is a farming village, after all,” he said, turning around to catch Silverstream.

He was deafened as she saw a batpony and flew up to it, touching it and being very invasive. Silverstream and her curiosity was almost as powerful as his desire to get his way through the line. Almost as powerful, anyway. He knew enough about batponies to know they were ponies with some bat features and were the rarest of the tribes. Maybe if he had his 'Stamp Once For Every New Creature You See And Befriend' Diversity Card for a free lunch in Canterlot he'd bother but he also figured that joke was played out. He turned his head back towards the crowd and tried to find a way through it, the noise of the crowd drowning out Zelda's rabid defense of the Lunar Guard as Gallus looked at the counter and saw some sloshing cider and felt a thirst that was different from the thirst he had felt just a minute or so ago start to build within him.

@PrinceBlueblood

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The crowds were beginning to awaken, providing the first premonition to Prince Blueblood of just how maddened they might become, once the Cider Stampede began.  But he would not be perturbed; he had yet to encounter the social sea that he could not navigate with aplomb.  Not for nothing was his cutie mark a compass rose, after all!  It was just with individual that he sometimes foundered on the rocks.  Not today, though!  He was a better stallion than that, now.  At least, he liked to think so.

 

"Bellissima Stella... a fittingly beautiful name, I must say."  No need to stint on the compliments.  From the singer-star's demeanor, the Prince could tell that she was used to the idea and occurrence of mixing in high circles, at least enough not to embarrass herself by appearing over-eager.  She betrayed no specific recognition of him, which his ego found hard to believe.  Nonetheless, it was only polite to have introductions be mutual, and she probably understood this.  "I am Prince Blueblood, of House Platinum, and newly-appointed Chancellor of the School of Friendship.  I've moved here from Canterlot for the time being, more or less keeping Princess Twilight's Ponyville ventures running while she takes over in the capital."
The one thing he was unsure of, in regards to the mare before him, was the genuineness of her character.  He didn’t keep his political prominence by judging on surface appearances; she seemed nice, but most ponies in his class could fake the look, and Bellissima was nothing if not a classy mare.  Such thoughts, however, were suspended with the arrival of another mare, whom he knew rather better.

 

“Dunnie, good morning!”  His eyes lit up upon the pegasus mare’s greeting, and he returned her kiss with a nuzzle.  It was the sort of indiscretion he’d have been loath to do in Canterlot, where ravenous tabloids hunted out for any scrap or rumor that could be used to eliminate the private life of some individual associated with the Celebrities of the city.  Here, though?  Ponyville was as friendly and open a community as they came, and probably wouldn’t think anything of it.

 

Somewhat less delightful to his eyes was the bag and its contents.  It had to be said, the Prince could be somewhat… finicky, as regards the quality of what he ate.  “I see… perhaps I should have brought along a kitchenette for you rather than a work desk for me.”  Loathe to consume the greasebomb, he was about to redirect his guard and companion’s attention to Bellissima, only to find that the line was disintegrating into chaos!

 

“Hold up!  We’ll have to introduce you to her later!”  Sticking by Dunnie, he took advantage of her tag-team to forge a path through the crowd, passing by Zelda on the way.  “Oh, hullo!  Isn’t this one of your old friends, Dunnie?”  His attention, however, could not remain fixed, as the tides carried him forward, past two of the students of the academy.
“Silverstream!  Do remember your lessons about respecting the space of potential new friends.  Oh, and Gallus, excellent composition work on your last essay, though your penmanship could still use some work.”

 

Finally, the tides brought him to the counter, catching a glimpse of Taira working behind the scenes.  That old rogue!  Out and undisguised too; they’d have to catch up after the whole craziness was done.  As for Applebloom...  “Fancy indeed, you’re looking well this morning, Miss Applebloom.”  Bringing out four bits, two for him and two for Dunnie, he tossed them at the counter.  “And it is hot drinks, tea and coffee specifically, that are the respective triggers.  Bluebelle won’t be coming out for cider this morning, although…”  He dropped his voice, “If she were, would that count for a second mug?”
 

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Art by the awesome: GoldenDaze!

Reckless was a liiiiitle late getting herself up and outta her tent. 

 

"Whew! What in Celestia happen-..." Her exclamation cut off as she realized she wasn't the only pony around. It was true though, Celestia only knew what she'd gotten into last night.

 

She was, in fact, in a line... a very long line. "Why was I here again?" She tapped chin thoughtfully for a moment before the commotion further up the line drifted down to her. "Ah! Sweet Apple Acres cider!"

 

She trotted in place for a moment, excited to taste some of that amazing golden goodness! She just wished she didn't have to wait in this dang line! The hybrid bat checked out the scene. Lots of ponies, yep, looooots of ponies. Most were run of the mill regular Ponyville ponies, bleh. Boring. Some were a bit more flooty and snooty, and some were ahha! Some were famous! She spied the pretty no, beautiful pink unicorn up at the front of the line.

 

"Well, if I'm gonna do this I better do it right!" She ran a hoof through her mussed up hot pink mane to "fix it" as best she could. 

 

The bat pone trotted up like she owned the place, ignoring the ponies along that way that gave her stares of irritation for cutting the line. "What?" She smirked at one such fussy bottomed pony. "I'm just gonna go say hi to my friend!"

 

A little closer and she could see that that same beautiful unicorn, who just happened to be fairly famous too, was hoofed over a mug of the good stuff! "Perfect timing!"

 

She slowed to a calm walked and sidled up next to the fancy mare. "Hey there sweetness." Her words issued silky smooth like the feel of that perfect cider.

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Midnight would nod to the griffoness as he finished putting the tent back into its bag. "I know that feeling all to well. Try packing en entire campsite into a set of saddlebags on top of Lunar Guard armor and being told to fly fifteen miles." He stifled a laugh as he couldn't help but think of the second day of his training and how he too had similar issues with his tent. Luckily he only had a few things in his pack for this mini vacation. His trip down memory lane was cut short however, as it seemed the mob had only grown. "Well, if you'll excuse me, I’ll be...," before he felt something or someone touch his wing.

 

Quickly the bat pony would jump back in surprise as he turned to see a pink hippogriff. His muzzle would show shock and surprise rather then anger. "I...um...Is there something I can help you with?," he would say as he pulled his wing back and tucked both of them to his side. Looking to the female griffon he had just helped, he would smile. "It's alright. I'm kind of used to it by now...just not to this extent." he would say with an uneasy laugh.

 

Looking back at the hippogriffon, he would take a deep breath and then give her a fang filled smile. "I'm Midnight Oil. What's your name?"

 

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