(The following is a work of fan fiction based on My Little Pony:Friendship Is Magic. I am not affiliated with Hasbro and company. This work is intended to be a work of parody that complies with fair use guidelines.)
The Blueblood Conspiracy
By Geldon (geldonyetich.deviantart.com)
Part 3 of 5
Jump to part 2.
Everypony had joined Celestia and Luna at the table. They had all shed their ruined dresses and were now wearing a pony's favorite casual everyday wear: nothing at all. The tea and food was delicious, and they hoped it would wash away some of the anxiety of how things had been going since their arrival.
Spike had given up feigning sleep and was now sitting next to Luna. From the adjoining corner, Pinkie Pie reached over and gave him a playful noogie. "How'd you know those two were in love, Spiky?"
The dragon was glad to have an excuse to be out of his sailor suit. Although, as he rubbed the sore spot on his head scales, he regretted not having the hat right now. "Well," he explained, "the way I see it, it's like this: Trixie's a girl pony, and Blueblood's a boy pony."
Twilight inwardly wondered how a dragon who had a crush on a pony would draw any conclusion from that, but instead just pressed the question at hoof, "That's not exactly enough to go on, Spike."
"I'm not finished!" he protested. "The thing is, those two are the most shallow ponies I know! I mean, really shallow. I'm talking, like, I don't know, a desert or something? Zero redeeming value. They're so shallow that if-"
Luna cleared her throat, "That's our nephew you're talking about." (Technically, the term "nephew" was an honorific for a mortal pony some 52 times removed from the immortal.)
"Uh, right!" The dragon quickly moved on. "So what I was thinking is that there's only one thing somepony like Trixie and Blueblood would have a chance at even considering falling in love with. And that would be some pony that reminded them enough of themselves. Either that, or a mirror."
Celestia laughed lightheartedly once again. "You are a dragon of many surprises, Spike. When I first heard about Trixie from Twilight's friendship reports, that's exactly what I thought."
"Now hol' on there just a minute!" drawled Applejack, "Are you a-sayin' y'all fixed those two up?"
The tall alicorn smiled and rolled her eyes upward, the clear picture of somepony up to something. From across the table, her younger sister giggled at her behavior. She was being so obvious that even Rainbow Dash saw it, and exclaimed, "What?! You did?! But why?!"
"Oh brother," grumbled Spike, "this is going to be another lengthy exposition, isn't it?"
Celestia ignored him, suddenly serious, addressing everypony in attendance. "My nephew needed help. He was raised to be a diplomat, it was his special talent, and he was very good at it. However, when his scheme against Rarity backfired, his reputation was ruined, the whole basis of his special talent was gone. There was really nothing left for him in this world. I honestly feared he would take his own life!"
Spike was angry. "Yeah, well that jerk deserved it!" He was entitled to it, as the dragon had been very badly injured by Blueblood in the caper that had so backfired on the prince.
Rarity's face was conflicted; likely she was torn between two things. On one hoof, the gravity of the punishment Blueblood received had gone far beyond what she was aware of. The generous soul would not have wished that even upon her worst enemy! On the other hoof, had the prince succeeded in his plan, that same terrible fate would have been hers!
"Whether or not he deserved it, Spike, he's still our nephew, and now he had a serious problem. Yet, the cause of all his problems was there all along. His vanity: that was what had driven him to ruin. That pride had a certain use when he could be seen as a leader but, now, it only served to hold him back. I decided that I needed to find some way to cure him."
Twilight could see where this was going, "So how was Trixie going to be that cure?"
Luna answered, "A lot of vanity has to do with not loving anypony other than themselves. My sister thought that if the two were in love with one another, then they would slowly be able to overcome their limitations. Even better, it would cure two ponies simultaneously, as Trixie has the same problem."
Spike was acting nauseated, "We sure are throwing the word 'love' around a lot here." Rarity, the true romance novel addict among them, cast him a disapproving look and he clammed up immediately.
"It almost worked," continued Celestia, "you may have noticed some signs of improvement." The friends recalled Trixie's miraculous apology with a new understanding. "Unfortunately, the problem was much worse than I thought. Due to their complete inability to communicate, they are perpetually getting in fights! These fights are so terrible that it causes them to completely fail to learn anything!"
"It's a real mess," Luna interjected, "I can't tell you how much of the royal coffers are going to undoing the damage between Trixie and Blueblood's fights. Suffice to say, it's a lot! If it weren't for my sister's stubborn insistence to see everypony happy, I think I would have called the whole thing off!"
"Luna!" Fluttershy was expressing demure outrage, unusually assertive. "This is love we're talking about! You don't just, 'call the whole thing off!' That's... that's just so mean!" She would not back down, but she did tear up a little.
"Maybe so," replied the younger alicorn, "but look at them: they're miserable! What Tia did to them just brings them into constant conflict!"
Rainbow Dash was amused, "Tia?" Luna covered her mouth in surprise. The six fillies looked at their mighty ruler with little smiles on their faces.
"My darling little sister's pet name for me." replied Celestia with a gruff tone before continuing on smoothly, "Really, Luna, you act like I cast a spell on them or something. All I really did was introduce them to each other."
Luna giggled like her sister had just told a naughty joke, and said, "Throwing two ponies in a life threatening situation is not exactly an introduction, Tia."
"A controlled life-threatening situation." stressed Celestia to reassure the wide-eyed fillies, "I was ready to intervene every step of the way. Besides, it would not have worked if they were not truly compatible. Tell me truthfully, Luna, do you think those two want to break up?"
The younger alicorn's eyes were downcast, "Well, no, I guess not. Frankly, that they are still together after so much has gone wrong is nothing short of amazing! Their love is strong, Tia, but even that will not keep them together if things keep going on like this."
"Then it's decided!" Celestia announced, addressing all in attendance, "Your mission is to help Trixie and Blueblood learn how to open up and communicate, thereby saving their relationship."
"Now, hold your horses!" shouted Applejack, "Sure, it's fer a good cause, but I still don't like this. Reckon this here is some kinda conspiracy!"
"That's right. And now, you six are in it too. I believe that you, as the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, are the only ones who can bring harmony to this relationship. For the good of Equestria, we need you: help us to cure these two of their villainous ways."
Despite the monarch's words, Applejack's sentiment was still strongly in the fillys' minds, instilling doubt. True, Princess Celestia was their widely-beloved ruler and the very alicorn trusted to raise the sun itself each day. She was unquestionably wise, counting her age in centuries, perhaps millennia. Unlike any other pony known, the alicorn had both the authority and experience to make this plan work. Considering she would be forced to live with the consequences more than any mortal pony, she may even be entitled to meddle in their affairs.
Yet, even if Celestia was the most qualified pony on the planet; even when the cause was just; even if her goal was to bring happiness to every single pony Equestria... there was no denying that she was still being an unabashed Machiavellian; the princess was not the least bit repentant about her guile. Were the alicorn any mortal pony, it would be something unquestionably atrocious. It was something an innocent filly would not want to know about, let alone participate in.
Each of the young mares about the table took this differently. Twilight Sparkle was the least conflicted, she had come to trust Celestia... she may have even been taught to trust her mentor. Rainbow Dash had decided to go along the plan simply because her friends needed her. Pinkie Pie's motives were a mystery, as usual, but she simply commented she loved a good prank and left it at that. Fluttershy was conflicted at first, weighing the tragedy of the two lovestruck ponies against the cruelty of deceiving them, but the gravity of the former eventually won out. In the end, it was only Applejack, the farm pony who prided straightforward honesty above all else, who looked like she was about to give Celestia a piece of her mind. She would have, too, were she not surprised by Rarity suddenly standing up from the table and walking towards her alcove.
Twilight called out to her, "Rarity? We're not done yet."
Rarity ignored her friend and began collecting her things. She seemed to be packing. Luna and Celestia exchanged a disappointed look: it was clear the unicorn had decided to return to Ponyville.
Twilight Sparkle's horn glowed, and she teleported herself directly in front of Rarity, blocking her access to the wardrobe. "Rarity?! What are you doing?!"
"Twilight, darling. I simply can't do it. I can't. I Can't. I CAN'T!" Rarity flopped to the ground and began to thrash about in her trademark hysterics. "I know I said I would not abandon a friend but... how could you?! This goes beyond just helping him! This is about finding true love! The very thing I was denied whenever that most un-princely of princes was involved! He deliberately toyed with me, Twilight! I refuse! He doesn't deserve to be loved. But I do! Where's my true love?! Oh, Twilight, I'm so pathaaatheeetiiic!" She was bawling bucket loads of over-dramatic tears as she rolled about on the ground.
During this, Luna whispered to Spike, "See? Act completely opposite to her element, go completely insane."
Much to her surprise, rather than defend his crush, Spike whispered back glibly, "Sister, you ain't seen nothing yet!"
Twilight Sparkle knew that her friend had a point, but also that she needed her help. How could she convince her to stay? She looked frantically to her other friends for answers. Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked as lost as she was, Pinkie Pie had vanished, Fluttershy was more likely to sympathize, Spike would just be a lapdog, and even Luna and Celestia seemed to have nothing to say. The scholarly unicorn knew an unsolvable problem when she saw one and despaired.
"Oh!", she cried, "What do I do? What do I do?!"
Oh, Twilight, don't you see?Twilight Sparkle froze. She had heard that tone before. "No. You have got to be kidding me."
Applejack spotted Pinkie Pie and gave the honest response. "Sorry, partner, it's so."
The pink earth pony with the cotton candy mane was singing. Between verses, she flit quicker than eyes could follow from alcove to alcove, behind wardrobes, onto the chandelier, even under the table a few times. The song was sung in the same lighthearted tone that had once saved them from Nightmare Moon's trap, but this time the lyrics were... different.
When I was a little filly, my life was pretty baaaaaad.Pinkie Pie was walleyed. Her usually fluffy cotton candy curls were noticeably less curly: not completely straight, but far cry from the usual volume. As she laughed, it had a bitterly ironic ring to it. This was clearly not a pleasant memory she was recounting, and neither was the lesson it conveyed. Luna was again whispering to the slack jawed dragon.
If I couldn't get the harvest, my dad, he would get maaaaaad.
I'd pant and scrape and quibble, toil endlessly and fall,
but daddy Pie said, that wasn't the way, to break those rocks at all!
He said, "Pinkie, you've gotta stand up tall, grip the pick right here.
Yes dear, it'll hurt at first, but keep whackin' 'til it disappeeeaars!"
Hah Hah Hah!
Soooooooo,When the song was over, the fillies and the dragon were laughing... sort of. It was a bit forced, like it was being done to boost their pink friend's spirits more than their own, but they were laughing nonetheless. Beneath the din, Celestia was furtively conversing with Luna... something about filly labor regulation.
stop cryin' 'bout your issues,
go blow 'em in a tissue!
Life's not all fine dining,
so quit it with your whining!
Just take it with good humor,
or else you'll get a tumor!
So, help that silly prince get hitched so that he'll take a hike and leave you alone and if he thinks he can show his face around Ponyville then you can't be held accountable for what's gonna- hahahah!
"Twilight," hissed Rarity in a low whisper, "I think I'll stay, after all."
"Really?!" she was certain the song would have made the situation worse, not better.
"Yes." Rarity's resolve was firm. "Because, as awful as it will be to help that insufferable prince find true love while I am being left in the dirt..." She paused in mid-sentence and glanced at Pinkie Pie. The usual cotton candy mane was still somewhat limp, but it seemed to be steadily inflating back to normal. "...that will be nothing compared to life on that ghastly rock farm!"
What followed was the master planning session. Celestia had recommended each of Twilight Sparkle's friends come up with an idea representing their element; she wanted them to suggest ways to reinforce these virtues in the two love-struck unicorns, reasoning that each of these lessons would introduce ways for them to open up to each other.
So the conspirators had reassembled about the table, drinking tea and eating treats while chatting brightly about how they would go about helping Blueblood and Trixie. However, there was one pony who smouldered resentfully, saying nothing, her signature hat pulled down low, hiding most of her face.
Applejack had given her word, but she didn't have to like it. Immediately after Rarity announced she was staying, the earth pony announced that she was going to walk right up to that Blueblood feller and Trixie and tell them what was going on. But Twilight had said that was a bad idea; that if they discovered they were only together because of Celestia's meddling it would blow their one chance at becoming better ponies.
Twilight made Applejack promise not to tell, their friendship alone being the main reason why she agreed, and the farm pony took her promises deadly serious. So here she was, stuck having to go along with Celestia's underhanded schemes. She'd be deliberately lying to everypony. Not even a half or three-quarters truth as she'd usually be able to get away with when she was cornered, but genuine, masterfully-wrought, full-potency lies!
Actually, now that she thought about it, it was not all that bad. She allowed herself a naughty little giggle and was surprised to remember she had not made that sound since she was a young filly trying out being a Manehattenite with her Aunt and Uncle Orange. They did things differently, those city slickers. All those stuffy manners, it was as if they were afraid of saying what was on their mind. So, instead, they said them behind everypony's back, the dirty rumors of high society, like it was a guilty pleasure. The filly could not help but get caught up in the gossip mills - it was so much fun!
The farmpony wondered how much fun she could have in the castle right now. Why, she could learn all sorts of things about the nobleponies by hanging around Celestia's court. She would just have to pretend to be one of them. It would not be hard: all she had to do was dust off that fancy manner of speaking she learned when she was young and borrow one of Rarity's most froufrou dresses. She could even fabricate a few choice rumors on her own.
Then, if she learned something really good about somepony, she would be ready to start blackmailing them. Why, with the bits from that, she could fix that saggy old roof in no time! Maybe it would be even faster to cut out the middlestallion and just snatch whatever they left laying around carelessly. Come to think of it, she could probably even find the royal treasury of all Equestria around the castle somewhere...
"Applejack, are you all right?" While her other friends were too wrapped up in their ideas to notice, Twilight Sparkle did, and was concerned.
The tawny earth pony froze. She had been crouching malevolently, wringing her forehooves in anticipation of all the gold bits they would be handling. She thought about what she would say. She could say she was fine... but this was Twilight. Her friend deserved better than that. She forced it out, "No, Twi, I'm not. I'm a-schemin' like a lowdown, dirty snake. 'Taint right. 'Taint right a'tall."
She shuttered, feeling the oily residue from her insidious plotting ooze off her body like she was escaping quicksand. Oh, it felt so good for her to say that! This guilt was a feeling she had first encountered when she regret her actions in Manehatten as a filly, sense being knocked back into her by the roar of a sonic rainboom. But this was worse, much worse. She could not believe she was considering stealing from somepony! Granny Smith would whoop her good if she knew!
She was roused from her thoughts by Twilight saying something, "I know this is hard for you, Applejack, but I'm really glad to have all my friends here to help." A smile of genuine gratitude before returning to the conversation taking place at the table. Applejack's friend had misunderstood, thinking she was referring to the conspiracy they were all a part of, but the effort of trying to tell the truth made enough of a difference to matter.
The apple bucker began to perspire as much as when she did the last time she went snout-to-snout to hide something from Pinkie Pie. She realized she was on a slippery slope: this conspiracy stuff was a heap more potent than a mere surprise party; it was dangerous! She would have to watch her thoughts carefully every single second. But how long could she do that? Not nearly long enough!
So Applejack did what any honest pony would: she looked for a pony she could confide in. Of course, Twilight Sparkle was her first choice, but she decided against it. Her bookish friend was relying on her, and would be shaken in discovering how weak her normally ever-reliable friend was. Fluttershy would undoubtedly be sympathetic but, other than using "the stare" to keep her perpetually cowed into submission (a terrifying idea) she would be unable to do anything to help. The farm pony reckoned the fashionista would think the problem could be solved by reinventing her with dresses, makeovers, flowery manners, or something even more ridiculously froufrou. Pinkie Pie was not a bad choice, as the other earth pony of their group could come up with surprising solutions and could be trusted to keep a secret, but Applejack was not looking for cheering up: she was looking for someone to tirelessly keep her on the straight and narrow.
This left Rainbow Dash. That idea rung true to the farm pony immediately. The two had come to loggerheads once, getting carried away and sabotaging each other terribly during a heated competition, so the pegasus could understand what the earth pony was going through more than anypony else. More importantly, she was a true blue pony who stuck by her friends no matter what. This was not only because of her impeccable faithfulness, but also because she had more stamina than most ponies could ever dream of!
It was decided. Applejack was sitting next to Rainbow Dash, and now nudged her furtively to get her attention, an expression the in-your-face athlete recognized implicitly. "What is it, AJ?" The pegasus was smiling at her, bright and innocent, not a care in the world. The farm pony felt a tinge of shame that lazy old Rainbow Dash was being far more reliable than her, but rapidly banished it from her mind in case anything bad could come of it.
She was interrupted before she could say anything. "Applejack, Rainbow Dash," intoned Princess Celestia in her usual lyrical voice, "would you two be so kind as to see if the fighting has died down?"
The tawny earth pony glared at the alicorn, who merely regarded her warmly in return. Applejack did not know how, but she was positive that lowdown scheming alicorn already knew what she was going through. Nonetheless, this was exactly what she needed, so she complied with the suggestion without a word, focused on kicking from her mind the guilty pleasure she felt from a deception working in her favor.
After pushing aside their makeshift barricade and carefully and sneaking through the doors, the two fillies made their way carefully through the hallway in the direction of dining hall. The staffers had fled, but the scenery had escaped damage. It was eerie, like a ghost town. Applejack barely payed attention to it, more worried about how she was going to broach her all-important request to Rainbow Dash.
When they finally had reached the dining hall, they noticed that Trixie and Blueblood were gone, along with their respective maids and guards. Though there was a tremendous amount of shattered clutter and debris near the side of the hall they had fought, it seemed probable that the two had worked off their steam and retreated to brood. Not a pony remained, not even a servant; the two friends would seem to be completely alone in the middle of the castle.
Not even the reluctant conspirator could ignore that this was her best opportunity to get Rainbow Dash alone. As the flier turned to leave, the grounder grabbed her tail. Having her attention, she spat out the tail and said, "Hang on there, partner, I've got sumthin' important to say."
The pegasus may have recalled that the farm pony was trying to get her attention earlier, and asked, "What's up?"
Rapidly coalescing in Applejack's mind was a temptation not to tell the pegasus. Not because she was planning on doing any of those horrible things... at least, not yet. But rather because she was deeply ashamed of admitting weakness. She had always felt that being an unreliable pony was the same thing as being a dishonest pony. Because she held this false belief, her fear of admitting her weakness created a true vulnerability, and she felt herself sliding back into the brink. She had to spit it out, now, or she may not get another chance.
"Rainbow Dash," she spoke clearly and earnestly, and it formed a protective bubble in her mind, "this here conspirin' stuff is havin' a real bad effect on me. I dunno whut I'm gonna do. Lie, steal, r' worse-"
"Woah, woah, woah, woah!" Rainbow Dash interrupted, backing off, a little afraid, "Are saying you're going nuts, AJ?!"
It sounded dangerously close to a rejection, and it was threatening the integrity of the shield Applejack had formed in her mind. She acted fast to reinforce it. "Listen, Dash! I'm just a simple country gal, I can't handle all this high falutin' schemin'! It goes against my grain!" She swallowed and said her least favorite phrase in the world. "I NEED your help!"
Rainbow Dash's eyes had become hard. But not out of rejection. In fact, the pegasus walked right up to Applejack and put both forehooves on her shoulders. "AJ, you're one of my best gal pals. I got your back. Just tell me what I need to do." She was not the bearer of the Element of Loyalty for nothing.
Something in the back of the farm pony's mind told her that this would be her last chance to loosen her reins a bit. Let her cheat, just a little. She grit her teeth and mentally kicked it back where it belonged. "I need you to stick to me like apple compote on a dumplin'! Don't let me outta yer sight, not even fer even a second! 'N if I look like I'm doin' somethin' bad, anythin' a'tall, y'all gotta stop me. Got it, partner?"
The pegasus's eyes still had that look of determination in them. "Got it, partner!" She paused. "But shouldn't we tell the others?"
"But the others r' why I'm doin' it this way!" Applejack was feeling a little better now that her external safety buffer was beginning to form. "I don't want to worry anypony else, 'specially Twi. Y'all know how easily upset she can git! Reckon, as long as y'all'r keepin' me from doin' anythin' I'd regret, I ain't lyin' or being unfaithful to em', n' neither are you."
If there was a logical inconsistency in this, Rainbow Dash could not see it, and so her innocence was preserved. "Alright, AJ. Lets shake on it!" She spit on her hoof and extended it to the farm pony.
Applejack returned the gesture. Her foreleg had never felt so much like it was not her own as when she reached out to seal that hoofshake; all the remaining temptation she had to misbehave resisted her. However, as soon as she came in contact with Dash, those guilty thoughts were sealed away, and she was her own pony again. She had signed a mental contract not only with the pegasus, but with herself, and was now committed to staying on the right side of the tracks.
"Whew-ee!" the apple bucker breathed in clear relief, "Thank ya kindly, sugar cube. I can't tell you how much I 'preciate this." She felt a little silly about it now, doubting Rainbow Dash would even need to intervene: all she really had to do is be an ever-present reminder.
"Hey, what are friends for?" the pegasus answered brightly, "Now lets go back and let everypony know the coast is clear."
"Right behind ya, partner!" They happily galloped back to their room like it was a make up race all over again.
Though normally ridiculously reserved, Fluttershy had proven unexpectedly assertive in insisting on going through with her plan first. Celestia had complied, stating that a generalized kindness would indeed be an excellent foundation for the other lessons.
The shy yellow pegasus may look like a pushover to most ponies, but her friends knew differently. Somewhere beneath that helpless-looking exterior raged a force of will that could cow a full-grown dragon into submission or stare down a cockatrice in mid-petrification. At least, these had been demonstrated. What is more, to have learned as much as she did about the care of animals was no minor thing: she may not be a scholar like her friend Twilight Sparkle, but she was no airhead.
Even now, she sat on the balcony outside the tallest tower in Castle Canterlot, peering below with a pair of binoculars, a mastermind at work. Next to her sat Twilight Sparkle, the one and only unicorn whose assistance she decided she would need for this task.
Twilight was wearing a strange spiral on her horn, inscribed with runes. It started at a little sconce hooked on the end of the horn. From there, a thin metal band spiraled down the length of it. Wider and further from the horn it went, until it attached on a little dish hooked around the base of the horn.
"I can see them," breathed Fluttershy nervously.
On the plateau far below the castle, a stately wagon pulled to a stop on a country road. Out of it stepped their quarry. They were sporting surprisingly casual dress; Prince Blueblood wore a fine striped blazer vest and Trixie wore an elegantly-styled sundress. They walked up a path beside the road towards what appeared to be a rather picturesque looking park. Even from here, they seemed uncomfortable, as though embarrassed anypony would notice them together. Their usual four attendants were there, but waited next to the wagon, at the entrance to the park.
"Wow!" Twilight was once again impressed at her alicorn mentor. "I can't believe she was able to convince them. So, Fluttershy, how did you want to do this?"
The pegasus put down her binoculars and turned to the unicorn. "Um... okay, so here's what I was thinking (if that's alright with you). I'm, um... going to watch them..." Her voice trailed off.
Twilight waited. Nothing more seemed to be forthcoming from her friend, so she prodded for more information. "Just watch them?"
"Yes." She stated politely. Twilight stared at her. "Um, well, actually, no. You see, I'm trying to see if there's something we can do that makes it look like they were being nice to each other."
"Nice?" prodded Twilight.
"Nice." That seemed to be all the explanation Twilight was expected to need.
"So let me get this straight." The unicorn pointed at the spiral on her horn, "That's the reason why I'm wearing the far caster?" It was an expensive and highly regulated magical artifact on loan from the princesses, but she had been trained in its use as a part of her School For Gifted Unicorns education. "You're going to tell me things to do that give them a chance to be nice?"
"Yes." This time Fluttershy meant it.
The scholar thought about it. If the far caster was used carefully, their quarry would suspect nothing. It was a brute force solution, but a clever one nonetheless. A little push here, a little pull there, and they could cause all sorts of little accidents that would provide the needed segues for the two vain unicorns to show a little kindness. If they were really as lovestruck as the alicorns claimed, it should prove irresistible to them. Of course, direct telekinetic manipulation of another pony without their permission was a very rude faux pas, and most unicorn parents had taught their foals better. However, being on a mission for the beloved monarch of the land would undoubtedly be an exception most parents would approve of.
"Oh!" The pegasus had donned her binoculars again and spotted their first opportunity. Blueblood was standing on the crest of a little hill, perhaps imagining his splendor as being the perfect topping for it. Nearby, Trixie noticed an interesting flower and had decided to sneak a little sniff of it as long as nopony was looking. "Shake that flower!" cried Fluttershy.
Twilight Sparkle's eyesight was not the best in Ponyville, but one of the benefits of the far caster was that it provided magical spacial awareness at any patch of ground she could vaguely see. She knew exactly what flower that Fluttershy was referring to, and gave it a little shake.
The pedals tickled Trixie's nose. She sneezed. Blueblood did not even notice.
"Oh." Fluttershy was mildly disappointed.
Twilight Sparkle rolled her eyes. "Really, Fluttershy, you're going to have to make me do something a lot more noticeable than that."
"Well..." Twilight said the first thing that came to mind. "How about I trip one of them?"
The pegasus was aghast. "I could never!"
"No, really, it's easy! Watch!" To the shy pony's horror, Trixie's forelegs suddenly slipped out from under her, and she pitched forward into the flower she had been sniffing, squashing it. Twilight remembered the mare magician's performance back at Ponyville and wondered how she enjoyed some of her own medicine. Blueblood heard Trixie fall but, by the time he turned to see what happened, she had already scrambled to her hooves, looking peeved.
"Ya see?!" Twilight was a bit too self-satisfied sometimes. "That almost worked. We just need better timing."
"I don't know, Twilight..." sadness was in her eyes.
But the unicorn was firm. "What am I always telling you?"
Fluttershy held her breath for a moment and asked, "Be more assertive?"
"That's right! So do it! Loosen up! Have a little fun with it!"
The pegasus sighed. "Oooh... alright." She donned her binoculars looking a little more determined. After following the path of Blueblood and Trixie through the park for awhile, she issued a quiet shout, "There! Shake those bushes!"
Their quarry had reached a point on the path that had been overgrown on either side by rose bushes. Twilight Sparkle gave the bushes a quick little shake, trying to impersonate a sudden gust, and the vines slapped against the flanks of the vain unicorns, causing them both to vault forward in surprise at the pricking of the thorns. They landed ahead on the path, free of the reach of the plants. The two glanced briefly at each other before continuing, apparently deciding the issue had resolved itself without need for reassurance.
"Horseapples!" The word sounded comical spoken so gently. "I was certain that was going to work."
"Don't worry about it, Fluttershy, we can try again. There's plenty more thorny brambles and such on the path ahead."
"Hmmm, there are, aren't there?" There was a slight edge to her voice as she peered intently through the binoculars. The gentle pegasus had never tried to think of ways to deliberately bring about harm before, but she was finding it surprisingly easy now.
"Glad to see you're getting in the spirit of this! Keep in mind I can do a lot more than just shake things, okay?"
Silence was the only response Twilight received as the mastermind plotted her next move. Of course the pegasus had known the unicorn could do quite a bit more than that: she had felt it firsthand, when she allowed her friend to directly manipulate her in an attempt to throw her natural grace off during a fashion show. Had she forgotten how embarrassing that was? Oh, she could just kick something! Or better yet... a guilty little thought came to her mind.
"Have Trixie kick the prince."
The thought almost made Twilight Sparkle laugh out loud. Oh, this should be fun. Trixie found herself reflexively lashing out one hoof to kick the prince sharply on the rump. The blow was unexpected, but he righted himself before he lost his balance, casting her a confrontational expression. Trixie had turned away from him, pretending to sniff a flower again while hiding a worried face. She quickly recovered her composure and turned to meet the prince's gaze. Seeing his expression, her mouth opened briefly, perhaps to deliver another incredible apology... but she did not. She shut it and continued briskly along the path as though nothing had happened. The prince looked conflicted for a moment, but decided to let it pass. It was, after all, a considerable improvement from having half the grand dining hall thrown at him.
"Yesss," hissed the pegasus beneath her breath, "that was good, Twilight, real good." She had little devilish little grin on her face as she surveyed the exchange through her binoculars. "But we need to do even better!" It was too quiet for her unicorn friend to hear, but she decided not to pry.
Below, the couple had come across a part of the path that went over a plank leading across a miniature gully. It was only a few foot drop, a pony could easily stand up from the dry floor and climb up back onto the surface if they wanted. The plank itself was only about twice the length of a good sized pony. For example, a stallion.
"Shove him off that plank," commanded Fluttershy.
There was no time to argue, so Twilight complied. Her magic kicked the underside of the makeshift bridge sharply, and Blueblood sprawled off the other end! He lay flat on his back in the ditch, the wind knocked of his lungs, four hooves dangling in the air, looking dazed and confused. Seeing this, Fluttershy snickered to herself, absorbing the waves of guilty pleasure emanating from what she had ordered done.
Trixie was some distance ahead of Blueblood; before he had been so rudely ejected, the prince had not quite caught up to her. The mare magician turned to see what that noise was, only to find her companion had vanished from view. She cast about with a sour expression on her face, as though wondering where he had run off to. After awhile, she turned and continued slowly along the path alone. Her head was hung a little low, perhaps inwardly blaming his sudden disappearance on her inexplicably kicking him.
Blueblood recovered his senses and climbed bodily out of the ditch. He just barely caught Trixie's tail vanishing around a corner and galloped to rejoin her. As he did, she noticed him and fixed him an unreadable expression, perhaps deciding whether she was more angry at him for abandoning her than she was sorry for her earlier behavior, but decided to let it pass without comment as they continued down the path. The prince did not mention the footbridge incident, most likely blaming a sudden attack of clumsiness or a rickety plank.
Fluttershy threw down the binoculars and stomped her hooves in frustration, shaking the balcony that she and her friend were on. "Just how stupid are these two?!" she stormed. Twilight Sparkle was surprised: she had never heard her friend call anypony stupid before, and had only seen her this angry once. Yet, she did have to agree that it was remarkable just how oblivious the two vain unicorns had been, so she decided not to call her friend out on it. The pegasus snatched her binoculars back up from the floor and glared at their quarry.
Now the clueless couple had reached the part of path that crossed a wooden bridge over a picturesque little lake, perhaps more of a large fishing pond. They paused near the middle to look over into the pristine waters below.
Fluttershy's smile was sinister, as though they had fallen into a trap. "Shake that bridge, Twilight! Really give them a scare!"
The unicorn thought fast about how she could do so surreptitiously and complied. She decided to vibrate the bridge rapidly as though there was a sudden earthquake. Lending credibility to this, the movement of the bridge caused the lake surface to ripple outward. The prince and mare magician were frightened, and held onto the railing for dear life.
"Lets see them ignore this!" cackled the savage yellow pegasus. Twilight let out a shout of surprise as Fluttershy suddenly kicked her sharply in the flank! The energy about her horn surged, and the bridge that she was shaking suddenly received ten times as much force than intended. It shattered, sending both Trixie and Blueblood plummeting to the bottom of the lake!
"YES!" hissed Fluttershy, pumping a forehoof in the air in victory.
Twilight Sparkle could only look at her friend in shock: they may have just killed two ponies! The unicorn scrambled to the railing of the balcony, desperately scanning the surface of the water, looking for air bubbles, flailing limbs, anything! Then, to her great relief, there was movement at the edge of the lake, and out slogged two wet, miserable looking unicorns.
Perhaps feeling it above them to shake themselves dry, they just sat down upon the ground outside the lake, dripping wet. Trixie and Blueblood's clothes, coats, and manes were covered in algae, leaves, the soft dirt from the bottom of the lake, and several unidentifiable splotches. Yet, they made no effort to clean themselves. Instead, they cast imperiously away from each other, determined to emotionally distance themselves even in this happenstance. It was simply ridiculous, as though they expected anypony to believe they had not just taken a forced swim.
The vain couple may have known how ludicrous they were being, because they could not resist taking a sidelong glance at each other. Slowly, a small grin appeared on each of their faces. Noticing that the other had also peeked, this made the grins even larger. They stood and faced each other, getting a good look at the atrocity that had come of their fine appearance. Unable to stifle their mirth any longer, they began to laugh. The laughing built and built, until their lungs began to fail them, causing them to fall forward and support each other with their forelegs as their shoulders shook with mirth.
"See?!" demanded the pegasus with a savage grin, "They're nice now! We're done here!"
"Wait!" Before Twilight could get another word in edgewise, her friend took wing and flew below the balcony, out of her sight. "Where are you going?!" Fluttershy was already too far gone to hear.
The unicorn levitated the binoculars that her friend had left behind to get a good look at the spectacle she had wrought at the lake below. She frowned. "That looks more like laughter than kindness to me."
Diving towards the royal gardens, a yellow pegasus laughed madly as she flew through the air. She was drunk with power; she could teach anypony anything by simply pushing them hard enough. Right now, she was remembering some reluctant castle fauna that desperately needed to learn to love her.
When Twilight Sparkle relayed the news of how Fluttershy's plan had unfolded, Princess Celestia and Luna were concerned, and for two good reasons. First, the shy yellow pegasus had gone completely missing after the event, and the lack of consideration that went into abandoning her friends was worryingly unlike her. Second, they agreed that it would seem the wrong facet of harmony had been taught, laughter instead of kindness, and cautioned the five remaining fillies that they would need to somehow make up for that.
Pinkie Pie cheerfully suggested that she would be happy to take up the burden of teaching kindness. After all, with laughter already done, she needed something else to do. Unsurprisingly, her plan was to throw an extravagant party: as far as she was concerned, that was the answer to everything. She pointed out that none of her parties were ever mean, so naturally they would exemplify kindness. The others realized that this was slightly off target: they were not trying to do something kind for them, they were trying to teach them to be kind. When they explained this to the pink earth pony, she simply replied with a bright, "Okey dokey lokey!"
This left one major problem with Pinkie Pie's plan: she lacked the finesse needed to throw a royal party. While she had thrown countless parties in accordance to her special talent, she could not understand why the stuffy nobility would snub streamers, balloons, cake, pin-the-tail-on-the-pony, and all the other usual trappings of a bright and colorful Pinkie Pie party. She needed to somehow throw a party that conveyed style and grace, but how?
Fortunately, they had an expert on their team. Rarity had made style and grace her life's work, and immediately suggested merging her plan to instil generosity with Pinkie Pie's. The pink earth pony could manage the logistics (the catering, supplies, and the like) while the white unicorn could handle the finer details (choosing the entertainment, decor, and such). Out of the collective minds of the two event-driven ponies, a wonderful celebration was sure to bloom.
As for how a lesson of generosity could be brought about, Rarity suggested the oldest trick in the book. The two lovestruck unicorns would be encouraged to find two extremely precious items from their past and give them to each other. They would not be told these were gifts ahead of time, of course, because that would defeat the purpose of learning anything about generosity. The items would simply need to be present, and the two coordinators would try to sway events in such a way as to encourage the exchange.
The conspirators quickly realized that they could make it a theme: bring your most precious item to the party. While most ponies would be anxious to do such a thing, it was one of the favorite themes of Equestrian nobility. What is the point of having unusually precious possessions if they could not flaunt them once in awhile? What safer place than Castle Canterlot itself?
Now, the unicorn and earth pony stood where they had decided their scheme would unfold. The grand ballroom had just recently finished major renovations after a certain accident involving the six Ponyvillian fillies during the last Grand Galloping Gala. It was obvious to both Pinkie Pie and Rarity that this would surely be the grandest place in the entire castle to hold the fancy party.
However, as Rarity put the final touches on the royal decorations about the ballroom, there was clearly something amiss. She was slightly walleyed, perhaps a little too manic, a look she once held when she had been temporarily granted a beautiful pair of wings and the resulting complements went to her head. The trouble may have had to do with locations, and how they have a tendency to bring back memories. It was this very room, after all, that Rarity had first realized what a cad Prince Blueblood was.
Pinkie Pie was a generally excitable pony, but she was always the most excited when she was either throwing a party or about to. Now, she was bouncing happily about the ballroom, her mouth going a mile a minute.
"Hey-Rarity-do-you-remember-that-time-I-was-like-'stage dive!'-and-then-I-did-it-but-just-then-Applejack-was-wheeling-in-a-cart-and-I-hit-it-and-I-was-like-'ouchy wouchy!' (Well-I-didn't-really-say-that-but-I-was-totally-thinking-that.) I-was-okay-but-what-I-didn't-know-is-what-happened-next-and-Prince-Blueblood-was-like, 'No way!' (Well-he-didn't-really-say-that-but-you-know-what-I-mean.) And-so-he-TOTALLY-"
"YES, darling." grated Rarity, twitching slightly. "Oh, how I do remember."
It really did not help that Pinkie Pie was so excited that she forgot she had reminded Rarity already. In fact, this would be the sixth time the unicorn had heard that story since the two began putting their plan in motion. Every single time she was reminded, Rarity had decided to make slight alterations to the plan of the party. At first, just little things like doing a slightly sloppy job on the decor, deliberately using slightly mismatching colors, or getting lackluster party favors; the kinds of things that would not be noticed by most attendees while making Rarity feel better about herself in a passive aggressive sort of way. But that just paved the way to a grand idea that just became more and more compelling as time went along, one that two of her friends had unknowingly played a very important part in...
"Omigosh-Rarity-do-you-know-what-time-it-is-because-I-do! The-guests-will-be-here-like-any-minute-so-we-should-probably-get-out-of-here-because-Celestia-doesn't-want-the-guests-of-honor-to-know-we're-involved-because-if-they-knew-we-were-involved-then-they'd-know-we-were-up-to-something-and-if-they-knew-we-were-up-to-something-it-would-totally-mess-everything-up-I-mean-DUH! So-do-you-think-we're-ready-I-mean-really-really-really-ready-I-do-but-what-do-you-"
"YES, darling." The normally elegant unicorn seethed. "We are most certainly ready."
As the two friends retreated from the ballroom, the chamber orchestra began to set up their equipment. Rarity insisted that it would be the very same performers that had been at the Grand Galloping Gala.
Pinkie Pie's bouncing came to an abrupt halt immediately before she left the ballroom. She looked hard at one of the performers, an unusually elegant gray earth pony mare who played a tall stringed instrument, perhaps a cello or a double-bass. While the coloration seemed slightly off, Pinkie Pie was reminded of someone she knew back on the rock farm so many years ago.
"Hmm... could be... but, nah! I mean, what are the odds?"
As she happily bounced away and, whether she had opted out of a touching reunion or a completely meaningless exchange, it was a mystery tragically lost forever after.
Jump to part 4.