(A/N: I have written a new chapter for this now, so I’m going to catch up by posting each chapter every few days until I get there. So check back every so often.)
The days of the fair were rapidly approaching. Twilight ended up making it four days long. Ticket sales finally seemed to taper off after 30,000. The unicorn however knew there were countless others who would show up without a ticket. This event was so big there would be no way to stop those who didn't have one from entering. The field north of Ponyville had grown to twice its original size thanks to the felling of the trees. The workers Celestia sent did arrive, but by the time they did Apple Bloom had built seventy-five stalls, a fashion hall and an obstacle course for Scootaloo. Everypony was incredibly impressed by the filly's talent. Everypony knew what that talent was now that she showed off her cutie mark to everypony she saw, especially those snooty ponies that made fun of her for so long.
As the time to the start of the fair decreased, Twilight started to become unstable. Her hair was disheveled, her facial expressions were becoming twitchy and she was obsessively mentioning that a “clock” was “ticking.” Luna hired her five assistants, which seemed to lessen the load a bit. Luna meanwhile spent most of her time giving updates to the paparazzi, who had found her again. She showed them the stalls being built, the buildings to house the entertainment and the flier's field. She also sent a request to Celestia. Days later, guards arrived. An event this big needed security, even in a country as peaceful as Equestria. Luna asked Apple Bloom to incorporate guard stations every so often. The building pony then announced that she already had when she heard about them coming.
It was just the same thing every day for the inhabitants of Ponyville for over two months: get up, work and go to sleep. The fair's location looked more like a city now. The bell tower in the center of it all was taller than any building in Ponyville. It could easily be seen from anywhere in the fair. Ponies had begun to arrive, hoping to stay in a hotel. They were out of luck however, as rich ponies had already ordered all the rooms ahead of time. Another city, this one made of out of tents, was beginning to form around Ponyville. The sellers in town were already becoming quite wealthy from the horde of new customers.
Four days before it was all about to start, Princess Luna was taking a walk around the fairgrounds. All of the stalls had been built and everypony was moving about, stocking the areas behind the stalls with supplies, as was Apple Bloom's plan. The guards were also being prepped for dealing with large crowds. The princess was smiling. This place was massive. There were also many, many places one could hide...if need be. The alicorn trotted into the “square.” It was the area around the bell tower. This was where Apple Bloom had placed most of the things that were meant to showcase Equestria. These various events were spaced hours apart, allowing ponies to disperse among the stands to buy things. Nearly every merchant in Equestria had agreed to come, from the blacksmiths to the grocers, shoemakers to fortunate tellers, and farmers to stylists. It was quite a glorious event, everything Luna had hoped for. Luna gazed over at the fashion building, which had a wooden dome on top and painted white. It looked like a temple and was painted to not look as if it was built out of wood. Apple Bloom conceived it when Luna mentioned that fashion was now in a “neoclassicism” phase. The structure certainly appeared to be out of the classical era.
A series of carriages pulled up to the building. The princess tilted her head. Those things were far too fancy for something around Ponyville. A unicorn stepped out of one of them, gazing around nervously. The princess grinned. It was Rarity. She was trying to stay hidden, but her big and curly purple hair gave her away.
“Get the outfits inside, quickly!” Rarity said. She quickly trotted inside the building, leaving her workers to do the rest. The alicorn chuckled. She turned and began trotting away, having a destination in mind. Rarity had arrived early to set up, probably so she could disappear during the actual event. She wasn't going to get away with that.
Luna found Twilight yelling at one of her assistants. The unicorn’s face was bright red. She looked as if she were about to explode.
“What do you mean there was a backup!?!?” Twilight bellowed.
“I'm...I'm sorry Ms. Sparkle...” The assistant said, sounding feeble. “I can't control the mail service...”
“It's supposed to be reliable!!!!!” Twilight shrieked. “How am I supposed to plan things if they are that unreliable!?!?!”
“There's been so much mail that they were overloaded.” The assistant replied. “They just now got it all sorted.” Twilight put her hoof to her head. She had been worn down to her last nerve.
“Get out of my sight and get to work.” Twilight ordered. “Get every scrap of food, every worker and everypony who isn't doing something and get to work, right now!!!!”
“Yes ma'am!” The assistant shouted. He turned and scampered away, eager to obey.
“What is it?” Luna asked. Twilight turned to her, a look of desperation and disbelief in her eyes.
“I expected an influx of tickets in the days leading up to the fair,” Twilight began. “but nothing like this. The mail service became backed up and they didn't tell us. They finally got enough pegasus ponies and just now delivered all the mail.”
“What's the verdict?” Luna asked, now kind of nervous.
“Counting the foreign sales, the outlying areas and all that was backed up...we sold...one-hundred and twenty seven thousand tickets.” Luna's jaw dropped. That was insane! “More than that are probably going to show up...even if only those who bought tickets show up this will be the biggest single event Equestria has ever held.” Luna didn't know what to say. She closed her eyes and tried to think. Was there even a way to deal with this many ponies? She opened her eyes.
“Here's what we do.” Luna said. “We keep our current plan. I will mobilize every guard we have on the payroll and call them to Ponyville. When we start running out of food, I will use magic to restock the areas.” Twilight flinched.
“Won't that be...exhausting? Even for an alicorn?” Twilight asked.
“Yes, I'll have to do magic constantly.” Luna replied. “However, I started this storm, I need to keep up with it.”
“What about Celestia? She will be unguarded.”
“Let me tell you something Twilight Sparkle. I've seen my sister fight and you've seen me fight. Those guards are more for the protection of everypony else than us.” Twilight grinned a little.
“What will you need?”
“I'll need a stock list of all the supplies each of those “cubes” needs and where they are. I can simply deposit them in the correct area if I know where they are and what they need. I don't have to tell you that fabricating things out of thin air is the most difficult spell there is. I'm going to have to rest and save my energy until then.” Twilight looked worried.
“Maybe you can talk to the vendors and find out where their warehouses are, teleportation is...slightly easier.” Twilight said.
“I'll do that.” Luna said. “I'm going to go sleep. Send a message to Celestia telling her to take over the sun and moon for a little while. One more thing though.”
“What?” Twilight asked, afraid to know.
“A certain famous fashion designer came to town.” Luna said. Twilight's eyes widened and the most wonderful smile spread across her face.
“In the fashion building, go see for yourself.” Twilight turned and bolted. Luna smiled. Then she sighed. She hoped to the heavens that this worked. She turned and began trotting away, heading for Twilight's house. Even if she wasn't tired, she was going to sleep anyway. Every single ounce of energy was now going to have to go to magic.
As Twilight bolted through the maze of stalls she could barely contain her excitement. Rarity was back, Rarity was back!!! All the unicorn could think of was hearing that fancy voice telling her how being a bookworm hindered her sense of fashion and that her hair looked awful the way she kept it. Twilight never thought she would miss those criticisms. As she rounded a corner, a small pony which greatly resembled Applejack ran by in front of the unicorn, a wad of candy in her mouth. Applejack wasn't far behind.
“Apple Core!!!!” Applejack shrieked. “I swear to all that is holy that if you don't get back here with that I will beat you so hard you won't wake up until you're an old maid!!!” As usual, the little Apple Core didn't slow down a bit.
“Applejack!” Twilight shouted. The country pony stopped.
“What? What?” Applejack asked, surprised.
“Rarity's back!” Twilight cried happily. She then resumed her relentless charge towards the center of the fair. Applejack stood stunned for a few moments. She then grinned and reached up to her stetson hat. She tilted it forward, covering her eyes.
“That little frou-frou dressmaker...” Applejack muttered. ““Never coming back” my hoof...” She lifted her hat back up. With very little effort she dashed over to a stall and hopped onto the top of it. “APPLE TREE!!!!!!” The call echoed around the entire town, fairgrounds and the original. Many ponies in the maze of stalls gazed around, wondering where the huge noise came from. Moments later, Apple Tree appeared on top of one of the stands.
“Yeah.” He responded, easily spotting his wife.
“Find Apple Core and give her the beating of a lifetime. I got to go meet an old friend!”
“Okey.” He replied. He jumped back down into maze. Applejack did the same. She then began jogging towards the bell tower, eager to be reunited as well.
Twilight bolted past the fancy carriages and into the rather grand building. She gazed around, quite desperately. Workers were now putting up large portraits of ponies in fancy clothing. There was a large atrium, with a walkway leading to the middle of it for the models to apparently perform on. Twilight couldn't see the fancy unicorn anywhere, leading to a wave of dread. What if she had missed her? Abruptly, somepony emerged from the back, where the models went to prepare.
“Where is the dress for the princess?” Rarity asked. “I have to set that out before leaving this...” She stopped dead in her tracks. Twilight's eyes widened. They stood staring at each other, completely wordless. Rarity gulped. “T-T-Twilight...” She tried to sound nonchalant, but it certainly wasn't working. “Well...fancy meeting you...” She didn't get to finish. Twilight broke into a dead run again. Rarity flinched, unsure of what she was doing. Twilight practically collided with Rarity, wrapping her in a giant hug. The fashion pony flinched again, this time in shock. Twilight squeezed her lost friend tightly. Rarity's dress had been torn and her hat and fallen off. The fancy unicorn couldn't seem to muster the strength to move however. She hadn't been expecting this, just cold hellos and disapproving glares. She was brought out of her thoughts by her friend beginning to convulse.
“Twilight?” Rarity asked. “Are you...?”
“I'm so happy...” Twilight said, clearly sobbing. “Where have you been? You can't just leave us...”
“Twilight...” Rarity said softly, feeling rotten. She reached up and began stroking her friend's hair. “I'm sorry...I didn't mean...I didn't want to...I'm sorry.” Rarity didn't know what to say. Twilight continued to cry. She could hardly believe it, Luna had kept her promise!
“'Never comin' back' eh?” Came a voice at the entrance to the building. Rarity and Twilight turned their heads. Applejack was leaning on the door frame, one of her legs crossed over the other. “I see you changed yer mind.”
“Applejack.” Rarity said. “What are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same question.” Applejack said, walking into the structure. She had an irritated look on her face. “Or have you forgotten?”
“A-A-Applejack please...” Rarity said.
“I seem to recall the last night you were here, me and you havin' a conversation.” Applejack stated.
“I...I...” Rarity tried to back away, but Twilight held onto her, not allowing her to escape.
“I asked you if leavin' was what you really wanted.” Applejack began. “You broke down cryin' and jabberin' about how you were choosing a career over us and you were never comin' home. You wouldn't even let me talk. You left this town, spent all your time in Manehattan being all fancy and shmancy and can't even bother to write. Now you think you can just waltz in and expect us to forget all of that?” Twilight was now panicking. This was the reason that Rarity stayed away! If Applejack was going to do this now Rarity would leave and never come back! The fancy pony desperately tried to get away, but Twilight had a vice-like on her. Applejack leaned in close, so that their faces were inches apart. Rarity's eyes had tears forming in them. “If you expect us to just welcome you back...well you...are...right, darn-tootin'!!!” Applejack wrapped her arm around Rarity's neck and pulled it away from Twilight. She brought up her other hoof and began rubbing it back and forth on Rarity's scalp. “C'mere you fancy little frou-frou fluff ball!!”
“Applejack...let...stop...that's...” Rarity squirmed like a cat being given a bath. “Let...go...of...me!!!” Rarity managed to pull herself away, her hooves smoothing over her now messy locks. “Honestly are you ever going to become more civilized? Look what you did to my hair!”
“You never change Rarity.” Applejack said.
“So...so all that...” Rarity began.
“What? What I was sayin'?” Applejack said. She pointed with her hoof back outside. “I thought that up on the way over here.” Applejack poked Rarity on the neck. “I just wanted to see you sweat for a minute. Was that what was keepin' you away?”
“Well...” Rarity began.
“Rarity!” Applejack said, putting an arm around the unicorn. “We'll always be your friends, and you're always welcome in Ponyville!” Rarity sighed and closed her eyes. It looks like she worried for nothing. The unicorn turned back to Twilight. The lavender pony's eyes were watering, apparently happy that Applejack wasn't made at Rarity.
“Twilight darling, crying makes your cheeks puffy.” Rarity said. “There's no reason to cry so much, and are you still keeping your hair like that? It's so...without fabulosity.” Twilight began crying. Rarity was criticizing her style, like always. She wrapped Rarity in a large hug.
“I missed you so much!” Twilight cried.
“You busy?” Applejack asked. Rarity paused, her face pensive for a moment.
“No.” She admitted.
“Good, let's go meet Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, they'll be happy to see you.”
Applejack told the truth, as she always did. The moment the three of them walked up to Pinkie Pie, who was trying to explain to one of the assistants what exactly a triple layer cupcake was and why the fair just had to have some, the pink pony leaped up into the hair, gasped and gyrated her legs in frantic circles. She screamed and in one giant hop landed on top of Rarity. They both tumbled to the ground, making Rarity's dress filthy. Applejack and Twilight chuckled. Pinkie Pie gave Rarity a tight hug before jumping back up.
“Rarity! You’re back! I'm so excited! Are you excited? I've never been so excited! We have to throw a party!” Pinkie Pie then gasped and put her hooves to her mouth. “We have to go set one up! To Sugar Cube Corner!!” The pink pony attempted to dash away, but Applejack grabbed her tail, causing the pony to slam into the ground.
“Whoa nelly.” Applejack said. “We're about to have the biggest party in the world in a few days. I think we can consider that her welcoming party.”
“Why don't we have both!?” Pinkie Pie shouted, jumping into the air. She seemingly ignored the fact that Applejack was still standing on her tail.
“Why don't we not?” Applejack replied. Rarity stood up and attempted to dust off her dress. She then saw that it was pretty much a futile effort. Twilight had ripped it in several places and it was stained from the dirt. Rarity sighed and finished ripping it apart with her teeth. She was now as she had been when she lived in Ponyville. The unicorn shook her body back and forth, as if she were wet.
“Was it always this breezy?” Rarity asked.
“Sorry about the dress.” Twilight said.
“Oh it's fine darling, I have more.” Rarity stated.
“You should go see Sweetie Belle later.” Twilight said. “She's going to sing at the fair.”
“My Sweetie Belle? Sing? In front of others?” Rarity sounded surprised.
“Princess Luna kind of tricked her.” Twilight admitted.
“Yes...she does tend to do that...” Rarity had a sour expression on her face. Abruptly something dropped from the sky. It was a certain yellow pegasus pony, who had a worried expression.
“Twilight,” Fluttershy began. “I don't think the beavers can be shown at the fair!”
“Why not Fluttershy?” Twilight asked, her tone condescending.
“I think all the pressure is getting to them!” Fluttershy said. “They seem nervous!”
“They're beavers Fluttershy.” Twilight replied. “They can't feel the pressure; they don't know what's happening.”
“Still...I think they don't need to be exposed to so many ponies...”
“They're going on display Fluttershy!” Twilight barked. She must have had this conversation a hundred times with Fluttershy. The unicorn didn't want to yell at her, but it was a little grating when the animal handler of the entire fair wanted to pull out animals for every hangnail, stuffed up nose or if they just looked uncomfortable.
“O-Okay...” The pegasus pony finally said, her wings slouching. “If...if that's what you want...” Fluttershy's eyes fell on the returning friend. Her eyes brightened instant. “Rarity!” Fluttershy trotted over to her friend. She briefly rubbed their cheeks together. “It's so good to see you!”
“You too Fluttershy. Are you going to be busy at the Fair?” Rarity asked.
“Uh...yeah...pretty busy.” Fluttershy replied.
“Oh phooey. I had a dress I made for you, and I was hoping you could model it at some point.”
“Oh...no...I couldn't do that...” Fluttershy said, shrinking back. “I don't like to model.”
“Well, it was a wedding dress I made for you. I missed the event, but I kept the dress. I was hoping it wouldn't go to waste.” The air abruptly thickened. Even Pinkie Pie looked uncomfortable.
“I...uh...” Fluttershy began, sounding incredibly uncomfortable. “We...got a divorce.”
“Really?” Rarity said, sounding surprised. She had a large smile. “I didn't think you had that in you. I guess you're a lot stronger than I thought.”
“Um...yeah...he was carried off by some other pony.” Fluttershy said, a bad poker face of a smile on her face. She didn't feel the need to mention that the expression was actually literal and the one doing the carrying was a royal guard.
“Forget him then.” Rarity said, waving her hoof in the air. “There are more fish in the sea. I guess that means you can use the wedding dress I made for you.”
“Yes...I guess I can.” Fluttershy said, a real smile on her face. A pony then walked by with a plate of disposable cups on her back.
“Free samples of sarsaparilla!” She cried, stopping by the friends. The five of them made favorable noises and began picking the cups off. “Be sure to visit our booth at the fair, the Dweller Sarsaparilla Company!”
“We will!” Applejack said, sipping the drink. “Pretty good. So Rarity, how's that hubby o' yours? Ever think about having kids?” Rarity sneered.
“Hoity? Apart from our wedding night he's hardly touched me.” Rarity replied.
“Oh.” Applejack said. She took another sip of the soda.
“He's probably as dried up as a pair of old chestnuts.” Applejack choked on the drink and the rest of the ponies gave Rarity shocked expressions. “What?” Twilight chuckled and took a big swig of sarsaparilla. “Either that or he only likes other chestnuts.” The lavender pony spewed her drink onto the ground. All of the others gawked.
“Rarity!” Twilight shouted.
“What?” The white unicorn replied, as if she didn't know what she did wrong.
“Good to have you home Rarity.” Applejack said, laughing.
“Rainbow Dash will be coming to the fair.” Twilight said. All of the ponies turned their heads towards her. They all had a blank expression, with their eyes wide as dinner plates.
“You sure?” Applejack asked. “I mean...Rarity still wrote to us...but Rainbow...”
“She used to write to me.” Twilight said. “Although she stopped at...some point.” Twilight didn't feel the need to mention that “some point” was Applejack's wedding. “We're all coming together again. Princess Luna promised. She had to trick her, but Rainbow Dash is coming.”
“I'm starting to notice a pattern.” Rarity said bitterly, swigging down her sarsaparilla.
“Was it so bad that you came back?” Twilight asked. Rarity gave her a glance. The white unicorn remained silent for a few moments.
“No, I guess it wasn't.” She finally said.
The ponies began pouring into Ponyville and they didn't stop. It was an endless torrent. The tent city around Ponyville became much larger than the town proper. Unicorns, pegasi and earth ponies all mixed together the new city. One could hop on top of the tallest building in Ponyville, look out and see only sea of tents, as far as the eye could see. The numbers became so great that some brave ponies pitched tents in the Everfree Forest. The cloth pyramids stretched from the edge of Ponyville to the edge of Canterlot. To signal to the endless masses that the fair had begun, they had rigged a single firework in the top of the clock tower. After that it would be sheer pandemonium. All stall operators were advised to go into their stalls and stay there for the duration of the fair, including the sleep. The stores in Ponyville were open before the fair and made an almost infinite stream of cash. Everypony needed something. Ponyville citizens walked around the tent city selling everything from flowers to hats. Still, the masses of ponies became anxious as the day drew nearer. Everypony assumed their positions as the day arrived.
Twilight began trotting to the clock tower. Princess Luna had devised a system. Unicorns would magically send her orders of things they were out of and where the stalls were. The alicorn would then use her magic to resupply them. Meanwhile she had to appear at nearly every event at some point or another. The next four days were going to rough, and everypony knew it. There were over one hundred thousand ponies out there, probably closer to two hundred thousand, all waiting for the celebration of a lifetime. Rainbow Dash wasn't supposed to show up until around midday, when the Lightning Wings were to come swooping in all dramatically. Until then, there would be nothing but endless buying and spending.
Twilight trotted up the clock tower. She stood on the balcony Apple Bloom had installed after the workers had finished with it. Twilight stared at the giant clock above her. The time had come, and passed actually, by thirty seconds. The unicorn turned to the rocket sitting up on the balcony. She used a bit of magic and lit the fuse. She stepped back and waited. The rocket took off, shot into the air and detonated, sending colorful sparks everywhere.
Twilight's eyes widened as she watched. It was like watching a landslide. Ponies began streaming into the huge grid of stalls. They were shoulder to shoulder, with not an inch of ground visible in the stampede. The lavender pony watched as the endless horde completely flooded the fairground, all the way to the clock tower. More of them were still hovering around the outside of the fair, trying to squeeze in. From where Twilight was standing, she could see items already flying out of the stalls at a constant rate. She was almost afraid to go back down. If there was any real trouble she doubted the guards could handle it. Still, she spent three months planning this; she might as well go and see what it was like.
Luna was backstage at the fashion house. The fair had just begun and she already had three orders to refill stalls. She did so easily, but the orders were starting early. Meanwhile she had to wait for Rarity to produce her dress. Countless ponies had squeezed into the fashion hall, many of them reporters from other countries reporting back to their respective homelands. Princess Luna was going to kick off the fashion shows by taking the runway herself. Various models were running to and fro in front of the Princess, preparing their own dresses. Luna, meanwhile, sat in one place and kicked at the floor. She sighed and glanced around, feeling useless. Rarity was taking her sweet time, probably making sure that everything was perfect. The white unicorn began approaching through the crowd of running ponies, a box hovering around her.
“Finally.” Luna stated, hopping up. “Is it ready?”
“Of course it's ready.” Rarity said, sounding quite curt. “What do you take me for?” The box opened and a dress fluttered out in front of Luna. The princess took it in.
“Wow it's so...so...” Luna began, struggling for words. “Yellow...”
“It's gold and yellow!” Rarity replied defensively. “Those colors go well with purple! I also lessened the layers, as you requested.
“Well, it looks...busy...” Luna said, a weak grin.
“Even more so with these.” Rarity said, a rather evil grin on her face. Dozens upon dozens of jewels levitated out of the box. They seemed to have hooks and ribbons on them.
“W-What are those for?” Luna asked, sounding nervous.
“Your ears and mane.”
“Makeup!!!” Rarity yelled to the stylists and clopped her two front hooves together. A fleet of fashionistas descended on Luna, dragging her away to a chair.
“Wait a minute! I don't have ear holes! You're not going to put them in are you...wait...don't...don't!!! YEOWCH!!!!” Rarity chortled to herself and rubbed her front hooves together. She considered that her little revenge on the princess. Those earrings would be put in, one by one...all sixteen of them. The wounds could be easily healed with magic, but that wasn't all. Tying the jewels into the rest of her mane would create many tangles on the way out, pulling the princess's hair painfully when trying to remove them. Hassle and pain...Rarity's little revenge. “No! Not again! How many are there!? YEOWCH!!!!”
“Sixteen dear!” Rarity called, marching over to the princess. “Now don't squirm...here comes another...”
Luna was finally waiting in the wings, behind the curtain that led to the runway. Her ears were killing her. She had eight jewels hanging from each of her ears, each a different color. There were jewels tied into her mane, which were also all different colors and were spaced in a noticeable pattern. Then there was the glittering dress, made with gold and yellow. She was going to be a walking Hearth's Warming tree out there. Perhaps that's what Rarity wanted. Well, the princess was kind of asking for it, considering what she had done. Finally, the lights began to dim and the crowd hushed. Some reporters were already taking photos of the empty walkway. Spotlights then lit up the stage. Luna took a deep breath as the music started playing. The curtain raised and the alicorn began marching down the runway.
She may have felt like a decorative tree, but everypony else in the crowd was awed. She sparkled brighter than the morning sun. Her dress radiated golden light as she strayed down the catwalk, a fashion model's scowl on her face. She reached the end of the runway and posed, being flooded with camera flashes. She didn't know why they were doing that, considering that when the film was developed there would be nothing but blinding sparkles. Abruptly, there was a flash right in front of Luna's face. It was an order, more food at a certain set of stalls.
'Crap!' Luna thought, caught off guard. That was why she had planned to appear so early in the fair at this thing, so she wouldn't be caught on stage with them. She just didn't plan on the masses of frenzied ponies buying like the end of the world was coming. The princess kept her pose, trying to think. Before she could come up with something, two more appeared, all three of them now hovering around her. Ponies were still taking pictures, as if it were part of the show. 'Part of show...' Luna thought. 'That's it!' The three pieces of paper began twirling around her. She materialized a quill. In a much exaggerated regal pose she began acting as if she were signing orders on each of them. Then with a swish of her horn, one by one as the papers passed her, she made them disappear. In reality, she was filling the orders sent to her, but the onlookers couldn't tell that. The princess took the quill and put it behind her ear. She posed yet again. The song playing then had a pause in it. It was the way the music had been written, but it was also convenient.
“A princess's work is never done, especially when it comes to fashion!” Luna stated. The music then picked up again. The flash bulbs sounded. She turned and began trotting back along the runway, heading backstage. When she finally passed the curtains she heaved a sigh of relief.
“That was magnificent!” Rarity said, trotting up to her. “That improvisation was perfect!”
“Was it?” Luna said. She stepped aside as models strolled past her to parade in front of the cameras. “Not all of it was improv.”
“You mean those orders...?” Rarity began, sounding impressed.
“Were real ones.” The royal pony replied. Yet another paper appeared. “Good grief.” Luna motioned with her horn and it disappeared, the order filled. The princess was burning through magic like crazy.
“Well you did spectacular!” Rarity said in a dramatic fashion. “Time to get that dress off...”
“Huh...?” The princess said in a weak voice. Several stylists swept away with her, dragging her off to the dressing room. “Wait, we don't have to do this so quick! You have to untie the jewels before taking them out of...ow! OW!! Don't pull it! No...not the earrings...not the...YEOWCH! OUCH!!! OOOOOOUUUUUCCHHHH!!! Leave them in! By the gods, leave the earrings in!!!” Rarity chuckled evilly and rubbed her hooves together. The princess certainly deserved that.
Luna was now marching through the fair, her earrings jingling. She sighed, her hair feeling raw. The stylists that Rarity assigned to her apparently believed that pain really was beauty. They had pulled out large tufts of her flowing purple hair when they removed the jewels. The wounds from the earrings were still very sore and when they attempted to remove them it hurt...a lot. So when the wounds stopped hurting she would finally get them out. Until then her head would have to remain sparkly. Ponies were bowing as she walked past, some of them muttering how they liked her earrings. They may have looked nice, but they were a horror to put on.
“Princess!” Said a familiar voice. The royal pony turned her head. Twilight trotted through the mob to her side, a twinkle in her eyes. “I heard the fashion show went well! Wow, those earrings are lovely!”
“Say that after you wear them.” Luna said, turning her head and jingling the jewels attached to her ear.
“All the colors bring out your eyes.” Twilight stated.
“Why...thank you.” Luna hadn't been expecting that. The unicorn gazed over the masses, buying and selling things like mad.
“Wondrous isn't it?” Twilight asked.
“And exhausting.” Luna said as another order appeared. “Anything I have to do in between now and midday?”
“Well,” Twilight said, hovering her clipboard in front of her. “It says that you’re supposed to go visit, and in parenthesis “act high and mighty around,” the animals. Although Macintosh went to go help Fluttershy so everything should be fine.”
“He left from selling his family’s apples to go help her?” Luna asked, cocking her eyebrow.
“He sure did, I guess he's afraid she couldn't handle it.”
“Yeah that was it.” Luna said with a laugh. “It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that thousands of stallions are going to be leering at her all day.” Twilight gazed up at the princess, a confused look.
“Why would he care?” Luna returned the look she received with one of shock.
“Twilight...are you blind?”
“I'll take that as a “yes.”” Luna muttered. “Alright, I'll go “inspect” the animals. I'll play a little matchmaker while I'm there.”
“You're killing me Twilight.”
Luna marched through the crowds towards the section where they kept the animals. Spike was at the head of the exhibit, posing, roaring and breathing fire to entertain the crowds. In exchange, every hour or so, he was given some jewels, which he ate voraciously and loudly, once again to entertain. Luna passed by him, crouching down so as to not warrant any undue attention. Despite the fact that she knew Spike wasn't particularly violent, she didn't think she could take a reptile roaring at her. Scaled creatures terrified her to death.
The princess weaved through the less populated animal pens. This part of the fair was only populated by young fillies and old ponies, hoping to pet the little animals. Fluttershy was in a pen, covering a ferret with a blanket. The princess approached and leaned over the side of the fence.
“Uh, Fluttershy?” Luna asked, seeing that the ferret had a thermometer in his mouth and an ice pack on his head. “What are you doing?” The yellow pony turned around, a worried expression on her face.
“I'm afraid Mr. Ferret is ill.” She said delicately. “I think it's the stress.”
“Stress...right...” Luna remembered that Twilight already pointed out the fact that they couldn't feel pressure. “Well, what's his problem?”
“His stomach seems to upset.” Fluttershy said. “He's been holding his stomach and slouching around. He might have an infection or an irritable bowel from the pressure or...” Abruptly the ferret burped very loudly. A silence then followed. The ferret then shimmied out of the blanket and began sniffing the ground.
“Stress.” Luna said. “Apparently comes with a stomach ache. Everything looks in order here.” The princess gazed around, scanning the ponies. She couldn't see the red stallion anywhere.
“Where's Macintosh?” Luna asked.
“Wh...Why do you want him?” Fluttershy asked, abruptly interested. Luna grinned mischievously.
“Oh you know...we talk sometimes.”
“Do you?” The pegasus pony didn't sound at all amused. Suddenly there was squeal coming from a different direction. They both turned their heads. Macintosh came into view, pulling a pig with a rope.
“Come on you mud-rolling varmint!” He said. “Stop bein' so stubborn!” The pig continued squalling and dragging its feet on the ground. The country pony was stronger however. He eventually shoved the swing into its pen and slammed it shut. “You sure are 'onry!”
“If you'll excuse me.” Luna said to Fluttershy, swirling her hair around attractively. Fluttershy frowned, a rather sour expression on her face. Luna chuckled as she trotted over. Fluttershy sure had some easy buttons to push. Macintosh was dusting himself off as the royal pony approached. Luna smiled, thinking how to push Macintosh's buttons now.
“Hey hot stuff.” Luna said. Macintosh jumped several feet into the air, before turning to the princess.
“P-P-P-P-Princess Luna...” The stallion said in a weak voice.
“How have you been?” The alicorn asked, sashaying way too close to him for comfort. “Working hard I see, with those rippling muscles of yours?”
“Uh uh uh uh uh...” Macintosh was stuttering helplessly.
“You know,” Luna said, rubbing her head right next to his. “that proposal is still available.”
“Proposal...?” His voice had raised a few octaves.
“You are a cute one when you’re babbling like an idiot.” Luna began rubbing the top of her head against his neck. His body was completely rigid.
“What are you doing?” He asked in a weak voice.
“Snuggling you.” Luna said, continuing to rub against him. Macintosh's eye twitched. He had no idea what he was supposed to do. “Write me.” Luna whispered into his ear seductively. She then trotted away, being sure to flip her hair in Fluttershy's direction, gaining a very angry glare from the pegasus.
'Too easy.' The princess thought. 'It'll only take a little more pushing.'
Luna then found a quiet place in a storage area behind some game stalls. She had chosen it because it was filled with stuffed animals for prizes, so there was a soft place to lie down. The princess rested as the orders continued rolling in. She rested her body and only used her magic as needed. She stayed out of sight until the sun had raised high in the sky. It was almost noon, which was when her next public appearance was. The Lightning Wings were set to come in around this time. Luna finally arose from her fluffy bed and stretched. She was starting to feel the strain on her magic and she wasn't happy about it. She could raise the moon, but materializing food was apparently too hard. Luna didn't want to burn too much magic though, so she hadn't touched her reserves. She yawned before spreading her wings and taking flight. There was a limit as to how high ponies could fly at the fair, but she was the princess, she could fly as high as she wanted.
She touched down by the performance field. The countless ponies around the field clopped the ground at her arrival in approval. Luna briefly waved at them before settling into her reserved (and very comfortable) spectator's chair, protected by an elevated platform and awning. She gazed up at the sun. It was almost time.
“Princess!” Luna turned her head. Twilight was standing off of the platform, being denied access by the royal guards. She was waving frantically. Applejack and Pinkie Pie were behind her, craning to see around her.
“Let them through!” The princess called. The guards parted and the three mares proceeded up the few stairs to the top of the platform. They stood beside the princess.
“Those guards sure are stubborn.” Twilight said, sounding grumpy. “Like they don't know me! I saved Equestria for pony’s sake!”
“They're probably tense because of all the ponies here.” Luna said. “You can't really blame them.” Twilight grumbled a bit. Pinkie Pie was staring up at the sky, already trying to see if the Lightning Wings were already there. Applejack was shifting nervously back and forth. The princess sensed her anxiousness and turned to her.
“How's the fair going for you?” The alicorn asked.
“Oh!” Applejack said, coming back to reality. “It's...really good. It looks like we'll sell all of our apples this year, that's a first.”
“A first?” Luna asked, confused.
“Yeah, ya see,” Applejack began. “We plant so many apples because some of them go bad before we can sell them, some of them get eaten by wild animals or bugs and some of them we eat. We generally only sell about a third, or if we're lucky half. We're going to make a killin’ this year.”
“Who's selling them right now?” Luna asked.
“We invited some of our relatives to help sell.” Applejack said. “If this pace keeps up after today then they might get to bring in their own apples and oranges as well.”
“Sounds like a lot of money.”
“Oh it is!” Applejack said. She nervously glanced at the sky, scanning the horizon.
“Just relax Applejack.” Luna said. The country pony jumped. She glanced apprehensively at the princess.
“It's just...” Applejack said. “I don't wanna make Rainbow Dash run away again. What do I say to her?”
““Good to see you” might be a good start. Tell her what's in your heart, even if it's not the same feelings as hers.” Applejack sighed and nodded. She turned back to the sky. “Where's everypony else?”
“Fluttershy says she'll fly over in a little while.” Twilight said. “She says the fish in the tank look sick.”
“How do fish look sick?” Luna asked.
“I don't know.” Twilight admitted. “Rarity's on her way over, but it might take a while as well. She doesn't like to push through a crowd so she'll take her time.”
“Guess it'll be just us.” Luna said.
“How much time do we have?” Twilight asked.
“None.” Luna said. All three of the other mares stared at her.
“How do you know?” Pinkie Pie asked. “My Pinkie sense feels nothing.”
“Well, I sense a very terrified pony flying here at break-neck speed.”
“Sense?” Applejack asked. “How can you...?” Her voice was cut off by loud cheering from the crowd. Everypony turned their head to the sky. The streaks of flying ponies flew into the area. The crowd went wild as the fliers instantly began doing formations and stunts. Applejack gulped nervously. She could see that one of them had a rainbow trail.
The show was impressive and seemed to go on forever. Some members of the press, dispersed among the crowd were taking pictures as the pegasus ponies performed amazing feats. They all moved in amazing unison. They even used their trails to make amazing symbols in the sky. The crowd frequently cheered and clopped on the ground as the fliers zoomed around. Even Twilight was impressed. Most of these moves were used by upper division teams. This was likely from Rainbow Dash being the captain. She had been a fan of the Wonderbolts for so long she likely memorized their techniques. The show was far longer than usual, probably because Rainbow Dash drew it out as long as she could. Finally however, they did their final move. That was when Twilight realized something. Rainbow Dash could bolt after the show. Rarity was easy to catch, she was too dainty to run very well, but Rainbow Dash was one of the fastest ponies Twilight had ever seen. The Lightning Wings came down in formation in front of the crowd and landed in a grand fashion. They were greeted by screams of admiration. Twilight turned to one of her friends.
“Pinkie Pie.” Twilight said in a serious tone.
“Yes Twilight?” Pinkie asked with a smile.
“Rainbow Dash is going to try and run.” Twilight said firmly. “I need you to go and grab her.”
“Okie dokie!” The pink pony asked. She instantly began hopping through the crowded area, as if it were easy.
“Come on Applejack!” Twilight shouted. She turned and began running into the crowd, with much more effort than her pink counterpart. The country pony sighed and lowered her hat over her eyes. She appeared to be thinking. Luna gave her a light tap on the leg.
“You better get going.” The princess said.
“Yeah.” Applejack said, lifting her hat back up. “I better.” She began trotting out into the masses.
The mob of spectators flooded the field, surrounding the Lightning Wings. Everypony was so busy watching and photographing Sun Flash jumping up and down like a crazy pony that they didn't see Rainbow Dash slip away. Despite the fact that her rainbow hair stood out, she managed to slip away from where her team was. She edged out of the crowd and attempted to trot away, aiming for the woods. She then got a rude surprise.
“Got you!” A joyous voice shouted.
“Pinkie...” Rainbow Dash began, turning her head. The pink earth pony was in the air over her and coming down fast. “...PIE!?” The pegasus pony was tackled, hard. Pinkie Pie wrapped her in a giant hug with all four hooves. Even if she acted oblivious, the earth pony knew what Rainbow Dash was trying to do and wasn't about to let that happen.
“I'm so happy you're back!” Pinkie Pie shouted. She had an iron grip on her target.
“Pinkie...let me go!” Rainbow said, dragging the pink pony behind her.
“Nuh-uh.” Pinkie said, a huge smile still on her face. Twilight managed to run past the crowd. She saw that Rainbow Dash was, indeed, trying to escape. She was actually leaving a trail in the dirt from pulling Pinkie Pie along. As soon as Twilight approached them, the unicorn used her magic and pulled on the pegasus's tail, stopping her dead. Rainbow Dash jerked her head around. She was increasingly becoming pale.
“Hello Rainbow Dash.” Twilight said with a smile.
“Twilight...” The rainbow pony replied breathlessly.
“There's somepony who's just as nervous to see you again too.” Twilight said, trying to restrain her powerful urge to tackle Rainbow with her own giant hug. There was somepony else who had to talk to her first. Rainbow gazed up and saw that there was somepony moving through the crowd with a large stetson hat on her head. The pegasus pony began pulling as hard as she could against her magically-held tail.
“Let me go!” Rainbow Dash cried.
“No.” Twilight said.
“Please!” The rainbow pony screamed, sounding desperate.
“Nope!” Pinkie Pie replied. Applejack emerged from the crowd. She saw Rainbow Dash and trotted over, a smile on her face.
“Let go! Let go! Let go!” Rainbow Dash shouted over and over again. Finally, when Applejack was in front of her and the pegasus pony froze, Twilight let go.
“Okay.” Twilight said, as if she were finally obeying. Pinkie Pie rolled away from her hug and stood a distance away, giving them space.
Rainbow Dash was frozen stiff. Her eyes were darting back and forth, in between the ground, the forest and Applejack. The country pony stood still, one leg over the other.
“You been gone a while.” Applejack said. Rainbow Dash gulped, sounding rattled. The earth pony stepped forward and in one quick motion she wrapped her arms around the pegasus pony's neck. Rainbow flinched, her face falling. Applejack squeezed her friend in a big hug. “You didn't have to be.”
“Wh-What?” Rainbow Dash asked, completely stunned.
“I missed you, ya silly filly.” Applejack replied. “No matter what you say to me, yer one of my best friends...and I never wanted you to leave.” Rainbow Dash didn't move. It was as if she were stuck. Rainbow Dash finally lifted up her own front two legs and returned the hug. Tears were streaming down her face.
“I missed you too.” Rainbow Dash admitted. Twilight then dashed over, tears coming down her face too. She hugged Rainbow Dash as well. Pinkie leaped over and did the same. As if on cue, a pony descended from the sky just outside the crowd and dropped something.
“I said gently Fluttershy!” Rarity cried, stumbling a moment from landing on the ground.
“Oh I'm sorry.” Fluttershy said. “I tried to be gentle.”
“Well, as long as you tried.” Rarity said, gently flicking her curled hair. “Honestly, it’s a good thing you spotted me and carried me here, otherwise I would have to move through that filthy crowd.” They both scanned around for their friends. Fluttershy saw all of them hugging each other and tapped Rarity. She turned and smiled. Twilight saw them, backed away from her hug and motioned for them to come over to them. There were tears in her eyes still. The two remaining friends trotted over and in one glorious moment, all of them wrapped their hooves around each other. They didn't say a word, but plenty of tears were shed. Most of them being Rainbow Dash, who was sobbing into her hooves.
“There's no reason to cry sugar cube.” Applejack finally said, despite the fact that she had tears of her own. “We're all together now.”
“Yes darling...” Rarity said, sniffling. “Crying makes your cheeks puffy.”
“I...I just can't...” Rainbow Dash tried to say. Twilight was crying just as hard. She reached over and wrapped Rainbow Dash in a hug and they both cried in each other's hair. All of the rest of their friends piled in on them, clinging together. Twilight could only sob as happiness overflowed in her heart. Everypony was finally home. Luna kept her promise.
The princess smiled from her reserved seat. She still hadn't moved, wanting to wait out the crowds. She could see the adorable Twilight Sparkle crying and sobbing in joy as all of her friends were finally reunited. Luna sighed and leaned backwards, finally finishing her good deed.
“Ah, what a day.” The princess said. “Does my heart good.” One of the royal guards approached her. He kneeled briefly before approaching.
“Your majesty,” He began. “The representatives you are waiting on have sent word. They will arrive at the fair tomorrow. They say they want you to be prompt, easily accessible and straight to the point.”
“They always do.” Luna said. “Thank you, you are dismissed.” The guard kneeled again before trotting away. Luna sighed, a more complex emotion clouding her eyes. Her good deed was done. Her dark deed had yet to be started. “I hope this works...because if it doesn't all of Equestria is in dire trouble.”