[Disclaimer: I own nothing of the MLP franchise and all rights are reserved by Hasbro and the respective parties involved.]
The DJ had never worked for Princess Celestia before. Being led into the castle initially seemed like it would be an adventure into a whole new world, but the unicorn soon became bored with it. The servants that passed by seemed too focused and busy for any idle chat. Guards stationed and patrolling rarely ever peeled their eyes from their destination to view a stranger. Either they were really good at spotting trespassers, or never bothered to act openly.
The atmosphere was much too tense and she continued to follow the cellist in front of her. As the minutes ticked on, it seemed like they had been doing a walkathon. Identical corridors of flawless decor never seemed to end in any direction. The fine tapestries all seemed to depict something related to Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, or the Elements of Harmony and their wielders in some way. She hadn't spent much time studying the Elements or who they were. She'd attended awards ceremonies and knew their names and appearances, but never spoke to them.
"Here we are," announced Octavia casually.
Vinyl followed her into a massive ballroom. Crystal chandeliers hung proudly from a domed ceiling. The white stone gave an inspiring atmosphere to the room and complimented the light. Rounded, white cloth-covered tables sat ringed by cushioned seats for guests. Fine china, wine glasses, utensils--it seemed everything had been laid out for the guests. Her eyes wandered to the front of the room where a small, raised stage had been constructed. No doubt for the band that would be performing, a few ponies were already there tuning their instruments or practicing for the upcoming performance.
Absentmindedly stepping forward, Vinyl's hooves clopped on the marble quietly. She approached the stage with Octavia loosely leading in front and did her best to dodge waiters and party organizers. The cellist moved onto the stage and began finding her place and setting up to play. Vinyl couldn't help but watch. She'd never seen any orchestral players up close. Then it dawned on her. Why am I here? I'm a freaking DJ!
"It's rude to stare, you know." Vinyl snapped out of her thoughts and turned away. Octavia merely huffed and continued her preparations.
Wandering around to the back of the stage, she found a small pile of sound equipment. Looking it over, she frowned to find it was mostly microphones and speakers. Is this all I'm here for? Anypony could set this up...
She snatched them up and levitated them into varying places to best capture the orchestra's masterful sound. One microphone sat inside a piano, and others on stands in front of the musicians with smaller instruments. A few more along the walls and finally one above the back stage. She groaned when it wouldn't mount itself and left it loosely hanging on the edge of some wall trim. Whatever. It's fine, she reassured herself.
Quickly returning to her corner, she snagged speakers to place around the room. The servants began to disperse as she went to work. Her eyes rounded up what remained and began to wonder what was going on. Soon after the guests for the party arrived and spread around the seats. Panicking, she stood in the center and began mounting them with weak precision. Short on time to impress, she positioned them correctly, but failed to mount them sturdily. A quick scan of the room and they appeared ok. Alright. Good enough.
She scuttled back to the sound booth on the side to adjust the sound levels. The practicing musicians gave a nod and she sat back in a cushioned chair, unloading her saddlebags to the side. Princess Celestia followed behind the last of the guests and moved to the center of the room.
"Good evening, everypony," started the alicorn. She turned and cast a serene smile over the guests, warming them up for the dull speech she was about to give. "This party is a fundraiser for..."
Vinyl only half-listened. It didn't concern her, but the wealthy and nobility would drink up her words like it was the last thing they'd ever hear. Seriously, Princess Celestia. What the heck am I doing here? she groaned inwardly.
The symphony on stage continued with light playing, providing an ambient, uplifting tone for the guests. Celestia continued with her speech, but one of the large speakers hanging in a corner above the stage began to wobble. The unicorn's heart sank as it leaped from the wall. Crying out, she jumped over the side booth's equipment and attempted to catch it with her magic. Too late.
The speaker crashed through one of the tables and shattered onto the floor. Every other speaker took the cue to blare the atrocity of sound through and the other loose speaker over the stage rattled off. It tore through the grand piano and the pianist fell off the bench and passed out from shock. Everyone in attendance clasped their hooves over their ears in an attempt to drown out the miasma of noise.
Shocked onlookers all glared at the unicorn with a burning hatred amplified by the mere presence of the serene princess. Yelling and screaming began and all she managed to do was hide under her hooves in shame. Her heart pounded as she remained in place to face the music. When all of the sounds stopped, she found herself being lifted up to her hooves with magic. Small tears hid behind her tinted shades.
"And are you to blame for all of this?" The princess stared down at her with a light frown, the corners of her eyes crinkling in slight annoyance.
Before Vinyl could open her mouth, the grey earth pony from before dashed beside her to speak. "She is, your majesty!" The cellist pointed an accusing hoof at the DJ, adding in a quick glare to her motion.
The princess stared them both over while the guests began whispering amongst themselves. A white unicorn with a blue mustache and carefully groomed mane stepped forward. He wore a monocle over his left eye and peered through it with some interest.
"Why is she even here, princess? This is no place for ponies of her..." Octavia licked her lips as if to cleanse herself of the words, "background."
Celestia's eyes widened and she snapped her focus to the cellist immediately. "Octavia!" she started, "Such talk should be beneath one of your upbringing and esteem."
"But princess, her careless and lazy practice is no place for the palace. Somepony could've been injured!"
The unicorn with the monocle stepped up and held a hoof between the three. "Octavia, the princess is right. Though you are right as well, I feel compelled to ask why a DJ is here. Surely anypony could've arranged the necessary sound equipment, princess."
Celestia looked at the fearful DJ incredulously. "Forgive me if I'm not informed myself." She glanced around at the mess of broken speakers, instruments, tables and chairs. "Fancy Pants, can you escort the guests to the garden and setup only a microphone? I shall be with you all shortly."
The unicorn nodded and began rallying the guests for their transfer to the royal gardens. Octavia began walking back for the stage, content that Vinyl would be held accountable. "Ahem," alerted the princess.
The cellist whirled around in confusion and raised an eyebrow. "Was there something else, your majesty?"
"Stay," ordered Celestia.
"But Princess!" The protests died the moment Celestia's drilled into her own. It seemed as if those eyes could sink a rebellion or strip a pony of their soul somehow. Octavia gulped and watched with silent horror as the rest of the players packed up their instruments and departed. She was left alone with Vinyl and the princess.
"While I enjoy a bit of commotion for these events to help liven them up, recklessly endangering anypony within my court is nothing I can let go," scolded Celestia. Her voice cut into Vinyl's guilty heart like razors. The bleached unicorn sank back onto the floor, wishing her shades could hide her from the situation.
Octavia held her nose high with a smug smile tugging at the ends of her lips. "And you, Octavia, have displayed most ungracious behavior. Your opinions and judgments do not belong outside of your personal life"--Celestia tilted her head back and swung a hoof in and upwards arc to the ceiling--"This is a place of equality among everypony. You of all ponies in the more sophisticated society should understand and respect this. I am very disappointed in you..." Her head swayed back to Vinyl, "Both of you."
"Forgive me, your majesty. I meant no disrespect, just that-"
"Enough Octavia. I want only your apology--not your excuse."
"I'm sorry, Princess Celestia," said Vinyl meekly. She removed her shades giving way to small tears in the corner of her eyes. "I didn't mean to be so careless..."
Celestia moved close and placed a hoof on the unicorn's shoulder. She trembled beneath, awaiting whatever punishment was to come. "I know of your issues as of late. They are affecting you far too much. I forgive you for tonight."
"W-What!?" Octavia stamped one hoof and pointed the other at Vinyl. "How can you let her off so easily? Somepony could've gotten hurt because of her!"
Celestia shot her a distasteful look. "However, you will be spending the night cleaning up this mess and returning the ballroom to its former glory."
"Thank you," said Octavia, breathing out in relief.
"And you are going to help her," added Celestia. The cellist attempted to speak again, but she received another silencing look. "No magic."
Vinyl groaned and Octavia huffed. After Celestia left, the DJ put her shades back on. "Look, Octavia, I'm really sorry about this..."
"I don't want to hear it. You've ruined my entire night!" she snapped back.
"I'll make it up to you, I swear!"
Octavia stared at her, an angry frown playing across her features. After an agonizing moment of silence for the DJ, she perked into a grin. "Well..." she started with a rising inflection, "the princess will make sure we both clean up equally..." She cast a disinterested look at the mess. "Oh, you'll definitely make up for this," she said with the grin returning.