71w, 21hHuman in Equestria
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1w, 4dWould You Kindly... 2 comments · 46 views
1w, 4dThe King Has Returned, (once more that is)! 0 comments · 24 views
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8w, 2dRegarding the Slave King 8 comments · 90 views
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Clover the Clever walked into the dining room, his mouth widely yawning. Shanks cheerfully followed behind him, eager for some breakfast. Shanks saw an available seat next to Sir Stouthorn. Sitting down he smelled the scrumptious feast placed before him. Immediately his mouth watered, as he anticipated filling his belly with the offered food. The choice before him was a challenging one, should he start with a muffin or a bowl of fresh fruit? It all looked so good, he couldn’t possibly decide. Seeing Shanks digging in like no tomorrow, Clover decided he had better start eating or there might be nothing left.
Using his magic, he levitated a blueberry muffin onto his plate and filled his glass with some apple juice. He was about to sink his teeth into his breakfast, when a royal guard entered the dining hall. “Everypony please follow me,” he said.
With a sigh, Clover took several quick bites of his breakfast before abandoning it. As they walked, his stomach fiercely growled. Noticing his hunger, Sir Stouthorn handed him an apple. “Eh lad didn’t get enough to eat?” he cheerfully asked. “I’ve learned that it’s best to eat as quickly as possible when questing; you never know when you will be separated from your meal.”
With appreciation Clover took the apple and started eating it. “Now you tell me,” Clover said, ravenously devoured the apple. “Any other pearls of wisdom you care to share?”
“Always brush after eating,” Sir Stouthorn said, while pointing to Clover’s mouth, “you’ll never know when someone might see that you have food stuck in between your teeth.”
“Eh,” Clover said, while using his tongue to dislodge the remains of his breakfast. “Thanks Sir Stouthorn, I’ll try to remember that.”
Looking up at the stained glass windows on either side of the corridor they passed through, Clover saw Equestrian history being retold in each of the windows. The newest addition showed Starswirl the Bearded defeating the Smooze. “I hope they get my good side for our window,” Sir Stouthorn jovially said.
“Wouldn’t your window be in Lord Triton’s Citadel under the sea?” Clover asked.
“Lord Triton doesn’t approve of vanity projects like these,” Sir Stouthorn replied. “He felt that great deeds could only ever be memorialized properly in song.”
“Why’s that?” Clover asked.
“The sea is constantly in motion, its tide and waves are always moving and changing. The only constant is its song,” Sir Stouthorn explained. “It’s been said, that every great deed ever done is part of the never ending song of the sea.”
“By the way, how in Equestria did a minotaur ever become a knight of the Lawgiver?” Clover asked in curiosity.
“That’s a story for another time,” Sir Stouthorn said. “Once we’re done here, I’ll tell you over a fire in some faraway tavern over some spiced cider.”
“I’ll look forward to that,” Clover told his friend.
The guard opened the door at the end of the hallway allowing them access into the throne room. “Your majesties,” the guard announced, “I present to you Clover the Clever, and his companions.”
“Thank you,” Celestia said. “That will be all.”
Bowing his head, the guard exited the throne room, leaving Clover and his friends alone with Princess Celestia and Luna.
“So,” Princess Celestia said, “I understand that the Slave King desires an armistice with us.”
“Or so his arch duke claims,” Shaw spat. “I could smell the lies on his breath every time he exhaled. I’d bet he’d…”
Showboat used her magic to quickly muzzle Shaw’s beak. “Darling,” she said, “I believe the princess gets the gist of what you’re saying.”
Princess Celestia looked at Showboat and Shaw with a wry smile. “I’ve had dealings with Arch Duke Fifi le Yipyap previously,” she said. “During his tenure as regent, my nephew had many dealings with the arch duke. Shaw Coincidentally, I’ve found politicians almost always speak out of both sides of their muzzles.”
“Verily,” Luna said, “We’ve found that deceit and deception is a vice that nearly all members of the nobility regularly imbibe. Even our own house is not immune from its wicked excesses.”
“Grrrr,” Shanks growled, “arch duke is one of the bad dogs, and he willingly serves the not-Darkpaw!”
Celestia intently studied the brown diamond dog pup. “Shanks,” she said, “what clan was your family a member of?”
“Both my ma and pa were Gem Biters,” Shanks said, scratching himself.
“I see,” Celestia said, her ageless eyes betraying no emotion.
“Sister what is thine meaning, inquiring after yonder pup’s heritage…” Luna asked, narrowing her eyes at Celestia.
“It’s nothing Luna,” Celestia replied, “merely an idle curiosity is all.”
“Fie, mine sister,” Luna said, chastising Celestia. “Surely such is beneath us.”
“Luna,” Celestia replied, “I just needed to confirm my suspicions.”
Spying Shaw’s beautiful rainbow hued wings, Celestia looked at him in curiosity. Shaw,” she asked, “are those wings your natural coloration?”
“No Princess Celestia,” Shaw replied, “They were a gift from Lugh and Loki when I was in the wilderness. I think they intended to have me meet up with everyone in the Everfree forest.”
“Sir Stouthorn,” Celestia said, “how did you happen upon the quest to fight the dragon of the Everfree forest? I only ask because we had just posted the quest through the quester’s office only a day prior to you collecting the reward.”
“Princess Celestia, begging your pardon,” Sir Stouthorn said, while rubbing his hand through his dark blue mane, “but I don’t rightly remember how we got the quest. How was it delivered Seafoam?”
“Seafoam opened his logbook. “According to my notes,” he advised, “the quest scroll was delivered to us by raven.”
“Indeed,” Celestia said, raising an eyebrow.
Celestia looked at Showboat and Slick, “How did you two get involved with them?” she asked.
“We just sort of fell into the whole situation,” Slick said with a shrug.
“Well,” Showboat replied, trying to find the least incriminating way to explain how she got together with Shaw, “we we’re being chased by some earth pony ruffians. While trying to lose my pursuers, I spied a couple of ravens flying through the thicket and decided to follow their flight path. Eventually we ran into Shaw, and well here we are.”
Celestia nodded for a moment, and then turned her attention towards Clover. “Clover,” she asked, “how’s Starswirl been these past seasons, does he still lucidly dream?”
“Yes princess,” Clover said, “Master Starswirl says he often finds much inspiration from his dreams.”
“Can anypony tell us anything else about the meeting that wasn’t already mentioned?” Celestia asked.
Slick raised his claw. “Well,” he said, “I do recall he seemed rather interested in keeping us as his guests.”
“That’s right,” Clover said, “he invited us to be his guests for the remainder of the trip to Londwhinium.”
“I thank you for your service everypony,” Celestia said regally, “the guards will see you out.”
As the group turned to exit the throne room, Luna said. “We would be most pleased if thou wouldst deign banquet with us on the morrow. A king feast wilt be observed in honour of the delegation of the Earth.”
Clover turned towards Princess Luna, “Will that be before or after the preliminary negotiations?” he asked.
“We find that the denizens of the more churlish races easier to manage,” Luna replied, “once their rapacious appetites have been satiated.”
“Sir Stouthorn bowed in reverence, “Your Majesties,” he said, “it would be both an honor and a privilege to attend your banquet.”
“Then we look forward to seeing you there, sir knight,” Celestia said, smiling benevolently.
Once the party had left their throne room Celestia turned to her sister. “Luna,” she said, “I’m surprised you would invite them, it’s obvious the arch duke has more than a passing interest in them.”
“Indubitably, mine sister,” Luna replied. “We foresee that His Grace will divulge his true designs sooner rather than later. We art bemused at thine hesitance dear sister, teasing luminaries is thine favorite pastime.”
“Livening up an otherwise boring banquet would be fine,” Celestia replied, “if not for the unknown disposition of the child.”
“Worry not dear sister,” Luna replied. “We possess clairvoyance enough to comprehend that the child desires a favorable outcome to the negotiations.”
“I certainly hope so Luna,” Celestia said.
Arch Duke Fifi le Yipyap sat on his golden palanquin; anxiously waiting for the great gates of Londwhinium to rise. Thinking back to what his master had told him, he wondered how he could be so sure to their reaction to his offer. He thought it over for a moment. The plan did have a simple elegance to it. Besides if the plan didn’t work out, there was always plan ‘B’.
With the gates finally raised, the diamond dog procession was allowed entry into the great city. As they moved through the wide street of the city’s main thoroughfare, the arch duke wondered when his old acquaintance the regent would be meeting with him. He had wanted to discuss the option of securing the last Gem Biter clandestinely, sparing himself the trouble of having to fawn over these ponies. Even if negotiations didn’t go as planned, it was always a good idea to have several back up plans in case the first failed.
A large yellow pegasus guard wearing ornate armor approached the palanquin, “Hail your Grace,” he said with a polite bow. “I’m Captain Stonewall, head of the city watch. I’ve been tasked with escorting you and your entourage to the keep of the earth. Once you’ve had a chance to situate yourselves, I’ll introduce you to your official liaison. She’ll work with your people regarding logistics and you’re scheduling.
Fifi le Yipyap nodded politely, acknowledging the pegasus. “Thank you captain,” the arch duke replied, handing a heavy bag full of gems to him. “My master appreciates your assistance, and wishes to convey the message that he is generous to those who honor the Earth.”
Stonewall accepted the bag and looked inside. It was full to the brim with gems of all kinds, each in flawless condition. Never before had the captain seen such wealth in his life, let alone possessed it. Making sure nopony was looking; he hid the bag of gems in his saddlebag. “My Grace,” he said, “if you need anything at all don’t hesitate to ask. The city watch is at your disposal.”
The arch duke smiled. “I will have to remember that captain,” he said. “Oh, and please advise any of your acquaintances that you think are worthy of my master’s friendship to feel free to drop by.”
With a knowing smile, Stonewall grinned. “Of course, Your Grace,” he replied, while trotting alongside the palanquin.
“Buying ponies’ loyalty is all too easy,” the arch duke thought to himself. “I’ll own this city in a month.”
The spectacle his procession was making through the city was making quite a stir. Hundreds of ponies lined the streets trying to view the procession. Their reactions were nearly universal, from interest to awe, and from awe to fear when they saw the slave wagons at the end of the procession.
The arch duke laughed inwardly when he saw how the ponies of the city were reacting to the enslaved ponies they were bringing brought into the city. The fear that they could easily be the ones in the cages, made the arch duke happy. It was almost like old times. Almost, but not quite, he was still being made to debase himself by prostrating before the princesses. The Slave King had been very clear in that matter he was to grovel before them to show the supposed sincerity of his lord’s desire for peace.
“Ugh,” the arch duke spat in disgust, “I think he desires to only humiliate me further before my peers.”
Before the end of the world Fifi le Yipyap had been a proud dog, never bowing to any creature except Lord Darkpaw. He had been greatly feared and respected by the nobility of the other realms, now he was reduced to his current role like that of some bought whore. The only comfort he got from his current role was that he was finally free of Nightmare’s malevolent claws.
“I should have killed you when I had the chance!” the arch duke thought darkly, feeling his brand beginning to heat up.
“Not now,” he whimpered through clenched teeth. The pain was he felt was excruciating, every square inch of his body felt like it was simultaneously on fire and freezing. Biting his lip to prevent himself from releasing the screams of anguish his mind desperately wanted to release, he looked past the crowds of staring ponies and saw the burning eyes of Scourge watching him from the shadows of an empty alley they were passing. Thinking back to what Scourge had warned him about earlier, the arch duke suffered silently through the pain.
In concern, Stonewall looked at the arch duke. “I say My Grace, are you quite all right?” he asked. “If you require a physician I can fetch the best one in the city.”
“Thank you captain,” the arch duke replied, feigning exhaustion, “but no. I’m merely exhausted from the strenuous pace we took to reach your fair city. After some rest I should be fine.”
Stonewall nodded in agreement and resumed escorting the procession to the keep.
Within fifteen minutes the procession had arrived at the Keep of the Earth, an impressive stone building that Lord Darkpaw had once used to station his diplomats, and other assorted nobles in Londwhinium. The arch duke still suffering from his brand, motioned for one of palanquin bears to carry him inside the keep away from prying eyes.
Once inside an empty room in the keep, the arch duke released a scream of anguish. “Is something the matter Arch Duke Yipyap?” a deep voice mockingly asked.
Looking towards the source of the voice the arch duke saw the burning eyes of Scourge from the shadows of the room he was in. “Ye… yes…” he gasped through the pain. “Make it stop, I beg you.”
“I don’t know if I should,” Scourge growled, while the arch duke’s brand caught fire and started consuming his body. “You seem to have a penchant for betraying our master. No less than twice in the space of less than a week. Perhaps the Slave King should be advised he made a poor choice in trusting you.”
“N… no…” the arch duke gasped, coughed up black blood. “It was only a momentary lapse of judgment. I thought forcing his paw was better than seeing us all die.”
“Well arch duke,” Scourge said, circling the burning body of the arch duke. “Seeing as this mission is important to the Slave King, I’ll let this be a warning to you.”
“Oh thank you!” the arch duke rasped out. Immediately his brand stopped burning, and his flesh began quickly healing itself.
“Arch Duke Yipyap,” Scourge said, with a low growl in his throat. “Think of betraying the Slave King again and I’ll let the brand consume you for an entire night…” Having finished speaking, the hell hound slowly walked into the shadow he came from and faded away.
The arch duke fell to the ground, tears streaming out of his eyes. A gentle knock on the door interrupted his attempt to regain his composure. “What is it?” he snapped.
An emerald green unicorn mare with a white mane entered the room; on her flank was a scroll. Looking at the arch duke, she was shocked at his disheveled appearance. “Arch Duke Yipyap, are you ok?” she asked in concern.
“Yes,” Fifi le Yipyap managed to cough out. “You must forgive my appearance. My hastened journey has taken its toll on my constitution.”
“I understand completely, Your Grace,” the unicorn said. “I’m Minty Fresh. I’ve been assigned as your liaison while you’re visiting the city.”
“Thank you madam,” the arch duke replied.
“We had hoped to begin the official welcome to the city shortly,” Minty Fresh said hesitantly. “But given your current condition would you prefer to postpone?”
“Postpone?” the arch duke thought darkly to himself. “Does this pony think I’m some weakling?”
“No, madam,” the arch duke said. “I’ll manage just fine. I just need a few minutes to freshen up.”
“As you wish Your Grace,” Minty Fresh replied. “When you’re ready, there’s a carriage waiting for you and your guard.”
Yipyap watched as the green unicorn left the room, leaving him alone. Grabbing a bell, he rang it several times as hard as he could. A short while later, several of his valets and master of the wardrobe entered the room. “Quickly,” he growled, “I need to be made presentable to meet with the Princesses, see to it that the gifts are ready to be presented.”
One of the guards wordlessly nodded and exited the room, allowing the valets to begin the process of grooming and dressing him. The last encounter he had with Scourge had left him physically and mentally drained. As his valets brushed his coat and buffed his claws, he looked in a nearby mirror and saw a sight he hadn’t seen in years. The image he saw was the proud and haughty arch duke of the domain of Earth. Seeing himself as he once was, brought back some color into his pallid face.
Practicing his sneer, he felt relief. “I still got it,” he thought to himself, as his valets helped him with his tunic and surcoat. Tightening his belt around his waist, he drew his rapier and studied it in the light. He hadn’t held the blade since the end of the world. Studying its fine edge for a moment he sheathed it and smiled, he was ready. “Tell the coach that I’ll be out momentarily,” he said. His valet nodded and exited the room.
“Ugh,” he growled to himself. “It’s time to grovel for the Slave King.”
Princess Celestia sat on her throne; to her left Luna sat reading a scroll. “Sister,” she said to Luna, “when we greet the arch duke, do you want to be stern or shall I?”
Luna put down the scroll she had been studying. “Methinks we shall rebuke the arch duke,” she replied. “We hast never held the reprobate in high esteem; his soul is nearly as iniquitous as Prince Blueblood’s.”
Celestia nodded in agreement. “Very well Luna,” she said, “I shall let you be the stick to my carrot.”
Their conversation was cut short by a palace guard who entered the throne room. “Excuse me Your Highnesses,” he said, “but the arch duke has just arrived.”
Celestia nodded to the guard. “Please show His Grace inside,” she said.
Yes princess,” the guard replied, leaving the throne room.
A few minutes later a finely dressed diamond dog herald entered the throne room, and read from a scroll. “Hear ye! Hear ye!” the herald said in a loud voice. “I present to you, His Grace the Arch Duke Fifi le Yipyap. Steward of the Diamond Vale, Voice for the Lord under the Earth the great and terrible, may the Earth grant us a blessing and spare us its wrath.”
Celestia turned towards Luna. “The child certainly has shaken up the diamond dogs,” she remarked.
“Verily mine sister,” Luna replied. “Lord Darkpaw used to prefer having his heralds perform a recitation of his last score of glorious battles.”
The herald politely bowed and moved to the side. A minute later the arch duke entered the throne room. Walking until he was about halfway towards the princesses’ thrones, he gritted his teeth and laid muzzle first down on the floor. “Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna,” he said as genuinely as he could, “the Great Slave King wishes you to know of the great esteem he holds for the both of you. He wishes to beg for your forgiveness for his most brutish behavior these past years.”
Celestia couldn’t believe her ears; the Slave King was actually apologizing in the most humbling way possible. “Arch Duke Fifi le Yipyap, you may rise,” Celestia said. “There’s no need to debase yourself any further.”
The arch duke gladly got up, his blood boiling at having to perform something so humiliating. “Thank you Your Highness,” he said. Clapping his paws once, several diamond dog porters carried in a small golden sapling, in an ornate silver pot.
When Luna saw the sapling, she recognized that it radiated the power of the Lord of the Earth himself. “Why would the child willingly give away his own divinity piecemeal?” she thought to herself.
“As a token of his remorse,” the arch duke continued, “the Slave King presents to you a golden apple tree, made from a portion of his own soul. Any who sample its fruit will know the blessing of the earth for a year. May the roots it digs deeply into your realm symbolize the close bond that the Earth shares with your domain.”
“Please advise the Slave King this gift has touched us greatly,” Celestia said.
“But also advise thy Lord,” Luna added, “our favor shall not be so easily purchased with trifling trinkets. Until he hast revealed true remorse through his actions, we shall hold his motives as suspect.”
“My Lord thanks you Your Majesties,” the arch duke replied. “The Slave King also wishes to gift you with a generous offering of one thousand ponies. Currently the Earth is in great upheaval, or he would have put a stop to the process of the enslaving your subjects long ago.”
“The Slave King has our gratitude for returning our subjects unharmed,” Celestia said.
“Thy master truly possesses impudence,” Luna said sternly, her normally serene face marked with a frown. “Deigning to give us what is ours by right.”
“The Slave King means no disrespect towards your realm,” Yipyap said. “However, he reserves the right to claim any that trespass into his realm as his property.”
“How dare thee, thou knave!” Luna boomed. “If thy master’s yearning for armistice is sincere, surely he would liberate all our subjects.”
“Perhaps,” Celestia interjected, “now is not the proper place to discuss this matter.”
“My apologies Princess Celestia,” the arch duke said with a bow. “We look forward to the banquet tonight.”
“As do I,” Celestia replied.
After the arch duke and his dogs had left the throne room, Celestia looked at her sister. “Well I didn’t expect such a generous gift,” she said, looking at the beautiful sapling.
“Verily mine sister,” Luna agreed, “methinks the Slave King to be ignorant of the value of the gift he gave.”
“Well he certainly did spend a long time in the Well of Eternity,” Celestia said, “perhaps he’s more powerful than we previously believed.”
“Indubitably,” Luna replied, “he hast been expending great amounts of his essence of late. He mayn’t know the true price of such expenditures.”
“Or maybe he’s like Discord,” Celestia said. “Possessing so much power that he doesn’t care to conserve it.”
“Regardless,” Luna said, “perchance more shall be revealed at this eventide’s fete.”
Celestia looked at the gold sapling as some servants moved it to the gardens to be planted. “What are you after,” she thought, taking a sip from her tea.
“Stop fussing with you suit darling,” Showboat admonished Shaw, while using her magic to slap his talons away from his bowtie.
“Ugh,” Shaw said in disgust. “Why exactly do we need to dress up for again?”
“Because we were invited by Princess Luna herself,” Showboat replied, while inspecting herself in the mirror, “and I won’t be seen in public with a grubby scrub.”
“What about in private?” Shaw asked with a grin.
“Oh get a room you two!” Slick said, rolling his eyes in disgust. “Just because you’re hot for each other doesn’t mean you have to be so public about it.”
“Oh Slick don’t be like that!” Showboat said, using her magic to stop him from leaving. “You know, no matter what you’re still my number one partner!”
As Showboat warmly hugged him, Slick tried his best to stay mad. “Alright, already!” Slick said, desperately trying to squirm away from her iron grip. “You can stop with the mushy stuff.”
“You may feel differently when you’re older,” Showboat teased.
“Not likely,” Slick replied, leaving the room.
“So how long have you known each other for?” Shaw asked Showboat.
“I’ve known him his entire life,” Showboat said, “I practically raised him from a hatchling.”
“So who decided to start running all the rackets you’ve been a part of?” Shaw asked.
“We started in Fillydelphia,” Showboat replied, “back when we were much younger. The local kingpin, Broken Barrels took us in and trained us.”
“So you gonna go back to running scams once this all over?” Shaw asked.
"Hmm, depends on if I get any better offers,” Showboat demurely said.
“Come on, we better get going or we’ll be late,” Shaw said, to Showboat’s disappointment.
“Aw…” Showboat murmured in complaint.
Clover was busy adjusting his mane and surcoat. “Ugh, why do ponies even wear clothes?” he asked himself.
“Clover, I have no idea,” Seafoam said while adjusting his sash. “But I certainly prefer seapony formal attire, sashes bearing your clan sigil and any honors you’ve earned.”
Clover looked over towards Sir Stouthorn who was shining his horns. “What sort of clothing do your people wear for these types of events?” he asked.
Sir Stouthorn thought for a minute, “Well lad,” he replied, “minotaur’s don’t really have much in the way of a culture of their own. There’s a few of us who the feral brutish ones call domesticated. But for the most part, most of my kin prefer wearing the skins of their kills instead of proper clothing.”
“So how did you ever end up becoming a knight?” Clover asked.
“Now’s not the time to tell such a long winded story,” Sir Stouthorn replied, as he finished polishing his horns. “Once we’re done with the quest, we’ll reminisce together over many mugs of ale and I’ll regale the story to you then.”
“Sir Stouthorn, I’m holding you to that promise,” Clover said with a smile.
“Aroo,” Shanks whined, “me so hungry, when’s it time for dinner mister Clover?”
“Tell me about it,” Slick grumbled.
“Oh hush,” Showboat chided the dragon. “It looks like we’re all ready to attend the banquet.”
Leaving their room they headed towards the banquet hall. “I can’t believe that dinner’s finally here,” Clover said, “with all the food I’ve imagined, the reality of this night is sure to make this the best meal ever.”
Authors note: Gentlereader please open the following link on another tab on your browser for musical accompaniment to the following song... At the gala... (with vocals) or this link if you prefer just the instrumental version... At the gala (instrumental)
Almost as if on cue, the assorted ponies and other guests began singing:
Clover: “At the banquet…”
Chorus: “At the banquet…”
Slick: “At the banquet… in line at the buffet… I’m going to taste them all.”
“All the entrees… I’m going to eat them at the banquet…”
Chorus: “At the banquet…”
Slick: “All the hors d'oeuvres and the deserts… they will fill me big and small. They will all be so tasty… Right here at the banquet…”
Chorus: “All of our stomachs will be full… Right here at the banquet… At the banquet…”
Showboat: “At the banquet I will steal them… all their expensive jewelry…”
Chorus: “Shiny gems… golden watches… diamond broaches…”
Showboat: “Wealthy ponies they will lose them… all their riches to this amazing thief…”
Chorus: “Gonna lose em… gonna take em…”
Showboat: “I’ll steal a lot of money… all for me…”
Chorus: “All of our wallets will be gone… and we’ll wonder where we lost them… right here at the banquet…”
Sir Stouthorn: “At the banquet… all the harpers will meet the flower of chivalry… they will see my exploits are just as worthy at the banquet…”
Chorus: “At the banquet…”
Sir Stouthorn: “I will find them… those harper B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S… and make them finally see… they’ll treat me like a hero tonight at the banquet…”
Chorus: “this is what the harpers have been waiting for… they’ll sing the best songs ever… each of us will hear those songs tonight at the banquet… at the banquet…”
~Cue fanfare and rocking guitar solo~
Shaw: “I’ve been scheming… I’ve been waiting… to fight those damn ponies… those bucking unicorns with their Celestia damned magic tricks… beating their asses for hours… my anger is over nine thousand… those unicorns won’t know what hit them… right here at the banquet…”
Chorus: “All those unsuspected dolts are in for a world of pain… all their teeth will come lose right here at the banquet… at the banquet…”
Seafoam: “I am here at the grand banquet… for it is a grand soiree… hopefully it will be missing any strenuous activity… for my master is headstrong and crazy as my companions will surely agree… all I wish for is relaxing… for good eating… for me at the grand banquet…”
Chorus: “Good food and relaxing at the banquet… at the banquet…”
Clover: “At the banquet… with the princess is where I am going to be…”
Chorus: “At the banquet… with the princess… to be…”
Clover: “We’ll talk all about my mission… and what her decision will finally be…
Chorus: “Talk about the mission… her decision will be…”
Clover: “She will make the correct decision… and send me to the Diamond Vale…”
Chorus: “This will be the best night ever…”
Everypony: “Into the banquet we must go, we’re ready now and raring to go…”
“Into the banquet let’s go in… and have the best meal ever…”
“Into the banquet now’s the time, we’re hungry and the food smells sublime…”
Slick: “Into the banquet to eat new foods…”
Showboat: “Into the banquet to steal some jewels…”
Sir Stouthorn: “Into the banquet to gain renown…”
Shaw: “Make them rue they ever crossed me…”
Slick: “To eat…”
Showboat: “To steal…”
Sir Stouthorn: “To sing…”
Shaw: “To fight…”
Seafoam: “To rest…”
Clover: “To talk…”
Everypony: “Into the banquet… into the banquet… and we’ll have the best dinner ever…”
“At the banquet…”
“Aroo” Shanks barked excitedly, “this will be best dinner ever mister Clover.”
“I certainly hope so Shanks,” Clover replied.
“I say lads,” Sir Stouthorn declared, “all that impromptu singing and amazingly choreographed musical number has sure pulled a number on my appetite.”
“Yeah,” Shaw said, “how the hades did that happen anyways?”
“Twas Maestro the Prankster, my good sir,” an elderly white unicorn stallion said. “He lived about seven hundred years ago. He loved making unsuspecting ponies break out into song at unexpected times.”
“Well that was rather odd…” Seafoam said.
“Just be glad it wasn’t a bawdy drinking song about bucking mares,” the elderly stallion said with a laugh.
“Oh, I would have loved to hear that one!” Shaw said with a chuckle.
“Shaw darling,” Showboat said with a sniff, “don’t be so crass, there are foals present.”
“Hey who are you calling a foal?” Slick objected.
“Not you dear,” Showboat said, “Seafoam. His virgin ears are too pure and innocent to be accosted with such filth.”
“That’s not true,” Seafoam huffed, “I’m a fully grown seapony stallion who’s seen combat!”
Sir Stouthorn slapped Seafoam’s shoulder and laughed. “Seafoam my lad,” he said. “Don’t worry, next season I’ll take you to the Lady of the Sea to celebrate you receiving your spurs. You’ll become a Stallion then.”
“Ugh,” Seafoam complained, “I’m only a little younger than Clover, yet no pony ever teases him.”
Shaw lightly elbowed Seafoam in the sides. “Seafoam,” he said lightheartedly, “it’s all in good fun. There’s no feather else I’d have as a member of my pryde.”
“Yeah,” Showboat said, kissing Seafoam’s cheek, “I think your one of the bravest ponies I know.”
Seafoam blushed at the kiss, “Ah dang it,” he said, feeling self-conscious. “Now I’m all flustered.”
“Don’t worry about it lad,” Sir Stouthorn said rubbing his stomach, “it’s time to enjoy the feast!”
Clover led his group into the banquet hall. When he entered, he couldn’t believe how many ponies and diamond dogs were inside, probably over five hundred. A grey earth pony steward approached him. “Clover the Clever, and entourage I presume?” the steward asked.
“Yes sir,” Clover replied.
“Follow me,” he said. “Princess Luna has requested that your party sit at her table.”
Following after the steward, clover saw the envious looks that some of the nobles were giving him and his friends.
“Careful there lad,” Sir Stouthorn warned, “looks like you’re making some nobles annoyed that you get to sit at the princesses’ table.”
Approaching the table, Clover saw that both Celestia and Luna were sitting and awaiting their meals. To Celestia’s left, he saw Arch Duke Fifi le Yipyap seated along with several diamond dogs he didn’t recognize.
The steward stopped Clover and stepped forward. “Your Majesties,” he said, “I present the apprentice of Starswirl the Bearded, Clover the Clever, Sir Stouthorn, knight of the Lawgiver, Seafoam, page of the Lawgiver, Master Shaw of the Golden Eyrie, Mistress Showboat of Fillydelphia, Master Slick of the Firehold, and Master Shanks, head of the Gem Biter Clan.”
When the steward mentioned Shanks, the eyes of every diamond dog in the room looked directly at him. “Aroo,” Shanks barked, oblivious to the dangers all around him, “me so hungry for dinner, me can hardly wait.”
“We art exceedingly pleased, thou hast accepted our invitation to sup with us,” Luna said, directing Clover to take the seat adjacent to her.”
Sir Stouthorn bowed politely to both of the princesses. “It was my pleasure,” he suavely said. “It’s not every day you get invited to spend time with the most beautiful mares in all of Equestria.”
“Sir Knight,” Celestia said with a gentle smile, “you flatter us so.”
“Tis not flattery if it’s spoken from the heart,” Sir Stouthorn replied.
Luna blushed slightly. “I confess,” she replied, “We art quite covetous of Lord Triton, having such a comely knight as his vassal.”
This time Sir Stouthorn’s deep blue fur began reddening. “Celestia the Radiant and Luna the Beautiful,” he said, “any flattery this tired old knight could offer, would be Gilding the Lily.”
“Sir Stouthorn,” Celestia said “perhaps when you retire from serving Lord Triton you might accept a position serving us.”
“Princess, alas I’m unable to,” Sir Stouthorn replied, “members of my order serve for life. However, I’m pleased that the Lawgiver encourages his knights to wander the breadth of Equestria in pursuit of noble quests.”
“Is that so?” Arch Duke Yipyap asked. “Perhaps your next quest could be fighting those damn seapony raiders and pirates plaguing our southwest border.”
“I’m afraid not Arch Duke,” Sir Stouthorn said, “the Lawgiver has announced a crusade that will continue until he’s convinced the other prime elements have been properly chastened for their disregard for Harmony’s call.”
“Well isn’t that convenient?” the arch duke growled. “Triton grows wealthy by choking the trade of all Equestria.”
Sir Stouthorn frowned, when he heard his lord being insulted. Biting his tongue, he clenched his fists in anger.
Seafoam noticing his liege’s anger, interjected. “The crusade is not so much a means of extracting wealth,” he said, “but a call to repent. Your lord simply needs to reach out in reconciliation to Lord Triton, and he would happily end the raids your realm is suffering from.”
“Verily,” Luna agreed, “Triton is a most reasonable stallion. Should the Slave King truly desire an end to the raids on his holdings, he need only reach out his hoof in kinship to the other Prime Elements.”
“Surely then shouldn’t Lord Ouroboros and Lady Zephyr make the first steps towards reconciliation?” the arch duke asked. “Their unprovoked attacks against the Earth have been most untoward.”
“It’s not my place to question Lord Triton’s will in these matters,” Seafoam replied. “But the path to peace lies open if the Slave King desires it.”
“My so young, yet so wise,” Celestia said, causing Seafoam to turn several shades of red.
“Ending the barbaric practice of clipping griffin wings would go a long way towards smoothing things over with Lady Zephyr,” Shaw said. “That’s been a point of contention between our two domains for a while.”
“Lady Zephyr had ample opportunities to make her desires known to Lord Darkpaw,” the arch duke said. “Yet now she finds the practice to be abhorrent? That sounds like nothing but hypocrisy to me.”
Shaw looked at the arch duke and tried to say something, but found his beak was closed by Showboat’s magic. “I’m sure Lady Zephyr and Lord Darkpaw’s rather unique relationship required concessions from both of them,” she said.
The arch duke nodded, “Quite right,” he said. “She may have decided that the resulting quarrel wouldn’t be worth making the demand.”
“Speaking of making demands,” the arch duke said, “Lord Ouroboros recently invaded the Diamond Vale in an attempt to extort gems from us. Of course the Slave King easily repelled the invaders, crippling the majority of the raiders and making Ouroboros flee the diamond Vale with his tail between his legs.”
“That’s terrible,” Slick said. “Don’t you know that without gems to feed them, the dragons will start preying on inhabitants of the other realms next?”
“I had mentioned that to my lord in an attempt to get him to lessen the famine somewhat,” the arch duke replied, “however the Slave King is quite firm in his resolve that there shall be no new gems until his terms have been met.”
Luna looked darkly at Arch Duke Yipyap. “Thy realm’s perverse practice of enslavement and barbarity, earns thee no esteem with thy neighbors,” she said.
“Plainly speaking Your Majesty, not all races have been as blessed as yours,” the arch duke countered. “The ability to use magic, fly, and earth pony strength confers certain advantages to your subjects your neighbor’s lack.”
“I would think the Slave King would be more sympathetic to the plight of creatures forced to serve him,” Celestia said.
“The Slave King has instituted new policies regarding slavery,” the arch duke replied. “Any slave who desires their freedom is free to challenge the Slave King for their freedom once a year in the arena. Any slave who wins their freedom receives a brand from the Slave king himself, marking them as a citizen of the realm and equal to any diamond dog.”
“What of those too weak to fight?” Celestia asked. “Surely he’s not devoid of compassion for them.”
“The strong shall rule and the weak shall serve,” the arch duke replied. “However, the Slave King has made provisions for the weak. Any may fight on behalf of another.”
“That seems rather generous,” Clover said.
“Yes,” the arch duke agreed, “our lord is nothing but magnanimous.”
“What happens to those who fight and loose?” Slick asked.
“They share the fate of the one they interceded for,” the arch duke said. “As you can imagine, not many are willing to risk enslavement for another.”
“Truly, thy Lord is most capricious and cruel!” Luna said. “He deigns to proffer those with no hope absolution from his wicked chains, and yet withholds it from they who need it most.”
“Princess Luna,” the arch duke said, “If you feel my king’s laws are so odious, feel free to challenge him for their freedom. As far as I know, there’s nothing preventing another deity from challenging him for their freedom.”
“As great as our desire to free every captive from their unjust imprisonment is,” Luna replied, “’twould be improper for us to interfere in the internal workings of another’s domain.”
The arch duke sat staring at Shanks. “Speaking of the internal workings of another’s domain,” he said, “I’ve discussed at great length with my lord regarding the pup. The Slave King feels it’s his responsibility to care for the diamond dogs, and requests that you turn custody of the pup to us.”
Celestia paused to consider the arch duke’s request. “I have no claim over the pup,” she said, to the delight of the Yipyap. “However, he must choose to come with you of his own free will.”
When he heard Celestia’s condition, the arch duke growled. “But Princess Celestia,” he objected. “The pup is a member of the Gem Biter clan, the ruling clan of the diamond dogs. It would be most improper for the pup not to be returned to his people.”
“Methinks thou protesteth too much Arch Duke Yipyap,” Luna replied with a smile.
Celestia turned towards Shanks who was enjoying his meal. “Tell me little Shanks,” she said, “do you wish to return to the Diamond Vale?”
When he heard the Diamond Vale, Shanks heckles rose. “Nooo,” he whined, “the not-Darkpaw is there. The bad dogs are there. It a bad place now.”
Celestia turned towards the arch duke. “I believe you have your answer Arch Duke Yipyap,” she said serenely.
The arch duke narrowed his eyes in anger. “Princess Celestia, my lord respects your decision,” he said, “however I urge you to reconsider my lord’s request. The Earth can be quite generous to those who honor it.”
“Thou villain!” Luna accused, “Dost thou taketh us for flesh mongers like thy wicked lord? That we contemplate selling another for thy thirty pieces of silver?”
“I merely suggest considering all the political ramifications,” the arch duke replied. “Up till now the Slave King has always thought kindly towards the ponies north of him. That may change; I can’t predict how the Slave King may react when his desires are refused.”
“Perhaps,” Celestia said, “this conversation would be better had during our formal negotiations.”
“I agree,” the arch duke said. “I look forward to discussing the matter then. Now if you’ll excuse me Princess Celestia.”
“Of course Arch Duke Yipyap,” Celestia said. “I hope you found the meal to be to your liking.”
“It was a pleasure dining with you, Your Highness,” the arch duke replied. “I just wish I could say the same for the rest of the table.”
“Humph,” Luna pouted.
“Till tomorrow Your Majesty,” Fifi le Yipyap said, before leaving the banquet hall and followed by his entourage.
“Once the arch duke was out of earshot Celestia turned to her sister. “I think you might have offended him,” she said.
“Indubitably mine sister,” Luna agreed, “We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves this eventide.”
Turning towards Clover and his friends Celestia spoke, “Thank you for attending the banquet,” she said. “You made the evening quite memorable.”
“Twas our pleasure Your Highness,” Sir Stouthorn said.
“Please receive this token of our esteem for thy service on our behalf,” Luna said, levitating a silken handkerchief toward Sir Stouthorn.
“My lady,” Sir Stouthorn said, bowing deeply and gently kissing her hoof. “It’s been a pleasure serving you and your sister.”
“Now if you’ll excuse us,” Celestia said. “We have much to discuss in preparation for tomorrow’s negotiations.”
After leaving the banquet hall and returning to their rooms Clover looked at his friends. “Okay we need to sneak into that meeting somehow,” he said. “Does anypony have any ideas?”
“But of course darling,” Showboat said.
“So care to share it with us?” Shaw asked.
“Patience dear,” Showboat replied, “all will be revealed in good time. So here’s my plan to sneak into the meeting…”
Gentlereader's please forgive my tardy entry this week, my schedule only allows for me to write at nights now. I still plan on two chapters written a week, but they way end up with one on the weekend written on my day off while the other is written over the course of several days.
Regarding this chapter's musical number, I've linked both a instrumental and vocal accompaniment for your listening pleasure. Hopefully you found listening to the song as fun as I had writing it.
Regarding Princess Luna's speech, I felt I wanted to use more classic archaic language when having Luna speak. I think it really adds to her character versus the more Plain spoken Celestia.
Regarding the plot thus far, we see that the dastardly Arch Duke Fifi le Yipyap making a clumsy attempt at getting the last Gem Biter from Celestia. As you saw both Celestia and Luna are too clever for the likes of arch duke. Is romance in the air between Sir Stouthorn and Princess Luna, or is that just everypony's imagination? We see that the domain of Earth has some valid complaints against the other elements. And what of Showboat's cunning plan?
Find out next time everypony, in the next exciting chapter of the ongoing saga of The Great Slave King.
Thanks for reading gentlereaders, and as always comments are appreciated. Until next time.
P.S. I'm considering writing a conversion bureau short series, if any of you would be interested in a CB story let me know.