6w, 2dHumanized Ponies!
Dawn slowly rose on Chantalot, the capital city of Mystika. The tallest of its splendid ivory white towers became drenched in sunlight as the morning light illuminated the grand city perched on the side of the highest mountain overlooking the land; a symbol of the strength and peace of the nation founded on magic itself. Chantalot was recognized as the central hub of practice and tutelage of the magic arts, and its subterranean mines held the rarest and most power gems essential to the city’s magic. While all three cultures of the world found home and work within the city walls, the vast majority of its population were Magicborn.
In the lavish upper levels where the wealthy and politically authoritative reside, a slender woman hurriedly trotted down a wide spiral staircase, striding toward the ornate grand foyer door. She held the hem of her sparkling white gown up with one gloved hand, adorned with numerous blue gems of immaculate splendor. She brushed a strand of deep purple wavy hair from her face with the other, tucking it back into place beneath the golden tiara atop her head which housed not just one gem, as per common among the Magicborn, but five multicolored gems. Each jewel illuminated with magical energy as a choreographed cavalcade of documents and various objects levitated after the woman, folding and sorting themselves into a jewel-encrusted purse as per her will. The floating purse obediently clasped shut and descended to her side, it’s strap effortlessly situating itself over her bare shoulder. It was a display that would make most Magicborn envious but it was almost second nature to Rarity who gave it barely a fraction of her attention as she brought a pair of red-framed reading glasses up to her eyes telepathically and snatched a stray floating paper from the air.
A young Earthborn woman with ebony skin stood beside the front door, tying her dark hair back in a ponytail. Rarity scoffed at the practicality of her hairstyle choice but took note of her outfit, a high-collared slender grey gown that went down to her ankles, leaving just enough skin to show her glittering lavender shoes, which matched her exotic eyes that glanced up as Rarity approached.
“Senator.” Octavia greeted her with a nod and opened the door, letting in the morning sun.
The two women strode purposefully toward an awaiting carriage at the end of the walkway. Just beyond the gate, an elderly couple up for an early morning walk intercepted Rarity. Wrinkled and shaking hands grasped around her elegant white gloves as the couple thanked Rarity for her efforts to care for the children in their community. The glamorous facade of the city of magic and prosperity merely glossed over the still neglected slums and the impoverished. As most nobles went along their ways, ignoring the issue, Rarity had taken it upon herself to be in the small category of nobles to go out of her way and make a difference, specifically with children. Rarity gave the couple a friendly smile, thanking them for their support and shook each other their hands. Octavia did her job as well as she pulled Rarity away from her adoring public and hurried her into the carriage to meet their schedule.
“For goodness sake, Octavia. This is getting exasperating!” Rarity finally let out in a long sigh once they were within the privacy of the carriage.
“Some people would love to have your problems, Senator.” Octavia said to her notes on the opposite side of the carriage.
“It’s barely six in the morning! Don’t they have anything better to do?” Rarity huffed dramatically.
“Thought you always wanted to be a celebrity.” Octavia replied, her eyes diverting from the parchment in her lap.
“No one told me it was going to be this suffocating.” Said Rarity, looking longingly out the window as she raised the back of her palm to her forehead theatrically.
“Being the Avatar of Generosity, helping save Mystika twice now, being a famed fashionista, and
now you’ve added being a newcomer into the political ring on your resume,” Octavia remarked while penning down the paper in her lap. “I’m afraid the odds are quite stacked against you in the ‘privacy’ sector.”
“Privacy? Oh! Darling, I can handle the fans, I adore the fans.” Rarity smirked, “But the political game is eating me alive! The paperwork, the pandering, the hours, the deadly boring senate meetings.”
“So which means you’re not paying me to handle all that.”
“Come now, Octavia. You can disappear back into the graces of the orchestra anytime you like.”
“Stop paying me three times as much and I’ll consider it.” Octavia joked.
“I’m sure they didn’t pay you that little.”
“You do know I handle your bookkeeping too, right?”
“But the limelight! The passion! The applause?” Rarity ended each sentence with theatrical resonance, acting as if the concept of ignoring any of these was completely foreign to her.
“The good old rowdy bunch at The Masquerade fills my applause quota well enough.” said Octavia, referring to her little side-job of playing the fiddle in a bar band.
“From the velvet curtains of the Chantalot halls to the musty, ale-stained stage. Your idea of distinguished eludes me, Octavia,” Rarity jokingly replied, looking down her petite nose as she agreed to disagree with her colleague.
“With all the pomp I’m around all day, I’ve got distinguished coming out of my nose.” Octavia jabbed playfully.
“Darling, that’s a rather graphic metaphor.”
“Regardless, moving onto the general overview of today, we’ve got to thank the dignitaries for their generous contributions to the benefit last week. Even though they contribute more generously to their shoes.” Octavia commented, half-mumbling that last bit.
“Unfortunately in this business darling, looking like you spend money is far more important than having money.” Rarity offered more insight into the gross world of the nobility.
“If you say so. But, onto Ms. Twilight’s letter.”
“Of course…” Rarity said, handing over the letter from her purse. Upon leaving Apple Acres, the first thing Twilight did was send a letter intended to inform the court of her and Apple Jack’s impending arrival. As they were once allies on the battlefield, Rarity’s new found political status offered certain perks to the rest of her fellow Avatars. The letter had arrived late in the evening by a high-priority Skyborn messenger and Rarity had read it four times since then.
“I’m preparing a statement.” Octavia said casually.
“Preparing as in present tense?!”
“With morning traffic considered I’ll have it done by our floor time.”
“Perhaps we should take the long way around…” Rarity glanced out the window.
“It’s going to be simple and academic. All you have to do is read it verbatim, and it should prepare the committee to receive Twilight when she arrives tomorrow evening for Dusk Court.”
“I still think it’s a much better idea to allow Twilight to update the committee herself. No sense in us being the middle-folk, right?” Rarity offered, attempting to dodge being the center of the political scope.
“If we present it this way, it’ll look much more civilized. The act of all three of you storming into the center of democracy and proclaiming the end of the world, why it flirts with the certifiable side of insanity," Octavia reassured.
“I still feel like I’m not exactly qualified to give the news.” Rarity sighed, pressing her fingers against her temple.
“As the only Avatar of Virtue in office, you’re the only one qualified to give the news.” Octavia said sternly as Rarity went quiet.
Though in the past Rarity had made a name for herself in fashion, she became the freshman senator from Chantalot District six, running unopposed as Populist. It was rumored that her beauty hypnotized the audience into voting for her, but others said she simply seduced the competition one candidate at a time. However, for all of her poise and charm, she was still very inexperienced in the world of politics and wasn’t taken seriously by most of the parliament. Though she’d done very well by her people, there were many nicknames for her behind her back, one such being the “plastic princess.”
“Well in other news…” Octavia went on. “Oh! This is jumping the gun a bit, but Sweetie Belle and I are performing again tomorrow evening and I know she’d love for you to come and support her.” Octavia offered as a tension breaker.
“Octavia, you know I love and support my sister’s endeavors but I just can’t bear to be seen there.” Rarity reminded her chief of staff for the umpteenth time.
“You haven’t seen even one of her exams. We’re really quite good together.” Octavia attempted to guilt Rarity.
Rarity’s sister Sweetie Belle was studying as a bard and her most recent assignments were to study and perform at local bars to learn first-hand how to work a crowd. With all of her sister’s poise and the adorableness of her youth, she was simply irresistible.
“Where my sister chooses to spend her time is respectable. However, as long as I keep sweeping their sanitation ordinances under the proverbial rug in favor of your weekly ‘gigs’, I'm afraid in regards to my personal health I’ll just have to stick to the wine cabinet,” Rarity half-joked, when the truth was the stress of her new job had caused more trips to the wine cabinet than she had ever had in her life.
“And furthermore it jus-” Rarity was cut off as she was thrown out of her seat after the carriage banked a hard right. The carriage skidded to a stop with a loud crack followed by the sound of wood splintering and a general mess of commotion outside.
“My goodness! Are you alright Octavia? Octa-,” Rarity looked down to see that she was squishing Octavia against the wall and brought herself back into her rightful seat, dusting her dress off. “So sorry darling, are you hurt?”
“Ow…” Octavia complained, holding her hand against her head.
“Nothing a little healing can’t fix.” Rarity assured her as she peered through the curtains of the carriage window. It appeared that the front wheel had come ajar and their frantic carriage driver doing his best to fix it while wading through a sea of apples. The horses, who were now stomping nervously against the cobblestone, had seemingly veered off the road, straight into a local fruit cart. The merchant was gesturing angrily at the carriage driver with one hand and had wrangled a small boy in dirty clothes with the other. As soon as Rarity spotted the struggling child she promptly began to leave the carriage to rectify the situation, but not before she made sure they weren’t making death threats in a foreign language.
“Pardon my asking darling, but my Earthborn is very rusty. Erm, what are they saying?” Rarity smiled at Octavia.
“Earthborn has twenty dialects, Senator…” Octavia said trying to make light of Rarity’s ignorant comment.
“It couldn’t hurt to ask!” Rarity dismissed Octavia’s sarcasm, trying desperately to smooth over her lack of knowledge of their culture. “You don’t recognize any of it?”
“I’ll take a wild stab and say we crashed into that fine gentleman’s...” Octavia said, gesturing to the pudgy man nearly strangling the boy by his shirt-collar, “fruit cart and he’s quite perturbed.” Octavia finished, going back to the statement she continued to write. Rarity’s forehead creased in unamused silence until Octavia looked up to break the tension. “It’s safe to say that’s one of the nineteen I’m unfamiliar with.” She added with a smirk.
“You have so many talents you could build a career around Octavia, but promise me you’ll never try your hand at comedy.” Rarity huffed and lifted her skirts as she descended from the carriage door.
“Promise never to go into foreign relations and you’ve got a deal.” Octavia called after her.
Rarity glided down from the carriage step onto the cobblestone road, assessing the crisis at hand. She quickly rounded the side of the carriage, stopping short of the mess of fruit carnage in the road. She cleared her throat and attempted to speak over the yelling.
“Sir, if I may personally apologize for our careless driving...” Rarity carefully navigated between the splatters of fruit towards the angry merchant. “You see my cohort and I were being far too rowdy in the back and distracted our fine driver, an-”
“Look, don’t flatter yourself m’lady.” The merchant rolled his tongue against his crooked front teeth. “This damn piece of sewer trash’s been stealin’ from me for weeks. Wouldn’t have caught ‘im if you didn’t almost turn his arse into road kill.” He added with a twisted sort-of smile, raising one side of his lip which revealed even more decaying teeth. Rarity stifled disgust and looked down at the merchant’s vice grip on the skinny young boy still clutching a dirty half-eaten apple.
“This poor child is under the care of the St. Germain Orphanage.” She said in a motherly tone, lying like a champion. Rarity’s orphanage was just the leverage she needed to handle this crisis, thinking quickly as she bolstered her claim with a quick pat on the boy’s head. Between the wealthy clientele from her enchantment boutique days and her friend Pinkie Pie’s years of party throwing experience, Rarity had raised enough money to convert an abandoned inn downtown into an orphanage.
”He is?” The merchant asked with cocked eyebrow.
“I am?” The child mirrored his captor’s confusion as Rarity placed her hand on the perturbed merchant’s arm, hoping to loosen his grip on the street urchin.
“And he has short term memory loss. Tragic really.” Rarity shook her head sadly. “I do so apologize but he was to assume you were one of our carts.”
“I never hearda no orphan fruit carts.” He scowled at Rarity, keeping a tight grip on the boy’s collar.
“Well that’s because it’s a brand new initiative set in motion by the Chantalot Congress! How silly of me, it doesn’t go to print until tomorrow.” It’s actually such a new initiative that I’ve yet to bring it to the senate at all. Rarity thought as she grinned at the man.
“An’ how do you know that, m’lady?” The merchant sneered, the courteous phrase sticking to his tongue as he spoke.
“Senator.” Rarity said tersely, curtsying as she relished how the title flowed off her tongue. It never got old. “Senator Rarity Tabitha von Baguette.” It was a name she chose for herself as soon as she moved to Chantalot, “von Baguette” meaning ‘of gems,’ but the linguists neglected to tell her it also meant ‘of bread.’ She reluctantly held out her hand, thanking the gods that it was gloved just in case he kissed it.
”M’lady I’ve...” The fruit merchant trailed off as his expression softened, losing all anger. His eyes glazed over as he gazed at Rarity, seemingly overwhelmed with her beauty. This was mainly due to the soft energy flowing from the garnet gem in her tiara that made the merchant hang on every word she said as she established her influence over him. “I’ve owned this cart for years and my father before me an-,” the merchant mumbled as Rarity’s leftmost gem glowed brighter as she channeled even more energy into her charm.
”Oh I can tell! It’s so well kept and you sir are a fine salesman,” said Rarity while picking a beetle off of his ripped tweed jacket. “Your wife must be very proud, mister....”
“It’s Kelvin milady,” said the fruit seller as he removed his hat, freeing four or five fruit flies from his patchy, curly hair. “You are very kind, but I am a bachelor,”
”Now that sir I refuse to believe.” Rarity lied. “A fine entrepreneur such as yourself, which is why I’m prepared to make you a wonderful offer.” At this point, she could convince the man to dive in front of a meteor and then have him apologize for his shirt looking unkempt afterwards.
“If you are an official cart of the St. Germain Orphanage,” Rarity continued, “you’d simply let our children eat one piece of fruit for free per diem, and in return we’d absolutely compensate you for your lost stock and you’d have advertisement for your cart in the Mystika Daily.” Rarity continued to influence the merchant’s enthrallment while telepathically relocating the unharmed fruit from the cobblestone road and sorting them into the merchant’s cart. She also made sure a stray apple found its way into the street urchin’s satchel. “...Perhaps waive a bit of those pesky street vendor fees?” She added while batting her glacial blue eyes.
“And this means I’d get to see you again?” said the now-completely seduced cart keeper as he loosened his grip on the young thief. The boy didn’t stop to question his luck as he wriggled his way out of the man’s grip, tearing off between the carts behind him. The entranced gentleman didn’t give the child a second thought as he continued his business negotiation with his personal “goddess”.
“At least once a week sir! I need to know if my investments are performing, don’t I?” Rarity smiled warmly, looking up her brow at the unsavory gentleman. Her little charade was cut mercifully short by the driver completing the repairs to the wheel. Rarity bid the gentleman adieu while dodging his multiple parting attempts to invite her to every meal at every restaurant in the city. Rarity escaped the crisis and sighed a deep sigh of relief once she was back in the perfumed carriage.
“That was a very smooth Senator.” Octavia said without looking up from her statement.
“Wasn’t it though!” Rarity said, plopping back down into the middle of the velvet cushions of the backseat.
“I meant that someone might have seen that who doesn’t know you and thought you were performing sorcery.” Octavia continued.
“Sorcery?! Language, Octavia! I was merely…stacking the odds in our favor.” Rarity said to justify her transgressions, knowing politicians using magic to influence opinions or behavior is against the law.
“‘Stacking the odds’ translates to the general populous as cheating.” Octavia said without looking up.
“Octavia! Surely you know that it was the lesser of two evils.” Rarity pleaded.
“I’m not the one you need to convince.”
“I was very discreet, darling. Anyone with half a heart would have done the same.”
“Just be careful. I like my new job.”
“Glad you’re so certain.”
“You could still go back to being the most revered enchanter of Magiville. There’s something very classy about being a stylish merchant of death.”
“It’s moments like that when I realize if I were still just a seamstress, I would have been able to do very little in that situation.” Which was the most genuine thing Rarity had said all morning, and probably all week if she thought about it.
“Lots of people would have looked away.” Octavia agreed.
“But that’s neither here nor there,” Rarity dismissed her questionable seduction, “the boy is no longer hungry, the man has a lovely business opportunity and it was a perfect way to make the best of a minor inconvenience.”
“At least I was able to complete your earth-shattering press release without any more speed bumps.”
“No pun intended I’m sure, darling.”
“So you’re ready to present it then, Senator?”
“Of course!” Rarity lied as the carriage stopped in front of the capitol building. Rarity felt her stomach turn to lead as she willed her legs to walk from the carriage towards the grand stone pillars stretching out before her. Octavia walked a few paces behind as they ascended the shallow steps of the courtyard, now glowing with the morning sun. Rarity held her breath for a moment as she pushed open the grand wooden doors of the hall, which groaned lightly as the volume of the chatter inside grew.
Rarity and Octavia made their way through the clumps of elderly politicians talking amongst themselves; undoubtedly they were the youngest, and the most well-dressed, of the lot. She made sure to greet a few key members as they passed through the crowd, thanking each of them with concise handshake and a smile for their generosity towards her cause.
The gavel of the Chantalot Senate chairman resonated throughout the hall as Dawn Court was called to order. All representatives from the provinces of Mystika were to bring their daily business and concerns before the Archmage each morning, as it was one of the only two times where her and her sister Luna’s sleep patterns overlapped. Dawn Court was generally reserved for the day to day concerns like the standard price of bread, or what should or should not be taxed, but today promised to make quite a splash in the placid pond of society.
Rarity was determined to shed her image as a faker. In the very short time she’d been in office, she’d made small political ripples as the Avatar of Generosity, holding monthly benefits for the poor. This got her some recognition and out of the “just a pretty face” category as far as most of the representatives were concerned, but she had yet to make any serious waves in court.
Rarity and Octavia suffered through listening to the representative from Chantalot’s second District ask for a traveler's tax to be placed on the commuting Skyborn for the thousandth time. He was arguing that their unfair advantage allowed them to come and go as they pleased without establishing residency. Earthborn representatives complained that the senate was dominated by Magicborn delegates and that their people were grossly underrepresented. But as Rarity’s time to take the floor neared, she could only think of the fact that after relaying Twilight’s statement about the Shadow Blades returning, she would go from the senate joke to the harbinger of the apocalypse. The thought made her insides knock against each other.
“I’m going to be sick.” Rarity said dramatically as her face turned a slight shade of nausea.
“You can vomit after you convince the ‘best and brightest’ to stop the theoretical end of the world.” said Octavia as she pulled a bit of ginger candy from her purse to stave off Rarity’s nausea.
“Twilight practically begged me to present this to the committee Octavia, it’s quite safe to say that it’s past just a theory at this point.”
“So the imminent end of the world then. No pressure.” Octavia replied offhandedly.
“Remind me, do you receive your blessings by praying to your people’s god of understatements?” Rarity said in-between bites.
“That just a perk. You’re on, by the way.”
Rarity’s glacial blue eyes snapped to the front as the heads of the entire senate had turned to watch her and Octavia chat for god knows how long.
“Senator Baguette, we’d much like to hear why you insisted you take away time from Senator Vestikerpokatits’ report on the cloudcover shortage. That is, if you’re finished consulting with your chief of staff about your latest foray into tea parties.” The parliament chair looked down his spectacles at the young senator, inciting various degrees of chuckles from the rest of the hall.
“Vestikerpokatits. So that’s how you pronounce that…” Rarity had seen it written hundreds of times and was convinced that it must have been his provinces’ custom to add a syllable for every million bits he’d earned in order to rub one’s status into the general public’s face. She ceased her internal semantics as the room grew quiet again. “Of course sir. If it pleases the Senate, I would like to use my time to present an update of Twilight Sparkle’s investigation.” Rarity continued to read the statement prepared by her chief of staff with shaking hands. “Twilight Sparkle was tasked with investiga-“
“We are aware of Ms. Twilight’s duties, Senator. Now, if you would simply read the letter and minimize the wasting of our time.” said the rather fat chairman, who had a way of speaking, huffing and puffing his cheeks out with every labored sentence, that reminded Rarity of a pig in a suit.
She delicately placed the statement aside and moved onto Twilight Sparkle’s letter to the court. This was in favor of not being tried for murder as her first impulse was to jump over her desk and dive the seven rows down to strangle the chairman.
“Senator Baguette and honored Representatives,
As some of you know, months ago, Archmage Celestia charged me with the task of investigating a series of unsolved crime in the outskirts of the Magiville province. I am both pleased and grieved to say that I have gathered enough evidence to present a claim. Recently, there was an orchestrated attack on the Eponi Temple at Apple Acres. Sister Apple Jack, Avatar of Honesty, engaged the enemy at great cost, as two of her cousins were casualties of the attack. Based on the personal accounts of Sister Apple Jack and her younger sibling Apple Bloom, it’s been duly confirmed that these enemies became two dimensional while in shadow, manifested their limbs into weapons, and appeared to be walking corpses. In conjunction with the evidence from the previous recorded incidents and accounts from ancient texts, the standing theory is that the Shadow Blades have in fact returned.”
The last sentence sent a ripple of doubt and concern through the rest of the Mystika Congress representatives, at least those who weren’t asleep. As Rarity felt the cloud of uneasiness forming around her, she read through the awkwardness.
“Sister Apple Jack and myself are currently en route to Chantalot to further discuss necessary action to quell the resurgence. Direct any concerns to Senator Baguette as we will be arriving in the next two days carrying with us forensic evidence to validate my claims. Furthermore we request th-“
The clang of the gavel and the concise voice of the chairman cut her off.
“That’s quite enough Senator.”
“But Mr. Chairman, it goes on to describe the evidence an-“
“Ms. Sparkle has proved herself a reliable ally when it comes to matters of state, however asking for military assistance is best left to a more qualified committee.” The chairman cleared his throat.
“Yes Chairman, but she has two eyewitnesses, who-”
He cut her off again.
“Who are a grief stricken friend and her ten year old sister? Ms. Sparkle is a friend of yours as well. But were it anyone else, wouldn’t you agree the circumstances of the victims would more than slightly bias her statements?”
“Twilight, under no circumstances would ever waste anyone’s time, especially on such a grave matter as this.” Rarity’s tone grew a bit desperate.
“Who’s to say this isn’t a grief-induced delusion or the child’s report is a ghost story of a young mind repressing the tragedy of her cousins murdered in front of her by bandits. I think I speak for all of us here when I say Ms. Sparkle’s accusations, to put it mildly, strain her credibility.”
“Twilight Sparkle has had nothing but the best interests of the realm in mind! And to dismiss her claim belittles every service she’s ever given this state! And furthermore you sh-“
“Senator Baguette,” Archmage Celestia’s gentle voice filled the room with a warm glow, effectively silencing the court with a whisper. “No one weeps more tears for the Apple children than my sister and I, but you must understand the return of Shadow Blades represents the coming of a second dark time. For the majority of the realm, there will be a call to arms. Key resources will be taken from poor regions to feed troops, towns will be flooded with refugees from surrounding provinces seeking shelter behind tall walls, warriors taken from their families to defend, and in some cases die, for their loved ones. The Apple Acres massacre is a horrible tragedy, but I’m afraid we must need more than a strongly worded letter before we tear our world apart looking for something that might not be there at all. Don’t you agree?” As the Archmage concluded her rhetorical statement, murmurs of general agreement emanated from every member of the Mystika Congress, who were all wide awake now.
“Yes Archmage. I apologize for upsetting anyone.” Rarity smiled frailly and took a graceful curtsy before slowly sliding into her chair. As soon as she was seated in it, she wanted to slide even further under the table and die. Not only did the senate still not take her seriously, but now they thought she was a paranoid fool. The worst of the matter was that Rarity without a doubt believed that Twilight wouldn’t have stayed silent for months and then write directly to her if she weren’t positive.
“Well that wasn’t exactly as planned.” said Octavia as she crumpled up her now worthless statement she’d spent the morning writing.
“I assure you. It’s going to be far worse when Twilight and Apple Jack arrive.” Rarity said, musing over thoughts of a lone Apple Jack storming the Chantalot Castle gates.
“What if Twilight is wrong?” Octavia said in a serious tone.
“Twilight has two states of being. Right, or simply not right yet. She doesn’t know how to be wrong.”
“So the “sky is falling“ speech is a rare occurrence?”
“The last time Twilight was this adamant about anything in court was when the Nightmare came back. If people didn’t listen to her then, we’d all either be dead or have metal collars on our necks.” Rarity said finally driving the point home.
“And we just let them sweep her six months of work under the rug without so much as a ‘we’ll send scouts.’” Octavia slumped into the same defeated position as Rarity. “Dusk Court’s going to be fun tomorrow,” she mused.