The steady drumbeats of an execution played through Canterlot. Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, and the aristocracy sat at the lowest of the Canterlot Palace’s balconies. Most of them were fanning themselves, though from heat or from awkwardness none could say, as four unicorns trotted a Pegasus up to the execution stand.
“Is this really necessary Luna?” Princess Celestia asked. “I mean… a public execution! And for somepony who might be the Doctor…”
“He was only a doctor last time Celestia.” Princess Luna said. “You know he changes with every regeneration. Even if this is him, he’s certainly not a doctor this time around, and I don’t believe it’s him anyway.”
“He’s a doctor in every regeneration.” Celestia said. “He helps fix Equestria.”
“And you think Equestria needs a pirate?” Luna scoffed. The unicorns rested the Pegasus on the stand. She was brown, with a stylish golden mane. Her cutie mark was an hourglass, with two bones crossed behind it. This was the same emblem she’d affixed to her ship’s flag. This was Gold Dodger, Equestria’s first pirate.
The mare smiled up at the princesses with shining pink eyes.
Luna stood on the balcony. “Gold Dodger!” She exclaimed, in the Royal Canterlot voice. “You have dodged your last! You will no longer terrorize the citizens of Equestria!”
“That’s for sure!” Dodger laughed. Luna was momentarily ruffled, as a few citizens chuckled with her.
But she continued. “Yet even now, I will be merciful! Reveal the locations of your treasures! Reveal where you have hoarded the wealth from these good ponies! Reveal where you have hidden the Seventh Element of Harmony!”
Gold Dodger tilted her head. “I stole it fair and square. It’s my treasure now.” Gold Dodger laughed. “I don’t think anypony should give up the safety of the thing they treasure most just because they’re asked, do you? Besides, Tom’s hardly important.”
“You named it… Tom?” Luna’s teeth grinding could be heard across the courtyard.
“You know what is important?” Gold Dodger continued, staring intently into Princess Celestia’s eyes. “I found a flower. A beautiful red rose, that didn’t have any thorns. I found it in the Everfree forest. I don’t know how, or why, a beautiful rose could grow in a place that dangerous without needing thorns to protect itself. Some might think it’s unimportant. But you know… every little thing is important on its own level. And I think that rose I left on your bedside table, is greater than the whole of the treasure I gathered, if you look at it the right way.”
Princess Celestia gasped sharply. “It is him. Only he would do something so impossible.”
Luna almost shrieked. “The prisoner has refused mercy! Execute her!”
Gold dodger seemed completely nonchalant about her impending death as the unicorns attending her lit up their horns. Then, at the last possible second before they fired, she smiled the widest smile in history and yelled to the heavens.
“You want my treasure!? You can have it! I left every single bit in one place! Now all you have to do is find it!”
The unicorns didn’t stop their spells in time.
Gold Dodger fell dead on the execution platform, before dissolving into golden mist.
The crowd that had gathered waited silently, as if expecting her to come back to life just to mock Princess Luna once more.
And then somepony cheered.
It started with one, then another, but soon the entire courtyard was filled with ponies cheering, and clapping, and jumping for joy. Each and every one of them found themselves filled with a sense of adventure!
Celestia stood. “Sister… your eyes…”
“’Tis nothing.” Princess Luna turned away, hiding her eyes from her sister.
“And that’s the story of Gold Dodger.”
“Wow.” Rarity said, from her position underneath the blankets. Her mother had just finished telling her a bed-time story, and was tucking her in with her stuffed sea-pony. They were on the majestic Golden Thunder, and the rolling of the waves helped Rarity doze off.
“And that’s why pirates fly the Jolly Dodger on our masts.” She explained. “In fact, some say her final words are why Equestrians use Bits for money. Her final words ushered in the Grand Pirate Era. Hundreds of thousands of ponies took to the seas, searching for the Great Treasure. And while none of them found it, they all found adventure.”
“And that’s why you and dad are pirates, right?” Rarity asked.
“That’s right.” Her mother smiled. “The Capital Penninsula is only a small portion of Equestria. And you, you lucky little ducky, are going to see all of it. And maybe even find the treasure too.”
With that, she kissed her daughter good night, and blew out the candles. She was halfway out the door, when she heard her daughter’s voice again. “Mommy?”
“What about the ponies who can’t go on adventures and see everything?”
“That’s their loss sweety. The Grand Pirate Era was centuries ago. A lot of ponies don’t have the spirit of adventure in them any more.” She snuck out of the door.
Rarity sat in the darkness. She’d seen so much of Equestria already; their ship was currently parked in Talongrad Bay, the capitol of griffon countries. She couldn’t imagine a life without having seen the things she’d seen. The world was so beautiful.
How in Equestria did the other ponies cope?
Rarity turned, and saw her old Earth Pony friend Applejack stride towards her. Rarity took no notice of her friend’s grim glare, instead rushing over to her with a giggle. “Applejack! You got your cutie mark! I did too!”
“That’s great.” Applejack deadpanned. “An’ I see you got yours.”
“Isn’t it marvelous!?” Rarity beamed as she showed off her flank. That was when she noticed applejack wasn’t at all enthusiastic about the most pivotal moment in any fillie’s life. “Applejack, is something wrong?”
Applejack glared at her. “Ya’ll could say that again.” She advanced on Rarity, who began to get a little nervous. “Ah thought you were my friend, but ya’ll tricked me.”
“What?” Rarity gasped. “The nerve of the accusation! I would never!”
“Yes you would!” Applejack yelled. “All of yer fancy fine talk about goin’ on adventures, and seein’ Equestria. You said Manehatten was a wonderful place. Well it wasn’t! I went there, and I was miserable the whole time, because of high-falutin’ ponies pretendin’ to be somepony they ain’t, and lookin’ down on everypony else fer being themselves!”
Applejack prodded Rarity in the chest. “Yer fancy talk almost done ruined mah life! An’ now I come home, an’ I find out you’re just like them! You was just waitin’ fer me to be gone so you could win everypony over to yer high-falutin’ ways with a bunch of fancy gemstones!”
Rarity scrambled for a response, and the words came tumbling out of her mouth. “Well excuse me if you’re too much of a stick in the mud to appreciate the finer things in life!”
“What finer things?” Applejack asked. “You mean those fancy asparagus platters that wouldn’t feed a rabbit even if it’d already been half stuffed?”
“That is fine cuisine!”
“Fine garbage more like!”
“You know you didn’t have to go!” Rarity yelled. “I thought you’d want to see more of the world then this little town!”
“Watch what you say Rarity, this ‘little town’ is my home!”
“Ha! Some home! You know, I heard Lyra talking, and according to her, you don’t even have parents!”
“I could’ve taken her.” Rarity mumbled.
She was back on the Golden Thunder. Her dad Fantastic, the ship’s doctor, was just undoing the sling she’d been wearing for the past week.
“I’m sure you could have sweety.” He said. “But all the same, it’s better not to antagonize earth ponies, alright?”
“I wasn’t anatogi… antanant… anthanizi… I wasn’t doing anything!”
“I know, you’ve told me often enough.” Her dad finished taking off the sling. “There, can you walk?”
Rarity gently tested her hoof. “Yeah.”
“Excellent.” He beamed.
“At least that’s over with.” Rarity agreed. But her father clamped a hoof over her mouth.
“SSSSHHHH!” He whispered in mock panic. “Do you want to anger the Irony monsters?”
Rarity giggled. “There’s no such thing as Irony monsters dad.”
He grinned. “Don’t say things like that, you may meet them!”
The pair of them shared in a private laugh. “Well, come on then. Since you can walk, you can party! Your mother’s making something extra special for your cute-ciniera.”
Rarity smiled, hesitantly. She greatly preferred the food the ship’s cook made to the food her mother prepared, to say the least. She could almost believe the Irony monsters were listening in on their conversation. With any luck, Ram-sea would slip something into whatever concoction Marshmallow had come up with for her.
Suddenly, she heard the clanging of the alarm bell on deck. “That’ll be the Navy I’d wager.” Fantastic said, picking up his daughter and putting her back on the bed. “You stay here. Remember the plan if we’re overrun?”
Rarity nodded. “I’m not a pirate, I was kidnapped by the Captain. Just don’t get overrun, okay?”
“That’s a promise!” Her dad laughed. “It wouldn’t do to get arrested before my daughter’s Cute-ciniera!”
He locked the door shut behind him. Rarity sat on the bed, hooves dangling off the sides. Celestia’s Navy had been more troublesome for pirates in the past. But they were still boring to Rarity. She had to wait through the whole fight, hoping that her parents would –
A dark shadow fell over the window.
With a crash, a grey Pegasus with a blood red mane flew through the window. His cutie mark was a map with an X on it. “Found you.” He grinned.
Rarity screamed, and ran for the door but it was locked. The Pegasus picked her up and flung her over his shoulder, carrying her out the window. “Captain Saccharin!” He yelled, as he picked up speed. “I’ve got ‘er!”
A black earth pony with a bleached white mane looked at the pair of them. He was obviously the Captain, with his scarlet coat and feathered hat. “So you do Mr. Seek! Step lively men! We’re making a run for it!”
Seek dropped Rarity on the deck of Captain Saccharin’s ship, the Sea Drake. Rarity knew the stories of this ship and its captain. She’d heard that he once took on an entire flight of Griffons on his own, and that his crew took down a dragon.
The crew of the Golden Thunder cheered as the Sea Drake turned and sailed away. “Mom!” Rarity screamed. “DAD! HELP ME!!!”
“Throw her in the brig Mr. Shortround!” The Captain called, and a small earth pony obliged. The crew of the Golden Thunder seemed to realize it’s mistake and started to chase after them, but the Sea Drake was already at full speed. They didn’t have a chance.
Somebody put a clothe over Rarity’s mouth.
The first thing that Rarity registered was pain in her mouth. There was a gap in her teeth so big, she whistled just by breathing.
At first she thought her dad would fix it. But then she remembered the last time she saw dad.
Rarity woke up in a dark prison cell. She wasn’t in a boat anymore; the prison’s walls were made of stone. Outside, lightning flashed and rain poured down. It looked like it was in the middle of a hurricane. Nopony would be sailing to her rescue.
“Hello.” She leaped up at the noise.
Captain Saccharin was smiling at her through the bars.
Rarity gulped. “My parents don’t have much bits for a ransom…”
“I don’t want a ransom.” Saccharin scowled. He kicked the stool he was sitting on out from underneath him, causing Rarity to start again. “I want you.”
“W-why do you want me?” Rarity asked.
Captain Saccharin smiled. “Do you know the tale of Gold Dodger’s treasure?”
Rarity nodded apprehensively.
“For centuries, that treasure has yet to be found. But that’s all about to change. Do you know why?” Rarity shook her head, and Saccharin smiled. “Because now we have a unicorn, whose special talent is finding precious gems.”
Rarity gasped. “I can’t find Gold Dodger’s treasure!”
“Not yet.” Saccharin admitted. “But in a few year’s time, who knows? I heard from my contacts in the Capitol Penninsula, that your magic dragged you halfway to the Horseshoe Mountains for a smile pile of gems.”
“But… that’s not my special talent…”
“You need to get much, much better at lying before you think you can pull a fast one on me.” Captain Saccharin laughed. “Now, in the meantime, you’re going to be helping Shortround dig up the gems around this mountain. You know, as practice.” He slid a bowl of hay through the bars. “Get some rest. You start as soon as this rain stops.”
As Saccharin made his way back out of the jail corridor, Rarity had a flash of inspiration. “You can’t keep me in here.” She whispered haughtily. Turning to face the wall with the window on it, she lowered her horn and prepared to charge. “My magic does more than just find diamonds.”
She charged at the wall. “Super Rainbow Drill Shatter Attack!” She cried, charging the wall with the same vigor she had when she broke her first rock with all the diamonds inside it.
The world went dark again.
She woke up dizzily. “Ugh… what happened…” She shakily got to her feet, somehow realizing that she was hanging by her head.
Looking up, she realized that her horn was stuck in the stone wall.
Rarity had only been in Saccharin’s island stronghold for a day, but already Rarity was missing her parents. She sighed dramatically, and leaned against the bars of her cell. A flash of lightning illuminated her cell, and suddenly, a pair of eyes were staring at her from the other side of the bars.
“Gyaaaaaah!” Rarity screamed and fell back on her flank.
The filly staring at her was gray, with a black mane tied in a nice bow. “Hello.” She said to Rarity. “I’m Octavia.”
Rarity smiled nervously. “I’m Rarity.”
“It’s nice to meet you Rarity. There aren’t any other fillies on my dad’s island.”
Rarity gasped. “Your dad’s Saccharin!?”
Octavia shrugged. “Yes.”
Put that matter-of-factly, Rarity found she could not protest this point.
The two fillies stared at each other in awkward silence, as the storm raged outside the fortress. Rairty bit her lip, and decided that she should say something. Anything to break this silence.
“So… do you like dresses?”
“No.” Octavia shook her head. “I like bow ties though.” She indicated to the accessory around her neck.
“That is such a beautiful bow tie!” Rarity leaned close to the bars. “I could almost imagine making something like that, and you wear it so well!”
“Thank you.” Octavia smiled.
Rarity liked it when Octavia smiled. The alternative was Octavia’s blank staring expression, but it was still a beautifully demure smile. “So, what do you like Ocati… Tavy… Akt… do you mind if I just call you ‘Tavy?”
This, apparently, was the wrong thing to say. Octavia shuffled around a bit, blushing, before she apparently summoned the courage to answer. “I like music.”
Rarity beamed. “That’s wonderful! I love music too! Oh, have you heard the Frozen Symphony? Ram music is so magical.”
“Oh I know.” Octavia started smiling again. “Have you heard any good Minotaur music?”
“No.” Rarity sighed dramatically. “Alas, my travels have yet to come across Minotaur lands.”
“That’s my favorite. I can play almost anything… my dad loves it when I play the old sinister family organ, but my favorite is the Bass Cello.”
“My goodness, I’m surprised you don’t have your cutie mark.”
The comment was innocent, but Octavia blushed immediately. Rarity gasped. “Oh, I’m sorry, did I say something wrong?”
“It’s not you, it’s just…” Octavia sighed, and suddenly instead of pawing the ground nervously she was like the calm of a storm. “I don’t have my Cutie Mark. I don’t know why… music is the thing I love most in life… I’ve played every single instrument I can think of to try and get my Cutie Mark in music.”
And just like that, they were friends. Rarity didn’t know how it happened, she knew she should be trying to get the filly to help her escape instead of trying to help her get her cutie mark. But friends would help and Rarity was helping… so she must be a friend.
“Do you think it might me more about your attitude then it is about your talent?” Rarity asked.
Octavia stared at her. “What do you mean?”
“Well you see, my cutie mark is three gemstones. Your father mistook that to mean I have a talent for finding gems. And while finding gems is part of my talent, it’s not the whole thing.”
Octavia sat down, and listened with interest.
“The world is such a beautiful place, I know. But most other ponies don’t realize that. Especially in the Capital Penninsula. Canterlot, Manehatten… Ponyville… all the ponies there don’t know about going out and seeing the world.” Rarity smiled. “I wanted the gems, yes. But I didn’t want them just so I could be rich. I wanted them to sew onto the costumes for my school’s class play. I wanted to enrich others, because it’s just so sad that none of my classmates will ever see a Yeti village, or hear the Griffons sing of moonlight.”
She turned dramatically, a hoof held high to the window, where lightning illuminated her. “My special talent is finding the gem in everything! Everything, to somepony’s eyes, could be as dull as a rock, but within every rough there is a diamond! My special talent is finding that beauty, and then sharing it with the world, displaying it so everypony can see! Your special talent is music you say? Perhaps it is not the instrument you lack, but the attitude! Perhaps you have yet to realize your skill is not simply playing music, but sharing music, or creating music, or even –”
Rarity turned around, and Octavia was gone.
Rarity was stunned. She went to her cell’s door. “‘Tavy?” the storm’s thunder echoed through the empty hallway. “‘Tavy, where did you go?”
“Right here.” Rarity gasped, and spun around, where Octavia was inside the cell with her, holding a bass cello.
“How… how did you get in here? With that giant instrument? The door was locked, and the walls are all solid stone… aren’t they?”
Octavia shrugged. “It’s a pirate vanish. My mom taught me how to do it. She said we needed a defence against our enemies the ninja.”
Rarity’s eyes were wide. “Can you teach me how to do that?”
“Sure.” Octavia smiled. “But first… do you want to hear some Minotaur sonnets?”
Octavia leaned Rarity against the wall. “Bruce Lee, the griffon who invented martial arts, realized you can fight better if you stand on your hindlegs.” Octavia explained. “It’s not healthy for the back though, unless you’re leaning on something or you’re in constant motion.”
“Ponies fight like this?” Rarity asked, balancing herself against the wall.
“Let go.” Octavia said.
Rarity pushed away from the wall. “Hey, I’m doing it! Look at me ‘Tavy, I’m dowwaaaaaaaagh!” Rarity swung her forehoofs around, trying to get some form of balance, before falling on her back.
The stalagmite hung from the cell’s ceiling. A steady trickle of water from the storm outside dripped into a puddle in the corner of the room.
“A true pirate, is fast.” Octavia explained. She shot a hoof out, and retracted it before the next drop of water landed on it. “Go ahead, try it.”
Rarity shot a hoof out, and water dripped on it. She groaned, and tried again, but she still got wet. “How many times do I have to keep –” She turned and Octavia was gone. “‘Tavy!”
Rarity eyed the horseshoes suspiciously. “These feel strange.”
“They’re magnetic horseshoes.” Octavia explained. “You’ve probably never worn them, but Earth ponies and Pegasus wear them all the time to help them hold onto things.”
“Why am I wearing these again?” Rarity asked.
“Because I don’t know how to teach you to swordfight the unicorn way.” Octavia began poking at Rarity with a stick.
“Ow! Ow!” Rarity stood up and swung her own stick, but fell over. “Maybe I’d do better if we weren’t only focusing on each thing for ten seconds.” Rarity said.
Octavia shook her head. “No. I saw a play once; The Count of Monte Cristo. The hero of the story learned everything in like, five minutes.”
Rarity blinked. “I’m not sure theatre is the best judge for reality.”
“Nonsense. Oh! I know what’s wrong!” Octavia took out a trumpet. “Training montages need music!”
After about a week, Octavia stopped training Rarity to fight, and started making sure she didn’t die after every day’s work in the sapphire fields. Not that Saccharin would let Rarity die, but he didn’t exactly feel the need to keep her in perfect shape or let one of his important pirates do work like lifting the cart of gems the little filly had to fill.
Nonetheless Octavia, now sporting a beautiful cutie mark, was Rarity’s new best friend whenever her dad wasn’t around to see.
After the first week ended, Rarity and Octavia sat in the middle of the cell, having a little tea party.
“More tea ‘Tavy?” Rarity asked.
“Yes, thank you Rarity.” Octavia poured herself some tea.
“How is your boyfriend, Sir Snuggly Wuggly?”
Octavia straightened the large stuffed rabbit that was sitting at the table with them. “He’s recovering. You know how war wounds are. I will never understand what possessed him to fight off that monster off.”
“As I recall, the monster was attacking you.”
“I could have handled myself.” Octavia sniffed. “Still, it was quite chivalrous.” She patted Sir Snuggly Wuggly on the head.
“My own Prince Tom is recovering from his own war wounds.” Tommy the stuffed Tiger slumped down into her tea. “He’s still as adorable as ever though.”
“Indeed.” Octavia smiled. “Sir Snuggly Wuggly heard Princess Celestia was thinking about awarding him a medal.”
“Oh, you know how the court gossips these days.” Rarity blushed. “It’s actually three medals.”
The two of them dissolved into a fit of giggles. Usually, Octavia was not one for showing emotions, which made the few times Rarity could get her to break out and laugh all the more charming for rarity.
After the giggling fit went away, rarity decided the time was ripe to ask her something. “‘Tavy?”
“I was thinking of escaping this week.” Rarity said, as matter-of-factly as she could. “And… I was wondering if you would help?”
Octavia pondered this, putting her cup of tea back in her saucer. “No.” Octavia decided. “I’m sorry Rarity, but my dad’s the only family I have left, and he’s pretty cool, you know, on the other side of the bars.”
Rarity’s face fell. “Oh.” She felt like a foal for risking that. Now Octavia would tell her dad, and then he’d –
“But I won’t stop you either.” Octavia continued. “If you do escape, will you promise to write to me?”
Rarity was shocked! Not just by Octavia’s helpfulness, but by her request! “Oh, of course I’ll write to you darling!” Rarity smiled, taking her friend’s hooves in hers. “How in Equestria could I forget such a wonderful friend? That is, I’ll write whenever I’m able, you never know I might be kidnapped again, but I’ll certainly write to you as often as I can!”
Octavia smiled. “Thank you. I’m so glad you’re my friend.”
Rarity would have returned the compliment, but at that moment the door to the prison corridor opened loudly.
Rarity tumbled out of her chair, and looked through the bars. Captain Sacharrin was trotting towards her, just as he’d done every day. “Good morning Rarity. And how are you today?”
“Er…” Rarity knew that Saccharin wouldn’t take kindly to his daughter being in a cell. But looking behind her, Rarity saw she had no need to worry. Octavia had already ‘pirate vanished’, along with the table, the two chairs, their tea, and their stuffed animals.
Rarity stared at the spot where their tea party had been held mere moments before, before remembering who she was with and turning back to Captain Saccharin. “I’m tired and hungry.” She moaned, as dramatically as I could. “I wanna go hoooOOOOME!” She fainted backwards with a dramatic sigh, only to land on the stone floors.
“Yes, so you’ve said.” Saccharin frowned in front of the cell doors. “And as soon as you find me Gold Dodger’s treasure, you’ll have your freedom.”
“I can’t!” Rarity yelled. “I just can’t! Look, every time I try, I –”
She lit up her horn, and bit her bottom lip. Hoping this would work as well as it did yesterday, she searched for something, something big. She didn’t know if it would be Gold dodger’s treasure or not. But hopefully – hopefully – it would be some sort of royal treasure.
She found it.
With a false cry of alarm, Rarity felt herself get dragged towards the wall by her horn. “Hey, I found something!” She said.
Saccharin’s eyes gleamed. “You’ve found it!? You found Gold Dodger’s treasure!?”
Rarity grunted in mock pain. “I think so. It’s faint, but it’s big.”
Saccharin cheered. “Yes! Prepare to set sail!”
Rarity only had to cast her spell once or twice as the pirate ship sailed. She had to admit, Captain Saccharin didn’t seem particularly cruel. She might have even believed that he planned on letting her go after she’d fulfilled his plan.
But she wouldn’t trust him.
“Excuse me!” She called out. Her jailer, Shortround, waddled to the door.
“I need to go to the bathroom.” She moaned.
He sighed. “Fine.” He opened the door to her cell and led her to the brig’s bathroom.
In the bathroom, Rarity got her hooves on some toilet paper. It was all she needed. She quickly unraveled it with her magic, and knotted it together to make a secure rope, which she levitated out of the window and onto the main deck.
It took some effort, but she managed to pull herself up onto the ship’s foredeck. There, she managed to slip behind a few barrels and make her was to the stern. There was an earth pony and a pegasus at the helm.
“All I’m saying is, with the lack in membership, the Wonderbolts are going to be looking for new recruits.” The Pegasus was saying.
“No way man.” The earth pony shook his head. “After what Thunder Crash did, they’re going to be doing background checks on any new recruits. You ain’t getting in there.”
Rarity walked up to the two of them. “’Scuse me?”
The two jumped and stared at the filly. “Where did you come from?” The Pegasus asked.
“We don’t like stowaways on this boat.” The Earth pony said.
“I’m not a stowaway.” Rarity beamed. “I’m a pirate! And I’m gonna commandeer your ship for a while.”
The stared at her. Then at each other. And then they burst into laughter. While they were doubled over, Rarity used her magic to levitate a rope, steering the ship’s wheel so it would be fixed in the direction she thought Ponyville would be in, and then tied the wheel in place. She doubted any of the pirates would know how to undo a triple cross-stitch knot.
“Kid, you shouldn’t joke like that.” The Pegasus said, getting up.
“You really shouldn’t.” The earth pony shook his head. “But man, that was funny little filly.”
“I’m sorry.” Rarity pouted. “I thought it was funny. Hey, do either of you know where the bathroom is?”
“Yeah, come on kid, we’ll take you.” The pirate walked her down to the brig. Rarity couldn’t believe her good fortune, that apparently she had found the two pirates on the ship who both didn’t recognize her, and probably weren’t smart enough to ruin her plans if they did.
Rarity noticed a stain on one of the pirate’s shirt. “Is that blood?” She asked.
The pirate frowned. “Eeyup. Don’t worry, it’s not pony blood. We had a run in with some griffons a while back. And I just cannot get this stain out.”
Rarity gulped at the thought of death, but nodded amiably. “You know, the trick to getting bloodstains out of any clothe, is to use banana leaves in the wash.”
“Is it really?” The pirate smiled appreciatively. “Well aren’t you smart. I should take you home to me wife, she’d love somepony who knew how to do proper washing.”
Rarity shot him her best fake smile as they led her down to the brig. Shortround started as they came around the corner. He looked from her to the loo and back. “Hey, how’d you get out?”
“The Pegasus got me out through the window.” Rarity explained, before either of them had a chance to speak. “The other one said he wanted my magic all to himself. He said something about mooti… mututu…”
“Mutiny?” Shortround asked darkly.
“That’s it!” Rarity beamed, with all the innocence fillies seem to be able to muster whenever they need it.
“What?” The earth pony gasped. “We… we would never…”
“You would.” Rarity nodded. “You said so! You said you wanted to take me home to your family.”
That gave the earth pony pause. “Uh… yeah, I did… but… uh…”
“Mutineers!” Shortround yelled, and he charged at the two pirates.
Rarity calmly sidestepped the scuffle, and ran out of the brig. The first pirate she came to, she tapped them on the leg. “’Scuse me mister.” She said. “But someponies are mutineering in the brig.”
“Mutineers!” The pirate gasped, and he ran off to the brig. “Which ponies!?” He called.
“A short round earth pony!” Rarity called after him. She strode around the corner and found another couple of pirates. “’Scuse me!” She called to the group. “A Pegasus and two Earth Ponies are mutineering in the brig!”
The crew of pirates raced down the hall behind her, and somepony clanged the alarm bell. Rarity, satisfied with her work, trotted off to sow some more chaos.
The brig was a fully fledged warzone. Nopony was safe. Some small groups formed here and there, as they’d came in together, but for the most part nopony knew who was mutineering against who. They just figured that somepony would tell them if they weren’t mutineers; they were just fighting to protect themselves.
Suddenly, a gunshot echoed in the brig. All fighting stopped as Captain Saccharin stood in the doorway. He strode into the midst of the ponies, heavy hoof steps echoing, glaring at anypony who would meet his eyes.
The sound of ponies swordfighting was loud in the silence. The Captain strode towards the offenders. Three of the newer crew members were fighting in a corner. “Ahem.” He coughed politely.
Two of them stopped, and grinned triumphantly. The third screamed at him: “Death to mutineers!” He charged the Captain, who stopped him with one buck.
“I’m the Captain.” Saccharin growled. “Why on earth would I mutineer against myself?” He turned to the rest of his crew. “And now that we’ve established that I am not a mutineer, can anypony tell me who is? Can anypony point out the traitor in our midst?”
That was when the door to the brig slammed shut.
“I am Rarity!” Came the high voice of a filly behind the door. “And this is my ship now! Argh!”
Captain Saccharin facehoofed. “Congratulations. You’ve all just been out-smarted by a six year old.”
Rarity giggled behind the door. “I hired a secret army with all the gems you made me dig! They’re on the ship right now! So there you big meanies!”
Suddenly, Rarity heard the clopping of several hooves above her head. Her eyes grew wide. Did I miss somepony? She thought, as she tried to remember what Octavia taught her about fighting.
Her fears were put to rest when Octavia trotted happily down the stairs, banging coconut shells against each other.
“You’re helping me?” Rarity whispered.
“Sure.” Octavia smiled. “I figure we can go on an adventure together, and I can show you around Minos.”
The girls shared a giggle, and then Octavia put on her bass voice. “Captain Rarity, we have the ship.” She said. Then she switched to falsetto. “Awaiting your orders.”
“Yes Ms. Minuette and Sir Jovial, set sail at once to –”
“You know, the brig has more than one door.” The two fillies turned around, and saw Captain Saccharin and Mr. Seek glowering at them.
The S.S. Baluga was the pride of Celestia’s navy. Fifty cannons on either side, triple masted, and crewed by some of Celestia’s finest soldiers.
Captain Fancy-Pants was currently carrying the most precious cargo he’d ever had to carry. Two members of the royal family, and their luggage, on a diplomatic mission to the Yeti Nation. It had taken his strongest sailors to carry Prince Blueblood’s gold encrusted winter coats. They were incredibly gaudy in his opinion. Even though he was the Captain, Fancy-pants always wore a decidedly swashbuckling outfit, with an open-collared shirt and roomy sleeves.
So when Captain Fancy-Pants saw the pirates closing in on them fast, he snapped into action. “All ponies, report to battle stations!” He called. “Gunners, ready the cannons! Drop the main-sails and ready weapons! I need five ponies to go down to the quarters and keep the Prince and Princess safe! All unicorns, with me!”
The unicorns gathered together on the poopdeck with Fancy-pants. He stared at them. There were only three unicorns. “This is it?” He asked. “We’re on a royal contingent, why are there so few unicorns?”
A blue maned unicorn stepped up. “There was a threat to the capitol sir. More unicorns were drawn in to protect it, and simple diplomatic missions like this one got a scarce few to protect it.”
Fancy-pants gave the blue maned unicorn ‘The Look’. “What is your name private?”
“Shining Armor sir.” The private said eagerly.
“Shining Armor, do you think I don’t already know why there are so few unicorns on my ship?”
Shining Armor’s face fell. “You asked sir.”
“Learn how to read rhetorical questions greenie. All right everypony, There are too few of us for a full shield charm, so we’re going to have to make do with levitating charms, trying steer the ship away.”
“Oh, you don’t need to worry about that.” Shining Armor beamed, confidence restored. “I’ve got this!” His horn lit up, and a brilliant pink ball of energy leaped from his horn. It surrounded the enemy pirate’s ship, and formed a force field the shape of a bottle around it.
Fancy-pants stared at the force field with wide eyes. Then he turned to Shining Armor, wearing a grin. “Very impressive. Will it hold against cannon fire?”
“It ought to.” Shining Armor said, rubbing his head from the strain of the spell.
“Then we can be on our way without the pirates following us.” Fancy-pants laughed. “Well done Shining Armor! All hands! Full speed ahead!”
The crew cheered, and all seemed to return to normal… when suddenly, a cry came from the other ship.
“Hey! Wait! Help me!”
The few ponies who turned, saw two small fillies, a unicorn and an earth pony, waving down the ship. The deck, which had previously been empty burst full of pirates.
The first mate, familiar with his Captain’s antics, called out. “Captain no! It might be a…” She sighed, as she heard a splash in the water. “… trap.”
But it wasn’t just one splash. Shining Armor had the exact same idea as Fancy-pants, and the two of them swam towards the bottled pirate ship with a gusto.
“Don’t try and curry favor with me if you can’t keep up!” Fancy-pants yelled over the waves.
“I hate curry!” Shining Armor replied. “You just worry about keeping up with me!”
The two of them climbed up to the bottleneck of the force field and drew their swords. After a moment of surprise, when they both acknowledged that they wore magnetic horse shoes, they lunged onto the pirate ship.
Rarity and Octavia were surrounded by pirates on all sides. This was both a bad thing and a good thing, because by the time Fancy-pants and Shining Armor charged into their midst, only one pirate had the time to look up from their quarry and yell a warning.
Shining Armor swept a whole side of pirates away with a shield spell as Fancy-pants dueled four pirates at once. Then Shining Armor took his turn protecting Fancy-pants as the captain used a spell to tear down some of the rigging and cover the pirates in it.
Rarity almost swooned. Fancy-pants was so dashing, and he dressed so fabulously. The other unicorn was dashing too… although he was somewhat stiffer, and something told Rarity he was a bit more of a nerd when he wasn’t swashbuckling. Nontheless, it was only Octavia tapping her on the shoulder that broke her out of her swooning, and she scolded herself briefly for being interested in ponies who were so obviously (ew!) old.
The unicorns grabbed the two fillies with his telekinesis. “Don’t worry you two, we’ll save you!”
Rarity threw her arms around his neck. “My hero!” She gasped.
Octavia just sat on Fancy-pant’s back and waved goodbye to her dad, smiling like she was about to go on the funnest adventure ever. Begrudgingly, he tipped his hat to her.
Fancy-pants and Shining Armor quickly made their way to the opening in Shining Armor’s bottle shield. The other pirates took up a token resistance to stop them from leaving the ship, but they were too wary of hitting their captain’s daughter or their ticket to Gold Dodger’s treasure to put up a fight even half the level needed to beat the two stallions.
Except for Shortround.
Tired, angry, beat up, and humiliated, Shortround decided that no amount of treasure was worth this. He limped over to the nearest cannon, grabbing it, and pulling it around with all of his strength. With a manic grin, he lit the fuse.
Fancy-Pants, experience kicking in, suddenly realized that a cannon was pointed his way. Time seemed to slow down.
“Aaaaarmoooooor!” He called in slow motion. As the boom of a cannon sounded, he bucked Octavia off her back. The earth pony looked around in dull surprise as she soared through the air towards shining Armor.
The other unicorn turned around slowly, only to see a ball of flame erupt behind his captain. Wincing from the pain he cast a spell. He skidded to a stop just in time for Rarity to reach out and grab Octavia. The shield spell barely covered Fancy-pants in time, but he was blown forward by the blast.
“Oh no!” Rarity gasped.
Fancy-pants gritted his teeth, and pushed himself up on his forehooves. He reached out… and grabbed his sword in his teeth. “Go!” He called. “I’ll hold them off!”
“Not without you!” Shining Armor, two fillies on his back, raced towards Fancy-pants. He threw up another shield between them and the pirates, dangerously extending his magical limits, then he picked his Captain up by the teeth and raced towards the exit from the bottle.
Shortround lit the cannon again. “I have you now…”
“Foal!” Captain Saccharin bucked him in the jaw with all of his might. Shortround went flying, and the cannon swerved just before it fired. The cannonball ricocheted off of the barrier surrounding the ship, bouncing off it twice, before hitting the mast and flying off that, then heading straight towards Shining Armor, as he carried his captain and two young fillies.
“We’re gonna die!” Rarity screamed, and even Octavia’s eyes widened at the thought of being hit by a cannonball.
Just as the four of them dove out of the bottleneck though, a pair of navy pegasi intercepted them, pushing them away from the incoming cannon fire.
“I warned you this would happen Captain.” Fancy-pants’ first mate said to him, flying the four of them back to the ship. “Keep this up, and one day I’ll be saving your flank in front of royalty, I said. But you didn't listen.”
The rescue party landed on the deck of the royal vessel. The majority of the crew was busy enacting their escape, but a small welcoming committee was gathered on the poopdeck.
“Fancy-pants!” A unicorn with three fleur-de-lis on her flank flung herself at him. Rarity’s eyes widened as she realized who this was. This was Princess Unity, one of the direct descendants of Princess Platinum herself. “Are you all right!?”
“I’ll be fine darling.” Fancy-pants grimaced. “I may need a cane for a while though.” He shot a smile at Shining Armor. “It looks like you’ve earned yourself a promotion.”
Shining Armor gasped in shock. “I’m not trying to earn anything sir. I just have a sister about the same age these two, and I couldn’t not save them.”
“I know you weren’t trying to earn points.” Fancy-pants nodded. “That’s why you’re my new relief. Congratulations captain.”
“Ha!” A small bratty voice made itself heard over the crowd. “If you all would’ve let me, I would’ve taken on all of the pirates! And then captured the ship!”
A small blank-flanked unicorn pushed through the crowd, carrying a wooden sword. This was Prince Blueblood, Princess Unity’s younger brother. “I’d have fought the brigands off single handed.”
Rarity swooned. “I bet he would have too.” She whispered to Octavia.
Octavia raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“He’s a prince.” Rarity explained. “He’s got to come to save damsels in distress, unless he’s held back. Oh, I wish they would have let him save us. Wouldn’t that have been so romantic?”
Octavia looked from her friend, to the bratty half-pint with the wooden sword, then back to her friend. “You’re not seriously thinking he could have had a chance, right?”
“He’s a prince, he must have super powerful magic.” Rarity giggled. “Besides, you can’t stop true love.”
Octavia stared. “Is… that… what… this… is…?” She waved a hoof in Rarity and Blueblood’s general direction.
The first mate strode over to the pair of them. “Where are you two girls from?” She asked.
Rarity beamed. “I’m from Ponyville!”
“Canterlot.” Octavia gestured to herself.
“Well, I’m sorry girls, but this is a diplomatic voyage.” The first mate shrugged hopelessly. “We can’t just turn around to take you home right away. How about you tell us who your parents are, and we’ll write them letters telling them your safe. But in the meantime, you two are going to have to be the guests of the S.S. Baluga for six months while we go and negotiate with the yetis.”
Rarity and Octavia smiled at each other.
That was the beginning of their first adventure.
Rarity strutted demurely through the Grand Galloping Gala. She looked at her friends with pride. Little did Rainbow Dash know how much influence griffon culture had in her dress. She doubted Applejack noticed the Buffalo stitch work. Pinkie Pie seemed unaware that her dress was haute couture in Zebrican. Twilight’s dress was wonderfully minotaurik. And only Fluttershy seemed aware of the Elk influences in her dress.
They were more stunning than any pony in the gala.
Her own dress was stunning too. But she’d designed it with Unicorn dresses in mind. And, of course, with various secret compartments in it so she didn’t have to wear her fake eyelashes. The skeleton keys hidden therein were indispensable when one had the power to find hidden wealth, but they were quite uncomfortable.
And then she heard the slight Yeti melody interwoven into the Gala’s background refrain. She knew instantly which Canterlot socialite had managed to get herself hired to play for the Gala. Only one mare knew the tune which Rarity had fond memories of hearing as she fell asleep in front of the fires of a Yeti palace, after a day of snow filled fun with Prince Blueblood.
She trotted to the stage, where Octavia was playing.
“’Tavy, darling.” Rarity beamed at the earth pony. “You should have told me you were coming, I would have made you a dress.”
“Dresses are for attendees, I’m just in the band.” Octavia smiled. “I’m sorry to admit, I was a bit sour. Until you told me you’d be attending, we did have plans to rob the place.”
“It was an ingenius plan.” Sir Ivory muttered at the piano.
“I’m sorry to ruin your night.” Rarity apologized. “But oh, can you imagine? Seeing Prince Bluebood again, after all of this time…”
“Don’t let me keep you.” Octavia nodded. Rarity turned to look where she’d nodded, and saw Blueblood leaving to the rose maze.
Rarity squeed with delight. “Oh, thank you ‘Tavy! Oh, look out for my friend Pinkie Pie. I’ve long since given up on the notion that you can teach her to have a party without balloons. She’ll probably want you to play the pony polky or something.”
Octavia rolled her eyes. “Is that doubt I hear? Rarity, you know I can play through a hurricane.”
“Hmmm.” Rarity pursed her lips. “Sometimes, Pinkie can be worse than a hurricane.” She glance back at Blueblood. “Enjoy the evening ‘Tavy!” She waved goodbye, and rushed after her prince charming.
"Captain?" First mate Forte asked. "I thought we were robbing the place?"
"Oh, yes, but Rarity wouldn't approve." Octavia shrugged. "Give the order to Crescendo and her girls, but we're not going to steal anything from the Elements of Harmony or royalty. What they don't know won't hurt them."
Rarity took a gulp of air and released a sigh of relief. Just a few more times. She thought. I just have to do this a few more times. Then I’ll stop.
Years of reflex training only just managed to stop Rarity from screaming, as she spun around on the spot. There was Octavia, with some of her crew, playing for the garden party.
“How in Celestia’s name did you manage to sneak up on me with a band!?” Rarity hissed.
Octavia rolled her eyes. “I’ve been here the whole time, you just weren’t very observant.”
Rarity had to take another few breaths. “Hello Forte, Viola, new kid. Where’s Sir Ivory?”
“Garden parties do not need pianos darling.” Octavia smiled. “Would you care to explain to me why you’re hashing my lessons on pirate vanishing?”
Rarity giggled uncomfortably. “Well… it might actually be my friend’s birthday… and also the garden party… and Fancy-pants…”
Octavia raised a delicate eyebrow. “Rarity, are you missing your friend’s birthday because of a crush on Fancy-pants?”
“Oh no!” Rarity shook her head adamantly. “Celestia no! I mean, I wouldn’t dream of it. How could I compare to Princess Unity?”
Octavia sighed. “Rarity, Princess Unity and Fancy-pants aren’t together like that. She has brittle bone disease, and he lets her lean on him. She’s more like his sister.”
Rairty gasped, but this time with delight. Pure happiness shone from her eyes.
“Besides, I heard he’s ‘playing for the other team’.”
Rarity’s face fell.
Octavia laughed like wind chimes. “Oh Rarity, you’re too easy to tease. Now, do try not to get caught. I’ll play some of ‘Art of the Dress’ later.”
“You’re not going to tell me that my friends are dangerous distractions from my business?” Rarity asked. “Or that it’s wrong of my to desert Twilight’s birthday for a brief glimpse of the high life?”
“We’re pirates darling.” Octavia rolled her eyes. “I just hope you don’t get caught. Watch out, I think they’re about to cut the cake.”
Rarity gasped, and rushed back to her friends. “You know that’s going to turn into a shipwreck.” The stallion on the harp said.
“Maybe so Forte.” Octavia admitted. “But even in a shipwreck, we play on.”