“Twenty-five minutes,” whined Carrot Top. “This is taking forever!”
“I don’t think griping about it is going to help,” muttered Trixie.
“Hey,” said Carrot Top. “I’m allowed a little griping. I’ve had a rough week.”
“Well, when you win the money it’ll all be worth it,” said Berry Punch. She had taken out a thermos that she’d obtained from somewhere. “Want something to drink?”
“…is there alcohol in that?”
“Uh-uh. Scout’s honor.” Berry Punch smiled. “Just fresh grape juice. Not even a—“
They turned to see Applejack, who was wheeling around in circles like a boat that had lost its rudder. “APPLE BLOOM! WHERE ARE YA?”
“What now?” asked Trixie. “Does she ever shut up?”
Carrot Top frowned. “Let’s go check it out.”
“Hey—“ began Trixie.
“I’m just seeing what’s going on,” said Carrot Top. “Come on.”
As they approached the Apple area, they saw Big Macintosh galloping up to Applejack. “Nope,” he said. “Won’t help.”
“Yar kiddin’. They really won’t help? Why the Hay not? That’s ma sister that ain’t here! Those other Apple teams--”
“Judging,” said Big Macintosh, nodding at the line of distant – yet slowly approaching – judges.
“What in – they won’t help us find ma sister cause they’re afraid of bein’ DQed? Dang the competition, ma sister’s gone an’ the only ponies who saw her leave said she was with those varmints who tried torchin’ our farm! We gotta find her!”
Carrot Top hissed. “Flim and Flam,” she muttered.
“Those idiots again?” groaned Trixie. “Great. Why would they kidnap Apple Bloom?”
Carrot Top explained the blackmail scheme to her. “They’ll probably try to get Applejack disqualified, then say I made them do it unless I work for Greengrass.”
Trixie shook her head. “Luna will kill them. Politics is one thing, but you don’t bring foals into it.”
“Great, but we can’t wait for her to get involved,” whispered Berry Punch. “What now?”
Carrot Top approached the Sweet Apple Acres team. “What’s going on?”
Applejack stared at Carrot Top with bloodshot, bleary eyes. “Ya. Ya had somethin’ ta do with this. Did ya get those nutjobs ta fry our farm an’ kidnap ma sister? Ah am gonna hurt ya so bad—“
Big Macintosh stepped between them. “Apple Bloom’s foalnapped,” he said. “Towards castle.” He sounded very worried. “Other Apples won’t help.”
“Because if you’re disqualified, then they have a chance to beat the heir,” said Carrot Top. “And winning’s what matters for the Apples.”
Big Macintosh nodded.
Carrot Top bit her lip. She could try to help them find Apple Bloom…
“Carrot Top!” hissed Trixie. “Remember! You don’t want to get disqualified! This is too important!”
“They kidnapped a foal,” said Carrot Top. “Do you really think I’d want to sacrifice a foal for this competition?”
“Let’s just tell the judges!”
“Tell them what? If we had proof she went with them unwillingly, they might suspend the competition and help look for her, but we don’t. They’ll think she just wandered off. They won’t look.”
“Then somepony else. Flim and Flam will be caught. You know it. Besides—“
“If it was Dinky, would you be saying this?”
Trixie turned a bright red and shut up for a few moments. “Alright, fine,” she muttered. “Point. I’ll help look too.”
“Thanks.” Carrot Top turned to Berry Punch. “Apple Bloom’s never done anything to you. Will you—“
“Of course,” said Berry Punch, simply. “I’m not going to leave a foal in the custody of those two con artists.”
Carrot Top nodded and turned back to Big Macintosh and Applejack. “Alright. We’ll help you look for her. Just a quick sweep of the castle, and—“
Big Macintosh blinked. His eyes seemed oddly watery, and he bowed his head. “Thank you,” he murmured.
“Ah don’t trust ‘em! What if—“ Applejack began.
“Applejack. Quiet,” said Big Macintosh. His voice was stern, almost an order. Applejack stopped talking.
Big Macintosh looked at Carrot Top. “Twenty-five minutes.”
“I know,” said Carrot Top, and Berry Punch and Trixie nodded.
“Ah’ll help too!” began Applejack. She took off running… and almost plowed into an oven. “Agh! Where’d that come from?”
Carrot Top blinked. In her state, she’ll be more likely to fall into a ditch than find Apple Bloom…
Big Macintosh evidently agreed. “You’re dizzy. You’re tired. Stay. Watch food.” His eyes narrowed, and he gestured at Carrot Top. “Hers too.”
Applejack slowly sank to her haunches, as if too weak to resist the order. “But – but she’s ma sister, an’—“
“We’ll bring her back,” said Carrot Top. “Don’t worry.”
And they took off.
Carrot Top made it to the castle with time to spare, but her heart sank upon entering. The castle was far bigger on the inside than it looked on the outside. Still, there was no time to lose, so she picked a path at random and began running.
Five minutes later, it wasn’t going well.
Gasping for air, Carrot Top looked out the nearest window. She’d found herself in a tall tower that overlooked the competition grounds. She could see the wall of judges, which was steadily approaching her table. Fifteen minutes left, and it would probably take almost that long to get down and get back.
I don’t know what to do… I can’t miss my judging just to find Apple Bloom, can I? Even if she’s just a little foal and probably lost or scared…
Sighing, she picked another hallway and began running. She had to keep going. She had to hope Apple Bloom was somewhere nearby, and—
“Excuse me, are you lost?”
She skidded to a stop. A white unicorn with a sharp, large horn and a deep blue coat was standing in front of her and smiling. He looked kind of like a tour guide.
“I know the castle can be a little confusing. I got lost myself here last month! Maybe I can help you find where you need to go?”
“I’m looking for a foal. Don’t suppose you’ve seen her? Yellow coat, red mane—“
“Red bow in her hair?”
Carrot Top blinked. “Yes! Yes, exactly!”
“Ah, yes. I did see her just a few minutes ago. Take the first door on the left, go down two flights of stairs, and she should be in the third room on your right.”
“Thank you! Thank you!” Carrot Top took off at a run.
“Ah, the young are always in a hurry,” mused the unicorn as he walked on.
“Ah really want this cabinet! It’s the coolest thing ever!”
“And it’s yours! You just have to lift it out of this room!”
Carrot Top slowed as she heard the voices from the next room -- Apple Bloom, and Flam too. Alright, she’d found them. Now to get past the unicorns.
Carrot Top bucked through the wooden door and found herself in an old kitchen area. Apple Bloom, gripping a pinecone tightly in her teeth, was straining to move a huge old cabinet. It was much bigger than her, and it was clear she’d never be able to move it. Yet she was trying with all her might, though she looked exhausted and worn.
Flim and Flam were there too, dressed in judging uniforms. They swiveled when Carrot Top burst through the doors. “You’re too late!” called out Flam. “You’ll never get her back in time for the judging. Sweet Apple Acres cannot win.”
“You should go back,” said Flim. “Maybe you can save your own farm.”
“I’m not leaving without her,” said Carrot Top. “Take off whatever spell she’s under and get out.”
Flim began to sweat. He turned to Flam. “I told you this wouldn’t work!”
“Shut up!” Flam growled. “Sorry, Carrot Top. We’re keeping the foal here. You’d better get back to your table before you miss your judging—“
“I don’t care!” Carrot Top began to approach the two.
“You’ll lose your farm if you lose this competition!”
“You think I’d sacrifice a foal to keep my farm? Maybe the Apples would make that choice, but I won’t!” yelled Carrot Top. “I’m not a cheater, and I care more about other ponies than a stupid prize! Now let her go before I buck you into next year!”
Flam’s horn glowed as he began to cast a spell – but Carrot Top was faster. She bucked him squarely in the head, and he collapsed.
“Remove the spell,” ordered Carrot Top. “Now.”
“Or what, you’ll knock me out? Then the spell stays. Apple Bloom will never want to leave this room.” Flim managed a pale smile.
“No. If you don’t, I will tell my good friend Trixie Lulamoon everything you have done. Trixie is the personal student of Princess Luna herself. In ten minutes, Luna will have a letter describing exactly what you’ve done in service to Greengrass. Then we can all wait and see whether Luna banishes you to the sun first, or Greengrass has you exiled or thrown into some secret, forgotten dungeon so you can’t testify against him.” Carrot Top’s smile was wintery. “That’s what happens if you don’t.”
“…or, maybe I take the spell off, and we agree to forget all about this?” Flim’s smile looked a good deal more nervous.
Carrot Top said nothing.
“Alright, alright! Just – just let us go, okay?” Flim turned to Apple Bloom, and his horn glowed. A moment later, Apple Bloom paused.
“What’s goin’ on? Why am ah here? Where’s here?” she asked.
“Get out of here,” ordered Carrot Top to Flim. “If I ever see you or your brother again, I’m telling Trixie and Luna what I know.” She had already told Trixie, but he didn’t need to know that. “Leave.”
Flim grabbed his brother and left.
“Where am ah? What happened ta the judgin’?” asked Apple Bloom. “Ah didn’t miss it, did ah?”
“We’re getting close. Come on – we have to get back as soon as we can!” said Carrot Top. “Get on my back, okay?”
Apple Bloom hopped on, and Carrot Top began to run. She still had to find her way out of the castle.
“It’s just down those stairs,” said the tour guide-looking pony. “Three flights, out the left door.”
“Thanks again,” said Carrot Top. It was certainly good luck that they’d run into him twice; he seemed to know his way around, after all. Carrot Top began to race downwards.
The door opened and Carrot Top found herself on the lawn, but her heart sank. The judges were much further along than she’d hoped for. They’d be at her station in two minutes, and she needed five to get back.
Still, there was nothing else for it. She took a deep breath. “Hang on—“
Both ponies turned to see Big Macintosh running up to them. He was smiling brightly, and crying a little. “Apple Bloom!”
“Big Mac! Ah’m okay! Carrot Top saved ma!”
“Reunion can wait – we’ve got to get back,” said Carrot Top. “Let’s all run as fast as we can.” She knew it wouldn’t be fast enough, but she’d still try, and—
“Up,” said Big Macintosh.
Carrot Top nodded at Apple Bloom. “You heard your brother. Get on his back, don’t worry about me. I—“
“Up,” repeated Big Macintosh. And then he had stuck a leg under Carrot Top and lifted, and Carrot Top felt herself flying up in the air – and then she was on Big Macintosh’s back.
And he began to run like the wind.
Carrot Top had known that Big Macintosh was strong, and fast, but riding him as he blasted his way through the crowds and zipped to their tables was something else altogether. She held on tightly for dear life, feeling Apple Bloom holding on tightly to her neck as well. The wind was peeling back her mouth and hurting her eyes.
And then they had stopped. They were there. With time to spare.
Carrot Top took several deep breaths and rolled off. She looked over at the large, red pony. “Thanks.”
Big Macintosh, who was now cradling around Apple Bloom, smiled. “Thank you,” he said. And then, “Luck.”
“Apple Bloom!” Applejack had remained sitting by her table during the search, but now she raced over. “Apple Bloom! You’re okay! Thank Luna!”
Apple Bloom turned away.
“What?” asked a bewildered Applejack. “What’s wrong?”
Carrot Top made her way back to her table. She had to keep going, and she had no more energy for the Apples. It was time for judging, after all. She had to be on the ball.
The judging went very well.
The judges seemed to love Carrot Top’s food, and she was able to answer all their questions. What ingredients she used in the stew, what technique she implemented to get such a perfectly flaky crust on the turnover, everything. Each dish was delicious, and highlighted her farm’s spectacular carrots.
“Alright. The announcement’s at three-thirty,” said the head judge. “If you move on to the finals, you’ll receive further instructions then.” And then they left.
Carrot Top took a deep breath. “Think they liked it?”
Berry Punch and Trixie trotted over – they hadn’t been allowed near the table during the judging. “They loved it,” said Berry Punch. “I serve customers all the time – I know what ponies who are enjoying their food look like. You knocked their hooves off.”
Trixie grinned. “So, not to get ahead of ourselves, but when you win the money, if you happen to think of the mare who convinced you to apply—“
Carrot Top laughed. “Could you save the ‘whining for money’ part until after I actually win money?”
“If I have to,” said Trixie.
The three laughed and chatted merrily as they waited for the judging to finish. Carrot Top glanced at Applejack’s table a few times, but all the ponies there were standing in stony silence. Carrot Top felt bad for Applejack, but she didn’t go over to do anything. Trixie was right. She had to conserve her energy now, and focus on her own ability.
And then it was time. The announcer took the stand.
“Apple Trust, Hoofington,” she read out. “Hay and Alfalfa Inc., Baltimare. Apple Trust, Las Pegasus. Apple Trust, Ponyville.”
Applejack cheered. “Hay yeah! Betta start thinkin’ of what ya want ya’r clubhouse ta look like, Apple Bloom! An’ Big Mac, we’re gonna have ta start figurin’ out which fields ta buy up…”
“Tuber Union, Hoofington. Orange Empire, Prance…”
Carrot Top realized that she’d shut her eyes. “Come on, come on,” she whispered. “Come on, say my farm…”
“Hay and Alfalfa Inc., Amblerja. Kimchi Corporation, Neighjon…”
Berry Punch poked Carrot Top and smiled. “You’ll make it,” she said. “Don’t worry.”
“Golden Harvest Farms, Ponyville!”
Carrot Top took a moment to realize what had just happened, and then she and Trixie and Berry Punch were cheering.
Carrot Top had made it. She was one step closer to keeping her farm.
Just one last mountain to climb.
It was about four in the afternoon when the ten remaining teams gathered in front of the old castle.
“Ninety minutes,” called the announcer. “And they start… NOW!”
The other teams, Carrot Top observed, were indeed making very similar dishes. She counted at least six salads that shared eight out of ten or eleven ingredients. Everypony else had some kind of deconstructed lasagna-thing going on; apparently that was very popular. None of them, unlike Carrot Top, were using spinach.
But Carrot Top didn’t care. Berry Punch was right; being different, being true to her farm instead of pandering to the gastronomical trends of the moment, could help her too. So she ignored them, and she just cooked the best way she knew how.
Turn the turnovers just like Bonbon had showed her. Mix together a vinaigrette just as Berry Punch had taught her. Carve the carrots that she had grown, that Raindrops had provided extra water for. She had everything she needed.
To her left, the HAI team was using what looked like some huge machine that took hay and other ingredients in one end and produced what looked like a salad on the other. It was like something Flim and Flam would have come up with. On her other side, just past the Sweet Apple Acres team, Apple Trust Hoofington (led by the piebald Crab Apple) was busily whipping up a series of apple foams. Crab Apple sprinkled in what Carrot Top recognized as a saffron-style spice, easily fifty bits a bottle.
She looked back at her table – her local ingredients, her simple knives – and smiled. Let them be as fancy as they wanted. She didn’t care. She wasn’t afraid of the Trust or the other big companies.
Golden Harvest Farms was not going to be intimidated.
When it was over, Carrot Top sank to the ground. “Now what?” she managed. She wasn’t asking it to anypony in particular – Trixie and Berry Punch weren’t allowed near her until after the judging – but she just wanted to say something.
“Now,” said a voice from beside her, “The celebrities do a tastin’. Then the real judges.”
Carrot Top looked at Applejack, who seemed… sad, somehow. “Oh. Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it.” Applejack looked down. “An’, uh. Thanks ta ya too. Fer savin’ ma sister. Ah owe ya one.”
Carrot Top nodded.
“Ah would have tried ta save her, but ah could barely stand up,” said Applejack. “An’ she’s all mad now; says ah didn’t rescue her cause ah didn’t want ta be DQed if the judges came by while ah was lookin’ fer her. But ya know that ain’t true, right? Ya know ah wasn’t just bein’ worried ‘bout bein’ DQed?”
Carrot Top thought. As crazy as she was, Applejack still seemed to love her family. “Yes.”
Applejack sagged with visible relief. “Great.”
“So… uh. Who are these celebrities?”
“Ah dunno. But they’re announcin’ ‘em now.”
Indeed, the master of ceremonies was beginning to speak again. “First up, we have our chief corporate sponsor and a major agricultural figure, Resplendent Orange!”
Carrot Top whipped her head around as Applejack began to applaud. “Your uncle’s in charge of this thing?!”
“Just one of the guest celebrity judges – his vote don’t count fer nothin’, just endorsements, ah guess. An’ he’s payin’ fer some of it. Same with a bunch of the other big farms, though. How d’ya think this thing gets its prize money?”
“He don’t cheat. We Apples always play fair,” said Applejack. “He’ll judge honestly.”
I hope so, thought Carrot Top.
Orange was giving a short speech. “…pleased to see such an incredible array of dishes. I’m looking forward to tasting them. Thank you all, again, for giving me this opportunity.”
The MC took over again. “Second, the officer recently voted the most handsome in the Equestrian Army, Brigadier General Morning Star! … Third, with her new album just days away from release, Sapphire Shores! … Fourth, representing the Night Court, Counselor Fancy Pants!”
Carrot Top’s eyes widened. “Hey, that’s the tour guide!”
Fancy Pants, with his sharp horn and blue coat, beamed out at the crowd. “Good afternoon! I would simply like to say that, even from here, your dishes all look absolutely spectacular. I am confident that I will enjoy sampling each and every one of them.” He bowed.
Apple Bloom hopped up on the Sweet Apple Acres table. “He helped us get out of the castle!”
“I remember,” said Carrot Top. “I wonder why?”
“Ya know him?” Applejack gasped. “Apple lobbyists have been tryin’ ta get on his calendar fer months! He’s one of Princess Luna’s friends! An’ – an’ ya just met him in the castle?”
Apple Bloom nodded.
“Alright, sis, ya gotta introduce us. This could be huge. Ah’ll coach ya, or we’ll get Uncle Orange ta help—“
“Hmph.” Apple Bloom turned away.
“Sis, come on, this is real important…”
Carrot Top smiled slightly as Fancy Pants looked over at them. (The announcer was talking about some other Night Court pony, a brown earth pony with a red mane, but Carrot Top missed the name). “Hi again!”
“Hi, mister Fancy Pants!” called Apple Bloom.
Fancy Pants waved to them, and Applejack almost collapsed from shock.
The celebrities had been introduced, and the master of ceremonies waved the celebrity judges down. “Now, their votes don’t count for anything,” she cautioned. “But they can provide useful feedback. And who knows? If one of them likes your food enough, you might just find you have a few new connections!”
Carrot Top tensed as the celebrity judges began to stroll amongst the tables and sample the food. Fancy Pants and the other Night Court pony were walking towards Carrot Top and Applejack. Carrot Top wondered what to even say. How did you introduce yourself to a baron or a counselor or whatever they were?
The two stopped at Carrot Top’s stall, and the brown earth pony delicately took a forkful of salad. He chewed it and swallowed it.
Carrot Top tensed.
“I think it could use a little rambutan,” said the pony, as if this was a matter of great scholarly importance. “It’s delicious, but it needs just that hint of sweetness. Apple could work too, but then the texture would be too similar to the carrots.”
Carrot Top blinked.
The other pony sampled her stew as well and praised it highly. “Perhaps a touch more brown sugar, though. The glaze on the carrots isn’t quite what it could be. Fancy Pants! I think this needs brown sugar, do you agree?”
Fancy Pants sampled the carrots. “Yes. I would also have cooked the carrots a half-minute or so less. They fall apart too easily in the broth. Tender is good, but a few of the thinner ones are almost soup.”
Carrot Top couldn’t move. It was surreal. A Night Court pony and one of Luna’s advisors were eating her food and critiquing it. If Corona herself had shown up and criticized her seasonings, it couldn’t have gotten any weirder.
“Try the turnover, though. I would say it’s perfect,” said Fancy Pants as he ate a bite.
“Really?” asked the other pony, sampling it. “I like turnovers, but this one… I don’t know. The balance isn’t right. The crust is very thick.”
“Fancy Pants! Mister Fancy Pants!” Applejack waved. “Over here!”
Fancy Pants looked over. “Oh, Applejack! The brilliant young apple farmer. I’ve heard so much about your apples – could I trouble you to try one raw?”
Apple Bloom quickly picked one out of a case and bucked it to Fancy Pants, who caught it with telekinesis and sampled it. “Divine!” he concluded.
The other pony frowned. “I’m sorry, but I’ve forgotten – who is that?” he whispered to Carrot Top.
“Applejack. Of Ponyville’s Sweet Apple Acres.”
“Oh. Thanks.” The Night Court frowned. “I thought she would look less… zombie-like.”
Carrot Top quickly hid her chuckle. “She’s, uh, had a rough week.”
Applejack, in the meantime, seemed ecstatic about Fancy Pants’ comments. “Ah’m so glad ya like it!”
“Yes. The Ponyville farms are doing very well, it seems, if they have such master craftsponies as you two,” said Fancy Pants, turning back to Carrot Top. “And not just good at farming, but also of sterling character! Carrot Top – I’ve heard amazing things about your generosity.”
“You have?” asked the carrot farmer.
“I’ve heard that you took a big risk in entering, and you did so in order to buy new irrigation systems for the Ponyville farming community.”
“How did you hear that?” asked Carrot Top.
Fancy Pants shrugged. “Extremely generous, really. I think your village is lucky to have a pony like you.”
Carrot Top smiled.
“We give ta the communita too,” said Applejack hastily. “Rebuilt the town hall, an’, an’ this year if we win we’re gonna—“
“Oh, of course. I’ve also heard about your generosity,” said Fancy Pants. “I heard that you offered, when you heard that Carrot Top might lose her farm, to let her stay at your place for a few nights so that, though homeless, she would have a couch to sleep on.”
Carrot Top couldn’t help but smile; compared to what Carrot Top had done and risked; that sounded pathetic – especially given Applejack’s resources. The apple farmer blushed. “Uh. Ya gotta understand, there’s a bit of a history there, an’, an’—“
Fancy Pants turned back to Carrot Top. “I’ve been reviewing the Ponyville public works records, and they seem to be favoring Sweet Apple Acres over the others. Probably some silly bureaucratic mixup; their farm name got put down more times than the others or something like that. But if you want, Carrot Top, I could talk to some ponies and see if that could be fixed.”
Carrot Top blinked. That would be huge. Fancy Pants seemed kind of… well, silly… but his heart was definitely in the right place. “Thank you!”
“Wait!” cried Applejack.
“Don’t mention it,” said Fancy Pants, ignoring the apple farmer. “Now, I really must be moving on. That rhubarb and strawberry pie looks spectacular. Have a good day!” He trotted off.
Resplendent Orange was at the Apple table almost immediately. “Why did Fancy Pants look unhappy?” he asked. He seemed disappointed. “After talking to you? What did you say to him?”
“No, uh, uncle, ah didn’t, ya see, it was—“
“I have been trying to get on his calendar for months. Tell me exactly what he said.”
“Uh, um, actually…” stuttered Applejack.
The other Night Court pony smiled. “Thank you for the delicious food. I’ll see you later, Carrot Top.”
Carrot Top nodded, and the other pony left.
The next pony to approach Carrot Top was Sapphire Shores. “Delicious!” she raved, after eating a bite of the carrot turnovers. “Sublime! Listen, dearie, you’re going to go far in the cookery world!”
“I’ll bet Fancy Pants and the Duke said the same thing, but really, I can’t help myself. This is so good—“
“Weren’t you just talking to Duke Greengrass?” She blinked.
That was the Duke?!
“So nice of him to make time to support the local farmers and come all the way out here. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to balance all his political duties and things like this. I could never do it.” Sapphire Shores laughed. “Well, he did say he might be looking for a new farmer or two to sponsor – some small farm that impressed him. Hey, you’re the only small farm that made it into the top ten! I bet he’ll take an interest in you, dearie. Well, good luck!” She trotted off to the HAI team on Carrot Top’s left.
“Yeah. I’ll bet he will,” said Carrot Top.
But she couldn’t worry about him now. She had a competition to win; Greengrass could come later. So she smiled again, and introduced herself to Morning Star, and when Greengrass left the fields she didn’t even notice.
The celebrities finished eating. The judges did the formal tasting. And then it was all over but the awards.
Carrot Top stood with Trixie and Berry Punch. Her eyes were shut. In the next moments, she’d learn if she could keep her farm or not.
“In first place – Apple Trust, Hoofington!”
There was a roar from the Apple Trust section of the crowd, and Crab Apple trotted up to receive her prize. “I’d like to thank everypony who made this possible, especially the Trust leaders…”
“In second place – Hay and Alfalfa Incorporated, Baltimare!”
Carrot Top was sweating. She’d screwed up somewhere, she thought. The judges hadn’t liked her dishes. She’d lost it all, and –
Berry Punch hugged her. “I believe in you.”
“Thanks.” Carrot Top shook her head. “If – if I didn’t win, I’m sorry—“
“Don’t say that. You’ll do fine. And even if you don’t, I wouldn’t take anything back.”
“But your business—“
“I said I wouldn’t take it back, and I meant it.” Berry Punch smiled. “You’re worth everything we put into this, whatever happens.”
Trixie nodded. “Yeah. And we’ll do whatever we can to help you get your—“
“In third place – Golden Harvest Farms, Ponyville!”
It took Carrot Top a minute to understand what that meant, and then she cheered.
It was over. She was safe.
Distantly, she heard the Tuber Union get fourth, then Sweet Apple Acres get fifth, but she didn’t care. She had won enough money to buy the irrigation system. She still had a home.
And then Trixie and Berry Punch were hugging her, and they were all cheering, and Big Macintosh and Apple Bloom came over to congratulate her, and Carrot Top felt like it was the happiest day of her life.