After the run in with the dark princess, getting out of the Palace was relatively easy. The only other witness to the strange duo was a rather fantastic phoenix that was soaring down the hallway with a guard's helm in its talons. Said guard, a pegasus was too fixated on retrieving his equipment from the mischievous creature to look at a mere maid and her cream-colored shadow. The phoenix itself dismissed them as it was having too much fun playing keep away with the guard.
The maid lead the unicorn lower and lower in the castle until she finally stopped in front of a rather plain door. Not looking back at her charge the maid, spoke. " This doorway is used by the servants when waiting on guests. It will take you to the main hall. From there you can get out quite easily." The mare in question frowned at this change of plans. "I thought you were going to lead me to one of the side doors out of the palace? Why are you telling me to leave through the main entrance?"
The maid spoke quite readily this time, logic for once being on her side. "Because all the side entrances are guarded. Since they are used much less frequently than the main entrance, anypony leaving through them would be of far more note than someone coming and going in the always-busy main hall. And you did stress less attention earlier." The maid's rather cool rebuke warned the mare that her guide was at the end of her tolerance for this enforced partnership and therefore her usefulness was at an end.
"Ok, thank you for helping me get down from there. I can get out from here." The maid started at the rather flippant statement. Forgetting herself she once again looked behind her. Too late, the door was already closing behind the mystery mare. Blinking at the sudden disappearance, the maid started walking back towards the kitchens. Suddenly her head shot back up. "By Luna's Mustache! The window!" Turning, she bolted back up the flight of stairs trying to think of a plausible explanation for the busted glass door and the glass shards all over Celestia's bedroom.
Later that night when Celestia, the Solar Princess, was finally retiring to her bedroom for some much needed rest, she discovered a colossal mess in the bedroom. It was covered in broken glass! At first quite alarmed, the Princess was about to call for a guard to search for thieves, her eyes fell upon a sight that despite the situation, made her laugh aloud. There sitting at the foot of her impeccably made bed, was a single baseball. Laughing to herself, the princess used her magic to simply restore the door. Setting a record of her favorite song I am glad, Cause I'm finally returning back home on an antique record player, the solar princess decided to sit back and read some of the other elements of harmony's letters about friendship.
Back in the present the unicorn mare made her way through the main hall. It was packed with ponies! The maid had said it would be busy, but she hadn't expected this! Most of them were unicorns with the occasional earth pony here and there. The only pegasi present were the omnipresent and ever dour looking guards. Almost all the ponies were wearing lavish clothing. Distracted by the display of brightly colored unicorns wearing clothes, the mare promptly ran into the backside of another pony. Unfortunately, it had been a gray waiter pony carrying fine wine and hors d'oeuvres for the elite class to occasionally pick at. The platter on the pony's back went flying into the air. Even more unfortunately it didn't stay there and promptly came back down, showering the socialites with food and wine. The uproar was deafening. Ponies leaped this way and that to avoid getting their rich clothing soiled. Mares shrieked their dismay, while the stallions reared back in anger at the disruption. Seeing this two of the Royal Guard left their positions at the main door to restore peace. Eventually the ponies quieted down and moved back.
The area where the platter had landed was littered with bits of broken wine glasses and food. Every now and then a mare or stallion would look at their now stained clothing and cringe. Several of the onlookers looked on with sympathetic eyes, while most of them simply stuck their noses right back in the air. One group lead by a rather large unicorn with a blue mane and a moustache decided to take their leave of the party. When asked where he was going, he replied in a cultured voice. "It's been pleasant to see you all again, but I simply must get back home. We've had some excitement now, so we'll be off." As his sycophants chortled, a cream-colored unicorn mare silently attached herself to the group. None of them noticed being too busy try to curry favor with the unicorn that cleared wielded no small amount of influence on the upper class. The mare decided that tagging along with this group would get her outside without too many questions asked. Making sure to not lag at the rear of the group, she plotted her next move.
The mare, right after running into the unfortunate waiter, had immediately dropped to the floor and did the best impression of a pony slithering away as she could. That had been relatively easy with the silver food platter in flight. Most of the other ponies nearby were too busy making sure it wouldn't hit them. Upon reaching a corner of the room she resumed standing, the crowd of ponies serving to block her from the guard's eyes. From there she watched the spectacle unfold. As things had died down after the guards restored order, she had slowly inched her way towards the door. When the unicorn stallion and his entourage had started towards the door, she'd been close enough to attach herself to his group rather easily.
Snapping her mind back to task, the unicorn pondered about what to do in the short term and the long term. Looking at the sky, she noticed her slow descent from the castle and then the excitement at the main hall had taken up most of the daylight. She didn't really want to sleep on the streets of a city like this, even if it was populated entirely by ponies. She'd need someplace to rest and think some more. Her stomach growled. Another problem. She hadn't really eaten since her rather light morning snack at McDonalds, which seemed like ages ago. The only other food she had eaten in that time was a rather adventurous snack in the form of an unspoiled hors d'oeuvres she had rescued from another platter-bearing waiter near the corner she had taken refuge in. So food and water were things she needed to secure immediately.
Looking around at the group of ponies around her moving at a rather sedate pace she noticed they had gone fairly deep into the part of the city reserved for the Nobles. The mare decided to stick with the group, reasoning as long as she was with them no one would notice her as she scouted for a place to stay and potentially a place to get food. "I'm sorry to excuse myself from you all so early, but I simply must retire for now. Good evening to you all." The voice of the central unicorn cut through the mare's ruminating. Startled she looked up and realized the entourage was now in front of a rather large manor and was in the process of breaking up, each pony that made up the group leaving in pairs or alone to their own homes. The unicorn stallion himself was speaking to an elegant unicorn mare with three fleur-de-lise on her flank.
Noticing the odd symbols, she wondered if that was the pony equivalent of a tramp stamp. The mare decided it wasn't at first, thinking any high society probably would condemn tattoos of any sort. Looking at the stallion talking to the elegant pony, she noticed he too had something on his rear, in his case, three crowns. Now the mare started wondering if it was just these two. The only other ponies she had seen had been at night initially. The maid and the guard had worn a pony version of a maid's outfit and armor respectively. As she recalled, she hadn't seen the dark princess's mark the second time when Luna had accosted the maid in the hallway. The mare hadn't been in a good position to see Luna's mark as the maid's underside had been in her way. Then later at the party in the main hall, all those ponies had been wearing lavish clothing that mostly covered their flanks. The mare looked down at her own rear. Nothing. Just plain expanses covered in her new fur.
"Ahem. May I help you with something, madam?" The voice jolted the mare out of her inspection of her rear. The unicorns had finished their conversation and had then noticed they had a guest still sitting outside their doorway. The unicorn opened her mouth to say no, but thanks for the consideration, when her brain caught up and silenced the refusal. Having no dirt on these two like she had with the maid and the guard and no will to use someone like that again she opted for telling a semi-truth.
"I'm from far out of town and on the trip here I lost not only my luggage, but every single coin to my name." Seeing both the unicorn's eyebrows shoot up at her story so far, she decided to legitimize her story a bit. "I decided to go up to the main palace to see if there was anyone there who could aid me." Now the stallion watched her with a look of scrutiny.
Either he wasn't buying it and believed her to be a thief, or he was and suspected her of being an eloquent beggar. Quickly she changed tack to dissuade him of either. "I didn't get to ask that many at the party with the excitement and all. After that most of them simply ignored me." She didn't mention she had done her best to avoid detection. "What are you saying, miss?" The stallion still looked unmoved though he was far less suspicious. Deciding to take the dive, the mare responded. "I just ask for a place to stay the night. I don't ask for food and water. I just want someplace to sleep." The stallion still seemed unmoved and even raised a hoof as if to dismiss her until his companion laid a delicate hoof on his shoulder. A playfully fiendish look passed from her to him. "Alright." He relented. Turning to back to the mare, he spoke. "We can let you stay in one of our spare bedrooms one or two nights if you need. We'll even throw in breakfast tomorrow." The mare was stunned at that generous offer. Granted, her knowledge of nobility and upper class society was limited, she couldn't help think that such generosity wouldn't come without a catch. She couldn't help but smile in thanks, though she couldn't prevent a skeptical look from crossing her face. "Thank you for your kindness, Mister….?" "Fancypants is my name. This lovely mare to my right is Fleur-De-Lise." Said mare bowed her head in acknowledgement.
The mare's mind chose that very moment to freeze up. Fancypants? He had no pants! In fact, what would ponies even know of pants? Everyone else wore mostly jackets and dresses. Fancypants himself sported what looked like a tuxedo or a blazer. Fleur was the first pony so far she had seen that didn't wear anything. Noticing her host's look she realized she had been sitting there a thinking for a while. Shaking her head slightly she finally greeted them in turn.
"A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Fancypants and Miss Fleur-del-lise." The light pink pony, while striking some bizarrely acrobatic poses on her husband's back, waved a hoof. "Just Fleur will do, my dear." "Ok. I am Amber."