Facets and Reflections - Chapter 1 By RandomGreymane
Breakfast in the Wind Walker finished up, Rarity firmly the toast of the day. Her sisters had many questions about the memory they’d received from their friend, and Rarity was happy to answer all of them. In the end she was just happy to see them smiling freely again. The fear magick of those spiders was just so dreadful! she thought.
Breakfast concluded, Celestia decided that they should have another day out on the town - this time without spiders. It was agreed to by all, though Twilight reminded them that they must seek out the spider nests and collect any items that they might have gathered there.
Rarity was lost in thought. She kept going back to the memory of killing the spider. What am I that I could do such a thing? she thought I never considered myself able to take a life before. I’ve had my conflicts before but for the most part they’ve never come to blows. Well there was that manticore...and then the one...incident.
Shaking her head to clear it, she put on her winning smile and trotted along with her friends to enjoy the day.
Several months previous...
“This fabric is simply fabulous!” Rarity exclaimed as she used her magick to weave the outfit onto the pegasus in front of her. “It’s so thin and light!”
“It’s awfully fragile don’t you think?” said Airflow as she stood motionless. The fabric swirled around her. “If I so much as take a simple dive it’ll rip.”
“Well it IS for fancy dress ‘Flow.” Rarity replied. “It’s not like I’m making armor or anything. Or, Celestia forbid, coveralls!”
“Have it your way.” Airflow continued. “I’m just questioning the wisdom of clothing that may rip at any moment.”
“Oh it’ll be fine. You’ll see.” said Rarity. “The magick that I’m putting into the stitching will protect the seams and reinforce the fabric enough. Still...you are correct. This is fragile by nature.”
Sweetie Bell stuck her head in the door. “Your second model is here sis!”
“Thank you dear! Send her in please.” Rarity replied as she fussed with the final piece of fabric.
A blue and green earth pony entered and nodded her head to Rarity before speaking. “That looks beautiful! I can’t wait for you to try it on me!” said Teal Dancer.
“All in good time Teal.” Rarity said without looking in her direction. “There! I think that’s it!”
The dress on the pegasus flowed like water as she turned and displayed herself as if on a fashion runway. The colors rippled and changed with each movement. Understated when still, they caused a feast for the eyes when in motion.
“Simply fabulous.” said Teal with awe in her voice. “If I could do half as well as this I wouldn’t have to come to you for my costumes.”
“Oh please Teal, your flattery will go to my head!” replied Rarity. “And if my head swells I’d have to adjust all my hats. And nopony wants hats any larger than mine are now.”
“Agreed.” Teal said. Those ARE some big hats. she thought as she looked over at a collection of hats almost obscuring a window.
“So let’s get you started shall we?” Rarity said as Airflow left the room to change and store the dress for the show.
“Let’s do it.” said Teal happily.
Rarity levitated fabric and thread, then began to work.
“I just don’t understand it.” said Rarity as she once again repaired a seam on the dress constructed around Teal. “If you stand still it’s fine but every time you move it falls apart!”
“It’s not my fault!” said Teal in frustration.
“Oh of course it isn’t dear.” said Rarity as she placed a hoof on Teal’s shoulder to calm her. “I just simply have no idea what’s going on here!”
Sighing, Rarity instructed Teal to take the dress off but it wasn’t necessary. The dress seams all separated at once and the fabric fell to the floor. This distressed Teal Dancer so much that she ran out of the room crying.
Rarity instructed Sweetie Bell to have ‘Flow go and find Teal and calm her down. Turning back to what was now a pile of scraps on the floor, Rarity just sat and stared in confusion.
What could possible cause this? she thought. I wonder if Twilight would know?
Once they got Teal calmed down they tried again. And again. And again.
Each time Rarity constructed the garment around Teal. And each time it disassembled the moment Teal started moving. Much to Teal’s relief, Rarity had Sweetie Bell fetch another earth pony and the results were the same. Also the same to Rarity herself and another unicorn.
Curious, Rarity tested with another pegasus and found that the dress stayed put. Well buck me. she thought. That is beyond strange.
Dismissing everyone for the day, Rarity wrote a quick letter to Twilight and had Sweetie Bell run it to the library. A short while later, she received a response from Spike that Twilight was dealing with an issue but promised she would look into it.
Several weeks passed and Rarity, having temporarily shelved the entire project, found herself standing in the crowd at the reveal of the Twilight Council building. As the letter from Spike had requested, she had a small amount of the material in her bag. She nodded to Applejack as she followed the crowd into the building.
Quite a bit of time later, after the tour had ended and the majority of the crowd had dispersed, Twilight led Rarity to the research lab beneath the council building.
“So did you bring it with you?” Twilight asked as she set up some magickal detection equipment.
“I did indeed!” replied Rarity. Removing the fabric from her bag she carefully handed it to Twilight. The fabric frayed slightly the moment it touched Twilight’s hooves and magick but otherwise was unaffected. Whereas it had simply slid off the earth pony, it clung slightly to Twilight’s foreleg.
“Interesting...” said Twilight with a puzzled look on her face. “Let me do a couple of tests. Just have a seat on the cushion in the ring over there.
Rarity did as instructed. As soon as she sat down, a magickal barrier rose around her that separated her from the rest of the room.
“Umm...Twilight?” Rarity said.
“Oh! Sorry!” replied Twilight. “That’s just a protective barrier for when someone is working. It’s nothing to be worried about. We didn’t have those for a long time...until...well...I happened. I’ll tell you later but for now just please be patient.”
Twilight worked for more than an hour while Rarity sat there. To pass the time, Twilight explained each test in detail as she performed them. This of course caused Rarity to become bored very quickly. Soon she was dozing slightly on the cushion, then fell completely asleep. Twilight noticed, and concentrated on her tests to complete them quickly. At one point she called in one of the pegasus members of the council staff to test something before sending them back to their duties.
“Eureka!” Twilight shouted.
The shout woke Rarity from a dream of Teal dancing in the shimmering fabric. “Yes my dear?” she said after yawning. “I take it you’ve found something?”
“I did indeed!” said Twilight. “And it turns out to be the same thing I’ve been studying recently - earth pony magick.”
“Darling, not to question your findings, or ability, but the fabric did the same to me and I’m hardly an earth pony.” Rarity said with some snobbishness in her voice. Then she continued in a less offended tone. “Unicorns are obviously not earth ponies.”
“No, but they may have once been.” replied Twilight. “But it turns out it’s not just about that. What’s happening is that there is a low level energy field around pegasi that is designed to keep their coats cleaner while flying.”
“And that means what precisely?” Rarity asked with a raised eyebrow. “How would a cleaning field affect my fabric?”
“That’s what confused me at first too. It’s not a cleaning field though.” Twilight said as her eyes ran themselves over the colorful cloth. “It’s a very subtle stasis field. I’ve never seen anything like it! The fabric clings to the pegasus closely and is beneath the field. The field keeps it held together. Earth ponies and unicorns don’t have that field.”
Suddenly Rarity understood the results she was seeing. “Is there any way to replicate that...field?” she asked.
“Oh Rarity it’s so subtle!” said Twilight. “I tried several times while you were asleep but I couldn’t even replicate a portion of it. It’s such subtle natural magick that anything I could create would be bulky and uncomfortable by comparison! I’m so sorry Rarity but I just can’t fix this!”
Seeing her friend in distress, Rarity leaned in and hugged her deeply. “Twilight, it’s quite all right. It just means I’ll have to make a decision on if I wish to release this or not.”
“If it helps I’ll publish my findings in the next journal of Universal Magick.” Twilight said.
“That’ll be fine dear. Thank you.” replied Rarity with a smile on her face.
Twilight was relieved and began cleaning up after her testing and experiments. Rarity wished her well and headed back to her boutique.
It took Rarity a week before she made her decision. Sending out messages to her usual contacts, and some more pegasus-specific ones, she announced the new designs as “Just the thing for the fashionable flier!”
Before a week had passed Rarity began receiving orders Cloudsdale, slightly more than 100 total. Working diligently, she was able to complete at least half those orders in yet another week. By that time the first complaint arrived.
“Dear Miss Rarity” Rarity intoned as she read the letter while Sweetie Bell swept the floor nearby. “I have recently purchased your latest creation. It was stunning! Until my daughter put it on of course. Then it simply fell to pieces! I was aware that the design was intended for pegasi however, as an earth pony, my daughter has worn many similar designs without incident. Usually we have a local tailor sew the wing slits shut. This time we didn’t even get a chance to do that before the dress simply disintegrated! I would like either a replacement or an immediate refund! Fuming, Miss Floral Bucket”
Placing the letter on her workbench, Rarity carefully formulated a response. “Dear Miss Bucket,” Rarity wrote. “I am mystified how someone with such taste in fashion could not form a similar taste in reading. The label on the dress clearly states that the dress construction is only suitable for pegasi. It even specifically outlines what will occur if the dress is worn by an earth pony or unicorn. As a fashion producer I stand by all of my creations - provided all instructions and warnings are followed. In this case you did not in any way follow those directions and therefor have voided any recompense for your purchase. Regardless please have a pleasant day. Miss Rarity.”
Sweetie Bell looked over the letter quickly as her sister levitated a suitable envelope from a nearby stack. “A little harsh don’t you think?” she asked as Rarity folded and sealed the letter.
“Sweetie, I could refund her purchase but the fact of the matter is that she didn’t read the directions.” Rarity said while writing an address on the envelope. “There are care instructions on almost every piece of clothing out there, mine included. If I refunded a purchase every time someone shrunk a sweater, I would be out of business in a flash.” Affixing a stamp to the envelope, she set it in a small wicker and fabric basket she kept for outbound correspondence.
Shrugging, Sweetie Bell went back to sweeping the floor.
Two weeks later, as Rarity was taking a nap, a large delivery cart pulled up in front of the boutique. Sweetie Bell went out to greet them. The cart was piled to the brim with boxes. Sweetie Bell instructed the two burly unicorn stallions to stack the delivery inside the main room of the shop until they could be sorted out. “That is an awful lot of boxes.” Sweetie Bell remarked as they floated in and stacked themselves quite high. I don’t remember Rarity ordering so much. I wonder what’s in them?
The boxes were soon stacked in the room and almost filled it to capacity. Sweetie Bell, her curiosity getting the better of her, levitated a nearby pair of scissors and used them to cut open one of the lower boxes.
Unfortunately the delivery ponies had stacked the particular box she’d chosen on it’s side rather than upright. As soon as the young filly cut the tape on the box it collapsed.
And so did the entire stack of boxes. From under the now jumbled pile Sweetie Bell said “Oh ponyfeathers!”
Drawn by the commotion, Rarity entered the room. She levitated her sleep mask to a nearby hook as she stared at the pile of cardboard. “Sweetie Bell, how many times have I told you. A proper mare doesn’t swear!” she said as she extracted her sister from beneath the pile.
Sweetie Bell emerged covered in scraps of shimmering fabric. She eyed her sister with a raised eyebrow as Rarity swore herself upon seeing the fabric.
With Sweetie Bell’s help, one by one the pile of cardboard and scraps was sorted into collapsed boxes, fabric scraps, and complaint letters. There were 23 in all - approximately half of the initial shipment.
“Well at least the letters are as colorful as my fabric.” Rarity said as she read the final letter before setting it back onto the stack. Egotistical Ragmaker indeed! she thought.
“So what are you going to do?” Sweetie Bell asked as she folded and stacked the last of the cardboard off to the side to be recycled.
“Well I’m certainly not going to take this lying down.” Rarity said with conviction. “I’ll call a press release and explain matters. That should settle this once and for all!”
“And refunds?” Sweetie Bell asked with a note of caution in her voice.
“Oh honey in this case it would be bad business NOT to refund.” Rarity replied. “I’m glad we didn’t use any of the money to order more material yet.” Or pay any bills. she thought.
It took them a few days to get the refunds and letters of apology sorted out. By that time 4 more returns had come in, along with a note from one of her distributors informing her that three more recipients had said they would not return their purchases for refund if they were “repaired” so as to allow a non-pegasus to wear them.
Hastily composing a reply to her distributor, Rarity collected all the letters and put them in her mailbox for delivery. Slightly angrily, she hit the flag into an upright position to indicate mail to be picked up. The flag bent slightly. Sighing, Rarity used her magick to straighten it again. Get a hold of yourself girl! she thought You can’t let this ruin your composure!
Rarity went inside and sat at the window and waited for the mail to be picked up. All the while thinking about what to do next.
The press conference was held in front of the boutique approximately a week later. The gathering of media ponies was much larger than normally attended such an event. So much larger in fact that the crowd was overflowing into the traffic patterns of the other nearby shops. This caused the aforementioned businessponies to take extra time clearing their front walkways of wayward journalists and photographers.
When it was time, Rarity came to stand in front of the podium that had been set up for her. Clearing her throat she began to speak.
“Hello everypony! I have gathered you all here to clear the air about my latest design and the peculiarities of the fabric it’s constructed from.
The fabric that I constructed the latest design from is incredibly fragile and artificially created using a number of spells by the manufacturer. This makes it extremely sensitive to certain things. My friend Twilight Sparkle will be publishing the findings of her research concerning the material and it’s reactions in the next journal of Universal Magick.
Unfortunately, the material in question simply comes apart when in contact with earth ponies or unicorns. If you’ll look at the sample I have here you can see it’s fraying in my hooves as we speak.
This reaction makes it plainly impossible for the material to be used where anypony but a pegasus is concerned. In light of that issue I will happily refund the purchase of my latest design if it was with the intention of being worn by an earth pony or unicorn.
A brown pony with black splotches raised his hoof then put it back down when Rarity pointed at him. “Miss Rarity, while I can accept the fact that there may be an...interaction...of sorts between the material and non-pegasi, I am hard pressed to believe that someone of such skill as yours can not find a solution.”
“As I stated before,” Rarity replied “my friend Twilight Sparkle investigated the issue and found that even she could not replicate the conditions necessary to keep the material intact. Next question? Yes, you over there in the brown derby?”
“Some of the public don’t believe there is a physical issue.” the pony stated. “Perhaps you just don’t feel the earth ponies and unicorns look presentable enough in the new design?”
“Nonsense!” Rarity said sharply. “I spent quite some time attempting to get the design to work on my earth pony and unicorn models - myself included! The design just has an insurmountable technical issue.”
Another pony stood up and spoke. “Miss Rarity, you said that you tested the design on yourself. Is it possible that you have self-esteem issues and wish the design to be sabotaged for anyone like you?”
“I beg your pardon!” Rarity said with some heat in her voice. “I have plenty of self esteem thank you very much! And again, it has nothing to do with me! The material simply doesn’t function properly!”
“Then if it didn’t function for everyone why did you choose to make the dresses?” a voice interjected from the crowd.
“Did you even consider the psychological implications for earth ponies if the dresses fell apart while on them?” came another voice nearer the back of the throng.
“Do you consider earth ponies beneath your design skills?” a pony in the front row said.
The questions began to jumble as more and more reporters spoke up in the crowd. “Did you think you would be able to slip this design past the general public?” “If the material can’t be worn by non-fliers then why did you allow them to buy the dresses?” “Miss Rarity do you feel pegasi superior to other ponies?” “Did you test on bat ponies?” “Why do you hate earth ponies?” “We are a united nation so why would you only support one third of the population?”
Rarity stood there stunned. Not saying another word, she slowly backed into her shop and locked the door behind her. Shutting the shades, all the questions from the ponies outside merged into a muffled din. Rarity sank against the wall and began to cry.
It was several hours later when Sweetie Bell came home from school to find the shop closed and the shades drawn on all the windows. Using her key to the back door she entered the boutique. “Rarity?” she called. From the bedroom she could hear her sister sobbing softly. She knocked on the door with her hoof. “Sister?” she said. “Are you okay?” The sobbing continued unabated, as if Sweetie Bell had said nothing.
Hanging her head, Sweetie Bell went to her bedroom and collapsed upon the bed. In time she fell asleep, her dreams filled with her sister’s tears.