No Nose Knows

by Irrespective

17. - Ponyville Part 1

Baked Bean found himself swimming in a sea of splendor, much like a minnow who had wandered into a group of hungry jellyfish. The festive and lively atmosphere of the Gala had little water involved, except for the way the drinks had been diluted. All around him stood ponies of renown and poise; ponies who moved the world and who enriched it with their very presence. Large fish in a very large pond, Elegance and refinement to the highest degree swept around him, and it was clear the guests took great pride in their satin gowns, silk ties, well-trimmed and perfectly coiffed manes and feathered hats.

For a young stallion from Salt Lick, Baked Bean felt horribly out of place. Armed with nothing more than his Celestial Crystal, he shimmied his way among and around the crowd, trying to figure out his place within it and his purpose for being there. He might as well have been invisible; no pony met his eyes or offered a word of greeting. All of the attendees were only interested in themselves and the company they were presently with. What was he supposed to do? Why was he here?

Somehow he felt his heart tug in a particular direction, and he followed the prompting for a moment until he found a opening on the floor.

It was there, on a dais that extended a good ten feet into the air, that he found the immortal and exquisite Princess of the Sun. Radiance and beauty flowed off of her in waves that mimicked her mane and tail, and he could feel serenity and balance from simply being in her presence. She stood, though there was a gilded throne behind her, and she observed the proceedings of the party with poise, grace, wisdom, and tact, but Baked Bean felt an undercurrent of sorrow relentlessly pull him toward her.

Eager to see if he could assist the fair Matron of Equestria, Bean began to navigate through the crowd again. The partygoers made the task difficult for him; the closer he got to her position the more ponies stood in the way. The words they were speaking drifted by as he moved, but they were empty and hollow to him. Those closer to her were abundant in praise but lacking in substance, and though he found that irksome he doggedly pressed on.

After some effort, he reached the base of the dais and he looked up the narrow stairs to her. He saw no guards nor obstacles in between them, so he began to climb with zeal.

Halfway up, though, his resolve faltered for a moment. Was he allowed up there? What would she think of him? Would he be called impertinent, over eager? Would she cast him aside, banish him from her presence because of his naivety and insolence?

He shook the thoughts from his head and began again to climb. Come what may, he had to reach her. For some odd reason, he felt like he was the only one who could.

He was most pleased to find that Celestia not only had a smile for him once he reached her, but a soft nose boop as well. He gave her a quick bow and then beamed up at her.

“Hello, my Princess. Might I be bold enough to ask to speak with you?”

“Yes, but on one condition.”

He tilted his head and gave her a curious look.

“Don’t ever bow to me again,” she said in a kind but stern tone. “We are equals, and I expect to be treated as such.”

“Fair enough.” He chuckled. “What party is this?”

“I’m not sure, but it doesn’t really matter,” she sighed, as he moved to stand next to her. “Over the years I’ve found there’s very little difference between an Officer’s Ball, the Grand Galloping Gala, or any other formal ball you could name. All of their Balls look alike, with a minor variation here and there.”

He looked over the crowd with her. “And you never get to participate.”

“I am the Princess, so thus I am the Master of all Ceremonies. I am not a participant in the festivities; I am simply here to observe, and to be observed in return. See how they are now? They want to be near me, but they don’t want to actually know me. It’s far better for their own personal prospects to simply claim closeness. Getting to know me would require more time and effort than they want to invest.”

“But I am here,” Bean noted.

“And I am most grateful you are.” She smiled brightly again. “You are one of the few who has made the climb to me. But now that you have, will you go back down to the crowd and boast of your accomplishment?”

Bean noticed the stairway down was now unbelievably wide, and moving. All he had to do was step on the first step and he would be automatically taken to the bottom with no effort needed. He would then be in the midst of a sizeable crowd, and they seemed eager to talk to him now. Doubtless they would ask about the Princess, but he somehow knew they only wanted the information to help themselves.

“No.” His answer came quickly. “I will remain here with you. A minute in your company is better than a day with them.”

“Good answer.” She booped him again. “So, what should we talk about now?”

“How about we talk about your favorite pie?”

“Really? You want to know that?”

“I can’t bake one for you if I don’t know what it is.”

“Rhubarb pie,” she happily declared. “I don’t know when I started liking them but there’s nothing better than that.”

“And how much sugar do you have put in them?”

“Oh, only four or five cups usually.”

“You have a serious sugar issue.”

“Better than salt.”

And from behind a pillar in the back corner, Luna smiled as the two laughed. “Enjoy this dream, dear sister, and may you have many more with him like this.”

And then she quietly slipped away.

Bean awoke shortly before dawn that morning but had no idea why. He was warm and comfortably snuggled into Celestia’s silky side, and her wing was wrapped snugly over and around him so there was no reason to be up. She was breathing softly and evenly through her nose, and the soft smile on her lips indicated she was quite content as well.

He simply laid there and soaked in her warmth and serenity for a few moments, but then a question came to him. It was one that had drifted through head once or twice before, and one that many ponies before him had asked:

Was Celestia’s mane made of hair or something else?

It seemed like it was made of hair. Slowly, he reached one hoof out, and he oh-so-delicately touched near her ears.

“It’s hair,” she said softly, and her sleeping smile grew bigger.

“Do you blame me for wondering?”

“It’s one of the most frequent questions I get,” she replied. “I’ve heard some pretty wild theories on what other material it might be.”

“So why does it float and wave?”

“Magic,” she succinctly stated.

“Har har.”

“Hair, hair. Seriously.” She opened her eyes and looked at him. “It takes a lot of magic to move the sun or the moon. The ethereal nature of my mane comes from the amount of magic that I possess. Luna has just as much as I do.”

“So Twilight and Cadance have less than you?”

“For now. Eventually, their power will grow and the same thing will happen, but it will take some time. Even once they cross that unknown threshold, it will take about three months or so for it to manifest in their manes.”

“Huh. That’s kinda interesting.”

A brush then floated into view, and Bean gently took it in hoof.

“Would you like to help me brush it?”

“I do believe I would.” He smiled, and her wing retracted to allow him to stand. Bean then stood and began brushing near the end of her mane while Celestia closed her eyes again and sighed in contentment.

“You like this?” he asked.

“It’s relaxing.”

He kept the brushstrokes even, soft, and slow, and he found that even he felt soothed and relaxed with the motions. It only took him a few minutes to finish, but when he did he quickly put the brush aside and popped his front hooves up and onto her back in between her wings.

“What are you… oooh!” she let out a squeal of delight as he began rubbing. Both wings flared out and then lay flat on the floor as he kept going, and after a minute or so Bean snickered a little.

“You purr?”

She purred a little louder to answer his question affirmatively. “You may keep doing this for as long as you like.”

“Don’t you need to raise the sun?”

She replied with another groan of pleasure. “It can wait. Or Luna can bring it up.”

“Won’t she break out into hives?”

“Meh. She’ll live.”

Bean, however, didn’t think Luna would appreciate that very much, so he stopped and returned his front hooves to the ground. Celestia pouted as she pulled her wings back in, but then she booped him softly.

“That was nice, thank you. I shall name you the official royal masseuse.”

“Only for you though.”

She smiled more. “I like that. But you are right, I should raise the sun. Then we can have breakfast before you head out to Ponyville.”

“Sounds good.”

Bean breathed in deeply as the clouds dodged and rushed by him. He was in one of Celestia’s carriages but with Shining Armor and Cadence instead of her, and he felt very lonesome despite the company. He had been secretly hoping that she would drop everything and come with him, but the backlog of work just couldn’t be ignored or pushed off anymore. After today things would be closer to normal, but for now he had to go without his Celly for a bit.

“Ponyville is just up ahead, sir!” Sergeant Pokey shouted back. “We should be on the ground in just a minute or so!”

Bean had wondered what Ponyville was like, and he had tried to envision it based on what Celestia had told him about it. Now that it was within sight, he smiled.

Celestia had described it perfectly.

The buildings that made up the quaint hamlet were simple but sturdy, with timber framed walls and thatched roofs that were neat and clean. A stately town hall stood in the center of the hamlet, a windmill towards the edge of town, and a large apple orchard just on the outskirts and across the small river. The whole town looked inviting and cosy, just the kind of place he would have moved to if he hadn’t met Celestia.

The carriage touched down right next to the town hall, and a sizeable group of ponies that had gathered broke out into applause as they landed. Bean followed the Crystal Empire’s leaders lead, and he smiled and waved back as he disembarked. Twilight, Spike, and another mare with a pale, grayish-amber coat and gray mane were waiting for them near the entrance to the hall, but Bean was was a bit embarrassed to have all three of them bow to him.

“Good morning, Your Highnesses,” the last pony offered, as they arose. “I am Mayor Mare, and on behalf of the citizens of Ponyville it’s my honor to welcome you here today.”

“The pleasure is mine, Mayor,” Bean replied. “And I thank you for having me on such short notice. I’m looking forward to my visit here.”

“Princess Cadence, Prince Shining Armor, it is a pleasure to have you back as well.”

“Likewise, Mayor,” Shining replied. He then reached out, grabbed his sister, and pulled her into a hug. “And you! It’s good to see you again, LSBFF.”

“You too, BBBFF. I’m glad you and Princess Cadence came with Prince Bean, and I bet he appreciates your help.”

“We do for him what we would do for you, Twilight,” Cadence replied with a quick hug and a smile for her fellow Princess. “But, where did Bean sneak off to?”

All the ponies on stage suddenly realized Bean wasn’t there anymore. Thankfully, it only took half a second to see that he had moved down into the crowd with Spike and he was now shaking hooves and offering greetings to as many ponies as he could.

“I’m sorry, Mayor,” Cadence offered. “Baked Bean is still learning.”

“Not at all! I was actually hoping he’d do this. Everypony in town was eager to meet him, so this couldn’t be better.”

“Where are your friends, Twily?” Shining asked.

“They’re helping with the last little bit of marshmallow cleanup,” Twilight said.

“Do they need help?”

“Oh, no. They’re probably finished now. This was nothing compared to the plunderseed vines from a couple of weeks ago.”

“All right, if you say so.”

“Well, once Prince Bean is done with the crowd, a light luncheon has been prepared at Sugarcube Corner.” Mayor Mare added. “And then I believe Twilight had a tour of Ponyville planned for the Prince.”

“Mm-hmm!” Twilight affirmed, while pulling a scroll out of thin air with her magic. “I have an itemized and alphabetized list of all the shops and scenic stops in Ponyville. We’ll just follow the list and everything will be perfect!”

“I’m sure he’ll love that,” Shining said dryly.

“All right,” Twilight announced while producing her agenda, and Bean noticed she had the whole day marked out in five minute intervals, complete with bathroom breaks. “We’ll first go check out the local shops in town, starting with the Carousel Boutique. Rarity will be ecstatic to see you again, but you might end up leaving with a new suit.”

“I probably need it. I don’t have much of a royal wardrobe yet.”

Twilight smiled in a knowing way. “You’ll definitely get one then, and you’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.”

It was a short walk to the Boutique, and Bean quite liked the external design of Rarity’s shop. A small bell jingled as they walked in, and Bean began glancing around at the various articles of clothing, trying to figure out what would go well with his colors without clashing against Celestia.

“Rarity!” Twilight called out. “Are you—”


Both princess and guest were tossed backward like leaves in a hurricane, passing through the front door and collecting a pair of guards in the process, then tumbling across the grass as the boutique door slammed shut. And from the sounds, possibly locked itself. Twice.

“Rarity!” Twilight struggled for a moment to pull her horn out of a nearby tree. “That was unwarranted!”

“The prince can’t see me yet!” echoed her voice out of the closed storefront. “Not until everything is just perfect! Now run along, Twilight, and I’ll send for you when I’m done.”

“Mares,” said Sergeant Clover Leaf in her normal breathy contrello. “Always so picky about what they wear.” The guard took a moment to brush off a tuft of grass clinging to her armor and reached down to give Bean a hoof-up from his sprawled position across the walkway.

“Oh my goodness! Are you alright, Twilight?” Fluttershy’s soft words held an amazing depth of concern for her friend.

“I’m fine,” Twilight replied while rubbing the base of her horn. “Ow.”

“Oh, good. I hate to be rude, but I need to go.”

“Do you need any help?” Bean asked, and he and Twilight fell into step next to her with a smile.

“Oh, no,” she quietly replied. “I’d hate to be a bother. Angel Bunny is just being a bit persnickety about his carrots again. He doesn’t like the ones I got yesterday.”

“A bunny that’s a picky eater?” Bean asked.

“Angel isn’t picky, he just has some… particular tastes is all. Once I get some fresh carrots everything will be fine.”

“Oh! Maybe the Prince can help then,” Twilight replied. “He used to be a chef at a gourmet restaurant.”

“Upscale,” he quickly corrected under his breath.

“Oh, that’s okay. I wouldn’t want to be a burden, and I’m sure you have lots to do today.”

“I’m pretty extra sure I could spare a minute,” Bean replied warmly. “I’d be delighted to help.”

“Oh, well, okay then,” Fluttershy said happily. “The stall is just right over there.”

Bean looked over the selection at the stand as soon as they arrived, and his smile deepened. They were quite obviously home-grown carrots, with slight zigs and zags and little specks of dirt still clinging to them, just perfect for cooking with. He dropped his nose in close and began to smell, then jerked his head up and looked at Fluttershy.

“Raw carrots, right? Not cooking carrots or stewing, or even for frying?”

“Oh, yes,” said Fluttershy. “He doesn’t like them cooked.”

“Very well.” Bean dipped his head back down and began his inspection of the rows of carrots.

“Your Highness?” The stall keeper asked nervously. “Is everything—”

He politely shushed her, his eyes closed, and his nose dropped so close that it was hard to tell if he was touching the produce or not. His breathing became deep for a moment, he gave a quick snort, and then he picked out three near the back of the rack.

“These ones are the absolute best ones on the cart,” he proclaimed. He then held them out in his hooves towards Fluttershy. “Here. Take a good long whiff.”

“Um, okay,” she replied with obvious confusion, and then did as she’d been asked.

“Can you smell it?” he eagerly asked.

“I smell carrots,” Fluttershy offered nervously.

“No, no. Slow down. Take a moment, clear your mind. Don’t smell the surface, smell deeper.”

“Deeper?” Twilight asked.

“Yes. A whole new world opens up when we do so. Go just a bit beyond what you smell at first, take a moment to truly savor it. Give the core of it a chance to come out, then you can tell it’s true worth and flavor. Smell them again, but this time reach with your senses. It sounds strange but try it. Close your eyes and open your mind.”

Twilight and Fluttershy gave each other a confused look but then decided to try it.

“Now, there’s a reason they use musical terms when describing food. Think of it like that: notes, chords, melodies. Don’t focus on the first notes of the carrot, smell for the background, the consonants and the countermelodies. Don’t listen to just the cello, listen for all the instruments.”

The stall keeper watched in confusion as both Fluttershy and Twilight tried to follow Bean’s instructions. It took a couple of moments, but then Fluttershy opened her eyes and smiled.

“I think I smell it,” she softly said. “It smells like rich and soft dirt.”

“The type of dirt that has been carefully tended to and is perfect for crops,” Bean added knowingly.

“I smell carrots,” Twilight said with a hint of annoyance.

“It’s going to be harder for you,” Bean replied. “You’re very analytical, and it’s not so easy for an abstract concept like this to get through to such a mind. When you listen to music, do you feel the tone and the movement of it, or do you pick out individual notes, keys, time signatures and beats? It’s the same here. You’ll need to work harder, but also let go of more.”

Twilight nodded, but she still looked a bit annoyed.

“How much for the carrots, Golden Harvest?” Fluttershy asked.

“Huh?” she replied, and she dropped the bundle of carrots she’d been sniffing. “Oh! Three bits should cover it.”

Payment was made, and then Fluttershy offered a quick thank you and goodbye-for-now as she flew back to her cottage. Twilight then summoned her list, and the two struck out once more.

“Can you really smell all that in a carrot?” she asked while they walked.

“I can, but I have practice. If you ever tried to teach me calculus I’d probably never understand, no matter how simply you explained it.”

This seemed to cheer up the Princess. “Yeah, I guess so. We all have our strengths, right?”


The conversation was interrupted by moaning behind them, and the group turned to see who or what was causing it. What they found was Pinkie Pie, who was green in the face and looking rather sick. Her hooves were dragging along in the dirt, her stomach looked oddly swollen, and she was being accompanied by three small fillies who looked extremely remorseful.

“Ooh.” Pinkie groaned. “So… much… marshmallow. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”

“You ate that?” Twilight asked in shock. “Just a minute, Bean. I need to help Pinkie.”

“Please do. I can wait.”

“Really, Pinkie, we’re super sorry about all this,” the little pegasus offered as Twilight rushed to her friend’s side.

“Yeah. We didn’t know marshmallows could do that,” the earth pony with the large bow in her mane added.

“It’s okay girls,” Pinkie replied with a weak wave of her hoof. “I just need a few minutes. Just remember that marshmallows should only be handled by -urp- properly trained and qualified ponies, okay?”

“We will,” all three replied in unison.

“Hey! Bean!”

Bean looked around and then up, and watched as Rainbow Dash landed in front of him. She looked rather irate, and the two sergeants moved to be between him and her.

“Relax, guys,” Rainbow said while folding her arms tightly. “I just want to ask Prince Bean a question.”

“It’s okay,” Bean replied, and the loyal royal guards stepped to the side but still stayed focused on Rainbow. “What’s up?”

“Why do you hate the Broncos so much?” Rainbow blurted.

That was definitely not what Bean had expected. “What?”

“Shining Armor tells me you’ve got something against the Broncos.”

“I do?”

“Yeah. He says you hate them.”

“No, I said they stink. I never said anything about hating them.”

“They don’t stink! They’re awesome! Back-to-back champions for five years in a row!”

It took Bean a moment to process that sentence, but then he snickered a little. “Yes, forty-five years ago though. They haven’t won a divisional game in thirty-eight years.”

“They’re just going through a rough patch, that’s all.”

“A thirty-eight year rough patch?” Bean asked flatly. “The original line from those years have grandchildren trying out for the team now.”

“So what? If they hadn’t lost Leading Edge last year they totally would have killed everyone! Just watch. They’re going to make some big moves and crush everypony who gets in their way.”

“If they actually do that I will gladly eat every bad word I ever said about them.” He chuckled.

“Rainbow! Hey!”

“A.J.?” Rainbow called back. Both she and Bean watched her quickly trot up to them. “What’s up?”

“Have either of you seen Apple Bloom?” she asked. “Ah need her back at the farm, pronto.”

“I think she just went by with Pinkie.”

“Dag nabbit, is she still helpin’ her? Ah got a rush order that just came in and ah gotta whole mess of apples to get harvested to fill it.”

“Where’s Big Mac?”

“Ah dunno, he’s disappeared on me too. Ah think he’s done snuck off to Cheerilee’s place again.”

“Can I help with anything?” Bean asked.

Applejack looked him over with a critical eye. “Ah dunno. You know anything ‘bout bucking apples?”

“Well, I know how to cook them,” he offered. “But if I can help out I’d like to.”

“All right. Ah suppose ah can give you a shot. Dash, can you give me a hoof as well?”

“Whatcha need?”

“Ah just need you to run the full baskets back to the wagon. If you and Bean can do that for me, this’ll be faster than Granny Smith on her laxatives.”

“You bet! I can totally do that.”

“All right. Let’s get to it!”

“You tin cans sure you don’t wanna help out too?”

“We’re here to guard the Prince, ma’am. Can’t do that if we’re harvesting,” Sergeant Hokey Pokey replied.

“Figures. All right, let’s get to it. Bean, you’re an earth pony so this shouldn’t be too hard for ya. Every tree has a sweet spot, so all yah gotta do is find it and them apples will tumble right out and into the basket pretty as you please. Now, all you gotta do is… Bean?”

“Find the sweet spot,” he echoed, as he walked up to the nearby tree and put his nose to it.

“What in tarnation are you doin’?”

“Shh, just watch,” Rainbow said with a slight squeal of delight. “His nose is, like, a super nose.”

Bean took a deep whiff of the bark, then took three steps to the left. Another sniff, and back half a step.

“Consarn it, we ain’t got time for this. Look, all you gotta do is…”

Bean turned around and bucked the tree with a smug smile. A full basket of apples tumbled out of the tree, pretty as he pleased, and Applejack whistled in amazement.

“Well ah’ll be a nanny goat’s aunt! How’d you do that?”

“Every tree has a sweet spot,” he repeated. “If you can feel it, you can smell it.”

“Yer gonna have to show me how you did that later. Right now, ah reckon it’s time to buck some apples!”

Between the two of them, it only took perhaps half an hour to harvest enough apples for Applejack’s order. She was faster than him by two trees to one to begin with, but after three or four trees Bean got a groove going and was barely able to keep pace with her, although he suspected it was mainly from Applejack constantly pausing to look back. By the end of it, Rainbow Dash reported hauling back fifty three bushels of apples, and the three of them stood and looked over the results of their work with pride.

“Shoot, Ah’d hire you on full-time if you wasn’t the prince,” Applejack remarked. “You got a good method goin’ there.”

“Well, thank you.” He chuckled. “Though I’m pretty sure I’ll be feeling this in the morning.”

“Ah reckon you will, but ah’m pretty sure the Princess will take care of ya.”

“She probably will,” he laughed with them.

“Say, have you ever played a game of buckball?” Rainbow asked.

“Not as part of a team, no. Just some playground games when I was a colt.”

“I bet he’d be pretty good at it, A.J.”

“He’s got the legs for it, that’s for sure,” Applejack agreed. “He’d be respectable enough, ah reckon.”

“We should totally get a game going!”

“Ah think the Prince has got better things to do today, Dash. Twilight is probably wondering where he ran off to.”

And right on cue, Twilight teleported right in front of them in a massive explosion, instead of her usual pop. “Have either of you seen Prince Bean?” she hurriedly and worriedly asked. “I lost him back in Ponyville and I can’t find him anywhere.”

“He’s right here, Twilight,” Applejack replied. “He was kind enough to… help…”

It was right then that both Applejack and Rainbow Dash noticed he was, in fact, not there. Both of them glanced around, and then Rainbow Dash went airborne as Applejack scratched her head.

“Well he was here,” she remarked. “Ah wonder how he slipped out on us. Looks like his tin cans took off with him too.”

“Well, that makes me feel a little better but we still gotta find him.”

“Calm down, sugarcube. Ah’m sure he’s just fine.”

Twilight went nose-to-nose with the farmer. “Do you want to be the one to tell Princess Celestia her husband is missing?”

“Heh, well, when you put it that way… ah’ll go check the south forty right quick.”