Letters from Canterlot

by wanderingbishop

2nd Letter

My dear friend Rarity

In my last letter, I related my first years as a young business pony, and my first major step up the social ladder. The runaway success of the airship company I had invested in left me with enough capital to expand from a small business prospector, to an influential capitalist. My town office became the hub of a network of small businesses. While my own investments played the major role in my financial success, I cannot take all the credit. My loyal secretary Crystal Curl became my vice-president in everything but name – her prudent business sense, and vision unblinkered by ambition prevented me from making a number of investments that would have later proved disastrous. As well as an asset to my business, she was also a wonderful sounding board for the stress and demands of high society. Her down-to-earth manner and forthright honesty were an anchor in a world of fickle fashions and skin-deep friendships.

Of course, one should not take this to mean that I disliked the social maneuvering of the upper class. Far from it, I found the politics an invigorating challenge – much to the amused disbelief of my friends. My colleague Rapier Wit was forever making friendly jibes about which prickly gentleman I would be making enemies of next. While I did not go out of my way to find conflict, my ambitious business practices often brought me into competition with the established firms. At this point, I began to experience proper, directed competition – companies that I was attempting to gain shareholder majority on would be suddenly divvied up between a set of larger corporations, forcing me to seek opportunities elsewhere. Small startups that I had invested in would be bought up before they had a chance to flourish. These incidents were scattered, and often belated reactions, that did little more than cut off the source of profits I had already reaped, but it was clear that somepony didn't want me to have any say in Canterlot's economy.

At this point in my career, I began to take a greater interest in the social events of Canterlot, as much for their own sake as for the economic advantages. Rapier Wit was delighted at my renewed interest in what he liked to term “the game where everypony's a dealer, and no-pony holds the aces” I was never sure what he meant by that. Knowing Rapier Wit, he probably made up the phrase and then kept it ready to pull out at every opportunity. In any case, he was thrilled to be able to introduce me to the diversions and entertainments that I had been missing out on. I improved my skill at Blackjack, becoming a well-known patron of Canterlot's higher-class casinos, and I believe I still have the silver trophy I won for the croquet tournament that was hosted one year at the Grand Galloping Gala. However, the most significant event of my early career had yet to occur. That would have to wait for my first Canterlot Garden Party.

The Canterlot Garden Party that year was a truly stunning affair – the organisers spared no expense in making it one to remember. A grand pavilion was erected over the lawn, and tables fit for the royal banquet hall itself were laid out. I and Rapier Wit attended, mingling politely and striking up idle conversation with old acquiantances. Then, dinner was served, and the party took their seats. I had sat down, and was preparing to inspect the appetizers the waiters were bringing out, when a pegasus mare sat down opposite me at the table.

I had never seen a more beautiful creature in all my days. She had a luxuriant, caramel-orange coat, with an expertly curled mane like milk chocolate. Her physique was lean and tall, and her wing feathers were combed in perfect Canterlot form. For a cutie mark, she had a green rose vine, with a blood-red rose in full bloom. Her olive-green eyes left me momentarily unable to say anything, so entrancing she was. In the end, she had to lean forwards and ask me what I was having for appetizers to remind me that I was still at the Garden Party.

For the rest of the party, I barely left her side, and she seemed more than happy to receive the attention. Her name was Liquid Satin, and she was a young socialite who had recently moved to Canterlot from Manehatten. She had a biting wit, something that I found most refreshing after years of Canterlot decorum and genteel behaviour. And though at first I thought I was imagining things, by the end of the night there was no doubt that she was just as interested in me. I had on occasion flirted with some of the more winsome mares of Canterlot, but with Liquid Satin, I did something I had never had the confidence to try before – I asked her to dinner. To my delight, she agreed. I spent the remainder of the Party in a state of euphoria, and had barely a wink of sleep before I was up the next morning, planning how to make this the most memorable outing I could.

The next evening when Liquid Satin arrived, I spared no expense. I took her out on my personal air yacht, with a complement of my personal staff to serve us dinner at the prow of the ship. Then, as evening approached, we berthed at the Canterlot mountain observatory. It is a beautiful place – beneath the dome of the astronomy telescope, a fountain garden winds its way down a shallow hill to a view which takes in eastern lands of Equestria. Ponyville is visible from there, and even the edge of the Everfree forest. It is a truly stunning sight now and it was just as stunning back then. Liquid Satin seemed to be content to stay as the sun set, and so we watched as the last golden rays of sunlight receded across the plains. Much of our conversation was idle and bore little purpose other than to enjoy talking with each other, but one particular exchange sticks in my mind to this day. As the sun disappeared from the sky, I commented on what a beautiful land we lived in. Liquid Satin replied by saying that looking at it all from up here made it seem like we owned everything we saw below us, and that she liked that feeling.

In hindsight, that should have been my first warning.

Over the next few months, Liquid Satin and I continued to see each other. More and more, I found myself setting time aside from my business to spend time with her. It was a storybook-perfect whirlwind romance, and by year's end I was convinced that I had found my soulmate. We publicly announced our engagement, to the congratulations of many and to the mock despair of my bachelor friends. Rapier Wit even held a memorial service at our next game of Blackjack, complete with a melodramatic eulogy.

Liquid Satin and I talked about everything together – her opinions on social politics, and my successes in the business sector. She began to take an interest in my business, asking what I looked for when buying up shares. Delighted to share my passion with an avid listener, I elaborated on various strategies that I employed, even giving some examples from companies I was currently investing in. She caught on quickly, and before long she was even suggesting possible avenues to explore over the dinner table. It wasn't long before she began to come into work to see me, checking on how I was doing and giving a constant stream of support.

One day, Liquid Satin again stopped by my office for a chat, this time about the ballet company I was investing a substantial sum of money into as part of a long-term strategy to strengthen my public image. We traded suggestions about it for a few minutes, before Crystal Curl came into the office, requesting a private conversation while glaring meaningfullly at my fiancee. Affronted by my secretary's manner, Liquid Satin left in a huff. I was disappointed that her visit was cut short, but I trusted Crystal Curl enough to know that she wouldn't interrupt unless it was something important. So you can imagine my surprise when she placed her hooves on the desk and declared that I had to break off my engagement with Liquid Satin.

Flabberghasted, I demanded to know her reasons. I was aware that Crystal Curl had never been particularly friendly towards Liquid Satin, but I had assumed that to be her normal, cordial manner – I have never expected her to be outright hostile to the pegasus. Crystal Curl was convinced that Liquid Satin was simply taking advantage of me, and had no feelings for me one way or the other. Naturally, I scoffed at this, and told her to be reasonable. She was resolute, however – and after arguing back and forth for a few minutes, her temper frayed, and she announced that she couldn't stay and watch as Liquid Satin destroyed everything that the two of us had built together, and if I couldn't give her up, then Crystal Curl would hand in her resignation . By this point I was properly angry, and I am ashamed to say I shouted at her to get out my office. It was not until the end of the day that I found she had gone straight from there to the front desk, tendered her immediate resignation, and walked out the door. I never saw her again.

I was upset with Crystal Curl's apparent deserting, but I was convinced she was wrong, and intended to apologize to Liquid Satin for her behaviour the next time we met. However, Liquid Satin did not come to our next scheduled dinner. Nor did she come into my office. At first I thought she simply had business to take care of, but after nearly a week with no contact, I became genuinely concerned. Then, eight days after Crystal Curl had stormed out of my office, my temporary assistant came in, looking like he had just been mugged. As he spilled sheets of graphs and stock market analyses on my desk, he began to paint a dreadful picture – my key investments, the major companies that my wealth was sunk into, had all suddenly crashed – a series of speculative purchases of shares and stock market juggling had resulted in half the companies filing for bankruptcy. And it was not a random coincidence. The purchases and sales that had caused my shares to collapse had been carefully timed and placed, often happening mere hours before my own purchases. It was almost as if someone had read my mind and then done exactly what was needed to bring my investments crashing down on my head. I had enough stable shares in smaller companies to survive the damage, but my business had taken a blow it would not recover from. I couldn't imagine what had happened, until my assistant mentioned the ballet company I had just invested in as one of the companies hit. The first suspicion of what had happened entered my mind, and an ice-cold knot of dread tightened around my heart.

I left my office, not even bothering to put on my waistcoat, and fairly galloped across town to Liquid Satin's apartment. I burst through the doors to the living room, ready for anything – except what I actually saw. My old rival, Silver Podium, was lying on the couch, with Liquid Satin draped across his shoulder. They were surprised by my sudden appearance, but they were not thrown off balance for an instant – indeed, Silver Podium declared my arrival a stroke of luck. He proceeded to tell me the whole story; how he had met Liquid Satin on one of his business trips, and they had discovered their shared ambition for power. Liquid Satin wanted to gain enough money to become a member of the Canterlot elite, and Silver Podium wanted revenge on me for making a fool of him at the airship regatta. They had joined forces, Liquid Satin gaining my trust, and Silver Podium using the business information she gleaned from me to set himself up for a coup. He would have preferred to wait until he could leave me in complete bankruptcy, but as it was, Liquid Satin had decided that Crystal Curl would throw too much suspicion on her, and so they had set their plan in motion prematurely. Even in abandoning me, my faithful secretary had saved me from complete disaster. Finally, Liquid Satin rubbed the last ounce of salt into the wound. She scoffed at me, commenting on how painfully easy it was to deceive and dupe me, and how she was glad she no longer had to feign interest in such a gullible colt. Then, right in front of me, she leaned over and fondly kissed Silver Podium's ear. This was as much as I could take. I left without a word.

I walked back to the office in a daze, unable to see anything past the anger and humiliation of it all. Barely acknowledging my employees as I entered my office, I sat down at the desk. In front of me was the pile of charts my assistant had brought in. At the front of the pile, directly facing me, was the bankruptcy filing claim of the ballet company I had put shares in but a week prior. The sight of this proved to be the final straw. I flew into a mad rage. My employees tell me it was a frightening sight – the desk reduced to splinters, and a tornado of magically levitated office equipment howling through the air. And when my anger was finally spent, I sank down to the floor. No longer able to keep my composure, I wept.

My business empire was in ruins. I had barely enough money to pay my outstanding expenses, and I would have to lay off half my staff just to stay afloat. I had lost one of my oldest and dearest friends because of my own foolishness and arrogance, and the mare I thought I had loved had stabbed me through the heart and twisted the knife until I was bled dry. On reflection, Liquid Satin's cutie mark was so fitting – a thorned vine, entangling and snaring those drawn in by the beauty of its flower.

I will have to finish the letter here. While I have moved past these events, they are still painful memories, and a part of my history I am not proud of. I needed to relay these events so that the next part of my career can be put in the correct context, but it will not benefit from being written down in a cynical frame of mind, so I will come back to it when I have regained my decorum. Hopefully my next letter will be a much more uplifting piece of correspondence.

Yours faithfully,