[Author's note: I said at the end of The Glass Blower that the original version was written was in a very different, almost Victorian style of diction. A few people have asked what the original looked like, and after some consideration I've decided to post it here. Only the first scene and a few sentences from the next were written before I decided to go back and re-write it in a more conventional style. Probably for the best, though this style of writing was definitely fun.]
The Glass Blower (original diction)
It was not her beauty that first attracted him.
To be sure, she was a pony of immeasurable beauty. An effortless beauty that drew scowls from other mares behind her back; a perfection of form and feature unrivaled by any work of art. She was a living sculpture, an idea of grace given breath and life by careless gods heedless of the strife their creation would sow. Her alabaster coat was smooth and flawless. Her amethyst mane drifted absently between hues, teasing the eye with its subtlety. In body, she was perfect.
But it was not her beauty that first attracted him. He had seen beautiful ponies before, and while he might have felt the tug of attraction, it was never anything but an afterthought. Their beauty was an impression stamped on water, and just as ephemeral. Quickly forgotten. So too might hers have been, but for a chance meeting on the street.
They bumped shoulders accidentally in the market, beside a jeweler’s stall. A heavy crowd filled the square with noise; hundreds of ponies bustled and shoved, perusing wares and haggling with steely-eyed merchants. Competition for the best goods was always fierce at the Canterlot bazaar in the waning days of summer. They eyed each other in the afternoon’s fading light, the merchant and his goods momentarily forgotten.
“I beg your pardon,” he finally said. “I did not see you there, distracted as I was by these fine gems.”
She gave him a demure smile, her eyes with their long lashes blinking slowly. Was she flirting? No, of course not.
“Good sir, ‘tis quite alright,” she said. “Equally at fault we were, and neither of us the worse for it.”
He returned her smile, and they both returned to the display of gems. Thousands of precious and semi-precious stones awaited their scrutiny. Rubies and emeralds sat on cushions of royal velvet; topaz and garnets crowded together like commoners in trays.
“This one is rather fine,” she said, indicating a large ocean sapphire with her horn. Hints of midnight blue swam within its depths. “Regal. A fitting centerpiece for lord or lady’s dress.”
“Too rich, perhaps,” he temporized. He eyed her dove white coat. “What service is a gem if it distracts a suitor’s eye? There is competition enough in this world, without the added challenge of one’s own jewels.”
She laughed, and it was the sound of bells. “Such an eye you have, color and consequence both to see. But look, and judge again.” Her horn glowed with a faint silver light, and yards of the finest cloth emerged from her saddlebags. The fabric, in a dozen shades of indigo, floated through the air at her command. It twisted and shaped itself according to her will, until a rough semblance of a gown hung between them. The ocean sapphire lifted from its cushion and drifted toward the dress, coming to rest as though it were a clasp upon its neck.
He stared, open-mouthed, at her creation. Around them a dozen ponies paused in their business and whispered, pointing. She preened.
Eventually he recovered. “That’s…” he trailed off, and cleared his throat. “My lady, my comment made in haste I do withdraw. How fine and regal and fitting it is, for lord or lady’s greatest centerpiece.”
The dress unraveled, and the gem returned to its perch on the jeweler’s counter. She graced him again with her demure smile, and without another word turned and vanished into the crowd. The merchant chuckled quietly at her effect.
“Easy son,” he said. “More than one pony has been blinded by that beauty. Save yourself the heartache, and look elsewhere for your match.”
He took a shaking breath. The scent of her, a delicate lilac, haunted him. “Who… tell me sir, who was that mare? How could I for twenty years have wandered these streets, never to see her beauty? How could such a star lie glimmering in the dust, never to be noticed? Tell me sir, what is her name?”
He laughed again, louder. “Fair Rarity is her name, and only once a moon does she grace our humble city. And with each moon she leaves another trail of broken hearts. Her hooves are steeped in tears, and if you are wise you will forget her.”
“Sooner would I forget my mother’s face, the sun’s warmth, the taste of water. No, good sir, I will not forget her. I will catch her eye and then her heart.”
“How often have I heard those very words?” The stallion sighed. “She has sworn to only give her heart to an artist as gifted as she, and few of those will you ever find.”
“An artist, you say?” His heart soared. “Can it be? Has fate its hoof outstretched to join our hearts? Can she, unknowing, have been waiting for this moment, when unsubtle chance our paths should cross? Has fortune smiled upon this humble glass blower, to reward at last this artist with his mate?”
The merchant shook his head. “Beware this path, my son. Cruelty and beauty both in equal measure there reside. She will rend your heart to pieces, should your artistry fall below her mark.”
But he was blinded. Her beauty, her skill, her charm danced within his mind. “Good sir,” he said, “your cautions I accept with due regard. Not unheeded are your warnings; not unminded is the threat. To the challenge that she poses must my skills arise to meet. Let the world witness beauty in the glass I shall present! For once I prove myself to her, I shall her heart to mine enclasp.”
It was not her beauty that first attracted him. It was her art.
That night he cleared every scrap of glass from his workbench. Every project he abandoned – baubles and ornaments, cups and vases, all were swept aside to make space for his new dream. He emptied his furnace of sand, to prevent any impurities from tainting his work. He drew discarded a dozen ideas, each more elaborate than the last, searching for the one design that would win fair Rarity’s heart.
“A bird,” he said at last. “A delicate bird, a hummingbird. For what else could her beauty justice do? Wings as slender as her ankles – beak as sharp as slender horn. Crimson breast so proudly bearing. Thatch of azure plumage crowned.”
[Author's note: At this point I wisely asked my reviewers what they thought. The result was a complete restart, though you can see a bit of the original shine through in the final version.]