The Diamond Cutter

by Nova Force

Canterlot Encounters

Chapter 6: Canterlot Encounters

Filthy Rich sat at a little table outside a Canterlot café. He eyed his golden wristwatch as he finished eating his eggplant panini. “I wonder what’s keeping Silver Spoon. Does she know where to meet us?”

Diamond Tiara was frowning at her half-eaten salad. Her appetite escaped her whenever she wasn’t getting her way. “Yes, she knows. I told her repeatedly that we would be here.” She reached over the table and pulled her father’s arm toward her to check his watch herself. “It’s not like Silver Spoon to be late.”

The business stallion wiped his mouth and signaled to a nearby waitress that he was ready for his check. “I hope she shows up soon. My meeting can’t start without me.”

Diamond Tiara sat up in her chair. “Oh, you don’t have to wait for Silver Spoon to meet me, Daddy.” She waited for his attention to wander to the waitress. While he was distracted, she nudged him to leave her alone. “I won’t mind if you go ahead to your meeting.” This subtle attempt to ditch him didn’t go over very well.

“Over my dead body!” Filthy Rich startled the waitress, making her almost drop his money. “I’m not going to leave my precious Diamond Tiara alone in this big city. Those suits waiting for me can go jump in a lake before I let that happen!”

So much for that. She sulked in her seat, listlessly stirring her iced tea. “But doesn’t being late make you look bad?”

Her father waved away her faux-concern. “Don’t worry about that, sweetheart. Those yes-ponies work for me. You can be late to meetings when you’re the boss. Our meeting is to see if we can open operations here in Canterlot. These high-society ponies would love a good bargain, right?”

“I hope so,” Diamond Tiara looked down the street that was full of busybody ponies. She imagined an older version of herself walking among them. Everypony smiled at her and complimented her clothes.

The waitress came back to give Filthy Rich his receipt. Once she collected their plates and left, Filthy Rich turned his attention to his daughter. “So, tell me again about this new coltfriend of yours.”

Diamond Tiara snapped out of her daze. “My what? Daddy, Snips is not my coltfriend.” She couldn’t bring herself to look her father in the eye.

Her father rolled his eyes. “Sweetheart, I’ve made a lot of deals in my day, but I’m not buying this one. If he’s not your coltfriend, then why did you ask him to be your date for the Sadie Hoofkins Dance? Sounds like a coltfriend to me.”

If there was a button Diamond Tiara could have pressed to eject herself far away from this discussion, she would not have hesitated to push it. “No, he’s just…” her mind raced to find an acceptable term to describe Snips, “a friend.”

Filthy Rich let out a single, skeptical snort. “Well, how did you meet this ‘friend’ of yours?”

She chose her words carefully. “He’s in my art class. One day he said some nice things about my project, so I thought I would reward him by taking him to the dance.”

Her father’s brows furrowed. “Remind me again what it is that you’re painting?”

How many times do I have to say it before it sticks? “It’s a landscape of a little hill. I worked really hard on making the trees in the background have their leaves blend into each other. Snips noticed them and said he liked them.”

A look of supreme contentment washed over Filthy Rich’s face; he had heard all that he needed to hear. “Listen, Diamond, I’ve been around the stable for a while. I’ve known all kinds of colts and fillies over the course of my life. Trust me, when a colt says he likes your leaves, that really means he likes you.”

In the pit of her stomach, she knew he was right. “No, Daddy, you’re wrong.”

Still with that content look, he shrugged and shook his head. “It’s the oldest trick in the book. I’m sure I pulled something similar when I was courting your mother. Ah, those were the days. I hope I can meet this coltfriend of yours.”

“Stop calling him that!” Diamond Tiara huffed.

“Well, if he’s not your coltfriend, then why are you and Silver Spoon shopping for dresses today? Why couldn’t you girls have gone to the Carousel Boutique? That would’ve been easier on my pocketbook.”

“Sorry we’re late!” called a voice from down the block.

We’re? Diamond Tiara looked down the block and saw her best friend trotting along with her head held high. Next to Silver Spoon were two walking piles of shopping bags and wrapped boxes. After a few moments of speculation, Diamond Tiara realized that the piles were actually Snails carrying two overflowing saddlebags.

The gray filly walked up to their table. “I’m so sorry to keep you waiting, Diamond. We would have been here sooner if Snails weren’t such a slowpoke.” She shot Snails a dark glare before brightening up at Filthy Rich. “Hello, Mr. Rich! It’s a pleasure as always.”

“Nice to see you, too, Silver Spoon.” Filthy Rich gave her a pat on the head. He looked over at Snails, who could not have looked more out of breath. “I suppose he’s a ‘friend’ yours, Silver Spoon?”

“Who, him? Oh, yes. This is Snails. He’s my,” she coughed as a lone shiver went through her spine, “date to the Sadie Hoofkins Dance.”

“Pleasure to meet you, son. Are you a friend of Snips?”

The gangly unicorn lifted his head to make eye contact. “Yes, sir. He’s actually my best friend.”

Filthy Rich got up from his seat, letting out a hearty laugh. “Excellent! Maybe you all can go on a double date! Well, make sure you two colts take good care of these fillies. Silver Spoon’s like family to us.” The business pony turned to his daughter. “Alright, pumpkin. Daddy’s going to go to his meeting now. I’m expecting to see you all back at this café in two hours. Is that going to be enough time for you to find a dress?”

In a measured tone, she nodded. “Yes, that’ll be plenty of time.”

“That’s my girl. Okay, Daddy loves you.” He bent over and kissed his daughter on the forehead. With that, he turned and left them at the café.

Silver Spoon spoke first. “I saw a place selling dresses that are to die for. I saw one in particular that you must see. Diamond, it is so ‘you.’ You would be radiant in it.”

Radiant. I like the sound of that. Diamond Tiara greedily rubbed her front hooves together. “Sounds like a plan. Where is this shop?”

“Just a few blocks down that way.” The gray filly pointed in the direction from which she had come.

An exhausted voice broke into the conversation. “Do you girls mind if we take a breather first?” Snails had managed to take off his saddlebags while Filthy Rich was saying goodbye. He plopped into the business pony’s now-vacant chair.

Silver Spoon reached over and rested her hoof on one of his cheeks. She gently pushed his face toward hers. “Oh, but Snails, honey, Diamond needs to get her dress for the Sadie Hoofkins – it’s only a week away! The sooner we do this, the sooner we’ll be able to spend time together. Can’t we go now?”

The dopiest of dopey smiles spread across Snails’s face. Despite how tired he was, a newfound strength arose within him. He leapt from the chair and lowered his voice, “Diamond, if a dress is what you need, then a dress is what you’ll get. Let’s go!” He threw on his overstuffed saddle bags, though his legs were wobbling in an instant.

Before the three ponies went to the store, something captured Diamond Tiara’s eye.

“Wait, what’s going on over there?” The pink filly squinted down the street where a group of ponies had gathered. She noticed a series of camera flashes – it was the Canterlot paparazzi. This meant one thing: a Canterlot celebrity was nearby.

“Silver Spoon, it’s somepony rich and famous! Quick, let’s go see who it is!” Diamond Tiara galloped toward the commotion with Silver Spoon close behind her.

Snails could not have cared less, so he took advantage of their departure and resumed relaxing. He called out to them in vain. “You girls don’t mind me. I’ll just sit here and take five.” He threw his saddlebags down and collapsed into his chair.

The excitement built in Diamond Tiara with every step closer. Who could it be? Sapphire Shores? Hoity-Toity? When she and Silver Spoon reached the edge of the crowd, a striking, Austrian-accented pony could be heard. “Thank you, thank you, everypony. I, Photo Finish, feel excited, overjoyed, and thrilled beyond my vildest dreams.”

It can’t be! Diamond Tiara let out an audible gasp. Silver Spoon took the words right out of her mouth. “It’s Photo Finish!”

One photographer yelled out a question. “Ms. Finish! When will be your next official appearance?”

The chic mare struck a powerful pose. “I, Photo Finish, am not yet ready to make zhe announcement of my next appearance. Do not fear; zhe announcement vill come in zhe next few days.”

A younger filly journalist shouted the next question. “Ms. Finish! Is it true that this next appearance will be a career-first for you?”

The famous photographer turned to strike another stance. “Yes. I, Photo Finish, never vill yield in capturing de magicks! I’m going to find zhe art vherever it can be found.”

A third, unknown voice broke through the crowd. “Ms. Finish, is there any validity to the claims that your relationship with Hoity Toity is moving beyond the professional? If so, how long have you two been seeing each other?”

Before another pony could say anything else, Photo Finish blurted out: “No more qvestions! Now, I go!”

With a distinct clap of her hooves, two members of Photo Finish’s entourage lifted her onto a special, one-pony litter transport. Together they raised the litter and carried her away. The paparazzi followed, flashing their cameras in a desperate hope to capture her for their respective magazines.

Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon were beside themselves. “She’s even more illustrious in the flesh.” Silverspoon said.

Diamond Tiara couldn’t even blink. “She commands so much respect. Did you see how her entourage obeyed her commands? They never spoke while carrying her away.”

Silver Spoon rubbed her chin. “That gives me an idea...” She looked back at the café to see Snails, who had not budged from his seat.

“What is it?” Diamond Tiara asked.

“You’ll see. We’ll need Snails for this one.” Together the two fillies made their way to the café to find Snails catnapping in his chair.

“Hey!” Silver Spoon barked. Snails snapped out of his sleep and was on full-alert. “Wha, what? Huh, is everything okay?”

Silver Spoon put on a sly smile. “From now on, Snails, darling, whenever I clap my hooves together like this,” she demonstrated the gesture for him, “I want you to carry me.”

The dread in his eyes grew as he processed her request. “Are you serious?”

The gray filly’s tone and expression hardened. “Do I need to repeat myself?”

“No! You’re the boss.” He looked momentarily uneasy. “But, uh, what about my saddlebags?

“What, you can’t handle those and little ol’ me at the same time?” Silver Spoon held a hoof to her chest as if she had been wounded. “Are you trying to say that I’m fat?”

“No, of course not!” Snails vigorously shook his head.

“Good.” With that, Silver Spoon clapped her hooves together.

A little hornet of jealousy stung Diamond Tiara as she watched as Snails lower his body to allow Silver Spoon to hop aboard. She promised herself that she would make Snips carry her sometime before the dance. However, she noticed that once Snails had Silver Spoon and his saddlebags on his back, his leg muscles began to visibly shake.

She didn’t like that. Photo Finish’s entourage showed no signs of weakness when they carried her away. In Diamond Tiara’s mind, she pictured Snips giving her a playful piggyback ride, not like an enslaved vehicle.

Diamond Tiara never said anything about it, either. Instead, she watched as Snails carried her best friend all the way to the store where Diamond Tiara was going to buy her dress. The pink filly had a feeling that if she asked Snips to do the same thing, he would have.

Silver Spoon was right; Diamond Tiara was going to look radiant in the dress she purchased. Filthy Rich even said so when he later met them at the café, though he couldn’t help himself from mentioning that her dress was more than what a “friend” would expect.

A funny thing happened to Diamond Tiara on her way home to Ponyville. Even though she had been looking forward to this trip for some time, she didn’t feel sad about leaving. Instead, a quiet excitement built inside her as she envisioned the moment when she would show Snips her dress.

Really? You like it? Diamond said, twirling in place.

Snips smiled at her with his buck teeth. I really do.