Rainbow's hooves thumped loudly on the smooth stones of the floor as she ran through the castle. She made her way through the halls, heading for the front hall as quick as she could. Her friends were going to be here any second, and she wanted to greet them.
Familiar with the young mare's enthusiasm, most of the guards were able to open the doors and step out of the way, allowing Rainbow Burst to get through without incident. Two new recruits were not so fortunate. One had the door slam into him when it was thrown open, giving him a bloody nose and causing him to hit the wall. The other did not quite get out of the way in time and went skidding after being charged into. That one Rainbow Burst was at least aware of enough to apologize, but she did not even slow down.
Rainbow's horn lit up as she reached the entrance hall. She wrapped her magic around her hooves, allowing her to come to a complete stop without skidding. She snorted through her nose as she stood there, grinning excitedly.
Wait, wait. No. No. Play it serious Rainbow. Play it serious.
Taking a deep breath and letting out a cough, Rainbow Burst stood up straight. She should have thought of this sooner. How would her friends have reacted if they showed up to find her in formal attire with her mane and tail brushed and styled? Actually, most probably would not even think about it. Spike would definitely be shocked though. Rarity would probably have an aneurysm or something.
"Greetings," she said as the door opened -- doing her best to mimic Princess Celestia's formal speaking voice -- "and welcome to The Royal Castle of Canterlot." She made a sweeping gesture along the hall with her hoof as she spoke.
Spike, Rarity, and Shining Armor stared at Rainbow Burst. For Spike and Shining, it was waiting to find out what the gag was. In all the time the two had known her, Rainbow never really acted like this without it being some sort of joke. Rarity was for similar reasons, although she was not entirely sure why. It just seemed to her that the mare with the horribly tangled and mussy mane she had first met would certainly not be one to act formal so suddenly.
Flowershy, Applejack, and Twilight Comet were staring at the castle. For Flowershy and Applejack, it was a like nothing they had ever seen before. Flowershy had always avoided cities due to how crowded they were supposed to be, so being in not only a major one, but the capital, was an entirely new experience for her. Applejack had been in a major city before, having spent over a month in Manehattan. While there, she had seen plenty of incredibly tall buildings, but this was different. It was not simply tall, it was massive.
Pinkie Pie, meanwhile, was making faces at one of the guards nearby. She tried crossing her eyes, puffing out her cheeks, sticking out her tongue, and numerous other things. Even tried making a giant snot bubble. No matter what she did, the guard did not seem to show any expression of amusement whatsoever.
"That's not going to do you any good," Rainbow called out to Pinkie. "They've been putting up with me trying to get them to smile for years. They've gotten pretty good at keeping it together."
"Aww," Pinkie pouted, the snot bubble popping. If she really wanted, there was one other thing she could try that she was almost certain would work, but she never kissed a pony that she barely knew.
"Now that we are all here," Rarity said, stepping forward, "perhaps you will be so kind as to tell us what exactly you are up to?"
"Alright," Rainbow Burst answered. "Follow me and I'll explain while showing you to your rooms."
"Rooms?" Applejack repeated, eyes wide. She and the others followed after Rainbow.
"Yeah," Rainbow replied. "When I got the tickets to The Grand Galloping Gala, you all said that you wanted to go when you found out. You each had your reasons, and some of them were pretty good... but..."
She shifted, considering how to say it.
"The way some of you imagine the gala isn't really what it would be like?"
Yeah. That sounded good.
"I'm pretty sure that anypony that went would end up being disappointed. At the same time, the ponies that didn't get to go would be disappointed they didn't get to instead. It kind of made it tough to try and figure out who to take.
"Then Spike came up with a great idea."
"I did?" Spike asked, pausing to stare at Rainbow in surprise.
"Yeah," Rainbow replied. "In the cafe, you suggested I show them what The Gala was actually like." Her horn started to glow as she took a hold of Spike, setting him on her back.
"I did say that, didn't I?" Spike said. He straightened up as he sat on Rainbow's back, sticking out his chest proudly.
"After you said that," Rainbow continued as she kept on walking, "I realized that I could do just that. I do know Princess Celestia and have lived in the castle. I could send a letter asking to use one of the ballrooms they rent out and see about having a small party similar to the balls held, like The Gala.
"Then I thought 'why stop there?' I could also try and make some of those same hopes come true." She slowed down, letting out a grimace. "That... didn't go as well as I would have liked. I wasn't really able to find a way to get a hold of The Wonderbolts, and couldn't really think of a way to help AJ sell her apples here. But I was able to get Flowershy a chance to see the royal gardens, and made a deal with Blueblood so Rarity could spend some time with him."
"I get to meet Prince Blueblood?" Rarity squealed out. "Oh this is so exciting. I simply must freshen up and make sure I look my best."
"That's why I'm taking you to your room first," Rainbow explained. "I figured we would all stay the night here and go back to Ponyville in the morning, so I arranged some rooms for everypony. I thought I would take you all to them so you could get ready if you need to. Then we can all escort Rarity to Blueblood's quarters and Flowershy to the gardens. After that, the rest of us could go to the ballroom and I could show you all what The Gala would be like."
"Wow," Pinkie said as she moved up. "That sounds like a really nice thing, and lots of fun. Oh, I'm so excited to see what it's going to be like."