"And what of her schooling? Has she received proper training in all of the typical areas appropriate for a young filly of her stature?" the gold colored unicorn asked the two lavender unicorns seated before him.
"You have no reason to fear, My Lord. The child has been given the same rigorous upbringing as her natural born sisters in every possible way, education included," said the mare, seated to her husband's left. She reached up to proudly flip one of her many, long, silver curls behind her shoulder, and then leaned forward upon the courtyard table. A basket of salt licks sat upon the slab, and she bowed her head, using her magic to transport a fresh cube to sit before the golden unicorn. "Why, she speaks one of the traditional languages fluently already, and even knows a bit of the ancient tongue of the Canterlotian royal courts. She is also well versed in all of the poetry classics, and sewing, and dancing, and singing, and—"
"Yes, I have heard a rumor on the winds about the child's voice," the golden unicorn said, stroking his orange beard.
"If you ask me, servants gossip knows the fastest form of travel," the lavender stallion laughed, adjusting the plush, feathered cap that sat upon his crown. His wife nudged him in the ribs discreetly when she noticed that the golden unicorn did not seem amused by this.
"I do love a good song," their guest continued. "You know, there is a saying that quotes: 'A beautiful voice is the crowning jewel of any age'. Do you not agree?"
The pair before him nodded vigorously.
"My Lord has always had exquisite taste in the arts," the mare doted as she raised a hoof for a nearby servant to come pour more cider into the golden stallion's goblet. "I assure you that your intrigue is justified. Adagio's voice is like none other. We must admit that none of our other daughters have ever managed to match such sonic beauty."
"Intriguing, indeed," the golden one murmured, continuing the stroke of his beard. After a beat of silence, he pounded his hoof upon the table in finality, clearly having come to some great decision. "Very well, then. I shall arrange the meeting."
The lavender mare smiled, brightly. "Excellent decision, My Lord Goldenstalks. I can assure you it is one you shan't regret!"
"Very good. I trust she shan't disappoint then," Lord Goldenstalks murmured, taking one more sip from his goblet. "Well, then. Where is the young Miss? I should very much like to meet her before she is introduced to my son."
The smile on the lavender stallion's face wilted ever so slightly. "Yes, about that, My Lord," the stallion stammered. "I was hoping that I could speak with you more in depth about this matter. Do you not suppose that perhaps the children are a bit young to already be considering the pressures of marriage? Adagio is but a filly, after all."
Lord Goldenstalks began the steady stroking of his beard again. This time, his expression was unamused. "It isn't simply marriage, Glow," Goldenstalks began. "Upright is my only son and heir. I intend for him to be well provided for, and to provide for the Goldenstalks name for many years to come. This is a matter of finding a suitable match to strengthen and propogate the bloodline. Is it that you do not consider it an honor, then, for your daughter to be, at such a young age, weighed by the Goldenstalks family as one of great grace and fortitude, one well suited for this most important task?"
The expression on the lavender mare's face was one of absolute mortification. Vehemently pressing the bottoms of her hooves together, she forced a pained laugh. Passing a glare toward her husband, she then swatted coyly in the Earl's direction. "Oh, absolutely, My Lord. You must forgive the Baron. Surely, you can understand how difficult it is for a father to consider these types of things for such a beloved daughter as our Adagio. His heart simply has gotten the best of him when he should be using his head to consider such matters," the lavender mare said as she playfully tapped her husband on his shoulder. "We would be honored that you should want to meet our daughter. We shall send for her immediately. Would you please join us in the great hall?"
Ignoring the rather upset look on her husband's face, she turned to a nearby servant, nodding her head to signal for the young colt to approach. "Send for the Lady Adagio at once. Tell her she is expected in the great hall," she commanded. Turning again to face Goldenstalks, she rose out of her seat, performed a curt bow, and raised her foreleg in the direction of the courtyard entrance. "If you would follow me, My Lord."
The midday sun shone down brightly upon the waves in the distance. From where Adagio Dazzle stood upon her balcony, the rays appeared to sparkle off of the water like dancing diamonds. She smiled at the sight of it. Her eyes closed as she breathed in the salty sea air, trying to remember, with all of her might, the feeling of sand underhoof, the now foggy memory of floating upon the gentle tides.
She used to sneak down there often, usually in the middle of the night, just to be able to stand beneath the glorious moon, and sing out toward those rushing waters. Every time she would visit her beloved beach, she would step slowly through that foamy space between the sand and surf, and then dance in the spot where the Glow household servant, Beryl, had first found her.
Beryl, a young, apple green filly a few years Adagio's senior, had been the first to witness the filly's penetratingly beautiful voice as she sang to herself from where she dreamily lay upon the sand, seaweed tangled in her endless curls. Thinking her a pitiable survivor of some far off shipwreck at sea, Beryl had brought her back to the Glow estate where she had been put to bed rest. At first, she had lived amongst the servants, wandering about them like a little ghost, singing endlessly to herself. The poor thing lived in a daze, as if she were always trying her hardest to remember something of the utmost importance. For a time, many in the household had supposed she had gone mad. Regardless, the little filly seemed harmless, and her beautiful voice would help the work day to go by faster. Thus, they allowed her to stay, hidden amongst tall platters of food, and behind giant mountains of dirty linen, yet another faceless attendant of the Glow estate.
As the days turned to weeks, and weeks to months, gradually, Adagio's wandering consciousness planteded a small anchor on the world around her. She began to speak to others, even though for the most part, it was in the form of profoundly poetic verse. The other servants had even managed to get her to quietly tag along with them during their chores, washing small loads of clothing, or helping in minute ways with the cooking. However, though she followed along obediently, the others would have never guessed that in her heart, a small seed of resentment had begun to bud.
Having been born with a tender affection for the water, it was quickly made clear to Adagio that, in this world, others did not feel the same way. Those pure droplets were scrubbed and splashed coldly across the most soiled and filthy of fabrics, or thrown into a pot, and boiled until the liquid itself would scream. The ponies here built bridges to avoid the waters. They made walls to force them back. Of course, the little filly could not recall any other way of living that would have her react with such odd displeasure at these seemingly small and necessary offenses. Even still, there came a time when she had grown to be spiteful of the menial labors of the household servants. She didn't enjoy scratching and peeling her hooves in her beloved ocean. She hated the burns she would receive from the boiling pot. It seemed her world knew well how to take the most beautiful of elements, and turn it into something harsh and crude. She concluded, then, that her life would have as little to do with these types of degrading labors as possible. From then on, she was nowhere to be found when it was time to do the laundry, and quite often, her lovely songs could not be heard echoing in the kitchen at supper time. Many would wonder where, exactly, she would run off to.
Then one day, whilst strolling through the garden, the Baron Glow, himself, had heard her melancholy song upon the gentle breeze. After a time of following the trail of the voice, he had found little Adagio sitting by herself, staring into one of the estate's fountains. She was touching the surface of the water as if contemplating her own reflection. Asking after her name, and where she had come from, he was met with a look of startled confusion, and then the most mysterious of replies.
Never before had I walked upon stones,
And I had wondered what it was like.
But now that I have,
I find that my long lost fin sparkling like jewels,
Is the only thought that seems to captivate me.
The two stared at each other in utter confusion for a moment, the Baron stuck between a place of astonishment and good humor. Suddenly, he began to laugh, straightening the wreath that sat atop his head as it jostled about. Wiping away a tear, he approached the young filly, and patted her head. After a few more questions, he was able to discover her name, who had found her, and where.
It didn't take long to adjust into the Glow household, especially for one as naturally charming, talented, and intelligent as the little, yellow filly. It could be expected that the two daughters of the Baron, Moonstone and Violet, would be ecstatic about the sudden arrival of a new sister to play with, and as time went on, Adagio's sing song speech turned into the familiar chattering of a normal child. As for Starry, the Baron's wife, being the noble opportunist she was, she couldn't resist taking in a filly child so promising and seemingly worthy of wellborn company as Adagio. She had only bore daughters, after all, and had long ago concluded that the family's upward mobility must be directly tied to how enticing she could make any one of them appear to the sons of other noble families. To her, Adagio and her sublime voice was a sure promise of future power and prestige.
As the family, for their various reasons, spoiled the child with gifts of fine clothing and jewels, elegant rooms, lavish meals, and the most proper of upbringings, by and by, little Adagio would turn away from that constant song of the sea echoing day and night in her head. Warm sands would be forgotten for gems that matched the color of her eyes. The cool waves would grow distant in her mind whenever she caught sight of the fashionably dressed lords and ladies of the unicorn royal court. Her dreams, once brimming with deep blues, now transformed into glitter and gold, and after a time, it was all she could think about to try her best to one day fulfill her new dream—a dream of living an elegant life of beauty, pleasantry, and power, free of the harsh, menial labors that she had grown to disfavor.
Still, every now and then, usually during quiet moments like this, Adagio would hear the sea whispering her name ever so softly. It would call to her from beyond her chamber window. It would beckon her out until she could see it, and remember it for its old, natural glory. Standing there upon her balcony, she felt a forlorn type of affection for that which was now, literally and figuratively, below her. It had been a long time since she had gone down to talk with the waves, splashing about in the foam while the servants stood nearby washing the household laundry. Some of them were down there right now, taking moments between the soaking and scrubbing to relax upon the shore, smiling, holding hooves, feeling, loving, carefree.
As she stared down at them, Adagio's expression became rather somber. With a sigh, she then turned to face the interior of her chamber, and walked back inside. It was a difficult thing to accept, indeed, especially since no one had expressly forbidden her from visiting the beach. Regardless, it was an unspoken rule that none of the ladies of her household ever walked and mingled for too long amongst the servants and commoners. Adagio was not eager to seem out of sorts, or to give the impression to any of her family, especially her mother, that she might not be fit for the life of a true noble lady. She loved this comfortable existence. She wanted more of it. Thus, if her sisters were comely, she would have to be enchanting. If her sisters were cultured, she would have to be refined. To her, there was no room for mistakes, not if she was to obtain the kind of things that she now desired for herself.
Moving to sit in front of her vanity table, Adagio peered into the bronze mirror before her, and straightened out the curls that had been ruffled by the ocean breeze. Catching sight of a large, polished sea shell that sat in the corner of the table, she smiled to herself. When the Glow family had moved her into their home as a permanent resident, Beryl, who was now appointed Adagio's personal maidservant, had gifted it to her, for memory's sake. Every now and then, the filly would bring her more seashells that she had found upon the shore, but none had ever been as beautiful as the first. It was a treasure that, especially now, Adagio adored. However, her self-imposed edicts of nobility and grace made her ashamed to outwardly show just how much she had appreciated the lovely thing.
Just as she reached one hoof out to touch the shell, she heard a loud knock on her door, and before she could bid the intruder to enter, in bounded a small, deep lavender-colored, violet-maned filly. She appeared to be slightly younger in age than Adagio was. Quickly, the curly-maned filly shifted her hoof away from the seashell to snatch up a nearby comb instead. She used her magic to levitate the thing off of her hoof, and began to work it through her strands as she watched the younger filly bounce about the room.
"Gio, Gio, Gio! May I comb your mane if I let you comb my mane? Will you let me choose your robe? May I wear one of your robes as well? Mother only allows me to wear white ones!" the filly spouted. Adagio knew better than to try to get a word in before the other child was good and ready. So, she resigned herself to sitting there, combing her mane, and wearing a perturbed smirk.
"Moonstone, I don't wish to play costumes with you right now. Besides, you have no idea how to do my mane properly. You'll just ruin it, as usual," Adagio huffed when finally given a chance. Hopping off of her chair, she headed toward her bed.
Moonstone pouted at her words. "But I must comb your mane! You have to be pretty for your audience!"
Adagio froze, and slowly turned to face her sister. "Audience?" she inquired. "You mean with—"
"Lord Goldenstalks!" Moonstone exclaimed, hopping up and down some more.
The bottom dropped out of Adagio's stomach. She lacked as much interest in Lord Goldenstalks' notoriously grim son as just about any of the other young fillies that knew of him. However, despite her beingbeing young, Adagio was no fool. She knew that the Goldenstalks name carried much power and clout, and this was certainly no opportunity to be missed or floundered if she was planning to obtain a comfortable and well-to-do living for herself. A boring future husband seemed a tolerable offense from where she stood on this matter.
"W-why does Lord Goldenstalks want an audience now? Mother and Father are supposed to be speaking with him! He smells like stale apples! Why do I have to go?"
The younger filly shot her an exasperated look. "Why does any smelly, old lord ever wish to have an audience with you? So, that you can sing, and dance, and prance about doing your jester tricks for them, of course," she moaned with a roll of her eyes. "I still think you should learn how to juggle."
A panicked squeal escaped the curly-maned filly as she ran toward her vanity table again, scrambled her way back onto her chair, and began to comb her mane in a crazed frenzy. "Why wasn't I warned about this! My mane! My mane looks like fuzzy cheese!" she cried before turning to face Moonstone, looking determined. "Moonstone, fetch the shears!"
"Yes!" the lavender filly exclaimed in delight at the expectation of the inevitable makeover to end all makeovers. No sooner had her little legs begun to rush toward the door, did yet another knock come from its other side.
"Who's there?" Adagio screamed hysterically. When Beryl rushed in with a look of mixed joy and excitement upon her face, it didn't seem to calm the yellow filly's nerves at all. Instead, her comb tangled in her mane, and she fell out of her chair onto the floor. Turned to face the apple green filly, she screamed in a panic.
At the sight of her young mistress on the ground, Beryl let out a squeal of her own. Riled up by all the excitement in the room, Moonstone looked from one filly to the other, and then she too joyously joined in the screaming, bouncing up and down where she stood.
"Beryl, what of my mane? Are you sure you've fixed it?"
"Yes, M'Lady. The woven jewels look stunning on you."
"And what of my robe? Are you certain this color is appropriate?"
"It matches your beautiful eyes. It truly is lovely."
"Very well. Beryl... some water. Quickly," Adagio murmured whilst standing tall just beyond the closed doorway to the great hall.
"Yes, Mum," Beryl replied softly. Performing a quick bow, she then turned to rush away.
Adagio could make out the chattering and soft laughter of her parents and the Earl Goldenstalks coming from within the chamber. The sound made her brood; not because she happened to be nervous, but because the tremendous pressure of being perfect during important times like these weighed down heavily upon her. She couldn't help but be succinct with her words.
Beryl returned a few moments later with a silver bowl and pitcher of water in tow. Setting the bowl down to the side of the doorway, she poured some water out for her young mistress, and then took a step backward to give her some room.
Adagio approached calmly, bowed her head, and took a few sips. The liquid was refreshing, almost renewing. As she raised her head, she took a deep breath, and allowed her eyes to close.
The song—the song was always the most important part of these meetings. By now, the little filly had realized that, depending on what she sang for a visitor, she could open herself up to their favor in a myriad of different ways. Was it joy she wished to evoke today? Awe? Perhaps just charm would be enough. As these possibilities rolled around in her mind, shifting her psyche through a catalog of songs that she could not recall the origin of, she then reached up toward her chest, and scratched the spot where a dark birthmark had now begun to itch.
To Beryl, this appeared to be a nervous reaction. The slightly older filly resolved herself to comforting her little mistress. "You know, he will love you just like all the others," she murmured, refilling the silver water bowl.
"Mhm," Adagio replied, never opening her eyes to regard the maidservant.
"I really and truly don't think you have anything to fear, M'L—"
"Beryl, this is none of your concern! Do be quiet!" the little filly finally turned to yell, her raspberry eyes piercing.
Shaken, the apple green filly said nothing, but simply bowed low to the ground, backing away slowly.
Watching her until she was a good distance away, Adagio huffed once more, and returned to her meditation. A few moments later, her eyes opened again, calm and collected. She took a deep breath, swished her tail just in case there were any curls out of place, and silently beckoned Beryl forward to come open the door.
Adagio Dazzle glided across the floor in her robe as if she were floating. She walked quickly toward the opposite side of the room where her audience sat at a small table set with refreshments.
At once, her mother, Starry, stood up. There was nothing but satisfaction on her face. Once again, her daughter, Adagio, had shown that she knew how to delight the eyes. "Ah! Our radiant daughter approaches. And how are you feeling today, my dear?" she tittered.
Adagio bowed respectfully in her parents' direction. "The day finds me well, Mother, Father," Adagio murmured in a subdued voice. Keeping her eyes directed toward the floor, she then turned her body toward Lord Goldenstalks, and awaited their introduction.
"It is with the greatest of pleasure, My Lord, that we introduce to you our beloved daughter, Miss Adagio Dazzle Glow," Starry said beckoning for the filly to come closer.
Adagio took a few steps forward, and performed a low, graceful bow before Goldenstalks. It was then, and only then that her eyes lifted to meet his. "It is an honor to make your acquaintance, My Lord," she said gently.
Adagio's grace and astonishing penchant for conversation at such a young age would usually captivate those who were introduced to her, making them easier to read. However, Goldenstalks seemed to be of a rather reserved sort. The most she could pull out of him was an intrigued stare as the stallion stroked his hoof against his thick, orange beard. For safe measure, the yellow filly directed her gaze toward the floor, again feigning reservation.
"Surely, when your mother and father described you to me, they should not have forgotten to mention such an important point of consideration," the Earl stated, every emotional inflection of his voice well hidden.
Adagio's eyes covertly darted toward her mother, whose eyes then darted toward the Earl. The mare appeared on the verge of panic.
Adagio quickly spoke up. "What might that be, My Lord?"
"That you are surely the most charming, and well-spoken of fillies I have had audience with to date. What an absolute delight she is to behold!" Lord Goldenstalks exclaimed, turning to the Baron and his wife, and smiling brightly.
Starry let out a great laugh of relief, clapping her hooves together, and nodding in a way that reminded Adagio of a puppet. "A delight indeed!" the mare exclaimed turning to glance at her husband who sat on her opposite side. The Baron was looking rather bored and averse to the entire situation. "Adagio, Lord Goldenstalks is a great lover of music. Perhaps you might sing a song for him," she urged her daughter, her head still bobbing up and down.
Adagio barely managed to hide a smirk of disdain. She knew her mother well, and her actions annoyed her greatly. Even one as young as she could see that the mare was too eager, too hungry. It was unbecoming. Still, she had to admit that her methods were justifiably sound. Goldenstalks was clearly sniffing around the hook. Perhaps it was time to use stronger bait. "I would be honored, My Lord," the filly murmured, performing another low bow, and then taking a few steps backward.
Closing her eyes, she straightened her posture, and relaxed her shoulders. Taking a deep breath, she allowed the aura of the room to wash over her. She accounted for the sweet smell of incenses, and the savory aroma of the food-laden table. All of these things were of the utmost importance to consider when choosing a song. Though too young to completely comprehend the intricacies of the senses, Adagio was at least clear on the notion that atmosphere could be used to her own devices. Sight mattered, scent mattered, and today, sound would matter most of all.
Though most ponies of any race were hard headed, refusing to hear the messages their world beat endlessly against their skulls, Adagio was one of the few who could listen, interpret, and translate. She could enhance. She could manipulate, and while she may not have perfected the art as yet, she at least knew that she was well on her way.
When a warm, sweet feeling filled her chest, she opened her eyes and smiled, knowing she was ready.
A blossom blooms and stays but shortly,
Quickly doth its petals fall.
Better to spy the morning glories,
Than to ne'er have seen them.
Adagio watched the Earl closely, barely able to contain a smile of vindication as she observed his eyes going glassy, his pupils dilating. The ever-moving hoof that constantly stroked his beard came to a slow halt, hiding his mouth in an attempt to deny his hosts the satisfaction of knowing his true feelings.
Friends, dear friends, we gather together,
All for fear of our final farewell.
Though rosy and radiant but for a time,
We live eternal in the hearts we knew well.
Little by little, as she sang, the Earl leaned forward in his seat, unable to hide his enthrallment any longer. His jaw hung open ever so slightly, and his hooves pressed together in some poor, subconscious attempt to feign composure. Adagio glanced into his eyes again, almost as if she could draw his mind outside of his very flesh with her beautiful, raspberry gaze. Perhaps it was truth. For, as the warmth in that spot on her chest burst and overflow, and a new ending verse erupted freshly from the depths of her mind, she watched as the Earl nearly fell out of his seat.
Let us toast to our immortalizing spell.
The room was silent as the remnants of the filly's ethereal song faded from the room, almost as if what was left could be lapped up out of the very atmosphere itself. All three of the adults in the hall sat stunned in different ways. Starry was perched on the edge of her seat, hooves pressed together tightly, breath belabored. She stared wide-eyed at her daughter as if she had suddenly transformed into something far grander, far greater than a mere flesh and bones unicorn.
The Baron leaned off to the side in his chair, eyes also wide, but filled with a fearful type of apprehension as he failed to comprehend how such maturity, such knowledge of manipulation could be wielded by his own, beloved little daughter. His shaking hoof could not cover his silently quivering mouth.
Lord Goldenstalks, the enamored expression never having left his face, tilted his head toward his side. He levitated a nearby goblet filled to the brim with strong cider until it floated in the space just to the side of his own lips. His mouth stuttered uselessly for a moment before he found his words again. "Let... Let us toast our immortalizing spell," he croaked before taking a long, long sip.
At this moment, Adagio bowed low again, and stayed bowed, moving her gaze toward the floor.
"Here, here," Starry exhaled levitating her own goblet. The Baron could not manage any words, but still followed suit with the others.
At the sound of the third goblet being drained, Adagio rose up one last time. She knew that one of the most important parts of any good sale was to always leave the ponies wanting more. "It is an honor, My Lord. Now, if you would excuse me," she murmured before turning to take her leave.
She smiled when she heard the Earl's chair shift out of place as he stood in a show of respect.
The Glow clan entered the great hall later on that evening, and took their seats at the massive table topped with numerous delicious delights. Chairs were pushed in, goblets filled by household servants, and dishes offered up. No one spoke or ate until the Baron took his first bite. Afterward, the gathering fell into a more casual air.
Naturally, the hot topic of discussion that evening was the immediately arranged meeting between little Adagio and Upright, the Earl Goldenstalks' only son and heir whom was almost twice her age. As was customary, the younger in age one was, the less one spoke in matters as important and intriguing as this. Thus, Adagio resigned herself to mostly staying quiet that evening, paying attention to the course of the conversation.
"I hear the colt is of a rather dour sort, you know," the Baron stated while prodding at a mysterious brown lump upon his plate. He then levitated it toward his mouth.
"Oh, don't be silly, Dear. I'm sure the young Viscount is an absolute delight," Starry interjected as she busied herself with helping Moonstone levitate her meal toward her mouth without making a mess. "He's extremely intelligent, as well. Quite the diplomatic strategist in the making, I hear."
Violet, a lovely teenaged pony of the same color as her name, had been sitting and eating in reverent silence, as daintily as one could expect, until she heard her mother make this statement. At once, she gave a single, delicate, and very deliberate laugh, cocking one of her brows. The entire table glanced at her in surprise since it was rather rare for Violet to speak up in the presence of elders or those of higher rank. She was, after all, ever the obedient noble lady unicorn, and nowadays, her mother's pride and joy.
Adagio huffed as she stared daggers into the side of Violet's face. She then levitated some food toward her mouth, and took a big, angry bite. Though she loved both of her sisters dearly, Adagio had recently acquired a fresh contempt for her eldest sibling. Despite lacking the radiant beauty of the midday sun like the kind that Adagio possessed, Violet instead managed to retain an opposing, but equally striking elegance. Her lovely fur, contrasted against her long, shiny, snow white mane, gave her a mysterious and genteel allure reminiscent of a gorgeous full moon. It was a quality that the younger child envied, especially considering her elder sister's most recent "accomplishments". For, as if to add insult to injury—without having any particularly striking talent that stood out besides her scholarly mind and occasionally witty conversation—Violet had, not long ago, managed to attract the attentions of Lord Vision's son, the heir to his father's dukedom. This dukedom lay about three days travel to the West, very close to Canterlot. Therefore, upon their betrothal, and Violet's increased proximity to the Canterlotian throne, she suddenly, but expectantly, became the new apple of her mother's eye. She had now become the basket into which the mare placedd more and more of her eggs each and every day.
Before their betrothal, Adagio had been Starry's sure bet to notoriety. The filly was sure that had she been presented to the court much earlier in age, perhaps she would be the one to be affianced to a duke's son, enjoying all the comforts that came along with such prestige. Instead, she would be settled for a notoriously boring viscount, son of Earl Goldenstalks, whose lands, filled with small, dirty towns and vast, untamed countryside, lay farther away to the South. It was all Adagio could do to thank her lucky stars that at least the Earl and his son carried that oh, so important Goldenstalks name with them. She knew she would be fortunate, indeed, if one day she might at least be able to do the same.
Violet finished chewing on a small mouthful of food. She daintily levitated her cloth napkin toward her lips before speaking. "Lord Vision says that Upright Goldenstalks is a hermitish bore. How could he aspire to be a diplomat when he never leaves his room?" she put forward.
Moonstone began to snicker under her breath at this very brash comment. Adagio very blatantly kicked her beneath the table, passing an annoyed glare her way.
"Fillies!" Starry scolded, waiting for both of them to be silent, and turn back toward their meals. Facing her eldest daughter once again, she offered a warm smile. "Now, Violet, I'm sure that Lord Goldenstalks' son would have just as many criticisms about your betrothed as well. Perhaps he and the young Lord Vision simply do not mesh."
Violet remained unmoved.
"Does Lord Vision have any brothers that like singing?" Moonstone posed to her eldest sister, shooting a cheeky grin in Adagio's direction.
"That he does," Violet replied, winking at both of her younger siblings.
The sole, curly maned unicorn at the table prodded her younger sister with a hoof, and tossed a stray pea into her lap. Moonstone returned fire, and soon, all out war had been declared beneath the table.
"We are not talking about Duke Vision's sons. We are talking about Upright Goldenstalks," Starry said, bidding caution to her eldest daughter.
"Oh, Mother," Violet sighed, dropping her uneaten bite of food back onto the plate. She barely managed to hide the roll of her eyes beneath her long waves of white mane. "It just doesn't seem fair that a filly with such a heart and talent for song should be settled with that... that little..."
Adagio's cheeks turned red, and she stared down at her plate in distress. On the one hoof, Violet was right, of course. Everypony knew that Upright Goldenstalks was rather strange and reclusive. Time and again, she had to agree that she would not have chosen such a match for herself if she were free to do such a thing. However, the sight of Violet criticizing the gains of her own hard work and good fortunes only worked to fill her with even more bitterness. She moved to stand in her chair, and yell at her elder sister. The white-maned pony hadn't said much, but as far as Adagio was concerned, it was high time she shut up.
Before she could get any words out, Starry bolted upwards, and slammed her front hooves hard against the table. "Silence!" she cried, her voice echoing throughout the entire hall. Things became deathly quiet as she, again, took her seat. No one dared say a word, but the look upon everypony's faces spokeoke volumes. "What is done is done," she said very seriously, looking around the table. "If the Earl's family will have Adagio, then so shall it be. I would suggest, young lady, that you learn to contain your tongue against your superiors!"
Violet gazeded silently into her plate, a resentful look upon her face. Having now lost her appetite, she didn't touch her meal again for the evening. Adagio's eyes had glazed over, almost as if she were imagining she were somewhere else entirely. Moonstone simply stared around the table, afraid to make a peep.
The only pony who had been eating their supper, seemingly unperturbed by all this "mare's businesses," was the Baron. With one quick levitation spell, he finished off the last bite of his meal. Hastily, he looked about the table, forcing a very fake smile. "Well, I must thank you all for yet another wonderful family gathering. Until next!" With that, he stood up, and trotted away from the table, leaving the four mares to sit in silence.
Later that evening, Adagio Dazzle sat alone in her chambers, curled up in her bed. The day had been exhausting, and she was quite happy for it to be done with. The sun had not yet set, and as she lay there, her eyes drifted lazily toward the beautiful wisps of orange and pink that peeked in from beyond her balcony windows. Never expecting a soft knock upon her door, she gasped and sat up in her bed. "Enter," she bid whoever it was, and watched as the door opened slowly to reveal Moonstone and Beryl peeking around its frame.
"M'lady, we've brought you something. Perhaps it might cheer you up," Beryl murmured, as she picked a wrapped object off of the floor with her teeth, and carefully entered the room after Moonstone. She closed the door behind her, and approached Adagio's bed. Then, placing the wrapped object down, she undid the knot to reveal a stunning, auger seashell.
Adagio glanced at both of the fillies, afraid to react too soon.
"We both picked it out together, isn't that right, Miss Moonstone?" Beryl said with a smile, turning toward the smaller filly.
"It reminded us of a unicorn's horn," Moonstone giggled, hopping up onto the bed with her sister, and nuzzling her closely. "Sorry Mother is so awful."
Adagio accepted the nuzzle, and then turned to face them both. Eventually, she managed to smile. "It's lovely," she said to them. "I'll add it to my collection."
"That's good," Moonstone replied, trying to hide her happiness at having done a good job. A sly smile then spread across her face. "Gio? C... Can I style your mane, now? Pleeeease?"
Adagio sighed, and rolled her eyes, doing her best to hide a mischievous grin of her own. "Moonstone, I've told you a thousand times that you'd just ruin it," she stated, waiting just long enough for a the younger filly to look disappointed. "But... I suppose I can let you this one time."
"Really?" Moonstone yelled, jumping to her hooves.
Adagio paused a moment. "That is, if you can catch me!" Stansing up, she bounded off the bed, and began to run around the room. Moonstone followed close behind while Beryl took a seat on the floor, giggling at them both.