"I'm not nervous... I'm not nervous... I'm n-not nervous...!"
The purple salvos lift and echo all around us. It's almost too much. One has to love the acoustics of this place. Well... maybe when that one is me... and not Tavi... a mare who can't be made to sit still and relax even if her life depended on it. Then again, in her mind, it does.
"Honestly! I'm not nervous!" She paces and paces across the crystalline foyer of Princess Twilight's castle. "I just... I-I have indigestion! Yes!" She shudders, her hoofsteps making little crimson clops beneath a sudden curtain of amber hues running off the edges of her indigo utterances. "And... a touch of a hangover! It's all in the mind! Erm... or maybe in this case the body. But I've performed under even greater pressure before! It's nothing to be worried about!"
I sigh, glancing at her. She shuffles and circles with only our separate musical equipment to separate us. Beyond these familiar things, it's very... very dark in here. We've been sitting in the black heart of a black structure for about an hour now. Admittedly, I was a teensy bit nervous upon first arriving. But for the past few minutes—and right now—I'm just flippin' bored.
Leaning back, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and wait for the caffeine from the last bottle of Dr. Pony to kick in.
I'm woken back to the bleeding moment by a tsunami of purple: "After all, we're only going to rehearse for the one good musical opportunity that's come our way in years and if we fail this single performance then I shan't be coming any closer to achieving my dream spot in the first cellist chair of the Canterlot Symphony Orchestra in this lifetime!"
Octavia slumps hard into the translucent blue chair next to me. She moans, hugs her self, and fights the trembles rippling through her fuzzy gray body. "Maybe... m-maybe my appearance will make up for any lukewarm performance!" She looks my way, fluffs her mane, and straightens her bowtie. "Well?" A crooked, psychotic smile. "How do I look?"
I gaze lethargically at her from an angle. My hoof mimics a zeppelin crashing and exploding into a mountain plateau.
"Ohhhhhhhhhh..." She buries her muzzle in her hooves. "I've had days to psych myself up for this. Days, Vine! Why am I always... always such a mental wreck before major events like this?!" Eventually, she looks up, eyelids heavy and vague. "I am a self-saboteur."
I chuckle breathily and shake my head.
"I live to destroy my own hopes and aspirations through my inexplicable awkwardness!"
I shake my head harder.
"It's the only possible explanation!" She brushes her bangs back and sighs. "I am a sick, masochistic individual, and instead of a superego my mind has constructed a mental artifice of shame and misfortune to make up for the shadow that my father used to cast on my well-being." A dull shudder. "Perhaps, if I play my cards right, Twilight will choose me simply through sympathy factor!"
I lower my shades slightly. Doing so blinds me, but it's worth it—if only to bestow upon Tavi the mother of all eye-rolls.
By the time I've slid my shades back and my vision comes into focus, I see her blushing, and she squats on the bench with her legs folded under her. That's how I know it's worked.
"You're right... you're right. I'm making yet another mountain out of a mole hill. There's a part of me that craves drama and another part of me that grovels for success and right now they are colliding most dreadfully with one another on the locomotive track." She gulps hard. "Let's face it, Vine. You and I deal with our successes and failures quite differently. You? You're quite readily established, but almost all of your venues are small, low-key, and humble. As for me? Mmmfff... I can only ever land myself a performance chair at major orchestral events, Canterlot Garden parties, extravagant Royal Galas. In many ways, I set myself up for epic things... and I only expect epic results."
I gaze at her, smiling calmly.
"That's it. That's the crux of the matter!" Octavia's voice takes on a royal purple as she sits up with a proud scowl across her soft features. "From now on, I, Octavia Melody, promise not to go overboard anymore! Come Tartarus or high water, I shall endure! And if this opportunity to become Princess Twilight's personal royal minstrel does not fall through, then it is far from the end of Equestria, and I can live on most charmingly... without shame, sadness, or regret."
The door to the foyer creaks open. A small, draconian figure waddles in, cradling a clipboard in his scaled claws.
"Uhhhhhhhhhhh... Octavia Melody—"
"Greetings!" Octavia's voice undulates in excessive violet. She practically launches off the bench, coming to a sliding stop before the Princess' apprentice. Her smile is as sharp as her tongue, and it rings almost as loudly. "Sir Spike, is it? I am most honored to meet you, good sir! This Palace is most radiant and splendid. By the Princess' grace, I am humbled to be so much as breathing here." She curtseys low... lower. "I can only hope to please Her Grace with my musical talents, for they have have been bequeathed by the equine goddesses themselves for this very purpose."
I face hoof. Hard.
Spike blinks. "Uhhhh..." He lifts a quill and says, "I was just gonna tell you and DJ-P0N3 that it's gonna be another two hours wait at least." He points. "In the meantime, down that hallway you can find refreshments... and the little filly's room."
"Oh..." Octavia blinks. "Oh, r-right." She smiles and blinks again. "Then you may inform Her Majesty Princess Sparkle that my musical companion and I are grateful for the opportunity to most humbly..." She gulps. "...make water?"
I barely peek past my fetlock.
"Uh... yeah." Spike salutes and backwaddles through the door. "I'll say half of that, at least."
Once the crimson clears, Octavia sighs, turns around, and smiles at me with folded ears.
"Was that not terribly subtle of me?"
Does Princess Celestia pee comet dust?