• Published 10th Jun 2014
  • 1,114 Views, 35 Comments

Hoe Down - Talon and Thorn



Octavia isn't finding it very easy to adjust to her new life in Ponyville. The place is full of crazy ponies! How will she cope when the inhabitants decide to throw a part in her and her fellow element bearers honour? A Cadenceverse story.

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This town is full of crazy ponies!

“Vinyl! Lyra!” cried Octavia seeing her two friends collide and rushing over to try and help them.

“Wow Lyra,” gasped Vinyl her glasses askew and her limbs intertwined with Lyra’s. “I thought you only had eyes for Bon Bon. I know I’m sexy but you don’t have to jump me.”

Lyra gave her friend a quick squeeze before untangling herself. “You might not be my lady but that doesn’t make you any less huggable Vinyl.”

Both of the unicorns picked themselves up and checked themselves over, there didn’t seem to be any serious damage. “How was your concert Vinyl?” asked Octavia politely.

“My rave in Canterlot was awesome Octy. Big Club said we should talk about giving me a monthly set, his cousin’s a record producer so I might have an in there. I went out to celebrate, then things got a little fuzzy. I remember dancing on a table with a pair of really skinny unicorns, brothers I think, they really knew their magitech. But hey I seem to have made it back here so everything's worked out fine.”

“Do you need a hoof to get your equipment back to your home?”

“Well,” said Vinyl awkwardly rubbing the back of her head. “It was a really awesome rave and most of it didn’t survive.” Octavia looked shocked, she couldn’t comprehend even damaging her instrument on stage, let alone destroying it. “Hey, it gave its life in the service of the wubs, and I know how I can make the next batch even better.”

“You really should take better care of your instruments Vinyl!”

“Anyway,” said Vinyl changing the subject. “Why were you leaping all over the place Lyra, finally worked up courage to talk to Bon Bon?”

“It is not time for that yet. I have taken on a quest to show Octavia around town and introducing her to the ponies living here,” said Lyra.

“Ponywatching eh, I can dig that, Ponyville is a cool place. Follow me,” she began to trot through the streets towards her home while breaking into song.

Confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as, sang Vinyl as she swaggered through the marketplace.
Ponyville.sang the farmers and traders putting out their wares.
And you can find anything you want if you take a route straight through what is known as
Ponyville
The flower mares are scaredy ponies they even get intimidated by the dark cloudsshe gestured at three earth pony mares, two pink, and one white who were setting up a display in from of a flower shop while keeping a nervous eye on a solitary storm cloud approaching them.
They’re afraid of everythin’the cloud let out a loud rumble causing the mares to leap into the air and run for cover letting out matching piercing screams A blue mare with a rainbow mane emerged from the cloud and began rolling around on it laughing loudly.
Ponyville
That’s our weather manager up there... you should cut down on your pranking Dash... Do your job! scolded Vinyl with a smile

All the ponies
So many ponies
They all go hoof in hoof
Hoof in hoof in the town of Ponyville

Know what I mean, Vinyl gave a large yawn.
I get up when I want except some days when I get rudely awakened by Red Tape, She nodded at a middle aged white unicorn stallion with a red mane walking purposefully towards the town hall who scowled back at her.
Ponyville
I put my shades on, have a cup of coffee and I think about leaving the house, a small herd of foals ran towards the school house, shouting and screaming at each other. Not paying attention to what was going on a blue unicorn filly with a purple mane failed to notice as a cart rumbled towards her its driver chatting to his neighbour.
Ponyville
I help the foals, I sometimes help their teacher too, it gives me a sense of enormous well being, Vinyl’s aura yanked the foal out of the way just in time and gently dropped her at the hooves of the fuchsia school teacher who glared down at the foal before looking up at Vinyl who winked at her causing the mare’s coat to redden slightly.
Ponyville
And then I'm happy for the rest of the day safe in the knowledge there will always be a bit
Of my heart devoted to
Ponyville

All the ponies
So many ponies
They all go hoof in hoof
Hoof in hoof in the town of Ponyville

Ponyville
Ponyville
Ponyville
Ponyville

The trio bypassed a cordoned off street where workponies were still fixing some of the damage caused by the twin tyrants only a week ago now.

It's about living in this community you know
And it's not just about you joggers who go round and round and round
Ponyville
Ponyvillechorused the workers.

All the ponies
So many ponies
They all go hoof in hoof
Hoof in hoof in the town of Ponyville

All the ponies
So many ponies
They all go hoof in hoof
Hoof in hoof in the town of Ponyville

“So yeah, I like this town it’s got some spirit,” said Vinyl as they stopped outside of a strange building, it looked rather like an egg with a bulge near the top on one side. “Some fun ponies live here.”

“So you’ll help me show Octy about?” asked Lyra.

“‘Fraid not, I’m knackered.”

“You’re tired? But it is still early!” exclaimed Octavia. “The Princess has only just raised the sun.”

“Not to me, it’s only just time for me to go to bed, I didn’t get any sleep last night. You still want to be shown around town in about ten hours I’m your mare. Till then good ‘night’,” said Vinyl entering the building and closing the door.

“She keeps some strange hours,” noted Lyra casually.

“I just do not know what to make of that mare,” muttered Octavia. “She lives in that building?”

“Wait until you see the inside, it will blow your mind. Variety is the spice of life, as they say, and Ponyville is very spicy,” said Lyra with a grin, “We have all sorts here.”

Octavia looked up as a shadow fell across her. The sky was full of clouds scooting here and there. She frowned, she hadn’t thought rain was due until the afternoon. Looking closer she noticed that the majority of the work was being done by a single pony, the weather manager Rainbow Dash apparently making up for her earlier prank by getting the job done a fifth quicker than was needed. For a moment Octavia admired the blue mare’s work then she noticed a small grey spot gently floating down towards the ground, it resolved itself into a pegasus mare with a blond mane and tail streaming out behind her. The mare bobbed and weaved around the clouds as they shot past, it almost looked like Dash was aiming them directly at the new arrival, but seemingly without effort she avoided them, by mere inches in many occasions. Her movements were almost balletic.

“Who is that?” asked Octavia pointing.

“That? Oh, that’s Ditzy Doo, she’s one of the local spices.” said Lyra. “Hey, Ditzy, down here,” she cried waving a hoof.

The grey pegasus turned towards Lyra and waved back, bobbing to avoid another rain cloud then flipping over a second before inverting herself to dodge a third.

“Why is Dash doing that? Another prank?” asked Octavia.

“Not quite, both Dash and Ditzy want to be in the Wonderbolts, they’re very competitive about it. Ditzy’s got nothing on Dash’s speed but Dash can be a little clumsy while Ditzy’s so graceful. They keep trying to outdo each other, pushing themselves to work harder and harder.” She lowered her voice, “Personally I think they should just kiss and be done with it.”

Octavia raised an eyebrow at her friend giving relationship advice.

“Morning Lyra!” came a cry from above as Ditzy approached, she seemed a little out of breath. “How are you?”

“I’m fine. How’s Dinky, no more nightmares?” Lyra sounded concerned.

“No, thank the princess. Your bedtime stories seem to have done the trick. I never would have thought tales of the twin tyrants would have helped her nightmares about their return, but they seemed to have done the job.”

“Well a good story doesn’t just tell you about monsters, it reminds you they can be beaten.”

“Oh, hi,” said Ditzy turning to face Octavia, one of her eyes locked onto the earth ponies face while the other seemed to rotate around almost causing the earth pony to flinch back. “You’re Octavia aren't you? I’m Ditzy Doo, mailmare and future wonderbolt, I guess I have you to thank for saving us from the tyrants.”

Octavia shifted a little uncomfortably, a few locals had approached her about this while others remembered what she had been like before Nightmare Moon and Burning Sun had turned up. “It wasn’t me alone, Ms Doo, I have all my friends to thank as well.”

“Oh, I’ll get round to them soon enough, and its Ditzy not Ms Doo.” Suddenly Ditzy staggered forwards as she was hit from behind by a lump of cloud hurled by Dash from above. Some of it disintegrated throwing gobs of water over Lyra and Octavia.

“Dash!” squealed Lyra her mane sticking to her face.

“Sorry! But Ditzy’s fat flanks were too big a target to miss,” said the weather manager.

“I’ll show you fat flanks,” cried Ditzy wiggling the aforementioned body parts, in the air a flush grew over Dash’s cheeks. The mailmare grabbed one of the surviving lumps of cloud and threw it up the blue pony.

“To slow!” cried Dash as she sidestepped to avoid the projectile.

“Wait for it,” said Ditzy with a grin. The ball of cloud ricocheted off a larger cloud sending it drifting into a third which floated up behind Dash just as she was gathering up another hoof full of sky cotton. It gently bumped into the weather manager releasing a loud rumble of thunder causing Dash to leap into the sky with a loud ‘eep’.

Ditzy stuck out her tongue. “And that’s why I’ll be first into the Wonderbolts,” she boasted.

“You certainly seem skilled,” said Octavia, not entirely sure what to make of the strange mare in front of her.

“Thanks, I’ve wanted to join them since someone first told me it would be impossible. Now excuse me I have to teach Dash another lesson.”

“As if,” cried Dash from above, having recovered her composure, “I’ll fly rings around you.”

“You can try!” said Ditzy as she floated into the air.

“You’re on!” yelled Dash rocketing towards her rival.

“Should just kiss,” noted Lyra shaking her head as she smiled at the playing pegasus above.

“Aren't you worried that the weather manager spends her time playing tricks on members of the public and fighting with the mailmare?” asked Octavia.

Lyra thought for a second. “No. The weather still gets done, and Dash never really hurts anyone. Rose and the girls would get bored if they didn’t get a shock every so often.”

“It just doesn’t seem proper to me,” said Octavia stiffly.

Lyra shrugged. “It’s just the way Ponyville is. We do things a little differently around here. Maybe it’s something to do with the Everfree or just because we’re small but we’ve always been a little less, uptight, than other towns. I’m sure you’ll love it once you get used to it.”

“Maybe,” said Octavia feeling uneasy, she wasn’t sure that she wanted to get used to such chaos.


After an hour of Lyra showing her about Octavia felt like her head was spinning. She had been introduced to pony after pony, seemingly more than the town could comfortably hold although she had a feeling she might have met some more than once, unless the town contained a number of doppelgangers. She was shown around numerous shops and stalls some with very strange inventories, scrolls and hoes, screws and shrews (why anyone would want to purchase a rodent was beyond Octavia, although they were rather cute), cutlery and cupboards. When asked about this Lyra had mumbled something about tax breaks before dragging her into another shop.

“Can we stop for a moment?” asked Octavia as Lyra began to drag her into yet another building. She was used to strenuous jogging but for some reason she found this flitting between ponies and places more tiring. “I think I need a few moments to rest my hooves.”

“Of course,” said Lyra, “Maybe we could stop for a snack or a drink?”

“That sounds nice,” said Octavia looking at a nearby cafe slightly longingly, a nice calming cup of tea sounded very appealing.

“I know!” announced Lyra dragging Octavia in the opposite direction. “Sugar Cube Corner!”

For a moment Octavia’s legs locked and she flashed back to the auditory assault she had suffered at Vinyl’s hooves the last time she had entered the building. She tried to calm herself, the DJ would be fast asleep by now. She didn’t have anything to be afraid of...

“Here we are! Pinkie Pie works here you know.”

Or maybe she did.

“Her employers, the Cakes, are nice enough. A little deranged, but nice enough ponies.”

“Deranged?” asked Octavia worriedly, by the standards of this town they must be really bad.

“Yes, they have this strange delusion that their paltry cakes are better than Bon Bon’s sweet works of art. I find it best to just humour them,” said Lyra airily as they entered the building.

“Hiya girls!” cried Pinkie piercingly as they entered the shop. The pink mare was standing behind the counter and had just finished serving a now rather shell shocked looking brown earth pony stallion. “What can I get for you?” Seemingly without moving she was over the counter and standing only inches from Octavia her eyes looked like they were stretching from their sockets. The grey mare staggered back.

Pinkie was suddenly catapulted into the air as her hind legs twitching wildly. “Oooh! A party!” she squealed. Her left ear flapped excitedly followed by her right eye spasming. “Aww! But I’m not going to organise it,” she said dejectedly, her tail spun around like a corkscrew and she perked up. “Ooh, well I’ll organise part of it, and a party is still a party.”

Octavia looked on mouth open in shock. “Wha.. what?” she stuttered.

“Don’t mind Pinkie, she’s;” began a rotund blue mare with a swirly pink mane as she trotted in from the back of the shop.

“Pinkie,” said a tall thin yellow stallion following her with a tray of donuts on his back.

“Welcome to Sugar Cube Corner;”

“Ms Philharmonica,” continued the pair, Octavia’s head flipped back and forth between them.

“We are the owners of Sugar Cube corner, Cup cake;”.

“And Carrot cake. We are honoured that you are;”

“Gracing our humble shop with your presence. May we offer you a sample.”

“Of our goods?” said Mr Cake kneeling to present the freshly baked donuts to Octavia. She licked her lips a little nervously, she really shouldn’t but they did smell nice and her stomach rumbled quietly. Maybe one wouldn’t hurt, and they had offered so politely.

“Thank you,” she took one of the offered treats in her hoof and took a bite enjoying the warmth of the batter as it entered her mouth. The doughnut was sweeter than she was normally used to but the texture was just right. She swallowed, “This is very nice,” she said politely.

Mrs Cake smile proudly. “Now as the bearer of the element of honesty, would you say;”

“That it’s better than anything Bon Bon has served you?”

“Err.. Well I...” started Octavia sweating a bit as the two older ponies looked on expectantly.

“Of course she wouldn’t,” interjected Lyra. “As you said she’s honest, Bon Bon’s sweets are clearly much better. Isn’t that right Octy?”

“Well, you see...” Octavia’s eyes darted from side to side as she looked for a way out without upsetting anypony, they came to a stop on a clock, “Look at the time, I really must be going if I want to see the rest of the town before this afternoon’s rain,” she said before bolting for the door. The whole of this town really is crazy, she thought. Lyra blinked for a moment before following her friend.

“Come back;” said Mr Cake waving a hoof.

“Soon,” completed his wife.


After her rapid departure from Sugar Cube corner Octavia set course for the farms surrounding the town with Lyra still in tow. She recalled that Bon Bon had mentioned that Sweet Apple Acres hosted regular dances, although she couldn’t grasp why such formal gatherings would take place out here, and had used that excuse to persuade Lyra to leave the town. In fact she was more interested in the journey rather than the destination, as frazzled as she currently felt she thought that a gentle trot through the countryside would soothe her nerves and it did seem to be doing the job.

By the time she reached the gates of the Sweet Apple Acres she felt almost equine again. However, to her displeasure the farm itself didn’t seem to be the haven of peace that she hoped it would be.

“It just ain’t natural I tell you,” came the raised voice of the farms green matriarch Granny Smith.

“But Mrs Smith I can guarantee that this will increase your apple harvest by at least 10%,” said an orange mare waving a beaker containing some discoloured liquid. A complicated looking set of goggles rested on her head. “Just let me use it on a small part of your holdings and I can prove its benefits.”

“I’m sorry Carrot Top,” said Applejack standing beside her grandmother. “You know how I feel about your ‘science’ stuff, it just ain’t the way I’m going to run the Acres. If you want to use this stuff on your own farm that’s fine but I don’t want it on mine. Oh, mornin’ Octavia, Lyra.” She nodded at the visitors as they approached.

“Oh, Miss Philharmonia. I didn’t see you there,” said Carrot Top turning to face Octavia. “I was just trying to get Applejack to try my latest invention.”

“Invention? Miss..” she asked.

“Oh, sorry, I’m Dr Carrot Top, I don’t think we’ve been introduced. I work here in Ponyville trying to find new ways of improving crop production.”

“There ain’t no need for new ways to grow things, there’s nothing wrong with traditional methods, we don’t need your fancy ‘science’” said Applejack with a scowl.

Carrot Top sighed. “You already use science Applejack, where do you think you're pesticides and weedkillers came from? Or some of your breeds of apples? It’s not all smoking beakers you know.”

“What is it you are working on at the moment, Dr Top?” asked Octavia.

“I am studying the farming methods used locally,” explained Carrot Top. “I’m trying to find out why they work, then make them better.” The orange pony stood tall as she got into her stride. “I’m also working on new ways of growing crops, methods nopony has ever tried before, hydroponics, the science of growing plants in a liquid medium, controlled mutation, new uses for earth pony magic. The other tribes may look down on us, no offence Lyra, but I know earth pony magic can be just as powerful as the mightiest unicorn and I intend to prove it. Simply increasing the growth of crops is the merest tip of the carrot.” She reared up on her hind legs, holding out the flask, “Behold! Earth magic in liquid form!”

Octavia took the proffered beaker looking rather unsure, “What exactly is it Doctor?” she asked.

“As you know earth ponies such as ourselves generate a magical field which aids the growth of plants. This is a more targetable form of that power.”

Octavia uncorked the beaker and took a cautious sniff, it did have a certain earthy scent to it.

“You see I collected certain of my excretions...”

Octavia’s eyes widened. “Excretions!” she gasped holding the vial as far away from herself as possible and turning a greenish colour closer to Lyra’s than her own natural coat colour.

“Oh no it’s not like that, this contains a sample of sweat. There’s no need to worry,” said Carrot Top taking the flask back. “It has been sterilized, purified and concentrated. Why you could even drink this, if you wanted to.”

“Not that anypony with a lick of sense would,” muttered Applejack looking disgusted. “Look Carrot, I know using this stuff up here would be a powerful boost to you, lots of the other farmers try to copy us but we both know your place isn’t big enough to have tested this stuff properly.”

“And that is just why I need you, I’m selling at below cost so I can get more data on its effects.”

“So you don’t know what it does, it could make our trees grow legs and walk for all you know.”

“I have carried out all the tests I can, and it is highly unlikely that that would happen... again,” she admitted.

Octavia backed away from the arguing farmers, maybe visiting the farm hadn’t been such a good idea after all. As she retreated her hind quarters collided with something hard and warm and with a little unladylike cry she missed her hoofing and toppled to the ground

She looked up at the thing she had collided with, and up and up. Past unshaved fetlocks, past legs as thick as tree trunks, past a heavily muscled chest (it took quite some effort to get past that part), up to a lightly freckled crimson face, framed by a shaggy blond mane, looking down at her with a concerned expression on its handsome features.

Octavia had been trained from an early age by some of the finest tutors money could buy to always be proper and to speak with correct diction. Her every utterance was carefully crafted to get across precisely the meaning she intended with the minimum of effort. “Whaaaa carvuk,” she muttered tongue lolling out of her mouth.

“Big Mac!” cried Applejack turning to her brother as Granny Smith and Carrot Top continued to argue. “Look what you’ve gone and done you clumsy gallute, help that poor girl up.”

Turning an even darker shade of red the titanic pony (he must be as tall as the princess, thought Octavia, maybe even taller), held out a hoof and gently but with no apparent effort lifted her back to her hooves, her skin tingled where he touched her. Avoiding eye contact he looked aside shyly. “Sorry Ma’am,” he muttered.

“Are you alright?” asked Applejack brushing off Octavia’s coat.

“I.. I am my fine, thank you, very fine,” murmured the cellist unable to take her eyes off the red stallion in front of her.

“This is Big Macintosh, Applejack’s brother,” noted Lyra with a smile, noticing her friend’s preoccupation.

“Big Macintosh... yes, very big.”

“He should be more careful,” snarled Applejack causing her brother to back off a few steps.

“No, no, the fault was entirely mine, I was not looking where I was going,” said Octavia finally managing to look away.

“Sorry,” rumbled the stallion again the sound reverberating from somewhere deep in his chest almost seeming to enter Octavia through her hooves rather than her ears. “Guests,” he said pointing at two ponies approaching from the gate. A tan earth pony mare with a grey mane was being followed by a white unicorn stallion with red mane.

“Well then bring them up here then,” said Applejack.

Big Mac shuffled his hooves nervously. “Got work, ploughing,” he mumbled.

“Fine!” sighed Applejack. “I swear your darn shyness is going to be the death of you one of these days. Git, I’ll see them up here.” Applejack trotted over to her guests and started to talk with them.

“I should be off as well,” said Carrot Top. “I have other farms which might be interested in the farming of the future.”

“Eeyup.” Nodding thankfully the stallion started to turn and, after giving Octavia a quick appraising gaze, or at least she thought he did, he turned and began to gallop away mighty flank muscles propelling him quickly into the fields.

The view was even better going than coming thought Octavia lustfully before shaking herself, a blush beginning to spread over her entire body. She felt a little stab of jealousy as Carrot Top set off in the same direction as him.

“Nice isn’t he,” whispered Lyra. “He’s no Bon Bon, but well nopony else is.”

“I do not know what you mean,” said Octavia trying to regain her composure.

“Of course you don’t,” grinned her friend.

“Ah Lyra,” said Ivory Scrolls the Mayor of Ponyville with a smile as she approached the group escorted by Applejack. “Granny Smith, Miss Philharmonica,” she gave a slight nod to Octavia her features otherwise blank. During her few meetings with the Mayor over the last few days Octavia had gotten the distinct impression that Ivory had not forgiven her for her actions prior to the equinox, and with good reason, Octavia’s behaviour had been atrocious. The official had not said anything out loud but her interactions had been decidedly icy. “I don’t think you have met my assistant before,” she continued gesturing at the middle aged stallion standing just behind her. “This is Red Tape.”

“Please to meet you Mr Tape, I am surprised I did not see you at the equinox celebrations,” said Octavia.

“Ah, well you see..” began the stallion.

“I am afraid Red worked rather too hard preparing the celebrations and made himself ill. It was unfortunate that much of his work ended up being wasted,” said Ivory pointedly. Octavia shuffled a little uncomfortably.

“It was just a touch of flu,” explained Red looking awkward.

“I didn’t know you were sick Red,” said Lyra.

“Well it wasn’t much,” the stallion pulled himself up to full, not entirely impressive, height, compared to Big Max he looked like a stick figure. “The Doctors decided to keep me in for a few days just to make sure.”

“Oh if I’d known I would have visited.”

“Really?” a large smile spread over his face. Was there something between him and Lyra thought Octavia absently.

“Oh yes, I’d do the same for anypony in town.”

“Oh,” said Red deflating, “Of course you would.”

“Anyway,” said the Mayor clearing her throat. “It is fortunate that I found you up her Miss Philharmonica. I had meant to talk to you earlier but I needed to confirm something with Applejack here.”

“No problem Mayor, as I just told you Sweet Apple Acres will do all it can to help Ponyville,” said Applejack.

“Thank you Applejack. Now it has been brought to my attention that many of the town feel that the bearers of the elements, yourself included Miss Philharmonica, have not been properly thanked for their actions in the defeat of Nightmare Moon and Burning Sun. So I have agreed to arrange a formal event so that the townsfolk can show their appreciation of your actions.”

“Formal nothin’,” crowed Applejack, “We’re going to have a Hoe down right here at the Acres, next Saturday night. I’m going to invite all the family that can make it in time and the whole town and more as well. It’s going to be the biggest party in the history of Ponyville since it was founded I reckon.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” said Granny Smith her eyes a little unfocused. “That party were really somethin’.”

“So were going to have to work real hard to top it then.”

“A true knight of Equestria needs no such reward,” noted Lyra, but her eyes shone bright. “Still I would love to take part in such a legendary party.”

All eyes turned to Octavia who allowed a gracious smile to cross her face. “I would love to be a guest at your ‘Hoe Down’ Applejack, it is an honour that the ponies of Ponyville want me to attend,” she gave a little bow to the mayor who responded in kind a little unwillingly. At least this was something she knew about, as a daughter of nobility she had spent enough time at formal dances and parties that she knew just how to behave.

“That’s great!” enthused Applejack. “I’m sure you’ll be happier than a pig in mud at the dance.”

“I am sure I will,” agreed Octavia with a little distaste. “What is a hoe down anyway?” she whispered to Lyra.

Author's Note:

This section purposely mirrors the first part of Race that ate friendships to show the difference in Octy and the Ponyville population over the six months between them.

As always comments are appreciated