• Published 18th Jul 2014
  • 1,331 Views, 76 Comments

The Balance of Harmony - Thornwing

Discord's lost his mojo. Can the ponies help get it back? What happens if the balance of harmony can't be kept? Another adventure begins.

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Chapter Seven - The Flim Flam Philosophy

Rarity and Applejack walked three abreast as Coco Pommel led the way through the crowded streets of Manehattan. They were glad to have the city pony as a guide. Taxi ponies zipped by as the trio made their way down to 13th Street. As they neared the corner of their intended cross street, they could already see the line of ponies that had formed.

“That sure is quite a long line,” remarked Rarity.

“Oh, that’s nothin’,” beamed Applejack. “That there line doesn’t even compare to Sweet Apple Acres apple cider harvest. We’ve got ponies lined up fer a country mile.”

“That’s just the end of the line,” said Coco. “We still have 10 more blocks to go once we get to the corner.”

Rarity gave little smirk of a smile as Applejack came to realize how long the line really was. The ponies rounded the corner and continued their little trek now moving alongside the line of potential pony patrons.

“I really don’t see what all the fuss is about,” said Applejack. “Their tonic doesn’t even work – and it doesn’t taste all that great either.”

“Liar!” shouted a voice from the line.

Applejack came to an abrupt halt. She paused a moment to take in the realization that someone had just called her a liar. She turned and faced the pony who had called her out.

“Uncle Orange!” she shouted in surprise.

“Why if it isn’t my precocious little niece, Applejack.” Mosely Orange took a step forward as the line moved a few inches in front of him. “Whatever brings you to Manehattan?”

“Well, I guess I’ve come ta see what the big deal is here with the latest Flim Flam brothers scheme,” she replied.

“How dare you speak ill of those two wonderful pony proprietors. Their tonic is the greatest thing to ever grace our fair city,” he rebuffed.

Applejack was still a bit shocked, but now felt more confused. “What exactly are they sellin’?”

“Why, this of course.” Mosley held up a mostly empty bottle of the Flim Flam tonic.

Applejack examined the bottle and then asked, “Mind if I try a bit?”

“Not at all my dear niece,” he replied. “Unfortunately, I don’t have enough left to share with your friends.”

“I don’t think that will be a problem,” said Applejack as she drank the last few drops left in the now empty bottle. “Just as I suspected – it’s the same old stuff they were peddlin’ in Ponyville – although, it does have kind of a weird aftertaste.”

Her Uncle rebuked her once again, “It’s the best tasting beverage this side of Canterlot. I guess I can’t expect your unrefined palate to appreciate the finer things - such as this marvelous tonic here. I’m in line to buy an entire case.”

He took another step forward.

Applejack turned back to Rarity and Coco. “We’ve got to get to the bottom of this. If we stand in line, we could be here all day. I say we just confront those lyin’, good-fer-nothin’ ponies and see about settin’ this whole thing straight.”

“I’m with you, Applejack,” responded Rarity.

“I-I think I better get back to my sewing,” replied a hesitant Coco as she politely excused herself and turned back the way they had come. “I’m sure you can find your way – just follow the line of ponies.”

Applejack didn’t need to say goodbye to her Uncle Orange since he had already forgotten she was there while moving ahead with the flow of the line. She and Rarity ran at a brisk trot the rest of the way down the street toward the head of the line.

In just a few minutes, they stood in front of the glaring billboard which indiscreetly featured the beaming faces of the infamous Flim Flam brothers. Just under the oversized caricature of the two heads read the name of the store – ‘Flim Flam’s Tonic Emporium’. Just under that appeared another tag line – ‘We’ve got what you need!’

Applejack looked at Rarity and Rarity looked back at Applejack. “Here we go again,” they both said to one another.

They entered the store using the door marked ‘Exit Only’, much to the chagrin of the line of customers still waiting to be served. Immediately they were greeted with the sound of two familiar voices.

“Sorry folks, but you’ll have to wait in line like all the rest of these thirsty ponies,” called Flim.

“Don’t worry though, there’s plenty for everypony. You just have to wait your turn,” cried Flam.

“Flim and Flam – still up to your old tricks I see,” countered Applejack. “What kind of snake oil are you trying to sell here in Manehattan.”

Both brothers stopped dead in their tracks like they had just seen a ghost. “Applejack!” They nearly fainted.

Flim and Flam quickly recovered from their initial shock. “The store is closed – everypony out!” they called out with one starting and one finishing the line.

A shocked group of ponies already inside the store were quickly ushered out the door. The signs in the window were flipped from Open to Closed. Last of all, the curtains were drawn so as to block all view from outside the venue.

“Applejack,” began Flim.

“We knew we hadn’t seen the last of you,” continued Flam.

“To what do we owe the honor of your visit?” finished Flim.

“I think you already know the answer to that you lyin’ pair a….” Applejack was cut off.

“Business owners!” exclaimed Rarity.

Rarity cleared her throat and continued, “I see you have a wonderful new establishment here in town. Looks like you’ve made a great impression with the locals.”

“Why, Miss Rarity, such a pleasure to see you again.” Flim bowed as Flam ran up to shake her hoof. “Have you come to sample our marvelous new formulation?”

“Nothin’ doin’!” exclaimed Applejack. “We’re here to put a stop to this nonsense once and fer all.”

“Whatever do you mean, dear Applejack?” protested Flam. “We’re just two honest business ponies trying to support our wives and foals back at home.”

“You’ve got family?” came the retort from a newly surprised Applejack.

“Of course we do,” chuckled Flim.

“We’re just trying to provide a humble living for our young families – I’m sure you can’t see anything wrong with that, now can you?” added Flam.

“I had no idea,” replied Applejack, “but that still doesn’t excuse your lyin’ to these gullible Manehattanites. That tonic a yers doesn’t do any of the stuff you say it will.”

“Oh, but you haven’t tried the new and improved formula now have you?” responded Flim.

“Of course I have,” continued Applejack. “It tastes just like the stuff you were sellin’ in Ponyville not long ago.”

“Ahhh, but that’s where you’re wrong. This is the new and improved version.” Flam held up a full bottle of the new tonic.

“What’s so ‘new and improved’ about it? – other than that bitter aftertaste.” Applejack examined the bottle that Flam held trying to see if she could detect any differences in this tonic from the ones that Granny Smith had bought back home.

“That’s the magic part!” exclaimed Flim.

“We found that by just giving our regular old tonic a little stir from our magic horns, the customers find the ‘new and improved’ version irresistible,” continued Flam.

“They can’t stop talking about it. It makes it so easy to sell when all our customers can’t stop telling all their friends how wonderful it is,” added Flim.

Applejack picked up a bottle from the shelf on the wall. “I still don’t see what makes this any better than the stuff you were sellin’ back home. It tastes as plain as ever.”

“Honestly, you’re the first pony to ever say that, Applejack,” stated Flim.

“We pride ourselves on a solid reputation.” Flam looked down at the bottle of tonic he was holding. “Not a single customer has ever come to complain that our tonic tastes bad or doesn’t do what we say it does – at least since we opened up our shop here in Manehattan using our new and improved formula.”

“I don’t believe that for a second,” scolded Applejack. “You two are still as crooked as you were the last two times we met.”

“You’ve got it all wrong,” corrected Flam.

“We’ve changed our ways,” explained Flim. “We no longer sell our tonic as a cure all medicine – we’ve learned from our mistakes and want to do right by our customers.”

“We saw how our bad reputation hurt our business,” added Flam. “We can’t afford to let that happen here. Manehattan is the last place in all of Equestria where we could have a fresh start. You have to believe us.”

“Mr. Flim and Mr. Flam,” asked Rarity, “would you mind showing us your -magic- tonic making process. I’m very interested to see how you put it all together.”

“But of course – follow us,” Flim and Flam split the line.

The four ponies went into the back room where the bottling apparatus was set up. Flim gathered a couple ingredients on the table as Flam prepared the juicer for processing.

“We only use the finest ingredients available,” stated Flim. “Fresh fruit and veggies straight from the farm.”

Flam continued, “Only the best apple and beet leaves make it into Flim Flam’s new and improved tonic.”

“But that’s the same stuff you were makin’ the tonic back in Ponyville with,” said Applejack.

“Ahh, but that’s where you would be incorrect my dear.” Flam filled a pitcher with the juiced apples and beet leaves. “Now comes the magic!”

Flim turned his head to the side and guided his horn into the opening of the pitcher. He gave the concoction a little stir – just enough that his glowing horn grazed the surface of the liquid.

“And there you have it!” exclaimed Flam.

“The new and improved version!” added Flim.

Bells and whistles started going off in Applejack’s head. She turned to Rarity and asked, “Are you thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?”

“I believe we may have found what we came all this way for in the first place,” replied an excited Rarity. “Now the problem is, what do we do about it?”

Applejack thought for a moment before she addressed the brothers. “What if I told you fellers somethin’ bad was goin’ into that fancy new drink a yers?”

“I’d say you’ll have to do better than that,” replied Flim.

“What’s the matter with our tonic?” questioned Flam.

“Let’s just say that little bit a magic you’re addin’ to the mix isn’t what you think it is,” stated Applejack.

“It’s actually something very bad for your customers,” added Rarity.

“I’m all ears if you think you’ve got a better way to keep our shop in business and avoid whatever awful thing you say we’re inflicting upon our loyal new customer base.” Flam waited for his answer from the two smiling ponies before him. His brother did the same.

“We need to remove all that magic from all these jars and make sure that nothing like that ever goes into your product in the future,” came Rarity’s reply.

“But how will we stay in business?” questioned Flim.

“The magic is our special ingredient. We can’t sell our tonic without it,” stated Flam.

“Of course you can,” chuckled Applejack. “Your tonic isn’t bad. It just has a brandin’ problem. You need to stop tryin’ to sell it as a magic elixir and start sellin’ it fer what it is – an organic heath drink! The ponies of Manehattan will love the stuff!”

“Brother, she might have a point there.” Flim consulted with his brother, Flam.

“It might sell even better than it does now, brother.” Flam turned back to the girls. “So how do we go about removing the magic from our existing product?”

“Well, that’s the easy part,” said Applejack. “All you gotta do is promise to be honest with your customers. Tell em exactly what’s in the drink and, while it’s sure no magic cure all, it’s still good for em and comes from a real farm.”

“I think that’s something we can agree to brother,” said Flam.

“Sounds like a deal to me, brother,” added Flim. “A natural product using fewer ingredients and an honest marketing plan. I can see the sales piling up the chart.”

Flim and Flam’s horns suddenly lit up in the familiar glow they had used to prepare their tonic with. All the bottles around them also began to glow just the same. A rush of magical energy came flooding out of every space in the store – all directed at one location, Applejack’s medallion.

The gemstone embedded in Applejack’s necklace began to glow as it absorbed the energy from its surroundings. Soon enough, the magical energy had filled the stone. Applejack stood back trying to get a better look at her necklace. Rarity came over and held up a hoof to get a closer look at it.

“I do believe you’ve done it, Applejack!” exclaimed Rarity upon closer inspection of the gem. “You’ve captured the essence of the element of lies!”

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