• Published 13th Sep 2014
  • 5,653 Views, 258 Comments

The Seventh Element - PaisleyPerson



Thestrals are thought extinct. But what will happen when one moves to Ponyville? Disguised as an earth pony, Acrylic does her best to fit in. Can she keep the secret, or will she expose her entire race?

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Chapter 10: Making Amends

Chapter 10
Making Amends

Rarity had locked herself at home for three days. The rest of us were getting worried, so we banded together and paid her a visit. Or, tried to. Pinkie knocked on the bedroom door.

“Rarity? Are you okay in there? You haven’t come out for days!”

“I’m never coming out! I can't show my face in Ponyville ever again! I used to be somepony. I used to be respected. I made dresses. Beautiful, beautiful dresses! But now everypony is laughing at me. I'm nothing but a laughing stock!” Loud sobs came from inside.

“You’re not a laughing stock, Rarity,” Twilight tried.

“She kind of is,” Rainbow pointed out. I cuffed her behind the ears. “Ow!”

“Hush, you!”

“Rarity, please come out and talk to us.”

“Leave me alone! I want to be alone! I want to wallow in... whatever it is that ponies are supposed to wallow in! Do ponies wallow in pity? Oh, listen to me, I don't even know what I'm supposed to wallow in! I'M SO PATHETIC!” Horrible screeching wails drove us away.

“Now what do we do?”

“Uh... panic?” Fluttershy mumbled

“That's your answer for everything!” Rainbow huffed.

“Well, we can't just leave Rarity like this.”

“She'll become a crazy cat lady!” Pinkie fretted.

“She only has one cat,” Twi pointed out.

“Give her time.”

“Hmm.” Twilight peered through the door at Rarity’s workspace. “I might have an idea. That is, if we can get in there. I’ll be right back. I’m going home to see if I can find a lock picking spell.”

“Don’t bother,” I shook my head. “Rarity always keeps her keys in the drawer by the door.”

“Great!” Twilight dug around until she found them, inserted them into the lock until she found the correct one, and let us all inside.

“What are we doing in here?”

“We’re going to make it up to Rarity by finishing her dress,” Twilight announced, gesturing to the sketch still posted on the wall.

“Her gala dress!” I exclaimed. “That’s brilliant!”

“Alright. This isn’t really my area of expertise... Acrylic, you worked with Rarity before Art Life was open, and you helped make our dresses. Do you have any suggestions on, oh, I don’t know, where to start?”

“You should probably start by pleating this,” Fluttershy interjected, feeling the fabric Rarity had selected. “Oh, I mean, if you want to.”

Fluttershy soon stunned us all with a surplus of sewing know how. Where and how she learned all this remained a mystery, but she soon found herself organizing us as we pooled our efforts together to complete Rarity’s dream dress. I offered my services to toil over the details, making sure the gems glistened just so. Twilight cut out the patterns precisely while Applejack held them in place for Fluttershy to sew. Once the bits were all cut out to a perfect T, Twilight took over the sewing machine with Rainbow’s help, and Pinkie danced around double checking measurements with her photographic memory. With the six of us working, it was done in record time. Now all we needed was to draw Rarity out of her room.

First I tried to ease her out by approaching her by myself, but when that didn’t work, Rainbow came up with a much more ambitious plan. I completely disapproved, but I wasn’t left with much of a choice. Rainbow hunted down Opalescence herself, deposited her in a tree by Rarity’s window, and flew back to watch.

“Opal? Opal! How did you get up there? Hang on, you poor dear. Mama’s coming!” The window slammed shut, and everypony high hoofed each other. Not me. She was going to be furious.

“RAINBOW DASH? How DARE you strand my poor Opal in a tree?”

“Well, how else were we going to get you out here to show you this?”

“ What is it? It's not... You...”

“We all finished your dress for you.”

“Thanks to Fluttershy's freaky knowledge of sewing.” Fluttershy beamed.

“Do you like it?”

“Like it? Like it?!” Rarity critically began to circle our creation.

“Uh-uh. She doesn't like it.”

“No, I don't like it.”

“Awwww...” we all disappointedly moaned.

“I LOVE IT!”

“Yay!” we cheered.

“You ponies did an amazing job! It's exactly the way I imagined it.”

“We just followed your brilliant design.”

“Like we should have let you do for our outfits. Those first dresses you designed were perfect. Acrylic saw that right off the bat.” I blushed.

“We're so super sorry,” Pinkie apologized.

“You worked really hard to make our dresses exactly the way we wanted them. We all saw how well that turned out.” She brought Opal back down to the ground, who now jumped onto her owner’s back.

“Oh, I forgive you.”

“Well, that's mighty big of you.”

“But my whole career is still ruined!”

“Oh, right. That.” I grinned. Here comes our guest of honor.

“Maybe not,” Twilight muttered.

“All right, I haven't got all day,” the bigwig Hoity Toity huffed. Rarity’s eyes grew wide with hope, and quickly ushered us all inside. Without the grand setup from before, we had to improvise curtains, and Rarity’s horn provided lighting with special effects. One by one, we came out to the small stage for the viewing. I was still wearing the same outfit, but Rarity wanted to get one last showing out of it.

Twilight was up. Rarity’s horn provided purple and blue swirling lights, stars twinkling in the air until they settled on Twilight’s skirt, providing an extra sparkle.

“Hello... this can’t be the same designer,” Hoity Toity said to himself, removing his sunglasses for a better view. As Twilight walked off the floor, Rarity provided an apple orchard backdrop for Applejack’s appearance, mane and tail now neatly braided. “Simply magnificent!” Hoity Toity exclaimed. I grinned. Way to go, Rarity. “And I suddenly have a fierce craving for some Dutch apple pie, candied apples on a stick, apple turnovers, apple cobbler...” Uh, way to go Rarity, not so much for Hoity Toity.

The room glowed with pink for our next mare’s appearance. This provoked a simple but passionate “Brilliant!” from our critic of the hour, but he jumped back upon a loud crackle of thunder meant to emphasize Rainbow’s turn. Rainbow colored spotlights glinted down, matching the stripes on her skirt perfectly. “Oh, spectacular!”

It was my turn. For me, Rarity threw blotches of rainbow colored light all over the stage that were meant to imply paint blotches. It was so convincing I even stepped back to avoid being splattered. Then, a paintbrush came to sweep up the spills before depositing them into the rings of my dress, the brush merging with the one in my headband. As before, I flitted my eyelashes for our audience of one. “Astounding!” he burst. Rarity had prepared a few shreds of green fabric for this moment, and she now spread them across the stage, lifting them by the tips to make it appear as though grass was sprouting on the floor. Fluttershy was the last one out, looking incredibly gentle and serene surrounded by scattered flower petals and grass.

“Now this is a fashion show! All of these dresses are absolutely amazing! Who is responsible? Show yourself!” Rarity was our grand finale, displaying stunning disco lights as she removed the curtains, stepping out ahead of us but revealing her hard work for a final bow. “Brava! Brava! Magnifico! Encore!”

“Oh, thank you. Thank you so much,” Rarity beamed. My heart melted for her.

In the end, it all worked out. Hoity Toity struck a deal with Rarity to feature her gowns, Twilight got in her friendship lesson to the Princess for the week, and everypony else came out with beautiful gowns for the gala. The experience had made me think about my own business. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to bring a portfolio to the gala. Of course, that meant that on top of keeping up on refilling stock, I’d have to find time to work on real pieces, too. But hey, if Rarity could manage all that work in record time, I could definitely whip up a portfolio. I still had plenty of time, didn’t I? The gala was months away, and Art Life sales were finally falling into a happy medium. The only question was what kind of paintings to make.

We all went out for a celebratory dinner. We all wanted to treat the others out, and since we never made up our mind, we all ended up paying for ourselves. Pinkie still managed to sneak in a box of cupcakes for us all.

“I’m so happy for you, Rarity,” Twilight said for the third time.

“It was all thanks to you six,” Rarity smiled.

“We’re going to be the prettiest ponies at the gala!” Pinkie declared. “Now I’m even more excited!”

“Is that even possible?” I laughed with everypony else. We resumed sharing our dreams of the gala, and I finally voiced my plan to show off a portfolio. Rarity was thrilled that I was taking her suggestion, and instantly started offering ideas. She described magnificent landscapes, scenes depicting the Princesses’ greatest triumphs, grand parties and the like. Rainbow was suddenly struck with an idea.

“Hey, Acrylic? Could you do one of me performing a sonic rainboom? The Wonderbolts will get a kick out of that!” I thought about it.

“I suppose...”

“Say! So long as you’re doing one of Rainbow, could you put Sweet Apple Acres in a good light? It sure would help business. I’m thinking a poster for at the gala?”

“Oh, I could also do with a flier. You know, to help my reputation recover from... Well, you know.” I was suddenly bombarded with commissions.

“STOP!” Twilight screamed, causing the whole restaurant to fall silent. Blushing, she lowered her voice. “There’s no way Acrylic is going to have time for all of these. You saw how Rarity was scrambling to finish our gowns, and I’m sure painting takes even longer. The paint has to set, and I can’t imagine how many layers you must use.”

“It’s okay, Twilight. It’s not that many, and I’ve been working on a new formula for faster drying paint. I’m sure it’ll all get done.”

“Are you sure?”

“Listen to Twilight, dear. We won’t be able to help you, this time. I can turn out a few sketches, of course, but painting isn’t quite my forte. While I would love fliers, I wouldn’t want to put you under the stress I experienced.” She shuddered at the recent memory.

“I’m positive. I have plenty of time. Business isn’t a constant flow anymore. I’ll have time to paint during and after store hours. I work on several paintings at a time to give each coat a chance to dry. It’ll be a piece of cake.”

“Cake? Hold on a sec. I’ll go get one!” Pinkie bounced back to the counter, leaving us all giggling.

“Get a red velvet one!” Rainbow called after her.


As I’d predicted, there weren’t many customers streaming in and out, so I had plenty of time to work. A very rough first layer of green grass came down on Applejack’s fields, a rich but light blue backdrop fell into place to support Rarity’s shop, and epic gray thunderclouds outlined Rainbow Dash’s flying form. I was only interrupted three times all day at the checkout, and one of those times was Rainbow just checking up on her portrait. She didn’t believe me when I told her they’d look good in the end. All she saw was the blocky brushstrokes barely implying a pegasus, rolling hills and who-knows what for Rarity’s.

After I closed the shop for the day, I rummaged under the bed for the finished canvases I’d brought with me to Ponyville. The one I was looking for was at the bottom of the stack. Lighting a lantern for extra light, I sat on the bed looking at it. This was the picture that earned me my cutie mark. I was one of the last fillies in our sector to earn my cutie mark. I’d been so frustrated that I brought out the paints and took it out on the canvas. This inspired my own style of portraits. I secretly named the line Soul Searchers, but when everypony laughed at the name, I changed it to Flipside Reflections. The portrait was always split in half. It was all the same pony, though lining it up could sometimes be awkward; the left side depicted how everypony viewed that individual, and the right showed what lay underneath. This was the first of the line. The left showed a proud, slightly arrogant filly with head held high and an expression to criticize the viewer, daring them to make a jibe about her blank flank. The right side was a little lighter in color, a scared expression with its ear flattened, eyes watery as it searched for forgiveness. The filly looked just like me.

I wondered briefly if this should be included in my portfolio. While it was done in my younger days, it was almost as good as any work I’d do now. I quickly decided against it. This needed updating. The two sides should be reversed. I was a meek, quiet pony on the outside, but inside, something still raged, though it wasn’t pride. It burned hotter than pride. I didn’t want to think about it, and covered it up with this mask so I never had to find out. Perhaps it was time to explore those emotions through paint?

A spark of anger and hatred ignited and ran through my bones the second I tried to narrow it down. Hurling the canvas aside with a shriek, I recoiled from it like a would a snake. That was out of the question.

I panted, repressing those thoughts while clutching my head. My mind raced for something to take my mind off those ideas. Okay, let’s stick with the Flipside Reflections idea. Who would be a good subject to test it out on? I didn’t want it to be anypony local, in fear they wouldn’t agree or be upset with the end result. The first pony who came to mind was Princess Luna. That’d be easy enough. Half Nightmare Moon, half Princess. I focused on this and this alone as I scrambled to get supplies together.

I holed myself up in the workshop, busily working on four projects at once. This new quick drying paint formula worked wonders, but I stuck to slow-drying oils for rich hues on my three commissions. Luna’s dark colors needed that same vibrant iridescence, which ground progress to an agonizing snail’s pace. It didn’t help that I’d selected an ambitious 16x20 inch canvas size for each of them. Luckily, word had spread that I was now taking orders, and received several minor orders from other businesses for fliers. The quick dry formula came in handy here. I turned out fifteen a day, which quickly got them covered. Gradually, the oil paintings started to take shape.

While Rainbow had come for a sneak peek on the first day, I now denied any requests to preview the work. I wanted them to see the before and after pieces. This made Rainbow regret more and more that she asked me to do a piece of her. She thought the reason I was hiding it was because I needed time to redo the whole thing. She didn’t understand that oils just took a long time to dry.

I found myself busy again once it came time to add the details. This work felt long and drawn out, but it was my favorite part. This was where the brushstrokes really mattered. Being the top layer, I had to add the necessary texture and volume, blur the shadows, add highlights and the works. I thought that they’d love their orders, even though they’d learned not to be overly critical from Rarity’s dress fiasco. After almost a month of waiting, I was able to unveil all of the commissions at the same time. Though Fluttershy, Twilight and Pinkie hadn’t placed an order, they came for the unveiling too. Everypony was lined up in my workshop. I’d moved the three easles to the center of the floor, the old cloak draped over them like a curtain.

“You ready?” Everypony eagerly nodded.

“Uh huh!” Pinkie loudly declared.

“These aren’t even your pictures,” Rainbow reminded.

“I know, but I still want to see!” With that, I whipped the cloak off, releasing the vibrant glow of the paint from underneath. Delighted gasps from my friends told me that they’d gone over well.

“Look! It’s my gala dress!” Rarity exclaimed. The poster depicted her in her shop, the gala dress I helped make resting on a mannequin as she levitated the finishing gems over to it.

“How awesome is that sonic rainboom? The Wonderbolts are sure to let me in when they see this! They were knocked out when I did the real thing, but this is almost as good!”

“And how about this here apple orchard? I feel like I could reach right in and pick one off of one of those trees!”

“So you like them?”

“We love them!”

“They’re all beautiful,” Fluttershy agreed. “In fact, it’s making me want to place an order.”

“Really?”

“Oh, if you’re not too busy, that is,” she quickly added.

“No, I’ve got time. What’d you have in mind?”

“Well, I just think a portrait of Angel and I would just look so nice in our little cottage.”

“You know, the library could do with a little decorating, too,” Twilight agreed. “Could you do one of Spike and I?”

“Oh, I want one, too!” Pinkie squealed. “Okay, let me think... hmm... how about one of me at a party? Playing pin the tail on the pony!”

“Okay, okay, slow down,” I laughed, trying to note all this down on a sheet of paper.

“Hey, what’s this?” Pinkie bounced over to the fourth easel, still in its place by the window and pulled the cover off.

“Wait!” I begged, dropping the pencil. The other girls reeled back. Even Pinkie hid from the monster underneath. I groaned. How was I supposed to explain this?

“What in the hay?!”

“What is that?” Rarity couldn’t find better words to express her thoughts.

“Is that... Princess Luna?”

“No, it’s Nightmare Moon. Right?”

“It’s both,” I sighed. The snarling, devilish, half-finished monster hissed from the left side of the canvas while a proud but teary eyed Luna was partially welded into the right side.

“But what is this? Why would you show her off like this?” Twilight seemed personally offended by my interpretation. “She’s changed. She’s not... that anymore.”

“That’s exactly what this is trying to show. This is my own style of painting. This line of portraits is called Flipside Reflections. See? The left side depicts how that pony is viewed in society, or in this case, how history remembers the Princess: as Nightmare Moon. The right side shows who that pony is underneath; who she is now.”

“Well its certainly a... unique approach.”

“Very unique.”

“Look, I know this may not be your favorite style, but I earned my cutie mark doing this kind of painting. It’s special to me.”

“You... did?”

“Do you still have it? I wanna see!” Pinkie chimed, recovering from the shock of Nightmare Moon’s picture.

“Unless it looks like that,” Rainbow sniffed. I sighed.

“It’s upstairs, Pinkie.” She scrambled down the hallway to find it. Upon deeming it safe to show around, she carefully moved it down for everypony to see. I, on the other hoof, glumly wandered off. I was disappointed that even Rainbow disapproved of this side of me.

I set myself out in the woods to clear my head, wings curled around me to absorb the sun’s warmth. My preferred method involved flying as high as I could straight up in the air before plummeting back down in a freefall, pulling up just before I hit the ground. Since I couldn’t show off flying skills here, this would have to suffice. Gentle flapping sounded from above, and I peeked open an eye in time to see Rainbow land on the cloud next to me. She looked down at the white fluff and played with it for a moment.

“It really was pretty good,” she tried.

“We both know that I’m the only pony who thinks so, Dash.”

“But it was. It was too good. Scary good. Not my style, sure, but still art, I guess.”

“Your confidence is very reassuring,” I dryly stated, flipping over onto my back. My wings stretched out. “I don’t know, Rainbow. They say thestrals are full of hate. Even I saw it in my own encampment. Maybe the evil in me is creeping out through my art. I know that was one of my darker pieces, but it was one of the best, too.”

“I don’t believe that for a second,” she stomped. “You aren’t evil. Not a bit.”

“You don’t know that.” I shut my eyes. “I felt it, Rainbow. Just before I started on that Nightmare Moon portrait, I felt hate spark in me. I’ve been trying so hard not to let it out. Not to show everypony.”

“Is that why you’ve holed yourself up for so long?”

“You noticed? I kept telling everypony I was just busy with the paintings.”

“I bought it for two days. But two months? That’s excessive.”

“I am busy, though. The gala’s coming up, and I still don’t have anything to show. Those posters were good enough, but they go home with you all tonight. The Princesses will be at the gala, and there’s no way I’m showing that Nightmare Moon one. They might get the wrong idea. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

“Well, you can take my sonic rainboom piece to show off.

“Really?”

“Sure. Just make sure the Wonderbolts see it.”

“Thanks, Dash.”

“I’m sure the others won’t mind if you borrowed theirs for the night. I’m sure you’ll have time to do some more in between orders, too. Just... don’t make them as dark as the last one.” I offered a half grin.

“I guess. I have been wanting to do a dragon piece for a while. Guarding a treasure trove. What do you think? Red or green scales?”

“Definitely red,” Rainbow answered. “Red dragons are much cooler.”

“Right. I’ll just add a few extra rubies in the hoard for accents, maybe some emeralds to compliment...” The image began forming in my mind, and my eyelids snapped open in perfect time with my wings. “Gotta go!” I bolted home while the image was fresh in my mind.