• Published 26th Mar 2015
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The Road Home - Pen Stroke


Discord tosses Twilight and her family into an unexpected adventure while the rest of Twilight's friend get to work on the new crystal palace. All together, they'll do everything to ensure that Twilight and her family have a place to call home.

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Kitchen and Garden

The Road Home

By Pen Stroke

Preread, Edited, and Reviewed By

Illustrious Q, BronyWriter, SaturnStar14, Applejack-fan

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Chapter 5

Kitchen and Garden

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“Wow, you look super duper tired, like you worked really hard all day.”

Applejack glanced up from the worktable she had fashioned out of some planks of wood and a few boxes. There was a deep frown on her face at first, for the day had been long. Her patience was at its end, and that usually meant she wasn’t in the best of moods for Pinkie Pie’s antics. Yet, the pink party pony had just popped up on the other side of the table with her normal, bright smile.

That and a hearty, home cooked meal.

“Brought you some dinner,” Pinkie said as she set the plate down in front of Applejack. “Also, everything up at Night Stone Castle is right as rain. We got the kitchens going and everypony who just got off shift is having this same yummy food. We got a bunch of old blankets and some hay and used them to make the best super sleepover bed ever! We even set up some fun games for ponies to play in the castle courtyard.”

Applejack let herself smile as she drew in the sweet smells from the food. She used a hoof to draw the plate closer. “Thanks, Pinkie. Don’t know if anypony else could have pulled it off.” She savored the aroma for just a few moments more before taking her first big bite.

The praise made Pinkie bounce for joy before she turned her head upward and looked across the crystal palace’s trunk’s interior. The scaffolding reached all the way to the ceiling, and across the walls numerous bookshelves were in varying stages of completion. “Looks like things are going great here too.”

“Well, they’re going. I don’t know if I’d say great though.” Applejack paused to take another bite before continuing to speak as she chewed. “Still, at this pace, we might actually get this all done in seven days.”

“Six,” Pinkie Pie corrected as if singing a note in a song. “Today’s just about over. Then again, you do have ponies working all night, so maybe you have six and a half left. Or maybe six and thirty two sixty fifths.”

“Let’s just call it six,” Applejack said. She licked her lips a moment, and Pinkie promptly offered a canteen from her saddlebags. “Thanks,” Applejack said before taking a quick swig of water.

“You’re welcome,” Pinkie said before bouncing over to the bookshelf wall. “So, what’s the secret?”

Applejack finished taking a swig from the canteen and wiped her mouth before answering. “What’s the secret to what?”

“To how you’re making these awesome shelves. They look like they’re growing right out of the wall!” Pinkie Pie pressed her face in between the shelves, trying to find some seam or crack.

“That’s because they are,” Applejack said. “The Crystal Ponies helped us whip up what they call crystal mortar. You spread it on like a layer of paint, and then it makes the crystal underneath grow. You have to carve it back down to the right shape, but all-in-all, it’s just about as fast as building out of brick or wood.”

“That’s so cool! So you grew all this crystal just today?”

“Eeyup, it is pretty amazing when you say it like that. But we still have a lot more to do before this part of the palace is ready. Then we can move up into the castle proper, where Rarity’s got us taking out some walls and putting others up.” Applejack yawned, not even bothering to cover her mouth as she just looked up towards the ceiling. “But I do have to admit, Rarity’s design is looking right pretty.”

“I’m sure Twilight will just flip for it! She’ll have space for so many books! Books she doesn’t have anymore because they got blown up with the library.” Pinkie Pie’s smile faltered into a frown. “Aw, I just made myself sad.”

“Don’t you worry, sugarcube. I’m sure Twilight will be able to fill up these shelves in no time.” Applejack took another drink of water from Pinkie’s canteen. She then gently pushed her plate to one side, focusing on the piles of papers that had been hidden beneath. “But only if we get all this work done.”

“Oh no you don’t, Miss Working Workaholic McWorkpants,” Pinkie said firmly. She bounded over beside her friend and pushed the plate of food back on top of the blueprints and designs. “You’re not going to last all week if you don’t get a good night’s sleep just like everypony else. Now you take this food home, you finish eating it, and then you go right to bed.”

Applejack opened her mouth to protest, but instead of words a yawn slipped out from the depths of her throat. She then chuckled and looked down at the half-eaten plate of food. “Alright, Pinkie, I’ll get to bed. Just let me—”

“No ‘just let me work until I pass out.’ You’re going right now.” Pinkie Pie butted her head against Applejack's side, forcing the farm pony away from the table. She kept shoving Applejack until she was standing on the front step of the crystal palace. Pinkie then zipped back in, grabbed Applejack’s plate, and shoved the rim of it into her mouth. “See, you’re already out the door. Might as well go home.”

Applejack rolled her eyes, but did so with a smile. She lifted a forehoof and took the plate from her mouth. She then placed it on her back, balancing it between her shoulder blades. “Alright, alright, I’m going. But don’t forget you gotta rest too. Even Ponyville’s Party Pony needs her sleep. Also, when the night shift gets here, just tell them to keep working on the bookshelves in here. There should be a crystal pony contractor with them, and he’ll be able to put everypony else on the right track.”

“Tell the crystal pony to work on the shelves. Got it!”

“All right then. Have a good night.”

“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!” Pinkie Pie sang, waving as Applejack turned and walked down the palace’s front steps. She then took a step back, shut the palace doors, and wagged her poofy tail as she turned around. “Now that the last pony from the day shift is clocked out, this pink little pony gets to party down with her pillow. That’s after I find some of that crystal mortar. I’m going to need some if I’m going to make a crystal palace cake topper for Twilight’s welcome home cake.

“Now, where would they be hiding it?” Pinkie asked as she passed Applejack’s workbench. It was then that her eyes were drawn to the designs and blueprints. Some of the volunteers she had found were skilled architects, and were helping to translate Rarity’s vision into workable designs. After all, Applejack knew a lot about raising barns, but not a whole lot about building proper, load bearing structures.

“This palace is going to be so great! I hope Twilight likes it.” Pinkie’s smile then slipped once more into a frown as she grabbed up one of the blueprints. It depicted one of the castle’s upper levels, showing the layout of the corridors and rooms. The biggest room was the ballroom, but that was not what had brought a frown to Pinkie’s face. No, the thing to blame for that was the kitchen.

“Rarity has to be joking!” Pinkie said. “That kitchen’s way too itty bitty for a ballroom that big. How am I supposed to cater the super duper parties we’ll be having here with only one measly oven and hardly any counter space?” Her eyes wandered to the neighboring room. “And why the heck do we need such a big room just for sitting? What kind of pony sits around when there’s a super fun party going on just down the hall?”

“Uh, excuse me. Where’s Applejack?”

Pinkie Pie looked up from the table, focusing on the group of volunteers that had started coming in through the front door. It was the night shift, and leading the group was the crystal pony Applejack had told her about. Pinkie looked at him for a moment, then down at the plans. She repeated this motion a half dozen times before smiling, scooping up the blueprint, and jumping over the table.

“Applejack has gone home, but don’t you worry. She told me exactly what all of you need to be working on. Just follow me upstairs! We’ve got some kitchen work to do.”

~~~

“I don’t know, Apple Bloom. I don’t think right now is a good time to ask them. They look kind of mad.”

“Well, if we wait any longer, there’s not going to be anything left for us to do.” Apple Bloom led Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Twist towards a large tent that had been setup just outside the palace. It was the design tent, where Rarity and her hoof-picked team of ponies were hard at work. They were planning out the finer details of the castle, picking decorations, and even sewing some tapestries and curtains.

It was a picture of efficient design, with dozens of skilled ponies well at work except for two specific mares: Applejack and Rarity.

“Rarity, you’re the only one who would have sent the night shift up to the ballroom area.”

“But it wasn’t me. Even if it was, I wouldn’t have had them take out that wall. They’ve completely destroyed the division between the sitting room and the ballroom’s kitchen.”

“What about the shelves in the trunk? Because of what happened last night, that whole part of the project has been delayed.”

Applejack and Rarity continued to go back and forth, trying to discern what had happened last night even as the four fillies drew closer. They would have perhaps gone all the way, if not for a mare stepping into their path.

“Oh, hello. Is there something I can help you four with?” The pale amber mare, with cyan mane, asked.

“We just need to talk to my sister and Rarity for a second,” Apple Bloom said, trying to push past the mare. “We want to ask if there’s anything we can do to help.”

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea right now, girls. They’re having... a discussion.”

“Sounds like an argument to me,” Twist said, her lisp lessened thanks to speech therapy but not entirely erased.

“Yeah,” Sweetie Belle agreed. “What are my sister and Applejack arguing about?”

“Oh, nothing much. Some of the volunteers just did something a bit unexpected last night and they’re trying to sort out how to fix it. And if you’re Rarity’s sister, you must be Sweetie Belle.”

“That’s right, but how do you know that?”

The cyan maned mare smiled. “I’m a friend of Rarity’s from Manehatten, Coco Pommel.”

“Wait, you’re Coco Pommel!” Sweetie Belle said as she pointed her hoof at Coco. She then smiled and bounded closer. “Then you’re the one that gave my sister that spool of thread that helped her save Equestria!”

“I beg your pardon?” Coco asked, before shaking her head. “Never mind. Girls, I know you mean well, but I don’t think right now is a good time for you to ask Rarity and Applejack for permission to help.”

“But we want to help!” Scootaloo said, her wings buzzing and almost lifting her hooves off the ground. “We don’t want Nyx to come back to Ponyville and find out we didn’t do anything to help with her new home.”

“You’re friends of Nyx?”

“Eeyup,” Apple Bloom said, smiling a bit to herself at her impromptu Big Mac impression.

“Well then...” Coco glanced over her shoulder, checking on Rarity and Applejack before looking back at the girls. “I may have just the thing for you four to help with.” She trotted away for just a moment, rummaging through some papers before returning to the four fillies with a single scroll.

“Did you know Nyx kept a treasure book?”

Sweetie Belle nodded her head. “Yeah, we just found out about it a few months ago, after Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, and I were named the official flag carrying team for Ponyville. The five of us took a picture together, even though we weren’t all on the same flag carrying team.”

“We weren’t allowed to have more than four ponies on a flag carrying team,” Twist explained. “So Nyx and I agreed to make our own team since Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Apple Bloom already had an idea what they wanted to do.”

“But after we got back to Ponyville, Nyx showed us her treasure book before putting her copy of our picture inside,” Apple Bloom said.

“Well, girls, then this may be the perfect thing for you to work on,” Coco said with a smile as she gave the scroll to Sweetie Belle. She was able to levitate the light piece of paper in her magic, holding it up so all four of the fillies could see it. “You see, lots of things in the library got destroyed by Tirek. One of those things was Nyx’s treasure book.”

“No way!” Scootaloo said, pushing the scroll out of the way to look Coco square in the face.

“I’m afraid so. If it did survive the explosion, we haven’t been able to find it. So Rarity thought it would be a good idea to try and make Nyx a new one. We know it will never replace the one she had, but it would also be a nice way to welcome her to her new home.”

“And is this everything Rarity thought was in the book?” Sweetie Belle asked as she looked over the scroll from top to bottom. “I don’t see Nyx’s kazoo on this list.”

“Or the peppermint recipe me and Nyx tried when we had a sleepover,” Twist pointed out.

Sweetie Belle leaned forward a little to look at Twist. “When did you two have a sleepover without us?”

“Twilight just brought Nyx by my house one day. I think it was the same day as the Starswirl the Bearded Traveling Museum was in town.”

“Well, Rarity was doing her best to remember what Twilight told her. After all, she never saw the original book,” Coco said as she smiled down at the fillies. “Still, doesn’t that mean this is the perfect thing for you four to do to help?”

“Cutie Mark Crusaders, I do believe we have our mission.” Sweetie Belle said as she rolled up the scroll.

Apple Bloom nodded, putting out her hoof and motioning for the others to follow. “First, to search across Ponyville to see if we can find Nyx’s original treasure book.”

“Step two, if we can’t find the book, do everything we can to assemble a new one that’s even more awesome.” Scootaloo put her hoof on top of Apple Bloom’s. Sweetie Belle and Twist soon followed their lead, the four of them raising their hooves together at the same time before shouting to the air.

“Cutie Mark Crusaders Treasure Book Savers! Yay!”

The four fillies followed their battle cry with giggles of laughter as they ran off. Coco Pommel remained behind, smiling and waving before noticing somepony come up beside her. When she turned to see who it was, she saw it was Rarity. “Did you get everything sorted out with Applejack?”

“We came to an agreement that no matter who’s fault it was, the current delay in construction is a situation we must work together to deal with. Now, if I’m not mistaken, I thought I just heard my sister and her friends doing one of their Cutie Mark Crusader shouts. Please tell me they didn’t just go running onto the construction site.”

“No. They came asking if there was someway they could help, and I found something simple for them to do that will keep them away from the palace for a while.”

Rarity blinked a few times, her mouth slightly agape in disbelief. She remained like that for a few seconds before shaking her head and coming back to reality. “You managed to give them something to do. Something that, in the end, won’t lead to the utter derailment of what we’re trying to do here.”

“I believe so, yes.”

“Well, I must say I’m impressed, Coco. Normally, when those fillies go on one of their crusades, disaster follows in their wake. After all, I told you about the whole affair with ‘Gabby Gums’ when we were working yesterday. Still, what did you send them off to do?”

“I’ll tell you right after you explain something to me,” Coco said as the pair turned, returning to their work under the shade of the design tent. “What exactly did your sister mean when she said the spool of thread I gave you helped save Equestria?”

~~~

“Status report?”

“The festival we tossed together is keeping the populace in good spirits. They believe it’s a celebration of Tirek’s defeat as well as an extended homecoming for Princess Cadance and Prince Armor, who have been delayed in Canterlot. We’ve confirmed Flash Sentry was able to secure the train conductor before anypony in the heart of the empire was able to hear what she was shouting.”

Commander Quartz nodded, looking over the map spread before him as if he was navigating the dangers of a war. The crystalline layout of the streets of the empire were marked with tiny flags representing where troops had been deployed. It was all for the sake of keeping the peace and ensuring the power of the Crystal Heart remained strong. “How do things look for assembling a search and rescue team?”

“Not good, sir. The bulk of our forces need rest after spending all night setting up the festival. Those we have in reserve need to be on station running the stands and festivities while the rest of the army is sleeping. Right now, the only ones not assigned are the squad that were pulling the royal carriage to the train station. They were tied up in debriefing yesterday evening and we sent them to their bunks last night.”

“Where are they now?” Commander Quartz asked.

“In the hallway, sir. I was going to give them their orders after this meeting.”

“Well your orders are for them to come in here and get orders from me. The rest of you, get out there and do what you can to keep spirits up. I won’t have the Crystal Heart losing power on my watch.”

The officers saluted and quickly left the room, leaving Commander Quartz to glare down at the map for a few moments before he heard a quartet of hoofsteps coming across the crystalline floor of the castle. He waited for the hoofsteps to stop and for the outer door to close before he looked up at the four soldiers in front of him.

“Flash Sentry, Ardent, Lapis Lance, and Gem Shield,” Quartz said as he eyed the four of them. “You’re all young and more inexperienced than I’d like, but at the moment you’re all I’ve got. So consider this a chance to prove yourselves to me and the empire, because you four are going to search for our missing royals.”

Quartz took a rolled scroll from the edge of the table and unrolled it over top of the map of the Crystal Empire. It depicted the northern regions of Equestria, and Commander Quartz reached out and began to trace a line between Canterlot and the empire. “This is the route the train took from the capitol. Somewhere along this line, at an unknown time, the royal carriage disappeared along with its passengers.”

“Who was on board, Commander?” Gem Shield asked.

“After talking with the guard ponies that were knocked out in the baggage car, we can confirm Princess Cadance and Prince Armor were in the royal car. They were also being accompanied by Princess Twilight, Great and Honorable Spike The Brave and Glorious, and Princess Nyx. Stallions, that’s our national hero, our prince, and three of this nation's five alicorns that disappeared without a trace. We need to find out what happened as fast as possible.”

The four soldiers glanced at one another before Lapis Lance cleared his throat and spoke up. “Sir, weren’t the on-duty guards able to tell us anything else?”

“Yes, but we don’t know how reliable the information is,” Commander Quartz answered. “From their debriefing, the guards in the baggage car remember seeing these landmarks while riding the train.” The commander began to tap out different points on the map, slowly but surely making his way towards the empire.

“Based on those reports, that narrows our search to this stretch of the track in the Rainbow Range. That, however, is still a lot of ground to cover and the bulk of the Crystal Empire’s forces won’t be available for several more hours. That and we need to narrow our search, otherwise it will take days if not weeks to search the entire forest.”

“So then what is our mission, sir?”

“Scout out the tracks,” he said, tapping once more on the map. “Try to find out what happened to the royal car. If you find it, or even better, our missing royals, your mission then becomes to get them back to the empire in one piece. If you find anything else, signs of a struggle or a foalnapping, then you are to report back to me immediately. Hopefully the rest of the army will be ready to move out by then, and we can concentrate our search where we believe the car disappeared.”

Commander Quartz began circling around the table towards the four. “You are scouting only. You may want to be heroes, but I don’t want any heroics putting the three princesses, prince, or dragon in danger. Am I understood?”

“Sir, yes sir,” the four replied back, striking salutes with their forehooves.

“Then get your flanks in gear. Go to the train station and commandeer one of the small steam engines they use for track inspection and service. It will have just enough power to pull the royal car back to the empire should you find it. Search the tracks and, if you find anything, have Flash Sentry fly back with a report. Dismissed.”

~~~

“Do you realize the kind of heroes we’ll be if we bring Princess Cadance, Prince Armor, and Spike the Brave and Glorious back?” Ardent said as the quartet were pulling out of the empire’s train station. There, waiting for the squad, was one of the few military locomotives the Empire possessed. A crystal based engine that ran on a magical charge rather than coal and steam. Its design wasn’t ready for regular use by civilian train lines, but would be perfect for the squad’s needs.

“My colt will be wanting my autograph.” Ardent went a little dreamy eyed before he was knocked in the shoulder by Gem Shield.

“Remember what Commander Quartz said: unless we find them picnicking along the side of the tracks, we are just to report what we find back to the empire,” Gem Shield said as he and Ardent climbed into the back of the train. Lapis Lance was already there, tending to the crystalline locomotive’s controls. He had received the basic tutorial on how to operate the magically driven engine while the others had gathered their supplies.

“That and you seem to keep forgetting about Princess Twilight Sparkle and her daughter,” Flash Sentry pointed out. In a flutter of wings, he landed on the platform next to the locomotive.

“And you seem to be bringing her up a lot,” Gem Shield replied. “I also hear you have a habit of bumping into her when she’s at the castle.”

Flash Sentry rolled his eyes. “That’s more her than me. She’s the one that’s always talking to friends or herself and not looking where she’s going.”

“Yeah, and what about you?”

“What about me?”

Gem Shield rolled his eyes as the locomotive gave a little lurch. Lapis had put on some power, and the engine was starting to ramp up to speed. Flash took to his wings, flying slowly next to the window while Gem looked out from the interior. “Why couldn’t you get out of the way? Bumping into somepony, and being able to say she wasn’t looking where she was going, usually means the stallion was looking where he was going. And that said stallion chose not to step to one side.”

“Look, this really isn’t what we should be focusing on. I’m going to get above the train and start my circling pattern. You guys shout from down here if you see anything.” With that, Flash banked upward, taking his position high above the train while looking down at the landscape below.

An act that just left Gem Shield chuckling. “Yeah, our fly-colt there seems to have his sights set pretty high.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” Ardent replied, chuckling under his breath. “Wouldn’t have my wife or my colt if I hadn’t dared to ask her out. Then again, the gap wasn’t as big between her and me. She had the honor of being a Hoof Maiden of the previous princess at the crystal fair, and I was just the stallion at the basket booth.”

“Yes, we know. You sold her your finest basket and hid a letter in the bottom, and she actually replied. You’ve told us that story a hundred times, Ardent,” Gem Shield said with a shake of his head. “We probably know the story better than you do.”

“Hey, when you’re married, you’ll understand.”

“Sure we will.”

“Alright, you two, that’s enough,” Lapis Lance said. “Don’t forget why we’re on this locomotive. Get to the windows and keep a look out.”

~~~

“Well, it certainly doesn’t seem like the chaos coefficient in Ponyville is suffering in my absence.”

Fluttershy laughed a little, unable to deny Discord’s observation though not wanting to laugh too loudly at her friend’s expense. She had taken a break from the design tent to eat her lunch in the grass on the shady side of the castle. Yet, she found herself with an unexpected dining companion. She had left the origami sculpture of herself that Discord had folded at her cottage. The little sculpture, however, had flown the whole way on its little, paper wings before landing on the grass in front of her.

And now it was speaking with her voice, though the intonation and word choice left Fluttershy no doubt she was talking with Discord.

“Well, it is a big project. There’s bound to be some hiccups along the way.”

“Of course, but please do try to note them all down somewhere.” The origami sculpture spoke, fluttering here and there as if it simply could not sit still. “My attention is rather focused on Twilight’s distraction, so you’re going to have to tell me everything that happened when I get back.”

“How is everypony doing by the way?” Fluttershy asked. “I trust they reached the Crystal Empire safely.”

“Oh, yes, of course. They’re lounging by the crystal pool sipping crystal-coladas right now.”

Fluttershy arched an eyebrow, unable to ignore the fact that the sculpture’s cheerful bouncing had paused for a moment when it answered. “Now Discord, you aren’t going too far, are you?”

“No, of course not. I promise, Fluttershy, I’ve got everything under control. I am the master of applying just the right amount of chaos necessary to achieve the desired effect. Now, speaking of desired effect, I’d better get back to it. Oh, and do make sure you make a creative contribution to the palace’s design. You can’t let Rarity have all the fun.”

At that the origami sculpture went silent and its behavior pattern returned to something more similar to Fluttershy’s mannerisms. It grew calm and controlled, taking a few steps towards her as if it was confused how it had gotten outside the cabin. Fluttershy, out of simple instinct, used her hoof to gently draw the origami sculpture closer. She then picked it up and gently placed it in her mane, where the paper pony quickly cuddled up for a nap.

Looking at her reflection in the exterior of the crystal palace, Fluttershy couldn’t help but notice how it looked like a cute little hairclip. She also couldn’t help but notice a few familiar animal friends were moving towards her, with Angel Bunny in the lead.

“Oh, hello little friends. Are you here to help us fix up Twilight’s new home?” Fluttershy asked, to which Angel firmly shook his head.

“You’re not. Then why are you here?”

Angel made a few motions with his paws and ears before pointing at some other rabbits, mice, and furry creatures behind him. Fluttershy lifted a hoof to her mouth, further hushing her already quite gasp. “Oh no, did Twilight’s new palace really scare all those furry critters out of their homes?”

With a confirming squeak, Angel nodded his head and then motioned to mixed flock of birds. This, again, made Fluttershy give a quiet gasp. “And all the volunteers scared those birds out of their nests in the trees and Night Stone Castle? Oh no, I’m so sorry. We didn’t realize we’d be driving you out of your homes. But I promise, no pony at the castle wants to hurt you.”

Crossing his forepaws, Angel tapped one of his hind legs against the ground and then pointed at the castle. Fluttershy looked back over her shoulder, then back at the less-than-pleased pack of animals before her. “Okay, I can see how some of you think the palace is very big and kind of an eyesore, but it’s Twilight’s new home. I don’t think we could tear it down, even if we wanted to.”

The pack of animals squeaked, growled, tweeted, hooted, and otherwise vocalized at Fluttershy, making the small pegasus flatten her ears against her head until the din of animal voices had quieted. “I’m sorry, but don’t you think you’re being a bit unreasonable. I know you seeing a castle just grow out of nowhere is a bit unsettling, but I assure you that having that big meanie Tirek stomping around wouldn’t be any better.

“Now,” Fluttershy said as she climbed to her hooves. “Can’t we all come to an amicable agreement about what it would take for you to like Twilight’s new palace?”

The animals chattered amongst themselves for a few moments, and then grew silent as they seemed to reach some form of consensus. Angel, Fluttershy’s self-appointed animal ambassador, tapped his paws and made tiny bunny squeaks. Fluttershy listened and nodded her head, smiling a little as the animals’ idea was explained to her.

“Oh, a lovely little palace garden with all your favorite kinds of trees and bushes. That does sound delightful. It could be just like the gardens in Canterlot where all of the Princesses’ special animals friends stay. Why, the crystal palace could have a menagerie all of its own.” Fluttershy’s enthusiasm dwindled a little. “Oh, but we already talked about adding a garden to the castle. Applejack and Rarity didn’t think it would be a good idea right now. We don’t know where the property lines are, and we don’t want the garden being bigger than it should."

A small group of mice that were amongst the creatures gave a series of squeaks, drawing Fluttershy’s attention to them. "Really, you don’t think the mayor would mind if we borrowed it for a little while?”

The mice, and all the other animals, shook their heads in unison. Fluttershy frowned for a moment, glancing over her shoulder at the design tent before looking back to her animal friends. “Well, when you put it like that, I suppose it would be okay. Rarity did like the idea of the palace having a garden, and it would make all of you a lot happier. But we’d have to do it ourselves. Applejack needs all the ponies working on the palace if she wants to get it done before Twilight comes back. Is that okay?”

The animals nodded, and the mice even scampered off to do their part in the plan. Other animals began to depart, and Fluttershy couldn’t help but flutter her wings in excitement. “I’m so happy to see you’re all willing to help. I think everypony will enjoy the garden, and it won’t cause any trouble for Rarity or Applejack. It will be just perfect.”

Fluttershy picked up Angel and gave him a gentle hug. She then put him back down and jumped into the air, hovering around. “Oh, I know just the kind of flowers we should plant. I’ve got some seeds back at the cottage. I’m going to go get them.”

Angel and the other animals waved as Fluttershy flew off, and continued to do so until she had disappeared from sight. Angel then spun around, clapping his paws together and grabbing a stick from a nearby bush. Immediately, he began scratching out lines in the dirt. The images were of different building materials and tools. The other animals were nodding as they listened to Angel’s squeaks, some scampering off to collect items from the supply list Angel was creating.

Author's Note:

As always, if you notice typoes or other errors that are mostly technical in nature, please PM them to me.

Next chapter should be out by 5/14/2015.