• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Palace

“Well, what do you think?” Steelteeth asked.

Rainbow Dash's face twitched. She reached a hoof out and poked limply at a copper plate full of thin, green stalks. “It's... asparagus,” she muttered lethargically.

“No,” Steelteeth turned and pointed towards the interior of the lofty palace. “What do you think?” The tall, lanky stallion was dwarfed by an enormous hall that was flanked by giant, cylindrical pillars of marble, embossed in gold and layered with murals depicting the foundation of the world. Gigantic frescoes illustrating Emeraldine's founders stretched beyond flickering torches of otherworldly blue and green. On the far side of the chamber, velvet and satin curtains hung, dangling and swaying in the wind as a cool breeze wafted through the luxurious space and dissolved into the crimson glow of a late evening sky.

“Eh, that's okay too,” Rainbow Dash said.

“You've been to a lot of places, I imagine.”

“Eh, enough to know what kind of an effect asparagus has on a visit to the little filly's room.” Rainbow Dash trotted past a mural and squinted up close to the tiny images of prancing ponies. “So, like, this is where Queen Whiterun hangs out and stuff?”

“WhiteMANE. And it would do you well to practice a little bit of proper etiquette by the time she sees you.”

“Hey, I can do etiquette,” Rainbow Dash remarked. “I once had tea with a princess at Equestria. It was all good until the teacup exploded.”

“Surely, you jest.”

“You should have seen what happened to the saucer,” Rainbow Dash muttered as she trotted past a hanging curtain and poked at its translucent length. “It's strange having lived all my life in a place so magical, now that I think about it. You couldn't swing a dead cat in Equestria without hitting something that could explode or produce sparkles or catch on fire or speak to you in tongue...”

“Nnngh...” Steelteeth rubbed a hoof over his shadowed face. “I would give up the fortune of Verdestone to understand why the queen wishes to see you so ardently.”

“Hey! You and me both, dude!” Rainbow Dash trotted back to him, smirking. “It can't be just cuz she favors the wings that I have and others don't! That's—like—totally equinist!”

Steelteeth merely glared at her.

She smiled nervously. “Okay. So I've thought up better words on the spot.”

“The most likely scenario is that she has sensed a magical quality about you that has necessitated an impromptu visit,” Steelteeth said as he trotted towards the end of the hall. “Emeraldine may not be as magical as Equestria, but our ruler would blend in at your province of birth quite well, I would think.”

“'Magical... quality?'” Rainbow Dash made a face. “You have any idea who you're talking to? The only magical thing about me is the ability to hold off passing gas for several hours in the presence of other ponies.”

“Well, you had better become a sorceror by the time the Queen sees you, then,” Steelteeth said as he yanked on a rope dangling beside him. A distant bell rang, and the sound of dainty hoofsteps could be heard. “It would appear as though Her Majesty is preoccupied with something. Hopefully she will visit you soon. In the meantime, though, it would only be right that you make yourself... more presentable, and humbly accept the luxury that the Queen's grace has afforded you.”

As summoned, five chambermaids appeared. They were five young, pleasant-faced mares in flowing velvets and bearing spotless smiles. They all curtsied to Steelteeth, who nodded towards them and spoke.

“Make our guest presentable for the Queen and show her to her quarters for the night. If you ask me, I think a bath is in order...”

“Whoah whoah whoah—Wait!” Rainbow Dash stretched a hoof out, frowning. “You mean to tell me that I was dragged all the way up here for some sort of mass pony pedi?! Well, you can take your holier-than-thou ideas of hospitality and just sh—”

Steelteeth looked her way. A pair of aquamarine eyes glinted like daggers.

Rainbow Dash wilted, biting her lips. “On s-second thought, I have been flying and hoofin' it for a long time, and I guess a little bit of a rinse wouldn't do me bad...”

“Glad that we are in agreement,” Steelteeth said. “I have business in the uppermost platform to attend.” He bowed towards the chambermaids. “Ladies.”

The stallion trotted off, and the five mares sashayed towards Rainbow Dash, smiling and converging on her. “Just relax, milady. The Queen asks that we make you feel at home.”

“Yeah. Uhhh...” Rainbow Dash chuckled nervously, gulped, and backtrotted from them. “That's just the thing. If I was at 'home,' I'd have a huge fluffy cloud beneath me and maybe a couple of Wonderbolts magazines. Seriously, there is no need for—Whoah!” Her voice cracked as she was gently ushered towards a large basin on the far end of the room.

“Heehee... Just relax, milady. This will not take long.”

“Dah! Okay! I get it—Whoah! Don't tug on that! Ack! Hey, that suit's expensive! At least I think it is. Hey! Where're you putting my saddlebag?! I've got important things in it—Daaah—Heeheeheehee—Okay! Fine! Heehee—Do whatever! Just don't touch the hooves, got it? Oh, and the pendant stays on, no matter what. Don't worry, it's waterpr—Whoah!”

Finally, Rainbow Dash was plopped down into the basin. Cold water was poured onto her from a vase. Before she could shiver, two sets of hooves began scrubbing her coat and rinsing her mane from behind. She winced and chattered her teeth the whole time, feeling as if she was a confounded stagecoach being drawn through a living wash. It didn't help that the chambermaids were all smiles and giggles. Everything became a blur, and Rainbow Dash could have sworn that the bath turned into a hot jecuzzi at some point.

Before she knew it, the ordeal was over—at least mostly over. They wrapped her mane up in a towel and set her things aside on a velvet chair along with the folded Verdestone suit. As one chambermaid trotted off to fetch a robe, the other four stood—smiling—at the edge of the bath, where they addressed the naked and drying Rainbow Dash.

“Is there anything else we can do for you, milady?” Their eyelashes batted innocently.

Rainbow Dash blinked at the curvaceous, smiling group of them. “Uhhhhhhhh...” A rosiness spread over curved lips. “Uhhhhh huh huh huhhhhhh...” She gulped and sat straight up to hide her wings as she looked towards the far end of the hall. “Uhhhhh-H-How about s-some asparagus?”

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