• Published 26th Jul 2015
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The Things Tavi Says - shortskirtsandexplosions

Let me tell you a few things about my roommate, Octavia. After all, she saved my life.

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Patchwork Things

Author's Note:

Does this count as espionage?

I mean, it is my Princess' Castle... and I'm a royal servant to Her Majesty.

Still, I must admit a certain degree of apprehension as I do this... this waltz... a stealthy shuffle down the long crystalline hallway. I follow the dwindling hoofsteps of Flash Sentry, down the corridor and into the adjacent chamber.

The closer we... erm... I approach the heart of the Palace, the more the colors bend. They stretch from black to gray, and through the center of it all is a strange flicker, like a candle, burning hotter and hotter until it starts stabbing the leylines entangled around my horn. I wince, slightly dizzied from sensation. It's not so much a new color as it is a pattern, a scrap of patchwork, a fiberglass quilt of erratic designs—scraping across my brain. There's crimson in it... and brown... but it's almost like a brand new color strung tightly in between. I can't really describe it.

So I focus on the source of it instead, and it's just as equally grating. A hoarse voice, like gravel rattling at the bottom of a jar. But there's something drowning in the middle of it, gargling, struggling to be melodic and failing.

I'm so stuck on trying to figure out the texture of this vomitous voice that I scarcely notice the words being belched until I'm nearly at the door to Twilight Sparkle's throneroom.

"...this way for thousands and thousands of years! Your royal forbearers understood it! So why can't you, Your Highness?"

"Dear ambassador..." Twilight's gray voice, but rough around the edges, like a slab of pavement. "...must I remind you that I am the very first Princess of Friendship. This Castle did not exist here months ago. All things considered, I do not have any 'royal forbearers.' The closest thing would be Princess Celestia—my mentor. And although she is my superior—and the superior to all royal houses in Equestria proper—she has still officially decreed that the Royal House of Friendship is a unique and independent structure, one that is not restricted by the normal constraints of international boundaries. That being said—"

"Are you trying to tell me, Princess Sparkle, that the House of Ponyville is... s-somehow exempt from traditional laws of Patronage?"

"More to the point, ambassador, my Royal Estate is new and still freshly developing. When the Castle first appeared, it did so without a Royal entourage... without a Royal guard... and—most especially—without a Royal Treasury."

"Then how have you been able to afford this lavish ceremony tonight?!"

"Through direct support of Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, and the Canterlot Treasury. But that is of little importance to this matter. Need I remind you, Ambassador, that all matters of diplomatic negotiations are only to be conducted between myself and the Stewards of Griffonstone. I just got done speaking at long length to both of them, and they did not mention anything about a financial arrangement of any kind. Furthermore—"

"Bah! That's preposterous! Griffonstone wouldn't even come to this God-forsaken town if there wasn't some gold in it for us!"

"Furthermore, they conveyed to me a list of all of their official cabinet members, and your name—ambassador—was not on the list."

"Pffftchwaa! Not on the list?! I'm the most important duke in all of Griffonstone!"

"I am not arguing that. But until I am personally told by the two Stewards of Griffonstone that you speak for their Financial Cabinet, then I cannot in good faith promise any sort of trade accords. Besides, the Stewards have made it rather clear to me that they know my House utterly lacks a Treasury of any sort."

"Well, that's utterly ridiculous! I don't believe you one second! The griffons of Griffonstone have always... always operated under traditional patronage! An alliance like this—especially one so unexpected—does not happen without the transfer of gold!"

"If you've paid attention to the royal decrees of your own Stewards, you'll remember that this meeting was about friendship... not some sort of monetary political alliance."

"Don't tell me what I have or haven't paid attention to, you squishy lavender—"

A brown tempest rolls in, smoothely washing along the banks of the heated conversation. "Your Majesty... Ambassador Talonsmith..." Flash Sentry's voice is rather flighty. I can practically see his smug grin in the vocal reverberations. Nevertheless, the thing tightens like strong oak as he continues: "I do hope we are conducting everything here in the spirit of comraderie and friendship."

"Hrmmmff!" Again, that patchwork gravel. I reach the throneroom's door and peer in. A mottled gray thing with grayer eyes squawks in Flash's direction. "I don't see what concern it is for a grunt like you!"

"It is most definitely my concern," Flash says pleasantly... almost too pleasantly. "Seeing as I'm the acting Captain of the Guard here in Ponyville. If there's a problem that warrants an angry temper from one of our most esteemed guests, then it is my personal task to diffuse the situation before it goes out of hoof."

"It's quite fine, Captain," Twilight says, her voice nevertheless shaky. I see her trying to sit still on her throne. The tiara on her head is slightly crooked. "We have everything under control."

"Oh, do we?!" Talonsmith snarls up at the seat, his tail thrashing. "Don't think that you can ignore my words, Your Highness! Ponyville must pay Griffonstone in gold for the visit that's been conducted this evening! It's tradition!"

"Has Her Majesty given any indication that she wishes to pursue your demands?" Flash asked.

"No! That's just it! She keeps refusing!"

"Then, dear Ambassador, this conversation was over with long before I even arrived here." Flash Sentry held a hoof out. "If you would kindly come with me."

"Bah?! What for?"

"It is quite simple. I am escorting you from the premises."

"You're throwing me out?!"

"Her Majesty has made it abundantly clear that your demands hold no merit, and yet you continue to badger her. It is a gross violation of conduct, not to mention terribly rude, and you must leave."

"I apologize that we had to part on such unpleasant terms, ambassador," Twilight says, and her voice is a grayish-brown as she does so. "But if you truly feel that this... 'tradition of patronage' needs to be established with Griffonstone's relation to Ponyville, then I encourage you to bring it up with the Stewards of your kingdom. Then—if necessary—such negotiations can go through the official channels."

"Hrmmmf! I see how it is..." Talonsmith adusts a silk collar, dusting off his gold-embossed tunic. "You ponies talk about friendship and singing and holding hooves. But when it comes down to real tokens of respect, you cower away like dogs!" He turns to glare at the guard. "And then your gallant knight has to come in and rescue you!"

"Oh... I-I don't think that's really necessary," Flash Sentry says with an amber chuckle. "The Princess is many things—but she is foremost a master wizard. If she really wanted to, she could turn you into a parasprite, heat your blood up by three hundred degrees, then pulverize you with an icy mountaintop summoned from fifty miles away. Me? My strength doesn't even compare." He clears his throat. "If anything, Ambassador, I'm here to protect you."

Talonsmith glares at them both. He sneers at Twilight, but it's Fash Sentry's smug grin that finally makes him buckle. "Graahhgh!" he squawks, again assaulting my ears. "Stupid ponies... stupid pony town... I don't even know what the Stewards were thinking in bringing so much of our flock here..." He storms out of the throneroom. "Griffonstone doesn't need friendship... it needs gold!"

"Allow me to help you out, Ambassador—" Flash Sentry trotted towards him.

"I know the way out, ya hobby horse! I'm no mindless mule!" In exiting, he bumps fiercely against my shoulder. After the ensuing cloud of crimson fades, he glares at me. "And just what are you looking at, peasant?!"

I stare, deadpan. I raise an eyebrow.

"Hrmmmff... friggin' space goats..." He snorts and lurches off, tail flicking. "All of you... I swear..."

I adjust my shades with a shuddering sigh, then glance into the throneroom.

Twilight Sparkle's body has drooped. She rubs her forehead, wincing.

"Talk about having flown the coop!" Flash Sentry manages.

A brief, gray chuckle escapes Twilight's muzzle.

The guard trots up to the edge of the throne. "Are you alright?"

"Yes... ugh, yes..." Twilight rolls her eyes. "I figured that there would be one bad egg amongst the bunch, but—blessed Celestia—I at least thought they'd have brains!"

"Hah hah! I know, right?" Flash smirks. "Imagine guarding the throne room of the Crystal Empire on a regular basis."

"Oh wow. You must have to deal with the Yakyakistanians all the time."

"I don't even have to set my alarm on the days they show up. You can hear their incessant tantrums from miles away."

"Hahaha... I don't know how you even cope with that..."

"Well, usually Princess Cadance does. I just wait around until it's time to butt heads." He clears his throat. "Still, Your Majesty... Twilight... that was pretty good."

"Mmmmff... you think so?"

"I could tell you really had control of that argument from the start. That Talonsmith didn't have a leg to stand on... or a paw."

"I just... I don't get it. Why do they love gold so much? The rest of the delegates from Griffonstone were perfectly fine with the visit—at least from what I can tell! I just... don't understand the mindset of a soul that can't separate friendship from greed."

"Perhaps this will be a learning experience for all of us."

"Mmm... perhaps."

"Would you like me to stay, Your Highness? I'm... heheh... pretty good at standing around and doing nothing."

"Y'know... I don't think I'd mind that one bit."

"As you wish."

"Did Pinkie Pie finish with the ceremonies?"

"The ballroom is practically vacant at this point. Most of the guests have left for home."

"Hope they get there safely. Celestia promised Canterlot's best zeppelin pilots."

"Oh, I have no doubt."

"Say... heehee... did you see what the Second Steward was wearing?"

"Pfft! Boy, did I?! Hah! And to think you once loathed your 'big crown thingy.'"

"Heeheehee! And... and when I asked her about it, she told me—"

The voices fade.

I have walked away, returning towards the outer wing of the Castle.

After all, the "Espionage" is over with, and I don't think that's a conversation I would feel right listening in on...

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