• Published 20th Aug 2016
  • 923 Views, 181 Comments

When it Rains - GreyGuardPony


Three hundred years since the fall of Equestria, fractured states stand in its place. Now as an old threat stirs Adagio Dazzle and five other mares must face one of the architects of Equestria's collapse.

  • ...
4
 181
 923

2. Let's Meet the Mayor

Suri Polomare awoke with a back ache. She grumbled and rolled over under her blanket, burying her muzzle in her pillow.

“Curse the ground,” she muttered. “Curse it and every last one of its stones.”

She really meant that. Her back felt like it had managed to find every last one of the blasted things during the night. So, she cursed them again, nature’s little grey daggers. Trying to settle back down into sleep, Suri found her efforts stifled by the still hard ground. That and the beam of morning sunlight that leaked in through a gap in her tent flap. Because they were walking- walking- to Ponyville!

Bitterness rose in the back of Suri’s throat along with the urge to now curse her current existence. Scorpan’s twisted tail! She was supposed to be a dressmaker, creating fantastic designs for lords, ladies and the growing merchant class! But as fast as the bile rose, Suri pushed it back down. Her current situation was nopony’s fault but her own. And for all her faults, there were masters out there a lot worse than Adagio Dazzle.

Sighing, she pushed herself to her hooves and shook her head in an attempt to banish the remains of sleep, now that it was pointless. Besides, somepony needed to get breakfast started. While her job was officially that of a scribe, in reality she did pretty much everything for Adagio. Fumbling about in her half asleep, half awake state, Suri yanked her traveling pack to her side. It was full of neckerchiefs, the one small collection of things she had managed to keep. After thinking for a moment, she picked one- light pink- and neatly tied it around her neck before using her lucky yellow one to tie her hair back.

Yawning, she pushed the tent flap aside and trotted out into the middle of their little camp. It had been set up a bit off the Great Western Road. The road was a marvel of old Equestrian engineering, paved with rectangular blocks of stone that remained sturdy, even three hundred years later. It ran from Canterlot, through Ponyville and then to the wilderness beyond. Suri knew from her own limited studies that it terminated somewhere in the lands controlled by Queen Luna.

Though, it wasn't the only remnant of the fallen nation they passed as they traveled. The Great Western Road had been laid down alongside The Canterhorn Aqueduct, a snake of sturdy granite that had once supplied the old capital with fresh water. Like the road it had weathered the ages surprisingly well. The sun was just starting to climb into the sky, casting its stone arches in a orangish light.

Iron Will and five other guards- one pegasus, one unicorn and three earth ponies- were gathered around a crackling campfire, despite the growing heat of the summer morning. Eighteen ears of corn roasted away, lashed to sticks angled over the fire.

“Good morning!” Iron Will called. His massive axe lay on the ground at his side, ignored as he tended to the corn. Suri wrinkled her snout. Of course Will was treating this like a morning stroll in the park. He lifted trees for exercise.

“Morning?” Suri managed to grunt back. She looked towards Adagio’s tent. She was still asleep it seemed. “Are you trying to make me look bad? Breakfast is my job, ‘kay?”

“You were taking too long getting up,” Iron Will chuckled. “You seem oddly out of sorts. Aren’t you usually more of a morning pony?”

“Indoor pony. I’m an indoor pony,” Suri groaned, rubbing at her aching back. “Not all of us are used to marching around.”

“None of us did when we started off either. When the going got rough, we had to get tough!” Iron Will said, jabbing a fist skyward.

The rest of his squad cheered at that and Suri shook her head. “My back wouldn’t agree with that.”

Iron Will glanced to the jasmine coated pegasus mare at his side. “Watch breakfast. Suri, lay down.”

She saluted and set to work while Iron Will came over to Suri. She raised an eyebrow but slowly lowered herself onto her barrel. Iron Will looked her over for a moment before placing his hands on her back.

“What—” Suri began to ask, only for the question to be immediately banished as Iron Will began to massage her back. His fingers moved slowly and steadily, finding each tensed muscle and sore spot before working it out.

“You do enough traveling and you’ll get used to this eventually,” he said.

“Mmmph. Is that where you learned how to do this?”

“When your back’s in pain, massage that strain! And a beautiful mare such as yourself shouldn’t be in pain.”

Suri rolled her eyes. “You’re corny as that breakfast, m’kay.”

"Iron Will calls things like he sees them!"

Suri rolled her eyes again but let Will work his magic. The massage was so relaxing, almost enough to carry her away to dreams of what might have been. At least until-

“Food’s ready!” one of the guards called.

“I’ll go wake up Adagio then,” Suri said.

While Iron Will helped his pony untie the corn, Suri trotted over to Adagio’s tent. It was slightly larger than the others and a warm sunny yellow color. Pulling the flap aside, Suri peeked in to see how her master was doing.

Adagio was sprawled out under her multiple thick blankets, each leg splayed a different direction, mane a complete mess, while she snored away in a most unladylike manner. The whole scene was both adorable and frustrating at the same time as Adagio had the benefit of a soft and comfy looking mattress to sleep on.

Suri walked over to Adagio’s side and gently shook her. “M’lady. Breakfast is ready.”

A grunt was Adagio’s response, followed by her flopping onto her side, back to Suri. So she sighed and poked Adagio again, harder this time. “Mistress Adagio! Wake up!”

This time Adagio jerked awake in a flail of limbs and a startled cry. She looked around, blearily blinking before she settled on Suri. “Morning?”

“Yes. Morning. Iron Will and his band have breakfast ready.”

Adagio idly nodded, almost looking past Suri. “Are we almost at Ponyville?”

“I think so. I can ask Will for more details.”

Standing up, Adagio shook her head. “No, it’s fine. I can. At least we’ll have a place to stay once we get to Ponyville.”

“Inn?” Suri asked.

Pulling a hairbrush out of her pack, Adagio began to attack her mess of a mane. “My family has a summer home in Ponyville. Spent a lot of summers there before you became my servant.”

“But...with all your financial problems-”

“Suri,” Adagio said, with a clear tone of finality to it. “There is no way I will ever sell that property. Ever.”

“Of course,” Suri said with a soft smile. She started to back out of the tent, but then paused. Something was gnawing at the back of her mind that she had to address. “M’lady? Can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” she said, tying her mane back with a purple ribbon.

“What you said to Count Fancy Pants. Did you mean it?”

“Naturally. You may be my assistant and indentured to my family. But nopony talks to my ponies like that.”

Suri blinked. While she wasn’t entirely sure what she had expected in the answer to that question, that… Sighing to herself, she turned and pushed her way back out of the tent. Adagio was Adagio.

- - - -

The town of Ponyville rose from a small sea of fields and orchards, with very sturdy walls, as appropriate for a town situated as close to the legendary Everfree Forest as it was. Really, the location was probably amongst the least logical ones for a town, if it hadn’t been founded by refugees fleeing the devastation of the old capital Rhoam.

Not that it was completely without merit. There was plenty of land available for farming, a river that ran past it for irrigation and- perhaps the oddest thing going for it- was built around a large break in The Canterhorn Aqueduct. Its citizens had taken advantage of that by building a massive cistern to collect the water that would be wasted otherwise. It had been a long time since she had come to this town. Long enough that she had forgotten more than a few details about it.

“Suri, who do we need to speak with again?”

Suri pulled a scroll from her saddlebags, eyes quickly flitting over the suggestions she had drawn up. “Well, we should probably start by introducing ourselves to Mayor Glimmer. She needs to know you’re in charge now. And she’s technically in charge of running the festival....”

”Glimmer? Funny, I don’t recognize that name. To my knowledge it’s always been the Smith, Rich and Scrolls families who controlled the political scene in Ponyville.”

Suri shrugged. ”The records I found say that Starlight Glimmer has been in charge for the last few years now. I think Ivory Scrolls retired...or was voted out.”

Adagio sighed. “Fine. But we’re heading to the summer home first. I need a bath in a bad way.”

“If you have a dirty coat, for you ponies will surely vote,” Iron Will said.

Suri stared up at her companion. “Iron Will, do you listen to yourself? What does that even mean?

“Being dirty builds character.”

Adagio ignored Will's ridiculous line and set off, marching straight for Ponyville’s gates. After a few minutes of walking the group came to the gates themselves, where a thin flow of ponies was coming in and out to tend to whatever assorted business they had. A few local guards were keeping watch over that flow, whose eyes immediately snapped towards Adagio, her armored battalion (complete with flapping banner bearing her house sigil) and Iron Will (and his axe) in particular.

“Halt! Present yourself,” the one on the right said, stomping a mailed hoof.

“Baroness Adagio Dazzle,” Adagio said, presenting her badge of office. Mentally, she sighed. Apparently this pony was either blind or stupid enough to miss her clearly displayed heraldic banner.

The guard examined it for a moment before dipping into a bow with his fellow. “M’lady. What brings you to Ponyville?”

“The Remembrance Festival. I’ll be in charge of the festivities.”

A smile, perhaps a little too wide played across the guard’s muzzle. “Ah! Well, very good m’lady. Carry on then.”

Adagio nodded again and set off with renewed vigor. She took in Ponyville as she walked through its streets, memories bubbling back to the surface. It was a bustling settlement for its size, lying on that hard to define line between large town and small city. If Adagio had to guess though, she'd guess the latter. Crowds of ponies filled the streets, trotting to and fro as they went about their lives, in a constant flow of motion that grew thicker the closer they drew to the marketplace. Most of the buildings in town were two story constructs and made from wood. They were tightly packed too, their builders obviously taking great pains to use as much space as they could within the walls.

After walking a bit more they came to the marketplace, which was a true riot of color between the cloth stall roofs, the garish signs hanging everywhere- bearing such names as Carrot Topper’s Apothecary and Ditzy’s Delirious Deliveries- and the sea of ponies that crowded and pushed to get their morning shopping done. The din of the shouting was something to behold, even for Adagio. And she had heard Queen Chrysalis use the Royal Canterlot Voice.

“Will,” she said nodding towards the crowds. “If you please.”

Iron Will nodded back. He and his fellow guards moved in a well practiced cadence forming up in a loose wedge with Will at the front and Adagio and Suri safely protected by the wings. Then they advanced as one, the armored V shape parting the crowd before them. Nopony wanted to be pushed aside by soldiers after all. Though Will was helping with that in his own way too.

“One side!” he bellowed. “Nobility coming through! Try to block and we'll show you how we rock!”

Ponies scrambled aside. Others simply stared at the procession. Of those who decided to look on most were focused on Iron Will with wide, shocked eyes (though a few were scratching their heads at his Willacisims). The rest were watching Adagio, curiosity etched on their features. Adagio reveled in the attention, holding her head high. She had no doubt that everypony in town would soon be talking about the return of a Dazzling to Ponyville by the end of the day.

And then the greetings began.

“Welcome!”

“Welcome!”

“Welcome!”

“Welcome!”

Every greeting came with its own smile. Smiles that, like the guard outside, didn’t seem entirely right. The stock phrase, the way their exaggerated grins never reached their eyes, the way they all nervously glanced around. All of it made Adagio wonder just what kind of town Ponyville actually was.

As they reached the far side of the plaza, they were suddenly free of the crowds, the shoppers returning to their business. Now unburdened by the throng of civilians their path began to take them away from the tightly packed wooden structures and into less dense stone ones. These were the homes of the merchants and artisans of Ponyville. Those ponies who had money to their name if not a noble title. But after walking almost a dozen more blocks they came to Everfree Square.

In reality, it was more of an elongated rectangle, running parallel to the outer wall. The buildings here were the most impressive, almost matching Canterlot’s more lofty constructions. Her family’s manor house was on the right side of the square, dead center. Its small yard (for a manor house at least) fenced in by a wall that looked like it was nothing but ivy, save for its wrought iron gate.

Memories came fast for Adagio now. The building itself was a standard two story stone affair, with a pair of short wings jutting forward and a slanted grey tile roof. When she was a foal, the house had been as impressive as Canterlot in her mind. She had spent a lot of time in the lush garden which took up most of the space between the gate and the front doors. A pair of lemon trees that she had climbed dozens of times flanked a cobblestone path that wound through square plots of dandelions, mums, tulips and roses. The plots had even been arranged in an alternating perpendicular pattern like the cobblestones that ran through them.

“Somehow, I was expecting bigger,” Suri said. Trotting forward, she pressed her face against the gate. “Hmm. Nice garden though.”

Adagio shrugged. “Well, space is something of a premium in Ponyville. Everything needs to fit inside the walls.”

Rummaging in her saddlebags she pulled a set of heavy keys out and unlocked the gates. With a push they swung open slowly, but neatly. As they should have. The cost of keeping her home away from home well maintained hadn’t been easy.

Adagio slowly wandered past the familiar lemon trees and all the neatly planted flowers, before stopping at the hardwood front doors. She ran a hoof down their rough surface, smiling softly at the gem symbol carved into the solid oak. It would be nice to stay here again.

Smiling to herself, Adagio faced her ponies. Then pointed to two of her earth pony guards. “You two! While I freshen up, run to the market and get us food for the next few days. It’ll be cheaper than eating out.”

The palomino brother and sister pair saluted and Adagio tossed them a bag of bits. While they eagerly galloped off, she turned her attention to the rest of her guards.

“I want the rest of you to set up a patrol schedule for the grounds. Make it so that everypony can see that somepony is in charge here. Will, take a break for now. You’ll be accompanying me while we visit the ponies we need to speak with. Suri, help me draw a bath.”

Satisfied with her orders Adagio unlocked the front door and strode into her old home away from home. But as she headed upstairs one thought ran through her head.

I wonder what kind of pony mayor Glimmer is?

- - - -

Starlight Glimmer’s tower... towered over the surrounding buildings, its peaked roof easily sitting at four stories tall. Otherwise it was a sturdy, square building with a balcony on the fourth level that clearly displayed a large telescope, pointing towards the heavens.

“Somepony has bits to burn,” Adagio muttered under her breath before hammering a hoof on the tower’s door as hard as she could. It swung open a moment later, a cheerful pink coated, curly purple maned unicorn beaming back at her.

“Welcome!” She exclaimed, almost bouncing on her hooves. “My name is Sugar Belle. How can I help you today?”

“Baroness Adagio Dazzle. I’m here to speak with Starlight Glimmer.”

“Oh my. We are busy today. Come on in though!”

Adagio followed the perky unicorn, Suri and Will squeezing in behind her. The room they walked into was a combination sitting room and waiting area for guests. The large chamber’s stone floor was covered by a thick rug, decorated with pink and purple swirls. A collection of soft looking throw pillows had been piled on top of that for sitting, most of them clustered around a low set coffee table. A coffee table on which rested a full plate of—

“Muffins?” Sugar Belle offered.

Even baronesses liked free muffins, so Adagio took one eagerly. It might have been a simple bran muffin, but it was still fresh and almost exploding with flavor. Will and Suri also eagerly took one as they all sank into seats.

“Have as many muffins as you want. I’ll go see if Starlight is available.”

With that, she disappeared through a side door, her hooffalls growing quieter as she headed up some stairs.

“Nice place for a mayor,” Iron Will observed. “Think she’s a member of a noble family at all?”

“Possibly. I’ve not heard of the Glimmer family, but there are cities outside of Canterlot,” Adagio mused. “This tower would have taken a lot to build not to mention the cost of the land itself. I certainly don’t remember it being here when I was young.”

Lapsing back into quiet, the trio returned to waiting, but Adagio’s mind refused to be still. Just who was this Starlight Glimmer? Swooping out of nowhere a few years ago to not only become mayor, but build a home like this? What were her long term goals? Was she backed by Fancy Pants or some other unknown rival? The more she thought about it, the more concerned she grew. Lack of knowledge this severe was deadly when it came to noble courts.

Her mind drifted back to her rapier, sitting back in her manor house, useless if Starlight turned out to be dangerous. Well, nothing she could do now except remember it next time and put her trust in Iron Will if things went south. After sitting in silence for what felt like much longer than it probably actually was, Adagio could hear hooffalls approaching again. Sugar Belle came sliding back into the room with a bow.

“Starlight is busy, but she can spare a few moments. She asked me to bring you up.”

“Very well. Lead on,” Adagio said imperiously.

Sugar Belle retained her energy taking the steps two, sometimes three at a time. They passed a landing on a second floor and came to a stop at one on the third, Sugar Belle eagerly pushing open a door. Adagio eyed it as she followed Belle through. The wood was thick and reinforced with vertical iron bands. Just what kind of room were they walking into?

The answer seemed to be a massive spell laboratory of some kind. A large raised dais dominated the center of the room, while the exterior walls of the circular chamber were lined by bookshelves and cabinets. The dais was positioned under four spindly brass mechanical “arms”, that split a few more times into magnifying glasses, crystal tips or grabbing pinches that could be rotated into place as needed. The only other furniture in the room was a large desk-podium combination, raised to look down on whatever item of interest would be placed on the dais at the moment.

A unicorn stood at that podium, a large book opened at her hooves, quill bobbing beside her head in a turquoise aura. She had a light rose colored coat, and a two toned purple and aquamarine mane, that neatly hugged the side of her neck in a wavy curve in the back, while her front bangs were equally divided on either side of her horn. Her cutie-mark was interesting. A purple and white star with a pair of two toned blue streams rising from it. Another unicorn- this one a stallion with a pale blue coat and curly dark blue mane- stood at her side with his own scroll and quill.

Whatever the pair were studying was blocked by the podium, so Adagio took a large step to the left. The item resting on the dais was... a rock. A single, spherical rock. Raising an eyebrow, Adagio watched as the mare engulfed the stone in magic. Her aura danced over its surface, while she scribbled down notes and observations. The stallion waited patiently while she worked and after a moment or two of non-action, the mare shrugged and dropped her spell.

“Well, that was sound and fury signifying nothing,” the mare sighed, before turning to face Adagio. “Baroness Dazzle, I presume?”

“That I am. You must be Starlight Glimmer.” She waved a hoof towards the rock. “Might I ask what all of that was about?”

“Just some experiments,” Starlight said, hovering the sphere over to her. “Mostly on the nature of harmony based magic.”

Harmony magic. That could only mean one thing.

“Is that supposed to be one of the Elements of Harmony or something?”

“That’s what the pony that sold it to me said. Supposedly pulled from the depths of the Everfree Forest.”

“You... don’t actually believe that, do you?” Suri asked. “I mean... just some pony selling an Element of Harmony? That’s ludicrous!”

Starlight sighed, dropping it back on the dais. “Well...yes. It’s a fake of course. Probably carved from some larger stone. But I had to be sure.” Her eyes narrowed as she regarded Adagio more carefully now. “You’re not exactly what I was expecting, Baroness.”

“... I’m sorry?”

“You’re more... lucid, than I was expecting. Were you feeling out of sorts when you sent those missives?”

Adagio couldn’t remember sending any missives to the likes of a Starlight Glimmer. There had been a Moonbeam Shimmer a year or so ago, but nopony by the name of Glimmer. Wordlessly, she looked towards Suri, on the off chance that her memory had failed her and she actually had written the mayor. Suri shook her head.

“I’m sorry, but I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Starlight arched an eyebrow. “M’lady, I have a book of the laws you passed for the barony. They have all been quite... interesting.”

“There have been no new laws passed since the time of my parents. I haven’t had the authority until recently.”

“Party Favor, would you be a dear and get me the book?”

The blue unicorn trotted through a door on the far side of the room, only to return a moment later with a crisp green covered tome. He passed it to Adagio with another one of the too wide smiles she had started to associate with the town since her arrival. Opening it, Adagio began to read.

To all citizens of Ponyville,

From this point forth, it is illegal to fondle a duck on the main promenade of the city, be it mallard, wood or other variety. All ducks must be contained in proper carrying receptacles. Ponies found violating this ordinance will be fined fifty gold bits or spend a night in jail.

-Baroness Adagio Dazzle

Affixed to the page was a wax seal bearing her house crest, next to the date the law was issued. A sense of dread began to settle over Adagio, the nervous smiles of Ponyville’s citizens beginning to make much more sense. She flipped the page.

To all citizens of Ponyville,

All pumpkins, squash, and gourds will be subject to a fifteen percent transportation tax.

-Baroness Adagio Dazzle

She flipped to another.

To all citizens of Ponyville,

Henceforth, all fish sellers within the city limits must be licensed to sell their wares. This is to combat the increase in ponies handling salmon in suspicious circumstances. Ponies caught selling fish without a license will be subject to a one hundred bit fine and two days in jail.

-Baroness Adagio Dazzle.

They went on like that. Each one as petty, stupid and maddening as the last. And as she read, Adagio came to one horrible conclusion.

These ponies think I’m insane.

She had a pretty good idea of who was behind this collection of fake laws, but she’d have to deal with Fancy Pants later. Right now, she needed to recover from this.

“They’re forgeries,” she said, shoving the book of lies into Starlight’s chest. “I only recently took full control of my territory and certainly couldn’t have sent those while I was stuck with a mentor looking over my shoulder on my decisions!”

Starlight took the tome and passed it off to Party Favor. “Hmm. But we have a new lumber guild in Ponyville thanks to you. It was one of your actual popular measures. Setup during about the same time period if I remember correctly.”

While she had sounded cheerful, the accusation had been clear. Adagio’s eyes narrowed. “It’s dangerous to call your direct lord a liar.”

Starlight shrugged. “If m’lady says they’re forgeries, than they’re forgeries. Truthfully, I’d never actually bothered enforcing them anyway, so it’s not like it makes much difference.”

For just a moment, Adagio faltered. A pony directly under her in the chain of rulership had just admitted to having never bothered with laws that had come bearing her seal. It was blatant insubordination, bordering on an act of rebellion and something that demanded swift punishment! But on the other hoof, the laws were clearly insane and hadn’t actually been sent by her. Could Adagio honestly claim that she would have been less angry if Starlight had just blindly gone along with them?

Forget it. I’ll just have to keep an eye on her from here on out, she thought. Smiling, she moved on. “Well at any rate I’m also here to oversee the Remembrance Festival. I assume you’ve already been working on this year’s event?”

Starlight’s answer was crisp and too the point. “We have. Party Favor has been assisting me with overall coordination and planning. I’ve also sent two of my other associates to respectively see to it that the weather patrol keeps the skies clear of any unexpected storms, and that the forest rangers keep any dangerous wildlife in check. Likewise, Sugar Belle here has been helping the Chef’s Guild organize the local restaurants to provide ample catering.”

“My... aren’t we... industrious.”

Starlight grinned. “That’s Ponyville! In our town, we work as a team!”

It was quite the effort for Adagio to not roll her eyes at Starlight’s saccharine nonsense. “Well, as I am overseeing the festival this year, I would like to see your notes on what you’re planning, so that I can make sure everything is running...smoothly.”

“Oh,” Starlight said, her smile growing smug. “Well, if this...really is the first thing you wish to manage in your barony, we can certainly help. Sugar Belle, could you be a dear?”

Now it was her turn to vanish through the far door. Adagio watched her go with a slight interest. “Your servants are quite well trained. Are they indentured?”

“Oh, they’re not my servants,” Starlight said, almost spitting out the last word. “We’re friends, coworkers and comrades! Every pony here has been freed from the chains of indentured servitude so they can live their lives to the fullest!”

A sense of apprehension settled upon Adagio, along with a deep frown. That had sounded like the rant that a fantatic would make. “That’s quite the statement. This is a...passion of yours?”

“It was part of my platform when I ran for mayor. No more slavery in Ponyville!”

Party Favor let loose a happy whoop at that, rearing onto his hind legs in a victory pose. Adagio could almost feel Suri’s eyes on the back of her head from the questioning stare she was most certainly giving her. Still, she bristled at that characterization. She wasn’t some kind of monster, keeping Suri locked in chains for the whole of her life! Besides, abolishing indentured servitude was for the courts, Chrysalis and Sombra to decide.

“Indentured servitude isn’t slavery. I’d expect a learned pony like yourself to know that.”

“Oh, but it might as well be,” Starlight said with a gasp. A gasp that Adagio could tell that she was overplaying. “Surely a connected Canterlot noble would be aware of the tricks some of your fellows engage in to keep ponies under hoof? The adding on of room and board to the debts owed? The veiled threats?”

Admittedly, Adagio had heard those rumors and worse. But it was Starlight’s next comment that almost knocked her off her hooves.

“The way I see it, everypony deserves to be equal,” she declared, voice dripping with a smug sense of pride, as if she had just revealed some universal truth.

It was too much for Adagio, who broke into a round of rolling laughter. She doubled over, almost falling to the floor at the sheer insanity of Starlight’s statement.

“Are you serious?” she managed to ask between chortles. “We live in a monarchy! Ruled by alicorns! What are you proposing? To march right up to the twin thrones and demand that they resign?”

Starlight stumbled for a moment, blinking in shock. But then she glared right back. “In case your forgot m’lady, Old Equestria was a Republic! The alicorn council worked with citizen senators all the time!”

“And look at where it got them!” Adagio said, her voice rising. “ A wise ‘guru’ ingratiated himself to the senate, whispered into the right ears and broke a nation that lasted for centuries!”

“So absolute authoritarian control is the answer?” Starlight snapped back.

“Monarchy is not the same thing as authoritarianism! Our system has rules! It has standards!”

The sense that Starlight was trying to get a rise out of her was beginning to grow in Adagio. There was no way one mare could both be so infuriating and so oblivious to the fact she was back talking to her direct superior. For a moment, she considered locking Starlight up in a stockade, but then dismissed it. Being annoying wasn’t enough of a crime to justify becoming the kind of tyrant Starlight had built in the depths of her magic addled mind. Thankfully, further debate was cut short by the return of Sugar Belle with a stack of papers.

“Uh...here’s the notes you needed m’lady,” she mummered, head bowed low.

Adagio snatched them from the earth pony, eager to be done with it all. “Thank you. Now, if there’s nothing else, I have work to do.”

Starlight smiled. “Of course Baroness! Far be it from me to tell an esteemed noble how to allocate her very important time. If you feel the need to make a personal inspection, by all means, proceed. I expect you’ll soon see for yourself, however, that we’ve already put everything will in order on our own.”

We’ll see about that! Adagio thought bitterly, stomping for the door.

Author's Note:

Oh, Starlight Glimmer. I'm not sure I've seen a character land with such a controversial splash in the fandom.

Clearly, in the Mane Universe, she started off as a true anti cutie-mark fanatic. She saw those flank tattoos as the symbol of the oppression of the system, built her own little world and then tried to tear everything down when Twilight Sparkle smashed it all.

The question then becomes in an AU, where she's supposed to be cast in a more heroic light, what windmills are there to tilt at? What can she be a crusader for? ...Ultimately, its the same thing. Equality. But without cutie-marks, its real social inequality to crusade against. Indentured servitude is her current dragon to slay.

And now Adagio, who is part of that system, is in her town. Should make for an interesting conflict between the two!

Anyway, enjoy this next chapter of When it Rains!