• Published 30th Jun 2012
  • 6,791 Views, 819 Comments

The Prince of Ponyville - Kavonde

Prince Blueblood starts into his new life in Ponyville.

  • ...

The Prince Gets a Job

Cheerilee opened her eyes three minutes before her alarm went off. This wasn't all that unusual; she was halfway through the school year, and by this point the routine had sunk into her bones. Nevertheless, she groaned and settled more comfortably beneath her sheets, using the extra time to review her schedule for the day.

Let's see. Today was Tuesday. She had school, of course, followed by a conference with Filthy Rich–again–about Diamond Tiara's behavior. Then, she'd grade papers, update her lesson plans, meet Macintosh for dinner, and drag him over to Sugarcube Corner to hear Lyra's new set. Another straightforward day in Ponyville.

As the alarm began to ring–and was immediately silenced by a swift and well-practiced strike of her hoof–Cheerilee couldn't shake the nagging feeling that she was forgetting something important. It wasn't the permission slips for her field trip to Zecora's hut; those were copied and ready to be sent home. It wasn't the electric bill, she'd payed that last week. As she pushed herself out of bed and ran a hoof through the candy-colored tangle lumped atop her head, she tried to think through her pre-coffee haze. What could it be?

She opened her bedroom door and saw a large, white unicorn with a golden mane sprawled across her sofa, snoring loudly. Oh, right. My boarder.

She grumbled something indistinct and headed for the bathroom. The sound of the door shutting behind her was enough to stir Prince Blueblood from his stupor.

The disgraced royal's eyes creaked open slowly. His neck was stiff. His left shoulder was numb and tingled with sharp, stabbing pains. He was lying awkwardly on a magenta couch that, while comfortable, was far too small too accommodate him. Light, filtered through the green curtains on the kitchen windows, splayed on the wall above him. Bookcases crammed with papers, binders, toys, models, lab equipment, art supplies, and a slightly dented old warhammer lined the walls; above them were more shelves filled with even more random clutter.

Day nine of being a worthless freloader, he thought to himself. He sighed, managed to disentangle himself from the sofa, and walked stiffly into the kitchen.

Since arriving in Ponyville, Blueblood had, through trial and error, finally managed to master three recipes: toast, ramen, and cereal. Armed with these newfound culinary skills, he used his magic to open Cheerilee's cupboards and produce two empty bowls while simultaneously slicing a few pieces of bread. While he worked, he switched on the teacher's love-worn old radio, and was greeted by the full-throated wailing of some diamond dog musician or another. He still couldn't differentiate between Rover James Dio or Megabark, but he had to admit, the primal power and soaring instrumentals of the genre certainly spoke to something in his soul.

It was a hay of a lot better than "Pachabull Canon in D," anyway.

As he finished buttering the toast and adding milk to the cereal bowls, Cheerilee emerged from her bathroom with a towel around her mane. She offered the prince a somewhat groggy smile. "Morning, Blue. Hey, toast and cereal... again." She struggled to force some enthusiasm into her voice. "Great!"

"It's the least I can do to repay your hospitality, Miss Cheerilee," he replied with a slight bow.

She grimaced as she set about preparing a pot of coffee. "Yeah, um... about that... "

Blueblood's expression sank. "You're kicking me out, aren't you?"

"No, no! Well, not really. I mean, not yet. It's just, you know, it's been more than a week, and I'm just wondering how long you're planning to stay here. Um. Your Highness."

He shrugged sheepishly. "I've been trying to find employment, but nopony seems to trust me."

"You did sort of destroy the town with an army of the undead."

"Not all of it! And besides, as I keep explaining, I really wasn't controlling the army. I was just a figurehead."

She patted his shoulder. "I know that. But, well, it's going to take awhile for you to fix your reputation. Have you thought about asking Applejack for work?"

He snorted. "I'm fairly certain she'd hate me even if I hadn't gotten the town burned down. I did insult her food at the Gala."

"I'm sure Macintosh would put in a good word for you."

"I'm sure he would," Blueblood conceded. "But... I just hate to rely so much on the charity of the tiny hoofful of ponies in Equestria who can actually stand me."

Cheerilee quirked an eyebrow. "So instead, you're just going to keep crashing on my couch?"

The prince considered that. "... So, I'll head down to Sweet Apple Acres today and inquire about any openings."

She chuckled and gave him a sisterly hug. "Good luck, Blue. It's not that I mind having you here, but... "

"I understand. You'd like your privacy back."

She grinned. "And I'd really like my neighbors to stop gossiping about the cute stallion I've been shacking up with."

Blueblood sputtered and tried to cover his blush by cramming a piece of toast into his mouth. Cheerilee just smiled and sipped her coffee.

Sweet Apple Acres sprawled across the hills and valleys southwest of town. Its borders were marked by a wooden picket fence that stretched off to the horizon, only interrupted by a well-traveled path that passed under an archway sign that bore the farm's name. Ahead lay a large red barn with a pink roof, surrounded by smaller structures of a similar aesthetic.

Bright, overdone, and tacky. How Blueblood missed the stately spires of Canterlot.

A friendly face stood outside the barn. Macintosh–he preferred "Mac," but didn't have the heart to correct Cheerilee–towered over a pile of freshly-cut logs, a wood chopping axe clutched tightly in his mouth. The big, red stallion grinned and raised his head as he noticed Blueblood's approach. The prince smiled back and shook the farmer's hoof.

"Is your sister in?"

Mac nodded and arched a quizzical eyebrow.

"I... was wondering if you might put in a good word for me. I think it's high time I found some honest work."

The farmer grinned around the axe handle and gave Blueblood a hoofs-up. He gestured towards the barn, and the prince thanked him with a smile.

Blueblood had always found it rather odd that the Apple family's barn was essentially an overgrown extension of their home. Most farms he'd seen as he'd flown over the countryside en route to some event or another had rather strictly delineated houses from holding pens. Then again, most farms didn't have such an eclectic mix of crops; the Apples grew their namesake, of course, but also corn, carrots, grapes, and a variety of livestock. It seemed odd to him, but whatever the farmers were doing was working for them. From what he'd been told, they'd been a cornerstone of Ponyville since before it existed.

The barn's wide doors were open, and inside stood a dozen or so cows in heated negotiations with an orange filly wearing a Stetson hat.

"Y'all can't be serious," Applejack told them. "We're already payin' ya a sight more'n any other farm around here!"

"Yah," said the herd's spokescattle, "but that was before we realized how dangerous it is in Ponyville, don'cha know."

"Sweet Apple Acres barely got touched by the durned skeletons!"

"Yah, this time. But there's more nasty things out there, dear. We want hazard pay."

"Fer standin' around inside a nice, warm barn?!"

"We can always find a farm closer to Canterlot, don'cha know."

Applejack pushed her hat down over her face and grumbled something unladylike. "But Ponyville needs yer milk!"

"Well then, dear, you'd better pay us a fair wage, eh?"

The farmer was almost shaking with frustrated rage, but somehow, she managed to tip her hat and force a toothy, somewhat unsettling grin. "I'll look at the farm's budget an' see what I can do."

"Thank ya, dear. So glad ya could be reasonable, don'cha know."

If looks could kill, half the herd would have been struck dead.

Blueblood stepped back around the corner as Applejack stomped out of the barn. She kicked the doors shut behind her with an emphatic bang and marched straight towards her brother. "Mac, can you believe them greedy little milk-bottles?! I oughtta just start bustin' every one of their heads until they stop bein' so buckin' obstinate! Town's still rebuildin', ponies are still hurt or missin', an' they're askin' fer a buckin' raise!"

Macintosh nodded a mild agreement.

"I swear, if anypony else comes by here askin' me to open the purse strings today, I'm gonna put a hoof through their Celestia-durned skull!"

Mac's eyes widened. He glanced at Blueblood. The prince grimaced and looked for an escape.

Applejack noticed her brother's expression and whipped around in time to see Blueblood trying to cower behind an apple wagon half his size. He froze, and then offered a nervous grin and a wave.

"An' what in the hay are you doin' here?!" the farmer demanded.

"Um," the prince said nervously, stepping back out from his hiding spot. "I... was actually here to inquire about potential employment opportunities."

"The who the what now?"

Big Mac put his axe down gently. "He's askin' fer a job, sis."

"Oh, fan-buckin'-tastic!" Applejack shouted in exasperation. "On toppa everythin' else, now we got the biggest buck-up in Equestria beggin' us fer a hoofout!"

"No, not a hoofout," Blueblood said earnestly. "Honest work. Whatever you need me for."

The farmer regarded him skeptically. "An' what, pray tell, d'yall know about farmin'?"

"Next to nothing," the prince admitted.

"Uh-huh. An' what kinda things 'round here are ya good at?"

"I... " He looked around nervously. "I'm... fairly proficient with telekinesis. I could help with the harvest."

"Harvest season ain't fer another month. An' we don't use magic nohow unless we're desperate."

"Perhaps I could... chop wood?"

Applejack shot her brother a glance. He obligingly stepped back from the wood pile. "Okay. Show me whatcha got."

Blueblood approached the chopping block with trepidation. His horn glowed turquoise as he levitated the axe into the air and placed an unbroken log on the stump. He carefully examined the setup to make sure the angles were right, wiped a bead of sweat from his brow, and then closed his eyes and swung the axe down with all of his strength.

"Well, I'll be."

He opened his eyes. The axe was sticking out of the unbroken log. It had only wedged itself in a few inches.

"That was the worst wood choppin' I ever seen," Applejack continued.

Blueblood's shoulders slumped, and he bowed his head in defeat. "Thank you for your time, miss. I'll be going."

Morosely, he started the long walk back to Cheerilee's place. Behind him, Big Mac gave his sister a disapproving look. She glared back at him with all she had, but his expression never budged. After a long moment, the staring contest ended with the mare's surrender. She sighed and started after the prince. "Wait, hold up."

He paused and looked back at her. "Yes?"

"Look... " she began, searching for words. "Maybe y'all ain't much of a farmer, yet, but... well, I'm willin' to give ya a chance ta learn. You get back here tomorrow mornin' an hour afore dawn, y'hear? We'll see about puttin' ya to work."

He turned to her with a disbelieving expression that gradually morphed into a beaming smile. "Thank you! I promise you, I won't disappoint you. Well, I mean, I will try not to. I mean, clearly, I haven't yet developed a skillset for the job, but I will certainly-"

Applejack chuckled despite herself. "Jus' get outta here. Remember, hour before dawn. See ya then."

Blueblood's grin nearly split his face as he cantered up the road back to town.

"I got a job!"

Cheerilee looked up in surprise. Blueblood was standing in the doorway, his smile so wide and infectious that she couldn't help matching it. "That's great, Blue!"

"Yeah, good for you!" said Scootaloo.

"I knew you could do it!" said Sweetie Belle.

"Way ta go, Blueblood!" said Apple Bloom.

The rest of the foals in the classroom broke into cheers of encouragement. Blueblood's grin turned a little embarrassed, and after a moment he waved and ducked back outside.

"That is a weird stallion," Apple Bloom observed.

The hoofful of bits Blueblood had brought with him from Canterlot jingled as they floated through the air behind him. The prince's enthusiasm had carried him back into town and towards Sugarcube Corner. He hardly noticed the looks he received from the townsfolk; he was just ecstatic to finally be able to contribute something worthwhile to the world. As he approached the gaudily-decorated hall of confectioneries, he spotted two familiar pegasi having lunch outside, and went to greet them.

"Cloud Kicker!" he called, waving a hoof. "Blossomforth!"

The lavender mare looked up. "Hey, Blueblood! What's happening?"

"I got a job!" the prince beamed.

The pegasi looked at eachother, and then back to him. "... Woo?" offered Blossomforth.

"No, you don't understand," Blueblood grinned. "I've never had a job before! I'm now a productive member of society!"

"Congratulations, Bluedude," Cloud Kicker laughed. "Welcome to the rat race."

The prince grimaced. "Are there going to be rats? I hate rats."

Blossomforth let her pink- and green-striped bangs fall over her eyes as she facehoofed.

"Not a literal metaphor, Blue," her companion smirked. "Wanna join us for lunch? I was tryin' to put the moves on Blossom, maybe you can wingcolt for me."

The prince smiled. "I'd love to, ladies. Let me just go place my order, and I'll return shortly."

His head held high and a spring in his step, Blueblood marched towards the bakery's doors. He pushed them open, took a deep breath full of baked goodness, and suddenly found himself eye-to-deep blue eye with an unfortunately familiar white unicorn.

"You!" Rarity snapped.

Blueblood felt his good mood slipping away. "Yes, hello, excuse me, I'm just trying to get lunch... "

"Oh, I thought the noble Prince of Equestria didn't eat commoner food."

He felt his teeth grinding as he struggled to maintain a smile. "Things change. Could you let me pass, please?"

Rarity didn't budge. "Oh, 'please?' You know that word, do you? Here I thought you'd never heard it before."

Blueblood's patience snapped. "Will you just leave me alone?! I'm so sorry I hurt your feelings, you prissy little crown-chaser! Maybe if you'd acted like the so-called Element of Generosity and not like a gold-digging harlot... "

"Excuse me?!" Rarity snarled back. "Perhaps if you had acted like a prince instead of a spoiled little twit-"

"Oh, I'm sorry, did I not fit your idiotic little fantasy of what a prince was supposed to be?! It's not even a real title!"

"You're an ignorant, imbecilic-"

"You stuck-up, status-chasing-"

"-good-for-nothing, pretty-boy-"

"-primping, preening, egotistical-"

"You burned down my boutique!" Rarity shrieked.

Blueblood froze. He became aware that everypony in the building was staring at him, and none of their expressions were friendly.

"Wait," said a large, dark green stallion with a hacksaw on his flank, "you're that Blueblood guy?"

A crowd begin to form. Blueblood looked around nervously, seeing nothing in their faces but hostile intent.

"You wrecked my house!" shouted one pony.

"You burned my fields!" called another.

"Look, I'm really sorry, but I wasn't actually in control-"

"My brother died fighting those things!"

"So did my little sister!"

Blueblood winced. "I am honestly, truly, profoundly sorry for your losses. Believe me, I-"

"And you came back here?!" demanded the green stallion. "After what you did?!"

"I... "

"We oughtta run you outta town!"

"To hay with that," growled another one, "we oughtta kick his flank so hard his cutie mark ends up on his nose!"

Blueblood gulped. The crowd started to close in.

"Now, wait just a minute!" a feminine voiced demanded, stomping a hoof. All eyes turned to Rarity, who stood between the prince and the mob. "Understand that I am not saying the good prince here could not use some sense knocked into his head, but he wasn't fully responsible for the army that attacked our home. Whatever flaws he might have–and I believe there are many–he is no savage warlord. I doubt he even knows how to swing a sword."

A dozen sets of eyes glared at Blueblood. He held his breath, and Rarity held her steady glare. Finally, with a ripple of discontented grumbling, the angry ponies turned away.

"Thanks," Blueblood sighed.

"Do. Not. Thank me," she hissed. "I didn't do it for you. I simply wasn't going to stand by while a mob tore a single helpless pony apart."

"How generous of you," he deadpanned. She rolled her eyes and brushed past him to leave the building.

Blueblood stared after her, and then looked around the shop. Though conversation had resumed, everypony was still staring at him with anger in their eyes. He glanced at the front counter, where a familiar pink pony in an apron and chef's hat was glaring daggers at him. He managed a weak approximation of a smile, then turned and left.

"Hey, Bluedude!" Cloud Kicker called as he passed. "You okay? We heard some shouting in there."

"I survived," he responded halfheartedly.

"Aren't you gettin' lunch?"

"I... lost my appetite."

"Oh, huh. That's what Rarity said when she left this for ya."

She pushed forward a small cupcake. It had purple frosting and was topped by a single, perfect blueberry. He stared at it in confusion. "She... left that for me?"

Cloud Kicker nodded enthusiastically, and followed it with a conspiratorial leer. "I think you've got a shot, Blue."

Blueblood's face crinkled in a mixture of confusion, revulsion, and terror. "I... think I'll just interpret this as a peace offering."

Blossomforth grinned. Cloud Kicker laughed and pushed out a chair. "Come on, Bluedude. Have a seat. Let's celebrate your integration into Ponyville society."

He glanced towards the bakery's windows, and met the gaze of the green hacksaw pony. The other stallion's eyes narrowed, and Blueblood could almost hear the threat. I am going to make you pay.

"Huzzah," he sighed.